What’s on Your iPod: JP Merz ’14

JP Merz

1. Japandroids, “Couture Suicide”

This Vancouver duo produces some extremely energetic, raw and full sounds. I saw them in Chicago on New Years and they played one of the most lively shows I had seen in a while. This track is on a collection of B sides called “No Singles.” Most of these are quite unpolished, but check out their album “Post-Nothing.” I think they really turned what they do into a powerful, cohesive sound on that album.

2. Queens of the Stone Age, “Mexicola”

This debut album of theirs was continuously played in my car all winter of my junior year in high school. This is some premium heavy desert stoner rock, great for crusin’ to. I don’t really dig what they’ve done in their most recent years but their earlier albums are worth checking out.

3. Colin Stetson, “The Righteous Wrath of an Honorable Man”

Colin Stetson’s new album, “Judges,” which features mostly solo saxophone along with some spoken word, pushes the limits of what can be done on the saxophone and makes it accessible. He uses key clacking to get percussive sounds, circular breathing, multiphonics, singing into the saxophone and uses dozens of mics to find some interesting sounds. Plus, he does everything in one take with no overdubbing. It’s pretty crazy.

4. Charlie Parker, “Scrapple from the Apple”

Speaking of someone who pushed the limits of what can be done on the saxophone, Charlie Parker is arguably the best bebop saxophonist ever. All of his recordings have such terrible quality, but they feature some of the most burning solos at ridiculously fast tempos, and I couldn’t imagine hearing them any other way.

5. Joe Pass, “How High the Moon”

“Virtuoso,” although somewhat conceited, is a collection of Joe Pass’s takes on a bunch of standards. His chord-melody arrangements feature some really beautiful voicings of chords and some ridiculously fast runs. This particular song is no different. If you want some great solo jazz guitar check out this album.

6. Lightning Bolt, “Duel in the Deep”

Lightning Bolt is a bass and drums duo. They take energetic shows to a whole new level. They play in the middle of the audience and turn up as loud as possible. The drummer screams into a contact mic taped to the inside of a bizarre mask that he wears. The bassist uses a plethora of pedals to get a huge, nasty, loud sound. This track is killer, the whole album “Wonderful Rainbows” is killer.

7. Yngwie Malmsteen, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow (ft. Steve Vai)”

This is some of the worst, cheesiest guitar playing that has ever been made. When I was in ninth grade my guitar teacher was in a metal band and somehow turned me to Yngwie so I have some Yngwie music. If you know Steve Vai and Yngwie you can start to imagine how stupid and ridiculous this song sounds.

8. Dead Confederate, “Goner”

I would describe this band as Nirvana with a southern drawl. I saw them on a side stage in the afternoon at Summerfest a couple years ago and was impressed. I found their self-titled EP which had a lot of great raw energy. Their album “Wrecking Ball,” which this track is from, lost some of that energy and their latest album “Sugar” I heard was even worse. Go for the EP though it’s really good.

9. The Dead Kenny G’s, “Jake Brakin'”

These guys opened for Primus in Milwaukee and I ended up liking their performance more than Primus’. Their album, “Bewildered Herd,” is a combination of funk, bebop, ambient, punk and noise. The whole premise of the group is just to piss off Kenny G, hence the name The Dead Kenny G’s. They’re pretty cool dudes.

10. Titus Andronicus, “Upon Viewing Brueghel’s ‘Landscape with the Fall of Icarus'”

This album, “The Airing of Grievances”, is one of my favorites. It could be described as punk rock with a folky tinge that is reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel. Whenever I’m feeling down I put on this album, and it is a guaranteed pick-me up.