Until I met Steve, eighteen years ago, I did not know anyone who liked the band Yes, much less loved them. (Actually, there might not be any middle ground there.) Over the years we've shared a lot of music - seeing shows, listening to records, making recommendations, discussing music, etc. While we certainly agree on a lot of music, there remains a lot we don't agree on. And I think we've figured out how to be okay with that. In this respect, our musical relationship reflects the hard-won balance of respect, affection, and humorous (but sincere) ridicule that pervades every part of our friendship. Fully ambivalent to whatever is de rigueur, Steve tends to fall deeply for an artist or group of artists and listen to them a lot. Actually, he displays this kind of commitment-bordering-on-obsession in many facets of his life, including (most deliciously) his mastery of BBQ, his intellectual dominance in legal arenas, and his steadfast commitment to being a truly awesome lifelong friend. I'm proud to call him my brother. Steve lives outside of Savannah with his wife Ingrid, two tiny dogs, and a collection of state-of-the-art BBQ equipment.
Metallica – (Anesthesia)--Pulling Teeth This song remains as cool to me today at thirty-seven years old as it was the first time I listened to it at thirteen. The transition from the bass solo to where the drums and guitar come in at about the 2:30 mark is simply amazing, shivers down my spine. To me, this song is the sound of freedom.
Duran Duran – My Own Way My appreciation of Duran Duran began as a joke back in high school. Funny enough, I realized I actually liked them. This is my favorite song on Rio. I love the guitar 70’s style fast chord progressions, poppy bass, synth, and, most of all, the dude who yells “Come on, 45!”
Виктор Цой и Группа "Кино" ( Victor Tsoy I Gruppa "Kino" ) – Группа крови ( Gruppa Krovi ) Anyone who knows me knows that I lived in Moscow for several years after I graduated college. In keeping with my penchant for discovering music long after it has already been made, Kino and Victor Tsoi became one of my favorite Russian groups when I lived in there. They became popular in the 80’s. My love for them is probably influenced by the simplicity of their lyrics. When he was alive, Victor Tsoi stated that he modeled the group Kino to sound like Duran Duran. I see the similarity with this song, but the interesting part is that Tsoi wrote most of Kino’s songs before starting the band. The acoustic versions are often quite better than Kino’s versions.
Neil Young – My My, Hey Hey - Out Of The Blue I never really liked Neil Young that much before I heard this song, but this was the song that did it.
Jimi Hendrix – Valleys of Neptune Jimi is one of my all-time favorite musicians and this is probably my favorite song of his. How could you not like this song with lyrics like, “Mercury liquid emeralds shining” and “See the wind make love to all the oceans”? I first heard this song in 1991 when my Dad bought me the Lifelines of Jimi Hendrix CD box-set, which had tons of rare Hendrix stuff. The only problem with the set was that every single freakingsong was separated by commentary, meaning that every song was interrupted with speaking. Fortunately for me, the fourth CD of the set was Hendrix Live at the LA Forum in’69, a concert I’ve never been able to find since then. It includes a 12-minute version of Spanish Castle Magic.
White Denim – I Start to Run I first heard these guys on Sirius XMU. A few years ago when I was in Kansas City for work, I borrowed a co-worker’s car and drove to see them play in Lawrence, Kansas over the weekend. Well worth the trip. One of my favorite shows of all time, even though I was by myself.
Auction – The Road Not too much on Spotify in terms of Russian Rock. This song was popular when I lived in Moscow. It was part of a soundtrack to a modern gangster movie, Brother-2, an anti-American movie filmed in parts of Moscow, New York, and Chicago. I got pretty into a lot of the bands that contributed to the soundtrack. I felt pretty cool about my taste in contemporary Russian music until a Russian friend informed me all those bands were pretty lame. I don’t care. I still like this song and the soundtrack to the movie.
Buffalo Tom – Heaven (live Acoustic) My friends Jim and Jamie introduced me to Buffalo Tom in high school. We had a band together, The Hashbrownies, which was really Jim’s band. Jamie made this page on bandcamp not too long ago, to put some of the old recordings there. (ed. note - If you look in the picture used for the banner you can see Steve playing the Strat he gave me years ago.)Pretty cool when you realize Jim was writing a lot of those songs when he was 14. Heaven was played at Jim’s funeral in 1991.
Fleet Foxes – Ragged Wood I know certain people aren’t too keen on talking about combinations of groups who a band reminds you of, but this song reminds me of a combination of Simon & Garfunkel and The Soft Bulletin era Flaming Lips, which is probably why I like it so much.
Mumiy Troll – Nevesta? (Bride?) For every Russian group or singer, Russians invariably say, “This is the Russian Bob Dylan,” or “These are the Russian Beatles,” always making a comparison to an equivalent foreign group. To my knowledge, it is scientifically impossible to compare Mumiy Troll to anyone.
White Denim – Shy Billy This song reminds me of my wife.
The Cure – Three Imaginary Boys Not really sure what Robert Smith is singing about in this song, but I love it because he seems so earnest, especially when the fuzz guitar solo starts in the middle.
Grizzly Bear – Yet Again I can’t think of a group that is more hit or miss for me than Grizzly Bear. I absolutely love some of their songs and, others, I just fast forward past. This new song of theirs just sort of parallels the group as a whole.
White Denim – Paint Yourself White Denim doesn’t just rock. They can make you think too.
Zemfira – Search Another song from Brother-2. Great dialogue from the movie at the end of the song, Pulp Fiction Soundtrack style-esque. One of the things that drew me to Kino was the simplicity of their lyrics. Zemfira’s lyrics are the opposite. Wish I had gone to see her in concert when I lived there. You need to listen to this song at 11.
Frank Black – Speedy Marie This song just makes me feel cool!
Paul Simon – Late in the Evening The imagery in this song is incredible. Feels like someone’s telling you a story on their back porch. This song is from 1982 or something. From the music, you can tell Paul Simon’s getting ready to go to Graceland. Pretty funny coming off of Josh’s post on World Music.
Tubeway Army – Listen To The Sirens Driving around Lincoln with Dan at night in 2000. Just arrived with my buddy, Seth. Dan is blaring this song on the radio, sort of twitch-dancing/singing while giving the Lincoln tour. Seth is very freaked out. That memory comes to mind every single time I hear this song.
Кино – Солнечные дни This is a pretty good example of what the non-Duran Duran Kino songs sound like. This song is about the long and depressing Russian Winter. Enjoy!