Sunday, July 29, 2007

Song of the day

"Shut Up And Drive" by Rihanna, because of the way it takes "Blue Monday" to places New Order could never have imagined.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Nouvelle Vague / New Wave

Someone had an idea: get a band that has made a career of doing cover versions of songs from (loosely) the New Wave era and have them curate a two-disc selection of (loosely) New Wave-era bands doing covers of songs from earlier times.

The result can be viewed here.

As you can see, they have done a pretty good job of it. Nice to see the Silicon Teens given top billing: they are one group that seems to have completely fallen through the cracks of the space-time continuum, sadly. Also full marks for avoiding "Money" by the Flying Lizards: "Move On Up" will do nicely (although the Jam also covered that, perhaps a little bit too reverentially for it to have been included on this comp, but that would have allowed in turn for the inclusion of the FLizards' fine version of "Summertime Blues"). And Magazine's Barry Adamson-led assault on Sly Stone's "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)" should have been squeezed in.

Whatever. As things stand, this collection still manages to include three of my all-time favourite songs, covers or no: Snakefinger winding his way around Kraftwerk's "The Model", Devo's extraordinary version of "Satisfaction (I Can't Get Me No)", which I think I have mentioned before around here, and (ditto) The Slits definitively spoiling Marvin's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" for anyone who may later have had a notion to record it, in the same way that Hendrix appropriated Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" in an earlier era, making the song all but untouchable from then on (heck, even Dylan himself took to playing the "Hendrix version" in concert).

(There's probably a thesis in there somewhere, along the lines of why is it that someone's own song always seems like fair game for other artists, whereas a cover version of someone else's song can become an unimpeachable standard. But I'm not going to write it.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

George W Bush and the Deathly Hallows

Those of you with a morbid interest in following what must surely be the death throes of the American adventure in Iraq might spend the necessary few minutes reading Peter Galbraith's latest trawl through the tea leaves. He offers at least two jaw-dropping moments: one, at the start of the piece, which is of the blackest black humour (if it wasn't so damned tragic); another, further on, of pure horror. (Also a seemingly bad apostrophe, which can be a cause of distress to some of us; we have never before seen a bad apostrophe in the NYRB.

Not so sure about his proposed exit strategy, however: withdrawal to Kurdish territory, whilst it might provide some comfort to the poor old Kurds, who have been perhaps America's staunchest, or only, allies, and who otherwise would appear poised for instant annihilation, surrounded as they are by large numbers of people who hate them, can surely only bring with it the same problems as have beset the Americans ever since they set foot in Iraq, only with a reduced footprint. Although, to be fair, one gets the impression he is proposing this not so much as a "good" solution as one that is marginally less fucked than all the others he can think of. Which may be all anybody can hope for.

Song of the day

"Things You'll Keep" by the Apartments. Possibly the quintessential Australian song of melancholy hue. Sends me to the brink every time. With the ending of the Go-Betweens, it is timely indeed that Peter Milton Walsh has now brought the Apartments out of mothballs. More power to him; it would be nice to think that the Apartments could have a second coming, like that of the Go-Betweens, where recognition spread beyond the writers and readers of music magazines. All together now: "AS IF!"

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Song of the day

"Another Station" by Lindstrom. I have been so hung up on "I Feel Space" that I hadn't been able to make room for this, what I think is the follow-up although Lindstrom and his pal Prins Thomas are so prolific it's hard to tell. It has everything "I Feel Space" has, and doesn't deserve to be lost in its shadow. I particularly like the high-pitched, whining synth line that has been pulled straight from Pink Floyd's "Animals", an album which I loved to bits as a 13-year-old but which I can't quite bring myself to listen to now for fear of disappointment.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Song of the day

"Torch (Extended Version)" by Soft Cell. "Torch" was always my second-favourite Soft Cell song (although I have always had a soft spot for the grubby, sleazy synths of "Sex Dwarf"). And yet I now know, thanks (as so often) to Mr Carlin, that I have only been listening to a mere fragment of the actual song, like walking in in the middle of a one-act play and walking out a few minutes later and thinking you have seen the whole thing. This version should really have been called "Torch" and the 7-inch (and album) version "Torch (Severely Truncated Version)". But that may not have been a strong selling point.

