Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Summer's Over

Is it that time already? The month went by so fast. They all seem to, now, don't they? Not sure if it's age or inaction. I guess if you never go anywhere or do anything the days will tend to blur.

Here we are again, anyway. Another monthly musical roundup. Explanatory notes at the end this time. Anyone who's been here before knows. Anyone who hasn't can work it out as they go. We're all smart cookies here.

This month's selection is a little more interesting than last month's, I hope. It should be. I made an effort. I thought I'd let the side down a little. If "Mainstream" had been a radio show I might have been turning the dial before we were halfway through. If radios still had dials. If we still had radios.

Enough with the self-recriminations. This is supposed to be a party! Let's crack on.

The Magic Position - Patrick Wolf - This has been up before but not as a title tune. What a great opener, though. I love this song. It's so bright and upbeat and confident and cheerful. Professional, too. At least, on the surface. And yet, if you watch the video closely, you can see Patrick almost miss his mark several times. He's concentratiing so hard, trying to make it look like he knows what he's doing but he's so nervous. It's cute! I mean, I'm sure he does know what he's doing. He's been a performer since he was eleven years old. But he seems so young, as though it's all new to him. He was going places, once, but then he had a bad car accident . Nothing from him for five years. Come back, Patrick.

Into Her Wonderworld - The Best Thing - Ivy - This! This right here. This is the reason I choose these titles and write these posts! How did I not know Ivy before? Would I ever have found them if I hadn't searched on "wonderworld" for a title? Scary to think about, isn't it? Reminds me of Autour de Lucie, so much. Hold on a sec. I'm just going to add the album to my wishlist, right now...

Big Blue Diamonds - Willy de Ville - This  one was a bit of a challenge. The title was too neat not to use but every version I found was horrible. I'm not sure it's a very good song, to be honest. Then in comes Willy to the rescue. I saw Mink de Ville supporting I don't remember who, sometime in the mid/late 70s. They were touring behind the first album, I think, and all anyone knew was Spanish Stroll, which made #20 in the U.K. charts. Still all anyone knows, which is a damn shame because they had a whole string of tunes as strong and some of them didn't even sound all that much like Lou.

But Regardless You're Mine - L.A. Who Am I To Love You? - Lana del Rey - Yes, I know it's in the post that uses the title. Yes, I know the post is actually about it. Yes, I know that invalidates the entire purpose of this post. Don't care. Can't make me!

(Anyone get the feeling I'm about to wear out my italics key? Not to mention my exclamation mark?)

There's Been A Change Of Plan - Go On - Superstereo - Not sure about a change of plan but definitely a change of pace. Gorgeous, isn't it? Isn't it? I don't know any more.

Knowing Me, Knowing You - (ABBA) - Evan Dando - Oh, boy, did I ever think twice before using this one. But it was the right title for the post. Sometimes you just have to suck it up. I really, really don't like ABBA. I didn't like them at the time and I like them even less now we're all supposed to believe they come second only to the Beatles in the pop classic stakes. I don't even like the Beatles all that much. I was relying on finding an ironic cover but there don't seem to be any because everyone treats ABBA songs like holy writ. I almost settled for Elvis Costello, only I'm not exactly keen on him, either. For me he's the epitome of "I liked his early, funny stuff". After somewhere around the fourth or fifth album, yeah, not so much. Thank god for Evan Dando, and not for the first time.

Expedite The Process - You Can Quit, You Can Do It - The Foxsmiths - What a great name. You'd have to be pretty confident to call yourself the Foxsmiths, wouldn't you? It's odd they never turned up on any of the searches I've done over the years for "fox" bands but better now than never. Can't tell you much about them. They're on Bandcamp and Facebook but the former has nothing to show me and the latter won't show me what it has (and I'm not going to link to it, either, so suck on that, Nick Clegg!). Most of their stuff seems to be on YouTube anyway, so you can just listen to it like I did. It's all pretty good, although the one video of them playing live does them no favors at all. Emo-shouty is a style that rarely works for me. Even so, it's worth checking out for the single, quite magnificent comment. It could be a short story.

They kind of remind me of the Student Teachers in places, or Sufjan Stevens, maybe. They definitely have that 1980s New York loft feel, which is impressive considering they're from twenty-teens Suffolk, Virginia. They have a song called Donald Trump that starts with a long sample of him making a speech but I can't catch the lyrics. I'm guessing they don't like him. I'd bet he wouldn't like them. They're very strong on titles, with a knack of making you want to find out what they're driving at: I Hope Everyone Is Happy Someday, Can Patrick Come Outside And Play?, I Fell Down The Stairs... . It's a good trick. Well, it works on me...

... and that's more than enough about the Foxsmiths.

And The Cat Came Back - The Cat Came Back - There are a million versions of this, most of them labored and painful. This is neither. I have no idea why I added an extraneous "and". I must have thought it was in the song but it's not. And it shouldn't be. Also, didn't I do cats vs foxes already? Oh, and that was where I used the Patrick Wolf before, too. Meta, much?

