Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Words and music

Because of my job, I'm naturally exposed to TV more than other areas of pop culture, which means I often wind up finding out about those areas when they happen to cross over with TV. Music's a big one in that regard; basically, the only way I hear about new (or new-to-me) bands these days tends to be when one of their songs is featured on a show I watch, like "Chuck."

One of my favorite examples of this is Rhett Miller, whose self-titled third solo CD (after many albums with his band, Old 97's) hits stores today. More on this after the jump...

I first encountered Miller when I was watching Showtime's short-lived "Going to California," where the theme, "Lost Along the Way," was performed by Old 97's. I liked the song a lot, picked up a copy of the band's "Too Far to Care" CD at Tunes in Hoboken (my brick-and-mortar music store of choice at the time) and have basically devoured everything by the band ("Battlestar Galactica" fans will want to watch the video for "Dance With Me" from the most recent Old 97's album), and by Rhett solo. ("Our Love" -- which has been played on a few TV shows, and, since I can't find an official video, which you can hear in this Veronica Mars/Logan fan video -- is one of the most-played songs in the Sepinwall household/car.)

The new album continues the Rhett/band dichotomy, in that it's a bit poppier than the stuff he does with Old 97's (but only a bit), and at times more melancholy. (Sample song titles: "Nobody Says I Love You Anymore" and "Happy Birthday, Don't Die.") And I've been listening to it pretty constantly since I got a review CD a few weeks ago.

So, two-part question: 1)What's the best musical discovery you've ever made while watching a movie or TV show? 2)Regardless of where you first learned of the singer/band, what new music is currently in heavy rotation on your music-playing device of choice?

58 comments:

Myles said...

I can't judge best, particularly, but I've currently got Michael Franti and Spearhead's "Say Hey" stuck in my head after the Weeds premiere, so it's clear that I'm susceptible to being sucked in.

As for new music on rotation, it's Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix that's dominating playlists. Really great album.

april said...

I'm so not a new music kind of gal. I'm admittedly mainstream. However, I do have a Scrubs playlist on my iPod which contains as many songs as I could find on iTunes that have made an appearance on Scrubs with the limitations of my budget and taste. For instance, I do not have Bye Bye Bye by 'NSync because of personal preference.

That said, that's how I have Our Love on my playlist. I haven't gotten to the point where I've invested in an entire album of an artist from a TV show, but I'm close.

Kevin said...

First found out about the Old 97's when "King of the World" from the Satellite Rides album was played on an episode of Ed.

Subsequently bought every album of theirs before and since.

Speaking of Chuck, the song "Christmas TV" by Slow Club played during Ellie's wedding is my new favorite song, can't get enough of it.

Erin said...

I think I spent at least a hundred dollars on new music- or music I'd just not previously been into- thanks to Chuck. The National, Bon Iver (both of which I should have bought long ago), The Thermals, Blind Pilot, and, best of all, Frightened Rabbit.

Rachel said...

1.) Do commercials count? If so the VW Jetta commercial from about 10 years ago, think I was in middle school, that used the Nick Drake song "Pink Moon". I was blown away and had to know the song. Now Nick Drake is one of my favorite artists.

2.) Some on heavy rotation right now are She & Him, the new DMB album and Spoon.

Carrie said...

The best musical discovery I've made because of a TV show is Joe Purdy. I first heard him on the pilot of Lost ("Wash Away") and since then have nearly worn out all 10 of his CDs. He's also been featured on Grey's Anatomy and House, I believe. He's an amazingly prolific singer/songwriter and a great storyteller, one of the best out there right now.

More recently, I bought Frightened Rabbit's "Midnight Organ Fight" album after hearing them on Chuck and I love it.

Right now, the most played non-TV related CDs in my car are Justin Townes Earle's "Midnight at the Movies" and the new Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band.

Doug Norrie said...

So glad you wrote about this as my wife and I get much of our new music from television shows. Friday Night Lights, Scrubs, Chuck, have all been great in this respect. But our biggest find to date was "Half Acre" by Hem which was featured in a Liberty Mutual commercial. It ended up being the song my wife walked down the aisle to at our wedding.

Samantha said...

I found Ryan Adams through the West Wing. Season 6, King Corn, they played Desire and I could not get that song out of my head. I went on to get most of the Ryan Adams discs and downloads I could find.

Dan said...

One of my favorite discoveries was "Body of an American" by The Pogues from Season 3 of The Wire, when it was played at Ray Cole's pool table wake.

I also discovered The Old 97's from watching The Breakup.

"Overkill" by Men at Work from an episode of Scrubs is another good song.

