Archive for December, 2009

31
Dec
09

2009 Wrap Up and New Year’s Eve Mix

So, it’s the end of year two on CTRR. It’s been a surreal one, and for this blog, a sporadic one. I realize that I sort of fell behind on my blogging because of my new job, and I feel quite guilty about it. Balance is something I need to work on in the coming year.

This was the year I switched over to this new home on WordPress, and it’s treated me quite well so far. There haven’t been any mysterious deletions of posts like there was on Blogger, and I like the flexibility this platform offers. Maybe one day when I’ve learned how to code better, I can do something more with this little site.

Once again, I’d like to thank my loyal readers for coming back, along with my blogger friends JC and Rol. It’s been fantastic to know there are people who are willing to read my ramblings and to bother commenting on them.

I will be posting my take on this decade soon after this post, so stay tuned. (I probably won’t make it for this year because I have to be at a friend’s house in an hour for New Year’s, and I’m still not quite finished).

So, I will leave you with a little gift that you can play at your New Year’s parties, or perhaps your New Year’s Day parties. Or maybe as a pick-me-up in a dreary January. As with last year’s mix, I’ve included a track specifically for New Year’s Eve, which can be played at the appropriate moment on your night – this year it’s New Year by Jonny Cola and the A Grades.

1901 (NightWaves Remix) – Phoenix
Into The Clouds (Fear of Tigers Remix) – The Sound of Arrows
Messages – Filthy Dukes
Goodbye Bad Times (12″ Remix) – Giorgio Moroder and Phil Oakey
Runaround – Del Marquis
We All Wanna Be Prince (Grey Ghost & Deth Hertz Remix) – Felix da Housecat
Daylight (Troublemaker Remix) – Matt and Kim
Quicksand (Chateau Marmont Remix) – La Roux
Pick Up the Phone (Here We Are Remix) – Dragonette
She Bop (Special Arthur Baker Remix) – Cyndi Lauper
Love Etc. – Pet Shop Boys
Off The Map (featuring Jamie Lidell) – Simian Mobile Disco
As Above, So Below (Justice Remix) – Klaxons
Ready For The Weekend (Album Version) – Calvin Harris
Heavy Cross (Siriusmo Remix) – The Gossip
Vulture (Tobias Doppelganger Wildlife On One Remix) – Patrick Wolf
I’m In Love With A Ripper (Party Mix) – YACHT
Into The Galaxy (Grandmaster Flash Remix) – Midnight Juggernauts
We Came to Dance (12” version) – Ultravox
Canned Heat (Calvin Harris Remix) – Jamiroquai
Kiss (Extended Version) – Prince
Control – D Ramirez vs Joy Division
Block Rockin’ Beats – The Chemical Brothers
Tonight – Yuksek
Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix) – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Salt Air (Alex Kapranos Remix) – Chew Lips
Queen of the Disco Beat – Helen Love
No You Girls (Trentemøller Remix Edit) – Franz Ferdinand
Two More Years (MSTRKRFT Remix) – Bloc Party
Think of England (Remix) – IAMX
U Can Dance (featuring Bryan Ferry) – DJ Hell
Change Your Mind (Original Extended 12 Inch Version) – Sharpe & Numan
One Life Stand – Hot Chip
Another Excuse (DFA Mix) – Soulwax
Too Many Dicks (On the Dancefloor) – Flight of the Conchords
Dance Till Dawn – Heartsrevolution
Fist of God – MSTRKRFT
B4U – vitaminsforyou
Peeled Apples (Andrew Weatherall Remix) – Manic Street Preachers
Jeffer (Modeselektor Remix) – Boys Noize
True Faith (Shep Pettibone Remix) – New Order
Kiss of Life – Friendly Fires
Scientist of Love – Jessie Evans
Higher Than The Stars (Saint Etienne Visits Lord Spank Remix) – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
You’re In My Eyes (Discosong) (Pilooski Remix) – Jarvis Cocker
Do It – Joker
Help I’m Alive (The Twelves Remix) – Metric
Last Dance – The Raveonettes
New Year – Jonny Cola & the A Grades

Party Because You Survived the Decade Mix (Zip File)

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25
Dec
09

Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and…Well, Friday I’m in Love: Year-End Round-Up Part 3

It’s finally the last part of my year-end round-up of weekly mixes. The themes included here are: twee, female singer-songwriters, rock, literature, commiseration, numbers, post-punk, Manic Street Preachers, autumn, cover versions, Halloween, Germany, Remembrance Day/war, winter and Christmas.

Speechless With Tuesday – The Apartments

Friday, Saturday, Sunday – DJ Hell

Weekly Mix #77 – Revolt Into Childhood (Download)

Come Saturday – The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
Hit the Ground – The Darling Buds
Sensitive – The Field Mice
Au bord du soleil – Souvenir
Pushbutton Head – Strawberry Story
Crush the Flowers – The Wake
Kid Gloves – Voxtrot
The Instrumental – The June Brides
If You Find Yourself Caught in Love – Belle & Sebastian
The Subtle Art of How to Break a Heart – Blind Terry
Lemonade and Somersaults – The Icicles
Blue – Kicker
Talulah Gosh – Talulah Gosh
Stethoscope Sounds – Bedroom Eyes
Who’s In Your Dreams? – Strawberry Whiplash
Love is…1968 – Beaumont
To the Dancers in the Rain – Emilie Simon
Footloose and Fancy Free – Camera Obscura
Candy – El Perro Del Mar
One Blue Hill – Pale Saints
Breathe Into Me – Kind

Weekly Mix #78 – What’s a Girl To Do (Download)

Never Forget You – The Noisettes
Dance and Boogie – The Pipettes
In These Shoes? – Kirsty MacColl
Them Heavy People – Kate Bush
Listen Up! (MSTRKRFT Remix) – The Gossip
Girl – Robots in Disguise
My Delirium – Ladyhawke
The Ballad of Lucy Jordan – Marianne Faithfull
I Could Be Happy – Altered Images
Backstabber – The Dresden Dolls
Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Blue Jeans – Ladytron
Glamour Girl – Chicks on Speed
On My Own Again – Bishi
Please Don’t Touch – Polly Scattergood
I Muse Aloud – Jane Siberry
Comme des enfants – Coeur de pirate
A Sister’s Social Agony – Camera Obscura
Prescilla – Bat For Lashes
The Hollow Men – Cocteau Twins
Into the Light – Siouxsie and the Banshees
Isobel – Bjork

Weekly Mix #79 – Rock ‘n Roll is Our Only Culture (Download)

Welcome to the Jungle – Guns ‘n Roses
Pink Flower – Daisy Chainsaw
You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
Rock ‘n Roll All Nite – Kiss
Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin
Woman – Wolfmother
Little Girl – Death From Above 1979
Everything’s Ruined – Faith No More
Slither – Velvet Revolver
Plug In Baby – Muse
Icky Thump – The White Stripes
My Generation – The Who
Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones
You Really Got Me – The Kinks
Clash City Rockers – The Clash
Imperial Bodybags – Manic Street Preachers
Killer Queen – Queen
Seasons – Jeff Beck
Voodoo Child – Jimi Hendrix
Purple Rain – Prince

Weekly Mix #80 – Songbook (Download)

The Small Print – Muse (Reference: German Legend of Faust or Faustus)
Colony – Joy Division (Reference: Franz Kafka’s Penal Colony)
Charlotte Sometimes – The Cure (Reference: Penelope Farmer’s Charlotte Sometimes)
Don’t Box Me In – Stan Ridgeway and Stewart Copeland (Reference: S.E. Hinton’s Rumblefish)
Ichabod Crane – Momus (Reference: Washington Irving’s The Headless Horseman)
Narcissist – The Libertines (Reference: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray)
Anne Carson – Archivist
Lucy – The Divine Comedy (Reference: William Wordsworth’s The Lucy Poems)
Trainspotting – Primal Scream (Reference: Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting)
Reel Around the Fountain – The Smiths (Reference: Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey)
Buttons – Kingfishers Catch Fire (Reference: Jim Murdoch’s “Cinders”)
The House That Jack Kerouac Built – The Go-Betweens
Billy Liar – The Crooner (Reference: Keith Waterhouse’s Billy Liar)
Oscar Wilde – Company of Thieves
The Sensual World – Kate Bush (Reference: James Joyce’s Ulysses)
Oedipus – Regina Spektor (Reference: Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex)
Like Straw Dogs – Vanilla Swingers (Reference: John Gray’s Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals)
Tea in the Sahara – The Police (Reference: Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky)
Blake’s Jerusalem – Billy Bragg (Reference: William Blake’s Jerusalem)
So Said Kay – The Field Mice (Reference: Jane Rule’s Desert of the Heart)

Weekly Mix #81 – Everybody Hurts (Download)

Sit Down (Rough Trade Version) – James
Sometimes I Scare Children – The Kid
The Number One Song in Heaven – Sparks
Take On Me (Extended Mix) – a-ha
Bizarre Love Triangle – New Order
I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ – Scissor Sisters
Magic Game – Sliimy
This Charming Man (New York Vocal) – The Smiths
The Goodbye Girl – Pluto
Little By Little – The Wannadies
Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse – Of Montreal
Tear Garden – IAMX
The Night Starts Here – Stars
Half Way to Crazy – The Jesus & Mary Chain
Josef’s Gone – The June Bride
Higher Grounds – Cats On Fire
The Man Who Took On Love (And Won) – The Low Miffs and Malcolm Ross
If You Need Someone – Field Mice
No Tomorrow – The Boyfriends
Down the Dip – Aztec Camera

Weekly Mix #82 – Countdown (Download)

In-Joke For One – Fosca
Three and Nine – Roxy Music
Three Cheers For Our Side – Orange Juice
The Four Platitudes (A Bridge Song) – Parenthetical Girls
Eleven Executioners – Momus
Six Different Ways – The Cure
Seven – Fever Ray
Thirty Frames a Second – Simple Minds
Two Divided By Zero – Pet Shop Boys
Eight Flew Over, One Was Destroyed – Mew
Five Ten Fiftyfold – Cocteau Twins
One Thousand Reasons – The Sound
Twenty Four Hours – Joy Division
Sixteen Days – Modern English
Low Five – Sneaker Pimps
Thirteen Days – Sibrydion
Dozen Wicked Words – Longpigs
The Eighteenth Emergency – Butcher Boy
Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl – Broken Social Scene
Ten Seconds to Midnight – The Divine Comedy

