November 20, 2007

Fuel/Friends turns two years old today!

[that’s the two-year-old me on the right, celebrating something with my sis in fine style – I think it was a cousin’s birthday]

Two years ago today I started Fuel/Friends, mostly on a lark, to talk about my passion for music and all the other good things in this world. My how we’ve grown, and what fun we’ve had these last two years. I sincerely appreciate each of you guys who stop by each day to see what I have to say, and the attention that you pay to both my writing and my musical selections. It’s pretty much the raddest thing in the world to get to do this, so thanks.

Following the tradition I set last year, here are twenty great songs featured here during Year #2 that everyone needs to take a closer listen to. I know that keeping up with all the music I unearth for your listening pleasure is akin to drinking out of a firehose sometimes, so I’ve scrolled through my archives and picked some of my favorites that are worth another spin if you missed them the first time around.

TWENTY FROM YEAR TWO
Emily – Stephen Fretwell
Oh, Emily, you slay me. This selection was from a mix sent my way by dear reader Chris in England, and I think I may have listened to this song more than any other this past year. This slowburn stunner is sublimely sad and slightly bitter, one of those bruised and rueful moments of clarity about someone you love(d). But somehow it sounds so winsome, I can’t get enough. One reviewer thought (and I echo), “Emily was actually a great, bleak pop song and one of the most beautiful ‘f*ck you’s’ I’ve ever heard whispered on daytime radio.” [original post]

My Third House – Kings of Leon
I was baptized into the KOL cult in May witnessing their live show in Denver. I was on the receiving end of a headbutt that drew the taste of blood into my mouth, and when I hear this relentless song, I think of that. Since then I have also noticed an eerie similarity in the lazy instrumental bridge with talking in the background – sounds like DMB’s great song “Lie In Our Graves” to me. Take that for what it’s worth. [original post]

Your Favorite Thing – Sugar
From my Love Is A Mix Tape mixtape, this song has become my favorite of the bunch because it distills perfectly that essence of the happy days of wholeheartedly loving music that are detailed in the story.

Lonely No More – Magnet
Starting with a high and lonesome harmonica, combined unexpectedly with big band thumping drum-major beats, this one gets my attention from the start — and then the perfect pop Buddy Holly melody sticks in my head for hours. I ♥ it with a vengeance. [original post]

Lose Myself – Lauryn Hill
From the unlikely source of an animated movie about surfing penguins comes one of the finest Lauryn Hill tunes, oh pretty much ever as far as I am concerned. Something about this introspective yet old-school funky song, I just cannot get enough of it. I find the skittery stop-start beat in particular to be irresistible. [original post]

The End Of The World – Ash
Here’s a soaring tune that I want to sing along with and be listening to if it is, indeed, the end of the world. Tinglingly good, I love the epic feel of the key changes (I am a sucker for those); for some reason this line gets me: “Can’t hardly see the stars, there’s too much light pollution . . . That’s the catch, it’s such a beautiful confusion.” [original post]

Wings for Wheels (early Thunder Road) – Bruce Springsteen
Part of the Memorable Moments In Music series I wrote on for WXPN, this legendary Springsteen show at Main Point in 1974 captures the nascent glory that is Thunder Road being performed for the first time. I could also read the corresponding Jon Landau piece about Springsteen in this era on a weekly basis and not tire of it. He says: “But tonight there is someone I can write of the way I used to write, without reservations of any kind. Last Thursday, at the Harvard Square theatre, I saw my rock’n'roll past flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.” [original post]

Hardcore Days and Softcore Nights – Aqueduct
I completely missed this one when it first came around in 2005 (maybe because I don’t watch The O.C.) but when I heard it this past year, it hooked me instantaneously with its insane, thumping beats and I’ve listened to it since then on repeat. A lot. You will love it — and although the title sounds like it should be the definitive soundtrack to a porn flick, the lyrics are actually tame and a bit cryptic. That is to say I have no idea what he’s talking about. [original post]

Bring It On Home To Me – Sam Cooke
Someone just bring it on home to Sam already, with this post of cover versions that I had so much fun assembling. Because no one, no one comes close to tapping the power of the original for me, let’s listen to it again. Even though it’s self-flagellating sad sap fare, it always sounds like slow dancing barefoot on a dusty front porch somewhere. A flawless song.

