November 20, 2006

If you want a show, just let me know and I’ll sing in your ear again

Today marks one year (!) since I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS took its first tentative steps with an initial post, and I’ve been contentedly rolling along ever since, gathering steam as I go.

I know that downloading music (and absorbing all that I have to say here) can sometimes be like drinking from a firehose, so I thought to compile you a 20-song mix of my absolutely favorite tracks that I have featured in the first year of this blog.

Some of these tunes I posted up way at the beginning when I think my readership was about 30 people a day. Since y’all have literally multiplied yourselves a hundred-fold since then, lots of you may have missed these excellent tunes the first time around.

So if you haven’t heard these, they get my highest recommendation, each and every one. If I had a radio station I would absolutely be playing each of these on a near-daily basis for the enrichment of the world’s eardrums at large. Here they are, along with what I originally wrote about them during this past year:

01. Powers – Blackalicious
“This track makes me jump up and dance in my stripey socks like nobody’s business. The ultimate summer party song, droning deep lead vocals, a sick backbeat, teasing electric guitar licks, and a gospel-y chorus. Uh huh. Shake it. This song ROCKS.” (6/19/06)

02. Somebody Ease My Troublin’ Mind – Les Paul with Sam Cooke and Eric Clapton
“Les Paul is best known for creating the first solid-body electric guitar for Gibson. This cut pairs Les (now 90) with Sam Cooke on vocals and Eric Clapton on guitar. Although Cooke died in 1967, they’ve revived some old vocal tracks of his, stripped out the backing instrumentation, and laid down new material here. Sam Cooke always makes me want to slow dance barefoot in the kitchen.” (1/9/06)

03. The First Single – The Format
From my concert review: “The final song, anthemic and sweaty and once again, everyone sang along. (Who names their first single ‘The First Single’? These guys do.)” (8/23/06)

04. I Will Be Free – Nil Lara
“Lara is soulful and passionate and sings like his heart is burning. Add in heavy doses of warm & layered Latin percussion, traditional Cuban and Venezuelan string instruments, and his soaring chants and vocals (in a combination of Spanish and English) – and I was hooked.” (7/19/06)

05. So Hard To Find My Way – Jackie Greene
“A fantastic upbeat, retro-sounding tune combining piano, banjo, and Memphis horns. With his new album Jackie is delving into more poppy arrangements than the harmonica-folk of his previous efforts, but it sounds good to me. I really like this chap and think we will be hearing a lot more from him.” (6/12/06) (video performance here)

06. Unnamed – Leona Naess
“This new one from Leona’s upcoming album is definitely her most singable, radio-friendly, and excellent sounding song in a while. With great couplet lines like “Shake these hips and let them persuade you / Take my songs – they’re always about you” . . . the lyrical writing style is classic but the sound is uptempo & fresh.” (5/15/06)

07. Crack The Whip – Spinto Band
“Pitchfork’s description of this song, by current Arctic Monkeys tour opener The Spinto Band, caught my attention: “Four-on-the-floor ‘Crack the Whip’ lashes the make-up alternapop zeitgeist, whippin’ the Killers at their own neu-dance-wave game before ascending to a gates-of-heaven Beach Boys chorus like this was the Biblical, non-DFA Rapture.” That is one of the best-written music review sentences I have read in a while, and I am digging the song in a big way.” (3/20/06)

08. Walt Whitman Bridge – Marah
“Hey there, Marah. Where’ve you been all my life? This is a really, really great folk-punk/roots/garage-rock band making some quality tunes, a largely undiscovered gem in the lexicon of rock music today. Listen to the harmonica in this one, and the story in the lyrics.” (1/28/06)

09. Under All The Bright Lights – Ryan Auffenberg
“This song sails effortlessly into my top ten favorite songs of 2006 thus far. Seriously, I love it and you will too. It is a stellar, evocative, emotional tour de force set against a lush backdrop of gorgeous strings and wrenching piano. But for all the prettiness of the melody, listen closely to the lyrics for a dose of jarring reality.” (8/14/06)

