28 February 2005

this must be the place : talking heads

click here to listen.
listening time: 4m 57s

About two years ago I joined the Thorn Tree, Lonely Planet's travel forum, and became a semi-regular of the Culture Vultures branch. According to Lonely Planet, that branch was meant for members to "wax lyrical on the art of travel – film, books, art, music, architecture." I'm not sure that's been achieved, because most of what we talk about are elements of American and British pop culture. There's no doubt that they have a far-reaching influence across the globe, but they hardly embody the diversity of topics Lonely Planet probably envisioned for that branch.
That's not to say it isn't fun. A popular activity is posting surveys. If one day one member asks what's the best musical score in a movie, expect the next day to find a poll on the worst. It gets more mundane and repetitive, but still fun. One of the first polls I initiated was about the best travel song, one that captures the spirit of independent travel. Of all the replies I got, I think This Must Be The Place is the clear winner. (Not that I remember the other replies, but it clearly beats my candidate, One Place by Everything But The Girl.)

I don't know the exact story behind this song, or what David Byrne wrote it for, but it's clearly about commitment to a loved one, and Byrne expresses it sweetly. But regardless of the female pronoun and the reference to "those kinds of people" in the lyrics, the song can be about a traveler's romance with the road, abandoning material attachments in exchange for the freedom that you feel when you're on a journey on your own. I can wax lyrical about it, or I can just let the lyrics do the talking:
this must be the place
david byrne

home is where i want to be
pick me up and turn me 'round
i feel numb, burn with a weak heart
(so i) guess i must be having fun

the less we say about it the better
make it up as we go along
feet on the ground
head in the sky
it’s ok i know nothing’s wrong, nothing

hi-yo, i got plenty of time
hi-yo, you got light in your eyes
and you’re standing here beside me
i love the passing of time
never for money
always for love
cover up and say goodnight, say goodnight

home is where i want to be
but i guess i’m already there
i come home, she lifted up her wings
guess that this must be the place

i can’t tell one from another
did i find you, or you find me?
there was a time before we were born
if someone asks, this where i’ll be, where i’ll be

hi-yo, we drift in and out
hi-yo, sing into my mouth
out of all those kinds of people
you got a face with a view
i’m just an animal looking for a home
share the same space for a minute or two

and you love me till my heart stops
love me till i’m dead
eyes that light up, eyes look through you
cover up the blank spots
hit me on the head
tell me your favorite travel song.

26 February 2005

jolene : paula cole

click here to listen.
song length: 3m 40s

UPDATE (16 Feb 2009): Due to popular demand -- and since it's not commercially available anyway, so there's no loss of profit to Ms. Cole -- I'm uploading this song's MP3 for everyone to download. Credit goes to whoever recorded the performance in the first place and made it available in Napster, where I found it eons ago. Get it here.

i've posted two depressing songs in a row, i thought i'd do something different today. here's paula cole's version of jolene, a 1974 dolly parton original that was recently thrust into our collective consciousness by the white stripes' gender-bending cover. i never did like their effort, nor does the band impress me much, actually. jack white's vocals, although raw and emotional, also strike me as affected and distracting, especially in slow songs such as his take on jolene. in fact, in this song, his voice takes me back to the send me an angel days of the scorpions, a german hard-rock band i associate mostly with karaoke-singing inebriated trucker types (don't ask).

paula cole's version is more faithful to the pace of the original, and she does it so wickedly well with her piano and vocal technique. she comes thisclose to one-upping dolly parton's live version on live and well which is blissfully mind-boggling. the thing about paula is she makes it completely her own with her mad-woman voice, which becomes an instrument all its own toward the end of the song when she grunts and groans like a synthesizer gone berserk. you gotta hear it to believe it. of course, that makes her sound like she's actually going to eat that man-grabbing biatch jolene as opposed to begging her, but i'm not complaining.

what do you think?

24 February 2005

that's not alternative!

by the way, before i get any comment that the songs i post here are not alternative, allow me to explain (yeah right, like you can't), and this comes from my own recent post on lonelyplanet's thorntree, one of the forums i frequent the most:
you don't have to look at how record stores and record labels categorize the artists on their shelves to know the definition of alternative music. i take the definition personally, and my definition of it is simply that it's alternative to the kind of music i get exposed to outside of my control, and that just happens to be the billboard and rolling stone fare i get to hear in public, in restaurants, on tv, in taxi cabs day in and out. the fact that i hear these types of songs a lot makes me wonder what else is out there, so i go out of my way to find other artists. in that sense the so-called rebel is not the artist, but myself, because i in effect go against what is supplied by my immediate environment. of course, what's alternative to me may be mainstream to you, but that just goes to show that music is a very personal experience, and in my view, should be taken as such, regardless of labels.
how do you define alternative?

over now : granian

click here to listen.
song length: 5m 12s

a very bitter breakup song (i was here when you wanted me to/you were here for your own good). this song comes from granian's live album, live sessions. i gave it five stars in my amazon rating, and i still think it's an amazing record. an independent artist from new jersey, granian is able to generate so much power from just his voice and guitar. lyrically, i feel his best is yet to come, but nonetheless as an acoustic enthusiast i give him and this album a lot of respect. the album that follows, on my own two feet, is his third studio effort that's a departure, some say evolution, from the bare-bones production of his earlier work. i tend to disagree. not to say it isn't good -- four stars, as darn live sessions set a high standard -- but it's produced with a big-label feel that drowns out granian's raw sound that makes him distinctive. i hope to one day see him live.

what's your favorite breakup song?

