Archive Page 2

14
Feb
10

The Day of 200 Songs

It’s finally here. The Day of 200 Songs held in honour of my 200th post, which happened way back in April of last year. A brief recap for those who don’t know the whole story: to celebrate my 200th post, I decided to try a little community-building project. I wanted to get 200 people who read this blog (or perhaps those who even only read that 200th post) or friends they know to submit their favourite songs so that I could then compile them into 10 mixes for everyone to share. While I received several submissions, I didn’t receive many, so I put out a second call in June. At that point, I decided that I would settle for 100 songs from other people and 100 from my own collection. I put out one final call in October, and here we are. I ended up having to add 96 songs from my own collection since a couple more people sent me songs at the eleventh hour.

I learned that my readership is indeed diverse and passionate about music. I also found that some music fans are actually quite consistent, a fact that appeared when I created the mixes; despite mixing them blindly, many people’s tracks ended up in the same mix, some even coming consecutively. There were evidently also areas in which I did the most bolstering culminating with Mix #5 being nearly all me.

You will find 10 Audio Grab Bag Mixes below. The contributor’s name for each track is in parentheses beside it – obviously the ones without are my choices. Though I never solicited explanations for favourite tracks, many of you included them; I decided to include little blurbs from some of the contributors to acknowledge the diversity and beauty of fandom. Thanks again to all who contributed – you should all be applauded. I hope I did your choices justice. And I hope you all discover a new favourite artist.

My mother is a speech therapist and had a stroke patient who they called “Mr. Goddamn Right” because all he said was “You’re Goddamn Right!”. I can’t help hearing Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues without making the association. – Mark

Audio Grab Bag #1 (Download)

Heroes – The Magnetic Fields (Mike)
Alpha Beta Parking Lot – Cake (Mickenzy)
Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues – Eels (Mark)
On the Bus Mall – The Decemberists (Chesh)
No You – Paul Kelly (Aria)
The Shy Retirer – Arab Strap (JC)
The Boyfriend Song – Gentleman Reg
Our Time Has Passed – The Pernice Brothers (Dave)
One Red Thread – Blind Pilot (Daniel)
Day Glo – Brazos (Katy)
Lay Your Head Down – Keren Ann (Julien)
Sometimes Lukewarm – Andrew Spice
Ampersand – Amanda Palmer
Fitzcarraldo (Live) – The Frames (Sam)
Alcohol, Jesus and Death – Gee as in Jesus (Andrew)
Elephant Serenade – Andrea Liuzza
Do Not Be Alarmed – Official Secrets Act (Dominik)
We Dreamt of Houses – The Awkward Stage (Charlie)
Just Like Heaven – The Watson Twins (Mike)
Place to Be – Nick Drake

The song I’d like to add is not my favourite or really representative of what i like (I guess bonny by Prefab Sprout would win that one) but it is one of those songs that i stop what I’m doing to just listen when ever is comes on the mp3 player.

Thomas dolby – the flat earth

god knows what sounds are going on but for someone who is best known for a couple of almost novelty records this is beautiful – David

Audio Grab Bag #2 (Download)

Girls in the Back – White Rose Movement (Chloe)
On the Road – Midfield General featuring Robots in Disguise
Kino – The Knife
Rollergirl – Apoptygma Bezerk
Destination Overdrive – Chromeo
Ce Jeu (Twelves Remix) – Yelle (Charlie)
Answer (Disco Mix) – The Retrosexuals
Nothing Good About This Goodbye – Rachel Stevens (Jess)
Rocket – Goldfrapp
The Village – New Order
Slick – Chew Lips
Counterpoint – Delphic
True Love 1980 – Ash
Something Good (10” Mix) – Paul Haig (JC)
Lips Like Sugar – Echo & the Bunnymen (Steve)
Dare – The Mary Onettes
Please Stand Up – British Sea Power (Lee)
Dreaming of You – War Tapes (Charlie)
Bedsitter – Soft Cell
The Flat Earth – Thomas Dolby (David)

There’s a difference between the all time faves and those I particularly like right now, and as a rummage through my harddrives it’s actually very hard to pin down the essence of what my favourites are the more I think about it… so I’ll stop right there at roughly 40 songs. :-) – Eve

Audio Grab Bag #3 (Download)

