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Entries categorized as “Top Five” 55 results

Tyler Clark presents: Local Mythologies writesTop Five: Must-Have Lounge Records, And Their Uses

Tiki bars are hip again; can lounge music be far behind? It's been 20 years since the last lounge revival and, Mad Men theme parties notwithstanding, that means we're just about due for another. While you polish your cocktail shaker, I'll get your hi-fi ready with recommendations for five must-have lounge records, and the situations in which they'll come in most handy.

1) Ferrante & Teicher - Heavenly Songs in Hi-Fi (1957)

Useful when: You need to defend lounge music from naysayers.

It's important to remember that lounge acts weren't all made up of square dudes with loud jackets and thick glasses. I mean, most were, but that doesn't mean that hip dudes didn't lurk beneath the polyester. Before they earned their reputation as purveyors of inoffensive easy-listening music, piano players Arthur Ferrante and Louis Teicher were faculty members at Julliard. That pedigree makes it less surprising that the two Muzak masters once drew inspiration from avant garde composer John Cage. Cage's "prepared piano" techniques make thrilling appearances on the duo's early collaborations; jammed with precisely placed debris including "metal chains, glass, wood and cardboard," Ferrante & Teicher's dueling pianos reinvented decades-old standards with percussive, alien effects previously unheard in pop music. The duo's run of albums from 1956's Soundproof to 1959's Blast Off contains no duds, so grab Heavenly Songs in Hi-Fi for its hypnotic rendition of 1930s hit "The Moon Was Yellow."

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Share September 23, 2014 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Top Five

Tyler Clark presents: Local Mythologies writesTop Five: Emo Revival Lyrics That Remind Us of High School

It's been almost 18 months since the Village Voice ignited the Emo Revival brushfire; since then, the internet's musical commentariat has found time to go to some shows, churn out some clickbait, and even debate whether or not the "revival" is actually reviving anything. While the journalists have been occupied, the bands themselves have continued knocking out more of the records that make scene kids sad and thirtysomethings nostalgic. This week's Top Five brings young and old together, pairing lyrics by five Emo Revival bands with some cringeworthy situations that many of us might've gone through the last time this music was popular.


1) A Great Big Pile of Leaves - "Ambiversion"

The line: "I get so extroverted/ But only when no one else is looking"
Emo level: Low
Might remind you of: Nervously eating a Taco Bell burrito in the backseat of a Pontiac Grand Am while the couple in the front argues about the Promise Ring.

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Categorized: Top Five

Tyler Clark presents: Local Mythologies writesTop Five: Child Ballads Recorded By Unexpected Artists

When they were originally collected in the 1850s by folklorist Francis James Child, the 305 songs of the Child Ballads codified English and Scottish oral folk traditions dating as far back as the 1400s. In the 1960s, they helped folk revivalists like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Fairport Convention add authentic dashes of ghostly romance and gratuitous swordplay to their setlists. Today, they're still creeping up on records, often assuming the shape of an artist's own musical vision. This week, I tracked down five contemporary acts who weren't afraid to add their own spin to songs that are older than all of their ages combined.

1) Ween - "Cold Blows The Wind" (1997)

Based on: "The Unquiet Grave"
Ballad synopsis: A girl cries on her lover's grave hard enough to wake him up. Fearing increased traffic in the cemetery, he asks her to let him stay dead.
How they made it their own: Surrounding it with weirdness. "Cold Blows The Wind" appears on the second half of The Mollusk, Dean and Gene Ween's woozy nautical send-up of '70s Hobbit-prog excesses. By the time listeners get there, they'll have heard a warped vaudeville pump-up track ("Dancing In The Show Tonight"), a nihilistic Irish drinking song ("The Blarney Stone"), and a song about a mystical conch ("The Mollusk"). Amid these musical tricks, a 600-year-old sea ballad about an undead lover seems downright relatable.

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Tyler Clark presents: Local Mythologies writesTop Five: Songs About Football

Thanks to two decades as the theme of Monday Night Football, Hank Williams, Jr.'s NFL-centric remake of "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" remains the most recognizable song about football not called "The Super Bowl Shuffle." America, we can do better. In honor of football season, here are five superior songs about the gridiron, and all of the promise and peril it contains.

1) Pavement, "Lions (Linden)" (1992)

The Linden Lions are real. They play football in California's tiny Mother Lode League, facing off against teams from other farm towns irrigated to life by the reservoirs of the Central Valley. Stephen Malkmus attended high school in nearby Lodi, balancing his slacker whateverness with a red-blooded love of sports. Both aspects of his personality come out in this track from 1992's Watery, Domestic. The freak in Malkmus criticizes the usual targets: small-town provincialism, civic mismanagement, the rah-rah that fills stands and funnels money to booster clubs while the surrounding infrastructure decays. Despite all that, the fan wins out. Malkmus understands the escapist appeal of autumn weekends spent sitting in a rickety stadium, rooting for the kids from the next county over to get their teeth kicked in.

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Tyler Clark presents: Local Mythologies writesTop Five: Albums About Bummer Futures

This year marks the 40th anniversary of David Bowie's Diamond Dogs, the finest dystopian record ever recorded. Featuring mutants and marvelous men cavorting around the ruins of a 1984-inspired New York, it set the pop-music standards for talking about the perils of tomorrow. In honor of its birthday, we tracked down five more albums that operate with the same thesis: sometimes, the future sucks. 

1) Grandaddy, The Sophtware Slump (2000)

"How's it going, 2000 Man?" asks Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle on "He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot," the opening track to The Sophtware Slump. 2000 Man never answers, but we can assume the answer is "not so hot, Jason." Released at the height of the dot-com bubble, the album presents a Silicon Valley utopia gone wrong: the trees are plastic, the dogs are suicidal, and the people are rendered disconnected and isolated by the technology designed to help them. Sadly, that technology doesn't fare much better. On "Jed The Humanoid," Lytle tells the tale of Jeddy 3, a robot so despondent about his abandonment by his creators that he actually drinks himself into a fiery malfunction.

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Share August 25, 2014 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Top Five

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