Miho Hatori, “Barracuda”: this first appeared to me as a stunning piece of video animation. Of course, I have long been very fond of Cibo Matto and, more recently, Miho’s work with Smokey Hormel and her vocals on the Baldwin Brothers’ sublime “Dream Girl” (swoon). Suffice to say, this song is no disappointment. She even, perhaps, nails the sense of updated tropicalia that Beck has been striving for, and makes it sound easy.
The Passions, “I’m In Love With A German Filmstar”: there is no way anyone can ever successfully argue against my firm conviction that this is, quite simply, the greatest song of all time. It never fails to take me back to where I was the first time I ever heard it: well, I actually have no idea where that was, but it at least brings to mind very clearly, and for once in a not negative way, the latter years of secondary school. And, for historical value, it totally nails a certain aspect of that post-punk sound.
King Tubby Meets The Aggrovators, “Dub Station”: the other thing I was listening to round about that time was Jamaican dub. There is good dub and bad dub (e.g. I never warmed to the more digital end of the spectrum, witness later Lee Perry, and much of Adrian Sherwood’s On-U-Sound stable). This, however, is clearly good dub although, unusually, it doesn’t start with the usual couple-of-drum-whacks-and-into-it: we get a full minute of mood and atmosphere before the rhythm section kicks in. Which kind of makes it a novelty, I suppose. But not a gimmick.
Donovan, “Season Of The Witch”: you can slice this number any which way and make it work. But you can also listen to it au naturel.
Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky”: sometimes loud fast rules. I could have said “sometimes pleasure heads must burn”, but that would be stealing. Nor would it make much sense. This song demonstrates the literal meaning of the word “cowpunk”. I once imagined a thrash-metal/speedcore cover version of “The Sounds Of Silence” which, if actualised, might have been in a similar ballpark.
Feathers, “Old Cutler”: I have no idea what this is; or when; or where; or even why. But it has a beautiful horn bit two minutes in which I can’t resist.
Lindstrom, “The Contemporary Fix”: they call it Space Disco. That’s fine by me. What Lindstrom brings to the party is a sense of joyfulness, and some lovely chord changes. And just a hint of real people playing real instruments. What???
Regina Spektor, “Edit”: my reverse autobiography. “You can write but you can’t edit” as opposed to, in my case, “You can edit but you can’t write”. That hurts.
Minimum Chips, “Know You Too Well”: we don’t seem to listen to much Australian music any more. Whether that’s a factor of our advanced age, the way we acquire/hear new music these days, or living in the Nation’s Capital, which is, of course, devoid of any form of live entertainment now that Tilley’s seems to have lost interest, it’s difficult to tell. Min Chips are from Melbourne, like us, have been influenced by Stereolab, like us, and come across as quaintly homespun in all the best ways, like, um, us?
My Robot Friend, “One More Try”: cute; with Antony of the Johnstons on vocals. They say he is the new Nina Simone. I can’t hear it myself. More like the new early Bryan Ferry.
Vetiver and Hope Sandoval, “Angels’ Share”: hailing from the school of, say, Calexico, Iron & Wine, and others of a quietly acoustic and pastoral bent. This song in particular caught our attention on account of, well, I think you can guess why.
The Velvet Underground, “I’m Sticking With You”: Mo Tucker’s finest moment. Apart from every moment on each of the first three Velvet Underground albums.
“Hollaback Gun” (Commodores vs Gwen Stefani): it seems that “Hollaback Girl” can have anything mashed with it to mutual benefit. Not that it wasn’t a great song to begin with.
The Louvin Brothers, “The Christian Life”: these guys took vocal harmonies to the next level. Elvis Costello covered one of their songs on the underrated “Kojak Variety” (since when can an album featuring Marc Ribot be all bad?). Elvis may have suffered from identity fragmentation in recent years, but he has always had impeccable taste in music.
John Martyn, “Cool Tide”: I can’t actually make my mind up as to whether this is any good at all, but when you enter 12 minutes of slowly drifting John Martynisms, well, you are in a place beyond good-vs-evil anyway.
Ricardo Villalobos, “Fizheuer Zieheuer Part 1”: as previously mentioned on these pages. I love the fact that after 15 minutes it ends, roughly (in both senses), mid-beat. Well, where else could it have gone? (Onto the other side of the record, abruptly restarting as “Fizheuer Zieheuer Part 2”, of course.)