1. Animal Collective - "Tell it to the Mountain": From the reissued live Hollindagain. Animal Collective are great live, but this track barely captures their chaotic glory. An electronic tone throughout much of it, alongside a sustained more or less wordless vocal is overtaken by some ecstatic, messy, sort of tribal drumming. That's about it.
2. Billy Holiday - "You Turned the Tables on Me": I listen to very little jazz vocal. I tend to prefer Holiday to a singer like Ella Fitzgerald, though many of her songs seem to end on the same note, as she dramatically delivers the final words, which I do find a little off-putting. This lovely song is on Solitude. At our wedding, our first dance was to Holiday's version of "Love is Here to Stay".
3. Arthur Russell - "Let's Go Swimming (Walter Gibbons mix): Like a lot of people, I suspect, I only heard of Russell in the last few years; curious (and unduly obsessed with filling in the gaps of post-punk), I bought the Soul Jazz comp The World of Arthur Russell, which focuses on his disco-related music. I do like his take on disco, but that has not translated into great reverence. Russell's thin and distant vocal was initially off-putting for me, but not too much so. The percussion is great.
4. Feist - "Lonely Lonely": People are raving about Feist's new album, The Reminder (though I have seen rumblings that it represents the adult-contemporification of indie rock). I haven't heard it. This is off her last album, Let it Die, which I bought because we love her cover of the Bee Gees song, "Inside and Out", that appears on it. The album itself is pleasant enough, though I haven't listened to it closely. "Lonely Lonely" is a good one, sounds like a fresh take on a singer-singwriter sound.
5. Wire - "Marooned": Chairs Missing is great of course.
6. Bardo Pond - "Ganges": I often forget about Bardo Pond, but I always enjoy when one of their songs comes on. This 11-minute instrumental begins with alternating channels of psychedelic electric guitar, which fades after less than a minute. The track settles into a slow, mellow fuzz groove; about seven minutes in, drums and guitar get progressively busier above it, before settling down toward the end of the track. Great music to work to. Dilate is the album.
7. Smog - "Cold Blooded Old Times": One of the best songs on Knock Knock. An insistent rock guitar and nice piano, which ends in a great squall of guitar and piano noise. Some lyrics: "the type of memories that turn your bones to glass" and "in this way they gave you clarity, a cold-blooded clarity". I still haven't been able to pick up the new Bill Callahan record.
8. The Jayhawks - "I'd Run Away": For a while, I thought I was interested in keeping up with various stripes of alt-country bands (this didn't last very long; most of them are pretty boring--cf. The Old 97s). One of my favorite such records is Tomorrow the Green Grass, which includes this song. A lot of what I loved about the record was Mark Olson's vocals, and he left the band after this album. So I lost interest, though I know people who swear by the follow-up, Sound of Lies.
9. Outkast - "Liberation": Damn this is a beautiful song. Why do I feel like I've never heard it before? I've had Aquemini for years (since it came out in 1998, I'm sure). At more than 8 minutes, this is one of the longer rap songs I'm aware of. Just drums, piano, bass. I should probably listen to this cd more often.
10. The Vandermark 5 - "Cruz Campo (For Gerhard Richter)": Airports for Light was produced by Bob Weston of Shellac and, of late, Mission of Burma, and it sounds great. This is solid, workmanlike modern jazz, in the traditions of free bop and free jazz. I saw the group play in Chicago at the Empty Bottle (also in the audience: Peter Brotzmann! Joe McPhee!).
11. The Notorious B.I.G. - "Respect": There's a reason Ready to Die is considered a classic. I still don't have much intelligent to say about rap.
12. Miles Davis Quintet - "You're My Everything": The first great quintet, with Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Philly Jo Jones. This stuff is pretty much the dictionary definition of jazz for me, so it's hard to imagine that there were those who reacted negatively to it at the time. This comes from Relaxin' with Miles.
13. Pixies - "Planet of Sound": I've been sort of bored by the Pixies lately. Or, bored by the idea of them, bored by their position as indie rock gods. But a song like "Planet of Sound" comes on, and well. I've tended to favor the raw, bare-bones, Albini-recorded Surfer Rosa and not given enough attention to the last Pixies album, Trompe le Monde, which gives us this song. It's hard to say why; I'm always surprised by how great it is. There's a lot going on in these songs.
14. Mia Doi Todd - "88 Ways": I'd never heard of Mia Doi Todd before John Darnielle raved about her most recent cd, Manzanita, when it was released a couple of years ago. I bought that album and the earlier, major-label album The Golden State, which includes "88 Ways". I love Todd's voice. Manzanita is beautiful, and its spare production is much more to my liking than is Mitchell Froom's overly busy production on The Golden State. Still, the latter is a good album nonetheless.
15. Belly - "Super-Connected": This is a pretty basic, engaging rock song from the second Belly cd, King. Tanya Donelly's Belly had some good songs, but they were nothing like as good as her previous band, the great Throwing Muses.