23 February 2005

uncle joe : red house painters

click here to listen
song length: 5m 58s

this song has been haunting me for about a week now, and in my current state i'm tempted to say this is probably the ultimate song about solitude, with the saddest first line ever penned in rock music. in so few words mark kozelek captures moods from fleeting moments as we go through the motions, and makes them nearly tactile:
uncle joe
mark kozelek

where have all the people gone in my life?
i’m looking at the ceiling
with an awful feeling of loss
and loneliness
the after late night television pain
i’m running out of strength

click here for the complete lyrics
best listened to alone in your room in the middle of the night. what do you listen to when you feel most alone?

16 February 2005

fear and time : melissa ferrick

click here to listen
listening time: 3m 45s

well i'm surprised. i checked my most played songs on itunes, which tend to change every other week, and i didn't expect what came out in the top 10, and certainly not the number one. i imagined it would be something by mark kozelek (as himself, or his incarnation as red house painters or sun kil moon). i guess that's because when i listen to him i jump to the next song just before the one currently playing ends, simply because i can't wait to listen to the next one. i still can't explain why i have melissa ferrick on top, though i'm glad it's "fear and time," one of her best songs. here are my 10 most played:

1. fear and time
2. hunting high and low : a-ha
3. fall at your feet : crowded house
4. lord kill the pain : red house painters
5. on your side : pete yorn
6. grey : ani difranco
7. august day song : bebel gilberto
8. carry me ohio : sun kil moon
9. pissing in the wind : badly drawn boy
10. inside : toad the wet sprocket

what's your favorite song of the week?

11 February 2005

drop : cornelius

this is a test. if this works well, there'll be more like this in the future. if not, the whole point of my starting this blog is fucked. click on the title below to listen:


here i go

so i finally decided to blog. after years of knowing of its existence, i'm now convinced that i should start my own. not for any special reason. i watched the world blog past me because i had nothing to say. i still don't, but then i came across this 1996-ish political cartoon i've saved in my mac for ages. in the words of "thatch" creator jeff shesol:

and so it is. so now i present alternativesounds, for your daily dose of lyrical drivel.

01 February 2005

all the songs that are fit to play

here are the songs i've posted so far. like them or not, i would love to hear your thoughts. last updated: 17 may 2008. those with a "+" sign are the latest addition.


the best songs of 2007 listen
the best songs of 2006 listen
songs for the lovestruck and the forlorn listen

all of them!

10,000 maniacs : like the weather listen

adnan sami : dil kya kare listen
aimee mann : i can't help you anymore listen
air : alone in kyoto listen
alexi murdoch : orange sky listen
allen ginsberg : end the vietnam war listen
ani difranco : grey listen
arab strap : love detective listen
arcade fire : haiti listen
archer prewitt : way of the sun listen
arctic monkeys : red light indicates doors are secured listen
ayub ogada : kothbiro listen
aztec camera : jump listen

the beatles : across the universe listen
beck : missing listen
bebel gilberto : august day song listen
belle & sebastian : a space boy dream listen
belle & sebastian : the blues are still blue listen
ben horn : stripped down listen
ben watt : north marine drive listen
the bible : graceland listen
black rebel motorcycle club : complicated situation listen
blue october : into the ocean listen
blur : coffee & tv listen
bob schneider : come with me tonight listen
the brand new heavies : never stop listen
broken social scene : ibi dreams of pavement (a better day) listen

caetano veloso : cucurrucucu paloma listen
cafe tacuba : eo (el sonidero) listen
cafe tacuba : esa noche listen
calexico | iron and wine : burn that broken bed listen
cary pierce : home listen
cassandra wilson : time after time listen
catherine wheel : crank listen
china crisis : thank you listen
chris cornell : sunshower listen
chris isaak : wicked game : instrumental listen
clap your hands say yeah : over and over again listen
the clarks : on saturday listen
the clash : train in vain (stand by me) listen
clem snide : jews for jesus blues listen
coldplay : white shadows : morgan page bootleg remix listen
copeland : when finally set free listen
cornelius : drop listen
the cure : pictures of you listen

damien rice : cannonball listen
dan wilson and bic runga : good morning baby listen
david byrne : don't fence me in listen
david gray : january rain listen
david gray : lately listen
david kitt : pressure drop listen
death cab for cutie : i will follow you into the dark listen
death cab for cutie : lightness listen
the decemberists : here i dreamt i was an architect listen
deepak ram : a night in lenasia listen
dolly parton : travelin' thru listen
donovan : hurdy gurdy man listen
drew o'doherty : oneway listen
drive-by truckers : great car dealer war listen
duncan sheik : on a high listen
the dust brothers : this is your life listen

