It's July, in case you don't have a calendar. In Redding that of course means unsufferable heat. The countryside all around us has been burning up in wildfires for the past two weeks and all the smoke it has dumped into the atmosphere has kept temperatures to the low 90s. Pretty great. Except all that smoke. You get home at the end of the day feeling like you've smoked two packs of unfiltered Camels.
Well, the fires are still burning. The wind has changed the direction of the smoke so the air was nice and clear. Which means our proper July temperatures are back. It was 112 yesterday and today was 111. It's funny. The heat during the day wouldn't really get to me. It's bad, but it's not like I'm out all day in it. No, what kills me about this place is that it never cools down at night. The low last night (or, I guess, this morning technically) was 90. You read that right, 90 degrees. All night long it never dropped below 90 degrees. That's the kind of weather that drives people crazy.
Anyway, my point with all this was to say it's time to check in with my summer predictions and maybe zap off another addition of perfect pop songs.
First, the predictions:
1. At the interstate gas stations, regular unleaded is $4.69 a gallon. I'm sure we'll see $5 at least by the end of the month.
2. I haven't seen "The Incredible Hulk" (nor do I plan to) but it seemed to garner slightly better reviews than it's predecessor, but was still greeted by a general unanimous "meh." To quote Brian Hamblin, who really should have his own blog, "I didn't love that movie and I didn't hate that movie. It was better than the first Hulk movie, and there weren't any flaws that really screamed out at me (you know, if you accept the premise of the Incredible Hulk in the first place), but that said, it was just a little bit better than 'blah.'"
And M. Night Shyamlalnsnalnadnalanduan's "The Happening" has already been forgetten by most everyone who's seen it. As a result, no one still cares about our little Manny.
3. I'm more excited than ever for "Dark Knight." "Wall-E" was amazing. And "Get Smart" was mediocre.
4. I'm halfway to dropping my 10 pounds. I started at 200 and now I'm at a solid 195. I successfully made it four weeks without sugar and I've been more than happy to go back on. Interestingly enough, I haven't noticed much change to my weight since doing that. But I'm pretty sure if I want to drop the next five pounds I'll need to start exercising or something.
5. I'm still planning on doing something awesome. And I still don't know what that will be.
So there we are with that. Now let's talk music. If you recall, we're talking about perfect pop songs that happen to be covers. You may also recall that once we get through with our list of songs, a few lucky winners receive the compilation on CD. That's so we're all on the same page.
4. Britt Daniel's "Bring it on Home to Me" -- It's a cover of the old Sam Cooke standard and it's brilliant. Britt, Spoon's lead singer and principal songwriter, keeps the rockabilly vibe of the song but strips it down to it's bare essentials, turning it into a kind of percussion-led driving indie-pop song. It's got a killer groove.
5. Feist's "Sea Lion Woman" -- Another indie darling, I really dig Feist because she seems so capable at balancing her near-boundless creativity with supersharp pop insticts. Her version of "Sea Lion Woman," a Nina Simone cover, rings with jangly guitar hooks and this great foot-stamping backbeat. It even come complete with hand-claps. It's a brave cover -- Simone owns, and I means owns, just about every song she sings. But Feist does a textbook perfect job of reinterpretting the song and making it hers.
6. Franz Ferdinand's "All My Friends" -- This is a great example of how to cover a song. "All My Friends" is an LCD Soundsystem track from their 2007 album "Sound of Silver." It was still warm when Franz tackled it and they do it justice, adding their trademark gargage guitar and pushing the electronica to background. It works, leaving the song's great beat intact but pushing the melody up a little further to the top making it a really groovy little song.
So that's where we're at. Weigh in if you've got thoughts.
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