As I wrapped up the previous post on John Tejada’s “Bounce” it occurred to me that I had the beginnings of a really good mix. That realization made the pick for the next track even more pressing, it had to not only fit with John’s track but the Hud Mo and Square P ones as well. Hence the slight delay in posting.

plaid-bunsI first promised a Plaid Song of the Day way back in October of last year, then just days into my new experiment of posting one song at a time. Now some 20+ songs later, I finally have the perfect track to share — an absolute epic stomper from 2003′s Spokes.

This album came hot on the heels of the P-Brane EP, which was supposed to have marked a clean break from their more melodic days into something much more forwardly percussive. Spokes has always felt much more true to the Plaid sound I so dearly know and love. “Buns” comes near the end, an appropriate capstone if you ask me, so fast at first blush, yet effortlessly full and lush:

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I have tried repeatedly to find anything as immersive and impressive on their most recent full-length, 2006′s Greedy Baby, but it all falls flat to me, even though their live set in April of 2007 — Yuri’s Night at NASA in Mountain View no less — was the best of the four I have seen. Their new album called Scintilli (derived from scintillare, meaning to sparkle or glitter; to give off sparks) is due later this year, and I can only hope it is a return to classic form.

I heard The Smiths’ “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” on Abby’s iPod last week, and it sent me scurrying through her computer (I had long since deleted them from mine) to snag a few albums to listen to at work. I didn’t need more than a few songs to “satiate the need” but I was reminded of Schneider TM’s brilliant cover of “There is a Light that Never Goes Out.”

I first heard The Smiths in my senior year of high school and immediately adopted their music as the soundtrack to my life. I pretty much gained entrance to my fraternity on the strength of my knowledge and collection of The Smiths releases, narrowly escaping disqualification for not knowing about The Stone Roses (more on them soon).

By the time I left Miami University, most of those (now no doubt extremely valuable first edition) releases had disappeared (one of the many prices I paid for living in one of two rooms on the front balcony). Truth be told, I didn’t miss them one bit. I had long since outgrown their sappy sentimentality, and was ready to move on to something decidedly less contrived and much more my own.

As I continue to reconnect (and in some cases have meaningful conversations for the first time) with friends from high school and college on Facebook, it’s both amusing and instructive to look back on the music of that era. I find myself all-too-aware of that same trap of idealism and false hope: wanting to be adored but completely unwilling or unable to return it without strings attached. I suppose that’s part of growing up, learning to give without conditions, love without fear, and be nothing more and nothing less than authentically me.

It’s true that I am a sucker for anything with a vocoder in it, but Dirk Dresselhaus’s much more modern version is an absolute classic (various outfits far more respectable than me have ranked it as one of the finest covers of all time). Most of all, I love the fact that an entirely new generation now has a bit of The Smiths to guide them along their own path of discovery. Truly the circle of life never ends.

Here’s the original:

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And the cover:

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While your here, have a look at Radiohead’s cover of one of my other all-time favorites, The Smiths’ “The Headmaster Ritual.”

Completely ungoogleable by their proper spelling, !!! is more often both printed and pronounced Chk Chk Chk, but any other three monosyllabic grunts will suffice in a pinch. Like Brooklyn’s Gang Gang Dance, !!! is another New York band (with some from Sacramento, CA and Portland, OR too), and I thought their epic “Me and Guiliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)” track would be an excellent followup to Monday’s GGD Song of the Day.

It’s difficult to escape the reality of our current situation in America: our economy is crumbling under the weight of its own inequity; our government is in crisis-mode with the Bush administration trying desperately to conceal the true extent of the damage they have done; our environment is changing, rapidly, perhaps beyond the point of no return; our human race is at war with one another over the last remaining drops of oil, soon to be water and food as well; and the list goes on and on. Yet through it all, there is an unmistakeable sense of hope, and a deep desire to find another way forward in the world.

People always ask me, “What’s so fucking great about dancing?”
How the fuck should I know? Yeah, even I can barely understand it
But when the music takes over, the music takes control
Here’s a message to you, Rudy and you, sir, Mr. Bloomberg
And the rest of you ties-too-tight dudes
Y’all could learn a lesson, by losing inhibitions, yeah
Losing yourself in the music, losing yourself in the moment
Because we have nothing more than this very second
You can’t count on the one coming after, no one’s sure about the one before

At the risk of getting all raved out on you, and believe me I was only barely on the periphery of that mindset in the mid 90s, what can and will unite us is love, and dancing, and living each and every moment to the fullest. I truly believe a singular focus on the here and now, with an eye toward our comparable struggles and common dreams in life, can bridge our most historic gaps.

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My generation is on the cusp of taking control of our country, and all involved deserve a little dancing in the streets. Our work to end oppression and discrimination may be difficult, but it need not be drudgery, and I for one plan to keep on dancing, laughing, and loving for the next four years and well beyond.

Edited slightly after posting.