Friday 22 December 2006

I'll be your plastic toy....

It's been an exciting couple of days, hasn't it? Well, the good news is that the working week is over and I'm finally able to stretch out in front of the telly with a glass of wine and a whole big pile of wrapping paper. I don't think I've got anything left that I need to get before the big day, and all I've got left to do is to have a nice lunch tomorrow with C., Sarah and Hen, and then head down to my folk's place for a hopefully relaxing couple of days.

Before I can disappear in a flurry of sticky-tape and parcels though, we just have the small matter of this week's earworms to get through.

This week's guest editor is a multi-talented geordie from Cardiff (via Newcastle, Nottingham and Birmingham). He's the curator of several excellent blogs, and a thoroughly good man to have a drink and a chat with.

Ladies and gentleworms, without further ado, it is my great pleasure to present for your earworming pleasure....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #52 - Ben from SilentWordsSpeakLoudest, Black & White & Read All Over and the Art of Noise.

At this time of year, my usual habits of not listening to the radio and avoiding shops as far as possible (oh the joys of the internet!) are even more crucial to the retention of sanity because they mean I am only very rarely exposed to Christmas music. This year I can honestly say I’m yet to hear ‘A Wonderful Christmas Time’ or ‘Last Christmas’ (though neither have I heard ‘Fairytale Of New York’, to which I must confess to being a bit partial).

What’s more, my copy of the fine XFM compilation It’s A Cool Cool Christmas (featuring the likes of Eels, The Flaming Lips, Grandaddy, Low, Calexico, Six. By Seven and Giant Sand) has remained undisturbed on the shelf – and I don’t even own a copy of Now That’s What I Call Christmas, contrary to popular rumour. Instead, I’ve been spending the last week or so preparing for the annual end-of-year list bonanza by catching up on a load of albums released earlier this year that had hitherto eluded my clutches – a fact that’s reflected in the Earworms listed below.

So, without further ado…

10. The Melvins – ‘Blood Witch’

Nearly a fortnight on, I’m still feeling the physical impact of witnessing American proto-grunge legends The Melvins and their double-drum-kitted assault in person. I suspect the likes of ‘Blood Witch’, from their latest album (A) Senile Animal, will forever conjure up memories of half-full beer cans arcing gracefully through the air high above our heads in a venue (The Point) that is a converted church…

9. Broken Social Scene – ‘Ibi Dreams Of Pavement’

Up until August I remained relatively impervious to the alleged brilliance of the Canadian collective’s 2004 album You Forgot It In People. But one mind-blowing gig later and I was singing a different tune, and desperate to hear the self-titled follow-up. Which, sadly, has thus far met with much the same response as its predecessor initially did, personally speaking. ‘Ibi Dreams Of Pavement’ is great, though, and the album as a whole deserves more time.

8. Peter Bjorn & John – ‘Young Folks’

In general I’m lucky in largely avoiding infection by really irritating Earworms – this is about as close as it comes. In addition to guest vocals from former Concretes frontwoman Victoria Bergsman, ‘Young Folks’ features a passage of whistling. What is amusing at first very soon becomes bloody annoying. Nowhere near being the best track on their album Writer’s Block, but unfortunately it’s the one that’s stuck.

7. The Jesus & Mary Chain – ‘Just Like Honey’

An absolute classic, rediscovered (as if it was necessary) courtesy of YouTube - YouTube being something I’ve been trying my hardest to avoid as another inevitable means of timewasting. Plus ‘Just Like Honey’ gives me an excuse to link to this (courtesy of Martin), featuring Bobby Gillespie (latterly of Primal Scream) beating out the drum tattoo, as well as footage of the infamous 1985 North London Poly gig riot and genius interview exchanges. “Why are people so excited about you?” “Because we’re so good, because we’re so much better than everybody else”. And indeed they were.