Weekly Mix #83 – A New Messthetic (Download)

Home is the Range – Comsat Angels
Complications – Killing Joke
A Song From Under the Floorboards – Magazine
Nostalgia (7″ Version) – The Chameleons
Words Fail Me – The Sound
Dark Companion – Tuxedomoon
It’s Her Factory – Gang of Four
Concrete Jungle – The Specials
This is Not a Love Song (Remix) – Public Image Ltd.
Twist Run Repulsion – Simple Minds
Messthetics – Scritti Politti
The Modern Dance – Pere Ubu
Dead Pop Stars – Altered Images
Playground Twist – Siouxsie & the Banshees
Only After Dark – Human League
Thorn of Crowns – Echo & the Bunnymen
Architecture and Morality – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Strange – Wire
Variation of Scene – Josef K
New Dawn Fades – Joy Division

Weekly Mix #84 – This One’s For the Freaks (Download)

Dead Yankee Drawl – Manic Street Preachers (Horse and Groom, London – 20-09-89)
Methadone Pretty – Manic Street Preachers (Hull Adelphi – 17-05-91)
Crucifix Kiss – Manic Street Preachers (Hibernian Rooms, London – 13-08-91)
You Love Us – Manic Street Preachers (London Marquee – 04-09-91)
Democracy Coma – Manic Street Preachers (The Crypt, Middlesbrough – 07-02-92)
Born to End – Manic Street Preachers (Musik Café, Copenhagen – 10-04-92)
Motorcycle Emptiness – Manic Street Preachers (Eurockeenes, Belfort – 03-07-92)
Generation Terrorists – Manic Street Preachers (Oxford Zodiac – 02-02-91)
Little Baby Nothing – Manic Street Preachers (Northampton Roadmenders – 23-02-92)
Yourself – Manic Street Preachers (Southend Cliffs Pavillion – 07-07-93)
Roses in the Hospital – Manic Street Preachers (Milton Keynes – 19-08-93)
Yes – Manic Street Preachers (Paris Bataclan – 22-11-94)
PCP – Manic Street Preachers (Barcelona – 18-11-94)
Love’s Sweet Exile – Manic Street Preachers (Bangkok MBK Hall – 04-94)
From Despair to Where – Manic Street Preachers (The Hague Parkpop Festival, Holland – 21-08-94)
4st 7lbs – Manic Street Preachers (Nancy, France – 26-09-94)
IfWhiteAmericaToldTheTruthForOneDayIt’sWorldWouldFallApart – Manic Street Preachers (Astoria Theatre, London – 21-12-94)
No Surface All Feeling – Manic Street Preachers (Melbourne Big Day Out – 26-01-99)
Masses Against the Classes – Manic Street Preachers (Cardiff Coal Exchange – 08-03-01)
A Design For Life – Manic Street Preachers (XFM Winter Wonderland, Manchester – 11-12-07)

Weekly Mix #85 – For C + M (Download)

The Samurai in Autumn – Pet Shop Boys
We’re in a Thunderstorm – Gentleman Reg
Gone Like Summer – Strawberry Story
Theme to the Autumn Leaves – Autumn Leaves
Waiting For a Chance – Northern Portrait
September’s Not So Far Away – Field Mice
By the Light of a Magical Moon – Tyrannosaurus Rex
Climb a Tree – Jim Noir
Nothing Broke – Meursault
Apples and Pairs – Slow Club
Summer’s Gone – Sibrydion
Darwin’s Tree – Martin Carr
We Could Send Letters – Aztec Camera
Further to Fall – Trembling Blue Stars
Forests and Sands – Camera Obscura
No Excuses (The Autumn Cantata) – Air France
Road to Somewhere – Goldfrapp
Under the Folding Branches – The Veils
September – David Sylvian
Autumnal – Arab Strap

Weekly Mix #86 – Take Cover (Download)

Pop Goes the World – Hyperbubble (Original: Men Without Hats)
Together in Electric Dreams – The Voluntary Butler Scheme (Original: Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder)
With Every Heartbeat – The Rest (Original: Robyn)
Dream Attack – Kites With Lights (Original: New Order)
No Cars Go – vitaminsforyou (Original: The Arcade Fire)
Night Vision – The Twelves (Original: Daft Punk)
Primary – The Dandy Warhols (Original: The Cure)
100% – The Raveonettes (Original: Sonic Youth)
Like a Virgin – Teenage Fanclub (Original: Madonna)
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – The Killers (Original: Cyndi Lauper)
Womanizer – Sliimy (Original: Britney Spears)
Whole Lotta Love (Acoustic) – Prince (Original: Led Zeppelin)
Careless Whisper – The Gossip (Original: Wham)
When You Were Young – The Noisettes (Original: The Killers)
Isobel – Xiu Xiu (Original: Bjork)
Transmssion – Hot Chip (Original: Joy Division)
Down In It – Tiga (Original: Nine Inch Nails)
Love Song – The Big Pink (Original: The Cure)
Islands in the Stream – Feist and The Constantines (Original: Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers)
When Doves Cry – Brett Anderson (Original: Prince)

Weekly Mix #87 – Anglopunk’s Bloody Good Halloween Mix 2009 (Download)

This is Halloween – Danny Elfman
Ramalama (Bang Bang) – Roisin Murphy
Monster Mash – Bobby Pickett and the Crypt Kickers
Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
Clap For the Wolfman – The Guess Who
Kandy Korn – Captain Beefheart
Halloween Parade – Lou Reed
Abracadabra – Steve Miller Band
The Time Warp – The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Halloween – Siouxsie and the Banshees
Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus
Release the Bats – The Birthday Party
I Put a Spell On You – Arthur Brown
Halloween – Sonic Youth
Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
Halloween on the Barbary Coast – The Flaming Lips
I Was a Teenage Werewolf – The Cramps
Transylvanian Concubine – Rasputina
Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) – David Bowie
Date With a Vampyre – The Screaming Tribesmen
Do the Hippogriff – The Weird Sisters
Secret Vampires – bis
London Ghost Stories – Shirley Lee
Vampire Racecourse – The Sleepy Jackson
Waiting For the Wolves – Daisy Chainsaw
Faces & Masks – The Cherubs
Vampire Love – Ash
Frankenstein – New York Dolls
Halloween – Dead Kennedys
Feed My Frankenstein – Alice Cooper
Vampires Pt.II – The JeanMarie
Tales From the Crypt Theme
Hells Bells – AC/DC
Nanageddon – The Mighty Boosh
Dracula – Gorillaz
Halloween With Morrissey (Ouija Board) – Cheekyboy
Magic Dance – David Bowie
I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow
My Vampire – Soho Dolls
Vampire – Paul St. Paul and the Apostles
Lust For a Vampyr – I Monster
For Halloween – No Kids
Ghost Town – The Specials
Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.
Ghosts – Comateens
Thriller – Michael Jackson
Every Day is Halloween – Ministry
Batdance – Prince
The Addams Family Theme
Halloween – Japan
All Cats Are Grey – The Cure
Scare Me – Paul Haig
Skeletons – The Sound
Lycanthropy – Patrick Wolf
Dracula – Momus
Please Mr. Gravedigger – David Bowie
Graveyard – Public Image Ltd.
Vampires – Pet Shop Boys
Theme For a Witch – David R. Prangely and The Witches
Ghost – VNV Nation
Waking the Witch – Kate Bush
Bat’s Mouth – Bat For Lashes
They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!! Ahhhh! – Sufjan Stevens
Hip Deep Family – The Tiger Lillies
Halloween Head – Ryan Adams
If I Only Were a Goth – Thoushaltnot

Weekly Mix #88 – Die Mauer Wird Fallen (Download)

Disco Fantasy – Mikrofisch
Hero – Neu!
Der Räuber und der Prinz – DAF
Pogo (The Horrors remix) – Digitalism
Jeffer (Modeselektor Remix) – Boys Noize
Yeah – Tiefschwarz
U Can Dance – DJ Hell
Showroom Dummies – Kraftwerk
Mother Sky (Pilooski Edit) – Can
Sweet Lies – Booka Shade
Nights Off – Siriusmo
Happy Go Lucky – Polarkreis 18
Tag für Tag – Xmal Deutschland
Tierlieb – Abwärts
The Twist (Live) – Klaus Nomi
Michail Michail (Gorbachev Rap) – Nina Hagen
Steh auf Berlin – Einstürzende Neubauten
Hauberg – Hauschka
Propeller 9 – The Notwist
Limelight – Apparat

Weekly Mix #89 – War Inc (Download)

The Intense Humming of Evil – Manic Street Preachers
An I For An I – IAMX
New Dress – Depeche Mode
He’d Send in the Army – Gang of Four
When Ya Get Drafted – Dead Kennedys
Melancholy Soliders – The Skids
Radio Free Europe (Original Hib-Tone Single) – R.E.M.
Missiles (BBC Session) – The Sound
U.S. Forces – Midnight Oil
Poppy Day – Siouxsie and the Banshees
Straight to Hell – The Clash
Man at C & A – The Specials
Bullet the Blue Sky – U2
Soldier’s Poem – Muse
Army Dreamers – Kate Bush
My Youngest Son Came Home – Billy Bragg
Shipbuilding – Elvis Costello & the Attractions
Universal Soldier – Donovan
Voir un ami pleurer – Jacques Brel
In Our Bedroom After the War – Stars

Weekly Mix #90 – Blow Thou Winter Wind (Download)

The First Time You Saw Snow – Shirley Lee
Winter – The Dodos
The Dead of Winter – Martin Carr
Walk Out to Winter – Aztec Camera
Red High Heels – Jane Siberry
Il Neige – France Gall
Snowfall Sorrow – Secret Shine
A Winter’s Sky – The Pipettes
December – Teenage Fanclub
Permafrost – Magazine
Snow – Pooma
Sit Down By the Fire – The Veils
It’s Snowing on the Moon – St. Christopher
Midnight Sun – David Sylvian
Snow Country – Paniyolo
You and My Winter – Snow in Mexico
Snow – The Trashcan Sinatras
Snowfalls in November – Julie Doiron
Peacock Dance – Matt Kanelos
Eisblume – Hauschka

