Anybody else tired of April showers? Better turn the music up loud.
1. Addicted to Love / Robert Palmer
From Riptide (1985)
From the very first beats on those whomping drums, I start to grin despite myself. "The lights are on, but you're not home / Your mind is not your own... One of the classic MTV videos, with sultry scarlet-lipped models gyrating and strumming guitars, and Palmer in a devastatingly well-cut gray suit. That mesmerizing rhythm line drove this song straight to #1; a great 80s throwback.
2. Every Planet We Reach Is Dead / Gorillaz
From Demon Days (2006)
Damon Albarn gets his funk on. The comic-book element of this project is lost on me, but I sure do dig their sound -- electronica that manages NOT to be tedious or repetitive. It can be done!
3. Uncorrected Personality Traits / Robyn Hitchcock
From I Often Dream of Trains (1984)
A cappella psycho-babble whimsy from the delectable Mr. H. One of the funniest songs ever.
4. I Was Watching You / Rosanne Cash
From Black Cadillac (2006)
Rosanne's album-length elegy for her parents -- who just happened to be Johnny Cash and June Carter -- is pretty good proof that talent is genetic.
5. Some Other Guy / The Searchers
From Sugar and Spice (1963)
I think Johnny Kidd and the Pirates (remember them? no, me neither) recorded the original hit single of this snappy little Lieber-Stoller teen love song, but every British Beat band did a cover of it; there's grainy film somewhere of the Beatles singing it at the Cavern Club. For my money, though, the best is the Searchers, with the extra zing of their guitars.
6. I Bet You Won't Stay / The Cascades
Sorry, no link for this one -- an obscure pop single which I have in bootleg only because Ray Davies wrote it. And you thought the Cascades' only song was "Rhythm of the Rain"? In fact they recorded a couple of Ray's early songs, when he was still hedging his bets with a little freelance songwriting. Oddly jazzy, with a jangly electric piano and tons of reverb -- they do perfect justice to the wistful neurosis of this song.
7. Another First Kiss / They Might Be Giants
From Mink Car (2001)
There's always a daffy angle to every TMBG song, but they can also do earnest surprisingly well. Of course there can only be one first kiss -- but that won't stop the ever-winsome John Linnell from trying.
8. Vanity Press / Graham Parker & the Figgs
From Songs of No Consequence (2005)
The object of today's high-energy satire: unscrupulous journalists, for whom Graham Parker seems to have reserved a special circle of hell. Clever lyrics fly thick and fast; you gotta listen close to get every flash of wit. But never fear, GP still packs in a killer hook in the chorus.
9. Die Die Die / The Avett Brothers
From Emotionalism (2007)
I love these guys, with their hoarsely sweet folky harmonies, plucky banjo, and soaring melodies. This earlier album, before their "breakthrough" I and Love and You, proves that they've got the chops to be around for a while.
10. Without Love / Nick Lowe
From Labour of Lust (1979)
Sigh...I know I've written about this song before. But now that Labour of Lust's been reissued, it's on my daily playlist all over again. "Without love, I am an island / All alone, in a heartbreak sea...."