Tabs said...

I get pretty most of my new music either from television or NPR's All Songs Considered show.

I've devoured all of the Old 97's stuff ever since "The Question" played at the end of my favorite Scrubs episode ever.

But, the best band I ever discovered through tv was Wilco after "Thirteen" played on Gilmore Girls. They're easily my favorite band.

I'm currently crazy about the Death Cab for Cutie and Blind Pilot albums from last year. They've been on heavy rotation for the last six months at my house.

jcpbmg said...

Probably just about every band that was featured in the early episodes of The OC- most notably Postal Service, Patrick Park, and Death Cab

Alex Patsavas (who handled all of the music for OC, as well as Chuck, Gossip Girl and yes Grey's) does a great job of finding new bands and at least for the most part, tactfully featuring them in shows

Anonymous said...

The Rhett Miller song "Come Around" was wonderfully used in an old episode of Scrubs - "My TCW". Right after one of J.D.'s best (and most realistic) rants.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6ZPtFIopf4

Mike said...

Best Discovery: I discovered Joshua Radin when "Winter" played on Scrubs in the season 3 episode "My Screw Up", and have been obsessed with his music since.

Currently, I'm listening to a lot of Bon Iver, The Thermals (via Chuck), and Band of Horses.

Andrew said...

I picked up on Phoenix from seeing them on SNL (only a few years late), and Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is spending a lot of time on my playlists now.

Also for music that's been featured on TV last season, Bon Iver, The Hold Steady and the Thermals are heavy in rotation.

Bobman said...

I'd say I have an equal amount of "Ooo, that sounds like a cool song, I'll have to check that out" and a "I remember that song, now for some reason I like it more cuz I saw it on a TV show." A good example of the latter would be Shambala by 3 Dog Night, a song I was obviously familiar with long before the Lost episode where Hurley starts the van back up, but after that episode aired I was OBSESSED with that song in a whole new way.

kristinj said...

I found the Heartless Bastards because of FNL - there was a scene where Lyla was jogging, and jogged right over to Tim Riggins' house. I didn't realize how much the song got to me until I was humming it a week later. Great band.

Anonymous said...

Music discovered on a show: Joshua Radin from "Scrubs" and Ingrid Michaelson from "Greys Anatomy".

New music on rotation, been listening to the Verve Remixed Vol. 4 and actually, just reconnecting to some old favorites from the 80's and 90's (REM Eponymous, some Pearl Jam, some Rage Against the Machine). Oh, and for kicks, Missy Elliot's So Addicted.

Dan said...

Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes: some great new tunes on those shows ;)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes: some great new tunes on those shows

And now I'm playing Mott the Hoople's "All the Way to Memphis" as I type my next blog entry. :)

Theresa said...

I rely on Scrubs and early Grey's Anatomy for my musical introductions. Here are the bands and the songs that got me hooked. Because of these songs, I have since seen all of these acts in concert except Old 97's/Rhett Miller.

Old 97's - "Question" - Scrubs
Joshua Radin - "Winter" - Scrubs

Rilo Kiley - "Portions for Foxes" - Grey's Anatomy
Tegan and Sara - "Where Does the Good Go" - Grey's Anatomy (they have also been featured heavily on Veronica Mars)

Eike said...

I found out about Imogen Heap, when their song "Hide and Seek" was played in the pilot of Smith.

Synd-e said...

I have a playlist called "Nerd Herd" with all the great songs I've heard on CHUCK. Some of my favorite finds from the show - "Christmas TV" by Slow Wave, Frightened Rabbit, The Thermals "Now We Can See", Crooked Fingers "Luisa'a Bones". And I love hearing bands I already know & love on CHUCK: Okkervil River, The National, Blitzen Trapper, Bon Iver.

Veronica Mars was another great source for new music. I have a huge "Songs from Neptune" playlist as well.

arrabbiata said...

One song that hooked me from a tv show appearance was "Boom Boom Boom" by the Iguanas, after it got a couple of plays during the Homicide Life on the Street episode "The Documentary". It seems it wasn't just me- I later read that NBC switchboards were swamped with viewers trying to learn who performed the song. Eventually information about the show's music was posted to the web, and I was able to track down a used copy of their "Nuevo Boogaloo" album (it had already gone out of print). Homicide always had fantastic music.

Hatfield said...

The music nut in me has to point out that Imogen Heap is the girl's name, not a band. I know, I'm that guy.