Weekly Mix #91 – Better Than Mincemeat (Download)

Christmas Number One – The Black Arts
Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight) – The Ramones
Father Christmas – The Kinks
Countdown to Christmas – Glam Chops
Christmas in Killarney – Eugene McGuinness
We Three Kings – Reverend Horton Heat
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Bright Eyes
Little Drummer Boy – The Dandy Warhols
Christmas Wrapping – I Love Poland
I Was Born on Christmas Day – Saint Etienne
Away in a Manger – Hyperbubble
Christmas Reindeer – The Knife
Can You Hear What I Hear? – Bodies of Water
Frosty the Snowman – Cocteau Twins
Christmas Fire – The Deer Tracks
She Came Home For Christmas – Mew
Put the Lights on the Tree – Sufjan Stevens
Child’s Christmas in Wales – John Cale
Fairytale of New York – Stars
The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
Christmas is Cancelled – The Long Blondes
A Christmas Duel – The Hives and Cyndi Lauper
White Christmas – The Pipettes
Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews
You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch – How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Spotlight on Christmas – Rufus Wainwright
It’s Christmas Time – Yo La Tengo
All I Want for Christmas – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Carol of the Bells – The Polyphonic Spree
December Will Be Magic Again – Kate Bush
Winter Wonderland – Goldfrapp
Christmas and Train Trips and Things – Trembling Blue Stars
It’s Xmas So We’ll Stop – Frightened Rabbit
Merry Christmas (I Love You) – Hawksley Workman
Listening to Otis Redding At Home During Christmas – Okkervil River
Last Christmas – Manic Street Preachers
Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby and David Bowie
Christmas Song – Mogwai
Douce Nuit – IAMX
Are You Burning, Little Candle? – Jane Siberry
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence – Ryuichi Sakamoto
Remember (Christmas) – Harry Nilsson
There Are Much Worse Things to Believe In – Stephen Colbert and Elvis Costello
Christmas on Earth – Momus
The Christmas Wish – Kermit the Frog

And so ends a year marked by my little weekly mixtapes. A year marked by the death of the “King of Pop” and hopefully the death of Oasis; the return of Blur to the stage and the return of the Manics to North America; the rise of Susan Boyle and the eventual incarceration of Phil Spector. The last weekly mix for this year will be for New Year’s Eve – last year’s mix can be found here. We’ll also see if I can manage a best of the decade post before the new year.

24
Dec
09

My Top 40 Albums of 2009: Numbers 8 Through 1

I realize this is a week late – I apologize. It wasn’t just to build suspense; I suppose I decided to get a bit of actual relaxation in when I finally started my holidays four days ago. At any rate, let’s dip into what autumn brought for albums. September gave us releases from Sondre Lerche, frYars, The Cribs, The Big Pink, Dragonette, Boys Noize, Yo La Tengo, Noah and the Whale, Sliimy, David Sylvian, Jamie T, The Voluntary Butler Scheme, and surprisingly, Prefab Sprout. Wild Beasts broke through with their sophomore album (being contrary, I thought it wasn’t as good as their first), and Matt Bellamy led the Resistance (perhaps wearing a tinfoil hat). There were also releases that already graced this countdown, including the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack and Malcolm Ross and the Low Miffs.

In October we saw new releases from Julian Casablancas, Richard Hawley, Tegan and Sara, Editors, Kings of Convenience, Atlas Sound, The Mountain Goats, Fuck Buttons, White Denim, The Flaming Lips, and a heavily pared down Wolfmother. There was a truly disappointing return from Echo & the Bunnymen, and another album from Flight of the Conchords, which must console us in the wake of their declaration that there will be no third television series. A couple more of my top albums also appeared including ones from Emilie Simon and Mumford & Sons.

Squeaking into the end of the year, albums out in November included ones from Pants Yell, Weezer, Brett Anderson, and the ubiquitous Lady GaGa. There were also ones who just made the deadline for my countdown: Luke Haines and The Mary Onettes.

If you’ve missed it, this is my countdown so far:

40. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – Phoenix
39. Through Fire – Twiggy Frostbite
38. The Empyrean – John Frusciante
37. Travels With Myself and Another – Future of the Left
36. Nonsense in the Dark – Filthy Dukes
35. Yes – Pet Shop Boys
34. xx – The xx
33. Temporary Pleasures – Simian Mobile Disco
32. Primary Colours – The Horrors
31. Sigh No More – Mumford & Sons
30. Polly Scattergood – Polly Scattergood
29. Sun Gangs – The Veils
28. Merriweather Post Pavilion – Animal Collective
27. Where the Wild Things Are – Karen O and the Kids
26. Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees – Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees
25. It’s Blitz – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
24. Bitte Orca – The Dirty Projectors
23. Dragonslayer – Sunset Rubdown
22. Islands – The Mary Onettes
21. he closed his eyes so he could dance with you – vitaminsforyou
20. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
19. The Big Machine – Emilie Simon
18. Malcolm Ross and the Low Miffs – The Low Miffs and Malcolm Ross
17. 21st Century Man/Achtung Mutha – Luke Haines
16. Ellipse – Imogen Heap
15. Is It Fire? – Jessie Evans
14. “Further Complications” – Jarvis Cocker
13. React or Die – Butcher Boy
12. Shirley Lee – Shirley Lee
11. Jet Black – Gentleman Reg
10. Cloud Pleaser – David Shane Smith
9. Bob and Veronica Ride Again – Morton Valence

Drumroll please…

8. Manafon – David Sylvian
I’ve been on a David Sylvian kick this year. Buying several CD copies of his past solo efforts and several more Japan releases on vinyl, the mania culminated in purchasing his Weatherbox collector set from a used record shop (the guy at the counter had originally priced it at $90.00, but sold it to me for $60.00, saying that he had vowed to sell it to anyone who was already buying a David Sylvian album – he figured there were only two Sylvian fans in Winnipeg: me and the guy who sold the set to him). Through this raid on his back catalogue, I’ve come to admire and appreciate his material more than ever, following him on an unexpected journey and ending up in the Welsh parish of Manafon. This record is both an articulate tribute to the contradictory poet, R.S. Thomas, and a deeply personal story that spreads like a rhizome in the loamy earth. The lyrics are potent with disappointment, yearning, and bitterness while celebrating the artistic process. Spaces and silences gently push the vocals and instruments into new constellations, providing room to breathe and contemplate. There are soothing repetitions and reprisals as pervasive and refreshing as cool misty rain and violet shadow; there are phrasings and gaps waiting to be bridged, forcing you out of your reverie in poignant peaks. There is a strength in this album’s sadness, a dignity in dearth. Sylvian and his collaborators crafted an album that evokes a subtle patience, a quiet coaxing of everything music and words could be if given space and time.

Read my review of the album here.

Small Metal Gods – David Sylvian

The Rabbit Skinner – David Sylvian

7. Dark Young Hearts – frYars
From the wildest and comically strange realms of the gothic, frYars summoned up his debut album. Filled with enough curiosities to fill numerous Wunderkammern, the album is electronic chamber pop with dark, sometimes seemingly nonsensical, narrative. There are whiffs of murder, decanters of betrayal, and niggles of odd laughter – an Edward Gorey illustration come to life. The plumb line of frYars imagination and use of language dips into the inky macabre as his distinctive deep vocals surge from plummy tones to soft menace. The off-kilter nature of the music keeps you spinning in an infinity of mirrors even as frYars’ voice keeps you anchored and calm. Lying somewhere between a penny dreadful and the unsettling liminality of a child prodigy, Dark Young Hearts is an intelligent, imaginative record that stubbornly denies definition and remains ambidextrous in its morality.

Read my review of the album here.

Lakehouse – frYars

A Last Resort – frYars

6. No More Stories Are Told Today, I’m Sorry They Washed Away, No More Stories, The World is Grey, I’m Tired, Let’s Wash Away – Mew
Danish band, Mew, are no strangers to pushing their dreamy, ethereal pop into new planes and challenging contexts; their last album, And The Glass Handed Kites, was a seamless opus of melancholic whimsy. This latest record takes them yet further with a fierce crashing of rhythm and the angelic heights of sighing melodies, but also brave disjointedness and shards of funk. Sometimes the rhythms duck and elude you as they move in all directions at once, leaving you as displaced as the sentiments told by the lyrics. There are multiple, but involuted layers of melody, sometimes guitar, sometimes synth, rising to meet the unique airy vocals of Jonas Bjerre. To balance the aural fireworks, there are also moments of cooling minimalism as intricate rhythms get reduced down to a vertebrae of xylophonic tones and tapping knocks, reminding me of Gentlemen Take Polaroids-era Japan. The sunlight has broken through for Mew and these upbeat tracks criss-cross each other even as the words cross-examine themselves.

Introducing Palace Players – Mew

Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy – Mew

5. The Bachelor – Patrick Wolf
Borne from loneliness, bitterness and frustration, Patrick Wolf’s latest album acted as an epiphany and self-revelation. Wolf no longer inserted himself into fairy/folktale contexts, but allowed them to pour forth from his own reality. Generating a sometimes frantically violent, sometimes balefully self-pitying record, the lycanthropic runaway youth came of age in a battle of incendiary passions and self-destructive doubts. After listening to The Bachelor, I felt war-torn and liberated, as though I had been taken through a medieval quest or pilgrimmage via urban alleyways, mass-mediated networks, and seamy sex clubs. While specifically locating himself in this decade of information overload, pervasive fear, banality disguised as significance, and the solitude of crowds, Wolf also cast himself back into his personal history, mourning missed opportunities and regrets. Though Wolf’s music has always straddled time periods, blending old folk styles with modern electronics and samples, this album is truly alive in its pain and desire, using the darkest reaches of the human condition to be found in music. Unlike previous Wolf albums, The Bachelor doesn’t regale you with stories of tragic, but fantastical characters; instead, it relays the hellish turmoil and purifying hope to be exposed in Wolf’s own life. Between the victorious anthems of Hard Times and Oblivion, the raw violence of Vulture and Battle, and the keening forsakenness of The Bachelor, Who Will, and Damaris, and paralleled with intricately-wrought visual imagery, Patrick Wolf succeeded in illuminating his own manuscript and finding a way beyond the blackness.

