Thursday, January 22, 2009

Listening to Long to One Song: The Wake "Talk About the Past"

"Have you heard the good news? Everybody is a star/Have you heard the good news? Everybody works so hard..."

Tell me if this has ever happened to you before. You find yourself at a dance club, or listening to the radio. Someone plays a song that you have had in your record collection for ages, but that you listen to quite infrequently. They play this song at just the right moment, at just the right volume. You wonder how you have made it so far in your life without noticing that this is surely one of the greatest songs in existence.

Every time in my life that I have listened to the Wake, I think to myself, "When will I ever be able correct the severely questionable level of judgment that I must posses in order to have made it this far in my life having only ever heard three songs from the Wake?" The Wake just happen to be one in a long inexplicable series of bands that I was lazy about searching for for far too long. I looked for the LTM CD reissues of all of their albums and surrounding singles about seventy percent of the time when I went to any given record store. I sporadically go through fervent bouts of searching for their vinyl on ebay, but then go through far more extensive periods of neglecting to search for anything on ebay, let alone the Wake. This last move is likely far more due to subconscious self-preservation of my bank account than laziness really, but you know...

"Talk About the Past" was one of the three Wake songs that I had heard prior to this week. I own the 12", and have always loved it, but it's also one that I would fail to pull out and listen to often enough. Then I heard it at a club, at club volume, while dancing. Everything fell into place right there I suppose. I walked home listening to "Carbrain," (the only other Wake song that I owned at the time) and the next day I pulled out my 12" copy of "Talk About the Past." I lifted the needle over and over again trying to figure what it was about this song that now had me so entranced. I've always marveled over the speed of this song. It's really fast, but it's very well measured at the same time. Every now and then it feels as if the speed will pick up and spiral out of control, but it never does. It doesn't leave you feeling out of breath by the end of the song, just perfectly, properly exhilarated. Vini Reilly of the Durutti Column (another band whose shape creates a giant hole in my record collection) punctuates the piece nicely with outstanding flurries of piano. Caesar's vocals are dreamy, and well, it's very exciting to read on the band's Wikipedia page that this was something of a hit with the "indie" contingent when it was released in 1984. It's combined elements are kind of awe-inspiring upon first listen, and it seems to improve with every subsequent listen. Not that this is something that usually constitutes a hit at all, but if you really think about it wouldn't it be nice if it were? I tend to find that most songs become less exciting the more I listen to them, take them apart, and try to figure them out. The more I listen to this song, the more complex it seems to become. I'm so intrigued by that.

So I suppose that my inconclusive musings on this subject serve as very little more than a testament to the idea of getting out of the house so that you might hear something new, or hear something familiar in a new way. It's something that I so often need to be reminded of, and this was a nice way for that to happen. Since hearing "Talk About the Past," a little over a week ago I came to my senses and purchased the LTM compilation Here Comes Everybody + Singles, as well as another LTM collection Assembly, from This still has me scratching my head over why I didn't think to do it sooner. I also found affordable vinyl copies of both their first full length Harmony, and their first full length for Sarah Records Make it Loud on Ebay. That was just extraordinary luck on my part. I've listened almost exclusively to the Wake within that time period, and I couldn't be happier about that fact.

And of course - once I realized that my casual need to repeatedly hear one particular song had moved into a full blown obsession with this band that by all logical reasoning I should have become obsessed with ages ago - I knew that my research would have to start within the Tangents Archive. I knew that there would be at least one insightful, and well written personal encounter of discovering the music of the Wake to be found there. I was right, and there were two. The first is a review of LTM's Harmony + Singles collection written by Kevin Pearce who once wrote a 'zine called Hungry Beat that was so well written, and well regarded that my clever friend Yvonne determined we should name our club night after it. You can read that review here. The second is a review of Here Comes Everybody + Singles written by Alistair Fitchett who may very well be my favorite pop music writer. This particular review should be able to offer some proof as to why that is. You can read it here.

Purchase Here Comes Everybody + Singles.

Purchase Harmony + Singles.

Purchase Assembly. This includes several live tracks, and both of the Sarah singles.

Purchase Holy Heads. This includes both Sarah full lengths Tidal Wave of Hype, and Make it Loud.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Can I Interfere in Your Crisis?

