The band Battles (when they were a 4-piece) doing a live version of the immortal “Atlas” from their debut album Mirrored (2007). This is honestly one of the most original songs I’ve heard in the past 10 years and it rocks like a motherfucker.
The band DIIV (pronounced “dive”) from Brooklyn with the song “Air Conditioning” from their album Oshin (2012). Lovely dreamy guitar pop, like a lot of bands from the late 1980s (The Ocean Blue for example).
This track, “Learn How To Fail,” was recorded by the Replacements in late 1986 or early 1987 during sessions for the album Pleased To Meet Me. A beautiful song about failure and the inevitability of disappointment in life, how from the very beginning, when we are children, the shock of failure haunts us. It’s amazing that the band left this song off the released album. And then when they added previously unreleased tracks for a re-released version of Pleased To Meet Me, they STILL left the song off. It still remains officially unreleased.
Don’t really know much about this song, “Shipbuilding” but it’s quite exquisite. It features the legendary jazz trumpeter Chet Baker. I’m not that big of a fan of Costello’s but I can appreciate his songwriting craft. “Shipbuilding” was released in 1983 on Costello’s album Punch the Clock although I first heard it on some sort of Best Of compilation that came out in the mid-1980s.
Dead Can Dance doing “Hymn for the Fallen” on their 2005 tour. The song, which was unreleased at the time was finally officially released as a studio version on Lisa Gerrard’s solo album The Black Opal (and retitled “Sleep” for some reason).
This is the version of “Fish” by Throwing Muses from the Lonely Is An Eyesore (1987) compilation. The video is from a different version of the same song (which kinda sounds like a demo, actually). Brilliant and original song. “The feeling describes itself” indeed.
The originally released version of the Smiths’ “Back to the Old House” was on the b-side of “What Difference Does it Make?” available in record stores in January 1984. There’s another sadder version of the song they recorded for the BBC (featured on Hatful of Hollow) but I’m fond of the electric version. Like many Smiths songs, especially the early ones, it perfectly captures the ennui, loss, and confusion of teenage yearning.
Deerhunter playing a fantastic live version of “Nothing Ever Happened” at the Pitchfork Music Festival in 2011 in Chicago. The original is on the album Microcastle (2008). I saw them a couple of nights ago (September 19, 2013) at Webster Hall in New York. Definitely one of the best shows of the year. About half way through the song singer/guitarist Bradford Cox begins to scream/chant the lyrics to Patti Smith’s immortal “Land” (originally from the album Horses). More on them here.
"Why," the opening track from Yoko Ono’s first solo album, Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band (1970). The guitar is by John Lennon. He fucking shreds. This is basically Sonic Youth, more than a decade before Sonic Youth existed.
Ulrich Schnauss’ fantastic “On My Own” from the album A Strangely Isolated Place (2003). I just saw him last night at the Bowery Ballroom and he was incredible. Awesome.