Read my review of the album here.

The Bachelor – Patrick Wolf

Damaris – Patrick Wolf

4. Everyone All at Once – The Rest
There is something utterly overwhelming about this record from Canadian band, The Rest. It feels like blissful chaos and tastes like symphonic nectar, gliding from delicate moment to powerful zenith and back again often within the same song. The shambolic meanderings of the lyrics convey an endless stream-of-consciousness that transforms mundane happenings into magical imagery. Vibrantly coloured with that uncertain yet omnipotent gait of youth, Everyone All at Once makes me feel everything all at once: heart-racing anticipation, bittersweet restlessness, fleeting serenity, sweet harmony. This record lives in that brief moment when you inhale fresh, outside air too quickly and your mind rushes so fast that it nearly crashes into your soul.

Read my review of the album here.

Modern Time Travel (necessities) – The Rest

Walk on Water (auspicious beginnings) – The Rest

3. Learning to Live on Poison – Archivist
This record challenged and pushed me in a way that the best literary and theoretical works do. It travels beyond music, punching words into the paper, hammering like the lettered arms of a typewriter, tiny fists raining down, attempting and achieving stunning wealths of meaning over and over again. Abstract and oblique, there is an internal music in Ben McCarthy’s poetry, which is merely augmented by the use of instruments, creating a piece that is both soulful and spare. Despite being some of the utmostly intelligent lyrics I’ve ever heard in music, they are not staid intellectualism, but empowering in their humanity and pitch-perfect imagery. Amidst the desire for self-immolation and the longing to fill the lack, you find yourself in a yellowing library of ideas, memories, and emotions, where cream-coloured pages drift across the floor like beautiful but dangerous manta rays; the constant struggle against your own decrepit habits and idiosyncrasies can be documented, but never resolved. You have to live inside this album, repeat its litanies, drink in its toxicity, to scratch even the smallest of surfaces. And when you do, you’ll see a piece of yourself and be comforted.

Read my review of the album here.

Son of My Sorrows (Genesis 49:27) – Archivist

Speaking – Archivist

2. Kingdom of Welcome Addiction – IAMX
This album became my second most listened to record of 2009. While I’ve loved the first two IAMX albums, this one hit me in a different spot. Chris Corner got political. And whilst his presentation may have gotten more theatrical than it had ever been, his fragility and vulnerability grew in proportion. The lyrics on his record show an acute recognition of the world’s pathologies, its plague of humans, but also provide a redemptive release to be found in the beauty of damage and destruction. Through Corner’s music, the broken is transcendent. Expressing fears of too much thought and too much care, he creates art from these lines of flight from a world that is undoubtedly and irreparably cruel. His vocal range is sublime as his singing soars, rasps and cajoles through spellbinding dynamics and acrobatics, and his musical palette has expanded beyond darkwave electro and slinky beats; his music has absorbed Old World nomadic glamour, easily cleaving to sounds of flamenco, waltz, cabaret, hymns, and circuses. Every track on this record is a hit in its own right, and Corner has ensured that the visuals have kept up with his musical standard; this culminated in his self-directed music video for My Secret Friend in which he and Imogen Heap demolish the pretence of gender amidst even deeper identity politics and psychoanalytics (taken even further in this bonus improvisation). Identity should be fluid and transient to keep us as happy as we can hope to be; to be neither here nor there is the best place to be. There is both an anger and an empathy to Chris Corner’s lyrics and music, an admission that we are all part of the problem, we are all fickle, sadistic and hypocritical. However, we are gifted with an inexplicable consciousness that allows us to feel colour and be happy in the in-between.

Read my review of the album here.

Kingdom of Welcome Addiction – IAMX

I Am Terrified – IAMX

1. Journal For Plague Lovers – Manic Street Preachers
“In the end we had pieces of the puzzle, but no matter how we put them together, gaps remained, oddly shaped emptinesses mapped by what surrounded them, like countries we couldn’t name.” This passage from Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides is featured at the end of Doors Closing Slowly from the Manic Street Preachers’ Journal For Plague Lovers, and I think it perfectly encapsulates what this record means and why it’s so compelling. Like the doomed Lisbon girls of Eugenides’ novel, Richey Edwards was reified and mythologized, but impossible to pinpoint, awash in a sea of artifacts, stories, theories and exhibits. Among these artifacts is the journal of lyrics used for this album and also for most of the liner notes for the deluxe edition. The remaining members of the Manics studiously worked inside these gaps to produce their best album since The Holy Bible, plotting a way into and through Richey’s difficult writing whilst leaving enough ends loose and permanently free. Their approach made the album richer than it might have been, and these words, which meditate on a mixture of Judeo-Christian tropes and pop culture/information glut, brought out some of the mightiest guitarwork and vocals from James. This group of friends knew Richey the best and were often puzzled by the fragments and apocrypha he left behind, so the rest of us can only cling to these unnamed countries of his mind with damaged maps and conflicted observations; this album helps us with that, leaving deliberate apertures like the best art does. And Richey’s manuscripts turned the sparks from Send Away the Tigers into the inspired flame we all hoped was still there. There’s a moment in William’s Last Words in which James joins in behind Nicky’s brilliantly Lou Reedesque performance, and combined with Sean’s loose, easy drumming and the small string section, it hits me in the chest every time. This record, in every sense of the word “record,” is to be cherished and pored over. The Manics achieved what seemed impossible: a fitting tribute to the infinitely unknowable Richey Edwards.

Read my review of the album here.

Doors Closing Slowly – Manic Street Preachers

All is Vanity – Manic Street Preachers

This Joke Sport Severed (Patrick Wolf’s Love Letter To Richey Remix) – Manic Street Preachers

The last honourable mention album of 2009 is Patrick Jones’s Tongues For a Stammering Time, a piece of art that keenly observes the last century and this young one. There’s no question that most people who know about Patrick Jones were led to him and his work via his younger brother, Nicky Wire. This fact does not retract from Jones’s talent as a poet and playwright (there’s a clear influence of his work on his sibling’s lyrics); I recommend reading fuse, which is a collection of his poetry and plays. Jones tends to take on topics that no one else wants to touch; if his more famous brother presents a variation on masculinity through eyeliner, dresses and feather boas, Jones presents masculinity as a plurality that is often troubling and brave, taking on ideas ranging from the emasculating of unemployed Welsh miners to domestic abuse with men as victims. This album is actually his second (the first, released in 1999, was called Commemoration & Amnesia and featured the likes of Cerys Matthews, James Dean Bradfield and Gruff Rhys), and like his debut ten years ago, this is Jones reading his poetry over soundscapes provided by a variety of musicians, this time including the likes of Billy Bragg, Beverley Humphreys, Les Davies, Martyn Joseph, and Defiance of God and Steve Balsamo, in addition to his brother and James Dean Bradfield once again. There’s nothing quite like Jones’s voice reading (often nearly shouting) his own poetry, and though he bloodies you with his politics, his honesty and belief is as powerful as that of his brother’s band and Billy Bragg. And the music accompanies perfectly, sometimes contributing extra vocals, sometimes fading into a understated backdrop like a good film soundtrack does, making its presence felt subliminally and eclectically.

The Healing House – Patrick Jones featuring Billy Bragg and Beverley Humphreys

Well, it’s been quite a ride through 2009, and I actually feel a little emotionally exhausted by the whole countdown. I hope you all found at least something in it that was valuable to you. Feel free to let me know what the soundtrack to your year was. The last part of my weekly mixes will be up shortly, and don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten the Day of 200 Songs. I’m now out of words. Thank you for coming this far with me, and have a Happy Christmas.

15
Dec
09

Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and…Well, Friday I’m in Love: Year-End Round-Up Part 2

See here for Part 1 of this series. This second part includes mixes with themes of: senses, 80s film soundtracks, Australia/New Zealand, cover versions, robots, acoustic, London, New Wave, 2009, summer, dance/electro, Canada, France, and wit. Next weekend, the last of weekly mixes will make their appearance, and hopefully, at the end of the week, you’ll find out what my top eight albums of the year are.

Come Monday Night – God Help the Girl

St. Monday – Billy Bragg

Weekly Mix #62 – Why Can’t You Touch, Taste and Smell Evil? (Download)

It’s Your Touch – The Black Ghosts
Taste the Rust – The Vince Noir Project
Touch Too Much – Hot Chip
Sound and Vision (Live at Sony Studios) – David Bowie
The Smell of Bob – Kaji Hideki
See No Evil – Television
Stop and Smell the Roses – Television Personalities
See Emily Play – Pink Floyd
We See the World As Our Stunt Doubles – Fosca
Heard You Whisper – The June Brides
Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before – The Smiths
Taste – Animal Collective
Sigh’s Smell of Farewell – Cocteau Twins
Taste the Floor – The Jesus and Mary Chain
Touch Up – Mother Mother
A Sucker For Your Sound – I Monster
The Smell of Outdoor Cooking – Arab Strap
Love at First Sight – Gist
The Bugle Sounds Again – Aztec Camera
Touch My Bum – Tom Rosenthal

Weekly Mix #63 – Hipster Kryptonite (Download)

Then He Kissed Me – The Crystals
Skid Row (Downtown) – Little Shop of Horrors Cast
I Am the Future – Alice Cooper
Light of Day – Joan Jett and the Black Hearts
Back in Time – Huey Lewis & the News
You’re the One That I Want – Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta
Oh Yeah (Indian Summer Version) – Yello
Weird Science – Oingo Boingo
Pretty in Pink – The Psychedelic Furs
(Don’t You) Forget About Me – Simple Minds
St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) – John Parr
The Secret of My Success – Night Ranger
I Am the One and Only – Chesney Hawkes
I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man) – Kenny Loggins
Beetlejuice Theme – Danny Elfman
Underground – David Bowie
Never Ending Story – Limahl
I Will Never Love Again – Mark Knopfler and Guy Fletcher
In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel

Weekly Mix #64 – The Band Down Under (Download)