I work at a small breakfast lunch place in the relatively small community of Woodland Hills. One of the nicest things about the restaurant is the fact that any of us work there have the capability to connect our ipods to the stereo, and listen to pretty much anything that we want to listen to. I'm usually a bit nervous whenever I decide to plug my own ipod in. Will someone, someday listen past the shimmering guitar, and determine that Lawrence singing, "All the people I like are those that are dead..." might not be the best soundtrack for housewives, consultants, and car salesmen munching away on turkey sandwiches?

However, once I am outside of work I tend to find that most of my social dealings occur with people who know way more about obscure music than I do. Sometimes I bring this mentality into work with me, and I figure that everyone else around me thinks of "Mind Your Own Business" by Delta 5 as a dance party classic, and completely appropriate for Saturday brunch. It took one teenage girl's pointed exclamation of "What IS this?" to her friend to help me realize that my judgment may have been slightly off on that one.

Even though I admittedly attempt a certain level of envelope pushing with my song choices at work, I would never give so much as a second thought to the idea of listening to Pens while I was there. I think that if I ever were to try the majority of the people who dine/work at the Baker would veto them immediately. Pens tear into their songs, shambling, and clattering all the way to the end of each one. They fall apart, and put themselves back together again in about one hundred split second increments, and this is usually done within the time span of a minute and a half. They are one of the most exciting bands that I have heard in a really long time. I would even go so far as to say that the songs contained on Pens' Myspace page are more exciting than maybe eighty three percent of the live music that I saw last year. I'm kind of not so secretly hoping that they eventually make it out this way. Ideally this would involve them touring with my favorite live show discovery of last year, and fellow girl shamblers Finally Punk. From the looks of their Myspace page though, Finally Punk will be making it to the U.K. before Pens make their way over here. If you (like me) don't live in the U.K., but still want to hear more you can purchase records from them. All of the information is on their myspace page, which I linked to earlier in the paragraph. I really think that the four way split that they have coming out with Dum Dum Girls, Crocodiles, and Best Fwends has the potential to be on of the best singles of 2009.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Some Songs That I Loved Last Year... Part Two...

11. Love is All - "Last Choice" - A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night (What's Your Rupture)

Buy the CD here.

Buy the record here.

Listen to the song here.

Out of all the mostly excellent bands that played this past year's (very well executed) Part Time Punks fest, Love is All put forth the only set that made me forget how sick I was for the proceedings. I was too busy dancing, jumping up and down, and just generally feeling happy that I was there witnessing something so ... life affirming? Yes, I suppose that's the only way to put it. That's the effect that Love is All had on seemingly everyone who was present. Recorded the effect is almost as immediate. I listened to this album non-stop during a recent marathon apartment cleaning session, pausing from my work only to turn the record over. After several listens to the record in it's entirety, this is the song that had me lifting the needle over, and over again. I can't quite figure out exactly why it's this particular song that grabbed me more than any other. Most of their songs (sometimes even the more quiet ones) tend to have a lot going on, but it always manages to work. Synthetic hand claps, glockenspiel, and one of the liveliest keyboard melodies that I've heard in some time are present in this track alone. It's more than kind of a disco track. Not exactly in the post punk tradition of no wave/no disco, but not really in the mainstream disco hit manner either. It's kind of a hybrid of both styles mixed with an element of non-irritating epic-ness that is purely Love is All. If that makes sense. Lyrically it details a type of purely validation seeking/drunken one night stand in a refreshingly self effacing, honest, and quite funny manner. The girl telling the story leaves a party with her, well last choice because it seems a better alternative than leaving alone. While the music around the story remains exciting and upbeat the band chants: "I'm not your kind and your not mine, but for tonight you'll have to do." The last words you hear are these: "I have since long lost my poise, I'm walking home with my last choice." Then there are a few last keyboard trills, and a single incredibly satisfying ding! to bring the song to it's necessarily abrupt ending.

12. The Tartans - "My Baby Doesn't Care for You" - My Baby Doesn't Care for You 7" (Cloudberry)

Buy the record, and listen to the song here.