Please – Nine Inch Nails (Eve)
Boy Soprano – Xiu Xiu (Chesh)
Comfort You – Eskimo Joe (Oli)
Escape – Mind in a Box (Mickenzy)
Mirror’s Image – The Horrors (Sophie)
Lacrymosa – Evanescence (Stuart)
Fulford – Warren Suicide
Machine Gun – Portishead
We Want War – These New Puritans
Must Be Dreaming – Frou Frou
Caramel – Cluster
Saracen – Xeno and Oaklander
Primitive Painters – Felt (Joao)
La Nuit Des Fees – Indochine (Wanda)
In Deinem Garten – Chapeau Claque (Eve)
Dead Things – Emiliana Torrini (Eve)
Her Steps Lay Hold – Heilige Lance
The New Black – Roll the Dice
Darkly Mix – A Scanner Darkly Soundtrack (Roland)
How Do – Sneaker Pimps (Eve)

Audio Grab Bag #4 (Download)

Under Pressure – Queen and David Bowie (Eve)
Future Perfect Tense – Sweet Billy Pilgrim
Southernmost – The Lucksmiths (Dave)
The Hazelwood – Patrick Wolf
Hurt Yrself On Chocolate – Sue and the Unicorn
It Has to Be You – Max Eider (Dave)
I’d Rather Go Blind – Man Man (Mary)
Wichita Lineman – Glen Campbell (Aria)
Prélude and Epilogue – Flotilla
From the Shorelines of Venus – The Scaremongers (Rol)
While We Were Dreaming – The Pink Mountaintops (Brandur)
April Come She Will – Simon & Garfunkel (Max)
Sweet William – The Pearlfishers
Glitterball – Daniel Land and the Modern Painters
Wild-Eyed Soul – Mayonnaise
Shirtless Sky – The Guild League (Dave)
Music For Pleasure – Tim Keegan & Departure Lounge (Dave)
Surf – Roddy Frame (Dave)
No More Affairs – Tindersticks (Julien)
Alice – Tom Waits (Sean)

Audio Grab Bag #5 (Download)

Thorazine Shuffle – The Paper Cranes
Falling – McAlmont & Butler
Tonight the Streets Are Ours – Richard Hawley
Out of This Control – Cubismo Grafico
Daily! Happy!! Splash!!! – Roboshop Mania
Requiem For O.M.M.2 – of Montreal
Ohio – The Melting Ice Caps
Europop – The Divine Comedy
Sebastian Said (Montauk Remix) – The Sonnets
Mandy Goes to Med School – The Dresden Dolls (Wanda)
Baby – King of Luxembourg
Four Words – Parenthetical Girls
Oh Heartland, Up Yours! – Owen Pallett
Dwarf Documentary – Simon Bookish
Filthy Names – Jack
Heaven Will Be Boring – Tom Rosenthal
Lucky Like St. Sebastian – Momus
Happily Unhappy – Orlando
Sad Song – Lou Reed
Walk Real Slow – Lady & Bird

As I am from germany, I send you one of a german band. It is Blumfeld and their song is “Verstaerker”, which means Amplifier. As modern rock music was not to be played on german radio stations during the eighties. They only began to play it in the late hours in the beginning of the 90’s. So in germany we had to listen to BFBS and John Peel’s radio show. When Blumfeld arrived it was like an explosion to the german scene, as during a few months suddenly every week dozens of new bands were released. Maybe like late seventies and early eighties when punk and new wave came across in britain.Of course you will hear all the british influences on this song, but for me it was like: you can sing this songs in german, too. – Billy

Audio Grab Bag #6 (Download)

Candyskin – Fire Engines (JC)
Upwards and Onwards – Orange Juice
The Man Who Took On Love (And Won) (Vic Galloway Session) – Malcolm Ross and the Low Miffs
Once and Never Again – The Long Blondes (Peter)
Puzzle Pieces – Tiger Trap
Letters From a Voyage to Sweden – Cats on Fire (JC)
Bemused, Confused and Bedraggled – The Orchids
Human Nature in Hollywood – Black Umbrella
I’ve Seen Everything – The Trash Can Sinatras
Laid – James (Joao)
Nothing Like You – Frightened Rabbit
The Münchhausen in Me – Northern Portrait
I Can Try – Sambassadeur
Everything You Touch Turns to Time – The Triffids
Verstaerker – Blumfeld (Billy)
Just Like Honey – The Jesus and Mary Chain (Brian)
Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed) – The Raveonettes
Right as Rain – Mr. Beasley
Sonic – Leonardo’s Bride (Oli)
A Dance to Half Death – Second Hand Marching Band

This one’s one of the B-sides to Refugees, the first single from The Tears (Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler). I followed them around on tour and bought everything. It was a pretty bad year for me, and I ended up dropping out of uni for a year before finishing off and coming over here for grad school. But following them was fun, and not something I’ve tried before. In traditional Suede fashion, I reckon this b-side is better than a lot of the album stuff. – Sarah

Audio Grab Bag #7 (Download)