I will second the Heartless Bastards and The Hold Steady, though I found them through traditional music circles, not TV. My friend represents Heartless Bastards and I got to meet the lead singer, who is this tiny, adorable little thing--it's amazing that voice comes from her. And The Hold Steady are just the jam. Anyone here who enjoys classic rock, good writing and anthemic sing-alongs, do yourself a favor and get Boys and Girls in America or Stay Positive.

As far as music in TV, Alan Ball and gang always knocked it out of the park on Six Feet Under. It wasn't always new, but they featured Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Coldplay (blech, but still, it worked) and many others I'm not thinking of. And then the song they found/commissioned for True Blood is catchy as hell. "Bad Things" by Jace Everett. Yup, it made its way to my iTunes.

Anonymous said...

Another show that had interesting musical tastes was Life. One song from an episode early this past season stuck in my head and I ultimately downloaded it on the ol' iPod: "Squares" by The Beta Band.

Yet another thing to miss regarding the cancellation of Life...

bill said...

1. Another vote for VW>Pink Moon>Nick Drake

2. Recently purchased music: Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet, Robyn Hitchcock, John Wesley Harding, John Doe

drake lelane said...

Through writing about music and just being music obsessive in general, it's rare when there's an artist I haven't heard show up in a TV show. That being said, my then three(now four)-year old son and I discovered The Ting Tings through an iPod ad. He made me tape the commercial so he could dance to the song so I finally just bought the album and it was his favorite from last year.

Heavy rotation right now is the new one from Dirty Projectors (which will undoubtedly top more than a few year end lists) and the latest from Phoenix (my son's current favorite) and Grizzly Bear's dreamy Veckatamist.

Anonymous said...

From Rescue Me: The Von Bondies and Brian Jonestown Massacre. From Letterman: Airborne Toxic Event.

My tastes run toward hard rock so I've been listening lately to Evanessence, Mudvayne, and Lacuan Coil.

LA said...

Mad Men turned me on to The Decemberists.

Zach Braff has great taste in music, and had I not already discovered them, he would have been my second exposure to the fabulous-but-now-defunct Remy Zero.

Not a fan of country music at all, but I LOVE the theme song to True Blood, Bad Things by Jace Everett.

Some other TV soundtracks I've really enjoyed are from Six Feet Under, Scrubs, Grey's, all fantastic sources of great music.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't pimp my friend John Hoskinson who has gotten a few of his songs on various television shows. Check him out at www.johnhoskinson.com.

LA said...

Almost forgot... latest listens are the "O" section of my iTunes. Highlights:

One More Cup of Coffee, a Dylan remake by Robert Plant from Dreamland

One Love by Bob Marley

One Day Late by Sam Phillips

U2's One by Warren Haynes, U2, Mary J. Blige, and Bono with Daniel Lanois.

One (is the Lonelinest Number) by Aimee Mann

Once Over Twice by X

dez said...

I also picked up the Von Bondies from "Rescue Me" (although I'd already heard of them via Jason Stollsteimer's fight with Jack White), plus Sia from "Six Feet Under." I've also investigated some tunes from iPod commercials. Most of the time, though, I'm already familiar with the bands and/or music by the time it hits the TV shows (such as The Handcuffs before they got some songs on "Gossip Girl").

Recent music rotation: the new Green Day, Darker My Love's second album, and the recent music from Kinky and Aterciopelados.

dez said...

D'oh, I should pimp my friends, too: http://thehandcuffs.com/ :-)

LA said...

D'oh! Thank you, dez, how could I leave Sia off my list? I still can't hear "Breathe Me" without getting weepy.

Tom said...

A3! Their song "Chosen One" defines 'The Sopranos' and it's not even their best work. Seriously. Stop everything and go to iTunes and listen to the acoustic version of "Bullet Proof" from "Last Train to Mashville." Or "Wade Into the Water" from "La Peste." Why these guys couldn't parlay the Sopranos thing into a major American career baffles me.

Faye said...

Ah, don't get me started on this as its my favourite subject and a large part of my PhD. I'm writing an article about Patsavas this summer and other music supervisors. This thread will be very useful for my academic work!!!

Like jcpbmg I picked up alot from Patsavas shows, key one being the OC back in the day.

I second the mentions of Sia from SFU (still cant hear it without getting teary), and Decemberists from Mad Men hit me just about the time the music critics were going crazy over their new album. Most of my new music comes from NPR at the moment and it always turns up on shows like Chuck and Gossip Girl - Patsavas again!

Oh and Sigur Ros from BBC idents/Planet Earth!

On another line of this discussion, the title music, or even just that instrument, of Deadwood is so indelibly linked with the show in my mind. UK programmes / continuity use it all the times and it immediately get me thinking of the old west.

Anonymous said...