This one was a tough decision. My favorite local band (who for the sake of full disclosure became close friends as well last year) released two singles within weeks of each other on two of my favorite existing labels. Since this was to be a single disc compilation, I knew that I could only pick one of their songs. "My Baby..." wasn't always my favorite Tartans song, in fact that title used to belong to the B-side of this single, "What About You." Still over the course of this year I began to notice just how strong of a single this song is. I would get it stuck in my head at work, I would play it from time to time when I was DJ-ing, and it fit in flawlessly, and it soon became a highlight of their live set often bringing more people out to the dance floor than there had been previously. The other day I noticed that this song also has the potential to become a classic brush off song in the tradition of "Our Love is Heavenly." The two songs share the similar casually bouncy pace, and tossed aside lyrics that kind of require girls as cool as Amelia Fletcher or Yvonne Sone to sing them in order to have their full effect. The cheery glockenspiel line is a perfect touch to add insult to injury to the poor hypothetical girl on the receiving end of Yvonne's skillful navigation of Brian Cunningham's exceedingly clever rhyming scheme. My personal favorite, "What's there to misconstrue? My baby doesn't care for you." This song is deceptively simple upon the first listen or two which is why perhaps more blogger's favor went to the (more than equally deserving) Cats of Camerford 7" which you can (and should) purchase here. Still, I couldn't shake just how much this grew into a favorite song of mine over this past year. I'm sure that I'll have plenty to say about a Tartans YAY! single next year when "West of La Brea" finally makes it's way to the 7" format...

13. Vivian Girls - "Where Do You Run To?" - Vivian Girls (In the Red)

Buy the CD here.

Buy the record here.

Listen to the song here.

This choice has more to do with my biography of 2008 more so than any sort of wow factor from Vivian Girls. As I've alluded to on this site before, I'm not really sure that wow factor is the point of this band. They were perfectly enjoyable, yet kind of non-descript live which is precisely what I imagined they would be. They released a perfectly enjoyable record that I only felt compelled to listen to a few times, and yet I can't think of any other contemporary band that I spent more time discussing in 2008. Trying to pin point why exactly it was good, and how it was that a considerably large contingent of people were now into this particular girl group filtered through post punk sound. It's interesting too, to see how it's already unfolding to receive even more attention in 2009 with bands like Dum Dum Girls, The Splinters, and Pens (more on all of them soon) offering even more new variations on that endlessly pleasing formula. The song that I picked for this list does happen to be one of the album's highlight in my opinion. I think it perfectly showcases their nonchalant harmonies, and how they are just skillful enough on their instruments to garner attention and acceptance from the more mainstream press, yet enough lack of skill to sound refreshing and charming to those same people. It's that sort of charming lack of skill that holds their appeal for me, and I suppose why this particular song made my list.

14. Liechtenstein - "Security by Design" - Apathy 7" (Fraction Discs)

Buy the single here.

Liechtenstein follow the girl group filtered through post punk pattern as well, but their charm is not due to any lack of skill. In fact, repeated listens to "Security by Design" reveal quite the opposite to be true. An unnerving, human heartbeat-esque, solo drum pattern sets the tone. Everything that follows in terms of the musical structure of the song serves to heighten the sense of paranoia that the lyrics entail. Even the Spaghetti Western inspired guest trumpet work from Kristin Lidell manages to feel vaguely threatening while also adding to the razor sharp wit that the song maintains. I'm not a musician myself, but I just can't imagine that this is an easy thing to pull off. "All of them are sharp," is the description that the song's narrator offers flatly, and dead seriously about her kitchen knives before she bounces right back into the chorus of, "I'm so happy here," over that same trumpet. Funny, I could offer the same description of every single Liechtenstein song that I've heard so far. Allegedly they will release a full length in 2009. Also allegedly, this will be 2009's best record.

15. Crystal Stilts - "Departure" - Alight of Night

Buy the album, or the CD here.

