Friday 16 October 2009

I'll follow you until you love me....

Earworms of the Week

> "Harold of the Rocks" - Primus

Amazingly, in spite of having quite a few of their albums, I don't actually have any Primus ripped onto my iPod. That's a situation that must change. How can anyone manage without some gloriously random, almost jazzy, bass driven metal on their portable MP3 player? I ask you? This song is on "Frizzle Fry", an album that I discovered when I was about 16 years old and have pretty much loved ever since. It reminds me, inevitably, of that emotional scene in Neighbours when Harold Bishop is lost, apparently swept out to sea, and all that remains are his glasses that are discovered in a rock pool. Heart breaking.

> "America" - Razorlight

Their first album was promising, with perhaps even some signs that there might be some substance behind Johnny Borrell's boasting. The second album promptly delivered them a number one single, but -- for me anyway -- was resolutely "meh". When the next album comes out, whenever that's going to be, I don't think I'll be bothering. Lightweight and with far too big an opinion of their own greatness. Still, this is a pretty decent song.

> "Monkey Gone to Heaven" - The Pixies

lots of incomprehensible screaming about the devil being six and God being seven? Brilliant, obviously.

> "Blue Skies" - Noah and the Whale

Breaking up with Laura Marling may well have hurt like a bastard at the time, but if the result of all that pain is an album as good as "The First Days of Spring", then -- from my point of view anyway -- it's got to have all be worthwhile, right? A breakup album, and no mistake, but superb.

> "Goddess on a Hiway" - Mercury Rev

One of the joys of finally making my iTunes available wirelessly is that I am now actively listening to music in the bedroom. Yes, I know that this is ridiculous: I have an iPod; I have speakers; I have various stereos I could move about the house... but the fact remains that in several years I have had access to all of these things, and I have mainly been entirely without music in the bedroom. Stick an Airport Express into the bedroom, and suddenly I'm listening to music all the time. Stupid, but there you go..... Anyway, one of the albums I listened to this week whilst reading my book was "Deserter's Songs" was released in 1998, but I reckon it sounds as perfectly out of time now as it did back then. It's superb. This is the best song on it by a country mile, of course, but it's a fantastic ethereal album.

> "Age of Revolution" / "Gentlemen & Players" - Duckworth Lewis

A concept album about cricket by the man behind The Divine Comedy? What a dreadful idea. Except that, actually, it works. Yes, "Jiggery Pokery" is probably the song that captures the headlines, but actually it's the least typical song on the album. The musical style varies hugely across the album, but the main thread is that all of the songs are loosely themed about cricket. "Age of Revolution" charts how the game has changed from being run by the Gentlemen to being taken over by the upstart players who are now "driving Bentleys, playing Twenty20". "Gentlemen & Players" is a more pastoral number, with a distinctly sepia-tinged view of the game. Sounds ridiculous, but sounds fantastic. Seriously, you should give it a go.

> "The Living Daylights" / "The Sun Always Shines on TV" - A-ha

Sad news this week that the legendary A-ha have split up. Their heyday was in the 1980s, but they never actually split up, taking a hiatus in 1994, but coming back together in 1998. You might not have heard anything new by them since something like 1988, but actually their 2002 album "Analogue" is actually really good (I must have listened to "Celice" alone hundreds of times... although that's at least partially because it's the very first track on my iPod on alphabetical order by artist, and if I hit the wrong button, that's the song that starts playing....). Their second album, "Scoundrel Days", was actually one of the very first albums that I ever owned. They're a big part of my life and I'm really sad to hear that they've finally called it a day. "The Living Daylights" is hardly their finest or best known song, but I like it as it manages to be both an A-ha song and also recognisably a James Bond theme tune. I also love the Nordic froideur and restrained passion that courses through "The Sun Always Shines on TV". Fantastic band. They'll be missed.

> "California Uber Alles" - Dead Kennedys

I was aware of "Too Drunk To Fuck", of course... but quite how good this song is was only latterly revealed to me. It's not just the choppy guitar riffs (although they're pretty damn good), it's the syncopation in the chorus

"California Uber Alles
California Uber Alles
Uber Alles California
Uber Alles California

Zen fascists will control you
100% natural
You will jog for the master race
And always wear the happy face"

Brilliant, brilliant record.

> "Karma Police" - Radiohead

...Speaking of brilliant records. "OK Computer" came out when I was working on the shopfloor of HMV York. Initially I was delighted to have a decent record to listen to whilst working instead of the usual succession of crappy "Now" albums, the Spice Girls or Ministry of Sound compiliations.... and then the constant repetition managed to kill it for me. It took me a good few years and a good pair of headphones before I realised quite how good this album really was. "Lucky" is probably my favourite song on the album, followed closely by "Exit Music (for a film)" - which works especially well through headphones as you can hear every catch as Thom Yorke takes a breath. You can't really argue with this song though, and the video is somehow archetypally Radiohead-y too, with Yorke looking especially miserable (not quite as archetypal as "No Surprises" though, it has to be said). I'm not massively keen on anything they've done since, but they remain a damn good band and few bands scale heights like this.

> "Paparazzi" - Lady Gaga

Gaga is something of a guilty pleasure of mine. I've nothing against pop, but it seems to me that there's something a little bit arty and edgy about Gaga. Yes, a lot of the album tracks are not all that far removed from other performers (like Pink), and she can sometimes seem a bit forced when interviewed (as she did on Jonathan Ross a while back), but the real standout tracks are something different. They're catchy, of course, but they seem to deal with sometimes quite dark lyrical themes - rough sex, for instance, seems to crop up several times. There's also something of an air of melancholy underneath all the glitz and shiny production sheen. Maybe I'm overanalysing. One thing's for sure: I'm certainly analysing it more than 22 y.o. at work, who seemed troubled by the question of whether he found Gaga attractive or not. Well, anyway. I like this song. I find it slightly haunting.


Right. That's your lot. The weekend is here and I have the prospect of buying some more speaker cables ahead of me as the development of my man room starts to take shape. I hope your weekend is somewhere near as exciting as that..... stay classy.


  1. California Uber Allis

    My God, I havn't heard or thought about that song for almost 25 years. OUTSTANDING.. Nicely done ST

  2. I have a spare a-Ha ticket for their gig in Birmingham next month if you're interested (suddenly worth much more than it was a few days ago...!)

  3. It's the suede denim secret police
    They have come for your uncool niece!

  4. I love Lady Gaga, I think she is aces.

    And probably a bit arty with intellectual and slightly noir lyrics, too, like you were saying. :)