Monday, May 31, 2021

May Songs

Three days 'til the end of the month. I guess I'd better get on with it. That's about how long it takes to put one of these things together. 

It goes faster if the tunes flow. Sometimes I try to work on that as I go along but most days it takes me longer than I'd like just to come up with a title at all. I don't have time to keep an eye on continuity too.

From memory, this wasn't a very inspired month. I seem to recall a few flat patches. Maybe I can fix that in edit. I'll try to show my workings a bit more than usual, too. That was, after all, the original reason for doing these posts. 

April Songs - April Song - Biker Boy - He's a Swede. He calls himself a boy but he looks like a man. He might be fifty from the pictures I've seen. I'd lay odds he's no biker, either. He can't seem to decide whether he wants to be the Pet Shop Boys or Morrissey so he's going with both and it's working for him. Nice found footage video, too, although I don't think he had anything to do with it.

Truth  In Advertising - Negativeland - I was originally going to use The Kids Are The Future by the Faction, which uses the phrase in the lyric. I found it in the usual way, a search on, but when I came to listen to it again for this post I realized I didn't really like it. I thought I might be able to do better so I just typed "truth in advertising song" directly into YouTube. I've done that a few times of late. I'm finding it gives better results. Or at least different.

YouTube had several exact matches for the title. I would generally rather use a full song than a fragment of lyric. It seems more, oh, I don't know, organic? Authentic? Honest? Aesthetically pleasing? All of the above. Can't always find one, though.

I picked one and listened to it. It was Truth In Advertising by Presque Vu. I liked it a lot more than the Faction. It had been on YouTube for four years and it had zero views. Not one person has ever heard it. That's an impressive non-achievement. I felt a bit guilty for spoiling the perfect zero.

And in the end I didn't use it anyway. I listened to Negativeland and liked it more. Plus it has a video. That would have swung it, anyway.


Take My Money - Addicted - Juliana Hatfield Three -  The problem with obsessing on videos is that sometimes the version that has one isn't as good as the version that hasn't. I love Juliana Hatfield but this live take with the reformed Three isn't really a patch on the studio original. Other times, of course, the video version is better than the studio recording. I always link the "offical" version under the title if the video I use is different so everyone can hear both and make up their own mind. As if anyone cares. 

But I care. Mark Kermode, the film critic, has a whole raft of idiosyncratic things he won't do while a movie is playing, even if he's the only one there, because to do them would be disrespectful, not just to the film-makers but to the movie itself and quite possibly to the abstract concept of cinema. I think he sounds crazy when he says things like that but then I do things like this because it would just be, yes, disrespectful not to include the original recording, even though I know no-one is going to click the link and listen to it. But I don't do it with covers. I won't bring out the "foolish consistency" quote again.

Gallic Shrug - No. 1 Party Anthem - Arctic Monkeys - Well, this is all falling in to place, isn't it? After that last existential digression the only reasonable response is a gallic shrug. I have seriously not listened to enough Arctic Monkeys. I love the last album to death, the one the fans weren't so sure about, but the older stuff I haven't studied closely enough. I'll get right on that.

Rusty Time Machine - Lethargy - Guided By Voices - I learn so much doing these posts. I've known there was a band called Guided By Voices for as long as I can remember. I had a notion they were some kind of semi-acoustic, folk-rock act. Yeah, well, I got that wrong. If I'd have known they were on Matador it's a mistake I wouldn't have made. You can learn a lot from the label.

I started out just looking for songs about time machines, not rusty ones. The rust was a bonus. There are a lot of songs called, exactly, "Time Machine". can offer you three dozen. I listened to a few but the only one I liked was this one. It's by a Czech band called Vivian Void. That's them in the video. It isn't always so I thought I'd mention it. Made me think of Daisies and even more of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders . It's very Czech.

Live Or Dead? - Shwingalokate - De La Soul - No video, not that it needs one. I own the album it comes from but I haven't listened to it for a long time. I did consider going with Deathwish by Vice Squad. Not because I like it, although I don't not like it, but because I regularly used to end up on the last bus home with Beki Bondage, the singer. Not with her, with her. Just on the same bus as her. She always used to sit right at the back. Probably a punk thing. Vice Squad are still around and Beki barely looks any older than she did then. Given that she has to be no more than a couple of years younger than me, that's slightly freaky.

I Got Class - It Thing Hardon - The Cramps - Pretty sure Lux is being ironic. I mean, the full quote is "I got class up the ass". You can always rely on the Cramps. 

