Music and Movies (late for half credit)


Just before school ended, another teacher asked me to put together a list of music and movies for him which I never did. Until now. In slapdash fashion.

I was also planning to make this a nice multipost piece of bloggery with embedded videos etc. But you know what? Screw it. This will just have to be good enough.

(At least I snuck into Lady Steed's account and used Blogger's Compose feature to get the links hypered.)


Sorry this took so long. My summer has been crazy and without break since our first days 'off". But I promised to do this during the summer and darn it I'm going to make that deadline!

First, you should know that I have a strong and abiding bias for the feminine voice. In the interests of Title IX I will throw a few boys in here, but expect everything to be skewed heavily to the girls. I've mostly left out classic acts because (you don't need me to steer you to the Beatles or Gram Parsons) and big names (she may still be around, but you've heard of Sheryl Crow). There are a few exceptions because darn it I can't not talk about Natalie Merchant and Emmylou Harris (waiting for the duets cd, waiting waiting waiting).

When possible, I have supplemented my meandering comments with YouTubery.

The Beautiful South
Belle & Sebastian
BS is defunct and B&S has changed its lineup quite a bit and no longer lets the girls sing. But both bands are definitely worth checking out. If you get one album from each, maybe, mm, 0898 for BS and Boy with the Arab Strap for B&S.

The Breeders
These bands share members who were also once in Throwing Muses. I don't like Throwing Muses hardly at all, but I love these two. Belly is the mellow one and The Breeders are the noisy one, although you might not be able to tell that by these videos:

Billy Joe Shaver
You must know Billy Joe. But he's the outlaw who gets the least love. So yay Billy.

Blackhawk's first album in the mid 90s was very cool. Then they got boring. Shame.

Bree Sharp
Bree Sharp is witty and clever and fun but, alas, she doesn't hold up to three dozen listens. Stop at two.

Millers (Buddy and Julie)
Best married couple in the business I would wager. And unlike Elvis/Diana, these two just make each other better. they also record albums apart and appear on other people's records. Buddy, for instance, is on every Lucinda Williams record I own.

The Cardigans
Best known for their twee years, they grew up and became a new kind of cool. Besides. I love Scandinavian bands. There's only a couple on this list, but that's not really indicative of how many I genuinely dig.

Cat Power
Can't go wrong with this voice.

Cherish the Ladies
Celtic chicks. Their take on "The Leader of the Band" is fantastic, too. I couldn't find a great example of them, so here's a video that makes them just any other celtic band:

The Concretes
The Concretes are pretty good, but I have to say, the best thing their lead singer has done is that PB&J song:

The Cranberries
Yes. I like them very much.

The Cruel Sea
I don't know any other band that sounds quite like this Aussie number, which its singers low low voice and their funky instrumentals.

Dead Can Dance
Medieval house music? Sort of?

Eddie From Ohio
Not all their stuff is as great as their great stuff, but when they're on their game, no one's more delightful.

Emmylou Harris
Emmylou Harris is the greatest human being to ever hold a guitar. Science says so. Whenever someone gets Emmylou to sing back up for them, that song becomes the greatest they have ever recorded.

Fiona Apple
It took me a long time to get to like Fiona Apple, but I'm glad I took the time. I'm including her in case you dismissed her as quickly as I once did.

Because they're awesome.

Grant Lee Philips
Grant Lee Philips makes cool music--cool in the jazz sense, only altcountry, if that makes sense. Back when he was a "band" called Grant Lee Buffalo, he sounded about the same as he does now, only with a grunge twist. I would say get his album Mobilize.

Heather Nova
Her Caribbean, raised-on-a-boat roots show in her music, in her gorgeous ethereal vocals and arrangements. Her first two albums are her best.

Imogen Heap
Overplayed, but I still love her. Even SNL couldn't ruin her for me.

The one album is Laid, but all their stuff is pleasant to listen too. But Laid and the simultaneosly recorded improv record are their best.

Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
This is the cd I leant you. Didn't want you to forget it.

JuJu Club
My favorite Korean band. No question.

He writes the most beautiful/vulgar music I know. I didn't really know that combination was possible before him. No One Is Really Beautiful is the album I know best.