10. Something In The Way – Nicolai Dunger
“Neither a Nirvana cover, nor a Beatles cover, this ex-footballer (and by footballer I mean soccer player) Swede has a pleasant backyard BBQ vibe, which is something I can appreciate in the cold brown of winter.” (2/6/06)

11. Love You In The Fall – Paul Westerberg
“I find this new track very enjoyable – the opening is fantastic vintage Westerberg, with a similar feel to tunes like ‘Be Bad For Me’ or the recent ‘Mats track ‘Message To The Boys.’ The lyrics are admittedly a bit simplistic, but I don’t listen to him to discern the meaning of the universe or anything, so this will do just fine.” (9/15/06)

12. Take What’s Mine – The Shore (fixed)
“A certain musical know-it-all recently recommended that I take a listen to The Shore, an L.A.-based trio who somehow slipped past the mainstream musical scene but are definitely worth some of your time. Their dusty, beautiful music does indeed incorporate many elements of, say, Stereophonics or The Verve (including all the oooh, ooooohs you can shake a stick at) but after you give it several listens it gets richer each time, until it truly stands out on its own and you forget the comparisons.” (7/18/06)

13. Only A Fool – Marit Larsen
“Shimmery plucky guitar pop from Norway’s Marit Larsen with wheezing harmonica and a wide-open happy vocal that reminded me of a few Sheryl Crow tunes that I enjoy. Ridiculously infectious with handclaps and banjo and all kinds of goodness.” (5/8/06)

14. You Are The Everything (R.E.M. cover) – Redbird
“I believe that there are a handful of truly flawless, perfect songs in this world. One of those songs which I love front to back and throughout each note and lyrical turn is R.E.M.’s ‘You Are The Everything’ . . . Upon hearing this cover, within the first ten seconds I was blown away – this is excellent. Whereas R.E.M.’s is sublimely sweet & dulcet, this is an aching and honest version with a touch more twang, and a female vocalist (Kris Delmhorst) harmonizing earnestly.” (6/16/06)

15. I Can Get Us Out Of Here Tonight – Lucero
“To me it’s like the best signatures of a young, urgent Springsteen written all over this song. When Ben Nichols sings ‘I can get us out of here tonight,’ it’s that same burning twinge that Springsteen makes you feel in your soul that makes you want to throw caution to the wind, roll down the windows, and take off on the interstate.” (7/11/06)

16. Only You (live version) – Joshua Radin
“This is a cover of the early ’80s synth-laden junior high slowdance favorite ‘Only You’ by Yaz (remember it from Napoleon Dynamite?), which Radin said he chooses to perform because he liked it when he was a kid. However, he completely reinvents it into something that is absolutely beautiful, a flawless little gem of a song that I think I’ve listened to 15 times today.” (8/10/06)

17. Become The Enemy – The Lemonheads
“Just hearing Evan Dando sounding this good makes everything rosy in my world. I think that the new Lemonheads sound absolutely fantastic – rocking, melodic & interesting. As good as I would have hoped.” (8/17/06)

18. Thin Blue Flame – Josh Ritter
“This song clocks in at almost ten minutes, and I personally enjoyed listening to it on repeat while drifting off to sleep. It starts slow and builds several times and then fades, and it contains some stunning lyrics that create beautiful mental images. The production on this song includes background chatter and glasses clinking, which adds to the sense of immediacy, as if this song is being performed live for you in a small coffee shop or dark bar.” (12/10/05)

19. Plastic Jesus – Paul Newman (from Cool Hand Luke)
“Here is where I reveal my true colors – I harbor a *serious* crush on the Paul Newman of 40 years hence. Have you SEEN Hud or Cool Hand Luke? If not, you must. I think he smolders better than any actor today. And I love the fact that I just got to post a Paul Newman song on my blog.” (1/4/06)