Echoes In The Canyon - Describe - Perfume Genius -  I'm really on it this month, aren't I? Another Matador act I had pegged as sounding completely different. I swear I've heard other Perfume Genius stuff and it did not sound like this at all. I really need to start paying more attention to, well, everything. This is very good, esepcially that loooooong fade.

Who's Running The Show? - Addict - Sunmi -At least I had a rough idea who Perfume Genius was. Sunmi is completely new to me but then I am no expert on K-Pop. I barely know how to punctuate it. There are two songs in the video and Addict comes first if you want to save some time. I'm guessing it's one of Sunmi's signature tunes because there are loads of live versions on YouTube. I watched half a dozen. It didn't take long. The whole song clocks in at under two minutes. I think the performance I've picked is the best but then I would, wouldn't I? Otherwise I'd have picked a different one.

Where's My Kamera? - Who Writes Your Lyrics? - Princess Superstar - I wish there was a video for this. If there was I wish it would be as good as the one she did for Bad Babysitter. I'm using good in my special way, there. Isn't Princess Superstar a great name? It's genius because it's two words banged together, each of which you can add to almost any other word to make another great name. It's fun. Try it.

Dead Can Dance - Perfect Life - Steven Wilson

"When I was thirteen I had a sister for six months.
She arrived one February morning, pale and shellshocked,
from past lives I could not imagine.
She was three years older than me,
but in no time we became friends.
We’d listen to her mix tapes;
Dead Can Dance, Felt, This Mortal Coil…
She introduced me to her favourite books,
gave me clothes, and my first cigarette.
Sometimes we would head down to Blackbirds moor
to watch the barges on Grand Union in the twilight.
She said “The water has no memory.”
For a few months everything about our lives was perfect.
It was only us, we were inseparable.
But gradually, she passed into another distant part of my memory,
until I could no longer remember her face, her voice, even her name.

We have got
We have got the perfect life... "

Now that's a lyric. Also a mix tape I'd like to hear.

Constant Headache - Joyce Manor - And so is this a lyric, for so very, very different reasons. I could write a fucking essay on why. For the record, I do get why people think it's from the dog's point of view, even if Barry Johnson, who wrote it, doesn't. Welcome to the intentional fallacy, Barry. It changed my life. If you let it, it'll change yours.

It isn't, though. From the dog's PoV, I mean. Unless you want it to be. Then it is. 

I utterly do not believe in guilty pleasures but I know enough about appropriateness and appropriation to know I shouldn't claim claim any right to own this. Yeah, but I kind of do. That's how art works but I don't need to tell you.

Break The Code - So Fucking Cold - Turismo Girlfriend World Tour -  It's getting very sweary in here all of a sudden. Also odd. That's a name and a half for a band. Is there some kind of random surrealist band name generator app I don't know about? I'd say the video's not what I expected but with a name like that what was it I was expecting? Yeah, still not that.

Blessed (Again) - Blessed - Lucinda Williams - I love songs that are all on one chord. Okay, two. But mostly one. Somehow you don't expect to get one from Lucinda Williams. That makes it all the more wonderful. She's recuperating from a stroke right now. Look after yourself, Lucinda. Come back strong.

Some Things I Know - Southbound Train - Nanci Griffith - Whoever put this up (It was Ray Wilson) has literally put his 30 year old VHS tape into the machine and filmed his television! That is something I've wanted to do forever. It's so much less hassle than connecting all the leads and digitizing the damn thing. Props to you, Mr. Wilson! (Does anyone say "props" any more? I shouldn't think so. Not to mention I was too old to say "props" without cringeing back when people did say it.)

I Will Ascend - Misdemeanor - Foster Sylvers - Oh, come on! That's ABC! By The Jackson Five, who you are pretending to be! Alright, alright. Inspired by, then. Damn lawyers.

Queen For A Day - Skating Polly -Is that a young Gary Glitter on drums? Maybe Eugene from the Rezillos? I don't know, from some angles it could even be Elton John. And I can't count how many videos I've watched where someone gets food rubbed in their face. I just know I wish it was fewer.

(Another) Another World - The Creators - One hundred and seventy two views in seven years. That'll teach you to sound cool, clever and complex.

That's Entertainment - The Jam -  I came to the title for this post in a roundabout way. I was searching for something to do with time slowing down and I got a match with the line "Days of speed and slow-time Mondays" (Most of the 1980s for me, that was...). I was pondering whether I could work it into shape when it suddenly occured to me - the title! 

