New-ish songs that bear repeating listenings:
- “Northern Highway,” Martin Courtney
Martin from Real Estate (the band, not the backup career for midlist rockers) wants to express sadness about being apart from his girlfriend but he’s too excited by the catchy guitar figure he’s come up with for much sadness to come through. It’s a great guitar figure! He plays it what feels like 80 times over the course of the song and at the end just gives up on the words and plays it over and over. Words are a pain in the ass anyway.
- “Jobs I Had Before I Got Rich & Famous,” Water Martin
Walter from The Walkmen (the band, not the Wednesday morning fitness club at the senior center) recounts awful jobs he’s had: mowing lawns, delivering roses and pizzas, working the switchboard at the Metropolitan Museum and the information counter at the Cloisters Museum. While he’s working at the Cloisters who should walk in but Billy Joel, now a “dignified old music man.” Walter has an epiphany: being a rock star would be better than all these stupid other jobs! So he becomes a rock star. Randy Newman territory, but still charming.
- “Talking Quietly of Anything with You,” Free Cake for Every Creature
A whispery, slow motion appreciation of having someone to sit on the couch and chat aimlessly with after a long day. “Your face in the lamplight/I want to frame it.” “Soup on the stove/tonight there is a moat around us.” “We’re not old/but we’re getting older.” I’ve been there, and as I’ve said before about of songs, lovely of someone to notice it. (The someone in this case is named Katie Bennett, and I hope the topic of changing the name she records under comes up during one of these end-of-day conversations.)
- “Shilpa Ray on Broadway,” Shilpa Ray
I have no idea who this person is or why she feels she’s earned the right to namecheck herself in a song title (or maybe “Shilpa Ray” is the name of the band?) but what a fun song it is! Snare drums, cheesy organ, vocal that feels delivered from the corner of sneering lips. It seems to have something to do with being resentful of poverty and of a boyfriend who can “stand in front of [her] and have no feelings” and therefore must be lobotomized. I like the line about having a “shopping cart filled with cheap thoughts.”
- “Impossible Hand,” Stephen Steinbrink and “Mono Pt. II,” Trapper Schoepp
We are in “people who like this sort of thing will like this sort of thing” territory with these two sunny, winsome pop songs. “Impossible Hand” has “ahhhh” background vocals. “Mono Pt. II” has a horn section. They are both about love, “Impossible Hand” the jilted aftermath and “Mono Pt. II” the unrequited non-beginning. Both would sound excellent coming out of a transistor radio.