Nathan Smart reviews your favorite songs from his catalog!


Invitation to Understanding :: MxPx

Invitation to Understanding MxPx Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo

Gosh. I haven't listened to MxPx since I was into pop punk back in my early college years. I actually downloaded the two albums I liked from them to see if I would still like them (and to feel nostalgic). I don't love it like I used to but there are some good songs on these albums.

The thing I liked about pop punk is that a lot of it sounds like 80s music played and sung by bratty teens. The 80s part I really like; it's the bratty teens part that ultimately led to my dislike of it. I usually try to avoid the stuff anymore but I have a couple of guilty pleasures (nothing beyond a hit song here and there).

Anyways, this song, Invitation to Understanding just so happened to be my favorite MxPx song and it probably still is when I go back to it. It has some really great harmonies and it's not too fast so that quick boom-bap drumming of punk isn't too annoying (it even lets up in the song and normal pop drumming replaces it). The guitar is very basic chords just like the pop punk you are accustomed to. Very simple pop rock. I'd like current punk rock more if it stuck to this basic sound.

The lyrics are what I don't like about pop punk and what made me stop listening. Basically, it's a song to a metaphorical person called "Understanding" who the singer wants to hang out with. It's that thing where the guys were probably writing this song thinking it was a genius concept - like when you're a kid and you make your first metaphor about something and you feel like a poet. That's how all pop punk ends up sounding to me (at least the stuff I listened to at the time).

Anyways, it's aurally pleasing so download and enjoy.

Labels: ,


English Country Garden :: The Darkness

English Country Garden The Darkness One Way Ticket to Hell...And Back

What can you say about The Darkness? You either think it's really great and fun and enjoyable - or you think it's a joke and wish it were dead.

This is one of their really Queen-ish songs (their producer was the same as Queen's) and it's very fast and quirky. It's also very, very British. I don't exactly know what I mean by that but just listen to any British music from the 60s and 70s that didn't make it across the pond and I think you'll hear it too.

This is probably the worst review of a song that anyone's ever given but I've been doing blog stuff all day and I'm getting ready to make nachos so just listen to the song and shut up. I'm not auditioning for Pitchfork here. I'm just giving you a song to listen to.

Labels: ,


Hanasakajijii (two: floating world) :: Anathallo

Hanasakajijii (two: floating world)AnathalloFloating World

This is part two of four parts to the song Hanasakajijii. Hanasakajijii is based on an old Japanese folk tale where a guy's dog digs up buried treasure in his yard. His neighbor finds out and decides to borrow the dog to dig up treasure in his yard. When the dog doesn't deliver, he kills him and buries him in the yard. Later, the dog's ghost haunts him.

And this is a kids tale...

The order of the songs on the album have this at part 3 really and it kind of makes sense because in the instrumentation you really feel as if something has died and then came back to life to cause havoc. It's really eerie. It's starts out a pretty-eerie and then half way through goes to chaos-eerie and then back to pretty-eerie and then chaos again to finish out the song.

You really have to hear the full album to appreciate this song fully. It's an amazing song on an amazing album by an amazing group. I'd say that Anathallo is the rock version of Sufjan - in sound and in spirituality.


Long Live The Party :: Andrew W.K.

Long Live The PartyAndrew W.K.The Wolf

Andrew W.K. - wow. This guy is something. His music is so awful. The lyrics are so bad and the music is repetitive and simple. All of his songs pretty much sound the same - even across albums.


Every time it pops up on shuffle in my iPod, I have to click over to it. It's the most energetic music I've ever listened to and it just gives me such a feeling - that feeling I had when I was a kid and would hear a great 80s song. There are a lot of 80s elements to his songs and I think that's why I really get into him.

Obviously, this song is about partying - just like all of his songs. This song directly references a party (as does about 6 of his songs) and how it needs to live on. Basically, it's a positive, life affirming song. A song about having a party but oddly, at the end it takes an interesting turn:

The more that you can give it, then the more it will be
And if you do not have it, you can take it from me
All we ever wanted was a thing to believe,
And now that we have found it, we have all that we need.

Party is the new Christ?


Judy Is a Dick Slap :: Belle & Sebastian

Judy Is a Dick SlapBelle & SebastianPush Barman to Open Old Wounds

Here's a fun little instrumental by Belle & Sebastian off of their compilation album. This is one of the songs that you can picture someone singing over and you're waiting until they do and they never do and then you play it again and sort of mouth your own lyrics to them and you realize why you aren't allowed to write songs and then you curl up into a ball and change songs.

It's a good one, this.


Waiting for a Dream :: Rufus Wainwright

Waiting For A DreamRufus WainwrightWant Two

Gosh, this song gets in you for sure. The voice that goes in and out of echo and that phone call filter, the repetitive piano chords, the drum machine beat, the long strings, the long words.. Rufus at his essence... It's just so crazy soft and relaxing.

With that said, the lyrics are definitely sad. Waiting for a dream to last... He's worried about what's going on in the world and in his life and he just wants a dream to last because that's the only safe thing. It really does break my heart when you know exactly what someone needs but they don't think they need it.

Every Day I Read Your Stars :: The Pearlfishers

Every Day I Read Your StarsThe PearlfishersThe Young Picnickers

This is such a pretty song. The Pearlfishers are so poppy it's insane. They almost border guilty pleasure - but I stand firm on pure pop.

The songs that this guy writes are perfect pop songs. The lyrics are sweet and mostly about love. And, of course, this song about a guy who reads a girl's horoscope everyday. Obviously, I don't buy into horoscopes but I get the importance of what he's doing. Just trying to understand where she's coming from and she's into the stars.

The sound of this song is really, really flowery. I'm going to say 70s sounding but I always get the 60s and 70s mixed up. Let's just say late 60s/early 70s. How's that?

Niagara Falls :: Sufjan Stevens

Niagara FallsSufjan StevensGreetings from Michigan - The Great Lake State

Ahhh.. You can never beat a good Sufjan Stevens song. My favorite artist. The first one to come and knock Ben Folds out of the top spot since '99.

This song is one of the bonus songs that you get if your have the vinyl or iTunes version of the album. It's a pleasant song - banjos, horns, piano and repeated lyrics - basic Sujan fare, but beautiful none-the-less. I really like when he pushes his voice to sing high but also whispery. It really makes these songs sound like they have so much heart.

One critique - too short.

X-Files :: Del The Funky Homosapien

X-FilesDel The Funky HomosapienFuture Development

This is one of my favorites from the Future Development album - Del's cancelled third album on Elektra. He ended up releasing it from the Hiero site later on - THANK GOD. It's brilliant too.

This is classic Del - it's rapped in the style that he's had since the beginning and it almost gives me chills when I hear him rap. It's nostalgia all wrapped up in a short black guy.

As far as beats go, this album seemed to depart a little bit from the normal Domino stuff and mixed up the samples with keyboards. It really eccentuates the west coast sound where Del comes from.

Definitely, find this album and get it immediately.