Thoughts on Five Songs While I Pretend to Work

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“Back to My Old Ways”
Dr. Dog
We All Belong

Every time I hear the tinkly piano into to this song – the only one I like by this band – I think of Bobby Bare Jr. Bare is my favorite live performer touring these days, and I caught up with this hero of mine when he opened up for Dr. Dog last March. I walked up to him at the merch table during Dr. Dog's set and told him that he and his band have that certain something very few live acts can achieve, an emotional energy that turns his recorded songs into a series of single events that combine for an amazing overall live experience. I paraphrased. He thanked me and asked me what I thought of Dr. Dog. I said not much. He said I needed to hear the album. I told him I had the album and didn't love it, but didn't hate it, and that the only thing I could say about the live show was that the band reminded me of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. Then Bare, one of my heroes, told me he was going to walk to the other side of the venue. In hindsight, next time I meet one of my heroes, I will offer him or her a beer on my tab instead of insulting his or her friends.

“Comfortable Concept”
The Still City
These Songs Are Walls

This is one of my favorite local bands to see live. They kill it, and kill it with an edgy, energetic rock that hints at some of the best raw emo of the last decade without being annoying or whiny. But this recording is something else entirely. The phrasing of the vocals on this track makes me wonder what Counting Crows would have been like if they hadn't completely sucked. The world will never know. But if you get a chance to check out the Still City, do yourself a favor and go.

“Blue Balloon”
Ween
La Cucaracha

I really wish I still did drugs.

“Gypsy Woman”
Hillary Duff
Dignity

This album is really called Dignity. I swear to God. (That means nothing coming from an atheist, I know.) If you were in my car and this came on my iPod, I would pretend I had no idea how it got there and blame some “Song of the Day” podcast. But here, secreted in my cubicle, I'm nodding my head amid the debris of weeks of unorganized press releases, scraps of notes, and other things I'll never get to. Nobody can see me. Nobody can judge me.

“Interstate 8”
Modest Mouse
Baron Von Bullshit Rides Again

Very few lyricists can describe the existential nightmare that characterizes a good third of the human existence. Isaac Brock and I once spent a whole month together where I did nothing but sleep and drink whiskey in dirty clothes in my living room. Sure, I also had Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks with me that month, but Brock provided the soundtrack to the bottomless abyss I peered into for those four weeks. And even though I'm not crazy about the way this live album sounds, every single one of these tunes is a masterpiece. I love this band.
-- Sean Cronin


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