Five More From CNET

Some time has passed since I decided to foist my musical sensibilities on you. Even Portishead came out of hiding since I last wrote about CNET’s repository of free music. The next five songs also drop from CNET’s completely legal server-trove of MP3 tracks. Apart from my subjective taste there’s not much that unifies them. The first two are more on the electronic spectrum whereas the last three eschew technology for good ol’ fashioned instruments. I don’t know if any of these songs make good on my promise last time to reveal “how I’m five years behind the times.” But don’t worry, I remain resoundingly behind the times.

1. Black Cat by Ladytron

There’s an early-90’s industrial earnestness to this track that I really dig. The synths and bells offset the faux-severity of the German— if you could pick the music for a club scene in an overly sincere indie vampire movie from fifteen years ago you’d be hard pressed to choose between this and those nice KMFDM fellows.

2. We Own the Sky (Maps Remix) by M83

When M83’s DeadCities, RedSeas, & LostGhosts was released in 2003 it showed plenty of promise but little restraint. Every track was a wall of sound extravaganza that even My Bloody Valentine would have found overwrought. While it did have moments of profound beauty there was no rhythm to the overall set; no resting points to break up the wash of sound.

Time seems to have remedied this tripping point. While I haven’t rushed out to purchase M83’s new Saturdays = Youth I’ve been encouraged to do so by the three fabulous tracks offered up on CNET. Here the aural bombardment is tempered with more employment of the human voice and well-considered movements within tracks. This remix hints at what Moby might have become if he’d pushed himself to continue exploring the stylings evident on Everything Is Wrong.

3. Fake Empire by The National

The voice. The melancholy. The adolescent triumph over the night. All your best summer evenings have been distilled into The National syrup.

4. Albert Hash by Hezekiah Jones

Sometimes I just want to listen to a simple duet with guitar. It should have a sweet hook and little pretense. I’ll allow a bit of navel-gazing but I don’t want ponderous sound scapes or drug-induced jam sessions. Albert Hash is just such a song. It tells a brief tale and demonstrates that a song can be layered without being “produced.” Its traditional sound is matched by a very traditional play time. I guess there was a day when it was possible to create an entire world in a little over two minutes.

5. Is a Woman by Lambchop

One of the hottest debates in high school was whether or not there were more strong female vocalists or male vocalists in modern music (for those of you interested in entertaining such an inane question we defined modern as the 1960’s to the year of said debate, around 1993). At that time I was firmly in the female camp but as my musical tastes change I find that the deeper notes of the male voice resonate better with my adult moods. Kurt Wagner’s voice is so adept (download the alternate version of The Distance From Her to There to get a sense of his range), so magical, that I believe he could craft an appealing song for nearly anyone’s ear.

And while I tend to think of music videos as a scourge to the music industry I must confess that the video for Is a Woman stands on its own as a wonderful work of animation. 

So ends the new five. I shall stop before I become the sorry embodiment of a Nick Hornby character.