6. Spencer McGarry Season - ‘The Unfilmable Life & Life Of…’

The first of two Earworms taken from the recent CD showcasing local (ie Cardiff) talent, This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The 22 Of Us. Subtle, beguiling, well-constructed indie pop reminiscent of Field Music. Knowing nothing more than that, I’m eager to see them live in the New Year.

5. The Grates – ‘Science Is Golden’

Shallow, an instant fix, something the NME-reading Youth no doubt approves of (having being knee-high to a grasshopper when Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Fever To Tell came out) – but the chorus to this single is extremely hard to shake out of your head.

4. Gindrinker – ‘God Of Darts’

Locally speaking at least, Grinkrinker are a legendary – or should that be notorious? – twosome whose mission in life is to reinterpret both The Fall and Steve Albini’s Big Black as surrealist polemicists. They too have a track on This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The 22 To Of Us (the very vitriolic ‘Hey! Greengrocer’), but this song – something of a signature tune – concerns a recently revived TV darts / quiz show. The god of darts in question? Jim Bowen, of course.

3. The Long Blondes – ‘Heaven Help The New Girl’

AKA The Slow One which, in old-school fashion, brings the first half of their debut album Someone To Drive You Home to a close. Initially it was a disappointment – why do bands persist in believing that a change of pace is necessary, and isn’t ‘Heaven Help The New Girl’ just the token track thrown in there to fit the bill, the low-key lull before gloriously shouty single ‘Separated By Motorways’ takes over? It self-referential verse (alluding back to second track ‘Once And Never Again’) gave even more reason for suspicion. And yet it grew on me rapidly, and it’s the one that has lodged itself most firmly in my brain.

2. Little My – ‘Sellotape My Hands’

Less than a month ago, I was vociferous in my agreement that Belle & Sebastian should be prosecuted for a litany of crimes. My current obsession with Little My – and this song in particular – makes me think I should be reconsidering my position already. Give me another month and I’ll be happily sending out invites to tea parties in my wendy house exclusive to those who own at least five differently-coloured hair slides.

1. Yo La Tengo – ‘Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind’

First track from the Hoboken, NJ trio’s latest album (the splendidly titled I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass), and the quite marvellous opener when they wowed me live early last month. It’s a simple formula – relentless bassline and sober drumming allowing for lead guitar pyrotechnics – but fuck me is it effective. Ten minutes and forty-five seconds of bliss.


Thanks Ben (is that last one really an 11 minute jam?). I haven't done any checking, and I haven't heard most of it, but I reckon some of these ones are real. Except for the Jesus & Mary Chain. They have to be made up, right?

Next Week: Sarah
Forthcoming attractions: Earworms of the Year 2006, Flash, Ka

Keep sending me your votes for Earworms of the Year 2006. Details here.

[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito, Graham, Lithaborn, Phil, Mark II, Stef, Kaptain Kobold, bedshaped, I have ordinary addictions, TheCatGirlSpeaks, Lord B rides again, Tina, Charlie II, Cody Bones, Poll Star, Jenni II, Martin, Del II, The Eye in the Sky, RussL, Lizzy's Hoax]


  1. All real, guv, honest.

    (And, er, I was taken in too...)

  2. Hang on a minute, I've just listened to Ben's Shuffleathon CD again that I reviewed and it's completely blank...

    Cracking choices, Ben. Well, the one I've heard of, anyway.

  3. Aaah - but they're not choices are they, Martin? (I'm trying to ignore the Phil Collins nonsense that Swiss has done his best to plant in my head this weekend. Gah!)

    I happen to love the Peter, Bjorn and Jon track but then I haven't had the privilege of hearing the rest of the album. One for the Christmas record vouchers(do they still exist?), perhaps? The only other track I've heard is the Jesus and Mary chain...but Yo La Tengo have been lauded by a number of my friends for a while. Perhaps it's time I listened to them, eh?

  4. ... and 'Grinkrinker'?

    hmmm. That you, Swiss?

  5. Merry Christmas, Swiss. :)