Ready Player One – the Soundtrack

I haven’t blogged in forever, you and I both know that, but here I am again with something to say, so I sit and write it out and put it out there for the world again. Ready Player One is a new book that was just published a month ago. There was a bit of buzz surrounding it and my brother-in-law read a few chapters online free and suggested I read it. This is a fanboy read if there ever was one. It has built on some geeky sci-fi of the past and run with it. This isn’t the thought provoking, forward thinking of Philip K. Dick or even a bit of that with some fun as in Neal Stephenson, and some are putting the new author Ernest Cline down for that. This is a bit more popcorn, but it’s absolute fun from start to finish, though it does have heart and I don’t believe it should be considered less a fine piece of literature because of the lighthearted nature. If you grew up on video games and pop culture from the 80’s, you may want to check out this book. The book is in the not so distant future about a video game designer that leaves his inheritance to whoever can solve a virtual reality video game, that almost everyone on the planet is trying to win. The contest is made up of pop culture references and in-jokes contained in the designers favorite movies, music and video games themselves. So it really is a game within a game, I laughed through the entire thing. I compiled a soundtrack of the songs referenced in the book, because that’s what I do when I watch and read things, I go and compile soundtracks to things that need them. I hope this is enjoyable to anyone that wants to listen while they read the book. There were parts of the book where I had to go find the music, so that I could geek out and experience the book with the corresponding tunes throughout. The music is mostly 80’s tunes that I haven’t listened to in years and are fun on their own or in connection to the great book from which they were gleaned.

For those of you playing along at home, here’s the track listing I came up with:

Dead Man’s Party|Oingo Boingo
Wild Boys|Duran Duran
Beds are Burning|Midnight Oil
Verb: That’s What’s Happening|Schoolhouse Rock
The Throne Room/End Title|John Williams
Like To Get To Know You Well|Howard Jones
Main Title: Also Sprach Zarathustra|Richard Strauss
Video Fever|The Beepers
The Safety Dance|Men Without Hats
Blue Monday|New Order
Union of the Snake|Duran Duran
Rebel Yell|Billy Idol
Time After Time|Cyndi Lauper
James Brown Is Dead|L.A. Style
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go|Wham!
A Million Miles Away|The Plimsouls
Change|John Waite
Don’t Let’s Start|They Might Be Giants
In Your Eyes|Peter Gabriel
Pour Some Sugar On Me|Def Leppard
Kids Wanna Rock|Bryan Adams
Pac-Man Fever|Buckner & Garcia
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap|AC/DC
Three is a Magic Number|Schoolhouse Rock

Download zip file HERE

Obligatory Best of Songs (and albums) 2010

I know I’ve been procrastinating the blog and the sharing of music that really does bring me pleasure. Why do I not do it then? Well, I’m a very good procrastinator, and… well that’s all I got at the moment. This year, as with last, some of my favorite finds have been unearthed by tracking down the tunes to the TV show Chuck. I always look forward to that show, if for the music alone. Actually recently the soundtrack has outshone the plot by quite a few kilowatts.

Caveat: You’ll notice my “best of” mixes have nothing to do with actual “best” albums/songs, but rather what I liked best or rather what I like at this very moment better than the others. This is completely arbitrary to my personal taste and preference.

Here are some of my favorite songs that were released last year.

The Happiest Lamb|Audra Mae
In My Sleep|Austin Hartley-Leonard & Kendall Jane Meade
On My Way Back Home|Band of Horses
Howlin’ For You|The Black Keys
Beat The Devil’s Tattoo|Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Crossfire|Brandon Flowers
The Ghost Inside|Broken Bells
Jackie Wants A Black Eye|Dr. Dog
I Like The Way This Is Going|Eels
The Diamond Church Street Choir|The Gaslight Anthem
Big Wave|Jenny and Johnny
Change Of Time|Josh Ritter
I Will Live On Islands|Josh Rouse
Think I’ll Go Inside|Joshua Radin
Little Lovin’|Lissie
Witchcraft|Matt Costa
Starting|Matt Pond PA
Precious Stone|Pete Yorn
Beg, Steal Or Borrow|Ray LaMontagne
Solitary Gun|Rogue Wave
I Can’t Get Enough|Rooney
Thieves|She & Him
King Of Spain|The Tallest Man On Earth
Holiday|Vampire Weekend

You can download the entire mix by clicking – HERE. (As with last years mix – it doesn’t fit on a standard CD-R, I was too lazy to whittle it down (again) and I couldn’t delete a couple songs, so if you want to fit it, you’ll have to pick a couple to remove before burning, if you still use those archaic discs.)

I usually don’t list my favorite albums, but without thinking terribly hard about it – off the top of my head the ones that stand out to me in the last year are (in no particular order):

Infinite Arms|Band of Horses
So Runs The World Away|Josh Ritter
Tomorrow Morning|Eels
American Slang|Gaslight Anthem
Brothers|The Black Keys
Broken Bells|Broken Bells
American VI: Ain’t No Grave|Johnny Cash
The Grand Theatre Volume One|Old 97’s
Downtown Church|Patty Griffin
Contra|Vampire Weekend

Happy New Year. (better late than…)

All Summer

I just stumbled across this video this week and really enjoyed the vibrant Summer feel that evokes and that’s pretty much what I needed as the local weather here has jumped from spring straight into winter. We haven’t had much of an Autumn and the cold that has moved in this week has felt all too sudden. This tune features Kid Cudi, Best Coast and Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend. I have to say that it’s a fine grouping of musical talents and the outcome is synergetic. The song was released through Converse – the shoe company, which has recently opened a music studio.