Throw It On a Fire – Bell Orchestre
La Boulange – Yann Tiersen
Maison de Réflexion – Efterklang
Etoile Polaire (Gigamesh Remix) – Philip Glass
Ramparts – John Frusciante (Roland)
Sarajevo 2 – The Notwist
Patternicity – The Most Serene Republic
No Man is an Archipelago – British Sea Power
Kindelsberg – Hauschka
Haxan II – Bardi Johannsson
Friend on the Motorway – Uphill Racer
The Lady Vanishes – The Rest
Forst – Black to Comm
Pause and Clause – Sharks Keep Moving (Roland)
Lady Stardust (Piano Version) – David Bowie (Mark)
The Sheltering Sky – Ryuichi Sakamoto
L’Autre – Mylene Farmer (Wanda)
Ever Fallen in Love – Thea Gilmore (Sarah)
The Origin of Love – Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Corin)
Southern Rain – The Tears (Sarah)

I decided I’ll go with Electronic, Bernard Sumner (of New Order) and Johnny Marr (of being Fucking Awesome)’s erstwhile band. This song is SO awesome and even if Bernard Sumner’s lyrics disappoint me sometimes on account of their being Sort Of Crap, this song’s got good enough ones that I can thoroughly enjoy it. And Johnny Marr’s guitar playing goes without saying. I love Johnny Marr so much. I attended a Modest Mouse concert last June in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the same night a really shitty thunder/hailstorm hit. The concert was in an open field. The band had to delay 2 hours while the audience was pelted with hail and the valley flooded near the stage, so we were all huddling under tarps and wading through ankle-to-knee-deep water. But at the end of it, drenched and exhausted, I dragged myself back to the foot of the stage and stood 10 feet from Johnny Marr and yelled his name over and over until he looked confusedly my way between songs and I waved like a retard. He was fucking brilliant and I loved everything he added to Modest Mouse’s songs. – Jess

Audio Grab Bag #8 (Download)

Acquiesce – Oasis (Tali)
I Found This Song in the Road – Art Brut
Camilo (The Magician) – Said the Whale (Kyle)
Peacock Suit – Paul Weller (Carl)
The Last Ride – Johnny Marr & the Healers (Jess)
You Can’t Have Me – Big Star
All Hell For a Basement – Big Sugar (Mickenzy)
Haze – Electronic (Jess)
Glorious – Andreas Johnson (Stuart)
Honeydrip – Ian McCulloch
No One Knows Us – Mansun (Chesh)
Pristina – Faith No More
Hit The City – Mark Lanegan (Brandon)
Bittersweet Me – REM (Eve)
Kurt Russell – Ultrasound (Rol)
A Thousand Trees – Stereophonics (Tali)
Let It Loose – The Rolling Stones (Max)
Sweet Thing – Van Morrison (Max)
Where Have You Been – Manchester Orchestra (Charlie)
Roses – Deus (Julien)

I’m sending you “Tatty Seaside Town”, by The Membranes. I associate this song not only to the period I started attending gigs, in Lisbon, but, if I remember correctly, it was the first non-Portuguese band I saw on stage (maybe there was some hardcore band before, but I can’t even remember its name, anyway…). When Membranes came to play in Lisbon, I went to the theatre quite soon, as I was afraid of not finding a ticket (you had to buy the tickets at the door, by then…). After all, the theatre was only half full (or just half empty). It was quite a gig! – Joao

Audio Grab Bag #9 (Download)

The Light Pours Out of Me – Magazine (JC)
Bloodsport – Killing Joke
Mongoloid – Devo
Mercy – Wire
Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies – Biffy Clyro (Peter)
T.V. Addict – The Doll (Raven)
Why Do You Love Me – Garbage (Richard)
Dyskrasia – Kidneythieves (Anonymous)
Loneliness of the Outdoor Smoker – The Rakes
Tatty Seaside Town – The Membranes (Joao)
Born to Kill – The Damned
My Perfect Cousin – The Undertones (Joao)
Black and Blue – The So So Glos (Charlie)
Richard II – Titus Andronicus
Outdoors – Tactics
Sexualized – Relaxed Muscle
Open Your Eyes – Lords of the New Church (Mike)
This Town’s Religion – The Delays (Christina H)
Cadavres Exquis (Howard Song) – Little Nemo
My Iron Lung – Radiohead (Peter)

It’s “Serial Killer Status” by Algernon Cadwallader, off their self-titled CD. Every time this comes up on my iPod, I start to dance a bit and sing under my breath. I love everything about it, the lyrics, the jangly guitars, the out-of-control sing/screaming. LOVE IT. :D – Austin

Audio Grab Bag #10 (Download)