Eucalyptus – The Presets
House Music – Kikumoto Allstars
Murder in the Daylight (Van She Tech Mix) – Mandy Kane
We Have Tomorrow – PNAU
Bright Neon Payphone – Cut Copy
No Accident – Car Crash Set
Twenty Thousand Leagues – Midnight Juggernauts
Come Back Lover – Charlie ASH
Another Runaway – Ladyhawke
Survive – Van She
We Are the People – Empire of the Sun
Kids in Space – So I’m Joe
Into the Chaos – Howling Bells
Happy As Can Be – Cut Off Your Hands
Fire Fire Fire – Dappled Cities
Streets of Your Town – The Go-Betweens
Devil Was In My Yard – The Sleepy Jackson
A Trick of the Light – The Triffids
You Don’t Have to Be a Prostitute – Flight of the Conchords
Brunettes Against Bubblegum Youth – The Brunettes
Little Possessions – Andrew Keese and the Associates
Footsteps – Mercy Arms
Mr. Somewhere – The Apartments
From Her to Eternity – Nick Cave

Weekly Mix #65 – Don’t Steal Cookies From the Library (Download)

New Life – The Wannadies (Original: Depeche Mode)
Psycho Killer – Huw (Risque) with Pravda (Original: Talking Heads)
Jump Into the Fire – LCD Soundsystem (Original: Harry Nilsson)
Trash – Apoptygma Berzerk (Original: Suede)
Sound and Vision – Franz Ferdinand (Original: David Bowie)
A Forest – British Sea Power (Original: The Cure)
Mack the Knife – The Psychedelic Furs (Original: Kurt Weill)
Lions After Slumber – The Veils (Original: Scritti Politti)
The Jean Genie – The Dandy Warhols (Original: David Bowie)
Friday I’m in Love – Glo-Worm (Original: The Cure)
Suspended in Gaffa – Ra Ra Riot (Original: Kate Bush)
Girlfriend in a Coma – Noah & the Whale (Original: The Smiths)
Walk Away Renee – Elliott Smith (Original: Left Banke)
“Heroes” – TV on the Radio (Original: David Bowie)
Kangaroo – Bat For Lashes (Original: Big Star)
At Your Best (You Are Love) – El Perro Del Mar (Original: The Isley Brothers)
Oh! You Pretty Things – Au Revoir Simone (Original: David Bowie)
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Honeyroot (Original: Joy Division)
Mad World – Gary Jules (Original: Tears For Fears)
Borderline – The Flaming Lips (Original: Madonna)

Weekly Mix #66 – Lick My Battery (Download)

Tupac Robot Club Rock – Filthy Dukes
Laser Laser – Neo Tokyo
Dude, You Feel Electrical – Shout Out Out Out Out
Rotwang’s Party (Robot Dance) – Giorgio Moroder
Robot Rock – Daft Punk
Guitars Are Overrated (Neo Tokyo Remix) – The Robot Disaster
Naked – Alice in Videoland
Neon Generation – A-ux
The Girl and the Robot (Chateau Marmont Remix) – Royksopp
Electric People – Ruede Hagelstein
The Robots in My Bedroom Were Playing Arena Rock – Softlightes
Electric Barberella – Duran Duran
You Killed My Robot Friend – Nyhlin
Rodney’s English Disco – Helen Love
I Wish I Was a Robot – Das Wanderlust
Garden of Love – Clor
Electronic Germany – DJ Hell
I Love You (Miss Robot) – The Buggles
Robot Man (Hot Chip Remix) – The Aliens
Computer Love – Glass Candy

Weekly Mix #67 – Unplugged (Download)

Chains – Sons & Daughters
Meds – Placebo
Those Things I Do – Protocol
Flowers – Emilie Simon
Cherub Rock – Smashing Pumpkins
The Magic Position – Patrick Wolf
Mr. Brightside – The Killers
Bluebeard – Cocteau Twins
Grace – Jeff Buckley
You Love Us – Manic Street Preachers
Walk Away – Franz Ferdinand
Beware Our Nubile Miscreants – Of Montreal
Home – The Cinematics
Weightlifting – The Trashcan Sinatras
Spit It Out – IAMX
Don’t Know Any Better – Puressence
Skeletons – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Heroes – Twiggy Frostbite
Sun Gangs – The Veils
Monster Love – Goldfrapp
Help I’m Alive – Metric

Weekly Mix #68 – The London Underground (Download)

London’s Mine – White Rose Movement
Disappearing Act – Jonny Cola and the A-Grades
The Rest For the Wicked – Soho Dolls
Too Good For Hollywood – Simon Indelicate
Visitors (Stephen Hague Remix) – frYars
Anyone Fancy a Chocolate Digestive? – The New Royal Family
Round the Rim and Back to Him – The Firm
It’s a Kick – Monocle Rose
Pump Up the Volume – Art Brut
Fun is For the Feeble Minded – The Indelicates
I Love You – The Boyfriends
Supine on the Astro Turf – Fosca
City – Truck
Rambling – Small Crew
A Week Away – Spearmint
Chandelier – Morton Valence
Mise en Scene – The Melting Ice Caps
Ballerina – Kingfishers Catch Fire
Two of the Beatles Are Dead – Keith TOTP
Tesco is Evil – Tom Rosenthal
The Town – Vanilla Swingers

Weekly Mix #69 – Nouvelle Vague (Download)

See You Shine – Alcian Blue
Love Your Shoes – Furniture
Statue of Liberty – XTC
Reward – The Teardrop Explodes
Veronica – Wreckless Eric
Less Than Zero – Elvis Costello
Let Her Go (12″ Mix) – Strawberry Switchblade
One More Colour – Jane Siberry
Marcia Baila – Les Rita Mitsouko
Hanging on the Telephone – Blondie
Away – The Bolshoi
City of Fun – The Only Ones
Into You Like a Train – The Psychedelic Furs
Waiting For a Miracle – Comsat Angels
Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream) – The Icicle Works
No Tears – Tuxedomoon
Coitus Interruptus – Fad Gadget
The Wrong Road – The Go-Betweens
The Thief and the Bride – Mary Goes Round
Bringing Home the Ashes – The Wild Swans

Weekly Mix #70 – 2009 0.5 (Download)

Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Light Skips Cross Heart – Filthy Dukes
The Great Shipwreck of Life – IAMX
Fist of God – MSTRKRFT
Jump the Gun – Midnight Juggernauts
No You Girls – Franz Ferdinand
1901 – Phoenix
Beautiful Losers – Stuck in the Sound
Young Adult Friction – The Pains of Being Pure of Heart
Wake Up – Sliimy
French Navy – Camera Obscura
You Can’t Get It Back – Gentleman Reg
Anything Other Than Kind – Butcher Boy
The Smack of Pavement in Your Face – Shirley Lee
Journal For Plague Lovers – Manic Street Preachers
Battle For the Sun – Placebo
Parallel Lines – Junior Boys
David – The Radio Dept.
Daniel – Bat For Lashes
When I Grow Up – Fever Ray

Weekly Mix #71 – Summer of ‘09 (Download)

English Summer Rain – Placebo
Summer – Shy Child
Rollercoaster – The Jesus and Mary Chain
Beach Party – Air France
Half Mast – Empire of the Sun
Summerdreamer – The Daysleepers
Barbecue – Orange Juice
Sound of Summer – Art Brut
Lorca and the Orange Tree – The Mummers
Summertime Clothes – Animal Collective
Honey in the Sun – Camera Obscura
You Wear the Sun – The Delays
Summerside – Adorable
Like a Summer Rain – Ladybug Transistor
Summer Shakedown – Slow Club
Last Summertime’s Obsession – Trembling Blue Stars
Summer Days – Euros Childs
Serenade – The Soda Stream
Sunshine Makes Me High – The Guggenheim Grotto
Summer Wind – James Dean Bradfield

Weekly Mix #72 – Let’s Dance the Blues (Download)

Zero (MSTRKRFT Remx) – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
I’m So L.A. – Mynx
Dance to Our Disco – Punks Jump Up
Kiss ‘n Fly – Surkin
Vulture – Patrick Wolf
Where Have the Club Kids Gone – The Mystic Underground
The Things That Dreams Are Made Of (Kissy Sellout Mix) – The Human League
Bulletproof – La Roux
Taken Away (Frederick Carlsson Remix) – Digitalism
Audacity of Huge – Simian Mobile Disco
1901 (Fabian Remix) – Phoenix
Body Packer – Love-Fine
See the Light (Calvin Harris Remix) – The Hours
Neo-Violence (Shazam Remix) – The Tough Alliance
Smack My Bitch Up – The Prodigy
Chinball Wizard (Cadence Weapon Remix) – The Wet Secrets
Listen to the Hiss (Tiefschwarz Remix) – DJ Hell
Beep Beep Beep – Tiga
Hazel – Junior Boys
Fixin’ to Thrill (Don Diablo Remix) – Dragonette
Tiptoe – Goldfrapp

Weekly Mix #73 – Souvenir of Canada (Download)

1000 Cigarettes – MSTRKRFT
Magic Fantasy – Dragonette
Bits & Pieces – Junior Boys
Untrust Us – Crystal Castles
A Century Old – Duchess Says
Young Hearts Spark Fire – Japandroids
Body of Years – Mother Mother
Mutiny, I Promise You – The New Pornographers
Benediction – The Weakerthans
Jagwagger – Archivist
Hate Then Love – The Dears
Solipsism Millionaires – The Most Serene Republic
Ocean of Noise – The Arcade Fire
Alive Until Saturday Night – Hexes & Ohs
Mimi on the Beach – Jane Siberry
Say It’s All Over – Paper Moon
Falling Back – Gentleman Reg
Counting Stars on the Ceiling – Stars
Corbeau – Coeur de Pirate
Nice to Know – Andrew Spice
Fish Water Desert Trapeze – Allegories

Weekly Mix #74 – Tous les garcons et les filles (Download)