Best musical discovery for me was The Beta Band from High Fidelity. Also, when FNL used "Vaseline" the song got stuck in my head, causing me to download a bunch of Flaming Lips albums.

nutmeag said...

A Gap (or Old Navy?) commercial turned me on to Ingrid Michaelson. Grey's Anatomy has clued me in to quite a few bands as well. Zach Braff has helped me add several artists to my list as well.

And speaking of Chuck, I was already a fan of the Shins, but hearing "A Comet Appears" back in the first season just made my day.

Hatfield said...

Nice choice, dez, I saw Darker My Love at The Troubador in LA last year and they were awesome.

Sons of Anarchy is another show I've really enjoyed the music on. And they list most of them on the website.

pau said...

For me Ventura Highway by America in the episode 6 "Return of the Cane" of Veronica Mars first season is pretty amazing. I didn't know this song and now i often listen it
To add the scenes played by the actors with this song in the background make a captivating moment, a melancholic vibe..

James Poniewozik said...

I never listened to The Mountain Goats before I heard "Cotton" on an episode of Weeds. That show has a really well-curated soundtrack. Also discovered Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, of all places, The Brendan Leonard Show back when it was on ABC Family.

It's funny you mention Going to California, because while its music was good per se, the use of the soundtrack always annoyed me. I always felt like Rosenberg (also in Beautiful Girls and October Road) used music kind of cheaply, to inject feeling into a scene--Lovin' Touchin' Feelin' singalong, everybody! Boston air band!--rather than to augment feeling that was already organically there.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yeah, that's definitely a trope of his -- there's an episode of "Going to California" that climaxes with the guys serenading Bridget Moynahan with "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" -- but the theme itself was very rockin', as the theme for any good road trip show should be.

(I once spent months tracking down a copy of Warren Zevon's "If You Won't Leave Me I'll Find Somebody Who Will," which was the theme to the short-lived remake of "Route 66," and that thing's only 43 seconds long!)

Anonymous said...

Wolf Parade from Rescue Me

Frightened Rabbit from Chuck

Arcade Fire from Six Feet Under

All three are amazing live as well.

Anonymous said...

I heard this low-key, intimate, beautiful song on some car commercial a few years ago and tracked it down online. Turned out to be "Ariel Rameriz" by Richard Buckner. It remains one of my favorite songs.

Anonymous said...

Old 97's, "Question," in the Scrubs episode where Turk proposes to Carla in the park.

Also, Old 97's, "Adelaide," from Veronica Mars when that old boyfriend of hers (the brother of the dead girl, can't remember his name) drives away with his baby (I seem to be mixing him up with Jason Street and Street's similar story line).

Didn't even know Rhett Miller had a new CD coming out. Thanks for the tip!

J said...

I tend to resent the use of music in shows and commercials for ruining stuff I already like by marrying it to a context I won't be able to shake. Though I was happy to have Craig Ferguson put "Oops... I Did it Again" back in my head a few weeks ago.

Plenty of good stuff's been released this year. Rokia Traore's Tchamantché, Emmy the Great's First Love, Vulture Whale's Vulture Whale. Black Moth Super Rainbow always makes me happy.

Alf said...

I love Friday Night Lights for introducing me to Explosions in the Sky (among other reasons).

BC in OC said...

Steve Earle. I first heard his music, specifically the song "Feel Alright", during The Wire's season 2 montage. Been a huge fan ever since. (Although I thought his season 5 cover of "Way Down in the Hole" was by far the weakest of the bunch.)

dez said...

D'oh, how could I get forget A3 and R.L. Burnside from "The Sopranos"! Wasn't aware of either of them until that show came along.

Garrett said...

Best bang for the buck: I first heard They Might Be Giants on Tiny Toon Adventures. They led me to the Replacements, which led me to Big Star (in combination with the "That 70s Show" theme).

Current faves: Micachu & the Shapes, Japandroids, Op Swamp 81, St. Vincent. Coincidentally, I just pulled out the Old 97's' "Satellite Rides" yesterday after a long layoff.

Matthew L said...

I'm really not a modern music person - I grew up listening (by personal choice) to classical, and although I don't listen to much Mozart these days, I mostly listen to orchestral scores from movies.

So my discovery is a little bit different. I discovered the Beatles. Now, it's not like I didn't know about the Beatles, obviously I did, we sang some of their songs in primary school. But I'd never actually listened to a Beatles album. But then I saw the film Across The Universe, which is a musical with all Beatles songs, and there were a lot of songs I didn't know but really loved. So that prompted me to seek out the original albums, which I now love.