Dancing on the Motorway – Stroszek
Sister Midnight – Iggy Pop
We Made Our Way We Amtrakked – Pas/Cal (Charlie)
Lay It Down – Peter, Bjorn and John (Christina K)
Dreaming of Injured Popstars – Chris T-T (Rol)
Mogadishu – Baader Meinhof
Bonny – Prefab Sprout (Matt)
The Queen of Eyes – The Soft Boys (Richard P)
I’m 9 Today – Mum (Mykael)
My Name is Carnival – Erland and the Carnival (Richard P)
Serial Killer Status – Algernon Cadwallader (Austin)
The Grey Estates – Wolf Parade (Charlie)
Empty House – Paper Route (Charlie)
Polkadot Blues – Hudson Mohawke
Imagine It (Daytrotter Session) – Dirty Projectors (Miles)
I Am Not a Robot – Marina and the Diamonds
Lacuna – Carina Round (Sarah)
The Fat Lady of Limbourg – Brian Eno
Underwear – Pulp (Aria)
Radio 4 – PiL(Mike)

There will be an important post coming up very soon.

01
Jan
10

The 00s, The Noughties, The Decade In Music

I didn’t really want to attempt a list of my favourite albums of the decade – the list for this year alone was more work than I needed. Instead, I decided to hit some of the ways this decade dealt with music – how technology has changed the musical landscape further, what globalized capitalism has done to the music industry, and what media convergence did to help out. Then as a second part, I thought I should add some of my musings on the decade as far as my own musical development goes – after all, I became an adult in the 00s.

Once you’re done here, visit this excellent site put up by The Indelicates: The Noughties Were Shit. The post about Gary Barlow poised to take over the world was particularly enlightening.

1. Web 2.0 and Music
I suppose this point actually affects all the other points in one way or another. Technology has continued the major upheaval begun in the 90s with MP3s and Napster, and has now proved there is no going back for the music industry. The MP3 file has changed the nature of music and the way it is consumed in a completely McLuhanesque fashion. It made music infinitely clonable and portable, aspects which led to the rise of the iPod and the spectacular decline of the record industry. Now music is disjointed and serendipitous by shuffle functions while being omnipresent and essentially valueless (at least in the capitalistic sense). The MP3 has shown us what art becomes when it is immediate and free.

Whilst Napster and its variations like LimeWire created the new rhizomatic gift-giving structure in MP3 file sharing, torrents have taken it to a whole new level of decentralization. And now 99% of the music/films/TV you want is up for the taking. This fact in tandem with the rise of online shopping makes me quite surprised that all record shops haven’t just folded, although many of them have in this decade.

The advancements of Web 2.0 have also heralded the birth of the MP3 blog and its attendant aggregators and podcasts. It has become ludicrously easy to set up your own blog and utilize free file transfer/storage sites to upload music for others to sample. The upshot has been a severe fragmentation of markets and escalation of taste wars while also a fantastic break from traditional music press. And in spite of a nasty rash of Blogger DMCA takedown notices, there have also been some really positive outcomes that proved the power of fandom, including this year’s Paul Haig Day, which was arranged by JC of The Vinyl Villain. Arguments over intellectual property and copyright laws in a digital world will continue to rage on, and I will follow them with fascination (who better to keep you posted on things of this nature but Cory Doctorow and his team at Boing Boing). Of course, no doubt MP3 blogs will suffer/are suffering the same fate as all countercultures. If you survive long enough, you end up as part of the establishment. It’s a bit Batman that way.

As we increasingly became a “peep culture,” social networking came into the forefront with sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and last.fm. You could define yourself strictly by taste and choose your “friends” accordingly. And then ignore them in real life. Just as importantly, now any band could have a website with minimal work and funding. They could also market themselves directly to the type of people they conceived as fans through as many channels as possible. Combined with the technological capabilities of recording software, anyone could produce and market their own music, which is good and bad. Bands who wouldn’t have made it on a mainstream label, but who had a cult sound worth hearing, could get their music our there; unfortunately, many more mediocre bands clogged up the Internet with their soul-sucking tripe, making it a hard slog through cyberspace to find the music you actually liked.

The Internet imploded the world into solipsistic niches, which ceased to feel the collectiveness of mass-mediated moments. Even news of Michael Jackson’s death shattered into millions of pieces as everyone wanted to be the one reporting rather than receiving. Live 8 couldn’t be what Live Aid was to the 80s. The global village is taken for granted and too much access to information and entertainment has made us fairly lazy and impatient. Is music still the universal language? I suppose so, but it’s also become something to be hoarded and collected indiscriminately, as meaningful as soundbites for many people. And with music built directly into communication devices, it has become integrated into our fragmented lifestyles.