One Minute to Midnight – Justice
Crescendolls – Daft Punk
Tie Me Up Tie Me Down – Huw (Risqué)
Polly (Chateau Marmont Remix) – Koko Von Napoo
Gwendoline – Housse de Racket
Maison Klaus – Chateau Marmont
Love Your Enemy (Kill Your Friends) – Birdy Nam Nam
Miss You – Thieves Like Us
Cool frénésie – Les Rita Mitsouko
Night – M83
Remember – Air
Zapruder – Stuck in the Sound
If It’s Not With You – Phoenix
Comme tu les aimes – Dani
Les sucettes – France Gall
Kiss and Kill – Mary Goes Round
Je n’attends pas plus personne – Francoise Hardy
L’antiquitié – Stone
Poupée mécanique – Die Form
Sandcastle – Little Nemo
Ces petits riens – Serge Gainsbourg and Catherine Deneuve

Weekly Mix #75 – Hearing Double (Download)

Help! – The Damned (Original: The Beatles)
Punk Boy – Ash (Original: Helen Love)
You’re the One That I Want – Hyperbubble (Original: John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John)
My Way – Polysics (Original: Frank Sinatra)
How Soon is Now? – The Psychedelic Furs (Original: The Smiths)
Are Friends Electric? – The Dead Weather (Original: Gary Numan)
Feels Like Heaven – Happydeadmen (Original: Fiction Factory)
Shoplifters Of the World Unite – The Black Tulips (Original: The Smiths)
Together in Electric Dreams – Nixon (Original: Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder)
Open Your Heart – Beki & the Bullets (Original: Madonna)
Train in Vain – Kirsty MacColl (Original: The Clash)
Sleepyhead – The Mummers (Original: Passion Pit)
Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself – The Killers (Original: Morrissey)
Young Parisians – The New Royal Family (Original: Adam and the Ants)
Open Your Eyes – Soho Dolls (Original: Lords of the New Church)
The Con – Popular Damage (Original: Tegan & Sara)
Straight to Hell – Emm Gryner (Original: The Clash)
Femme Fatale – Big Star (Original: The Velvet Underground)
Use Somebody – Bat For Lashes (Original: Kings of Leon)
Cosmic Dancer – Morrissey (Original: T.Rex)

Weekly Mix #76 – Magnetic Poetry (Download)

The Last of the Famous International Playboys – Morrissey
The Last Significant Statement to Be Made in Rock ‘n Roll – The Indelicates
What the Housewives Don’t Tell You – Luxembourg
Perfect Skin – Lloyd Cole & the Commotions
Fat Children – Jarvis Cocker
A Complete History of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17 to 24) – Momus
The Past is a Grotesque Animal – Of Montreal
Secret Crush on Third Trombone – Fosca
Drum Machines Will Save Mankind – Mikrofisch
Interview – Simon Bookish
You Should All Be Murdered – Another Sunny Day
lit. – Archivist
Disneyfied – Eugene McGuinness
The Upper Classes – The Auteurs
Falling In Love With Myself Again – Sparks
Please Sir – Wild Beasts
Giant Bicycle – Tom Rosenthal
Midfielding – Midfield General and Noel Fielding
Rambling Through the Avenues of Time – Flight of the Conchords
A Third of My Life – Spearmint
My Chemical Romance Saved My Life – Esiotrot
Barricade – Stars

13
Dec
09

My Top 40 Albums of 2009: Numbers 16 Through 9

I know…it’s even later than the last one, but I’ll push on. Let’s take a look back at who released albums in the summer of 2009. July produced new albums from Stellastarr, Trashcan Sinatras, The Most Serene Republic, and Nicky Wire’s brother, Patrick Jones. There were also records from the latest Jack White project, Dead Weather; former Boo Radley, Martin Carr; and finally a debut from folk duo Slow Club. And the ginger quiff that is La Roux dropped her first album.

August sweltered on with music from Mew, Japandroids, Calvin Harris, Patrick Wolf, The Antlers, Imogen Heap, and mum. There were also rather hyped releases from Florence & the Machine and Arctic Monkeys (neither really captured me). The xx, which has already appeared on the first part of this countdown, put out a debut. Oh yeah, and the male answer to La Roux, Frankmusik.

Onwards and upwards…

16. Ellipse – Imogen Heap
Imogen Heap is yet another artist that I haven’t always paid a lot of attention to. I confess that most of my familiarity with her came through that Frou Frou track used on the Garden State soundtrack and through the track Hide and Seek, which seemed to pop up here and there last year. And then of course she also dueted with Chris Corner for the IAMX song, My Secret Friend. When I finally got to listen to her latest record, I was hugely impressed with the great frothy folds of song and her breathy vocals; listening to Ellipse is a lot like burying you face in perfumed tulle. Deliciously dreamy, brilliantly offbeat and strangely tribal (tribes of sprites, perhaps), this album chronicles the emotional oscillations involved in any relationship, including with lovers and children. In spots, there are glimpses of Cocteau Twins, but that idiosyncratic inflection and phrasing in Heap’s vocals, along with that synthy double-effect layering that Heap is known for, makes this album a magical warping of reality, a “street-level miracle.” Even lyrics that may have been mundane in anyone else’s hands are made exotic and fantastical.

First Train Home – Imogen Heap

Earth – Imogen Heap

15. Is It Fire? – Jessie Evans
With a voluptuous fusion of Latin rhythms and Berlin cabaret, Jessie Evans debuted with an astonishingly spicy, yet aloof, album. Between the hot beats and the icy vocals, these tracks steam and press into you like a sauna. Songs about lust and hedonism are sung in a strong persona with old-style glamour and chutzpah. Listening to Is It Fire? is like tumbling headfirst into Stromboli at the climax of a black-and-white film; confidently striding in and out of genres, this album feels both old and new, cosmopolitan and global, rough and smooth, rustic and urbane.

Read my earlier review of it here.

Is It Fire – Jessie Evans

Blood and Silver – Jessie Evans

14. “Further Complications” – Jarvis Cocker
It’s the second solo outing from Jarvis Cocker, and it was unexpected in a brilliant way. Recruiting Steve Albini, Cocker’s music is heavier in spots and sometimes downright raucous in a gloriously messy way. But at the same time, it does mournfully slow, but in a pseudo-mawkish way. You’re just never sure how distanced Cocker is from his own lyrics, which makes the record all the more complex and wonderful. This album could have been relegated to a last thrash before middle age really sets in, but those quotation marks change everything. I’ve never been disappointed by viewing the world through Cocker’s NHS frames, and this, in some ways risky, record reaffirmed this.

Read my earlier review of it here.

Further Complications – Jarvis Cocker

You’re in My Eyes (Discosong) – Jarvis Cocker

13. React or Die – Butcher Boy
This Glaswegian band is an ebullient, charming mixture of gentle twee and kitchen sink drama, and I’ve only grown to adore them more with this second album. It is alternately jaunty and tender, and features elegant lines like:

You carve a perfect rose on the door, with hands so soft, with lips so warm. The petals cover me so beautifully, and the flower will fall upon the birdie sheet and growl “say, are we close? How close are we now?” But first we double up with a coffee cup, and the sheets will buckle.

You carve a perfect bird on the wall, with hands so soft, with lips so warm. The bird will sing for me so beautifully, and the notes will fall upon the bed we make so you growl “say, are we close? How close are we now?” And then you comfort me so beautifully, but the knife will buckle.

Lead singer, John Blain Hunt, has a voice that feels as warm and comforting as flannel as the music rises up behind him like a sun-warmed dale. There is something alternately Celtic lilt and John Cale circa Paris 1919 with a dash of Belle & Sebastian. The tender mini-dramas of regular folk are painted with a folktale brush until they’re fairytales. A testament to the power of their music is the first track When I’m Asleep, which only features the lyrics: “When I’m asleep, I never dream. I never feel anything.” It’s powerful because somehow I feel as though I’ve been through an entire range of emotions and stories after listening to this song despite having only heard the same two lines over and over again with slightly different inflections.

When I’m Asleep – Butcher Boy

This Kiss Will Marry Us – Butcher Boy

12. Shirley Lee – Shirley Lee
Frontman for witty band, Spearmint, Shirley Lee released his first solo album this year, and it reinforces the good-natured, detail-oriented ethos of his earlier lyrics. In the hope of breaking away from making just another Spearmint album, Lee embarked on a slightly more personal route, albeit with his band members in tow. The songs range from the plodding Upside Down on Brighton Beach, which seems to parody everything about a place like Brighton, to the folk-pop balladry of The Smack of Pavement in Your Face, which turns the love song on its head with fresh analogies. The whole record has an old feel, a bit like department stores and elevator music, but in a heartwarming, nostalgic way rather than a poke at the fall of grandeur. Youth and all of its fun quirks are laid out in these songs with puppyish energy, leaving you feeling clean and exhausted as though you just took a ride in a tumble-dryer. And there’s something truly endearing about the way he mispronounces Sondre Lerche’s last name “lurch” in Spiralina Girl, a song about Lee’s girlfriend.

Spiralina Girl – Shirley Lee

The Lights Change – Shirley Lee

11. Jet Black – Gentleman Reg
I only discovered Gentleman Reg (AKA Reg Vermue) this year when I saw him open for The Stills. He captivated me then on the spot, and when I later purchased his latest album, I remained under his honeyed spell of bittersweet romance and life experience. So much so, that I ended up buying his previous albums whilst in Toronto this fall. His loose and easy dulcet tones accompany a shambling guitar and flourished keys to create narratives of self-reflection, regrets and hunger. This record feels like the soundtrack to the adventures and misadventures to be explored in the city; the satisfying exhale of breath on those odd days where you actually feel possibility pressing at your temples; the moment a bad experience becomes a good memory. With the delicate and unique assemblage of a charm bracelet, Jet Black captures the desperation, resistance and recklessness that can come with crossing the threshold from twentyish youth to thirtyish maturity and modifying your expectations accordingly. The metamorphosis can be just as difficult and bewildering as adolescence, and this record will be there for you.