This is another one that is more to do with biography than the actual song. Crystal Stilts contributed to two of my favorite live shows this year. The first was in Oxnard incidentally the same show where I witnessed my favorite performance from Catwalk thus far,) and the second was two days later at Part Time Punks. The show that they presented in Oxnard was shockingly engaging. I liked their recordings, but I was fully expecting observe their show in an almost reverent manner. Instead, I found myself dancing in a small crowd while others sashayed across a wooden plank over a bonfire in the background. Needless to say, the experience was slightly magical. This was even regardless of the fact that they were operating with a very newly borrowed drummer, Jock from Cause Co-Motion! Cause Co-Motion! were also great fun live, yet I regretfully didn't spend enough time listening to their recordings this year to include them on this list. I should offer in their regard, that they saved one of my mornings a few months ago as I was getting ready for work, and my roommate was going through a surprisingly loud period of obsession with Ray Lamontagne... Back to Crystal Stilts. Their show at Part Time Punks was absolutely dreamy with full time drummer Frankie Rose (formerly of Vivian Girls) providing backing vocals. The lead singer Brad Hargett seemed to be in a completely different world throughout both sets that I witnessed. This felt precisely correct for the murky pop songs that Crystal Stilts create. The fact that they manage to be ultra-engaging at the same time, is still something of great mystery to me. I suppose it's a similar effect to the one that the Airfields manage with their echo drenched production. The distance hold commands your attention, as you can't help but long to be closer. After their set that Sunday night we danced with them well into the very early part of a Monday morning. They threw flowers out to various attendees, and slowly but surely we began to throw these flowers around as we danced to things as disparate as Brian Eno's "Needle in the Camel's Eye," to Fire Engines' "Get Up and Use Me." We all sang all of the lyrics to "Part Time Punks," at 2 A.M. We did this at the top of our lungs. Perhaps upon further review, this was actually my favorite show of the year. So I guess for this list I tried to pick the song that I felt best represented the feeling of that live show.

16. Wake the President - "You Can't Change That Boy" - Split 7 w/the Kingfishers (Aufgeladen & Bereit)

Buy the single here.

Listen to the song here.

Read the description that Alistair Fitchett offers about this song in the post that I have linked to above. I have nothing else to add.

17. Catwalk - "Past Afar" - Past Afar 7" (YAY!)

Buy the single here.

Listen to the song here.

If only there were such a succinct, and completely accurate way to describe Catwalk as there is for Wake the President. Catwalk delivered some of my favorite performances in 2008, and I've been continually wowed by how cohesive they have become as a band. Their Halloween cover of the Stooges' "No Fun," for example was a one of my biggest highlights this year because it absolutely shattered all of my expectations. It would have shattered any expectations really of what you might think this band should always sound like. I suppose that's why I always feel like there is no succinct way to sum them up. While every band member adds something essential to this project, the more I listen to this single the less I am able to shake the feeling that Nick Hessler will be a name that future generations (especially musicians) will revere on some level. He certainly has that sort of pop songwriting sensibility that could easily yield songs that will be appreciated by a good portion of the general public, and obsessive music fans alike.

18. Beach House - "You Came to Me" - Devotion (Carpark)

Buy the CD here.

I fell in love with their first, self titled record, a bit late. It took a trip to Seattle, a chilly fall day, and a three hour walk for the album to have it's full effect on me. Based upon that, Devotion was one of my most anticipated releases of last year. Victoria Legrand, and Alex Scally were already easily categorized as one of the most compelling two piece bands in contemporary music with the minimal instrumentation and production on the first album. This album, however takes their sound to a different level altogether. For me personally, this song was the best example of that. It begins in a haunting minor key with the expected minimalism, then the sound of the timpani appears which should cause your jaw to fall to the floor due to the sheer magnitude of the sound that it produces, but even after all of that the song changes course entirely with the dreamy lalalas that eventually usher in the phrase that the song's title was taken from. The fact that they were able to pull this off at all is nothing short of amazing. The fact that they were able to pull it off so seamlessly is a perfect testament to why they are a band well worth paying close attention to for years to come.

Robert Forster - "Did She Overtake You?" - The Evangelist (Yep Roc)

Buy the CD here.

Listen to the song here.

