The next week or so will prove mighty busy here in Milamland. Like everything else, however, it will have a musical background. Here's what I'm listening to at this hour...
"Notion," Kings of Leon - Only By the Night
I don't care what you think you think about Kings of Leon, this song is above criticism. I'll have plenty more to say about this record soon, but for now, I'll say that this is the most mature work they've put out. All of the songs simply sound grown up, smarter, better developed, and more controlled. "Notion" is the best example, and the best listen. It's 68 degrees and sunny and the leaves are just starting to turn here in Nashville and "Notion" is what it feels like to drive home in it. Buy it, roll down the windows, enjoy, repeat.
"Cannonball Days," Ryan Adams - Gold (Bonus Tracks)
Remember when Ryan Adams wrote actual lyrics? No? Me either, but this one time he did. And it was "Cannonball Days." And it was good.
"I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better," The Byrds
I caught some flack last week for saying the Gin Blossoms were what the Byrds would've been, if the Byrds had written songs. Anyway, "...Whole Lot Better" is a song that the Byrds wrote, and it's really them at their best. Equal parts jangly-Byrds-goodness and Beatles-influenced-doo-wop-rockery. Great pop lyric, not for the "feel a whole lot better," but for the "probably feel a whole lot better." Probably is the key, usually.
"I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," The Jayhawks
Hopefully this statement will spark a chorus of boo's from the uber-hip crowd:
I'm really, really late to the Jayhawks party. I'm not even sure how it happened. Some band just fall through the cracks, and I never heard a Jayhawks song until six months ago. Turns out they're, you know, really, really good. "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" is such a generous song, unabashedly warm and selfless and winning. It's gorgeous, and sunny, and not even a little sad, despite its subject.
"Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want," The Smiths
I fully recognize--and don't really contend with--the idea that The Smiths were at their best when they were, you know, trying to mean something. They're one of the rare bands that actually were better when they were trying to be more important. Still, my favorite songs are the small, candid vignettes like "...Let Me Get What I Want." Morrisey proves it yet again: sometimes the simplest way to say something is the best way to say it. Also, his vocal performance on these small-scale, confessional songs is, to me, much more resonant and impacting than on the grander tunes.
"No Sunlight," Death Cab for Cutie
Yes, it's catchy.
No, I'm not proud of it.
"All of the Songs," Chris Milam - Tin Angel EP
Yes, I'm listening to my new record. It's incredibly tacky. Buy it and join me, won't you?
What are you listening to?