Hi. Radiohead have an album out tomorrow. Tomorrow is, technically, only five minutes away now. As soon as the second goes past midnight everyone who's bought the album will be waiting for their activation codes. Exciting, huh? Join the club: order it. Quickly.
Be a part of the digital revolution or whatever this is.
Personally, I just want to hear "Nude" recorded, properly, for the first time. I'm excited. Why? Because, live it's enough to bring tears to your eyes.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Monday, July 09, 2007
These are more appropriate for drunken Friday night revelry, than rainy Monday evenings, but I'm sorry - it's all I've got for you.
Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit (Patrick Alavi Rerox Edit) [Info]
The typical student anthem remade so that it's still relevant at a time when it's become cool for indie-kids to branch out and listen to electro. A time when it's ok to go to an indie-disco where it's like, you know, an actual disco. Arty girls looking beautiful but going crazy on the dancefloor; the cardigan-wearing hipsters, notoriously known for shoe-gazing, joining in.
Rage Against The Machine - Killing In The Name (Mr Oizo Remix) [Info]
Rage Against The Machine / Mr Oizo - Killing In The Name (DJ Clumsy Remix) [Info]
The original still goes down a storm at indie-discos (or, specifically, the indie-disco that used to take place in Sandinos and shall soon be reinstated - if the rumours are true). Boy and girl both going crazy to the same tune, some jumping up and down, some moshing, some head-banging. Every time the electro version (neither of these, but similar) comes on in ABC2 (in Glasgow) there's a similar effect, but it's slightly more civilised. Perhaps odd, that last statement. Not really, though, when you consider the fact that we all just want to dance and hug each other.
I'm currently in the process of finding something that excites me, that I like, that I can write about, that's not electro. These criteria are actually surprisingly hard to fulfil, lately.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 20:27
Friday, July 06, 2007
Fuck me, Fopp's gone?! Where will I get my cheap books from now?! And DVD's?! I guess I still have Avalanche for CD's - but Fopp was well cheaper...
(Yes, this did happen like two weeks ago. But how would I have known? I've left Glasgow for summer!)
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 12:12
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I Was A Cub Scout - Pink Squares (Lull Mix Radio Edit) [Info*]
I expected something akin to their Bloc Party remix. When those dissonant and slightly nauseating keys came in (0:33), I thought my worst fears were confirmed. Happily, however, those notes fade out around the one-minute mark. After that, the song changes. A subtle build-up (1:19) followed by a short-lived drop-off in tension (1:53), that develops, relentlessly, into an exciting, continuous, intense, stress-inducing build-up. This reaches its peak at the four-minute mark with the entrance of the vocal line, "my shoes! are left! behind!" After that, all that's left is the gradual fall back to reality. Sometimes I'm amazed at the effect music can have not only emotionally, or psychologically, but also physiologically (I'm sure I started to half-sweat, and I know my heart-rate sped up).
Jack Penate - My Yvonne
I can't call myself a fan. In fact, every other song I've heard (by dear Jack) seems far too manufactured; ready-made happy-as-larry, sparky-got-lucky pop. But this song is delicious, and the formula works (just listen to those delectably Feist-y cooes beginning at 1:43) - this isn't just music, this is M & S music*.
*(Yes, this reference to the recent (successful) Marks & Spencers ad-campaign truly is the best way I can think of to describe this song.)
If you like Christopher O'Reilly's covers of Radiohead and Elliott Smith, then you will probably also like this. It's simple - but as easy, laid-back piano-pop for the dinner-table it works quite well.
I Was A Cub Scout - Pink Squares (Luke Trav1s Remix) [Info]
*If anyone knows the website for Lull I'll link to it - I just don't know it.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 23:06
Monday, June 25, 2007
Jamie T - Fox News
Your favourite sea-side holiday get-away was purchased yesterday by a company where even the lowliest press-officer is never seen wearing anything less than an Armani suit, fresh from the dry-cleaner. City life wears you out and though you love it (and in truth, it's all you've ever been truly used to) you've always craved the odd weekend away. And now that escape is gone.