I strongly feel that I still have a long way to go before I fully grasp the genius of the Go-Betweens. That being said, I spent a large part of my year listening to their music, and wishing that Grant McLennan were still around. This record from the other half of the brilliant Go-Betweens singer/songwriter team, while extraordinarily bittersweet, was also one of the most lovely accomplishments of last year. To pull off a song like the one I've listed here that is heartbreaking, and thought provoking, yet ultimately catchy and enjoyable surely cannot be easy. It's a good thing that Robert Forster mastered that tricky combination ages ago. A song like this comes across as effortless because to someone like him, it surely is.

20. Northern Portrait - "Our Lambrusco Days" - Napoleon Sweetheart EP (Matinee)

Buy the CD here.

This song closes the EP that it appears on, and it truly feels like an album closer. I usually try to avoid closing a mix with a song that feels like an obvious closer, however this one I felt just couldn't be helped. I didn't really listen to this EP until the very last week of 2008, but for that week it was really all that I wanted to hear. I think that I always subconsciously search for a good, well paced waltz in a pop song because my mom used to teach ballroom dancing to top 40 songs, and she always claimed that a waltz at proper teaching speed was the hardest thing to find. Perhaps this one would have been a bit too fast for teaching, but it certainly deserves to be danced to nonetheless. It really is that elegant.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Some Songs That I Loved Last Year

As I mentioned in my previous post, I decided to pick twenty songs that really stood out to me this year, and make a one disc compilation out of them. I feel like I missed so much in 2008, but so many of the things that I heard I fell in love with. A few of the songs are associated with live shows, and a few are here for the sake of cohesiveness. I'll comment a bit on the songs that made this list, and try to figure out why these were the ones that made it over so many other great choices. I'm not great about constructing zip drives. If you would like to have a CD copy of this mix, please get in touch with me, and I would be more than happy to mail one to you! I will also post links for you to listen to as many of the songs that I can track down somewhere online. So on that note, here are some thoughts about some of the pop music that was released last year...

1. The Magnetic Fields - "Please Stop Dancing" - Distortion (Nonesuch):

Buy the CD here.

Buy the record here.

Listen to the song here.

Much was made at the beginning of 2008 about Stephin Merritt proclaiming Psychocandy to be the last record to showcase, "startling new production." According to an article in New York Press, Merritt had this to say about the creation of Distortion “I wanted to do something new, and being a postmodernist, I don’t believe in that,” Merritt says. “So, new for me means the latest new thing, rather than something that hasn’t been done before.” I listened to this record non-stop for something like a solid month, and while there were songs on it that were far more clever, this was the one that immediately stood out to me. Perhaps because of it's (relative) simplicity. I say relative simplicity because each listen reveals a layer to this lovely pop song that I had not yet noticed. Everything about this song (and the record as a whole) is unassumingly smart. This is one of the many things that reveal it's mastermind (Stephin Merritt) to be something of a genius. I also very much liked the idea of opening my comp with shards of feedback...

2. A Sunny Day in Glasgow - "Sometimes I Think About You" - Searching for the Now Vol. 3 (Slumberland):

Buy the single, and listen to the song here.

Slumberland introduced a brilliant split 7" series last year with a different band to each side of one record. This song was on one of those 7"s and there was no possible way that it wouldn't make my list of favorites. Scribble Mural Comic Journal, the full length that A Sunny Day in Glasgow released last year was my favorite record of 2007, and "Sometimes I Think About You" is a Pastels cover. I quite like what they did with it. Bass, percussion, and ASDIG's always fantastically executed female vocals take center stage. For example, wordless voices appear in certain places here where guitars did in the original. In a move that I feel strongly adds to the song's intrigue, the lead vocal has been slightly buried underneath all of this. Similar to the Magnetic Fields song, this is one with many layers, and one that gives you something new upon each successive listen.

3. The Bridal Shop - "Violation" - In Violtaion 7" (Cloudberry):

Buy the single, and listen to the song here.

Hands down my favorite song of 2008. One of these days I will catch up on other releases from The Bridal Shop, and this will likely begin when their new EP In Fragments is released this year on Plastilina Records. For now though, I kind of like the fact that all I know of this band are the two perfect songs on this 7". I wrote about the song earlier this year for Squaregirls. A few people seemed to like what I said then, so I will repeat it here. "... It really is everything that a good indiepop dance track should be from the echo-y, atmospheric sound that kicks into a blast of drum machine and synths at the beginning, to the distant Morrisey-esque vocals, to the dramatic center where everything becomes almost still, to the part where it all kicks back in at full blast to level off neatly albeit abruptly at the end. Kind of like the soundtrack to a film that doesn't exist about dance clubs that don't exist where you perpetually expect to see someone grab their secret crush and kiss them in a highly dramatic fashion as a vivid technicolor light show explodes behind them. Yes, the track is that good."