Also Pink Ployd, which I discovered after a friend's description of The Wall made me curious about seeing the film. And then I did the Wizard Of Oz / Dark Side Of The Moon thing, which led me to love that album.

Someone mentioned She And Him further up, and I really like their album, which I discovered after they showed Tin Man here in NZ. I pulled up Alan's old review and discussion thread, and someone referred to Zooey Deschanel recording an album. So I hunted it out, and really liked it.

Steve said...

This is probably Rhett's strongest solo record but everything he does with or without the 97's is 1000 times better in concert. "Bonfire" especially is much better acoustic than on the cd. 4 nights in Hoboken starting next week with Rhett solo, Murry solo, then the 97's. Awesome!

One tv song I was never able to find was Shawn Colvin's version of "Will you still love me tomorrow" from the last Larry Sanders show. Any ideas?

Eric said...

The DirectTV run of FNL's "Underdogs" had ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead's "Sigh Your Children" and Stephen Malkmus's "Baby C'Mon" back-to-back. It was unspeakably awesome, and the main reason that the FNL Season 3 DVDs are disappointing is because so many of the great original music choices are lost.

Bellingham View said...

As someone else noted, a favorite discovery for me was also The Pogues' Body of an American in The Wire. I'd heard of them, of course, but hadn't really heard them, and this was a nice introduction.

Another great one was Tom Waits' Cold Cold Ground used in an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street in the '90s. I'd been aware of Waits, of course, but not really a fan. I went to the record store the next night with my friend Marcee, bought Waits' Frank's Wild Years and played it non-stop for quite a while.

Current album rotation:

* Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, "Tell 'Em What Your Name Is"

* Bob Dylan, "Together Through Life"

* Blitzen Trapper, "Furr" (can't quit it)

* The Hold Steady, "Stay Positive" (still)

* Kings of Leon, "Only by the Night" (still)

* Elvis Costello, "Secret, Profane and Sugarcane"

* Wilco, "Wilco (The Album)"

Miscellanous tracks:

* Ray LaMontange, "You Are the Best Thing" and "Henry Nearly Killed Me (It's a Shame)"

* White Lies, "Death" and "To Lose My Life"

* Plain White T's, "Hey There Delilah"

-- RP

Carolyn said...

from a show: Alexi Murdoch "Orange Sky" and Jem's Paul McCartney cover "It's Amazing" both from the OC

(Alexi Murdoch just did the soundtrack to the movie "Away We Go")

and lately I'm listening to Telekinesis! ;)

Carolyn said...

whoops - I meant "Maybe I'm Amazed" not "It's Amazing."

AH, early morning brain slips....

Drew said...

The Old 97s have been my favorite band for a decade now, so I'm happy to see Rhett and the guys getting so much love, even as I'm disappointed they aren't coming back to Austin any time soon (Gruene Hall FTW!).

Anyway...

(1) I don't think I have ever become a fan of a band because I heard their stuff on TV, but I definitely notice when I hear music I like played during shows.

(2) Camera Obscura's "My Maudlin Career," Passion Pit's "Manners," The Decemberisits "Hazzards of Love," and Silversun Pickups' "Swoon."

danc930 said...

Usually what happens with me is that, since I am big into music, I hear a band and then I hear them on TV, then I get real excited (like when Frightened Rabbit showed up on Chuck. Twice.). The first thing that coms to my mind of a band introduced to me by a television show is Explosions in the Sky, who are featured heavily in Friday Night Lights. They are a huge part of the show and can make any scene more emotional. It's almost cheating.

What I'm listening to now: Huge list, topped off by the Dirty Projectors' brilliant "Bitte Orca" and Grizzly Bear's "Veckatimest." I also love the new Phoenix album, which has featured on my playlists for about a month. I've also recently re-discovered Nick Cave, especially "Tender Prey." The new Mos Def album is pretty good as well.

Christi said...

1) Best musical discovery: Loreena McKennitt, after I heard "Bonny Portmore" in an episode of Highlander ("Homeland" - Season 4, Episode 1). The version used wasn't Loreena's, but hers was the first one I could find at the library. Now we own her complete catalog, and have been lucky enough to see her in concert once.

Runner-up: Due South led me to the Northern Pikes, the amazing piano version of "Possession," the Holly Cole Trio, and others.

2) Heavy rotation right now: Gaelic Storm, Great Big Sea, Dougie MacLean, Brad Paisley, George Strait, and the Sesame Street box set. Plus, I'm going to have to buy Bon Jovi's "Dead or Alive" to appease a 3-year-old who just discovered his love for what he calls "the Captain Sig song." (He can also sing the Red Dwarf theme song.)