13 essential kurt vile songs

The price of honesty is vulnerability sometimes followed by the necessity to overcompensate. And if you are unsure what I mean by that than you missed the last list of essential’s that I brought to discussion last week. 

Regardless, allow me to overcompensate: ​

That was from strummers August 2016. For whatever reason my wife agreed to spend her birthday at a bar to see my current favorite musician. (My wife is seriously the best and I am still trying to figure out how I got her.)

Now that I got that out of the way, allow for me to continue. Whether your honesty is the confession of a lonely heart, a revealing of your guilty pleasure, or opening up about the most specific detail of an opinion you consider to be at the core of what makes you who you are it doesn’t matter what the honesty is driven from. It seems that it always has the same outcome of susceptibility to random acts of helplessness.

Coincidentally (as I’ve recently discovered) this becomes especially true when you write about what you believe to be essential songs from a punk rocker turned alien-chaser. (Oops! Oh well. I do this for me. Remember?)

But shouldn’t the personal lives of celebrities be avoided when evaluating their contributions to art, though? (Refer to Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Christian Bale, and Kanye West).

Last week I wrote about Tom DeLonge, and it may be self-righteous of me to assume that you probably are still recovering from the laughter.

Now, allow me to redeem myself:

Since 2015 I have been known to listen to what some might call “too much Kurt Vile”, but when something is as good as Vile and the Violators no amount of songs ever seems to be enough. 

Seriously, though. Go listen to Freak Train.

The controversially titled Pretty Pimpin’ was the gateway song into a library of Vile’s work dating back to 2008 that I can’t seem to get get tired of. I’m a bit of a late bloomer with the Vile scene, but I’m making up for some lost time. And at the same time, I’m allowing my kids to think that Vile is saying “pretty pancakes” (see what I did there?) as they perform air guitar to the spinning vinyl in the living room.

See. Daddy knows good music. And my wife would even second that statement.

(Really. She would. Honest. I’ve asked, but the answer was quite different not too long ago or if I reference anything pre-2008.)

Although, the concentric circles representing my wife and I’s taste in music has only recently begun to eclipse into a larger representation of our overlapping tastes. We manage to agree on several current favorites and I’m learning from her as to what was actually good music in the past rather than the straight no chaser genres of punk rock and 90s radio-grunge that I often overlistened to as an aging Gen-X late-bloomer.

Here are the 13 recommended songs that I’ve grown to enjoy from a songwriter that will never get old.

13 | wakin’ on a pretty day

wakin’ on a pretty daze

12 | i wanted everything 

square shells ep

11 | can’t come

god is saying this to you

10 | space forklift

constant hitmaker 

9 | freeway 

constant hitmaker 

8 | baby’s arms 

smoke ring for my halo

7 | pretty pimpin 

b’lieve i’m going down…

6 | wild imagination

b’lieve i’m going down…

5 | breathin out

constant hitmaker

4 | wheelhouse

b’lieve i’m going down

3 | kv crimes

wakin on a pretty daze

2 | jesus fever

smoke ring for my halo

1 | freak train

childish prodigy


13 essential DeLonge songs

At the risk of sounding fanboy, juvenile, and in some ways – repetitive (refer to previous post here), I thought it’d be therapeutic to dive in to the music of Tom DeLonge.

I could have (and probably should have) chosen to examine the music library of someone a bit more hip ‘n cool or at least someone who had more indie credibility amongst my peers. Ryan Adams would have worked. So could Ted Leo. Even Joey Cape or the late punk legend Tony Sly (RIP) would have been a more suitable subject to my miniature think piece of essential music from a front man representing music from my generation.

Turns out that I don’t care.

I do this for me.

Every generation needs their own Bon Jovi. The 80s had hair bands and Livin’ On A Prayer. The 2000s had pop punk and Rite Of Spring. Face it, Tom DeLonge is the Jon Bon Jovi of the aging pre-Spotify demographic.

And if you disagree:

Say it with me:

“I don’t care.”

“I do this for me.”

Here are my 13 song recommends from Tom DeLonge outside of Blink.

13 | an endless summer
to the stars… demos, odds and ends (delonge)

12 | anxiety

love, pt 2 (angels and airwaves)

11 | elevator

box car racer (box car racer)

10 | cat like thief

box car racer (box car racer)

9 | hallucinations

love, pt 1 (angels and airwaves)

8 | the invisible parade

to the stars… demos, odds and ends (delonge)

7 | the adventure

we don’t need to whisper (angels & airwaves)

6 | everything’s magic

i-empire (angels and airwaves)

5 | letters to god

box car racer (box car racer)

4 | there is

box car racer (box car racer)

3 | suburban kings

to the stars… demos, odds and ends (delonge)

2 | surrender

love, pt 2 (angels and airwaves)

1 | rite of spring

i-empire (angels and airwaves)

13 essential blink 182 songs 

Humor me while I revel in nostalgia for a few moments. (Well – nostalgia outlined with bitter resentment for change.)

So many times I’ve heard before “change is good, Sean” and “with change comes opportunity”, and to that I respond with a cozy “nope”. Sure, sometimes change is good, but with every door opened with optimism comes a sucker punch snuck to the face. And I don’t mean all things are doomed to be regretful when you shake up what is comfortable. Often a mere reorganization to disorient yourself is all that is needed to give you the opportunity to change for the good. But then sometimes reorganization can be the destruction of all things.

