Friday, February 13, 2009

For Lovers Only.

Hey fellas/lay-days,

Trying to make some time with that special squeeze? Below is a list of tunes guaranteed to set the mood and quicken the pulse. So drop some coin at emusic or iTunes or whatever, put some or all of this on a mix/playlist, and get busy.

Happy Valentine's Day.

1. "My Funny Valentine" -- Elvis Costello, from Rykodisc's reissued/expanded edition of Armed Forces.

Elvis, accompanied by a lone guitar, puts his own indefatigable spin on this bulletproof standard. A lovely rendition.

2. "Tupelo Honey" -- Van Morrison, from Tupelo Honey

One of Van the Man's most gorgeous and stirring compositions, this epic, drifting hymn to love and desire never fails to melt the heart and stoke the soul.

3. "Here" -- Pavement, from Slanted and Enchanted

An inscrutable gem, with one of Pavement's prettiest, saddest melodies. The ticking guitar line speaks volumes, as does the strikingly soulful vocal delivery.

4. "How to Live Alone" -- The Pernice Brothers, from Yours, Mine, & Ours

Joe Pernice knows his way around a sterling melody, and this is just one great example of his unique gifts. Listen and know he comes up with gold like this daily, if not hourly.

5. "Lost in Space" -- Luna, from Penthouse

A narcotized, endearingly foggy ballad pulled along by ringing guitars and a punchy rhythm section, "Lost in Space" is custom-built for slow dancing and fooling around.

6. "New Partner" -- Palace, from Viva Last Blues

Palace fan favorite "New Partner" is touching and creepy, delivered by Will Oldham in an off-kilter and slightly off-key high lonesome warble as the backing band sways and staggers into the arms of a lover.

7. "Moonlight Mile" -- The Rolling Stones, from Sticky Fingers

Is Mick singing about a woman or about heroin? Either way, it doesn't matter, especially when those unbearably regal strings come in to match Keef's otherworldly, nocturnal guitar progression. "I am only living to be dying by your side." Is there anything more romantic than that? Is that possible?

8. "Shiver Me Timbers" -- Tom Waits, from The Heart of Saturday Night

Before he transformed into a grizzled lunatic with a case of the Cookie Monsters, Tom Waits was a jazz stylist of the old school. "Shiver Me Timbers" is an achingly beautiful number from 1974's The Heart of Saturday Night, which captures him in perfect hipster crooner form.

9. "Mystifies Me" -- Son Volt, from Trace

Trace was a masterful debut for ex-Uncle Tupelo front man Jay Farrar's Son Volt, and this Faces cover is a perfect vehicle for his gruffly romantic style. A wonderful song wonderfully interpreted.

10. "Drop Me a Line" -- The Owls, from Our Hopes and Dreams

The Owls -- not to be confused with ex-Cap'n Jazz po-mo rockers Owls -- unfailingly craft simple, catchy, engaging chamber pop. "Drop me a Line" is a bittersweet, buoyant example of their considerable powers.

11. "Hey" -- The Pixies, from Doolittle

A straight classic, obviously. The swaggering, preening guitar line nicely balances the building, churning sexual menace and seductive delivery. If this song doesn't get you going, you've got problems.

12. "Candy Cane Crawl" -- The Twilight Singers, from Powder Burns

Former Afghan Whig and current Twilight Singer Greg Dulli built his rep on a damaged lothario persona and his darkly soulful pipes. "Candy Cane Crawl" is a mobius-strip burner, relentlessly sexy and threatening, with a hypnotic melody born from flickering flames and tinkling ice cubes.