Friday 16 September 2016

I'm doing my face with magic marker....

Earworms of the Week

Shall we dance?

Alejandro” – Lady Gaga

To be fair, she’s never very far away from my head, but this particular song popped in the moment I read this top 10 list on the Guardian. I have to say, I’ve not really listened to all that much of her recent stuff. For me, you can’t go far wrong with the peerless trilogy of “Pokerface”, “Bad Romance” and “Paparazzi”… this one doesn’t really do all that much for. And yet here it is in my head.

Cargill” – King Creosote

“From Scotland With Love” is a beautiful album which, if memory serves me correctly, was released to coincide with the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and soundtracked a documentary of the same name. I was lucky enough to spend a few days up in Scotland for the games, and I had a great time at the sport but also in a really vibrant, interesting city. Kenny Anderson has released something ridiculous like 40 albums, but I only have two: this one and the one he did with Jon Hopkins in 2011, Diamond Mine, which is absolutely brilliant. Hmm. Maybe I should look into some of his other stuff, eh?

U Can’t Touch This” – MC Hammer

Ridiculous but brilliant. All the way from 1990 and still sounding as fresh now as it did then. I think those trousers might be back in fashion too.

Little Baby Nothing” – Manic Street Preachers

Originally intended as a duet with Kylie, but ultimately recorded with Traci Lords. I find it more or less impossible to listen to this song without thinking of the loaded significance of having Lords sing some of those lyrics. “used, used, used by men….

The Red and the Black” – Iron Maiden 


Look. Iron Maiden are one of my favourite ever bands. They represent a landmark in my shifting music taste when I was 13 years old and I still love them to bits now. I’m embarking on a project to revisit all of their albums (erm…. I’ve written about one and listened to the next one, so maybe that needs a bit more attention, eh?). Some of their recent material has been well-received, and this even received a pretty good review in the Guardian, of all places. It’s just that… well… it’s so far leaving me a little cold. Steve Harris has long denied any influence of punk in their music, which is nonsense if you listen to their first two albums in particular, but there has always been a faint element of prog about their work. They’re not afraid of a long song, anyway. This one is over thirteen minutes long and it’s not to the only one on this album over ten minutes either. It all sounds a bit over-worked to me. It’s fine that they are a different band now to the one that recorded The Trooper back in the day, but for a band with such unlimited resources, some of the production work here sounds a bit hokey – the scary voices that are clearly Bruce Dickinson through an effects mic being one example. They’re also terribly prone to mining the same old military clichés about war and suchlike. Perhaps I need to listen to it more… and I will… but it mostly makes me want to reach back for one of their golden era albums.

The Road” – Frank Turner

His gig in Nottingham in December sold out before I had a chance to get a ticket, but as I’m a relatively late convert to his charms (falling under his spell when he played with Billy Bragg at the Leftfield tent in 2015), perhaps it’s only fair to let the hardcore have their chance to enjoy him at a relatively intimate venue like Rock City. This is one of his older songs and speaks of a life spent on the road (Turner has famously done thousands of gigs and is one of the hardest working musicians on the live circuit). I own most of his back catalogue, but he’s another one that’s demanding a bit more attention that he’s probably not going to get as I download the MP3s for my choir tracks for this season….

Price tag” – Jessie-J
Swing Low Sweet Chariot” / “Abide With Me

…speaking of which. You couldn’t get two more contrasting songs than these, but that’s what we covered in our first session at choir this season. Swing Low has a lovely resonant bass part (although our musical director called it a “a song from the deep south” and called on us to channel our inner deep south, where perhaps it’s more honestly described as a “slave song”… and should a group of middle-aged white people really be channelling their inner slave?). Price Tag is obviously completely new to most of the choir who haven’t even heard it before, nevermind get their heads around the rap bit in the middle (which we’re singing, lest you’re too alarmed). Some great “uh”s and “yeah”s in the chorus too. Should be a fun season. Hopefully we won’t start learning the carols for a few weeks yet.

Look! Johnny Cash doing Swing Low!

King of the Road” – Roger Miller

A perennial earworm classic, even if I end up having to make up the lyrics halfway through as I can’t quite remember them…

Tilted” – Christine and the Queens

Not everyone’s cup of tea, for sure, but I’ve fallen for this record’s charms in a big way… I love the mix of French and English on her album too. Naturally, I had my chance to see her perform at Glastonbury and didn’t bother going. It doesn’t matter how many festivals I go to, there’s always a band that I fall in love with about a week after I’ve passed up the chance to see them. Interesting interview in the Guardian too. She has inevitably been called pretentious, but she seems like the real deal to me.

Well. That’s your lot. Have a good weekend, y’all.

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