This isn’t the first time SNR’s longtime film reviewer Dan Barnes has written for MidMo, but it is the first time he’s waxed on something not related to the Silver Screen for us.Barnes has the same eclectic taste in tunes that he does in films, and happily applies the same critical facilities and fluid pen to his music writing as he does his movie reviews. Reading his picks, our first thought was, “why didn’t we ask him to do this years ago?” But then, we had no reason to be surprised – a guy who can work a Wallace Beery reference into a review of the Mel Gibson clunker Edge of Darkness can probably do just about anything.
The first song that I listened to in calendar year 2011 was “We Built This City on Rock and Roll,” and I stand by that decision. It’s so damn positive! We didn’t build this city on an Indian burial ground, or on the backs of Chinese migrant laborers, or on fusion jazz…we built it on rock and roll, and that’s alright by me.
It’s not that I don’t care about good music – in fact, while movies are my passion, music is my life. I can go weeks without watching a film, and when I do see one, I prefer a controlled environment (dimmed lights, popcorn, a separate chair for my ventriloquist’s dummy, etc.). Meanwhile, music is my all-hours, every-day soundtrack, and I doubt I could survive without it for more than a day.
I’m probably the first Musical Chairs contributor who can’t sing, play an instrument, or clap his hands in time to a simple beat. Thus, the only justification for choosing these particular five songs is that they’ve brought me a lot of pleasure lately.
This theatrical side from the defunct Canadian band’s Apologies to the Queen Mary has already propelled me through a lot of repetitive tasks this year. Featuring increasingly grand variations on the same jittery riff and brutally romantic lyrics (“I’ll take you where nobody knows you/and nobody gives a damn”), I spent hour-long blocks last January listening to this song on repeat.
“Back in the New York Groove” – Ace Frehley
I played this strutting single from the KISS lead guitarist’s self-titled solo album during every single bike commute home in autumn 2010. Ace Frehley was one of four eponymous “solo” records released by the KISS members in 1978, but Frehley’s was the most popular, mostly due to this irresistible glam-rock-style anthem from Russell Ballard.
My mp3 player is usually set to Shuffle, but The Suburbs is one recent full-length that I’ve listened to over and over again. As much as I love “City with No Children,” my iTunes play count shows that this slow-building chiller about the disappearing wilderness (“One day they/will see it’s long gone”) actually received the most listens. Self-righteous liberal harangues never sounded so good.
“The Cabbage” – Teenage Fanclub
The Scottish group Teenage Fanclub was one of the most underappreciated bands of the “alternative era,” releasing a string of brilliant albums throughout the 1990s. Their more recent output has become a touch too delicate and twee, but this cut from their 1993 release Thirteen (which actually contains 19 songs) is 2:56 of perfect guitar pop.
This charming Seattle band’s self-released debut Enchanted Chapel has several stuck-on-repeat-worthy tracks, but the ridiculously catchy “Invisible Diamonds” is my current favorite. The Young Evils are buoyed by the perfectly matched vocals of Troy Nelson and MacKenzie Mercer, two voices that would be boring apart, but ring and chime in sweet harmony together.