Saturday, July 31, 2021

July Songs

I made a bit more of an effort last month. I wasn't entirely comfortable with May's choices and I wanted to do better. Not so much in the quality of the songs themeselves, although there was something of that, more in the way I'd fallen into the habit of using quite random fragments of lyric rather than looking for things that connected, somehow. 

I haven't made all that much progress on that front but I have done a lot better on finding full song titles to use instead of bits of lyric. There's something more authorative, I feel, about that. It's a spurious authority, for sure, when the song still has nothing much to do with the content  or even the mood of the post but I prefer it, even so.

I also expected June would be a slack month compared to the rest of the year so far. I was headed back to work and I knew that would mean fewer posts. And it did, although not as few as I expected. There were days, here and there, when I posted after work. A couple of times I posted more than once on the same day. It adds up.

To fill out this post when it came, I jotted down a clutch of alternates for a few of the titles. I'm going to throw those in, too. All of which means this is likely to run as long as these things usually do. Enjoy! Or not.

Let's get started.

June Song - Naru - On Happy Robot records from (I'm guessing) Japan. Sweet, charming, restful. Of course he could be singing about human dismemberment for all I know. That's the huge bonus in listening to songs in a language you don't speak. You don't have to worry about what they're saying. Increasingly, that's a comfort. 

That's When My Patience Went Away - Patience - Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - As it happens, Lloyd has an album called Music In A Foreign Language. This isn't on it. That would be altogether too neat, wouldn't it? And even though I just made a big fuss over using titles not lyrics, I make no apology for opening with this one. I pulled it straight out of my head so it counts.

Mostly I can't do that. I'm poor at remembering lyrics. Rremembering anything, really. I found it very tough when I fronted a band, even if I'd written the lyrics myself. I was not above having them on sheets of paper at my feet. My eyesight was better then, of course.

I've been listening to Lloyd Cole since I first saw the video for Perfect Skin on some tv show back in 1984. I have all his albums except the weird electronica instrumental ones and I know a lot of his lyrics well enough to sing along with the verses as well as the choruses. Someone once came up to me after a gig and told me I sounded like Lloyd, which was the greatest (possibly the only) compliment my singing ever got. I looked a bit like him then, too. I could have done Lloyd Cole on Stars in their Eyes. He'd had enough hits they'd have known who he was. That would have been... ok, no, it wouldn't.

Foundations and Identity - Kate Nash and X Ray Spex - Twofer! Oh, I was so pleased with myself when I came up with this one. Two magnificent tunes by two amazing singers making one great post title! Kate's performance on Jools Holland's Later is heartbreaking in too many ways and so is just about everything about Polly's clip, given what came later. I dunno, if I had to pick one band that exemplified both the form and the function of first generation UK punk it would probably be X-Ray Spex. Either them or the Subway Sect, I guess. 

I also found a pop-punk cover of Foundations by the rather splendidly-named Lucy Was A Decoy.  It's kinda-sorta good, too, albeit in a not in the same league way. Have it on me.

Coming Up Slowly - On + Off - Maggie Rogers - I know there are at least a couple of Maggie Rogers fans who read this blog. I'm not 100% sold but I like this, especially the blippy, hip-hoppy scatter behind the confident folk-pop vocal. There's a live-in-the-studio unplugged version she did for Triple-J that's warmer. I like her voice better in that one. Reminds me of Julia Stone, a little. Just a little. Not the bit where Julia sounds, unmistakeably, as several people on the YT thread comment, unkindly but not entirely inaccurately, exactly like a goat. Obviously not that bit.

Counting Crows - Ohio - Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness - Do these people ever wish they'd called themselves something less wilfully mimsy, I sometimes wonder. I mean, don't they get fed up of the first question in every interview being some variation of "So, how did you come up with that weird-ass name...?" In this case, at least the guy really is called Andrew McMahon although since his previous band was called Jack's Mannequin I'm not sure that's any excuse.

Too Many Words - Sick Puppies - While we're on the subject, if you sounded like this, would you call yourselves "Sick Puppies?" I was expecting hardcore punk. Maybe skate punk. Emo, at least. This isn't even pop punk. I don't know what it is. Soft rock? Is that even a thing any more? I thought it might be their token ballad so I listened to a couple of their others. They were much the same. Then I found this one. 49 million views, where the first one has 29 thousand. That's what the people want, guys! Give us what we expect.

There was also this weird little novelty I found. "Too Many Words Bob" by Stan Beinstein, a not very good Bob Dylan parody. If you're going to rib a Nobel prize winner you probably need to up your game some. I include it as a curiosity, only.

And So The Story Goes - Maria Montell - There are a ton (is a ton?) of songs that use this title but this was the one that got stuck in my head all day and I didn't see why I should be the only one. Huge summer Euro hit in the mid-oughts, apparently. Easy to see why.

I could have gone with Erasure or the Lemonheads or even frickin' Living in a Box (Yeah, that was never going to happen.) There's even a charity record by Philadelphia 4 Philadelphia that has a bunch of Philadelphia scene superstars taking their cue from Band Aid (and Farm Aid, apparently) to raise money for Philadelphia's homeless at Christmas. I thought I'd even found two songs by well-known acts (Ash and Renaissance) that aren't on YouTube at all. That almost never happens. Then I watched the whole of the Philly video and found it was the Renaissance one, sort of. Annie Haslam of Renaissance is one of the featured singers because she's "always had a popular following" in Philadelphia. I don't think Ash are on there but who knows for sure?