4. The Airfields - "Icing Sugar" - Up All Night (Humblebee)

Buy the CD here.

Listen to the song here.

I purchased this record several months ago during a period where work was going well, and I had some extra cash. It didn't grab me immediately perhaps because my expectations for it were too high. Nonetheless, this was probably the full album that I listened to more than any other. There was a time when I would take a long walk every night simply to listen to this record, and that has much to do with this song. Once I picked out the lyric "Your headphones and songs how they pushed you along the sidewalk at night, I suppose they give you all you'll ever need to know," as I was walking alone at night listening to this song on my headphones the entire album clicked into place for me. This track was haunting, beautiful, and produced with a sense of distance. As if it were intentionally keeping the listener just out of reach, so that the listener will keep coming back for more.

5. Twig - "Wentworth" - Ciao Ciao Bomb 7" (Cloudberry)

Buy the single, and listen to the song here.

Yet another band that has more material that I need to purchase. In fact they actually released a full length for Plastilina in 2008 that I am fully intending to order this week. Also as in the case of the Bridal Shop though I like having only two fantastic songs on either side of a 7" be my only knowledge of a band. I bought the Bridal Shop single first, and mentioned that to a friend. "Yeah," he said, "But what about that Twig single?" I immediately purchased the Twig single. My love for this song really set in after hearing the A-side "Ciao Ciao Bomb" played at Part Time Punks. It sounded so good, and blended in so well with Felt, or whatever had been played before it that it took me a moment to place what it was. When I figured it out I was dancing, jumping up and down, and singing along with a small group of friends. I decided to give the single a few more listens after that night. The B-side "Wentworth" quickly became one of my favorite songs altogether. It's dark, vibrant, pretty, and vaguely threatening all at once. In a different conversation, at a different Part Time Punks, I discussed this song with the same friend. "What's that line, something about your tear stained face?" he asked, and we both tried to remember. The line is "I touched your tear washed face." Possibly the most exquisite imagery that I found myself presented with all year.

6. The Lodger - "The Good Old Days" - Life is Sweet (Slumberland):

Buy the album, and listen to the song here.

From dark, yet vibrant to just plain vibrant. This was certainly one of my most listened to songs over the year, and every time that I heard it, my spirits were instantly lifted. Everything about this song from the production, to the musicianship, to the lyrics was the height of brightness and crispness. All of the songs on this record were great, but this was a truly standout single. I honestly can't believe that this didn't become a moderate hit. Perhaps their next release will yield that for them? It's really only a matter of time.

7. Bearsuit - "More Soul Than Wigan Casino" - OH:IO (Happy Happy Birthday to Me):

Buy the CD here

This was another album full of great songs, but again this single was the clear standout for me. I put this song on a mix CD for a non-indiepop inclined co-worker, and eventually he was singing it randomly at work. This led me to wonder why this song wasn't something of a hit as well, it's certainly a bit more challenging than the Lodger track, but it is perhaps even more catchy and infectious. The giddy pace of the chorus, the exuberant sounds of the trumpet work, the shout along ending, the relentless (in a good way) pounding of the drums, all of these things contributed to making this one of the most exciting songs that I've heard in some time. Oh, and the cheeky title is pretty great as well.

8. Raphael Saadiq - "Seven" - The Way I See It (FYE Version) (Columbia)

Buy the version of the CD that includes this track here.

Listen to the song here.

Volunteering for KCRW keeps me more in touch with the outside world than I would be under other circumstances. I remember walking in to the station one day, and hearing something from this record. I asked Anne Litt (who was on the air at the time) who it was. She told me that it was Raphael Saadiq, and that I should really think about including one of his songs on the demo that I was working on. I found this song via a fortuitous trip to the Soul Sides blog. The above link where I directed you to listen is Oliver Wang's post about the song, and of course everything that he says about it is spot on. I would have never picked up on those influences as I know very little about what distinguishes early seventies era Motown. I do know that this song definitely does have the feeling of a classic soul track. It's little touches like the muted horns that really get me, and that pure simple "Ooooooh" that closes the song out is flat out stunning. This track easily wins my vote for favorite vocal delivery of the year.

