[myPod is a biweekly attempt to edit down my CD collection as I import my music on to my brand new 160 GB iPod.]
While they spent the ’80s playing goofy psych-punk (like The Meat Puppets but weirder and louder), it wasn’t until the ’90s that The Flaming Lips entered my worldview. Specifically, with the Batman Forever soundtrack tune “Bad Days,” from Clouds Taste Metallic. It’s a funny, quirky, catchy tune about hating life. For a while, the Lips burned with songs like these, which combined humor and loud, searing rockitude. I’m a big proponent of Transmissions From the Satellite Heart for its thunderous low ends. You can tell these guys love Black Sabbath.
While I’ve never bothered with Zaireeka – an album consisting of four discs meant to be played simultaneously – The Soft Bulletin marks the true departure for the band, as their sound became refined to a spacey pop orientation. This was further cultivated on the sci-fi leanings of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and its associated EPs (Dig that B-side “Thank You Jack White (For the Fiber Optic Jesus That You Gave Me)”). While I haven’t been that impressed with the band’s post-Yoshimi output, I’m a big, big fan of Christmas on Mars. Watching it has become an annual tradition around the holidays, and the screaming, psychedelic, quasi-orchestral score suits me fine.
As excited as I was by Cavalcade last year, I still feel like I underrated The Flatliners at the time. That record dishes out raw punk rock with the occasional dub influence. I felt then and now that it was a record tailor-made for me, so much so that The Flatliners have become the new standard by which I judge contemporary punk bands. While I may not love them as much as, say, Jawbreaker or The Clash, they still get me so dang excited. Cavalcade remains a go-to-get-stoked record, although The Great Awake has my favorite Flatliners’ tune, “Eulogy.” Yeah, it’s so clearly meant to be a single for everyone to get behind, but c’mon. That tune reminds me so explicitly of Michael and how I feel about how he ended up that it’s almost ridiculous in its catharsis. I hope these guys stick around for a while.
Once upon a time, I was an otaku, an anime fan. One of my favorite animes in high school was FlCl, commonly called “Fooly Cooly.” It’s about a kid and aliens, typical anime stuff, but it was way weirder and funnier, with superior animation to what was coming out of Japan at the time. Like the best anime (Cowboy Bebop, Akira), the music was great too. Japanese alt-rock group The Pillows provided most of the tunes, with some help from composer Shinkichi Mitsumune. While the group’s English is dubious at times (Sample lyric: “Could it be? / Could it be hybrid rainbow?”), the band still wrote some top notch pop rock tunes for the soundtracks. Tunes like “Last Dinosaur” and “Little Busters” are super catchy and hold up all these years later. I might not watch much anime these days [Side note: They just put out a Trigun movie? Anybody interested?], but I still love the music.
Flight of the Conchords
For a while there, Flight of the Conchords were simultaneously one of the best bands and funniest comedy acts out there. They wrote joke songs in a variety of genres that were also legitimately catchy/good. By season/album two, the group hit a creative wall, in that they ran out of stuff to write about and genres to explore. But on The Distant Future and Flight of the Conchords, the duo dished out amazing tunes ranging from hip-hop (“Hiphopopotamus Vs. Rhymenoceros,” “Mutha’uckas”) to electronic (“Inner City Pressure”) to glam rock (the immortal David Bowie tribute/parody “Bowie”). I took a break from listening to the band after their disappointing second album, but revisiting these early triumphs has me falling in love all over again.
While I never considered myself a superfan, I sure do love Flogging Molly. Those first four records are righteous bursts of Irish folk-punk that surpasses even The Pogues. I first fell in love with the group circa Drunken Lullabies in 2002, although Swagger quickly became my favorite. From there, I kept up with the group, and each release amazed me, for a while. Within a Mile of Home is a few songs too long, but it’s still got some of my all-time favorite Molly tunes, such as “The Seven Deadly Sins” and the title track. Flogging Molly is really, really good at writing breakneck-paced punk tunes while occasionally slipping in the occasional somber emotional touchstone, and Mile is a great example of these talents, even if I perpetually underrate it. Still, the only reason why I don’t spin Mile as much as Swagger, Lullabies, or the superb Float is that it’s among such great company. Also of interest is the rarities/documentary combo Whiskey on a Sunday. The documentary is a little repetitive but overall offers a neat glimpse into how the band works and came to be. The music portion offers acoustic reinterpretations of the band’s best-loved tunes, as well as a studio version of “Laura,” which was previously only available on the live album Alive Behind the Green Door.
Alive is one of two Flogging Molly albums I’ve chosen to sell back. The recording quality isn’t that great, even if half of the tunes never appeared on a proper studio album. It’s not bad, it’s just not something I put on often. The other record I’m parting with is 2011’s Speed of Darkness, which just does not do anything for me.
Verdict: Keep most.
Florence + The Machine
Every year, a handful of indie records break through to the mainstream (I like to call them iPod rock) and convince me that other people don’t have stupid taste in music. Phoenix is a good example; Florence + The Machine is another. I ignored her when Lungs came out in 2009, but at my fiancee’s insistence, I gave the record a shot and found it to be a moving piece of orchestral indie rock existing somewhere between Arcade Fire and Bjork. Plus, hearing “Kiss With a Fist” is probably the only good thing to happen to me in August 2010.
Floyd: Squawk Among Us
This one’s a Fat Wreck sampler that got passed around at Warped Tour 2002. I should probably throw it out, but it introduced me to The Lawrence Arms, Dillinger Four, and Nerf Herder’s “Welcome to My World.”