(Six Month Stickies)
Sept'08 - Feb '09
First off I want to say how ashamed I am that I'm so late with this sticky list. Almost three months late! That's considerable! I've been working eighteen hour days for a while now, taken on far too many freelance assignments, and have been traveling far more than I'm used to, as a result I've had to re-prioritize what I OCD'ishly commit my time to. Anyway, enough gibber jabber, on to the music!
These are the tracks of music that got stuck in my head in the course of the last six months. (In order)
*Click Image to download a rar of the compilation
Antony And The Johnsons - Shake That Devil
It's hard to articulate my impressions of Antony and the Johnsons. He reminds me of Bjork, in that he's just doing his own thing, and does it with enough precision and ability, you have to take him on his own terms. This song in particular seems to be a personal vision, and that he wasn't concerned with it's audience appeal. I think as a result there is more richness in the song which throbs and sizzles beneath the surface for the first half, then confidently strides forward in the second , and you find yourself marching along with it, as you have learned the vocabulary during the first half when you were confused and worried.
Definitely an interesting song and not to be discounted on the grounds of it's weirdness as I fear most people do.
Antony And The Johnsons - River of Sorrow
I love the modulations of his voice as he elongates his words, and the instrumentation is rather lovely and restrained throughout.
Cat Power - What Would the Community Think
If you're wondering why Cat Power is so over represented on this sticky list, frankly so do I!
I wouldn't say I especially like Cat Power. Yet I've listened to her more than ninety percent of the artists in my music library. I have to admit she has a very broad and satisfying style throughout her albums, and almost always has a song or album for whatever mood I'm in.
In this song, I like the way her patient vocals lightly drag across yawning guitars and amps.
Joe Cocker - With a little help from my friends
I know you're suspecting the explanation for this sticky is that I caught an episode of the wonder years. But actually no! I just randomly got this cover stuck in my head one day. It took a while to track down the proper album, but When I did, it re lit my craving, and I listened to it a bizarre amount over the course of a week.
Watching wonder years as a kid I always thought the lyrics were:
What would you do with that zang attitude
when you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song
I will try not to sing out of key.
Why I've a little help without me!
My Bloody Valentine - Soft as Snow But Warm Inside
I suspected at some point I'd get on board the My Bloody Valentine Train. All my friends with similar but more veteran tastes in music praised them, yet I found them boring and inactive. Then recently I finally unlocked them (probably my progression from Galaxy 500, to Low, lead the way) Honestly I got a fuzzy soup of about about ten MBV songs stuck in my head, but this one edged out in stickiness above the rest. I like the persistent lazy lurching rhythm.
Cat Power - Not What You Want
Cat power again. This time unbelievably raw and unapologetic. I imagine her bleary eyed at three a.m huddled in a corner on dusty wood floors, while a four track spins in the middle of an otherwise empty room. She's strumming her guitar and loosing herself in the meditative expression of whatever she's singing about. I love the arc of volume and intensity. I'm glad she had the insight to preserve these dynamic ranges. This track is so wonderfully bare and intense.
Cat Power - Water and Air
I don't have much to say about this song. I like it's heavy stride, and the wandering nature of her voice, and the tenuous, sawing motions of the background guitar.
King Crimson - Moonchild
* This is the edited version off the Buffalo '66 soundtrack. I was going to use the proper track off In the Court of the Crimson King, but there is about six minutes of trying ambient nonsense appended to the end, so I thought better of it.
If I was a more developed musician, this is exactly the kind of song I would write. I love it both lyrically and musically. I think of Angel's Egg, the early Mamoro Oshi film with its bare color palate, large black spaces, harsh light, and mute characters, when I hear this song. Which is appropriate because that would be exactly the kind of film I hope to direct one day, assuming I ever sharpen my skills to that level of mastery.
Mogwai - Batcat
I think of this as a 'suiting up song'. The kind of song that would play in a Michael Mann movie where you're watching a bunch of characters silently suiting up to pull a heist or something. The driving focused quality of the music totally gets me pumped up. I could totally somersault through a moving web of detection lasers to this.
Mogwai - The Sun Smells Too Loud
I just kind of like this track, and it's catchy in sort of a weird way, the guitar is almost serving the roll you might expect a voice to. Anyway that's all I have to say about that!
Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
A friend sold me on Neutral Milk Hotel when he described me the lyrical content of 'Holland, 1945'. I got this album immediately and fell in love with it. This song reminds me of when I'm in a plane and sneaking glances at a pretty woman nodding off to sleep across the hall, which happens on a nearly monthly basis.
Neutral Milk Hotel - Holland, 1945
This song is great! It's so conceptually interesting. The idea of being in love with someone who died before you were born and acknowledging their current re-incarnation, all set to a really kinetic horn laden musical blitz. I love the drum rolls and the sound of clustered instruments rushing forward with infectious energy. I wish more musicians had this kind of insight.
Chad VanGaalen - Molten Light
I stumbled across the music video online and thought it was such a perfect visual synthesis of the song. Then I discovered it's because the musician who crafted the song, did the same for the video. There is a cohesion to both separately, and all the more together, that makes watching/listening to the video oddly satisfying. After two weeks, I was still watching it at least five times a day. My friends for whom I linked the video all suffered the same fate. Proceed with caution...