To Some It Comes Easy – Gentleman Reg

We’re in a Thunderstorm – Gentleman Reg

10. Cloud Pleaser – David Shane Smith
Like his Stroboscopic labelmate, stanleylucasrevolution (who appeared on 2008’s countdown), David Shane Smith produces some of the most challenging music out there. With a post-apocalyptic form of folk-electronic music and intelligently poetic lyrics, Smith made his latest album sound like a missive from the last man on Earth, his brain synapses burnt out and hanging down by his ears like grotesque headphone wires. Except the end of the world hasn’t happened yet. So no one believes him even as the bleak reality eases its way into their lives. And they remain ignorant because they can’t handle much more information or anything that inconveniences them. What they don’t understand is that the end of the world isn’t an event. It’s a process. And David Shane Smith is one of the prescient artists to document it as eloquently as possible.

Read my earlier review of it here.

Empty Action – David Shane Smith

Eyes – David Shane Smith

9. Bob and Veronica Ride Again – Morton Valence
In the world of music and its digital ubiquity, it becomes harder and harder to find really creative artists making really tangible pieces of art. With London band, Morton Valence, you get more than you pay for. Accompanied by an equally entertaining and thought-provoking novella, this album tells the picaresque story of Bob and Veronica, who eventually fall in love, but the love is never quite a sure thing, and perhaps it was never really love in the first place. And the music follows this non-linear path, looping through multiple genres and sliding in and out of parody. The back of the box reads:

Bob and Veronica.
An unlikely couple. Bob was suburban. And Veronica? Well, she wasn’t.
But so what? Ok, let’s put it another way; they had absolutely nothing in common. But then again, they weren’t planning on starting a social club or saving the world or anything. Bob was simply insanely attracted to Veronica from the moment he first saw her. Veronica took a little convincing. Pretty basic stuff really.
There were no opposites attracting or any of that. Bob doesn’t believe in opposites attracting anyway.
Neither does Veronica.

But they did believe in lust at first sight.

And unlike love, at least lust seems to last forever.

In effect, they’re a lot like all of us. And when you let the characters drive the story, you end up here with this fascinating, unexpected album. You don’t have to understand it because you’ll never understand life either.

Read my earlier review of it here.

Funny Peculiar – Morton Valence

Hang it on the Wall – Morton Valence

This week’s honourable mention is Morrissey’s Years of Refusal. It hurts a little that I couldn’t put him in the actual countdown, but I just didn’t think this album was quite up to it. Don’t get me wrong – I still really enjoyed it, and it contained the gem that is It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore. Perhaps he’s just set the bar so high earlier on, that it gets increasingly difficult to exceed it or surprise me. Read my review of the album here.

Something is Squeezing My Skull – Morrissey

The second part of my weekly mix round-up is coming up in the next couple of days. It’s my last week of work before a couple of weeks off, so things are a bit hectic again. And Friday or soon after, I will have my last installment of this series, which will reveal my top eight albums of 2009.

13
Dec
09

Firsts and Favourites: Music Meme

Here’s another music meme I got off Rol.

List 10 musical artists (or bands) you like, in no specific order (do this before reading the questions below). Really, don’t read the questions below until you pick your ten artists!!!

1. Manic Street Preachers
2. IAMX
3. Patrick Wolf
4. The Smiths
5. The Clash
6. Pulp
7. The Indelicates
8. McCarthy
9. David Bowie
10. Stars

What was the first song you ever heard by 6?

Common People. I was watching a mind-numbing stream of music videos about twelve years ago, and then this spindly man with limp wrists and clever lyrics came on the screen – first in a shopping cart and then clapping around hip-level and waggling his finger. I fell in love and have been a disciple of Mr. Cocker ever since.

What is your favorite song of 8?

I have a fair number of favourites from McCarthy, but We Are All Bourgeois Now is one of the catchiest and most memorable for me. And it’s so true, it hurts. But I also really love the lyrics of We Are All Born Creeps:

Evil first entered the world when Adam and Eve tried to know.
They tested the apple of death and Original Sin was passed on from them to us.
So when we’re born, we are bad.
There’s no evil that we’ll not do.
But God’s love can turn us around!
And then we can become warm-hearted people.
That’s what it says in the Bible, and oh, well it may be true.

It may be true what it says,
But in these godless days to Science we look for the truth.
And what does Science say?
That selfishness is in our genes.

So when we’re born we are bad.
Each one of us longs to compete.
And only the strong ones survive.
They reach for the top!
They make all the big money!
And those born with less strong genes –
Well, they make ends meet as dustmen and things like that.
It’s hard, but it’s natural.
Nature won’t be messed with.
Do you want to live in Russia?
No, it’s hard, but it’s natural.
Nature won’t be messed with.

What kind of impact has 1 left on your life?

If you really want to know, read here.

What is your favorite lyric of 5?

I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for the special offer
A guaranteed personality

I wasn’t born so much as I fell out
Nobody seemed to notice me
We had a hedge back home in the suburbs
Over which I never could see

I heard the people who lived on the ceiling
Scream and fight most scarily
Hearing that noise was my first ever feeling
That’s how it’s been all around me

Or…

White youth, black youth
Better find another solution
Why not phone up Robin Hood
And ask him for some wealth distribution

Punk Rockers in the UK
They won’t notice anyway
They’re all too busy fighting
For a good place under the lighting

The new groups are not concerned
With what there is to be learned
They got Burton suits, ha you think it’s funny
Turning rebellion into money

All over people changing their votes
Along with their overcoats
If Adolf Hitler flew in today
They’d send a limousine anyway

Or…several others.

How many times have you seen 4 live?

Don’t rub it in. They were broken up by the time I was five years old. I haven’t even had a chance to see Morrissey live yet.

What is your favorite song by 7?

Ooh….I guess I have to say We Hate the Kids (they have so many brilliant songs). But Waiting for Pete Doherty to Die and New Art for the People are close seconds.

Is there any song by 3 that makes you sad?

Nothing stands out immediately. Some of his songs fill me with a bittersweet feeling, but nothing actually sad.

What is your favorite song by 9?

A favourite song by Bowie? How is that possible to choose? I’ve adored the man since I was eight years old. I refuse to choose. It’s a three-way tie between Life On Mars, The Man Who Sold the World, and “Heroes.”

When did you first get into 2?

I think it was 2005 when I first read about IAMX. I had heard about the Sneaker Pimps only in passing and had never really checked them out, so Chris Corner’s name wasn’t on my radar. Then, of all places and people, I read about IAMX in Noel Fielding’s column of recommendations in the NME.

How did you get into 3?

I’m not entirely sure. I first heard about Patrick Wolf back in the days when I actually read music magazines, so it could have very well been in a few of those. I remember being impressed by his clothing (one photo had him wearing a strange hoodie with large, felt rabbits stuck to it) and then by the descriptions of his multi-instrumental music. He sounded Bowiesque on paper, so soon after, I ordered a copy of Lycanthropy. Then Wind in the Wires. And from there on in, I’ve been anticipating and buying all subsequent albums and singles. All because he first blew my mind to bits with the dark experimentalism and imagery of that first album. He was always the whole package, and I’ve admired that.

What is your favorite song by 4?

This is getting ridiculous. I’m supposed to pinpoint my favourite Bowie song, and now one from The Smiths? Okay, I’ll pick the one that gets me everytime and fills me with a melancholy racing: There is a Light That Never Goes Out.

How many times have you seen 9 live?

Once, but it was one of the best nights of my life. I was third row on the floor at the old Winnipeg Arena for the Reality Tour, screaming my brains out with one friend who was screaming equally as nuttily and one friend who didn’t seem to know why she was there (the latter isn’t a friend of mine anymore – enough said). I know I’ll never have that kind of opportunity again, especially for the pitiful sum of $75 for a ticket. There are still moments when I have flashbacks of Bowie standing right above me on the raised platform as he moved to stage left. Needless to say, the screaming friend and I were hoarse and wild-eyed at the end of it.

What is a good memory concerning 2?

Seeing IAMX live in both Toronto and Detroit within days of each other. For the full account, click here. The shorter version is that I went on my own to the Toronto show a couple of years ago, met some other fans, including a girl who gave me a ride back to my hotel. She then came up with the rather fannish idea to follow IAMX to the next stop in Detroit two nights later. I didn’t need much convincing despite having coursework to do for my MA, and thus, went with a virtual stranger down into the States and back, returning to my apartment at about 4:00AM, just to experience IAMX live once more. It was all more than worth it. I get that music fan mist that falls over my eyes sometimes – it’s like some people’s bloodmist when they’re angry – and I do things that seem highly unlikely or highly dangerous. But my instincts have never failed me.

Is there a song by 8 that makes you sad?

They’re all rather sad because they’re about the reality of society and its political trappings. For the most part, these songs are brutalizing in the lyrics, but sweetly melodic in the music. The Way of the World comes to mind as a heartbreaker.

What is your favorite song by 1?

Motorcycle Emptiness. It breaks my heart again and again, and when I see them perform it live, I find it hard not to throw myself on the floor and speak in tongues.

How did you become a fan of 10?

Through a former co-worker actually. He and I developed a sort of odd work relationship in which we sometimes had long discussions about linguistics, orality and literacy, existentialism, books, music, and films. And sometimes we didn’t speak to each other for weeks. I’ll always remember him asking me if I liked The Smiths, and when I enthusiastically said I did, he said I should try out the Canadian band, Stars. I did, and I’ve loved them ever since. And every time I listen to What I’m Trying to Say, and hear the chorus, which goes, “I am trying to say/What I want to say/Without having to say/”I love you,” I think of that co-worker. Why? Because I remember him telling me how much that particular lyric resonated with him, and considering his outlook on sex and relationships, it made a lot of sense. And he was kind of the first person I had met that had those kinds of views. He had a bohemian charm, but that wore thin sometimes. I also distinctly remember him saying something like “I’ve just fallen in love with you” to which I replied “I think you and I have drastically different ideas of what love is.”