No Better Crosswalk - One Way Road - Nerea Bassart Trio - What a return to form after that disappointing July result, eh? Here's another cracking find. Never heard of these guys before. They're from Spain, which has an amazing music scene. I was looking for songs about what we in the U.K. call zebra crossings, that stripey thing the Beatles walk across on the cover of Abbey Road. This was by far the best I found.

Room With A View - Oh, where do we start? This is the first of three generic phrases I used last month, all of which turned out to be keys to the kingdom when it came to picking a song. I made lists and I'm going to use them. We'll have the lot - and trust me, there were plenty more. First up and featured above, old friends of the blog, Pizzicato Five.
  • Wall of Voodoo - more old favorites. No video, sadly.
  • Deco - bizarre 20s pastiche from, I think, the Netherlands. Quite, quite horrible. But fascinating.
  • Lou Rawls -Smooth, Lou, smooth.
  • The Interrupters - Ska-punk without the ska.
  • Echo Courts - Oh, that melody's familiar... and do you think the video was filmed on an iPhone?
  • Blondie (Picture This)- Yes, ok, I could just have run with this one. Honestly? I really didn't think of it until I'd got this far down the list. I'm getting old.
  • Mexico City Blondes (Colors) - This is so relaxing. Just soak it in.
  • Funboy 3 (Tunnel of Love) - Did I save the best 'til last? Maybe.
Saw A Cyclops - Blackout - Lupe Fiasco - When I searched lyrics.com for songs that used the word "cyclops" I was expecting a bunch of metal and prog tosh. I wasn't expecting this. I'd never listened to Lupe before, either, which is totally my loss. Ye gods, this is strong. I'm not going to pretend I know flow but geez, you don't need to be an afficianado to feel the finesse. I'd listen to way more hip hop if I knew where to start.

Sleeping Behind Memories Are Beasts - You Blow The World Away - Cats From Alpha - This is going to be one of those sublime>ridiculous>sublime things now, isn't it? Four views on YouTube. How do they record those, anyway? I mean, I've watched it more than four times, just putting the two posts together. Does it filter by IP address or something? They have a website. I say "website"... Doesn't tell you much but it looks nice.

Ultraviolence - Lana del Rey - I'll see your four views and raise you sixty million. This really was filmed on an iPhone 6. With a filter, evidently. I remember the song, the whole album, being controversial back in 2014. Should still be now.

Again Again Again -  Mini-compilation #2. I could probably do a whole series of posts just on songs that go "again again again". They'd all be good and none of them would be Status Quo. That's Scott Walker up above the title, there, by the way, telling us how he's not The World's Strongest Man. Oh, you knew that? I'd love to hear Lana cover it, with no lyric change.
  • My Medicine - The Pretty Reckless - They were always a little rockist for my tastes but this is a good one. It's rocky as hell, though, so I obviously have no idea what I even like any more.
  • Albatross - FOALS - I get FOALS and Hinds mixed up in my mind, which is stupid even for me. I wish this was Hinds but you can't always have what you want. It builds nicely, anyway. Could do without those vocals, though...

  • Daylight Robbery - Imogen Heap - Sometimes I question my sanity. I always thought Imogen Heap was an actor. How did I get that so wrong?
  • Wedding Song - Psychedelic Furs - They just reformed and made a new album and it's supposed to be good. Still waiting for someone to buy me the Love Spit Love CD that's been on my Amazon wishlist for years...
  • 100 Flower Power Maximum - Cracker -For many years it was considered to be a truism that bands with a single-word name ending in "...er" were doomed to commercial and/or artisitic failure. Even now, I think it's taking an unecessary risk.
  • Would've Been The One - Solange - This is... I mean... why has it taken me until now to pay attention to Solange? Wake up, man!
Now We Craftin' - Mornin' Rise - De La Soul Feat. Raheem deVaughn - They're talking about crafting songs, something they do better than just about anyone.

School's Out - Alice Cooper - Not gonna tell the story again. The one about how I heard School's Out for the first time on the radio when I was about thirteen years old and didn't catch who it was by and then saw it was a new entry in the charts later that week by some woman called Alice Cooper and felt so annoyed it had been covered and probably ruined and then saw this very performance on Top of the Pops... Yeah, that story. I had a lot to learn about women, music and gender. Annabella Lwin could have taught me, although not in 1972 she couldn't. She would've been six.

Just A Preview - All Licketty Split - Solex - So many Solex tunes and every one a winner. Perfect blogging music.

Long Tails And Ears For Hats - Josie and the Pussycats - Julianna Hatfield and Tanya Donnelly -  Two indie superstars having a blonde moment. "Check out the tail on Alexandra". You just try and stop me!

 Imaginary Friends - Third of the portmanteau phrases. Many, many songs use it for a title, either in the singular or the plural. Countless more stuff it into the lyric somewhere. It's amazing how not very good they almost all are. Like too many people, apparently, I have a bit of a thing about imaginary friends. I'd love to do a whole post on the topic sometime but first I'm going to have to find some better examples.