Of course, when I came up with the title for the post I wasn't thinking of any of those. I was thinking of the line from David Bowie's The Bewlay Brothers. That's a song that, once heard, will stick in your head forever, not just the rest of the day.

The Choices We Make - Let These Words Last Forever - We Came As Romans - Another inexplicable name that gives you not the least clue what the band are going to sound like. There are parts of this I like - the triumphant chorus, some of the double-speed drumming, the breakdown near the end... all the bear-growling and glass-chewing, though, that never really works for me.

You'll Be My Mirror - I'll Be Your Mirror - The Velvet Underground - here represented by Puddles Pity Party because why not? I like Puddles. As I was searching for covers for this I came across something I wish I'd found when I did my Velvet Underground feat. Nico full album covers post. I already knew it wasn't an original idea. Beck did it first. And then someone else did it after me. I wrote about that, too. I didn't know there was a third version, entirely composed of bands on the Castle Face record label.  Would it have stopped me if I had? Nope.

Here's the version from that album. It's by Here Comes The Here Comes and it's gorgeous. I thought it had something of the Langley Schools Music Project about it. The liner notes on the YouTube page kind of explain why I was wrong about that and a little bit right, too.

How To Do Now - Oh, How To Do Now - The Monks - Yes, alright, you caught me. I just wanted an excuse to use the Monks. If you've never seen this, watch it now and give yourself a treat. If you've already seen it you won't need any encouragement from me to watch it again.

The First Day In August - Carole King - The Laurel Canyon sound hasn't been as fashionable for decades as it is now. I hear it everywhere and it sounds fresh all over again. It really is timeless. The ironic thing for me is I grew up with this sound and never really cared much for it at the time. When I was in my early teens I thought of this as the sound of old people's music, if I thought of it at all. Now I'm in my sixties I hear it lauded and imitated by people half my age and I wonder if that's why I find myself hearing things in it I never heard before. Still gonna have to draw the line at James Taylor, all the same.

Footprints - The Miles Davis Quintet - If Carole King seemed like the kind of thing someone's parents would be listening to, what the hell would thirteen year old me have made of this, which was recorded in 1967, the Summer of Love? Then again, I was listening to Ornette Coleman by the time I went to college, albeit only because Lou Reed liked him. Music is complicated and I don't mean playing it. I mean listening to it.

You'll Find Me In A New World - Man In The Moon - Laura Nyro - Aw, man! What is this? Late night radio circa 1970? Except this is from an album Laura Nyro recorded in the mid-80s. You can hear it in the production but that's about it.

Try The New World, Play The Game - Game - Perfume - Ok, that's enough being tasteful or cool or hip or any of those things. Bring out the red dresses and the light sabres!

Hanging Around - Charli XCX - And the animal prints and the sequins and the fairy wings, while we're at it! When I thought of this post title I was determined not to use the Stranglers song. I have issues with the Stranglers and the fact that I like some of their tunes doesn't help. Luckily a couple of people I don't have issues with have used the same title. Charli, of course, but also the Cardigans, who I own some albums by. 

If you feel you really have to hear The Stranglers hit, here's a cover by Hazel O'Connor. That should hold you for a while. 

Happy Place - Alison Wonderland - Name of the month in the face of some stiff competition! Yes, I know it's obvious. That's why it's good. 

Your Cover's Blown - Belle and Sebastian - Perfect title for the post, I thought. The tune's strong, too, for all it sounds like two, maybe three, songs bolted together. I love the way it turns into Sparks halfway through. The days when you knew what to expect from Belle and Sebastian ended a while ago, I think, although maybe it's down to the miaoux miaoux mix. 

The Art Of Starting Over - Demi Lovato - The latest in an ever-growing list of artists I appear to have completely misunderstood. I've never bothered to listen to her before this. I had it in mind that she'd be similar to Ariana Grande, who I've tried but never quite managed to like. Yes, well, she's not, is she? Now I feel suitably ignorant.

Going Fishing - The Phoenix Foundation - If this is the kind of thing you like, New Zealand's where you'll find it. Either there or Canada. That organ... so good. Guitars aren't bad, either.

I Want My Stuff - Cricket Wife - The Pet Shop Boys - The sound of a band with too much time on their hands. If you ever wanted to hear Neal and Chris get operatic for ten minutes, possibly about cricket, now's your chance. I love them dearly but I noped out around the eight minute mark. 

And we're done. For now. There's a lot more music coming throughout Blaugust. I have a plan. I'm not saying it's a good plan but it should at least carry me through thirty-one days of posting daily even when I'm working. It's going to fair mess up next month's last-ever Monthly Music Post Title Roundup Post, though. So at least there's that.


  1. Living in Ohio, Andrew McMahon's song really hits home. The state has been experiencing a big brain drain as younger people graduate from college and leave the state for better opportunities elsewhere. Couple that with the loss of factory jobs and you have a mix that "Ohio" encapsulates without being explicit. Andrew placed the song in his past, complete with the station wagon (my parents had one too) and a house with red door (our neighborhood was built in the 1970s, complete with garish colored doors and siding). But still, his past intersects with the present when he sang "some men you just can't save", as my mind immediately jumped to the rural communities in Ohio ravaged by crystal meth addiction.

    1. Yeah, I was too busy being snide about his band name to mention it's a really good song. I love the "Katie's counting crows" and "Everything's going to be better on the West Coast" lines.


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