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Two Steps Til the Finish Line : Spring 2010

I ended up enjoying a few (what I would ineptly call) Indian-sounding songs, from albums I’d recently bought off of iTunes (by Astronaut Wife and Splashdown), so I ended up compiling the songs around that. Spring is also the time I could not stop listening to The Shins’ Wincing the Night Away over and over. Fun Fact: I wrote a paper this semester on their song “Australia”. I would have put it on here, but I’ve listened to it 54 times to the end (the second highest played song), according to iTunes. The vast majority of that was within the time span of a few weeks, which has worn me out on it a little, and so I put the first song from the album (“Sleeping Lessons”) on here instead.

01. “So Long, Lonesome” by Explosions in the Sky.
I love the bell-like, oscillating sound of the guitar combined with the high piano notes. Then the song builds and builds.
…instrumental…

02. “What I’m Trying To Say Pt. 1 (The Dears)” by Stars.
This is from an album of remixes that Stars had their friends make. I love this version so much that I almost worry that the original wouldn’t live up to it. It’s a weirdly beautiful song about partying with people you love. The clips of girl vocals shouting out the first words of each line of the chorus tickles me a lot.
…Spring comes in when I’m rolling up another one / I draw the curtains in the glare of the same old sun / We are collapsed in the act of just being here / Three blues, two greens, and a beer…

03. “Fighting In A Sack” by The Shins.
The Shins have a lot of songs about growth, our natures, awareness and purpose. This is one of my favorites.
…But you’ll find those lingering voices / Are just your ego’s attempt to make it all clean and nice and make a moron out of you / Walking a bridge on weakening cables / Huddled up in fear and hate because we know our fate and it’s a lot to put us through / Most ideas turn to dust / As there are few in which we can all trust / Haven’t you noticed I’ve been shedding all of mine?…

04. “Sunndal Song” by The Apples in Stereo.
I’m a fan of the moon and the encouraging words. This was one of the songs I’d listen to on the drive to school, trying to psych myself up for the day.
…In tired paths of light / you circle me and try to pin me down / And all the forward thoughts / of emptiness are moving to the sound / On such a perfect night / the moonlight lingers softly in the air / and to the moon’s delight / it shimmers slightly dancing in your hair…..

05. “Thunder” by Splashdown.
Splashdown’s electronica is pretty mellow, and I love the way she modulates her voice, giving a lot of her songs a middle eastern feel; this one, especially, what with the instruments (is that a sitar I hear?).
…Lightning has to fill the sky / Before I learn how to listen for the thunder in my head / I’m rushed and closing on my demon’s trail / My wings have fallen out / And I am waiting for the power to unfold them…

06. “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin.
Not just because I can see Jack Black from School of Rock singing along ridiculously to this song.
…We come from the land of the ice and snow /From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow/ The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands / To fight the horde, singing and crying: “Valhalla, I am coming!”…

07. “Slo Fuzz” by Sol Seppy.
A song about striving to improve, to finding beauty and peace in the world around you. The combination of electronic effects and real instruments always pleases me, but she really nails a kind of melancholy optimism that I appreciate. Plus, the electronic noises near the end are a very unique color.
…I wish I could say the same of myself, that I’m in perfect harmony / That I do not use the sword of my tongue to lash out at the enemy / That I do not fear the light / That I do not stray from Love as my guide / That I’m at peace inside / And all the pieces are fine – they dance and sing in unity / A dum dum dum dee daa da deee…

08. “Snake Charmer” by Astronaut Wife.
+5 for the good use of ‘adverse’ and the general coquettishness of the song, which I associate with the themes of women’s social issues from my 19th century novel class.
…You know me well enough to know / I’m not adverse to making the same mistake twice / And after all this time I thought for sure / That it had happened for the very last time…

09. “Empire Ants (feat. Little Dragon)” by Gorillaz.
This song is beautiful, and I don’t just say that because I’m biased to songs featuring both male and female vocals. The transition from Damon’s vocals to Yukimi’s hypes me up pretty good for such a mellow song, and the way she sings the word “soar” is infectious and so communicative. Plastic Beach is a really unique album, I definitely recommend it if you’re interested in a blending of electronica and hip hop, waxing philosophical on the future impact (and life of) humanity.
… Oh, joys are us, the sun has come again to hold you / Sailing out the doldrums of the week / The polyphonic prayer is here, it’s all around you / It’s all around you out here / And if the whole world is crashing down on you / Fall through space, out of mind with me / Where the emptiness we leave behind on warm air rising / Blows all the shadows far away…

10. “Peace of Mind” by Boston.
Everyone’s been thinking about their future careers a lot lately. This pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter. I’ve really had to make peace with the roundabout way that I came to the place where I’m at right now, and the knowledge that if I hadn’t gone the time-sucking way that I had, I wouldn’t feel so secure and happy with my decisions.
…Now if you’re feelin’ kinda low ’bout the dues you’ve been paying / Future’s coming much too slow / And you wanna run but somehow you just keep on stayin’ / Can’t decide on which way to go / Yeah, yeah, yeah / I understand about indecision / But I don’t care if I get behind / People livin’ in competition / All I want is to have my peace of mind…

11. “What I Got (Reprise)” by Sublime.
I know, this song is overplayed. But that doesn’t make it any less good.
…It all comes back to you / You’re bound to get what you deserve / Try and test that / You’re bound to get served / Love’s what I got / Don’t start a riot / You feel it when the dance gets hot…

