Thursday 25 September 2008

to begin whipping dance of the dead....

Earworms of the Week

Yeah, so it's a day early. Well, today has been my Friday because I've taken the rest of the week off. The bad news is that I've taken the time off to attend a duty-wedding in Bath. Swings and roundabouts: not at work / at a tedious family wedding in the West Country. Never mind. At least it's a chance to catch up with my elder brother and his lovely wife and their adorable daughter (who is an excellent distraction tactic in the event of any awkward encounters with distant relatives.... "Look! A baby!"). We're staying at the reception venue on Friday night, but on Saturday we're booked into a splendid spa hotel and we're going to have a proper nice dinner and generally try to make a weekend of it.... C. certainly has an eye on the Mulberry Factory outlet, anyway.

And so to earworms. Genius may be good, but it'll never come up with a playlist like an earworms playlist.....

> "Graceland" - Paul Simon

I was listening to Paul Simon in the background last weekend as I pottered around. Obviously I know he's a brilliant songwriter, but it was this lyric that really caught my attention:

"She comes back to tell me she's gone,
As if I didn't know that
As if I didn't know my own bed,
As if I'd never noticed,
The way she brushed her hair from her forehead,
And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart,
Everybody sees you're blown apart,
Everybody sees the wind blow"

That's beautiful, isn't it? That's proper poetry, that is, set to deceptively upbeat music. You don't get that kind of craftsmanship from the Pigeon Detectives, do you?

> "Bulls on Parade" - Rage Against the Machine

Take it from me that this sounds almost completely unrecognisable when rendered on the bontempi organ. Well. I say that, but even on that instrument it's immediately obvious that the band in question is Rage Against the Machine, but I was damned if I could have named this song in the pub quiz the other night. I knew that it wasn't "Bullet in the Head" or "Killing in the Name" or anything like that, but where I was able to pluck "White Man (in Hammersmith Palais)" from the depths of my brain the other week, I totally failed to get this one. Still, the half point we got for recognising the band turned out to be enough for the Shadowy Cabal to win their third quiz title in a row. They won a fourth last night, actually, although I stayed in with my wife and LB, Hen and Sarah sailed the ship alone. We're now so regularly in gold medal position that the third placed team went by the name of "The Shadowy Kebab". When you've got your own tribute team in a quiz, perhaps it's politic to stop winning?

Nah, cobblers. I'll be back next week.....

> "Child Psychology" - Black Box Recorder

I think this followed on from listening to the first Auteurs album the other day. I've just gone out and bought "Passionoia", and it's a good album, but somehow it managed to plant this song into my head... and it's still by far my favourite by the band. Sarah Nixey is brilliant, and no one does ennui quite like her.

> "Red Morning Light" - Kings of Leon

I know they've got a new album out this week, and it seems decent enough, but as Statue John and I drove to the supermarket last weekend to pick up supplies before the golf started up again, there was only ever going to be one choice on the stereo.... SJ thinks they peaked with this album and that they'll never be quite this good again. Me, I think that they've been getting better and better with every album. They're playing arenas now, and they're one of the few proper rock bands around. I for one am glad that I got the chance to see them in much, much smaller and sweatier venues, but I love the fact that a band like this can have the number one single in the UK, and I love the fact that the UK was the country that really got them first. Look at that video though. Is it wrong that I'm nostaligic for that hair and those beards?

> "Sequestered in Memphis" - The Hold Steady

It took them a little while to grow on me, but now that they've seeped into my head, I love that rambling, shambling, story-telling vocal style. They're often called the biggest pub band in the world, but they're clearly far more accomplished than that. They're playing in Nottingham soon actually, so perhaps I should make the effort to go and see them. Harry Potter's favourite band, apparently.

Well, Daniel Radcliffe's anyway... although as he's a fan of landfill indie, I'm not sure quite how much of a recommendation that is.

> "I Told Her on Alderaan" - Neon Neon

I first saw this on the Mercury Prize show the other day, and it just sank its teeth into my brain and wouldn't let go. Yes, it's a rather obvious Star Wars reference, but I'd like to think that I can't shake it out of my head because it is absurdly catchy, and not just because I'm a nerd....

