Power - MC Paul Barman (Thought Balloon Mushroom Cloud)
Cock Mobster was my introduction to the clever rapper MC Paul Barman and his album, Paullelujah!. It was a long wait for his follow up, Thought Balloon Mushroom Cloud.
Like his earlier work, it's his rolling flow and quirky perspective that sells the song. Power's lyrics riff on Robert Greene's The 48 Laws of Power, but with rhymes:
Six: So, court attention at all costsYou Can Leave Your Hat On - Randy Newman (Sail Away)
If people don't talk smack then you're a small boss
Fall across the lime light
And even when I'm wrong, I'm right.
I've always preferred the original to Joe Cocker's cover version. Randy Newman evokes the dimly lit bedroom, with its peeling wall paper and a big man who knows exactly what he wants. The simpler arrangement of piano and vocal get to the personal heart of the song in a way that Cocker's slick R&B arrangement misses.
Burn - Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise (Blackwater Surprise)
Blackwater Surprise was the first album introducing blind street performer Robert Bradley. Paired with a younger band, the album is full of funky neo-soul anchored by Bradley's voice. The band is solid, with some good funky grooves, but Bradley's vocals are like well worn corduroy. Burn is a fairly representative track. Funky bass, bluesy guitar drive, and a nice horn arrangement all keep the tune rolling forward while Robert Bradley's vocals casually hit their mark.
Monday - Wilco (Being There)
A solid track from a strong album. Being There signaled Wilco's intention to move away from their alt-country roots. Monday lays down a retro Rolling Stones groove that lets Jeff Tweedy toss out a stream of conscious story song. Take out the horns and you can hear hints of the noisy rock that Jay Bennett would bring to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
Poison Pushy - Stanton Moore (III)
Virtuoso drummer Stanton Moore is adept at blurring the lines between jazz, funk, and experimental. This track features Robert Walter's lush organ and Will Bernard's smooth, singing guitar. After laying down a bluesy funk groove, the tune slides into a beautiful interplay between these three strong voices as they dance around each other like gymnasts.
Epochs in Dmaj - Caspian (Tertia)
Such a contrast with Stanton Moore.. The soft beginning sets up a figure and then builds upon it. Like an underwater vista, the sound opens up with strings and echo before pixelating into the void. This track is really just an interlude between the majestic climax of Malacoda and the dense crush of Of Foam and Wave.
Manchmal Haben Frauen... - Die Ärzte (Runter mit den Spendierhosen)
Ah, I'm glad Die Ärzte came up. This German band bridges punk, pop punk, rock, and pop. Many of their tracks are as simple as the Ramones, but this one is more subtle and moody. Their lyrics are often clever (figuring them out pushed me to develop my German skills).
In this case, it's a story song about a sensitive new age guy sitting through a chauvinist lecture at the bar ("sometimes, women like a little spanking"). When he comes home to share his chagrin (and slight curiosity) with his girlfriend, she knees him in the crotch and tells him that guys like him always get what they deserve. German slapstick at its finest.