Archive for the ‘Playlists’ Category

PLAYLIST: Not all Irish groups are U2, you know

As it’s Saint Patrick’s Day — and as we’re all obviously Catholic, we celebrate this religious holiday(!) — and people’s attentions are going to be turned toward Ireland, I thought it might be nice to build a playlist with a few of my favorite bands from Ireland. Don’t worry, none of them are U2. Here are nine songs from three groups: The High Llamas, God is an Astronaut, and My Bloody Valentine.

Who are some of your favorite Irish musicians? Share them with us on Twitter or comment below.


Wes Anderson flexes musical muscle in The Royal Tenenbaums

Wes Anderson, film director known best for emergent classics like The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore clearly knows what he’s doing with film — but can we say the same about the use of music in his films?

The Royal Tenenbaums proved definitive in capturing the feel of music in a Wes Anderson film; by now, it has become a trait of his cinematic auteur theory. The overarching style — especially as it’s exercised in the film — is most crisply defined by the Mutato Muzika Orchestra’s rendition of the Paul McCartney-penned classic, “Hey Jude.” Replete with harpsichord, the track defines the mood and feel of the film as a whole.

While we may be able to attribute much of the musical consistency across Anderson films to the use of the Mutato Muzika Orchestra — the Mark Mothersbaugh-helmed production company has also made at least some appearance on Anderson’s Bottle RocketRushmore, and The Life Aquatic — we can pinpoint some other important attributes of Anderson films that extend beyond Mutato Muzika.


Star Trek inspires bizarre musical efforts

Star Trek, a show that’s inspired millions of geeks around the world (myself included,) has perhaps inevitably spawned some very bizarre musical tributes. From filk to electronic remixes, Gene Roddenberry’s 1965 masterpiece has lasted 45 years, and given the success of the latest film in the Star Trek universe (even if it is set in a slightly different but importantly similar universe), it looks like it’s set to continue for some time yet.

1. Dark Materia — “The Picard Song”
What. A. Song. This one needs no introduction — it’s probably the best Star Trek-inspired track to date. This mashup of classic Jean-Luc Picard quotes compiled by Dark Materia is great; it’s not his only output — he also produced two tracks you’ll find later in this list.

2. The Firm — “Star Trekkin'”
I loved this song as a kid, but now, it’s a little grating. If you want to annoy yourself and every single person around you for a few minutes, give this a spin. I can only imagine how my mother must have felt.


Mark Linkous, Sparklehorse leader, commits suicide, leaves musical legacy

Mark Linkous, leader of rock group Sparklehorse, committed suicide yesterday in Knoxville, Tenn. He leaves a musical legacy that spans four full-length albums as Sparklehorse and two in collaboration with Danger Mouse and Fennesz. Linkous also worked as a producer, notably with outsider music favorite Daniel Johnston. Share your thoughts on the death of Linkous below.

PLAYLIST: Music, working combine for entertainment, productivity

Few things change your working environment more than good music. In my experience, music is often an essential part of work, whether I’m working on some routine data entry, trying to plow through that last line of code, or getting a last-minute news feature ready for publication. Here’s a short list of some of my favorites.

Pavement – “Spit on a Stranger”

When I’m working, I need something that will capture my attention but not demand it — Pavement’s “Spit on a Stranger” somehow hits on the right side of the line: It’s something rare. A catchy melody and evocative guitar work define this song, and over the past few days of working, I’ve not been able to turn it off.

David Lynch, Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse project rumored for summer release

Dark Night of the Soul is an album written by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse that was planned for release with a book of photos by David Lynch. The book of photos was released in early 2009. Due to disputes with the record label, though, the album was not released with the book of photos — instead a blank CD-R labeled: “For legal reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.”

The album is now rumored for release for Summer 2010. From what we’ve heard of the album so far, this is nothing like the Broken Bells collaboration of Danger Mouse and James Mercer. It has a dark, surreal feeling — full of complex layers of mind-bending sounds and faraway vocals, all quite fitting for a David Lynch art project.

The album features a wide range of artists, including James Mercer, The Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Frank Black of the Pixies, Iggy Pop, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, David Lynch, Scott Spillane of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Gerbils. (NPR)

The book, Dark Night of the Soul is available for purchase on their official website, You can also listen to the entire album at

PLAYLIST: Having trouble waking up? Try our energetic playlist!

Do you have trouble waking up? I do. Of the many strategies I’ve tried for waking up at a proper time — some more successful than others — one of the most successful, aside from having cold water unexpectedly sprayed on me, has been finding a few catchy, exciting pop songs to jolt me into normal life. In no particular order, here are seven of my favorite songs that help speed my waking process.

Radiohead – “No Surprises”
A veritable classic of our time, “No Surprises” floats you into a waking state with a staccato bell-like guitar introduction. There’s a reason it’s one of the most recognizable introductions in modern rock music, and when I’m waking up, I always find it important to listen to something at least vaguely recognizable. I hate being startled into my day.

Arcade Fire – “Wake Up”
Is this one too oblique? Maybe, but it’s still a damn good song to hear as you drift back into consciousness. There’s something about the driving guitar, the faux-choral arrangement, that blanket of warm distortion. Give this a whirl in your wake-up routine, and I’m sure you’ll notice a certain hopefulness pervade through your day.


PLAYLIST: Hung over the day after Valentine’s Day

By Ashlie Meredith and Matthew Montgomery

While Valentine’s Day holds a certain appeal to many in love with love, for others, it serves as a precursor to a nasty hangover. It’s inevitable when you drink that much. Hey, lucky us, Valentine’s Day fell the day before Presidents Day! Working while nursing a pounding headache and a churning stomach doesn’t exactly improve mental productivity.

Spiritualized – “I Think I’m In Love”

I think this song is most potent with lyrics like, “I think I’m in love — probably just hungry.” The song continues in this vein. It’s pessimistic, and when hung over, who isn’t pessimistic?

The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Drain the Blood”

If you’re not so hung over that you can’t bring yourself to listen to some frenetic indie pop, this short, not-too-distressing tale of vague heartbreak isn’t so abrasive as to provide a new approach to your relationships, but it won’t make you vomit (more) from overt enthusiasm.