To think of it another way, just think about an adorable Cavalier King Charles named Oscar. His coat is golden brown and only last week he was groomed - he looks beautiful. He had a stroke a few days ago and now he's either damaged his sight or his balance. Maybe even both. Whereas before he would tug on the leash, he now walks unsteadily beside you, like a drunk-driver pulled over by the police and asked to walk in a straight line. And he strays left and then right and the whole time he looks confused. Where once everything seemed exciting and new, now even the simplest things (like a shell on the beach, for instance) are baffling. His eager puppy-dog enthusiasm for life has seemingly, for the past few days, at least, changed into bored confusion and vague anger (with a hint of miserable indifference). And he's so thirsty! When walking along the concrete-streets he laps up dirty puddle water, and his owner feels awful for having to drag him away (it's one of the few times recently he's looked slightly happy).
Maybe city-life isn't all it's cracked up to be. The endless entertainment, the lack of moral substance - a place "where boys fuck girls that they never will marry". So many acquaintances and so few real friends. And when you're out for the night "you must lust touch, 'cause you want so much". And despite the fact that you "smell love-struck", really you just "feel alone". It's not sexual physical contact that you want, just a reassuring hug from either sex. At least in a shitty village you recognise every face, and you probably go out of your way to acknowledge every other one.
The reason the line, "Do you ever feel like you want to go home?" resonates, is because of the implication that home has disappeared* - swallowed up by the capitalists and the corporate suits, catering to your every consumerist desire, and the media reducing night-life to a choice selection of stereotypes, each of which it now seems necessary to fulfil - all this resulting in your life being filled with vacuity where once there was substance (as opposed to substances).
I watched Oscar walk along the narrow corridor of the caravan just there now. He banged his head against wall. Maybe it was frustration, or maybe he really can't see straight anymore, but at least, like Jamie T, he's trying to move forward.
Side-notes: Notice that amidst the lyrical disillusionment with city-life, there is also evidence of Jamie T's anti-war beliefs - coupled with his frustration regarding the falseness of the "it's bullshit" media, ("well pigs fucking fly and it ain't about oil and fox news has always been fair and balanced"), and also, seemingly, a wandering diatribe against the fact that communication with others (via the telephone) is expensive.
(image source: The Guardian)
Lo-Fi-Fnk - The City (The Teenagers Remix) [Info]
In parallel with the aforementioned then, is this song. It starts out with proclamations of love for the city and its homeliness ("Boy it's great to be back home - the city - that's where we belong") but then the excitement matures into a mild frustration ("beginning feels like oh-so-great but soon it turns to just-ok"), which is tempered by an obvious affection for the city. It's worth noting that the song still ends with the recurring motif, "still it's great to back home / the city, that's where we belong". If you took the remixers name as being a deliberate part of the title, then perhaps the endless optimism can be explained. This is the perspective of teenagers, so despite all its faults, the city caters to their every need, and thus, is still home.
Interpol - NYC (Live - Black Sessions)
One of Interpol's main draws is their subtlety; their vague ambiguity that while not completely understandable, rarely fails to create a gloomy (though not over-bearing [like Editors]) grey-scale atmosphere. To try to explain or over-analyse the wandering lyrics (this time, appropriately, about city-life), would be to dismantle the charm. Download Interpol's 2004 Black Sessions here.
Hot Club de Paris - Everyeveryeverything
And if you need some light-hearted (but appropriate) relief after the moody misery, then who else to turn to but Hot Club de Paris? With a song that details the fast-paced Friday night frenzy, the frivolous tale of excess not only in lyrical form ("in the shadows of a Friday night, I walked into a brand new streetlight"), but also through the relentless, hectic musicality. The title, seemingly, sums up the constant desire that comes from city-dwelling, the insatiableness of our spirits (never enough alcohol, or friends, or dancing, or drugs - we want Every-Every-Everything!) Every night is a new beginning; a chance to shine just as bright as the nearest streetlight, the furthest star. A chance to drink up and meet new people ("I commanded those neon lights to... / To spell the new names that I learn").
(image source: Britannica)
Jamie T - Here's Ya Getaway
Writing out the lyrics of one of the verses of this song seems like it would be more useful that redundant analysis, so that's what we'll do. Needless to say, the lyrics display more disillusionment with the city, anger at (presumably) Iraq, and perhaps even a vague nod in the direction of the homeless and poverty-stricken ("while you're asleep they're on the street"):
"In these cities, hard to see the stars overhead;
Can see the moon though - the streetlight turns it blood red .