20. Listen To What The Man Said (Wings cover) – Ron Sexsmith
The story: “After chatting to his buddy Paul McCartney about Sexsmith, Chris Difford of Squeeze took Ron over to the ex-Beatle’s house for an impromptu jam session. Maybe you’ve heard this story, but you know you want to hear it again. Difford makes the introduction, they all have breakfast and before you know it, Ron’s singing ‘Listen To What The Man Said’ with Paul taking the harmonies. ‘Well, I didn’t know what to play,’ Ron says, ‘And [McCartney] does this thing when you talk to him — if you say something humorous, he’s got these huge eyes, and he sort of gave me this look like I was being a wise guy or something. Well, it’s a song I’ve always played for myself… and it was cool. I was singing lead and he was doing the harmonies and stuff.’” (7/14/06)

FIRST YEAR MIX AS ZIP

Ta-dah! Do enjoy, trusty reader. Thanks to all of you for a fantastic and eye-opening year. You all rock, perhaps a little bit more so now.

I would be acutely interested in hearing some feedback from those of you who have been with me for a while — what are some artists or songs or albums that you have especially enjoyed that you read about here? What do you recall as your favorites featured here this year?

(Onward ho!)

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50 Comments »

  • Came to you looking for a Pearl Jam cover of Don’t Be Shy, I think. Can’t believe you’ve only been at it for a year, it’s a great blog and good to be outside of the New York hipster ghetto. You convey a true love for music. Congrats.

    lbc — November 21, 2006 @ 12:46 am

  • Happy Birthday!
    Well, what can I say – it’s my favortie mp3 blog, i come here daily and always find something i love. I spread the word all over Austria and germany and some of my friends also check in here regularly, so there you go! Your blog always gives me the feeling, that there’s someone out there who loves and hears music the same way that I do.
    The world needs more heathers!

    schwarz — November 21, 2006 @ 2:35 am

  • hey heather, i LOVE ur blog & i check it out everyday :) over these last few months it’s given me lots and lots of great music. because of u i discovered brandi carlile, pearl jam (YES, i’m a recent convert), paolo nutini, and ray lamontagne and so many many more. i just wanna say that i love reading ur posts & trust ur opinion on music so much that i’m beginning to like a song just becos u say u recommend it…. is that a little too serious? ;p keep writing!

    R — November 21, 2006 @ 3:07 am

  • It is getting better
    And we all feel the same
    Will it make it easier on you now
    To know we rate your game

    One love
    One life
    When it’s one need
    In the night
    One love
    We get to share it
    Leaves you baby if you
    Don’t care for it

    You never disappoint us
    Or leave a bad taste in our ears
    You act like you have love
    And you want us not to go without
    Well it’s…

    NeverToo late
    Tonight
    To read Fuel for Friends and discover the light
    We’re one, but we’re not the same
    We get to
    Carry each other
    Carry each other
    One…
    Have you come here for Pearl Jam
    Have you come to raise Montagne
    Have you come here to play Buckley
    To the dreams in your head

    Did we ask too much
    More than a lot
    You gave us Zip Files
    Now it’s all we got
    We’re one
    But we’re not the same
    Well we
    Listen for each other
    Then we do it again
    You say
    Music is a temple
    Music’s a higher law
    Music’s is a temple
    Music the higher law
    You ask me to enter
    But then you make us smile
    And we’ll be holding on
    To what you got
    Because all you got is good
    One love
    One blood
    One life
    You got to do what you should
    One life
    With each other
    Sisters
    Brothers
    One life
    But we’re not the same
    We get to
    Carry each other
    Carry each other

    One…life

    One

    (With apologies to Paul Hewson and co..)

    russell — November 21, 2006 @ 6:38 am

  • I remember reading a message over at the 10 club from you about something and pointing people to your blog.

    I can’t believe that was almost a year ago already.

    Thanks for the great year of music. Now where’s the top 20 PJ songs from the last year?

    szg — November 21, 2006 @ 7:37 am

  • Happy 1st Birthday!

    groovyf — November 21, 2006 @ 8:00 am

  • Congratulations and all . . . Fuel, Friends is clearly one of the best, and hopefully you’ll keep on for a while.

    jennings — November 21, 2006 @ 8:55 am

  • Congrats! You turned me on to some good new artists and reassured my own tastes. Keep it fun, for the years to come.