You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb (alternate version) – Spoon
Similar to Britt Daniel’s eerie, echoey contribution to the Bring It On Home post, this song sounds like it was recorded in a grain silo or a metal shed somewhere, a huge, vacuous, cold metal shed. Yet it’s a cold, vacuous shed you wanna dance in because the beat here is shuffley, clappy cool. Combined with Britt Daniel’s falsetto, it’s my favorite Spoon song this year. [original post]

Electricity + Drums – The Apparitions
Every once in a while out of the dozens of songs that kindly introduce themselves to my eardrumsto in a week, something stands out in a big way — the sort of song that makes me stop what I am doing and say, “What the heck IS that?!” This fantastic song from The Apparitions [from Lexington, Kentucky and Washington D.C.] has been absolutely at the tip-top of my playlists for the week. I think if you just listen, you will agree with me, and we can handclap around together and try to figure out all the words. [original post]

Scar That Never Heals – Jeremy Fisher
Dude, hand me a tambourine. The song that I heard raves about off this album from Canadian Jeremy Fisher is track 3, “Cigarette,” which boasts one of the best choruses of the summer. But this song is the opening track, and is just so filled with infectious ’60s/’70s pop goodness — think Monkees meet Neil Diamond’s “Cherry” in a modern and non-cheesy way that absolutely makes you want to sing along. [original post]

Take Care of Us – The Star Spangles
I’ve been a fan of these gritty NYC rockers for about two years now [previous post], but I’ve been out of the loop and their newest release Dirty Bomb (2007, Tic Records) slipped right past me. The Westerberg-meets-Clash blend percolates to a perfect urgent richness on this newest effort — it’s addictive, catchy, rough-edged rock. The cascading backup harmonies are just the icing on the rocker cake. [original post]

Sunday Morning – k-os
Appropriate for the New Year’s Day when I first posted it — I wrote that this one’s fun and fresh and feels like something you should dance around to (if you, unlike me, have any feist left in you after last night and especially -ugh- this morning). A slaptastic backbeat and repetitive lyrics that sound like they are droning at you from very far away, this is infectiously catchy. It’s got the class of an old soul deal remixed with modern hip hop beats, from Trinidad-Canadian k-os to help you start your year off right. [original post]

Sister Christian Where Are You Now? – Jesse Malin
This is a b-side off Malin’s new Broken Radio single (UK), and has that same anthemic rock and roll sound as the rest of the excellent Glitter In The Gutter album. Aside from some incongruous time-shifting in his lyrics here (he is alternately born in 1973, 1984, 1968, 1932) he also manages a few vivid couplets like, “foolin’ around in the dark / back from college with carnal knowledge” and talks a lot about rocking – keep on moving, keep on grooving. Brightly shimmering guitar riffs and a ferocious rhythm makes this the first anthem of my summer. [original post]

The Devil Never Sleeps – Iron & Wine
There are some songs from Iron & Wine that just devastate me in the best way possible; I think Sam Beam is an amazing songwriter. I thought I knew him, kinda had his sound pegged as the perfect soundtrack to activities like moping, looking out a window at the grey clouds, or falling asleep. So get ready for the sounds on the new album Shepherd’s Dog (Sub Pop) — the songs are just as wonderful, but with a heck of a lot more spitfire and pluck. This one sounds like something from another time, floating out the window of a neighbor’s house into the humid summer night. The devil never sleeps because he went down to Georgia and is dancing to this. [original post]

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart (live 9/1/07) – Wilco
And ahhhh, this was the year I truly discovered Wilco for my own, and had my face personally melted by them in concert, by the original goodness and soul-wrenching virtuosity of their music. This was the second song of their first night in Denver (I’ve watched the video of it about 15 times) and it was during this song that I realized I was really in for something special with them; I think it was right around the time he pointedly sang, “I want to hold you in the Bible-black pre-dawn.” Like whoa. [original post]

We Will Become Silhouettes (Postal Service cover) – The Shins
This is one more from a guest post, this time a Chris from North Carolina instead of from England. He feels that this song is better than the Postal Service original, and I am inclined to agree that it is more enticing and crisp somehow. The bonus is that it also made me pull out my Postal Service CD again and it’s been in my car ever since. So it’s a win win win situation. [original post]

Night Windows – The Weakerthans
I have a penchant for sharp lyrics, and this is an area where Canada’s The Weakerthans [previous post] stand out. Their incisive, introspective feel will probably remind you a little bit of Death Cab For Cutie if you haven’t listened to The Weakerthans before; they are a richly nuanced group that I really enjoy. This song could undeniably be the most perfect summer night driving song ever recorded. You can almost see the yellow lines flitting past, feel the warm summer wind rushing in the open windows. [original post]

The Hustle – Marah
I wrote that this tune had been comfortably been living on my iPod for a good two years or so without receiving my full unabashed love — until now. At first I thought this urgent, perfectly ebullient song was maybe Westerberg because of the yowly crack to Dave Bielanko’s voice, with delightfully jangly rock guitars. I now love the bright burn and swagger of this song, it’s a new favorite. [original post]

ZIP: TWENTY FROM YEAR #2

Go ahead and sing along to that Marah line, “I’m-a leave the hustle one day when I can’t do it no more good.” That is also incidentally the theme song to this blog, when people ask me how long I’m in it for.

But ya know, I think I got some ‘good-for-the-hustle’ left in me, for quite a while longer yet.