The Legends - Today
I don't much care for this song. Sounds like a paint by numbers to early New Order. But hey! I can't choose what gets stuck in my head.
Peter Gabriel - I Don't Remember
I started devoting time to Peter Gabriel after I heard he was friends with Kate Bush. And by golly if his company is good enough for Kate, it's good enough for me. To be fair I wish I liked his music more consistently than I do. But there certainly isn't anything wrong with this track except for maybe the prominent repetitious snare hit. The song makes me kind of want to shake my shoulders back and forth. It's my awkward little Peter Gabriel dance!
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - The Line
I like the steady confidence of this song. My favorite part is the humming refrain, and how satisfying the subtle bass drum and snare accents add by way of release.
I also like the removed ascending quality in the second part of the song when he sings:
Pull me up
on either side
don't leave me standing alone in the light
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Ain't No Easy Way
It's not everyday you find such a satisfying contemporary rock song laden with tambourine and containing such well integrated harmonica jamming.
The Ting Tings - Shut Up and Let Me Go
This song is on regular rotation at the hipstery dance club/bar I shake my groove thing at every Friday night. And as weird as it sounds, I shake it harder to this song than any other. Which is bizarre to think that this song gets me moving more than all rock, soul, motown etc. IN EXISTENCE. So it doesn't loose it's dance juice (the way MGMT's "Kids" did for me) from overplaying, I try to save this song for when, and only when I'm free to get down with my bad self.
Hot Chip - Over and Over
I could take or leave Hot Chip, though some of his songs really do strike a chord with me. I first heard this song at my friends new years party, which quickly degenerated into a dance-athon. It's pretty standard fair until 3:25... That is the moment... I black out and things get straight crazy. I could be at dinner with the president, and if the restaurant was stupid enough to play this song, then at the 3:25 mark I would have to just grab the nearest cute waitress and dance up the place something fierce. Economic policy can wait until AFTER GROOVE SHAKING.
Ghostland Observatory - Piano Man
This song was also introduced to me at the above mentioned new years party. Half way through I turned to my friend and asked "Who is this?" He said "Ghostland Observatory" I thought "Damn! now if I ever form a band I can at best only hope to come up with the second best band name ever." I find most of their songs a bit too abrasive, but the rest ride that fine line thrillingly, this song is a perfect example.
Ok here come a slew of Beatles songs. As is usually the case, the genius of most Beatles songs is on time release for me, and after hearing a song a hundred times, I suddenly key into it's brilliance. That happened this time with Sgt. Peppe'rs Lonley Hearts Club Band album and Abbey Road. Abbey road has always been my favorite Beatles album, but Sgt. Pepper's never really spoke to me until recently when the songs off it started getting stuck in my head one after the other.
The Beatles - You Never Give Me Your Money
2:28 starts getting pretty sweet
2:47 gets heavy awesome
And the fading voice modulation and guitar licks at 3:00 - 3:08 is just inspired... I am in awe when I hear it.
I also realized much later that this song was one of the inspirations for a piece I had written called 'Clear Skies and Summer'.
The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
I like the far away shouting quality of the vocals, and the chugging guitars half way through.
The Beatles - A Day In the Life
There are so many different interesting ideas, themes, moments, music and lyrics in constant procession in this song. I especially like the beginning narration about the man in the car, the splotchy drumming that accompanies that passage, and the calm tone of the vocals throughout. All the rest of the elements are so masterfully balanced. It's Beatles songs like this one that makes them still seem cutting edge, more so than almost any other band, almost fifty years later.
The Beatles - Maxwells Silver Hammer
A reminder that this is a list of songs which have gotten stuck in my head, and that I'm not always happy about it. This song demonstrates the vacant styling of Mcartney. It's his showman clownishness which serves as a perfect sobering element to Lennon's acrid political and personal indulgences. But when allowed free reign, McCartney's songs result in the third person nonsense of Maxwell's Silver hammer. That not withstanding, McCartney is an extremely talented song writer, and even I am not immune to his black arts.
The Beatles - The End
And in the end
the love you take
is equal to the love you make.
Bach/Gould - Aria
Bach/Gould - Aria da capo (reprise)
Bach is the most beautiful thing to happen to the human race.
No one understood Bach better than Glen Gould.
This is perhaps the best performance of Bach Gould ever recorded.
Turn off all distractions, double the volume, and listen.
Bach/Gould - Partita II in C minor I. Sinfonia.
It was through this piece I discovered Glen Gould
I really don't know what to write about this.. please just listen.
Also if you want to see a rather awesome video of Gould playing passages from this piece:
Fauré - Piano Quintet No. 1 in D Minor Op 89: Molto moderato
I recently discovered Faure, and modern-ish composers in general. I absolutely love the way he combines keys and strings in his music. There is such a watery emergent quality to this piece. I imagine shafts of light scattered through thick streams of water. Yet the violins have such a desperate and resolute yearning. It's amazing how evocatively the strings fade and re emerge as if swimming around you. This is the rapture of being lost, pouring through a kaleidoscope of sensation that overwhelms and dizzies, and teaches you: that to be lost is to be free.
Previous sticky lists:
Six Month Stickies # 2
Six Month Stickies # 1