And speaking of iTunes (...) the rapidly ascending Australian dollar has brought about a serious pricing anomaly. We Australians are paying $1.69 for something holders of an American credit card can buy for 99 US cents, which is presently the equivalent of around $1.13 Australian. Doesn't seem quite fair to me. The Economist might think about publishing an iTunes Index to complement its Big Mac Index.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Song of the day (2)

"You Can't Please Everybody" by The Aints. Ed Kuepper's riff-o-rama anti-Saints project from the days when he was putting out three or four records a year. The rhythmic structure of this song bears a faint resemblance to "Wild Thing".

Song of the day (1)

Iron & Wine, "Peace Beneath The City". We recently, uh, "found" a copy of what purports to be the new album by Iron & Wine which someone had carelessly left unattended. In the nature of reclusive and introspective boys with guitars, Sam Beam has now chosen to expand his sound palette considerably. Such a move always takes some getting used to. (Paging Bob Dylan.) We will need to listen more closely to this album, but for now we would just like to say that "Peace Beneath The City" is as good a song as we have heard this year; it looks as if Sam has been listening to Brightblack Morning Light, which is not a bad thing to have been listening to.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Song of the (yester)day

Amerie, "Gotta Work": because I've just had a week off and now, well, I've "Gotta Work". I only wish I could be as enthusiastic about it as Amerie obviously is about her own "work". (It would also be nice to have a pair of legs like hers, but as a 43-year-old man I don't imagine they would do me much good.)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Song of the day

"Stay Away From Robert Mitchum", by April March. First, because it's a great pop song. Secondly, because when heard from the next room it sounds like they are singing "Stay away from rubber chickens", which, to a longtime Melburnian, brings to mind one thing and one thing only: Rod Quantock.

Aussie Aussie Aussie!

Oi! Oi! Oi!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it

Because you love lists, here is a list. Three albums which, according to computer matching techniques, I should be totally digging but which, like, I just can't seem to "get".

Battles, "Atlas": billed as the new thing to beat all new things; main dude's father is the actual Anthony Braxton; they have the chops, they have the technology. But (a) The Shower Scene From Psycho were doing silly helium voices possibly before Battles were even born; and (b) didn't Talking Heads and Brian Eno write the book on blending organic sounds and rhythms with electrickery on the "More Songs About Buildings And Food"/"Fear Of Music"/"Remain In Light" trilogy?

Tracey Thorn, "Out Of The Woods": as much as I worship at the feet of the Marine Girls and "A Distant Shore", I always found Everything But The Girl a bit too safe, a bit too supermarket-friendly, for my liking (first album "Eden" honourably excepted: "Crabwalk" was just the breath of fresh air a moribund 1984 needed). Sadly I can't seem to get out of my head the awful feeling that "Out Of The Woods" is cut from the same cloth as EBTG rather than, as hoped for, a Kate Bush-style long-delayed follow-up to "A Distant Shore".

Air, "Pocket Symphony": has the look and feel of having been brought into existence because it was time for another Air record rather than because they had to make it; a real letdown after the life-changing/affirming "Talkie Walkie". Where is the heart and soul? Notable for the most grievous misuse of Jarvis Cocker known to man. And the world didn't need another Air record anyway: we're still absorbing the quite wonderful "5:55", an Air record in all but name.

In case you were thinking I never heard a record I didn't like.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Alan freed, man

The only problem with this great piece of news is that (a) it had to happen at all (ie, the kidnapping) and (b) it took so damn long (ie, the release).

Song of the day

"Cowgirl In The Sand" by Neil Young, from "Decade". Because some days you need a 10-minute guitar rave-up to get you kick-started.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Song of the day

"Star Witness", by Neko Case, from the album "Fox Confessor Brings The Flood". Which has been around for a while, but for unexplainable reasons achieved maximum impact as it shuffled to the top of the iPod pack, while I was travelling home on the bus, in the dark, with the lights of Canberra appearing and disappearing around me. Neko Case may not have the most mellifluous voice going, but it is perfectly suited to the kind of country slant she gives the songs on this album. It is the kind of voice that picks you up and pins you to the wall. In a good way.

(There is another song on the album called "Margaret vs Pauline" which reminds me of work, where Margaret and Pauline have adjoining offices, although I have never seen any evidence of the use of "vs".)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Headline of the week

From the New Yorker.

The piece is worth reading, too.

Song of the day (slight return)

"My Uncle" by the Flying Burrito Brothers.

(On finding seven-year-old peering intently into laptop screen.)

"Were you listening to that song?"


"Did you like it?"

"It's funny."

"That's country music." (Dads always like to educate.)

"No, it's funny music."

"Okay, it's funny country music."

"Dad, it's funtry music."

And thus was a new genre born.