    Howard — November 21, 2006 @ 11:08 am

  • Happy B-day, Fuel!!
    This is the chance to tell you how much i like your blog, Heather.

    Rob — November 21, 2006 @ 11:53 am

  • Congrats,

    I’ve been reading your blog since the Pearl Jam mix a long while back. Thanks for turning me onto some new tunes.

    The Barbarian
    http://www.gruntledgenius.com

    The Barbarian — November 21, 2006 @ 12:16 pm

  • Hooray for your 1 year mark, I had been listening to the Verve version of that song back and forth to work for a while. I was excited to see quote. I have been a reader of your blog for about 6 months, I share it with everyone I know and have turned many people into regular readers. Thanks for all you do for music, blogs are the future–

    “Never Coming Down in the Morning”

    Anonymous — November 21, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

  • I have been following your blog for quite awhile now and really do enjoy it. Congrats on the 1 year, good job!

    merz — November 21, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

  • Congratulations, Heather!

    Finding your blog was one of the highlights of my year and I’ve been glad to be a supporter/advertiser/friend.

    Best,

    Jason Warburg
    Editor, The Daily Vault

    Jason — November 21, 2006 @ 7:12 pm

  • Thank you for all the great music. You truly have a gift for writing, as well as music selection. I am many dollars poorer now because of all the music I have picked up based on your recommendations. Happy anniversary!

    Anonymous — November 21, 2006 @ 8:21 pm

  • damn, that Radin cover of Only You ROCKS. thanks for the post. his whole album has a sort of paul simon, s&g vibe that works. and yes, happy birthday. glad i found you. :)

    Jenie — November 21, 2006 @ 11:42 pm

  • Congrats Heather! I really love your blog, it’s a daily read for me. Plus, I already had most of theses songs ehhe.
    The top one from this list, in my opinion, it Marit Larsen’s Only a Fool. It’s sooo cool.

    Dri — November 22, 2006 @ 4:52 am

  • Thank you very much for the great music over the last year. I check everyday and will continue to do so. You’ve introduced me to so many new groups/songs, Thank You.

    Stephen K. — November 22, 2006 @ 10:22 am

  • Hey Heather, congrats on the one year, and just wanted to say thanks for doing what you do. I’ve discovered many artists through your blog, and I’m glad I found it. Thanks!

    joflow — November 22, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

  • Congrats on the one year… I love “You Are the Everything” one of my favorites from my favorite band.

    F.J. Delgado — November 23, 2006 @ 12:22 am

  • Happy 1 year anniversary!! :)

    I’m a longtime reader, first time commenter. We share similar taste in music, and I love your writing style. Thanks for sharing the music. Keep up the good work!

    Shawn — November 24, 2006 @ 10:41 am

  • Congratulations on your one-year anniversary. That’s a big deal! I enjoy your blog, stop in often. I am a Colorado girl, too1

    Linda Lee — November 28, 2006 @ 11:17 pm

  • I can not take this mix out of my rental car. Fabulous. And it is the perfect length for driving from Tucson to Phoenix, if one maintains…ahem…the appropriate speed. Thanks for this and all of the other music.

    Dexter — November 30, 2006 @ 5:10 pm

  • Aw–those “listen” arrows don’t work any more, because the MP3 file is missing. Any chance of finding them again, or of finding a zip file? Or am I doing something wrong?

    Shalanna — June 3, 2007 @ 12:50 am

  • Shalanna, music files are only left up usually for a week or two. This post is now over 6 months old, so the files are gone. You’re not doing anything wrong.

    heather — June 3, 2007 @ 7:29 am

  • Any chance you can update the links for some of your archive items like this? I’d love to listen to some of this music, but the links aren’t good anymore…

    Mike — November 6, 2008 @ 7:07 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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