Sunday, 23 March 2014

Music To Cut Grass By (Vol 1)

Springtime, and the chore of maintaining short grass begins. Listening to music while mowing improves the experience immensely but there are a few basic requirements:

* Strong melodies - even with large over-the-ear headphones the lawnmower I use makes enough of a noise that anything vague, complicated or very noisy isn't much use.

* a variety of artists/genres: mowing is monotonous enough already

* positivity! Not essential but nice, it would be a shame if the music made the chore worse

Here is the stuff that my mp3 player chose today that I didn't skip past:

Frank Zappa - Joe's Garage (from Joe's Garage, 1978)

Even though it initially sounds like the theme tune for some dodgy 70s sitcom, this is nostalgic and cheerfully cheesy in an atypical non-ironic way.

Heikki Hautala - Elävien kirjat (from Pyövelin vaatteet, 2013)

Sometimes a voice and an acoustic guitar is enough; no idea what he's singing about (it's in Finnish) but it is atmospheric as well as being forceful enough to win the aural battle with the mower.

Geto Boys - Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta (from Uncut Dope, 1992)

Just a great, tuneful piece of music. Also, without the Geto Boys I wouldn't know that gangsters took pride in not being able to run fast.

Collectress - Owl (from Mondegreen, 2014)

A lovely, strange, almost fragile piece of music by the hard-to-classify (but sometimes string quartet) experimental group

The Beach Boys - California Saga: Big Sur (from Holland, 1973)

Not the classic, early Beach Boys sunshine, but this beautiful, reflective waltz-time tune is just lovely.

Queens of the Stone Age - No One Knows (from Songs for the Deaf, 2002)

Almost-cheesy choice from their breakthrough album; big, obvious rock music - good.

Love - Live and Let Live (from Forever Changes, 1967)

This great troubled protest song somehow stays pleasant even while mentioning snot caking on pants.

Bathory - Hammerheart (from Twilight of the Gods, 1991)

Howard Shore's version of Tolkien's Song of the Lonely Mountain seems to have echoes of Quorthon's great ballad; probably just coincidence but seems appropriate.

Throwing Muses - Not Too Soon (from The Real Ramona, 1991)

Warm, sunny, lovely. Throwing Muses were always just a little bit better with Tanya Donnelly.

Nanette Scriba - The Cold Song (from Ich Bin Dran, 1989)

Breaks the mowing music rules but is invigoratingly chilly and powerful: cuts through mower noise and refreshes.

Loudon Wainwright III

Dimmu Borgir - Alt lys er svunnet hen (from Stormblåst, 1996)

I know Stian Aarstad pinched the piano intro from Magnum's Sacred Hour, but Dimmu needed it more (witness the vastly inferior rerecorded Stormblåst) and it makes a superb intro to one of many catchy, rock-ish songs from a highly underrated album.

Pixies - Havalina (from Bossanova, 1990)

The Pixies famously went 'soft' on Bossanova, but that means that there are lovely pieces of music like this one on there.

The Butthole Surfers - Jingle of a Dog's Collar (from ElectricLarryLand, 1996)

Accessible but still typically bizarre pop song by the reliably not-normal Butthole Surfers

Graveland - Prologue (from The Celtic Winter, 1994)

Yes, it breaks the rules of grass-cutting music in several ways, but this simple guitar & percussion instrumental is strangely soothing and atmospheric, even if not really sunny day music.

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