Another ups-and-downs-y month, another list of songs...
1. DPERD - Non É Il Ciello (from Kore, My Kingdom Music, 2013)
Early in the year for beautiful autumnal melancholy but this is a lovely song from the Italian duo's forthcoming and somewhat ravishing album.
2. Souls of Mischief - 93 'til Infinity (from 93 'til Infinity, BMG, 1993)
Classic laidback, jazz-inflected hip-hop, tuneful, articulate, funny and despite the title, not at all dated.
3. Kanon Wakeshima - Still Doll (single, 2008)
Gothic-Lolita Jpop Cellist made this atmospheric bit of creepy goth-pop for the Vampire Knight soundtrack; kind of like The Cure's Lullaby for the 21st century, only more fragile and nicer.
4. The Tempters - Tell Me More (from 5-1=0, 1969)
One of the great Japanese Group Sounds acts, The Tempters may have been less wild than some of their contemporaries, but they made up for it with some excellent self-written material, such as this gently funky, Zombies-flavoured classic.
5. Bessie Smith - Nobody's Blues But Mine (Columbia, 1925)
There was no such thing as 'production' in 1925 but the songs from this session featuring Elmer Snowdon on banjo and Bob Fuller on clarinet have a distinctively cold and echoey sound that has made them among Bessie Smith's least admired works; but here that sound is itself part of what makes this a unique and haunting piece of music.
6. Pixies - Here Comes Your Man (from Doolittle, 4AD, 1989)
The most commercial moment from probably the Pixies most good-yet-accessible album, this is simply a great pop song, albeit with somewhat seedy subject matter.
7. Sammi Smith - Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down (from Help Me Make It Through The Night, Mega 1970)
Country music is perhaps my least favourite of all musical genres, but Sammi Smith is simply a great soulful singer. This is cheesy but also mournful and just plain nice.
8. Tom Waits - Soldier's Things (from Swordfishtrombones, Island, 1983)
Basically a poignant list of mundane items, this is a beautiful piece of music from Tom Waits' reinvention as an experimental artist.
9. Pulp - I Want You (from Freaks, Fire, 1987)
Pulp's lack of success pre-1992 or so remains something of a mystery. Even though a morbid and unsettling album, Freaks is full of catchy melodies and clever lyrics; and just plain miserable songs of unrequited longing like this one.
10. Hardingrock - Daugingen (from Grimen, Candlelight, 2007)
The folk-rock-metal project of experimental electro-pop artist Starofash (Heidi Tveitan), her husband (Norwegian black metal maestro) Ihsahn and legendary Hardanger fiddler Knut Buen is not all great, but when it gels, such as on this seamless mix of atmospheric electronica, rock and folk, it's unique and beautiful.
11. Morrissey - How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel? (from You Are The Quarry, Attack, 2004)
Even by Morrissey's standards, You Are The Quarry was a confrontational album, but as so often it's hard deny the logic of what he says.
12. Linda Alexandersson - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (from Pure Fucking Mayhem OST, 2009)
The soundtrack to the documentary about the seminal black metal band Mayhem is an excellent selection of themes from the music of Mayhem and other BM bands played by pianist Linda Alexandersson; eerie, spectral, she somehow brings out the essence of extreme and heavy music using only bare, echo-laden piano.
13. Kiss - Got to Choose (from Hotter Than Hell, Casablanca, 1974)
Kiss' second album is blessed/cursed with a peculiar production that makes it sound much heavier than their debut, kind of muffled at low volumes but great (and 'live' sounding) when played loud. At this point the band were still interested in music and Got To Choose is, though at first not an obvious choice for an opening track, being too slow and draggy to be anthemic, it is nevertheless gains in power with each listen, a Paul Stanley classic.
14. The House of Love - Hope (from The House of Love, Creation, 1988)
A somewhat neglected indie classic these days, The House of Love were completely 'post-Smiths' without sounding anything like The Smiths. Singer Guy Chadwick and guitarist Terry Bickers' partnership was shorter-lived than Morrissey/Marr but produced classic songs aplenty; this is perhaps one of the best.
15. The Velvet Underground - That's The Story of My Life (from The Velvet Underground, Verve, 1969)
The Velvet Underground's subdued third album is mellow, warm and packed with great songs. The production is non-existent but a notable advance on White Light/White Heat. This is just a very nice song sung by a weary sounding Lou Reed.
16. Dylan Thanh - Balanced Voice Song (from Hò! #1 - Roady Music from Vietnam 2000, Trikont, 2000)
This peculiar song mainly consists of an approximate cover of the Bee Gees' I Started a Joke with somewhat garbled lyrics and a strange semi-yodelled intro. Despite a lot of background noise (it sounds as though it was recorded live in some kind of cafe or canteen, which is possible) and an only nearly-in-tune acoustic guitar it's a strangely moving performance.
17. Sonic Youth - (I Got A) Catholic Block (from Sister, SST, 1987)
On Sister, Sonic Youth created the perfect blend of chaotic experimental noise and catchy rock and Catholic Block is the perfect example; funny, clever, noisy but concise.
18. Black Sabbath - Hand of Doom (from Paranoid, NEMS, 1970)
Minimalist, groove-laden and (of course) doomy, Black Sabbath simply do this kind of music better than anyone else.
19. Archers of Loaf - South Carolina (single, Stay Free, 1992)
Almost a parody of grunge in its absolute derivativeness, this is still a great, messy rock song.
20. Yukari Fresh - For Mary Kathleen (from Grrl, Summer Cape Kid etc, 2008)
Sometimes lazily described as a female Cornelius, Yukari Fresh does share an interest in quirky electronica and pop music and has a fairly extensive but always interesting back catalogue to explore.
21. Klaus Nomi - Cold Song (from Klaus Nomi, RCA, 1981)
Who wouldn't want a song by 18th Century composer Purcell with lyrics by his contemporary Dryden to be sung by a robotic German new wave counter tenor with mime-ish tendencies?
22. Badly Drawn Boy - Degrees of Separation (from Born in the UK, Twisted Nerve, 2006)
A beautiful and moving song from one of Damon Gough's not-quite-classic albums.
23. The Cure - Accuracy (from Three Imaginary Boys, Fiction, 1979)
An atmospheric, catchy new wave/punk pop classic from The Cure's pre-goth era.
24. Smoking Popes - Days Just Wave Goodbye (from Get Fired, Johann's Face, 1993)
Despite their awful name, Smoking Popes were probably the only US alternative band to be significantly influenced by The Smiths without sucking all the time. An almost-anthemic Morrissey-esque indie rock song basically.
25. The Marshallettes Trio with Linda Bratton - Heaven Came Down (from The Marshallettes Trio with Linda Bratton, Pilgrim, 1966)
Three choir girls and their music teacher singing about Jesus makes for a surprisingly affecting album; it does grate after a while though. This is the first and maybe best song on the record.
26. Half Japanese - Put Some Sugar On It (from The Band That Would Be King, 50 Skidillion Watts, 1989)
"Put some sugar on it honey/put some honey on it sugar" etc etc: genius.
27. Funeral In Heaven - The Winds of Uva (Wellasse Satana) (live) (from Shaanthikarma, self-release, 2010)
Sri Lanka's Funeral in Heaven are one of the more interesting black metal bands of nowadays and The Winds of Uva is an old-school classic, less influenced by Sri Lankan folk music than much of their output, but excellent nonetheless.
28. The Beatles - Sexy Sadie (from The Beatles, Apple, 1968)
One of the many reasons that the White Album is their best. A bit silly, but how much sillier would it have sounded if they had just sung it as 'Maharishi' as originally intended?