Shufflesongs #1

Alright, this is the first update in a category that I’m going to call “Shufflesongs.”

What is it, you ask? Well, it’s based on a very simple idea. I put my library on shuffle and do a quick write up about the first song that comes up. I have a fairly decent-sized library of music and putting on shuffle usually reintroduces me to a lot of songs I’d forgotten about. There’s no guarantee that the songs I post here will be good at all; in fact I may not even like them, but I like the concept itself enough to run with it. It’s simple and straightforward, but it offers a lot of potential.

What I’m going to do is give each song a grade, or if I skip a song, I’ll make a note of it an why.

To make up for the lack of updates the past few weeks, I’m going to overload anyone who reads this with music. If you don’t have time to get through it all, the grading should help–though I recommend you do, ’cause you never know what you may like.

The Spring Break update’s always there, too with a bunch of great songs from new bands.

See the first 10 songs I hit on shuffle, after the jump.

So, without any more silly nonsense:

#1: John Coltrane – Equinox

A long time ago, I got a John Coltrane Best Of CD and the first song to really stick out of that group was “Equinox.” For some reason, all of his other songs on that compilation were slow and downtempo, and Equinox fell into that bill, but it kicked off with much more of a groove. I’ve always liked to relax to jazz, but I could never reach the level of knowledge to fully appreciate it. “Equinox” rides its original groove for its 8 and some minutes, which gets tired after a while. It isn’t the best song on the Best Of, but it’s relaxing and nice without ever touching Kenny G. territory. It’s probably a good song to do homework to. (Also, I apologize for the bad quality rip.)

Grade: B


John Coltrane | Equinox

#2: Blur – Advert

Curiously, another song from a compilation. This time from Midlife: A Beginner’s Guide to Blur. Not to mention, it’s another post that has Damon Albarn.

“Advert” isn’t even properly in my memory, and it’s not a highlight of the compilation. It kicks off with a pretty cool sounding piano and guitar and then breaks into a more traditional sort of rock band-y sound. While not particularly offensive, it’s not a song I would give a whole lot of time to normally. I like Albarn’s later stuff, and the 1993 tag on the song (It’s from Modern Life is Rubbish, Blur’s sophomore album) kinda drags it down for me. It’s Britpop sure, but Blur’s capable of better. The opening has a lot of potential, and they call it back for the bridge, though, and is easily my favorite part.

Grade: C


Blur | Advert

#3: Fink – Sorry I’m Late SKIP (mp3 has errors in it)

#4: Jeremy Soule – Harvest Dawn

If you’ve ever played Oblivion, you’ll recognize this one. Jeremy Soule’s on my list of high-quality video game composers, as he makes music that so cleanly works in an environment. As I said, if you’ve played Oblivion you’ll recognize this one, but it’s unlikely that you’d be able to remember it without hearing it first. It’s essentially the perfect ambient music. “Harvest Dawn” itself is one of the most relaxing songs I have in my library, and is perfect for virtually any situation. Sure, it’s a little cliched sounding and it has harp, but that’s what’s so perfect about it. It’s inoffensive enough to fall into the background, yet distinctly memorable.

Grade: A-


Jeremy Soule | Harvest Dawn

#5: Adele – Best for Last

I’ll say it right now: this song is incredible.

There’s little say about Adele herself, she has an incredible voice and a great sense for music and melody. It’s nice to hear someone with a great voice who doesn’t even need to bother with overblown pop. She has some big pop songs, sure, but they’re tasteful. And speaking of tasteful, “Best for Last” is some of the most tasteful production I’ve heard on a vocalist debut. Driven by an idiosyncratic bass line and her voice, she waits until the “fuck you” chorus to add any real production touches, and even then it’s just a bass drum and some harmonizing. Adele doesn’t really show off her voice on this song, but she doesn’t really have to. The lyrics are so harsh that anything more would be overkill. Yet for all of the harshness in the chorus, there’s still a sadness present in the verses.

The indignant response to a heartbreak.

Grade : A+


Adele | Best for Last

#6: Tyler Bates – Tree of the Dead SKIP (no one wants to hear the 300 soundtrack)

#7: John Mayer – Your Body is a Wonderland SKIP (I have this? Who hasn’t heard it, though, really.)

#8: The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows

This. Is. My. Shit.

It’s probably redundant to say anything about the closer to the best Beatles album, but it’s just as great as the rest of the album. It’s incredible to think that despite all their crazy studio advances, The Beatles still held songcraft so much to the heart. The cascade of sounds was new to everyone in 1966, but John Lennon’s voice and Ringo’s crazy drums hold it all together. What’s most curious is how dramatically different the other versions of this song sound. Given what they were working with (a 4 track and a crapload of tapes) it’s astounding how melodic it all is. Even George’s backwards guitar solo fits perfectly in place.

The Beatles have a lot of legendary lines, and even though John ripped off the first lines, “Turn of your mind, relax, and float downstream,” they stand as staples of drug culture. And even though Bono kinda killed the whole vibe that it had going in Across the Universe, it’s still the Beatles. The f’ing Beatles.

It’s a trip, to say the least.

Grade: A

[It’s an A only because the Beatles have a good 15 better songs.]

The Beatles | Tomorrow Never Knows

#9: Eric Clapton – Let it Rain

Another compilation song, this time from The Cream of Clapton. Clapton’s solo stuff has never been too terribly hot to me, he seems infinitely better in a band, Cream and Derek and the Dominoes being his highlights. “Let it Rain” has a pretty solid riff to kick it off and a surprisingly catchy chorus, but Clapton’s still not the singer he needs to be to lead a song and it has this “soft” sound that classic rock sometimes has. With a little more punch, this song could fly. You know, I bet it’s great live.

Grade: B-


Eric Clapton – Let it Rain

#10: Cream – White Room

Well, I don’t know how this happened, but the last two songs of this post come from the same album. This song, however, is Clapton at his prime. “White Room” is a classic for a reason, and it’s a perfect example of the punch that I think “Let it Rain” needed. From the kick, it’s going to be big and it tells you. The first 4 blared chords are almost a demand to turn it up, and once you do, you’ll get a blues groove of the kind that Clapton had down to a perfection. His role as a guitar player in this song keeps him in the background, adding light touches that gradually demand more attention until he can finally start blistering away. Yet, were Clapton to sing this instead of Jack Bruce, I think it’d lose something. Bruce’s voice is simply bluesier than Clapton’s and not quite as smooth.

Grade : B+


Cream | White Room

Whew. I actually really liked doing that. I wish I hadn’t ended on three classic rock songs, but such is the nature of the beast I guess. I think I might do this more often, as its good for the days that I simply don’t have anything new to put up. I was surprised by how good the songs that I ended up with were, though, even if I did skip a few.

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2 Responses to Shufflesongs #1

  1. I enjoyed this post. I enjoyed what you wrote about the Beatles and I couldn’t agree more.

    I have a post up now in which I talk about Trane’s Liberia, which I believe was recorded at the same session as Equinox.

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