We Are All Born Creeps – McCarthy

What I’m Trying to Say – Stars

10
Dec
09

The Non-Interview: Music PR in the Blogosphere

When I was taking my communications diploma in between my BA, we were assigned groups in which we would have to create a concept for a local magazine and see it through from conception to publication. As my luck always runs, I was saddled with an incompetent, uncreative, unproductive group, whose best idea was some very vague Manitoba showcase magazine. At any rate, one of my journalistic contributions was to be an interview with David Steinberg while he was in town for the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. Slightly daunting to me even now, but pretty tongue-choking intimidating for an nineteen-year-old with zero interviewing experience. To make a very long story short, I showed up to the show he was a part of, but at the end of the show, David Steinberg was whisked away (despite the organizers promising me that interview), and the day culminated in me standing at the Winnipeg Airport, realizing I wasn’t going to get that story at all. In a salvaging attempt, I wrote an entire story/rant for the magazine about my chasing/stalking adventures in pursuit of David Steinberg. Perhaps in the end it was a stronger piece than it would have been with the interview. Perhaps it was all rather Steinbergesque. Okay, a very anemic Curb Your Enthusiasm or a Seinfeld in which even less than nothing happens. So why am I telling you this story? Because I’m about to write a piece about an interview I have been trying to get for nearly 8 months: an email interview with Chris Corner of IAMX.

Back when Kingdom of Welcome Addiction first released, I decided I would go after a long-shot opportunity (this happens in my periods of mania) by contacting the North American PR representative for IAMX in the hopes of being able to send a list of questions for Mr. Corner to reply to. Being a lowly MP3 blogger, I figured this wasn’t likely to happen. In fact, I had already resigned myself to not getting any reply (based on my general pre-emption of hope and/or faith in myself and others). The only glimmer of possibility in all this was the fact IAMX is an adamantly independent enterprise; albeit, one with PR representation run independently from them. To my surprise, I did get a very prompt response from PR, allowing me to listen to the full album before I received my hard copy, and consenting to pass my interview questions on to Chris Corner. And I had dealt pleasantly and briefly with this particular contact in the past after he had found my essay on independent artists, including IAMX. So far so good.

I diligently listened to the promo stream and wrote up my questions, they varied from “In your opinion, what are humanity’s biggest myths?” to “You’ve opened yourself up to dialogue with your fans via your MySpace blog. What have you learned through this experience?” to “Your music tends to find the beauty in the wreckage and often juxtaposes the two. Are things more beautiful when they’re damaged or destroyed – burning the box of beautiful things, so to speak?” I was consciously making an effort to ask questions that hadn’t been asked of him before, especially as I figured it’s always fascinating to ask interesting questions of interesting people. I sent off the questions and hoped for the best. I still wasn’t exactly convinced this would happen. I’m not a “professional” journalist with an affiliation or concrete deadline. In fact, I was in an odd liminal place between journalist and fan, and I’m thinking it was the latter identity that perpetuated the fiasco that then ensued.

When I checked to make sure my questions had actually been received, I was given the following reply: “Chris should be getting the answers back to me over the weekend (he’s touring Europe right now and internet connection is rather dodgy out there). Hold tight.” This is perfectly reasonable. After writing my review of Kingdom of Welcome Addiction, I emailed the link to it as a courtesy, and held tight. At the beginning of June, I emailed to check in (after all more than a weekend had passed by this point). No answer. A few weeks later, I tried again. Crickets. Then I tried in July – at this point, I was still just assuming I got lost in the shuffle of requests for all the bands under the same PR. From the beginning, I had also included the escape clause of “if Chris Corner is too busy, I understand. Just let me know either way.” It was now August, and so I tried again, but only after I sent one more at the end of the month with a high priority flag, did I get a response. I feel as though I was still pretty polite: “It’s been several months, and as I initially understood, you had already passed the questions on to him. I’m just wondering where the delay is occurring – all I really want is an update. If this interview is no longer possible, I would still appreciate a response. I haven’t been receiving any responses for the last three or four emails I’ve sent you regarding this.” Yes, I started sounding a bit sterner (less obsequious anyway). So, as I said, this finally got a response. A very suspicious one.

It stated that this PR guy had been trying to get a hold of me by email over the summer while IAMX did a short tour of the US. He said he had wanted to set up a phone interview with Chris Corner rather than bother with the email questions. He then said that because I didn’t answer him, he figured I was no longer interested. He also insisted, “I ALWAYS reply within 24 hours of emails I receive.” Now, this might have been plausible if I never checked my Junk Folder, or if my inbox wasn’t receiving emails properly over the summer, or if I didn’t always include my email address and blog URL in the signature of each e-missive. But none of that was the case. Consequently, unless my hotmail account suddenly assumed sentience of its own and decided certain emails didn’t need to get through, these emails about phone interviews never occurred.

Nonetheless, I grudgingly gave the PR guy the benefit of the doubt and said I would be fine with him passing my questions on to Chris Corner again. Note: “again.” This was the end of August. I then waited for about a month before trying for some sort of confirmation. I bet you clever otters know what happened next. No reply. I realize that at this point I was probably crossing the line into pretty damn irritating. But then again, what journalist after a story isn’t irritating? Sometimes it’s the only way to keep getting stories at all. I tried high priority flagging again, and roused a response. Firstly, I was told that he had replied the week before (once again, there was no logical reason why only 50% of his emails should reach me). He told me I had to appreciate the difficulty of Chris Corner being in Germany and he being in the US; the distance was making it hard to “turn the heat on” in getting a response from Chris. Additionally, he said he didn’t know why it was taking Chris so long to reply since he’s usually so quick. Hmmmm….

Now I learned PR in my communication diploma as well as journalism and advertising. PR people are notoriously evasive spin doctors for the most part. They’re a bit like Post-Structuralists that way; the Truth is an arbitrary construct to them. Presently, I’m exhausted by the whole situation, which could have ended months before if the PR guy would have just said, “No, I’m sorry, the interview is not possible.” I was now only persisting because of adherence to principle, the principle being that I deserve some sort of resolution even if I am just an MP3 blogger. I’m not naïve enough to think that journalists don’t get screwed over by PR people; they do – I’ve heard the stories. And I learned early on with that David Steinberg incident (although being a college student probably isn’t much better than being a fan). But judging from the IAMX interviews that have shown up in various online publications (not blogs), I don’t think everyone got dragged along for 3/4 of a year.

I don’t blame Chris Corner for this farce. I can’t be certain of how much communication he has with his PR, and last year, when I included IAMX in a couple of posts, I received my IAMX Live in Warsaw album in a package that had a thank-you message hand-written by Chris on the outside. He thanked me specifically for the blogs. That was above and beyond what he could have or should have done.

I suppose I don’t even need a full explanation of why this interview couldn’t have happened; a simple decline would have been sufficient. Sadly, I reckon this kind of predicament just ends up undoing any sort of façade of independence and accessibility projected through the IAMX rhetoric and ethos (ie: dialogue with fans, band and fans as one tribe, etc). Dealing with this PR flak screen is no different than any number of other impersonal celebrity machines. I was naïve to think that it might be different. Which brings me to a more general point about PR and MP3 blogging.

I realize, that as a blogger, I get slapped onto a lot of mailing lists for labels and artists I couldn’t care less about. Those mass mailings are obvious. There’s something honest in their blatancy (even the ones who try to use your name and mention a small fact about your blog to seem authentic). In the end, this all doesn’t matter if I don’t like the music or the artists being marketed, so I go on ignoring and sometimes I even bother to unsubscribe if I’m getting too annoyed by three mailings a week from the same person. However, there has been the odd PR person that I had more than a few emails with, and some have been quite decent to deal with. But recently, aside from the PR for frYars, I haven’t been getting any acknowledgements that my review links have even been received (this is after I was told to send them on), including from people that I had originally been pretty friendly with. This feels slightly deflating even if all of this shouldn’t matter to me (after all, I’m not doing this for a living). However, I’m just not the type to make promises I know I can’t follow through on, and when I commit to something, I feel obligated to finish it (hence, if I say I will review your music, I will). In theory, the relationship between PR and journalism should be symbiotic (one can’t exist without the other), but it nearly always ends up feeling like an abusive relationship, where there’s only one giver. Email has also made it so much easier to ignore people and blame technology; it absolves anyone of any direct responsibility. Somehow the supposed immediacy becomes less than immediate.

Is the problem here really one to do with identity and position? If I were a journalist attached to something more official, would my questions be more important? In the world of music fandom, wouldn’t it be a good thing if music fans influenced other music fans directly rather than through third party journalists, who often don’t have anything invested in what they write about? Yes, perhaps they can be more objective when the situation calls for it, but I would think fans are the ones who might come up with the best questions to ask because they know so much and care so deeply about their favourite artists. But I’m not sure that MP3 blogs, as liberating as they may seem to us fans on the ground, are viewed as legitimate (a problem all sorts of blog genres face). We might be one more prong of a larger marketing strategy (the digital promotion/word-of-mouth contingent), but nothing more. And nothing that anyone owes anything to. Maybe a lot of these MP3 blogs have done it to themselves by “unprofessionally” just posting straight from any press release that comes their way; although, I’m certain that’s also a regular practice among journalists. They copy and paste their way through a lot of blurbs and stories.

I know my blog isn’t terribly lucrative in terms of marketing and publicity for these artists. I’m not a newspaper, magazine, or even an e-zine/blog like Stereogum. At the same time, I might have fewer, but much more loyal fans in my audience, who do actually discover and buy into new artists they find here. I’ve decided that, ultimately, the best practice for my blogging is to deal directly with artists and/or other music fans. There’s never been an issue with them. And maybe I’ve gotten wrapped up too much in the journalist part of my motivations and forgotten about the fan part, which shouldn’t be relying on PR. I might be shooting myself in the foot here. Or maybe not. I have to engage in other people’s email evasion tactics and futile goose chases on a daily basis as part of my regular job, so I really don’t need it here, too.

And if you want to see the production and power of fandom in action in relation to IAMX, go to http://www.iamxforum.com and download your free copy of a fan-made DVD of IAMX’s first live performance in 2004 in Berlin.

My Secret Friend (Omega Man Remix) – IAMX

Tear Garden (Art Deco Version) – IAMX




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Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

TV on the Radio w/ The Dirty Projectors (2009)

Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave

Photobucket

So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun

Photobucket

Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head

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Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away

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Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners

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Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away

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You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender

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I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding

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You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black

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Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

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Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb

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Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape

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Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

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And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning

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My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it

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Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love

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We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

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Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south

Empty

Running on

Bravado

As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different

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LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell

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Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are

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You must let her go

She's not crying

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Baiting

Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times

Valentines

Hating

Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone

Whipcrack

Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't

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So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need

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The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest

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Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know

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No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more

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All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids

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Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome