Saturday, May 1, 2021

April Songs

Spring is in the air. Oh, wait, that was last week. Now it's all rainy and cold again. 

Well, it was when I began this post. That was Tuesday. These things take a while. Just as I started it came on to rain. First time in three weeks. Cold enough to put the heating back on. I'm trying not to do that.

Today's Saturday. It took me four days to put all this together and I was a little too cold the whole time. Let's warm up with some rockin' good tunes! Sorry. I watched Mermaid Motel's new video for Lana's superb Wild At Heart so you can blame either of them. Or Nick Cage, why not ? Yeah, blame Nick. It's usually his fault.

Just For One Day - Heroes - David Bowie - Opening with "Heroes", eh? High risk strategy. Do that and you better hope you got more in the locker or it's going to be a loooong show. 

I was absolutely spoiled for choice on this one. Everyone's covered it. Either they think they can do it justice (yeah, sure...) or maybe they just think it's so indestructible it'll sweep them along on a wave of borrowed glory. How very, very wrong they are. 

Except not all of them. Kitten's version is glorious, particularly the bit before Chloe starts singing, a full minute and a half of hair shaking and jumping about. How can you not love her? She dances like a six-year old in a wind tunnel. A six-year old princess having a sugar rush from eating all the cake. And watch the band, watching her. It's priceless! It reminds me of Lou's band on Take No Prisoners as he freestyles through a seventeen-minute version of Walk on the Wild Side. They never know when he's going to start singing so they just vamp the riff and hope he's going to give some kind of cue... And then there's this take, where I swear she is literally doing Lou doing that performance... 

Kitten are tight as f*ck, though. That's not self-censorship. I just think it works so much better with the asterisk. F*ck deserves to be a word in its own right. Although I guess only in print because if you said it out loud you'd just have to say "fuck", so how would anyone know? These are the kind of things that keep me up at night.

Here's Kitten again, doing the same song. You could bounce a bat off that backbeat and not leave a mark. Chloe's stagecraft is exceptional. No wild abandon this time, just complete control until suddenly there she is - gone! Blink and you miss it. I think the band did.

I could fill this whole post with clips of Kitten doing Heroes. There are dozens of them, they're all different and they're all great. Well I imagine they are. I only watched about six. They all were. But we'd better move on. I had several other good covers of Heroes not by Kitten pencilled in but they'll have to wait until the next time I lift a post title from the song, something that feels as inevitable as Chloe climbing up a speaker stack.

March Songs - The March Song - Shipping News - Executive decision! If it doesn't have a video and I don't think it's superamazing it's not getting a pullout. This doesn't and I don't so it hasn't. I heard an awful lot of this kind of atonal, arrhythmic, existentialist funk in the early eighties. It was an acquired taste even then. The kind of thing I admire rather than enjoy. Next, please.

Eggs Over Easy - Martina Sobrara - Oh, that's sweeter. I could have gone with Tank and the Bangas, which would have been more than acceptable but I like Martina's song more.


I hadn't heard of her before. She's best known as the singer with Dragonette, apparently. I'd never heard of them, either but here they are in a video that reminds me altogether too much of Robin from How I Met Your Mother as teen pop sensation Robin Sparkles. They're both Canadian, too. That can't be a coincidence...

Settling Down - Christian Girls - Hefner - If they gave awards for grim, depressing videos... Sadly, I have a horrible suspicion this is meant to be heart-warming. Makes it so much worse.

Choose To Choose - Black Angel's Death Song - Velvet Underground - Performed here by John Cale and Mark Lanegan. Cale seems to have made something of a late career shift into re-visiting his Velvets' work and re-inventing it, often quite brilliantly. I like to think he's doing penance for the dead-eyed, clinical reconstructions he and the rest of them touted round the halls for a horrific year or so back in the 90s. ClockDVA did a decent version. It reminds me, somewhat surreally, of the Pogues, not as much of a stretch as you'd think, since they did once cover White light, White Heat. And well, too.

She Really Shake You Donkey Up - Shake You Donkey Up - XTC - I was pleased  with quite a few of my post titles for April but this was my favorite. Just reading it makes me smile. It's from the album The Big Express.The Swindon posse wereon fine title form around then. The album also includes Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her, later to be appropriated by the excellent Japanese combo of, erm... the same name, obviously. That got away from me...

Hello Moto - Itchyworms - The slogan for a Motorola commercial, aparently. I've never seen it. I find it hard to imagine this was the song they used.

High Plains Drifter - Beastie Boys - One of those fan-made videos where someone fits movie clips to every line and phrase. That has to be a lot of work. Sometimes those can be too on the nose but this one's beautifully judged with some good laughs.

Buggin' Out - A Tribe Called Quest -  When I finally stop doing these (Not music posts. They're not going anywhere. Just the title round-ups, which I guess will have to stop when I move to more declarative post headings, a loose plan for later in the year, although maybe not if I go with declarative titles and quotes for subtitles, an idea I'm also toying with.) I might go back and tally up which musical genres feature most often. Daisy age hip-hop looks like it's coming up on the rails.

Open The Door, Dora - Dora - Tierra Whack - There's a long discussion (over two hundred and fifty comments) in the thread on the Tribe Called Quest video: are ATCQ poets? And if they are, are they any good? As with all these things the to and fro mostly goes with age. People who grew up listening to this stuff call now (well, four-years-ago-now) a talent wasteland and hails the so-called hip-hop golden age of  '90s, while the crew for whom this is just someone's dad's CD collection goes the other way. Lots of names get dropped on both sides. No-one mentions Tierra Whack. Read into that what you will.

Keep It Bottled Up - Couldn't I just Tell You? - Matthew Sweet & Susannah Hoffs - I love Sweet and Hoffs both but their covers can be... well, y'know. I'd rather Devo's Bottled Up just because. It's better but I don't trust Devo. Never have. Also, no video. Not that the thing up above is what you'd call a real video. It's a slideshow. But it moves. That's what matters.

Buckle Up! (The One And Only Spacey Catgirl) - Spacey Cowgirl - tommy february⁶ - Seriously, do they try to make these names impossible to type? Yeah, okay, it's often registered as a simple Tommy February6 but how am I supposed to know what's right? Not like I own any of the records, is it? No video for this one either but worth the pull-out for that pretty pink cassette.

I was originally going to go with Pearl Jam's Buckle Up. I never liked Pearl Jam. Okay, not fair. To them or me. I never listened to them is the truth. I worked for a while with someone who nigh on worshipped them and that put me off, as something like that will tend to do. Also, he worshipped Ryan Adams, never a good look (unless you're Laura Marling). Anyway, I listened to Buckle Up (the PJam version) for the blog and it was...good. Reminded me weirdly of Dawn of the Replicants.

I was never going to favor Eddie Vedder over Tomoko Kawase, of course. She's the one and only spacey cowgirl! Officially one of my top ten post titles of all time. (I should make a list...). And that makes two in the same month! I'm on fire!

Stick With What You Know - Los Angeles - The Firebird Band - Speaking of being on fire... There's no chance I'd have randomly clicked on a name as bland as "The Firebird Band" if I hadn't been doing this post. That's a big part of why I love doing them, of course. The version in the vid is a remix but, unusually (for a remix), it's a lot shorter than the originalAlso it was remixed by the same people who made the original but the two sound very different. Make up your minds, guys. I like them both but I like the remix more. Reminds me of the American Analog Set. High praise.

Connected To The Sound, Pictures On The Wall - Flavor Of The Weak - American Hi-Fi - Pretty boy time. Just how many songs that sound exactly like this are there, anyway? Not that it matters. Like one, like 'em all. Or the other thing. Hey! Here's an idea for a post! Bands that put "American" in front of their name. American Analog Set, American Hi-Fi, American Baseball, American Football... That would be a real test of my search skillz.

Climb On A Rock - West - Lucinda Williams -She's beginning to look like she's lived it, doesn't she? What do they call it when you switch moods like that? And is it even moods I mean? I know it's not tenses. It's like a key change only in syntax. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? I don't think I do.

A Little Appreciation - ITAL (Roses) - Lupe Fiasco - Mrs. Bhagpuss was saying the other day how though she likes the sounds she has trouble getting past the language in hip-hop. It is a challenge, sometimes, even when the reason you should is right there in front of you. When I watched this video the first time I wasn't really paying attention. I just really liked the chorus, didn't think much about the rest. Then, when I came back to write the post I read this comment by Mark Arandjus in the thread: 

"Reading these comments I see some have trouble understanding the video. It's like this: It's about how young people are conditioned through media and music to be greedy, see women as currency, and become generally irresponsible, leading them to a shallow life with poor values ruled by materialism. This is symbolically represented by the boy absorbing bad culture through the TV (jewelry, trashy women, guns, drugs) which then it becomes a part of him (flashing on his shirt). The cop arresting him is the end result of what will happen with the boy when he grows with twisted values that so often lead to crime. In contrast the white boy after him watches constructive content: learns about culture, nature, is informing himself about politics, and as a result will grow his mind over time. To use the song's lyrics to explain all of this i na sentence: "Ain’t no future in no gang-bang... some rap niggas put that shit inside your mainframe... don’t let these lying images up in hip-hop here conquer you, the TV’s not your father, fool... all this emptiness is dangerous!""