All Summer|Kid Cudi, Best Coast and Rostam Batmanglij

Leaves In The River

I’ve never been a fan of Halloween, as is readily apparent in this photo of myself from the late 70’s. I’ve never been a fan of candy and I don’t much care for chocolate and though I enjoy the idea of dressing up in costume – the practice isn’t something with which I usually have much follow through. I’d rather stay in and watch and old Hitchcock or just completely skip the holiday altogether. Here’s a great little for your Halloween weekend.

I met a girl on Halloween
She was lost and I was drunk
And it was dark and cold out
When we left

Leaves In The River|Sea Wolf

Run On/God’s Gonna Cut You Down

I have always been a fan of Jason Lee and his work. Memphis Beat came out last summer and it looks like there is to be another season. Lee plays a cop/elvis impersonator, it’s not as funny as it sounds, but in a good way. I’m not a big fan of the arm waving a la Elvis as he sings at the end of each episode, but I do enjoy his song selections and the songs themselves sung by Lee. The choice of songs on the show is always fun and Keb Mo is in fact the Music Supervisor for the show, an artist who I’ve often enjoyed in the past on his own. There are quite a few great old blues tunes and early R & B tracks that I’ve enjoyed listening to as I’ve compiled the soundtrack on my own (a post for another day.) One of my favorite songs that Lee did was with a church choir that really got going in that great Praise Choir fashion – much the way Elvis did it back in the day. I also really enjoy a couple other version of this song, though they are quite different. The Cash take on the tune is entitled God’s Gonna Cut You Down, but it’s still the same tune, but only as the Man in Black can do it. Moby also mixes up the tune in fine form from the album Play back in 1999, which incorporated sampled vocals by Bill Landford & The Landfordaires. The great folk singer Odetta sings it A Capella to great effect and the Blind Boys of Alabama did a great job with it as well. Whatever title it goes by, I really enjoy this song.

Run On|Elvis Presley
Run On|Moby
God’s Gonna Cut You Down|Johnny Cash

Run On For A Long Time|Bill Landford & The Landfordaires
God’s Gonna Cut You Down|Odetta
Run on for a Long Time|The Blind Boys of Alabama

Eas(il)y Wonderful

This fall I’ve had great pleasure in the new albums that have been streaming forth. One of the groups that I consistently have in high rotation on my iPod is Guster. I was first introduced to this trio by the (*gasp* *cough*) radio, with the tune Fa-Fa and I was immediately snagged by their pop hooks and their catchy harmonies. I would listen to the radio (no promises) if pop music had harmonies like this. Their two albums Lost and Gone Forever (1999) & Keep It Together (2003) are two of my all-time favorites that are just great from start to finish, and I jumped right in with both feet and loved them from the first listen and was surprised that though I still enjoyed Fa Fa, it wasn’t even close to the top of my favorites list by the band. It took me a few more listens with their 2006 album Ganging Up On The Sun, but there are a few songs there that now mean more to me than the other two albums combined. This new album, Easy Wonderful released one week ago, was a keeper from the first listen and I’m glad they are back in fine form. I’m glad as a group that they are growing and stretching their musical wings and trying new things, but I’m glad they have their catchy hooks that get stuck in my head and those harmonies that I love singing along to in the car as loud as possible. If you see me driving by singing along a bit too much, I’ve probably got the Guster going.

Fa Fa (1999)|Guster

Hang On (2006)|Guster

Do You Love Me? (2010)|Guster

The Great Salt Lake

I know, I know, trite apology for the lack of blogging here, I am really out of the habit. I do occasionally mull around the idea of sharing some new song/artist with the Universe by way of the inter-webs, but rarely does the idea linger past the light-bulb stage. I went to the Band of Horses show this week in Salt Lake City on my birthday. It was sort of my present to myself and I have to say that I am often told that I can pick the right present for a person, and I’m no exception to that guideline (if I do say so myself.) I’ve blogged before about how much I enjoy this band and seeing them live was just great. The group sauntered onto the stage to the classic Joe Walsh tune that was played at my High School quite often. The story goes that when they were attempting to name said school that it was considered calling it ‘Rocky Mountain High,” which is both awesome and horrible all at the same time, but while they didn’t end up naming it after the great John Denver, “Rocky Mountain Way” by Joe Walsh became a bit of an unofficial theme to play at pep rally’s when it was first built, and still was when I was there (along with Thunderstruck by AC/DC, back in my day, as we were the Thunderbirds.)
The band started out the night with the Great Salt Lake and it really got the crowd going singing along in the city that bears the name of the lake, especially when frontman Ben Bridwell paused before singing (along with the crowd) “the Great Salt Lake” and ensuring that the entire audience should sing said something along the lines of “this is the only time we get to play the song tonight.” The set list was really a wise choice from beginning to end, including a cover of J.J. Cale’s Thirteen Days after which Bridwell told the crowd to go listen to more of Cale’s music. I do have to say that the strange song selections began at the encore, I really wouldn’t have guessed that those were the songs they would have played during the show at all, let alone as the encore (apart from Our Swords,) and I would have walked away thinking they had played every great song of theirs I had expected and even wished they’d play – except for the fact that at some point during the encore some guy behind me mentioned the need to hear Detlef Schrempf and only then did I realize what I was missing. Overall it was a great concert and it reminded me how much fun it is to share the experience of great music with others. I was also reminded how old I’m getting and how not fun it is to stand up through two opening acts and then the headliner, I have to remember that the cool kids show up late not just for appearances.

Rocky Mountain Way|Joe Walsh
The Great Salt Lake|Band of Horses
Thirteen Days|J.J. Cale
Detlef Schrempf|Band of Horses