The star symbolises the cuts we bled,
The mouth got fed, the winding alleys that we tread.
The moon, much bigger, representing the dead,
Who lie in the sewers under soldiers feet.
They stir as you march, while you're asleep they're on the street
Put your ears to the drain, you can hear them weep"
Los Campesinos! - We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives
Los Campesinos! reinforce the idea that frustration with city-life (and all that that entails) and anti-war sentiment go hand-in-hand. Although the detrimental effect of sexual promiscuity, ("when you play pass the parcel with human body parts / someone might get head, but someone will get hurt"), and the detrimental effect of smoking on the taste buds - and perhaps implicit criticism of showmanship - ("yeah, it's great that you can blow smoke-rings but you won't taste her lips if you do get to kiss her") are just a few of the other topics discussed in this whimsical anti-war song. Typically student-y, the song (so perhaps ironically - since irony is the buzzword of all student-types) thinks about war but is frivolous in its convictions - seemingly saying, "yeah, let's just party and forget about it". The title itself suggests a defense of this attitude, however, ultimately saying "ok, so maybe we like to be silly, but at least when we're silly we're harmless".
Why are city songs so appealing? Maybe it's the constant conflict between the idealist and the realist - the power-struggle that always seems to take place in an urban-vs-suburban environment. A city-wide struggle which holds sway over so much. The desire for choice without the malignant-capitalist karma; A pro-drug view that wants no casualties (be it the downfall of morality, or the actual deaths of users).
Cities are notoriously diverse and contain people from all walks of life; people of different beliefs and ethnic backgrounds. So maybe it's the fact that despite wishing that we lived in a world where everyone was entitled to their own beliefs, (you read the Qur'an, and I read the Bible, but we're both human and it's important that we both have our faiths), we have to realise that, as right-wing as it seems, our different faiths put us at war with each other. And maybe if Blair didn't side with his fellow Christian, George Bush, then Britain would lose a friend, and in twenty years, China - likely, or definitely, the dominant power - would become America's ally, and Britain's empire would be further diminished**.
Aside from this, there's the fact that though most of us are pro-choice, support equal rights, same-sex marriages and adoption rights of gay couples, we're still, when it comes down to it, seemingly right-wing in our beliefs. People criticise Mike Skinner, and Jamie T for trying to speak to (and about) 'the youth of today' when really they're just a couple of well-brought up middle-class kids, but I say, and what? But then, I'm middle class too, so I would say that. This constant conflict (left/right, Daily Mail/Guardian, socialist/capitalist, anti-/war, etc) - and the realisation of the blindingly obvious fact that not every-fucking-thing in life is black-and-white, - is summed up aptly by Jamie T with the lyric, "peeps call us right-wing but we're pretty fucking liberal / I shit you not, 'cause we're all about the equal".
Klaxons - Atlantis to Interzone (Hadouken! Remix) [Info]
Oh, and if you didn't know already, cities are full of drugs.
Hot Club de Paris - Shipwreck (Jamie T & Ben Bones' Stormy Weather Mix) [Info]
Hot Club de Paris - Your Face Looks All Wrong (Lo-Fi-Fnk's Scouse House Mix) [Info]
Interpol - Untitled (Datassette Remix) [Info]
*Similar to these titular lines by Bloc Party and Bright Eyes, respectively: "Where Is Home?", "We Are Nowhere And It's Now".
**This is Tony Blair's view anyway, and one of his justifications for the war. I learn a lot from newspaper supplements.
#Uncredited photos in this post are my own.
##A person with a pro-drug stance is not necessarily a drug-user.
###Oscar seems ok now. Not perfect, but getting there (I hope).
####My favourite sea-side holiday get-away has not really been taken over by a corporation. Thank goodness.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 00:29
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Necessary Note Before We Begin:
If you download only one song: make it Jon Solo's cover of Blue Light.