With that being said, I present to you the desperate desire of some bands to remain relevant. For the sake of time, and my adoration for a short-attention span, I will only spend time on one band that has become what I have described.

Blink 182.

I used to be a fan, quite the big fan actually. I even spent a modest portion of my teenage years swapping quiz-notes with a fellow employee with lyrics from Dude. The game was simple: one left a half stanza of lyrics for two and two leaves missing half stanza on the new quiz-note with a new half stanza for one to complete. And so on and so forth. It was innocent. It was short lived. It could be said that it lasted about as long as the band itself should have.

I soon graduated high school and the quiz-notes stopped but the band remained. Then the drummer upgrade happened. Blink 182 continued to persist. I tried to still like the songs. For a while I even said that I did. I admit, some are pretty ok, but when you make an “upgrade” to a band’s core nothing can be seamlessly replicated. With the current attempt at remaining seamless I have managed to admit upfront that there is no going back to what we once had with Dude. Because a Blink with a Travis instead of a Scott is quite a bit more tolerable than a Blink with a Skiba but without a DeLonge.

With Skiba, Blink is a crap band.

With Travis, Blink is a rock band.

But with Scott Raynor, Blink was a punk band.

The following 13 songs are what I consider essential Blink 182 that were (mostly) before they got famous.

13 | voyeur

dude ranch

12 | wishing well


11 | carousel 

chesire cat

10 | dick lips

dude ranch

9 | m&m’s

chesire cat

8 | toast and bananas

chesire cat

7 | enthused

dude ranch

6 |cacophony 

chesire cat

5 | the party song

enema of the state

4 | apple shampoo

dude ranch

3 | dammit 

dude ranch

2 | wasting time 

chesire cat 

1 | pathetic

dude ranch

13 essential spoon songs

“What should we call us?”
“I don’t know…Spoon?”

That’s how I envision the conversation going when Britt Daniel tried to decide what to call his rock band with the rest of the guys.

“All the good band names are taken.” I remember that being said among some friends and I a long time ago. Turns out that good band names are infinite. If it’s a bad choice and the songs are good enough then the name will be great by default.

Spoon’s new album Hot Thoughts came out a few weeks ago, and as usual it requires time to grow on me as I revisit their old stuff. An immediate standout, though, is I Ain’t The One and it took everything within me not to include it in my OCD-inspired list of 13 essential songs from Spoon. 

At least they didn’t become another “the” band and call themselves The Utensils.

(On the other hand…that’s a pretty good band name too.)

bonus | i ain’t the one

hot thoughts

Ignoring the new stuff, these are my favorite Spoon songs that I prefer when I want to hog the airspace at home.

13 | jonathan fisk

kill the moonlight

12 | black like me

ga ga ga ga ga

11 | let me be mine

they want my soul

10 | stay don’t go

kill the moonlight

9 | was it you?

gimme fiction 

8 | finer feelings

ga ga ga ga ga

7 | the fitted shirt

girls can tell

6 | inside out

they want my soul

5 | car radio

a series of sneaks

4 | the way we get by

kill the moonlight

3 | waiting for the kids to come out

soft effects EP

2 | the ghost of you lingers

ga ga ga ga ga 

1 | believing is art

girls can tell

13 essential third eye blind songs 

In the spring of 1997 I was a pimply 16 year old kid driving around town in a 1977 Chevy Nova with an engine and audio system upgrade. Driving around town, I would listen to whatever was on New Rock 104.1 as I sought after my place of destination.

That was twenty years ago. That is a long time past. A lot has happened between then and now, many fazes and hairstyle changes have happened that I would just assume not elaborate on. Read More

13 essential thursday songs

When I was in my 20s all of the kids were listening to emo and I could never understand why. Then the double kick drum preceded the scream-along-able choruses as I found my fist in the air and my lungs in 5th gear. Something called “screamo” happened and bands like Thursday were to blame. Read More

13 essential nofx songs

Anarchic skate punk is a very specific genre of music that I have probably made up in my own head after I went through my own “punk phase”. Even if it is a make believe subgenre all within my own mind it still remains relevant and necessary, especially during times of social and political turmoil.  Read More

13 essential foo fighters songs 

There are only a few bands that my kids will hear and immediately say “this is daddy’s music!!” Knowing who they are comes with a little help from daddy, but the fact that they know what they are confirms the fact that I have won as a father. The familiarity of the sound triggers their association with “daddy” and I can only assume that when they’re all grown and hear a song by Tom Petty, Foo Fighters, or mxpx they’ll recall a simpler time of being a young kid driving in the backseat of daddy’s truck. Read More

13 essential brand new songs

Good bands are forever, but great ones never last.

Brand New has been a staple in my collection ever since the floating astronaut album cover caught my attention at Best Buy in 2003.

Yes. If you haven’t figured out by now, I have been known to judge a book by its cover and purchase an album based on its artistic ability to stand out from the rest. Read More

13 essential mxpx songs

It’s hard to calculate a recommended list of songs from a band that steered the course of your adolescence. Even more difficult is when the captain of that ship also served as the gateway into a lifelong enjoyment of the genre that most represents your preferred musical interests. Read More