10 Songs Of The Day Because One Is Never Enough: First Aid Kit, Quincy Jones, a-ha, the Cloud Nothings, Parquet Courts And More!


I'm gonna let you in on a little secret in the rock journalism community: "Song of the Day" or "Album of the Day" features are a great way to offer up clickable content when a site has run out of ideas or are trying to sell you something.

I mean, how hard is it to write about one song or album?

Thing is, with each day being 24 grueling hours long, how can a single song, or album, be expected to last us the entire day, especially if it doesn't exactly float our boat in the first place?

With that in mind, we at The Shit offer you TEN, count 'em, TEN songs of the day.  While we don't expect you to go bananas for all ten of them, chances are you're bound to dig at least one of them and if that helps the day go down a little bit easier, then we're glad to have helped.



First Aid Kit - My Silver Lining

Okay, seriously, it's about time someone studied what exactly is in the water in Sweden that makes their musical artists so adept at churning out some of the most glistening, evocative pop to ever come down the pike: Abba, Kent, Roxette, the Cardigans and the Perishers are the first to come to mind, but you can now officially add First Aid Kit to that list.

The group consists of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg from suburban Stockholm, who, on their previous two albums (2010's The Big Black And The Blue and 2012's The Lion's Roar, respectively), had kept things intentionally simple so as to best allow their tightly wound vocal harmonies to work their magic.

On their new album, Stay Gold, the duo works with a thirteen-piece orchestra to craft an album that fulfills all the promise of the first two and then some.  On the album-opener, "My Silver Lining", Klara's phrasing is intentionally rushed on lines like "I don't know if I'm scared of dying/But I'm scared of living too fast, too slow" and, while it may sound a little off-balance the first time you hear it, the honesty of the lyric and the performance quickly falls together in your mind and you'd have it no other way.

The production is oddly reminiscent of those assembly-line country albums of the '80s that Columbia was known for (Willie, David Allan Coe, Ray Price, et al), which makes it all the more perfect that Columbia is the label issuing this one.  The difference here is that the songs never fall into formula and the sisters Söderberg absolutely refuse to take the easy road.



Quincy Jones - Sanford & Son Theme (The Streetbeater)

Is there a catchier song in all of recorded music?  I contend that there is not and that if you dare click on the above clip, be prepared to carry this song around in your head for the next 24 hours.

If nothing else, this most iconic of TV theme songs is as concise an example of Quincy Jones' melodic and musical talents as anything he's ever done - and stone-cold proof that no other producer on the planet could have made Thriller or Bad the monumental game-changers that they became.

And yet very few people have any idea the depth of Quincy's own recorded output, which spans SEVEN DECADES.  You've Got It Bad, Girl - the 1973 album that featured the Sanford & Son theme - was his 21st studio album.



Of course, no mention of Quincy Jones would be complete without also dropping this nugget from 1981, "The Dude".  Tkane from the album of the same name, the song features the debut of James Ingram as well as an appearance from Michael Jackson.

If there is anything that sounds more like the theme to the latest "Shaft" flick, we have yet to hear it.



a-ha - Manhattan Skyline

One can't help wonder if the runaway success of "Take On Me" (and, to a lesser extent, "The Sun Always Shines On TV") didn't ultimately spoil us to the greatness of this song from the band's follow-up album, Scoundrel Days.  Sure, songs like "We're Looking For The Whales" didn't do a whole lot for their "cool" factor, but it's a shame we never got a chance to view "Manhattan Skyline" on its own merits.

The plaintive, lilting verses that open the song make you envision an '80s movie - maybe "Lady In Red" or one of those movies where Andrew McCarthy falls for a store mannequin - but when the dissonant, manic chorus comes out of nowhere and demolishes your perfect mullet, you can't help wonder "what if?".



Shellac - Prayer To God

Much like a-Ha got pigeonholed for "Tae On Me", Steve Albini is mostly known for one thing: producing a Nirvana album.  Sadly, his brilliantly visceral and confrontational work in Big Black (the Beatles of Chicago punk, if you will) is completely overlooked, as is his most recent project, Shellac (the Wings of Chicago post-punk, to carry the Beatles metaphor one completely unnecessary, but irresistible step further), whose 1000 Hurts LP is flat-out jaw-dropping in its greatness.