ednaswap : torn listen
eliza gilkyson : river of gold listen
elvis presley : pocketful of rainbows listen
eskobar and heather nova : someone new listen
eva cassidy : time after time listen
evan dando : shots is fired | hard drive listen +
everything but the girl : one place listen

f. r. david : sahara night listen
feist : inside and out listen
the finn brothers : homesick listen

gay dad : pathfinder listen
gigi : zomaye listen
the go-betweens : cattle and cane listen
the go-betweens : rock and roll friend listen
the go-betweens : streets of your town listen
gomez : diskoloadout listen
granian : over now listen
grant mclennan : do you see the lights listen
grant mclennan : haunted house listen

his name is alive : this world is not my home listen
the housemartins : build listen

idlewild : love steals us from loneliness listen
imogen heap : hide and seek : morgan page bootleg remix listen
indigo girls : ghost listen
ivy : never do that again listen
iz kamakawiwo'ole : over the rainbow / what a wonderful world listen

jack johnson : never know listen
john lennon : imagine listen
johnny marr + the healers : caught up listen
johnathan rice : mid-november listen
jonathan butler : no woman no cry listen
josé gonzález : stay in the shade listen
josh ritter : thin blue flame listen
josh rouse : winter in the hamptons listen
julie delpy : a waltz for a night listen

kate bush : aerial listen
kathryn williams : lydia listen
keziah jones : million miles from home listen
kings of convenience : misread listen
kings of convenience : gold for the price of silver listen
kt tunstall : black horse and the cherry tree listen

laura pausini : como si no nos hubieramos amado listen
lizz wright : i'm confessin' listen

m. craft : i got nobody waiting for me listen
m. ward : duet for guitars #1 listen
madonna : bedtime story listen
martha wainwright : factory listen
mary black : fall at your feet listen
massive attack : be thankful for what you've got listen
matisyahu : chop 'em down listen
matt nathanson : then i'll be smiling listen
matthew jay : please don't send me away listen
melissa ferrick : fear and time listen
michael penn : no myth (acoustic) listen
mike doughty : unsingable name listen
mirwais : definitive beat listen
modest mouse : 3rd planet listen
modest mouse : tiny cities made of ashes listen
mogwai : auto rock listen
moloko : familiar feeling listen
money can't buy music : the ghosts listen
morning runner : have a good time listen
morrissey : dear god please help me listen
my morning jacket : weeks go by like days listen

new buffalo: recovery listen
new radicals : someday we'll know listen
nick cave and the bad seeds : carry me listen
nickel creek : best of luck and somebody more like you listen

ok go : oh lately it's so quiet listen
october project : return to me listen
orzo : baby can i hold you listen

patty larkin : good thing (angels running) listen
paul weller : thinking of you listen
paul westerberg : dyslexic heart listen
paula cole : jolene listen
paula cole : happy home listen
pete yorn : panic listen
phantom buffalo : wimp soufflé listen
phoenix : everything is everything listen
pixies : where is my mind listen
prince : the word listen

queens of the stone age : burn the witch listen

radiohead : thinking about you listen
red house painters : uncle joe listen
red house painters : moments listen
reik : que vida la mia listen
reindeer section : cartwheels listen
rose melberg : irene listen

sarah mclachlan : vox : extended version listen
saybia : brilliant sky listen
seth horan : understatement listen
shannon worrell : eleanor listen
shawn colvin : every little thing he does is magic listen
silvio rodriguez : playa giron listen
sinéad o'connor : war listen
sinéad o'connor : red football | sacrifice listen
sondre lerche : all luck runs out listen
spoon : everything hits at once listen
stephen malkmus : pink india listen
sub-one minute stuff : interludes and fillers listen
sun kil moon : carry me ohio listen
sun kil moon : tiny cities made of ashes listen

tabla beat science : satellite (show me the worth of the world) listen
talking heads : this must be the place listen
teitur : sleeping with the lights on listen
terry reid : the whole of the moon listen
the smiths : this charming man : new york instrumental listen
this mortal coil : a single wish listen
tom petty & the heartbreakers : breakdown listen
tori amos : caught a light sneeze listen
tracy chapman : cross roads listen
tracy chapman : fast car : live acoustic listen
the tragically hip : scared listen
train : all i ever wanted listen
train : mississippi listen
train : ramble on listen
travis : baby one more time listen
tricky : broken homes (feat. pj harvey) listen
tuck & patti : time after time listen

uman : the white spirit listen
utah phillips : anarchy listen

various artists : salaam-e-ishq listen
vera hall : troubled so hard listen

wheat : don't i hold you listen

xavier rudd : light the shade listen
xavier rudd : no woman no cry listen

yo la tengo : you can have it all listen
youssou n'dour : don't look back listen

the zombies : time of the season listen