Working with what we have, starting with the one above, how about
  • Imaginary Friend - Tove Lo - Seen her name a thousand times but I think this is the first time I ever listened to anything by her. Does justice to the concept, I think. Nice pop groove under a borderline horror video that doesn't go where you think it's going. Worth watching to the end.
  • Imaginary Friend - Catatonia - Always liked her voice. She can blast it out when she wants to but this is appropriately fragile where it needs to be. "Me and my imaginary friend/Have been going round the bend/For some time now". I wouldn't doubt it, Cerys.
  • Imaginary Friend - MØ - Another name I know but haven't bothered to listen to before. Not sure I'm going to again, on the strength of this.
  • Imaginary Friend - ABSRDST - And again with the horror theme. One of those songs where once you've heard it with the video you can't hear it without the video.
  • Imaginary Friend - Freezepop - "Imaginary Friend" is the title of the song which is the title song of the album entitled "Imaginary Friends". Some people just like to be difficult.
  • Imaginary Friends - Molly Moore - You know that question people always ask? "If you could have any superpower, what would it be?" and the answer is always either "flying" or "invisibility"? Those are good choices but I think I might go for "knowing the exact sub-genre of any song when I hear it ". This is some kind of trap, I believe. In more ways than... oh, you're ahead of me.
  • Imaginary Friends - Japanese Wallpaper - They're no Japanese Breakfast but I like the colors in the video. And the sadness.
  • Imaginary Friends - Lightning Seeds - I think he's equating "imaginary friends" with "internet friends", which is such an old-person-in-the-nineties trope. Hard to tell, though, with the lyric seeming so unfinished.

Do You Like My Content? - Like Envy - Weeping Icon - Hey! They do still make songs like this! In Brooklyn, anyway.

You'll Love The New World -  Rocket 69 - Connee Allen, backed by Todd Rhodes and His Toddlers - Hell, they still make songs like this, and it'll be seventy years old next year.

Beginning Of The End - The Deverell Twins - Black Box Recorder - I'm not sure anyone's ever made songs like Black Box Recorder, though. I wish they would. This is another of those generic phrases that boatloads of bands have used but we're not going through any of that this time because as soon as I found this one I stopped looking.

A Whole New World Of Adventure - Explorer Girls Anthem - Dora The Explorer - I've made several characters that used variations on Dora the Explorer's name but I've never seen the show or the movie.

Across 110th - Across 110th Street - Bobby Womack - One of my all-time favorite soul-funk classics, it's a hard song to pin down. The original was written by Bobby Womack for the blaxploitation movie of the same name, where it underscores the opening credits. That's a leaner, harder version than the more familiar, orchestrated take Quentin Tarantino used for the same purpose in his own blaxploitation tribute and best film, Jackie Brown. Hard to say which I prefer. I suppose I must have heard the Tarantino first, although I don't recall the song having the impact on me then that it did when I came upon the original in the middle of a blaxploitation movie soundtrack jag on You Tube. In either arrangement, it's one of those songs - and there are many of them - that hits like a truck first the first time you step in front of it, but whose impact fades with familiarity. I think it's a particular problem for songs of social comment, which this one very much is. Just to be deliberately awkward, the version I've pulled out above is the original movie with the arrangement Tarantino preferred dubbed in.

Let's Submerge - X-Ray Spex - We came in strong and we're going out the same way. The original U.K. punk bands that have aged the best are, surprise, surprise, the ones who cleaved least to the heterodoxy of the times. Laura Logic's demented sax and Poly Styrene's emotional availablity lifted them high above the herd even at the time but the long years have settled on their shoulders like a mantle of authority. This was one of their crowd-pleasers and it pleases me plenty. Lots of variations available, like the demo and the Roxy and the Hope and Anchor. All good.

And we're out.

Last month I finished with the title of the post itself, Mainstream, which was wrong, wrong, wrong! Not making that mistake again. Also, Summer's Over is too good to bury way down here, not when I can lead with it next time. And by then summer really will be over...

Full song titles used as post titles (even if altered)  - Large, Bold, Green Quotes from lyrics used as titles (even if altered) - Large, Bold, Blue Original titles from which quotes were drawn - Small, Italic, Bold, Green All other music - Small, Italic, Green


  1. Thank goodness for School's Out. Were it not for that Alice Cooper classic, I'd have been forced into drastic measures to get rid of that ABBA earworm.

    1. Luckily, if you live in this country all you can hear when you see the words "Knowing Me, Knowing You" is Alan Partridge going "AHA!"


      Quick, play some Yes....

  2. I was interested in the band Ivy you mentioned, started listening to their songs, realized I had heard them on the For the Kids album I have and then discovered one of the members, Adam Shlesinger, died of complications from COVID 19 on April 1. Odd trip but thanks for taking me on it.


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