The shuffler: Eugene Mirman, the "indie-rock comedian" who's opened for Modest Mouse, The Shins, and Yo La Tengo. A leading light of the current New York comedy scene, and a really funny guy. His new album (and first for Sub Pop), En Garde, Society!, will be released in May.
The Soft Boys, "I Got The Hots"
Eugene Mirman: You literally don't ask me anything, and I'm supposed to just… Well, The Soft Boys is Robyn Hitchcock's first band, which I really like. I love Robyn Hitchcock's sort of sincerity and absurdity meshed into one. And lots of the songs are pretty. And funny.
Buddy Holly, "That'll Be The Day"
EM: Buddy Holly, as you know, created the traditional lineup of bass, guitar, drums, and then vocalist and maybe rhythm guitar or something, and that helped everybody. And I like Buddy Holly a lot. I like a lot of '50s stuff, like The Coasters, Buddy Holly, The Bobby Fuller Four. I know that [Buddy Holly]'s still alive. He lives here in Park Slope. A lot of people don't know that. But I could be mistaking him for hundreds of writers.
Billy Joel, "Sleeping With The Television On"
EM: I don't really know that song, but I do know the one that goes, "You may be right, I may be crazy." I'm not mad at Billy Joel, I like that song and I have that CD because of it, but I don't really know this one. I don't feel guilty for enjoying the song about being crazy. Plus everybody likes to hear it when you play it at a bar.
Mötley Crüe, "Come On And Dance"
EM: I grew up listening to lots of heavy metal. And yet I still respect women, so it didn't really damage me too much. In this song, I believe he wants people to come on and dance. And I think he succeeds. My guess is I've never really danced to it. Sometimes late at night, I might. I wouldn't be ashamed to dance to Crüe.
Imperial Teen, "Ivanka"
EM: I saw them at South By Southwest, like, five years ago and I really liked them, and I got the album On, which I enjoy a lot. Very fun. Sort of catchy, poppy, pretty album. And then recently I found out that the guy's main band was Faith No More. I think that's true. Or a totally unnecessary rumor. I don't have much to say, but it's a good time.
Emo Philips, "A Dreamy Dilemma"
EM: Oh, here we go! I loved Emo as a kid. He was my favorite comic, and I used to listen to his two records all the time, and now I have them on one convenient CD in my iPod. His jokes are very art-and-crafty. He had stuff about [Thomas] Aquinas, which I didn't totally get as a kid, but eventually I did. And then the stuff that I did get, I really enjoyed. But he was very different from the sort of seemingly traditional comedy about dating or whatever.
Belle And Sebastian, "You Made Me Forget My Dreams"
EM: Um, unless something triggers a high-school memory, all my descriptions are gonna be like, "It's a pretty song!" You know, actually, I do have something good to say about Belle And Sebastian. I saw them at Town Hall and they brought a girl onstage and they asked her what song she wanted to sing, and I believe she chose the duet ["Lazy Line Painter Jane"]. And it was amazing; she sang a duet with the lead singer of Belle And Sebastian. And she did a very good job and everybody cheered, because it was so exciting. It was very charming. And I believe that one of them maybe also did an impression of Elvis Costello singing. So they were fun live, and I always appreciated that, that they made some girl's dreams come true.
Jethro Tull, "Up The Pool"
EM: I have lots of Jethro Tull because I also am mad at organized religion. When I was in high school, I really liked Jethro Tull, and I still enjoy it. I think that I really loved and identified with their brand of arrogant orchestral rock. They do have a fair number of songs about religion being hijacked. Though I wasn't very religious or surrounded by it, I always was like "Yeah!" [Laughs.] I really extra-agreed with it.
Alina Simone, "Track Seven"
EM: She's a friend of mine from high school who just finished recording her album and is now shopping it around, and I believe her EP was well-received by Pitchfork and various things. She's also Russian and my first friend from elementary school. I just got it from her a few days ago, so I haven't heard the album, but track seven seems like a great one.
Jethro Tull, "Aqualung"
EM: [Laughs.] I believe his wife wrote the lyrics to this, so that's good. "Salvation à la mode and a cup of tea." That's a line from it.
EM: I don't think I know the song specifically, but I'm from Boston. I still love their first handful of albums, because they're great indie-ish rock 'n' roll. I bet if Aerosmith's first or second album came out right now, people would really regard it well in the indie community, and then in general it would become a hit.
Aerosmith, "No Surprise"
EM: Off of the same album, Night In The Ruts. And in that album title, they switch, I believe, the R and the N, so it's a joke about "right in the nuts." That's right before they broke up and then reformed to later release Done With Mirrors, and then of course the smash Permanent Vacation.
The Velvet Underground, "The Murder Mystery"
EM: It's funny that more Velvet Underground didn't come on, 'cause I do have a great deal of it. There's lots of Aerosmith and Jethro Tull, but it is dwarfed by the box sets that Velvet Underground release every few years. When I heard The Velvet Underground, I decided to become a comedian. I think The Velvet Underground are very funny in a very specific way that I do actually really admire and love. I think each one of these things that I like at different times convey a spirit of something that I really like in art from either being fun or very poignant or interesting or whatever. That's mainly the common thread. Though at one point it was "Yo Mamma" by Aerosmith, because of its furious riff. And now it might be "Beginning To See The Light."