Related Posts:

The Medium is the Music: An Essay on Digital Music
This Is the Industry, But For How Long?: Thoughts on the State of Music Today
Of Resurrected FOPP and the Importance of a Real Record Shop
MP3 Blogs vs. Music Blogs: Different Purposes?
Has the World Changed Or Have I Changed?: Musings on the New Musical Express Train to Nowhere
MP3 Blogs vs Music Blogs: Part II
iTunes & I
Does NME even know what a music blog is?: The rhetoric and social meaning of MP3 blogs
The Pirate’s Dilemma: Selling Out is the New Cool
Sound the Last Post, Then Unite and Take Over
New IAMX Album Leaks and Chris Corner Reacts
Twitter-Pated: Music and Information Overload
Michael Jackson, Media Convergence and The Decline of the Global Superstar
A Monkey Wrench in The Hype Machine: Music Marketing and Integrity
Everyone’s a Critic: Fandom and Subculture
The Non-Interview: Music PR in the Blogosphere

2. Fan Investment in Musicians
In a rather positive turn of events, it has now become possible for fans to have a direct impact on the musicians they love by investing in albums before they are produced. Artists, including Einstürzende Neubauten, Patrick Wolf, frYars, and Morton Valence, have allowed their fans to buy shares of future albums to fund production costs. These artists have then rewarded their shareholders with various freebies and exclusives along with a right to some of the record’s profit. It cuts out the label middleman, which I think is a step in the right direction.

Some other bands decided that more was definitely more and added further value to their music and ethos by diversifying their art. One of my favourite discoveries of the decade, The Indelicates, have sold books of their poetry, tickets to a musical they’re involved in, art prints, and even fudge. This rather multidisciplinary approach to music is fantastically refreshing and holds fans’ interest while waiting for new album releases.

With a different twist on the new value of music, Radiohead decided to make their In Rainbows album available for whatever you deemed it should be worth this decade. Although it’s quite a forward-thinking idea, it isn’t exactly as feasible for bands who are not called Radiohead.

Related Post:

The “New” Music Industry: frYars and Bandstocks

3. Decline of the Music Video
Throughout my childhood and teenage years, the music channel played mostly music videos, live performances or interviews with musicians. Frankly, I’m not entirely sure what music channels play anymore, but I know it’s not really music. It’s not even like they’re playing the expected mass-marketed tripe that I would expect on a music station; they’re playing teen dramas about rich kids, reality shows about rich kids, and programs about kids competing to become celebrities, and thus rich. I reckon the marketing model for music has changed quite drastically since the 80s and their MTV heyday; as with much advertising now, products need to be more quietly and deeply entrenched in other products to be marketed effectively. No more blatant streams of music videos/ads for bands. Now you just have to make sure your music gets into the television shows and films of your target market. You want disaffected indie kids, get your music on a film like Garden State. You want romantic emo kids, get your music on the latest vampire product. You want to appeal to the shallow emotions of middling women with no imagination, play your song in a particularly heartwrenching scene of Grey’s Anatomy. Or you could just get Apple to use your music in an iPod promo.

YouTube, which started up four years ago (as unbelievable as that seems), changed the television landscape forever (along with DVD box sets of course). You could now watch music videos literally on demand and without other ads in between. Albeit the halcyon days of YouTube are also over and not every music video is available, nor are they ad-free anymore thanks to the Google takeover. And artists like Prince decided fans are the enemy, prohibiting any of his videos to be uploaded anywhere. However, YouTube has led to a new music video experience, which frees up the music video market for bands who would never have had the clout to get on a television screen. And YouTube sensations could cross into the consciousness of television watchers, which is what happened when OK Go performed their Here It Goes Again video routine for the MTV VMAs.

Related Posts:

I Don’t Want My MTV. The Tweens Can Have It.
If a Gallagher Falls in the Forest, and No One is There to Film It…
Not Down With Prince
A Post-Mortem on Patrick Wolf’s Dead Meat: Music Video For Vulture

4. The Transformed, But Nonetheless Continued Presence of Diabolical Disney Music
The latter half of the 90s saw the massive return on Disney’s investment in ostensibly squeaky-clean popstars, who were raised in their Mickey Mouse Club stables like cute, little, doe-eyed cash calves. These were the years when Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and NSYNC were royalty. And just when we all thought they had gone away to morph into the realms of crasser sexuality, we were hit with High School Musical, Hannah Montana and The Jonas Brothers. And they went global. Disney was no longer ubiquitous because of their animated projects, but because they had tapped into the tween market once again. This time, they made sure they used media convergence to its extreme. What these franchises also appeared to be espousing was the doctrine of the 00s: anyone could be a pop star. And they should start early.

