Something of an eighties theme drifts in and out of this month's enterprise. But first ...
"Sunny", by Bob Zellin. We begin with two point five minutes of Hammond B-3 extravagance. Pass me a mai tai, would you, dear? (Bonus: album cover of the month.)
"Into Your Arms", by Love Positions. In the annals of twee pop, it surely has never gotten much more twee than this. (If you like The Softies, you will like it.) If I was drawn to this song by the fact that it was written by Robyn St Clare, of The Hummingbirds ("Alimony" = one of the great Australian pop songs), it must have been subliminal, as I had no knowledge of that fact, or of the fact that The Lemonheads had some kind of hit with it. The things you learn.
"You Can't Be Told", by Valerie June. This draws, I would suggest, from the same cloth as Holly Golightly. That is, a top quality, albeit maybe slightly scratchy, cloth. It also happens to be this month's Black Keys soundalike, courtesy guitar and production by Mr Auerbach. You will also note the presence of Richard Swift on drums.
"Put Your Love In Me", by Tindersticks. Minimalist, haunting, dark (maybe even "dark wave"?) cover of a Hot Chocolate number: just synths, atmostpherics, and a rudimentary programmed drum track, and nary a trace of Errol Brown. Would work well as a film soundtrack, which is kind of handy because that's what it is.
"In My Car", by Real Estate. This is the answer record to The Dugites' "In Your Car". Actually, I just made that up. It is, though, a non-album track by the ever reliable, and seemingly still improving, Real Estate. Their new album is a doozy, too.
"The New Rap Language", by Spoonie Gee and the Treacherous Three. No, Carl, it's not the Sugarhill Gang. But you are right, they do "sound damn similar". This is the oldest of the Old Skool, and though it may seem a little quaint now, it was a revolution in sound at the time, returning pure language to the discourse of popular music. Before long it would largely evolve to a world of Uzis, ho's, cocaine, gold teeth and supercars. Give me, you won't be surprised to hear, the Old Skool any day. Also, a likely influence on Blondie's "Rapture".
"Que Pasa / Me No Pop I", by Kid Creole and the Coconuts present Coati Mundi. One of the great songs of the post-punk era, and an unlikely hit. This twelve-inch version trumps the one you probably remember from the radio by reason of the addition of the smooth grooves of what would usually be called a "prelude" but which in this case almost upstages the main part of the song. Was this the first Latin(o) rap song?
"The Throw – Levitational", by Jagwar Ma. Because I live under a rock, the only thing I know about Jagwar Ma is that they hail from Sydney. They probably sound nothing like this track, which is a typically mindbending twelve-minute acid-drenched psychedelic remix by The Time and Space Machine. It's all-or-nothing time. I'll take "all".
"Dream Girl", by SHINee. This piece of K-pop fairy floss would appear to be from some kind of K-oncept record: a three-part album with subtitles "The Misconceptions of You", "The Misconceptions of Me" and "The Misconceptions of Us". That's a lot of misconceptions. They should tread carefully. The song itself drives a straight line through pop music right back to (at least) the eighties. I dare you to listen to it five times and not be totally hooked. You should watch the video. Clearly, the Korean language has no equivalent to "understated".
"I'll Be Around", by Empire of the Sun. And speaking of the eighties (and speaking of Australian content, too! Snap!), this song is clad with a high-eighties veneer (but with just enough of a hint of lo-fi to identify it as the product of the new century). It drifts on a bed of high-disposable-income synths and reverbed guitars, not a million miles from the second coming of Roxy Music. A clear global smash, only thirty years too late!
"Don't Stop The Dance (Idjut Boys Dub)", by Bryan Ferry. Did somebody mention Roxy Music? This ghostly edit of a Bryan Ferry song from 1985 is the epicentre of smooth. Apparently Ferry himself commissioned a bunch of remixes of this song. It seems a strange idea, this far removed from the original recording, but it's a song, and indeed a musical, uh, philosophy, that has informed rather a lot of recent so-called dance music. (See, for example, Todd Terje, who enlisted the old man himself to perform on his latest album, providing vocals for, of all things, a stately cover of Robert Palmer's "Johnny and Mary", in which Ferry sounds more like Bill Fay than Bryan Ferry.)
"Don't You Know", by Jan Hammer Group. Hi, I'm Jan Hammer. You may know me from the theme music for "Miami Vice", which was about as eighties as eighties television ever got. I also did other music. But nobody ever talks about it.
"Cocaine", by J. J. Cale. RIP.
"Summer Breeze", by Seals and Crofts. Yacht Rock 101. The original and the best. Well, not necessarily the best, if I'm honest: you should check out the Isley Brothers' version some time.
"I Go Out", by Steve Mason and Emiliana Torrini. I have already sung the praises of Emiliana Torrini. Steve Mason was a member of The Beta Band, one of the more notable skewed-pop bands of the oughts. They may seem to be an Odd Couple, but the result speaks for itself.