Sunday, 1 September 2013

August's Soundtrack

August flew by quickly, these are some of the things that made it more pleasant:

1. Ippu Do - Radio Fantasy (from Radio Fantasy, 1981)

Strange surf-music-meets-new wave-meets-techno from a Japanese band who looked like New Romantics.

2. Shining - (from V - Halmstad, 2008)

Most of Shining's work is pretty good - Halmstad is great, even if its epic, lush texture is too 'nice' for some black metal fans.

3. The Beastie Boys - Shadrach (from Paul's Boutique, 1989)

The perfect marriage of the Beastie Boys' wordplay and perfect timing and the Dust Brother's carefully layered, funky sampling.

4. The Beatles - I'm Happy Just to Dance With You (from A Hard Day's Night, 1964)

Happy, energetic, inventive and catchy rock-pop, from the height of Beatlemania. They may have been part of a whole movement of British rock & roll, but there aren't many records from 1964 that sound as fresh and ebullient as this. Which is why The Beatles were the biggest band of the era.

5. Pete Shelley - Yesterday's Not Here (from Homosapien,1981)

Buzzcocks frontman Pete Shelley's debut solo album is a patchy one, but it has some excellent, emotive post-punk/pop/synth tunes on it and this perky-but-wistful song is one of the best.

6. Tom Waits - Jitterbug Boy (from Heartattack & Vine, 1980)

Somehow sepia-toned Kerouac-esque drunken nostalgia; lovely.

7. Dissection - Where Dead Angels Lie (EP, 1996)

Even to a semi-Dissection-skeptic this is simply an excellent piece of melodic black metal, by far the best song in the band's discography.

8. Joy Division - Atmosphere (1980)

One of the best, least 'cold' songs from one of the key bands of the post-punk period. Bleak and (of course) atmospheric.

9. Blondie - Dreaming (from Eat to the Beat, 1979)

Eat to the Beat is often seen as the poor relative of Parallel Lines, but: Dreaming, Union City Blue, Atomic - it isn't.

10. The Cure - A Letter to Elise (from Wish, 1992)

Despite its hit status, Wish is a bit of a let-down after the run of albums The Cure released through the 80s. Sometimes (Friday I'm In Love) it's annoying too. But this song is great.

11. Eartha Kitt - Wear Your Love Like Heaven (from Not So Old Fashioned, 1972)

Ultra-creepy cover of an already slightly creepy Donovan classic.

12. The Smiths - Unloveable (1985)

B-side to Bigmouth Strikes Again is even better, almost a parody of The Smiths' perceived depressingness, perfect.

13. The Byrds - Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is A Season) (from Turn! Turn! Turn!, 1965)

From the unmistakeable chiming guitar intro onwards this is everything that was great about The Byrds encapsulated in one song.

14. Grant Green - The Final Comedown (from The Final Comedown, 1971)

Classic Blaxploitation soundtrack theme by one of the great jazz guitarists of the era; cool, funky and tough-yet-delicate.

15. Morrissey - Alsatian Cousin (from Viva Hate, 1988)

Morrissey's solo career kicked off with a song as unlike The Smiths as anything he has released since; Vini Reilly's very un-macho guitar heroics are the opposite of Johnny Marr's understated cool, but none the worse for that.

16. Peter, Paul & Mary - Early Mornin' Rain (1965)

Lovely version of the Gordon Lightfoot classic; could hardly be gentler or more wistful.

17. Neil Young - Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, 1969)

Yes, I've playlisted this before, but it's great in every respect and I listen to it a lot so why not?

18. Iron Maiden -  Flight of Icarus (from Piece of Mind, 1983)

One of the great metal albums of all time, and one of the great songs from it.

19. Rodriguez - Like Janis (from Cold Fact, 1970)

Wistful, sardonic Dylanesque song with great lyrics and perfect orchestration.

20. Striborg - Light Anomalies in the Phantom Woods (from Ghostwoodlands, 2007)

Spectral, minimal black metal that sounds extremely easy to do but still has an atmosphere you don't find anywhere else.

21. Front 242 - Tragedy for You (from Tyranny >For You<, 1991)

Belgian industrial techno that sounds a bit less intense and oppressive than it did at the time. Still good though.

22. Old Wainds - Death Nord Kult (from Death Nord Kult, 2008)

Invigoratingly icy black metal from Murmansk. Pleasingly whirring and non-progressive.

23. Daniel Johnston - I Remember Painfully (from Yip/Jump Music, 1983)

Just what the title suggests. Too many words to fit into the tune, but he makes it work. Funny and anguished, a rare combination.

24. Steve Reich - Different Trains (1988)

Hypnotic, emotionally charged composition for 'string quartet and tape' in which minimalist master Reich pieces together bits of interviews about various train journeys, generating melody from the patterns of speech and adding almost percussive strings.

25. Uriah Heep - Bird of Prey (from Salisbury, 1971)

Salisbury is far less cohesive than its predecessor Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble, but also more ambitious. Bird of Prey, the opening track, is probably the most straightforward hard rock song on the album & has excellent/ludicrous (depending on your taste) vocals by David Byron.

26. John Cale - A Child's Christmas in Wales (from Paris 1919, 1973)

Strange that such un-bluesy, atmospheric music could be made by (mainly) Little Feat, but the band's work on Paris 1919 underlines just what great musicians they (especially Lowell George) were. A delicate yet forceful song with Dylan Thomas-influenced lyrics.

27. F.U.S.E. - Into the Space (from Dimension Intrusion, 1993)

Pristine bleepy electronica from arguably Richie Hawtin's best period.

28. Archers of Loaf - South Carolina (from The Speed of Cattle, 1996)

"Grunge" to an almost retarded degree, this is nevertheless an excellent blast of mopey lumberjack-shirted rock.

29. The Rollers -Roxy Lady (from Ricochet, 1980)

By 1980 the ex-Bay City Rollers had musically morphed beyond all recognition, and Ricochet is a weird mix of hard(ish) rock, new wave and pop influences. This particular song is poppy, post-punk-glammy and catchy.

30. Daniel Sullivan - Reflections I (2011)

Lovely minimalist piano piece - simple and beautiful.

31. Eliwagar - Ice & Fire (from Memories of the Warrior Will, 2008)

Oddly percussive 'norse romantic folk music' made by a nature/myth/history-obsessed Viking age type of girl called Runahilde who plays all the instruments and writes and sings the strangely droning, archaic sounding songs. Her music now is more modern and rock/pop influenced but this album is uniquely remote and stark sounding.

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