Friday 30 November 2007

and I just can't explain, so I won't even try to...

Earworms of the Week

I'm afraid you've only got me for the earworm rundown this week, so it's back to the usual old guitar-based claptrap. Still, what can you do?

Since I've been subscribed to LastFM (about 100 years after everyone else, I know), I've suddenly become a lot more conscious of what I'm listening to. It's not so much because my listening choices are now pretty much there for everyone to see and to laugh at, it's more because it makes it completely visible to me. I know that most of the same information is available in iTunes, but this seems so much more accessible. Anyway, in stark contrast to all the compiliations I've been listening to as a result of the shuffleathon, this week I've been in a real album-listening mood - Eels, Sufjan Stevens, Morrissey, Bowie, Simon & Garfunkel, Sigur Ros, James.... and I've not watched any tv or listened to the radio either, so no prizes for guessing what makes the list.....

> "We're Going to Miss You" - James

Much underrated band, James. This is of "Millionaires", the album that they put out after the success of their Greatest Hits album. They hoped that this was going to be the album that finally catapulted them to the big time. It didn't. It's a shame really, as it's one of their very finest albums. This isn't one of the more obvious standouts on the album (like "Crash" or "I Know What I'm Here For" or "Just Like Fred Astaire"), but it's got a beautiful, haunting refrain.

"Here's a mirror with your name on
Singing 'we're going to miss you when you're gone'"

Good band. This felt like an epitaph at the time, and they didn't have too much petrol left in the tank after this. Shame.

> "Oh! You Pretty Things" - David Bowie

Classic era Bowie, obviously. Off "Hunky Dory" and planted in my head after a conversation with my director's secretary on music and which bands we liked and so on, and she told me that Bowie was her favourite. When quizzed about which era Bowie, she immediately went for "Starman" and "Life on Mars" era, of course. I'd like to tell you, probably with a haughty sniff, that I prefer "Low" and "Heroes" era Bowie, but it would be cobblers.

Actually, it was in the same conversation that I discovered that my boss's first ever gig was Dave Lee Roth at the Birmingham NEC. Nice! We were all also a little sad to discover that Cozy Powell is dead and has been for some time.

> "Narc" - Interpol

Paul Banks sounds like an undertaker singing lyrics written by a lawyer, but I love Interpol. I gave "Antics" a spin as I was driving home in the dark the other day. I think Interpol are the kind of band that are meant to be listened to in the dark.

> "At the Zoo" - Simon & Garfunkel

"The monkeys stand for honesty,
Giraffes are insincere,
And the elephants are kindly but
Theyre dumb.
Orangutans are skeptical
Of changes in their cages,
And the zookeeper is very fond of rum.

Zebras are reactionaries,
Antelopes are missionaries,
Pigeons plot in secrecy,
And hamsters turn on frequently."


I barely know where to being. What's reactionary about a zebra?

> "Svefn-g-Englar" - Sigur Rós

I've seen Sigur Ros live a couple of times now, and on both occasions they were supporting Radiohead. I can very clearly remember standing in a big top near Newport watching them perform their unique magic and having my friends moaning about how it was just the most bizarre kind of rubbish and shouldn't we go and get a pint or something. They were wrong then, and if they still think Sigur Rós are rubbish, then they're still wrong. There's just nobody else like them. This song makes me think of whalesong.

> "It's a Motherfucker" - Eels

I'm incredibly irritated that I missed the programme that was on the other day with E exploring his father's "Other Worlds" theory. Still, I've been listening to the eels all week anyway. This isn't very long, and it certainly isn't very cheery, but it's a beautiful and articulate song of pain and loss.

> "Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well" - Mike Doughty

Charlie is the first person I ever found by pressing the "Next Blog" button, and I've been reading "Late Night Radio" ever since. We've talked about music many times before, but we've only just got around to sending each other a mix CD. The first name that I looked out for on the tracklisting of mine was Mike Doughty, and sure enough, he was there. Charlie clearly adores Doughty and writes about him a lot... but I'd never even heard of him, never mind heard any of his music. This finally remedies that particular wrong. US Alt Rock has a sound all of its very own, and a very particular singing style. Doughty certainly has that kind of voice, but instead of putting me off, as it sometimes does, this time I found myself sucked in. Again, it's not an especially happy song, but it's a very good song and I have to say that I'm curious to hear some more..... mission accomplished then Charlie!

> "Decatur, or, Round of Applause for Your Step-Mother!" - Sufjan Stevens

I listened to "Illinoise" as I was reading in bed on Thursday night. It was a good choice: quiet enough not to disturb my reading, but interesting enough that it didn't entirely blend into the background. It's usually something like "Chicago", "John Wayne Gacy Jr" or "Casimir Pulaski Day" that catch my ear, but this time it was this one. He does like his silly, overly long titles to his songs, doesn't he?

> "Now My Heart is Full" - Morrissey

I've had a bit of a Morrissey themed week, all things considered. It started when I bought Mark a couple of tickets to the Friday of the Roundhouse gigs in January (alas, I can't go as I'm off skiing). That was enough to have me digging out "Ringleader of the Tormentors" and "Vauxhall & I". Then it was "M" in the alphabeticon, and then of course on Thursday I read all about the latest NME "Morrissey is a racist!" furore. I've eulogised the man enough for one week, I think, but suffice it to say that I reckon that "Vauxhall & I" is his best solo album (well, it's my favourite) and "Now My Heart Is Full" is my favourite song on it. It's about Brighton Rock, apparently.


Right. I'm off down to my parents' house for the annual winetasting thing they do in aid of the local village hall. On the down side it means I will have to listen to the seasonally themed contributions from the old hams of the village entertainment group (including my dad), including the dread moment when we will be bullied into participating (with *actions*) to the "Twelve Days of Christmas". On the plus side though, there will be lots of good wine to try. Swings and roundabouts, eh?

It will be the first time that I stay in the new house too. It's a bit weird to be going "home" and sleeping in a room that is a guest room and not MY room. Hey ho.


  1. I'm a huge fan of Mike Doughty too... and in general... Me and Charlie are about two of his only fans. I'm sure a lot of fans of his old band Soul Coughing probably aren't even aware he's been doing solo stuff.

  2. Inspired by your last post, I listened to Vauxhall and I twice this evening. You're right, it is the best solo album. And in my opinion, Ringleader of the Tormentors actually trumps Maladjusted as the dog of the pack.

    And re the guest room thing, as soon as I moved out, my brother nicked "my" room (which was bigger) and I was shuffled into what was definitely a guest bedroom every time I stayed at my parents' house. From what I can gather, my mum and P have now turned that room into some sort of home gym now...

  3. Cat - I listened to "Ringleader" the other day too, and although some of it is alright, the second half just doesn't do it for me. Needless to say, having missed "You Are The Quarry", the critics loved it and there were Morrissey features aplenty. He's 48 years old now, and he seems to have some magical hold on the music press, even when they hate him. Is there really so little charisma in the rest of the music business? I suppose that's probably it. Like I said the other day though, at his best, no one touches Moz and he's said more to me than any other musician. Doesn't mean he's perfect and beyond criticism though......