5. The Reality Pop Star
It seems difficult to remember a time when there weren’t reality competition shows, especially the Pop Idol/X-Factor-types. Now it’s big business for the advertisers who slap their products and commercials into the programs, and usually brief big business just as an “idol” releases his/her debut album. Then he/she usually fades back into the obscurity from whence he/she came, and the cycle begins again, neatly representing our superficial, throwaway culture while making regular people think they’re entitled to more than they actually are. And all along the way, we had to stare at Simon Cowell’s smug, stump-like head.

Related Posts:

Christmas Number Ones: A Measure of Christmas’s True Meaning
Am I a Music Snob?: A Matter of Taste

6. Guitar Heroes and Rock Bands
Along with the wave of reality celebrity culture, video games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band also made it seem like everyone could be a star. And so we all learned what it was like when air guitar was dumbed down to a series of coloured buttons. I’m not being that critical – it’s more the bitterness seeping out from the fact I still haven’t learned how to play the acoustic guitar I got for Christmas two years ago and the fact I don’t own any video game systems.

7. The Renaissance of Vinyl
Here’s something we should have seen coming. As music grew less and less tangible, and thus, less and less valuable, music fans started looking for ways in which they could get more out of music when paying for it. CDs are pretty obsolete because they offer nothing more than MP3s, which are either rather cheap or free. Vinyl records, on the other hand, offer an entirely different listening experience, and one that cannot be replicated unless you have the capability of producing your own vinyl (not likely). Not only is the sound of analog warmer, but vinyl records also allow you to focus more on albums as wholes, including the larger scope for artwork. Vinyl records aren’t meant to be transportable media; they’re meant to be tied to a particular spot and require a different sort of listening. There was a time when I could only buy used vinyl unless I was in Europe or ordering from Europe; now I can buy brand new vinyl records on the Canadian Amazon shop and in several shops in the city. I hope this trend continues.

Related Post:

Sleeveface: Celebrating The Flipside of Vinyl’s Other Artform

8. Concert-Going in the 21st Century and Ticket-Touting
Along with the online revolution in music came the rather unfortunate rise of online ticket purchasing. No one lines up nor phones ticket lines anymore for gigs. If you don’t have a high-speed Internet connection and presale passwords, you either won’t get a decent ticket to your favourite artist’s show, or you’ll have to pay extortionary prices on auctions to ticket touters or the original ticket highwaymen themselves, like Ticketmaster. Or you may just die of a heart attack in the process. It’s why I favour rush seating gigs, where the spot you get is directly proportional to your leg strength, ability to combat boredom, and sharpness of elbow. What would you need to get a seat in the first to third rows at a seated gig anymore? It’s not a rhetorical question – I would really love to know.

Related Post:

It’s Not Fair: Ticket Sales in an Online World

9. Comedy and Music Became a Cooler Combination Again
This was the decade in which musical comedy duos like The Mighty Boosh and Flight of Conchords gained ascendence. There’s no shortage of older acts that made music funny and comedy musical (Monty Python and Spinal Tap spring to mind), but it’s nice to know that it all gained a surreal airing in the 00s. While both duos are in uncertain places as the decade closes (The Mighty Boosh haven’t said they’ll ever do another series and Flight of the Conchords said they definitely won’t), they provided me with many of my laughs in the last half of the noughties, and many of my catchphrases, too. The duos were delightfully different: The Mighty Boosh was like an intertextual acid mixture of Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa with increasingly more London hipster thrown in, and Flight of the Conchords was like a monotone chameleon, able to capture any musical genre perfectly while delivering hapless adventure after hapless adventure.

Related Post:

Music Can Be Funny and Comedy Can Be Musical: The Mighty Boosh and Flight of the Conchords

10. Re-Packaging and Re-Fadding: Emo and the (Yawn) Ensuing Moral Panic and Mark Ronson and the (Yawn) Retro Revival
This decade saw the transmogfrication of the genre called emo into something more than merely Sunny Day Real Estate and Dashboard Confessional. If you want a decent history of the subculture (well at least up until 2003), read Andy Greenwald’s Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo. By the end of this decade, emo had come to mean some adolescent subculture obsessed with gothy aesthetics, poppy but melodramatic music, and self-harm. And probably vampires. What’s odd is how we got from emotional hardcore music to Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance in the matter of a few years. In the end, emo is just goth repackaged for the ADD digital generation. Gone are the gloomy dirges and swirling sadness of bands like Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil; now boys in eyeliner can play pop-punk with extremely long, but no more intellectually stimulating, titles and somehow unite the outsiders in their identical floppy fringey skunk haircuts. Ultimately, emo has come to mean goth lite, which can be easily marketed.

