On this Friday before Thanksgiving, I thought I'd try to put everything in perspective.
Are all of your friends dead? Do you have to go out in public with a white shirt, white tie, and white leather shoes? Do you work for something called "the Pulpit in the Shadows," which I'm assuming is a Christian paramilitary organization of some sort? Have you ever heard this album? No on all counts? Well, then, be sure to count your blessings.
Speaking of counting your blessings, it's time to line up the Friday Random Ten.
You know the rules. Take out whatever it is you keep your music on, whether it's an iPod or an imitation from such brand names as Sorny, Panaphonics, or Magnetbox; set that sucker on shuffle; and give us the first ten songs that pop out. If, in the spirit of Nigel Tufnel, you'd like to take the Random Ten "to eleven," go ahead and throw in a Coolness Self-Audit as well. (If you want a guide on how to handle that, check the comments here.)
Alright, here's my set:
1. The Latin Playboys, "Mustard" -- The Latin Playboys are a side project of sorts from Los Lobos (or "Los Lonely Boys" or whatever their sellout name is now). This is much more stripped-down and quirky-sounding than the usual Lobos fare, and it's catchy as hell. 8/10
2. Death Cab for Cutie, "Earth Angel" -- A cover of the Penguins' classic, taken from the soundtrack to a video game called "Stubbs the Zombie." I'm not sure what alt-rock covers of '50s whitebread songs have to do with zombies rampaging in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but the soundtrack is brilliant. Bands like Cake, Flaming Lips, the Raveonettes, and Rogue Wave covering classic songs like "Everyday," "Mr. Sandman," and "Lonesome Town." The Death Cab tune might be one of the best, but the whole thing's worth a listen. 9/10
3. Fatlip, "Today's Your Day" -- The new Loneliest Punk CD marks the triumphant return of Fatlip, formerly a prime force in the Pharcyde. This song makes use of the nice hook from Lee Dorsey's "Give It Up," and that earns it major points in my book. And yours, unless you're a communist. 8/10
4. Barcelona, "Kasey Keller" -- I'm an ardent fan of the U.S. national soccer team, so finding a nice tribute to the greatest goalie in American history was a treat. Does Tony Meola have a song named after him? I think not. Well, I hope not. 6/10
5. Jean Grae, "Keep Livin'" -- I found this on a sampler put out by Okay Player, and even with nice cuts from the Roots and RJD2 on the disc, this was a song I kept coming back to. Vocals that are a blend of Jill Scott and Angie Stone, and background samples that sound like something from Dilated Peoples. In other words, good. 10/10
6. José Gonzáles, "Stay in the Shade" -- If you like Sufjan Stevens and Iron & Wine, you'll probably like Gonzáles as well. Nice acoustic guitar work, haunting vocals, and the usual slide-you-into-a-coma stylings that go with all that. 7/10
7. Booker T and the MGs, "Soul Dressing" -- Nicely appropriate for the Thanksgiving theme. This is a sweet soul instrumental, with some brilliant organ and guitar work. If the only thing you know by Booker T is the song "Green Onions" (or the professional wrestler who bears his name) do yourself a favor and dig a little deeper. This cut is a great place to start. 9/10
8. LCD Soundsystem, "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" -- I'm not sure what the current Coolness Rating for this song would be. It was all the rage just a bit ago, but I think it might be following trucker hats and fauxhawks out the door. Hipsters are a fickle lot. Eh. 7/10
9. Interpol, "Untitled" -- Sure, the lyrics make it seem like the theme song for a stalker -- "I will surprise you sometime / I'll come around" over and over again -- but this is still a nice, slow-building bit of indie rock. I tend to like Interpol's slower stuff and this is as good as it gets. 9/10
10. Thelma Houston, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" -- This is a scorching R&B cover of the Stones song by Houston, a singer who's better known for her disco hits like "Baby, Don't Leave Me This Way." The cover is brilliant, and the only thing that mars it for me are the painful memories of that godawful Whoopi Goldberg movie. I'd wish her a trip to hell for that sin, but she's already on the Hollywood Squares. What more can we do? 9/10
Adding it all up, that gives me a whopping 8.2 average. For once, I successfully avoided the cringeworthy stuff on my iTunes and came up with a fairly respectable list. And for that, I'm thankful.
Alright, pilgrims. Drop your own Random Ten in the comments, and if you'd like, throw in a Coolness Self-Audit as well.