"Prayer To God" is that most perfect of songs; a prayer we've all contemplated at one time or another, but never had the guts to deliver on bended knee:

"There are two people here, and I want you to kill them.
Her, she can go quietly by disease or a blow
to the base of her neck, where her necklaces close.
Where her garments come together, where I used to lay my face.
That's where you ought to kill her, in that particular place.
Him, just fucking kill him.  I don't care if it hurts.
Yes I do. I want it to.  Fucking kill him, but first
make him cry like woman.  No particular woman.
Let him hold out hope that someone or other might come.
Then fucking kill him. Just fucking kill him."



Paul Weller - Brand New Toy

Okay, on one hand, you could dismiss this song on the basis that it is merely a new song attached to Weller's latest compilation package (More Modern Classics) to get the die-hard fans to buy it.  On the other hand, this is fucking Paul Weller we're talking about.  While we would never accuse the Modfather of phoning it in, if this is, in fact, what this is, then we would kindly ask that Weller "phone in" an entire album because the results would be AMAZING!

After all the music Weller has given us - from the Jam to the Style Council (which would normally be more than enough for one career) to the eleven solo albums released since 1992 - there is absolutely no explanation for how effortlessly Weller creates magic from such simple ingredients and again manages to piss off those still hoping for a Jam reunion.



Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal

Brooklyn's finest indie-rock foursome seem hell-bent on answering the musical question "what if Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers came out today?"  On their magnificent lo-fi masterpiece, Sunbathing Animal, the band builds upon the momentum of 2012's Light Up Gold by holding fast to the Ramones' credo "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", but, this time, the songs are hookier, tighter, grittier, and waste no time in hitting their mark.

So why is the UK the only one paying attention, it seems?



Cloud Nothings - Now Here In

In that same sonic ballpark as Parquet Courts, Cleveland's Cloud Nothings unleash their pummeling third album, Here And Nowhere Else, upon an unsuspecting planet.  Those wondering what it might sound like if Keith Moon had played drums in The Posies need only check this song out to know the answer.

For those still wondering when the next Nirvana is going to come along and sweep the soul-choking detritus of the last 20+ years, singer/songwriter Dyan Baldi gets our vote for writing songs just as unguarded, honest and hooky as anything Kurt Cobain ever came up with, minus the steroidal approach of Butch Vig's production and Andy Wallace's stadium-rock mix.

Until the rest of the world finds out how great these guys are, let's just keep the Cloud Nothings our little secret, okay?



Wednesday Week - Why

There are few songs great enough to compete against Mojo Nixon's inspired intro, but Wednesday Week's "Why" is one of those songs that you hear and think "How was this not a huge hit?"  Okay, maybe Susannah Hoffs had the better bedroom eyes, but that still doesn't explain why Wednesday Week, despite this top-shelf should-be hit, were relegated to minor obscurity.

Singer Kristi Callan's vocals are perfect for the material, rivaling that of Lone Justice's Mara McKee, yet it was Lone Justice who got the Geffen deal, the Iovine production, and the U2 opening slot.  By comparison, Callan now splits her time between her country side project Dime Box and her all-girl Cheap Trick cover band, Cheap Chick.

Well, shit, now I've gone and depressed myself.  Best listen to this tune one more time to get back on the sunny side of life.



Summercamp - Drawer

Okay, who is this band and why are they playing to so many crazed fans, yet you've more than likely never heard of them?  And why are they quoting Robin Zander's intro to "Surrender" from At Budokan?
Because they're Summercamp, that's why, and they just happened to be playing in Japan in support of their hit album (in Japan, anyway) Pure Juice!

Okay, that still doesn't explain why most folks who love Weezer and Nerf Herder and Presidents of The United States and Tonic have neer heard of these dudes who released only one album on Madonna's Maverick Records in the late '90s.

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