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44 Comments »

  • Happy birthday! This is a truly fantastic blog, very useful for finding GOOD music I haven’t heard before. Hopefully you’ll keep doing this for a long time still!

    Pete P. — November 21, 2007 @ 8:11 am

  • thanks for the tunes, friend

    paulofillinois — November 21, 2007 @ 8:25 am

  • Many congrats, Heather. You do such a fine job, and I hope you’re in this for the long haul, because I’m planning to continue to visit your site daily, as I have since I first discovered it. Take good care, and happy anniversary.

    Eric — November 21, 2007 @ 8:39 am

  • Congrats Heather,and thanks. You are the best.

    Brian — November 21, 2007 @ 8:47 am

  • Congratulations, Heather. You have wonderful taste, and are a kindred spirit in a world of hacks.

    Clayton Moore — November 21, 2007 @ 9:01 am

  • Congratulations Heather! Thank you for being a worthwhile and entertaining part of my daily routine (numerous times a day). I truly enjoy your music selections, interviews and opinions. Nice work!

    All my best,

    Steve

    Steve — November 21, 2007 @ 9:22 am

  • Congrats on two great years!!! Keep the fantastic posts and music coming, I’m a huge fan of the site.

    Some Dude — November 21, 2007 @ 9:35 am

  • Happy turning two Heather!
    The passion that fuels every day here is truly inspirational.
    Thanks.

    -tom — November 21, 2007 @ 10:55 am

  • Hirppy Bathday Fuel!

    Krëg — November 21, 2007 @ 11:08 am

  • Un joyeux Anniversaire pour ces deux bougies !

    Nytoan — November 21, 2007 @ 12:36 pm

  • Happy B-day Heather!
    Your blog is one of my must visits every day!
    Cheers from Alberta, Canada

    Anonymous — November 21, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

  • congrats! i hope there are many more pearl jam posts to come!

    kristen from denver — November 21, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

  • Happy B-day! According to Peter Chianca you have the best muisc blog of all time! I am so glad he pointed that out. I’ll be reading, linking, etc. Rock on!

    Barbara (aka Layla) — November 21, 2007 @ 4:45 pm

  • Late as usual, but congrats on two years!
    You do such an awesome job, I really thought you’d been at this much longer!

    aikin — November 21, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  • happy congratulations, heather!

    i love your space on the web and you’ve given me/us so many great treats. i’m working on getting you a signed copy of “alone” in return for all of your tireless efforts.

    huzzah!

    - orthy.

    ortholomeux. — November 21, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

  • Abundant congrats on two years in the game, Heather — my only complaint is how much money you’ve cost me following up on your spot-on musical recommendations! :-)

    Jason Warburg — November 21, 2007 @ 6:04 pm

  • 2 years – is that all? feels like i’ve been coming here for ages!

    happy bloggiversary!

    jen — November 21, 2007 @ 11:57 pm

  • Hi Heather.

    I’m one of the french readers of your blog and it’s difficult for me to write in english. But i will try for this birthday. I read fuelfriends almost every day since almost two years and i want to tell how much pleasure it is to me to discover such songwriters as Ryan Adams and Jesse Malin. Wilco is my favorite american band – with Sparklehorse – and it was nice to have such alternative tracks this last months

    Happy birthday and thanks again

    Jf Caux

    Anonymous — November 22, 2007 @ 1:01 pm

  • Congratulations on your two years! Because your blog was one of the first good ones I ever found, I have always considered it to be a “pioneer” in the field, so I was surprised to learn it’s only been two years.

    Saw Springsteen in Boston on Sunday and Monday. On Sunday, unbelievably my wife and I made it into “the Pit” upfront, only 4-5 people between us and the man himself. Both were great shows.

    Bruce

    Anonymous — November 23, 2007 @ 7:51 am

  • Hey, haven’t commented before, but I read your blog a lot. First came across it because of our mutual love of Pearl Jam :) You’ve turned me on to so much awesome music! So thank you, and keep up the amazing work.

    Caz — November 23, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  • From a little sunny place in Europe….that apreciate your…great bolg: PARABÉNS!!! happy birthday FUEL and friends…TUGA

    pegasonix — November 24, 2007 @ 4:52 pm

  • Happy Blogiversary m’love. For some reason a bunch of posts from last week are only showing up in my feed reader today. You’re still my favourite music blog!

    lism. — November 25, 2007 @ 3:28 pm

  • H

    Thanks for the mention – I’m still here and you’re still rockin’ in the free world.

    Chris j Tottington / Edinburgh

    Anonymous — November 26, 2007 @ 1:25 pm

  • happy blog birthday! you’ve introduced me to lots of great stuff! thanks!!

    carolyn@crankymonkeybutt.com — November 29, 2007 @ 8:54 pm

  • I’m going to humbly ask for a re-up of this spectacular mix of tunes. Thank you for your blog and your time!

    Emelie — December 9, 2008 @ 9:06 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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