The original's under the green but I've pulled out a wonderful cover by Indonesia's Brilliant At Breakfast. At least, I think it would be wonderful if you could hear it over the end-of-the-world firework show. Maybe that's what gives it such an edge.

I Believe In Progress - Progress - Public Service Broadcasting  - Featuring Tracyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura on vocals. My favorite comment from the YouTube thread: "I'm listening it to it as I'm doing research for my masters in electronic engineering". Really? You surprise me.

The Rain, The Park And Other Things - The Cowsills - I just typed a paragraph about how I first came to hear this track and then I thought about it and realized I had no idea if anything I was saying was true. Did I first hear this on a random compilation album I picked up at a car boot sale? Was it on a mixtape someeone once made for me? Did I run across it on YouTube? I have no fricken idea any more. 

I can tell you I've loved it for many years. I can also tell you I've never heard anything else by them that comes close to the boisterous, elegaic, wondering feel of this small epic. I own one album by The Cowsills on vinyl and that I did buy at a car boot or if not then a jumble sale or some kind of rummage. It's called Captain Sad and his Ship of Fools and it might be a concept album. The cover's all kinds of disturbing and the sleeve notes, by Michael Zwerin, are an extended apology for liking the band, who, as far as I can make out, were basically a real-life version of the Partridge Family. Given Zwerin played with Miles Davis in the forties and was the jazz critic for the Village Voice at the time he got the commission to write about the Cowsills, you can understand his ambivalence.

The Cowsills still perform together today. I guess the family that plays together really does stay together.

Get Good - Vanessa Carlton - I'm guessing she's at least a little bit famous, what with some of her videos having more than a quarter of a billion views, but naturally she's new to me. It's a big world and getting bigger every day. I love the sparseness of this. It's bleak. I listened to a few of her other tunes, hoping for something similar but it was all fairly unremarkable pop-rock. Oh, well.

Alone Again Or - Love - One of the best songs with one of the best titles from one of the best albums of the 1960s, cut to a scene from Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket, a movie I own but am not at all sure I've ever watched. There are several good covers of this floating around, notably Calexico, Gold Lake and the Damned, who had a hit with what seems to be a note-for-note remake. No-one ever gets the mariachi part quite right, though.

Make It Worth my While - Ten Percent - Double Exposure - There was a time in my teens when every third song on the radio sounded almost exactly like this. I can't say it's much of a madeleine for me but I could probably have it on in the background for hours without really noticing it was playing. Is that a good thing?

Reelin' In The Years - Steely Dan - Problematic. I love this and I love Do It Again. Alan Freeman used to play both of them on his afternoon show when I was maybe fourteen and just begining to figure out what I liked. The complexity of the lyrics and the clean, ringing tone of the guitars made a huge impression. Those songs still sound fresh to me today. Unfortunately, the band came to represent the exact kind of overwrought music-for-musicians I came to despise. "Unfairly used as shorthand for worthy musos your dad would like" says the BBC's review of The Very Best Of.... I'd agree with all of that except for "unfairly".

Chinese Whispers - Melys - This is one where, if you're going to bother to listen at all, I'd strongly recommend the studio recording linked under the green title or this Peel Session version. The live one is fine and nice to watch but they were all a lot older then, there's none of the weird sonic architectonics of the studio version and the vocals are mixed way too far back.

Some background information: Melys is the name of the band not the singer. It means "Sweet" in Welsh. They did eleven Peel sessions and Chinese Whispers came first in the Festive Top 50 in 2001. In what seems to have become the disturbing theme of this month's post, I can't remember ever having heard of them before. And that's odd when you consider the only way this band could be any more up my street would be if they actually lived in my house.

Job Well Done - The Girl Can't help It - Little Richard - I originally planned on using a live clip of Babes In Toyland wrecking this in style but we've probably had enough poor quality live clips for one post. I never really noticed it before but this is another all-on-one-note song. Makes you wonder why anyone bothers using any more.

Make Your Mind Up - Chairlift - I can't lie. I did consider using Bucks Fizz and their infamous Eurovison winner. I was hoping someone of note might have done an ironic cover but there's probably not enough irony in the ironosphere for that. I'm not going to link to the original, either, even as a matter of record. If you want to see it, go find it yourself. I watched it live on TV when it happened and I wouldn't want to be responsible for inflicting that experience on anyone. Infinitely better to have Chairlift.

And that about wraps things up for this month. Turned out better than I expected. Some good tunes in that lot. Only three more to do before I slacken the ropes . Although it did occur to me I could cycle into declaritive titles supported by allusory sub-titles and have cake and eat some. We'll just have to wait and see.

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