As with all teenage subcultures that adults don’t understand and which get seized upon by the media, emo suffered a strange moral panic by the latter half of the noughties. Parents were nonsensically alarmed at the propensity for self-harm amongst these dissatisfied angsty teens, and for the love of all that is sacred on this Earth, why did they have to stand out from their peers like that? At the end of the day, Morrissey and Richey Edwards would have been emo, but luckily for them, they escaped the tawdry tag before it became popular. People still don’t understand me, but I’m not going to cry about it.

On the other end of the spectrum, another bizarre revival occurred: retro brass sounds, largely the responsibility of Mark Ronson. With Amy Winehouse stumbling in tow and any number of celebrity guests covering songs for him (God forbid Ronson have an original song), this self-satisfied producer added horns to everything and was proclaimed a genius. Bumping along on his bandwagon of manure, were singers like Duffy and Adele. Singer/songwriter Tom Rosenthal (I wrote about him here) expresses the Mark Ronson phenomenon better than I ever could:

Oh, I’m the coolest man in all of the land
And all my friends are famous
And all my songs are bland
I’m akin to a thief
Like yoyos, I’ll be a fad
For I take quite good songs
And I make them bad

And I don’t know if I’m English or American
And if I can win a Brit Award, then anyone bloody can
I’m a glorified DJ
A riches to riches story
I borrow from the talented and I take all the glory

They say anyone’s grandma could do what I do
By putting a different drumbeat on it
And adding a few trumpets, too
But they don’t have my panache
And they don’t have my celebrity mates
And if I ever get round to writing a song,
God, it will be great

The other day I was asked
If I had a motto
I said yes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know
I’m living proof you don’t need talent to succeed
I’m the George Bush of music
I’m the Prince of the Thieves

Now to my own personal experience of the decade. I should start off by saying that I found it hard to believe it had already been a whole decade – something that it seems most people haven’t noticed nor been too fussed about (aside from one two-part program on the BBC, I haven’t seen all that many retrospectives of this decade). It’s hard to fathom that, at the turn of this millennium, I graduated from high school. That makes these last ten years (supposedly) the most productive part of my life thus far: I got several degrees/diplomas from post-secondary education, I travelled more than I ever had before, I learned much more about the world and about this thing we call humanity, I read books I never thought existed, I got crap retail jobs and finally a proper grown-up job, I made friends, I lost friends, and most importantly of all, I expanded my love of music beyond anything I had in high school. When I think about it, this decade actually quite demarcated my life between adolescence and adulthood (the arbitrary age being seventeen/eighteen years old). For me, this decade was truly one of self-discovery and self-creation. With the same tenacity and interest that I applied to my academic studies, I dove into a music world that I hadn’t been acquainted with through high school (my exposure was generally confined to music television and Top 40 radio). Unfortunately, I didn’t have too many muso friends growing up – in fact, the majority of my friends had very limited taste in music. And my immediate family didn’t really encourage music – my father was the only one who had any sort of musical leanings. So, when I was seventeen, I started the search on my own, equipped with reams of music magazines, books, and new CDs. I didn’t have a computer at home until I started university, and I didn’t have cable Internet access until a few years ago; these facts made my search for music a much slower affair than it might have been, but perhaps it also made it more meaningful.

My magpie ways led me on a winding path that had me appreciating political and intelligent music; the first two bands that I really embraced after high school were The Clash and The Smiths. I absorbed a bit of musical influence from college peers and co-workers, but still made the journey largely on my own, trekking in my spare periods between university courses to the downtown A&B Sound shop and buying copious amounts of CDs to listen to whilst sitting in the university corridors (as all good shops appear to do in this city, A&B Sound closed its doors several years ago and became yet another retail husk in the downtown area). I bought up classics from The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, Kate Bush, Wire, and The Jesus and Mary Chain, alongside newer releases from Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Stars, Bloc Party, Idlewild, British Sea Power, and We Are Scientists. I started going to more and more live gigs. And the more I travelled over to the UK and lived there, the more I realized my preference for British bands. The last few trips saw me fill my suitcase and bag with CDs and vinyl.

I listened and I learned – to some people who know me, I became the Rain Man of music. I discovered I’ll never enjoy rap nor metal music. I discovered that I’ll always dislike Bob Dylan. I discovered how much lyrics meant to me. Music made me a more fully-rounded person and a happier person; it supplemented the myriad views of the world that I had also been gaining with books. It gave me something to cling to emotionally and it gave me something I could share with others. And it inspired me creatively. For me, MP3 blogs via The Hype Machine came within the last four years of the decade, and they opened my mind even further to more independent artists, and to the power of fans and DIY culture. Finally, there was something I could do that would allow me to write regularly (I gave up on the dream of a full-time occupation as a writer long ago), and it might even be read by others. Two years ago, when I started writing this blog, I was exposed to even more music and more people, and it was a fascinating learning experience as it became neccessary to try to articulate my thoughts and feelings about music (vigorously pirouetting and waltzing about architecture) and to attain a dialogue with some of the artists I wrote about.