12. “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash.
If you do not recognize the words, “Don’t push me, cause I’m close to the edge / I’m trying not to loose my head / It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder / How I keep from going under”, you are missing out and have not been listening to this song enough. Yet another song that makes me think about education, this time intersecting with money.
…A child was born, with no state of mind / Blind to the ways of mankind / God is smiling on you but he’s frowning too / Cause only god knows what you go through / You grow in the ghetto, living second rate / And your eyes will sing a song of deep hate / The places you play and where you stay / Looks like one great big alley way / You’ll admire all the number book takers / thugs, pimps, pushers and the big money makers / Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens / And you wanna grow up to be just like them…

13. “Blood Flower” by Tilly and the Wall.
I love what a cross between greek tragedy and thriller movie this is. It can also be highly metaphorical, which is always fun. Tilly and the Wall turn out some great indie pop and have a catchy as hell song on the Whip It Soundtrack.
…I buried my blood years ago to encourage the vine / I waited for something to grow and flourish with time / I counted each hopeful raindrop as it fell to its death / I dusted the mournful frost and warmed it up with my breath / You’d better watch where you’re walking / There might be somebody’s blood flower growing / You’d better watch what you’re doing / Don’t go fucking around in the garden…

14. “Blue Lips” by Regina Spektor.
This song is so great. When she talks about going over the enemy lines just to end up enslaved in the assembly lines, when she says, “Blue: the most human color”… how can you not nod knowingly and be awed and humbled and sad all at the same time? Such a good song. I bought the album (Far) and this is one of the better songs, along with “Human of the Year” and “One More Time With Feeling”, if anyone cares about songs in a similar vein.
…He took a step, but then felt tired / He said, “I’ll rest a little while” / But when he tried to walk again / He wasn’t a child / And all the people hurried fast / Real fast / And no one ever smiled / Blue lips / Blue veins / Blue / The color of our planet from far, far away….

15. “Imitosis” by Andrew Bird.
This song is weird, with its high pitched, bell-like sounds and mad scientist story. My iTunes Genius made a seriously great playlist based on this song – and so I salute you, iTunes Genius.
…Poor Professor Pynchon had only good intentions when he / Put his Bunsen burners all away / And turning to a playground in a Petri dish / Where single cells would swing their fists at anything that looks like easy prey / In this nature show that rages every day / It was then he heard his intuition say / We were all basically alone / And despite what all his studies had shown / That what’s mistaken for closeness is just a case of mitosis / And why do some show no mercy while others are painfully shy? / Tell me doctor, can you quantify? / He just wants to know the reason why / The reason why…

16. “Sleeping Lessons” by The Shins.
This is one of my favorite songs from Wincing the Night Away and it’s the first on the album. I love the dreamy quality of it and how the music picks up. I can’t help singing it. I’d like to think it’s about being true to yourself, even in the face of opposition. It reminds me of reading Emerson’s essay on Self-Reliance (“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”)
…And if the old guard still offend / They got nothing left on which you depend / So enlist every ounce / Of your bright blood / And off with their heads / Jump from the hook / You’re not obliged to swallow anything you despise / See, those unrepenting buzzards want your life / And they got no right / As sure as you have eyes / They got no right…

17. “What I’m Trying To Say Pt. 2 (The Dears)” by Stars.
Another remix of “What I’m Trying To Say”. I am tempted to buy the album of remixes before listening to the originals because I find these versions to be so infectious. I love how it sounds like the notes are coming out of nowhere in the beginning, like they’re being contained and barely breaking out. It distills the song into a nice reprise-feel.
…What I’m trying to say…

18. “All Along The Watchtower (From ‘Crossroads, Part 2’)” by Bear McCreary.
This version of the song is a little more Indian sounding to me – and I like that because it seems to fit in well with “Empire Ants”, “Immigrant Song”, “Thunder” and “Snakecharmer”.
…No reason to get excited / The thief he kindly spoke / There are many here among us / Who feel that life is but a joke / But you and I we’ve been through that / And this is not our fate / So let us not talk falsely now / The hour’s getting late…

19. “No Quarter” by Led Zeppelin.
I don’t have to justify myself here. My favorite line is, “They carry news that must get through,” just the way that it sounds.
…Close the door, put out the light / You know they won’t be home tonight / The snow falls hard and don’t you know? / The winds of Thor are blowing cold. …

20. “Lessons Learned” by Matt & Kim.
This song was heavily played during midterms because it was so brainlessly bouncy. I also absorbed an association between Matt & Kim and Community (who used some Matt & Kim in the show promos), so I always kind of find it extra amusing to listen to.
…Tape holds things that cannot stick / and keep leftovers in the fridge / while lessons learned go down the drain / I can’t believe in everything / all the bad names gone / and the good ones were all wrong…

21. “Myriad Harbor” by The New Pornographers.
I love songs that go back and forth between singers, what can I say.
…I took a plane / I took a train- / (Ah, who cares, you always end up in the city) / I said to Carl / Look up for once- / (See just how the sun sets in the sky)…

22. “Bach: Cello Suite #1 in G, BWV 1007 – Praeludium” by Yo-Yo Ma.
Yo-Yo Ma! Pieces like this remind me of Master and Commander and my 19th Century Literature class.
…instrumental…

23. “Little Bird” by The Weepies.
Another song I find infectious. So much fun to sing “little bird” – which I do, constantly, to my cat. Who probably wishes I would die when I do it. “little jeege, little jeege.” This is also a song I listen to when I think of the future of one of the stories I’m writing.
…Sometimes it’s hard to tell the truth from the lie / Nobody knows what’s in the hold of your mind / We are all buildings and people inside…

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