Kasey Chambers
This denizen of Oz is probably the best thing since Emmylou Harris. Trying to pick one song to recommend from her is simply impossible. Run down as many as you can find.

Kelly Willis
Kelly Willis is also wonderful. I'm guessing you know her and I'm running out of adjectives, so we'll leave it at that.

Kevin Montgomery
I used to describe him as the male, country Heather Nova. Or the country James. So if you liked though, here's him.

The Killers
Big band now, but I really like them.

Lisa Loeb
I just rediscovered Lisa Loeb on a kids' cd I bought. That cd, Camp Lisa, is fantastic! I love it! Finally, a cd my kids like that doesn't drive me bonkers. (Though I do sometimes skip the woodchuck tracks.)

Lucinda Williams
Everyone knows how good she is. But it bears repeating.

Matthew Sweet
Mr Sweet is my favorite guitar rocker. He just came out with a new album which is pretty good, but I still think 100% Fun is still his best. He's also been doing covers albums with Susanna Hoffs that I've been meaning to check out.

Miranda Lee Richards
Best $1 I ever spent. What this perfect album was doing in the Amoeba dollar bins I'll never know. She just barely came out with a second album, but you can't go wrong with The Herethereafter.

Moonpools & Caterpillars
This band is incredibly important to me. "Hear" entirely changed the way I interact with music.

Natalie Merchant (10000 Maniacs inclusive)
Most people stopped knowing anything about Natalie Merchant c. 1998. But I hope that's not true of you, because I think you would really dig what she's doing now. (Though I can't find anything super new on YouTube.)

Neko Case
Her new album is good, but my top recommendation for you, if you're still willing to give her another chance, is Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. But this is the new single:

Pandora tells me I like lots of vamping. I'm not sure what vamping is, but Pandora says Poe does it in spades and I do love me my Poe.

The Raconteurs
Best new band of the last three year, as far as rock's concerned, IMHO.

Regina Spektor
Last two albums have been great. Here's her biggest hit, to give you a taste, but check out her deeper catalogue as well:

Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band
Their new big-label contract hasn't made them huge and Simplified is still their best. (Except maybe the new one --- haven't heard it.)Simplified is the only cd I've ever owned where I ended up reading the entire lyrics before ever putting the cd in the player.

Sixpence None the Richer
She has one of my favorite voices. And I'm still not over how pretty she is in this video:

Glam lives! Or it least it experienced a brief revival in the mid90s with their fabulous The Chinese Album.

The Sundays
Static and Silence is the most beautiful album I have ever heard. Period. (The others are good too.)

Sunfall Festival
Monday 23 is one of the greatest albums ever recorded. And Bang Band Bang and 23b are also great enough to buy and love. You asked me who my favorite indie band is? This is it. This is it.

They Might Be Giants
One of my alltime favorite bands. Their work is so broad it's hard to pick a "representative song", but here's something:

Tina and the B-Side Movement
Now called Tina and the B-Sides. But I only have the one album under the old name.

Tori Amos
Tori's albums vary a lot in style. My favorite album is Scarlet's Walk, but that may be because it's her most "accessible" (or whatever). Close-seconds include Boys for Pele, To Venus and Back, and Choirgirl Hotel. This video is to her second-to-most-recent album:

Ryan Adams makes music under his own name now which is also good, but of the stuff I've heard, my favorite is still Pneumonia.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Rock and roll, baby. This is the song the kids know because it was included in Guitar Hero:

A brief symphonic shoutout:
Arvo Pärt is my favorite of the modernists.

Some favorite movie cds:
The Muppet Movie
Garden State
Ocean's Eleven



Movies in the categories you requested.

Although, before I start, don't expect ten in each category and don't expect that this list I am making today will agree with the list I would make tomorrow. And I should also say up front that I love the following groups of films with about one exception per category: Coen Bros. comedies, Hitchcock films, Pixar films, Wes Anderson movies, Charlie Kaufman movies, Marx Bros. movies; Buster Keaton movies.... So even if I don't include The Hudsucker Proxy in comedies, it should have implied inclusion.

Then, to make it easier on me here in the last minute, I went to IMDb's top movies by rank and category and then picked out what I liked from those lists of the best fifty. Sometimes it wasn't a lot.

(I actually put these ones in order from best to least.)Singin' in the Rain, Up, Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Annie Hall, The General, (500) Days of Summer, Back to the Future, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Dr. Strangelove

Star Wars, The Matrix, WALL·E, Back to the Future, Iron Man, The Iron Giant

Sports films are easy to do adequately, but I can't really think of any that I truly think are great.

Of live actions musicals, Singin' in the Rain is pretty much it.

Psycho, with the following as distant, distant seconds: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and The Birds

The Ox-Bow Incident
High Noon
Back the the Future Part III

Chick Flicks
(This isn't an IMDb category, but I have a few answers.)
Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. Because I like it.

The following don't have proper IMDb pages, though for the decade question I did use IMDb's decade's-best pages to narrow it down, assuming that a good movie will be most representative.

Great movies by auteurs who made (or are making) lots of movies but don't get much cred for being good:
About a Boy (not that Weitz is all the prolific yet, but this is one great movie)
(and i'm drawing blanks although I know I should be able to come up with several more)

Films most representative of their decade (not indicative, necessarily, of my taste):
1911-20: Birth of a Nation
1921-30: Sunrise
1931-40: Modern Times
1941-50: Casablanca
1951-60: High Noon
1961-70: In the Heat of the Night
1971-80: Taxi Driver
1981-90: ET
1991-2000: Pulp Fiction
2001-present: The Royal Tenenbaums

Darryl Hannah movies
Sorry to say that of the ones I have seen all the way through, I didn't like any all that much. But Blade Runner's the best of the lot.


So....better late than never, right?


  1. If you haven't done it yet, go find the New Pornographers and give 'em a listen. Please. For me.

    And thanks for the list.

  2. .

    I've only heard one song, but they are on my radar, thanks.

  3. Now I just need a Pandora station of Theric's Favorite Music.

  4. .

    If only I weren't too lazy....

    And keep in mind that this list shows some editing to exclude things I knew the gentleman I was writing wouldn't like at all. Though I didn't do a good job, as you'll see in a moment.

  5. Reply from the fellow Theric wrote8/19/2009 10:42 AM

    A little late but better than nothing at all. I thought your dog ate it. I appreciate your ideas on music, some of the bands I know a little about. Not a big Lucinda Williams fan, too much Rolling Stone hype. I have seen Eddie for Ohio, live they are a super band that no one has ever heard of. As for Emmylou, maybe too much exposure in the seventies, I was sweeping out warehouses in west L.A. Lisa Loeb, wonderful live, yes I can show pictures to prove it. Natalie Merchant, where are you now, catalyst of an era or a folk singer on dope? Nico Case no. Regina Specktor, would like to see live, recorded work is a mixed bag, Tori Amos, is good but don't let young pigs get too close.

    As for me this summer, taught summer school, got to love those little children. Saw JD Souther at GAMH a super concert, we talked about Linda after the show. Went to Healdsburg to see Shanna Morrison, she sang four of her dad's songs, go figure.

  6. Reply from the fellow Theric wrote8/19/2009 10:42 AM

    Time is short and my back is still sore so here goes... I don't see how "Mullholland Drive" or "Chinatown"could be left off any list of any category. Missing are any Peter Weir films or best black and whites like "Bunny Lake is Missing," music by the Zombies circa 1965 and/or "Lenny" with Dustin Hoffman. How about odd ball films that just don't click like, "Sideways" or "Teacher"? Not seen are "Das Bot "and the generational pick "The Big Chill," Kevin Costner's first movie even though his part was edited out. In the short division, "Fear" Steven Spielberg's first college film omitted. Great writing, "Dinner Rush" very underrated, along with yes, "Wall Street." Music movies, I didn't see "Gimme Shelter" or "A Hard Days Night" or even a nod to "Mozart." And lastly, where are the beautiful femmes, I don't see Julie Christi any place. And, and absolutely the last, where are great disaster films like "Poseidon Adventure" and "Airport," enough.

  7. ooo! need to go listen to some Sunfall Festival!

  8. If I were to purchase a single album off your entire list of music recommendations, assuming that I did not have any of them at all, which one would you recommend as "The Album That Everybody Absolutely Ought To Own"?

  9. .

    Monday 23 by Sunfall Festival. No question.