In fact, when I tried to look back at the decade and what it offered in terms of music, I found it rather difficult because I spent a large part of the decade discovering older artists that I had missed out on. I returned to punk, glam, New Wave/post-punk, krautrock, folk, shoegaze, electronica, C86, synthpop, and many of the hyphenated hybrids in between. The only artists salvaged from my adolescent years were David Bowie, New Order, The Cure, Prince, Pulp, Depeche Mode, and Duran Duran, and a few other sundry 80s artists.

When I do actually try to put some perspective on the music that was released in the noughties, it becomes a bit astonishing just how many bands that I take for granted made their debuts. The decade seemed to begin with a violent shift from plastic pop, including boy bands and pop tarts, to legitimate musicians playing their own music, including The Strokes, The Libertines, The White Stripes, and The Hives.

A few years into the decade, the second-wave Brit Invasion happened with bands like Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, Keane, Maximo Park, Razorlight, The Rakes, The Delays and The Futureheads (to varying degrees of success and longevity). And the most pernicious of all invaders was Coldplay. When I first saw their video for Yellow over in the UK about eight years ago, I never would have guessed their eventual U2-like world domination. And then came the Arctic Monkeys, which seemed like the messiahs people were waiting for after the sloppy, pathetic demise of The Libertines. I enjoyed their first album, but never really went further with them. Then again, a lot of the bands I first liked in the noughties turned out like that.

Along with this British surge in indie bands, I became more aware of Canadian indie artists, which largely coalesced around the Montreal scene. As music press is wont to do, the journalists hailed the largest city in Quebec as the new hotbed of musical activity somewhere in the middle of the 00s (just as they had done with Manchester in the 80s, Seattle in the 90s, and Brooklyn now). The world took note of bands like The Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene, and suddenly bands with sprawling orchestras were in vogue. I also duly took note of these bands and Stars, which led me to other Canadian bands like The New Pornographers, Hexes & Ohs, Allegories, The Rest, Archivist, The Dears, Metric, Death From Above 1979, The Stills, and many more.

It also seemed Sweden became increasingly adept at producing dreampop bands, each sweeter than the last, and I fell for The Radio Dept., The Mary Onettes, Twig, The Sound of Arrows, The Deer Tracks, Twiggy Frostbite, and Club 8 to name a few.

Additionally, I will remember the decade as the period that introduced Modular Recordings to a wider audience. Though the Australian label was founded in 1998, it really took off with a multitude of Australian electronic acts like Cut Copy, Van She, and The Presets, along with releases from Wolfmother and Bumblebeez. Along similar lines, this decade saw the formation of Kitsuné Music, a French electronic music record label, and at around the same time, Get Physical Music, a Berlin-based label releasing similar music, was established. New York’s DFA Records also came into being at the beginning of this decade. Between these four labels I developed a deeper love for electronic music.

There are too many bands that began their careers in the noughties to list here. Instead, I’ll just put up a handful of tracks that will always remind me of the first ten years of the 21st century (the restriction being that these bands had to have debuted in the 00s.

This is it for me for now. I realize that the Day of 200 Songs still needs to be done, but we’ll see how quickly I can get it out there. It might be some time next week.

Like Eating Glass – Bloc Party

Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand

That Great Love Sound – The Raveonettes

Wake Up – The Arcade Fire

Somebody Told Me – The Killers

I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor – Arctic Monkeys

NYC – Interpol

We Only Stayed Together For the Kids – Luxembourg

The Great Escape – We Are Scientists

We Are Your Friends – Justice vs Simian Mobile Disco

Here It Goes Again – OK Go

Time to Pretend – MGMT

Remember Me – British Sea Power

Lloyd Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken? – Camera Obscura

Mercy – IAMX

Your Ex-Lover is Dead – Stars

You Are the Generation That Bought More Shoes and You Get What You Deserve – Johnny Boy

Giddy Stratospheres – The Long Blondes

Destroy Everything You Touch – Ladytron

All My Friends – LCD Soundsystem

Pulling Our Own Weight – The Radio Dept.

I’ll Be Next To You – Vanilla Swingers

The Modern Leper – Frightened Rabbit

We Hate the Kids – The Indelicates

The Magic Position – Patrick Wolf

Consolation Prizes – Phoenix

Snakes and Martyrs – TV on the Radio

Can’t Stand Me Now – The Libertines

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)

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.




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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

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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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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