Mike’s Top 5: Rock | #1: Weezer – Say It Ain’t So

There’s not much to say about this one, really. Say It Ain’t So by Weezer is easily my favorite rock and roll song of all time:

The Blue Album is the first CD I ever bought of my own accord. As a fourth grader, a lot of my musical preferences were shaped largely by my brother: he liked Nirvana, so I liked Nirvana. He liked Green Day, so I liked Green Day. But after seeing the music video for Buddy Holly on MTV, I knew that I liked Weezer without Bill’s help.

It must have been around Christmastime in 1995 that I finally picked up the eponymous “Blue Album”; I can’t think of any other scenario in which my dad would have driven 11-year-old me to Best Buy simply for the sake of buying a CD. I paid for it with my own money, and as it turns out, my first music purchase has proven to be one of the best music purchases of my life.

Weezer remains charmingly unpredictable and weird. Sometimes I’ll whine about their new stuff going too far off the beaten path, but at least they’re having fun and keeping things interesting. Plus, Rivers Cuomo is the quintessential anti-frontman, for which I’m eternally grateful.

Thanks, Weez, for Say It Ain’t So. I’ll still be rocking out to this one when I’m an old man.

Bonus: Here’s the demo version. Both guitar and Matt Sharp enthusiasts should get a kick out of it.

Mike’s Top 5: Rock | #2: Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American

It was 2001, and I was cleaning out my car (a gold 1987 Mercury Cougar, if you must ask) in the driveway. To make the chore go a little faster, I had my radio tuned in to 89.7 The River. That’s when I first heard Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World:

This might sound overly nostalgic, but the discovery of Jimmy Eat World marked a turning point in the development of my musical tastes. I was “coming into my own” as a music fan, and their songs struck such a chord with me that I’ve pretty much spent the last 10 years trying to re-write Clarity. I haven’t come close.

Their last couple of albums haven’t interested me as much. Futures was an amazing powerpop album, but since then the hooks and memorable melodies have been few and far between. Even so, I still consider myself a diehard fan. I’ll buy their new album when it comes out next year, but I’m hoping for a return to form.

All that said, Salt Sweat Sugar Bleed American is modern rock at its finest. Don’t be surprised if Flight Metaphor covers this one someday.

Bonus: Check out this solo set from Jim Adkins back in March.

Mike’s Top 5: Rock | #3: Foo Fighters – Everlong

Is it just me, or was 1997 a great year for music? Here’s just a sampling of the records that came out that year:

Jars of Clay – Much Afraid
Radiohead – OK Computer 
Sixpence None the Richer – Self-Titled
Spice Girls – Spiceworld (Ok…maybe not that one)
Five Iron Frenzy – Our Newest Album Ever
Switchfoot – The Legend of Chin

And of course, Foo Fighter’s The Colour and the Shape, featuring Everlong:

Musically, lyrically, and emotionally, Everlong is a near-perfect song. Seriously. It ebbs and flows in all the right places. The lyrics are vague enough for you to apply your own meaning, but singer Dave Grohl’s delivery communicates a passion beyond the words. If I was banished to a desert island with an iPod that could only hold five songs, I’d think long and hard about including Everlong.

It’s no stretch to say that Foo Fighters is one of the best rock and roll groups of all time. Say what you will about Nirvana, but in my book Dave Grohl’s little “solo project” has become five times the band they ever were. Grohl himself would likely disagree with me, but in any case, we should all be thankful that he turned down that gig drumming for Tom Petty.

Bonus: My friend Marc and I first hit it off when we discovered our mutual appreciation for this song.

Mike’s Top 5: Rock | #4: Phantom Planet – California

No, I did not find out about this song because it was the theme for The OC. And out of respect for Arrested Development, I intend to never watch a single episode.

It was 2002, and my family was on vacation. We were channel surfing in the hotel before going to bed when this performance on David Letterman caught my eye:

I started watching it about a minute or so into the song, so I didn’t hear the name of the band. I spent the next several months trying to track them down (bear in mind this was before the days of Youtube or Yahoo Answers). When I finally did, I considered myself a fan.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Phantom Planet is singer Alex Greenwald‘s absolute disregard for proper vocal technique. He has an excellent singing voice, but that’s not what impresses me about him – it’s his performance. If you listen to any Phantom Planet record from beginning to end, you’ll hear Greenwald giving 110% the whole time. And I really mean that; he’s often singing beyond his voice’s breaking point.

I’m more than just a little excited to learn that they’re planning a comeback in 2013.

Bonus: Check out their video for Big Brat, possibly one of the coolest music videos ever made. Judging by the youtube comments, apparently this song appears in the latest Spiderman movie, which I have yet to see.

Mike’s Top 5: Rock | #5: Reeve Oliver – I Want Burns

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, and while a holiday week may not be the best time to start, I figure I should do it while I’ve got the time. Today, I’m introducing a series of “Top 5” countdowns here on the blog, simply because I want to share my favorite things with you. Many of these countdowns will be music related, but who knows – maybe in the future I’ll share my thoughts on books, food, religion, etc. My hope is that by reading these posts, you’ll discover something you like, too.

It seems that people generally appreciate my opinions on music*, so for starters, I’m going with the familiar: rock and roll. This week, I’ll be sharing my top 5 favorite rock songs with you.

Please note that these are my favorites. I’m not taking historical significance, critical reception, composition, production, or anything else into account. I’m just sharing what I like. You may discover that you don’t like it at all. You might disagree with every single thing I write for the next five days, and that’s totally fine. Musical taste is a subjective thing. We can still be friends.

So without further ado, let’s begin…

#5: Reeve Oliver – I Want Burns

I stumbled on Reeve Oliver back in 2004 when I was browsing through new Militia Group artists on Purevolume. From the very first time I heard the song I Want Burns, I was hooked. No, seriously…I bought their Self Titled record the day it came out, and soon enough I had amassed almost everything they had ever released.

I guess Reeve Oliver is a pop-punk band; Sean O’Donnell  used to play in Dogwood, and after Reeve disbanded he joined Yellowcard for a spell. But to write these guys off as another Starting Line or MxPx isn’t a fair comparison. I Want Burns certainly displays a “Weezer meets Green Day” flare, but if your curiosity is even moderately piqued by what you hear, I strongly recommend checking out the rest of their work. Here’s the link to their Magnum opus, Touchtone Inferno, on iTunes.

Bonus: check out their appearance on Yo Gabba Gabba. Who doesn’t like sandwhiches?

*So long as I’m not being an elitist jerk about it, which occurs more frequently than I’d like to admit.