I was planning to do a first-listen review of the new Used album today. Unfortunately, Berth is a live CD/DVD with no new songs on it. And while all 8 of the songs are good ones, and The Used are a great live band, I'm just not as thrilled as I would be for a new studio album. I'll probably blog about Berth eventually, but I'll have to put my hand to it first; I couldn't find it in either of the stores I checked today. Damn, it's hard out here for the world's oldest living Used fan.
In lieu of playing a new album on the 'Pod in the car this morning, I did something I don't often do: I listened to the radio.
This is a dodgy prospect in southeastern Virginia. Not only do the various tunnels break up radio signals, but most of the rock stations seem to choose their playlists from the category "top alternative rap-metal hits of 1998." Fact: several stations play at least one Limp Bizkit song every week. That tremor you feel is me shuddering. But I could still find some relatively current stuff to listen to, as well as some true classics.
"Waiting on the World to Change" by John Mayer -- I only caught the last half of this one, but I've heard it all the way through before. Let me just say: this is what passes for a protest song these days?! It's the most passive damn thing I think I've ever heard! This is right up with that chorus from "Closing Time" by Semisonic ("I know who I want to take me home") in terms of sheer laziness toward achieving one's stated goal. God, no wonder the Mayer got swept up in the Simpson family vortex of suck.
"Say It Right" by Nelly Furtado -- here's a weird case of the Law of Attraction in action. Last week, I did a search for the lyrics of the song to see who sang it (you'd think the nasal voice would have clued me in, but no). Ever since then, I cannot get away from the song. It's as if the universe saw me researching it and decided I'd like to hear it half a dozen times a day. Fortunately, I still like it; the rhythm track is awesome, and I think Furtado's almost mournful voice adds a really nice dimension to the lyrics. Usually, I group her in with Conor Oberst and the rest of the "please sell your great songs to someone who can sing" camp, but here, she manages not to sound like a giant sinus, so good on her. (Oberst, though... Jesus. Dude, when you find the pitch, shoot up a flare.)
"In a Big Country" by Big Country -- I would place this song somewhere in the Top 100 songs released in the latter half of the 20th century. I'm not even kidding here. It's fantastic: wistful, pleading, inspiring; so clever in the use of electric guitars as bagpipes; containing one of the finest basslines in '80s pop. It's clearly of its decade, but the emotion and energy of the song take it out of the realm of synths-and-hair jokes. I'd posit that Stuart Adamson gives one of the great pop vocal performances in this song, considering the emotional range he captures in a tonal range of only six notes; his 2001 suicide seems heartbreakingly incongruous for a man who urged "stay alive" so convincingly.
"Wrong Way" by Sublime. I don't get Sublime. There. I said it. I just don't see the appeal. To me, they've always sounded like your kid brother's ska band who played frat parties sometimes. Every time I hear a Sublime song on the radio (which is quite frequently, given the playlist timewarp noted above), I can't help but think, "Somebody gave you guys a record deal? On purpose? You sure you weren't just drug buddies with an A&R guy at a label and he gave you a contract in exchange for a bulk discount on weed?" Just not my thing. But then, they sold millions while I get maybe 2000 visits a week, so clearly they know something I don't.
Yeah, I think I'll go back to listening to my "High Middle Ages" history course on the commute. I can't sing along, but I do find it soothing as well as highly educational. And one of these days, maybe I'll have a new Used studio album to blast.