9. The Lucksmiths - "California in Popular Song" - First Frost (Matinee):

Buy the CD here.

Listen to the song here.

I'm a big fan of artists who do interesting things with phrasing, and Marty Donald has crafted some of the most creative phrasing here that I've heard in a long time. The lyrics are lovely as well, bittersweet, and simple. This is a very straightforward story song. The narrator is saying goodbye to a great love, and offering the classic advice that a change of location won't make all of your problems disappear. But who ever believes that? The line that absolutely floored me in this song was this one: "Though you promised not to cry when you said goodbye your - eyes are bright with wine, and oh, so are mine." Everything about the music that backs the words exists simply to propel the song forward. The melody is just catchy enough, and the gentle presence of strings give it the touch of wistfulness that is needed. One of the most cleverly arranged songs that I heard all year to be certain.

10. The School - "I Don't Believe in Love" - Let it Slip EP (Elefant)

Buy the CD here.

This song adheres to a pop tradition that I adore, but that I don't find too often. It's action takes place within the course of a single dance. The fact that this is a duet makes it even better. I honestly don't know what else to say about this song other than to state the fact that it is dreamy, Wall of Sound encased, pop perfection. And that I would highly recommend that you hear it immediately.

... That's all that I have time to post right now. Check back within the next day or two if you care to see which songs round out the remainder of my list.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Resting, Reposing

Happy New Year to everyone! The first email that I received in 2009 was concluded with the phrase "upwards and onwards." It made me smile.

I fully intend to start writing more as 2009 progresses. This will of course mean that I will need to pay attention to far more new music than I was able to pay attention to in 2008 while continuing to catch up on classics that I should have fallen hopelessly in love with years ago. Fortunately this is one of the only things I truly love to do. I just hope that 2009finds me ignoring distractions, and lethargic tendencies on a more regular basis.

In the spirit of that, I'll spare any expansion on my comment that after this past New Year's Eve any slight concern/guilt that I've ever experienced about not relating to 95 to 97 of American society has pretty much vanished altogether. That's what you get for going to any bar on New Year's Eve I suppose, and it's really what you get for getting there early when you know in the back of your mind that your friends will probably be at least an hour behind you.

However, I was fortunate enough to run into Jackie and Joey after not too much time spent half heartedly dancing/people watching/feeling uncomfortable. Jackie and Joey put on Anorak City at the Mandrake Bar in Culver City.

- side note I went on Saturday, and it was great. They have exellent taste, played their songs loudly, and are incredibly nice people -

... Anyway needless to say, since I had only met Jackie a few days before when she requested the Primitives from me at Hungry Beat!, I spent a good 10 minutes on NYE hoping that these vaguely familiar looking people were in fact the nice popkids who ran the West Side Club. I was very relieved when they approached me to ask if I DJ-ed at Hungry Beat! Popkids of the world unite!

Of course, from that point on the night was fantastic. It's always fun to listen to Micheal work his version of the "hits" into the mix, and the majority of the rest of the Hungry Beat! team was able to jump on the decks to offer a brief soul set or two. Though a few songs from Yvonne would have made it complete.

I suppose there was not much point to recounting my New Year's Eve story here other than to say just how nice it was to welcome 2009 surrounded by pre-existing friends, and new ones. Upwards, and onwards indeed!

Oh, and I also spent part of the weekend putting the finishing touches on my favorite songs of the year sampler, or whatever it actually is. Not all of my favorite songs were included, and I know that there were plenty of fantastic songs that I missed out on. Nonetheless, I'm pleased with how it came together so instead of writing any sort of qualifying best of on this site, I'll write a few sentences about each song on the tape. Probably five songs or so at a time. This will start tomorrow, approximately 30 to 45 days after everyone officially stops caring about year end lists. Oh well.

How was everyone else's NYE? Anything looking promising for 2009? Discuss!