You believe me, right?

I bought the album actually, and it's pretty good. Retro-synthy US-style 1980s rock dedicated to the Delorean. Nice.

> Theme from Airwolf

Were you aware that this sounds almost identical when played backwards?

Well, you do now.

> "Night Terror" - Laura Marling

Another one that I saw on the Mercury Prize show, although to be fair this is an album that I'd heard of a fair while before, but had never quite got round to getting hold of. Marling played this song on the telly, and I was absolutely mesmerised by her and by the song, so at the first opportunity, I bought myself a copy of the album. As I was putting my PIN number into the machine at Fopp, the guy behind the counter opined that he thought that Marling had been robbed.

"Well, I quite like the Elbow album, to be fair," I replied.
"Well, I do too, but I've been completely unable to take this album off my stereo".

I now know what he means. It's a beautiful record.

> "Lost Myself" - Longpigs

I'm not sure what got me thinking about the longpigs. I think it was a combination of Richard Hawley's performance on "The Fix" on the last Elbow album, and a decision to listen to "Coles Corner" as I read my book the other evening. Richard Hawley, of course, used to be in the Longpigs. I remember them from the first time around, of course, and I particularly remember their long run of succesful singles in those hazy Britpop days (the clip above it their performance of this song on TFI Friday. Remember that? When I worked at HMV, you could guarantee that every Saturday morning would see a steady flow of people coming in looking to buy whatever it was that they'd heard on that show the night before....).

Anyway. I didn't buy the album back in the day, but whatever it was that brought them to mind, inspired me enough to order the album for £5 off t'internet.... and it's a corker. A couple of songs remind me oddly of The Las, but there's some really good stuff on here, and it hasn't really dated either. A good band and a welcome rediscovery.

> "Blackened" - Metallica

I've spent a fair bit of time listening to "Death Magnetic", but although it's really quite good, it seems to have driven me back to the first Metallica album that I ever owned.... "...And Justice For All". I bought that on cassette, and wasn't really sure what to make of it for quite a long time before it finally clicked with me. It's full of long, intricate songs with multiple changes of pace. It's really pretty heavy, and it's bloody brilliant. I'd actually forgotten quite how good it was until I put it on in the car the other day, and after that surging, orchestral beginning, this song kicks in. It is immense. There's simply no other way that I can describe it, and I've been listening to it pretty much non-stop all week.


(my Genius playlist based upon "Blackened"?

The Trooper - Iron Maiden
Night Train - Guns N'Roses
Go With the Flow - Queens of the Stone Age
Paranoid - Black Sabbath
Suck My Kiss - RHCP
Renegades of Funk - Rage Against the Machine
Wave of Mutilation - The Pixies

Do I need to go on? Genius rocks!)

Anyway. That's it. Have a good weekend y'all.


  1. "Sequestered In Memphis" is one of my favourite tracks off the current Hold Steady album, and Craig Finn was my best interviewee in ages: articulate and thoughtful. You should definitely join us at Rock City on Oct 5th!

  2. I'll be interested to hear what your opinion of the new Kings Of Leon album is after a few more listens, swiss.
    I think it's their best.

  3. I'm definitely in favour of Sequested - it bugged us so much as an earworm we picked up the album! Laura Marling was a recommendation from our friend George and I'm totally recommending it to friends (not sure she was robbed at the Mercs but if she had won I would have been really chuffed: she's only about 12 isn't she [sic]?!)
    And as for 'Lost Myself' - dear lord that song just sinks me everytime. I think it's the way that he chokes on 'I cannot speak'. Bloody fantastic.

  4. I knew you'd like Laura Marling! Fey, but rather lovely, no?

  5. There is no better chorus in the history of pop than...

    "Life is unfair, kill yourself or get over it."

    Black Box Recorder are quite quite wonderful.

  6. "You don't get that kind of craftsmanship from the Pigeon Detectives, do you?"

    You can say that again.

    Wrote my own post praising Sequestered In Memphis today, before reading yours.

    And Child Psychology from Ms. Nixey? Yes, please.