So I watched it again, closely and listened, properly and of course he's 100% right. I shouldn't have needed a YouTube commener to tell me that but you gain your wisdom where you can.

Bad Idea - girl in red - I first ran into girl in red when she did that thing with... oh, who was it? Clairo? No, Beabadoobee, that was it. They did a collab called  Eleanor and Park, after the novel. I imagine I found it looking up something about Rainbow Rowell although I might just have been link-hopping. This is a stormer. I didn't know she rocked. I have no idea why I'd think she wouldn't.

Who Invented These Lists? - Little Man Tate -  Another great post title. I really should wait for someone else to say that, shouldn't I? Hah! That'd be a long wait.

LMT named themselves after Jodie Foster's debut movie as director, which I saw at the cinema on release because a) that was the sort of thing I did back then and b) she was my favorite movie star and had been since I was about twelve years old. Is she still? Hard to say. I don't see enough films to judge, these days. Probably ought to do something about that. 

This reminded me a little of the Young Knives so I went and looked up what they'd been up to recently and it turns out they don't sound like that any more. I kind of wish they did but it's not up to me, is it? Never mind, another band that sounds like both of them will be along any time now, if I'm any judge. 

Another Tempest In A Teapot - The Dreamer's Hotel - Enter Shikari - And who does this remind me of? Everything sounds like something, that's the problem. Or the solution. Idles, maybe?

Judgment Day - Army of Lovers - I've linked some strange videos in my time here but if I had a biscuit this one would take it. Army of Lovers and Enter Shikari are both bands I've been aware of for a long time but I'm not sure I ever took the trouble to listen to either of them before. Neither sounds remotely like I expected. Nor looks. Nor behaves.

Eighties Fan - Camera Obscura - "You say your life will be the death of you, Tell me, do you wash your hair in honey dew? And long for all of them to fall in love with you, But they never do, No they never do."  So literate, so sweet, so much missed now she's gone. I really should get on with that Elefant Records post I keep talking about.

This Grab Bag That I Call My Mind - Where Am I Going? - Dusty Springfield - "Old people's music", that's probably what I thought, if I thought anything, when  Dusty came on the radio when I was growing up. It was a slow process, growing up. By the time I found out how to like this sort of thing I was in my twenties and it felt cool, smart, original. Now I am old and  it just feels awkward. 

Sweeter Than Fiction - Taylor Swift - Objectively, I suppose, it should feel a lot more awkward, liking Taylor Swift in my sixties, than Dusty Springfield. Yeah, about that... Don't hold your breath. Not gonna happen. I know who I am. Have for a while.

Down In The Hollow - Davy's On The Road Again - Manfred Mann's Earthband - I know I've said doing these posts feels like putting a radio show together but geez... what kind of a show would that be? About the only radio producer I can think of who'd program something like this would have been John Walters and I'm pretty sure he only did it to be annoying.  I always liked this one but really only for the begining and the end. The rest is just a heavy-footed stomper that probably went down well in student venues, which is where it probably should have stayed.

Put It In Books - Church - De La Soul - Great intro by Spike Lee. We seem to be getting more and more daisy age rap here the longer we keep at it, don't we?

Thinking Too Much - Meiko - The actual song starts at 1.04 if you want to skip ahead.

Marionette Strings Are Dangerous Things - Marionette - Mott The Hoople - I'd forgotten how ludicrously over the top this was. Is. From "The Hoople", follow-up album to the career-high "Mott", an immeasurably more subtle work. This is very much a band overwhelmed by its own public image, I think. All too common back then.

This Is The Summer - Dream Nails - Witch punk. Their name for it, not mine. Although I'm not going to argue. Hell, no.

Stories About The Dragons - First Street Blues - Lee Hazlewood - I came late to Lee Hazlewood. I'm still working my way in. No matter how many times I think he can't get any odder he proves me wrong. 

Maybe Do The Work - Fancy Footwork - Chromeo - What is it about Canada, eh? Can you believe these guys are from Montreal? I thought for sure they must be part of the Italian synthwave scene. The video looks like it's going to be a lot dodgier than it turns out to be, thankfully. 

And that's it for April. May's a day longer. There's something to look forward to.

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