I have remixes and covers of songs I've never even heard. That is to say: the original is a foreign island. I (most of the time) have heard of it, so I know it exists, but I've never been there. Never tasted the air there, or the food, never felt the warmth or the humidity, never looked up at the skyline and felt content, never taken a dip in the water and thought, "God, it's even colder than it is at home!" But through these remixes and covers (or even alternate versions by the band themselves), I've heard of the elements that are in place - so I kind of think I know that the Mexican food there is great, Italian's not really their kind of thing, the valley's act as sun-traps and on Sundays they go there and relax, but during the week the heat is unbearable, it hardly ever rains but when it does the villages flood, they aren't skyscraper people and because of this I like them - they like to be able to see real mountains as opposed to build buildings that block out the sun, their horizon's are broader than ours, they like to skinny dip past midnight but only in the Great Georgian Lake - never in the East of Eleanor one. Are you following?
It's so hard these days to keep track of who wrote what and who fucked what up and who improved upon what. Case in point: That Kissy Sell Out song I featured - I now know that Ali Love did the talking/rapping bit, thus it was a sample, but did I know that before? No. And I found out accidentally! (by listening to some Modular Dance CD). With the ongoing increase in digitalisation, there are less liner notes accompanying the music - mp3 blogs are mp3 blogs; not sources to find out the producer, writer, remixer, trumpet, tube, flute, piccolo players, and 'miscellaneous tasks' credits.
But alas, I've strayed from the point. The point being, that there are far more (or definitely seem to be far more) remixes and covers of songs nowadays than there ever were before, and so here in these posts I will offer up two versions of each song (and the first won't always be the original) and you can decide which you like more. Or maybe they both have merit! Or maybe you might find that (remarkably) they are two different (aurally) songs despite being cut from the exact-same cloth. Say wha? Whatever. Enjoy.
Elliott Smith - Needle In The Hay
Elliott Smith - Needle In The Hay (Live Full Band Rendition)
Apparently this full-band rendition is remarkable. Unfortunately I can't enjoy it properly, because I'm a stickler for sound-quality, and as far as that goes, live recordings don't really do it for me, unless they're done professionally (e.g. download resource). But perhaps you can see the diamond in the dirt and love it more than the original (which, oddly, I've never really loved as much as everyone else seems to, despite often loving Elliott Smith more than they do. Go figure.)
Midlake - Roscoe
Midlake - Roscoe (Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve remix) [Info]
Talk about blog-hype. This band did the rounds for so long I was ready to abandon hope on the whole discovery-of-great-bands-via-blogs thing. Y'see, I didn't get them at all at first (or even at second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth). I don't know when I finally let this song change my mind about them (or if it ever did - this is the only Midlake song I listen to with anything even approaching regularity). Imagine some sort of durr A-Team theme-tune done by a lazy psuedo-country&western band who constantly smoke and you've got this song. I know, I agree, it sounds like it's gonna be so shit, but somehow it isn't. BTWS provide extra room and softness, so if that's your thing you'll like the remix, and if that's not your thing, you won't, and if you're like me, you'll find that the changes are so inoffensive they're barely noticeable. But then, 'dance' music is all about subtlety, isn't it? [When I say 'dance' I don't mean 'dance', literally. Obviously. If you know what I do mean, you get a pat on the back from me.]
Kate Nash - Foundations
Kate Nash - Foundations (Metronomy remix) [Info]
Kate Nash got very hyped up. I didn't understand why. At all. Now I do. Kind of. You should too. I've liked Metronomy ever since that Infadel's remix ("L-O-V-E-L-I-K-E-S-E-M-T-E-X!"), but I can't tell if this remix is truly enjoyable, or just interesting. Maybe you can.
Metric - Monster Hospital (Acoustic)
Metric - Monster Hospital (MSTRKRFT Remix) [Info]
I didn't even realise that Metric actually mentioned Bobby Fuller in this song! When MSTRKRFT make the song so danceable, I'm not sure I even care.
Athlete - God Only Knows (Live on BBC Radio 2) (Beach Boys Cover)
Petra Hayden - God Only Knows (Beach Boys Cover)
I really like the singer from Athlete's voice - but you can't really tell why in this close-cover of a classic. Petra Hayden's cover sticks even closer to the original Beach Boys version - forever embedded in my mind now as a seasonal song (blame Love Actually); a song for log-fire Christmases and present-wrapper-covered floors.
(image credit: matthew snowden)
Bloc Party - Blue Light
Jon Solo - Blue Light (Bloc Party Cover)
I liked the fact that on the relentless first Bloc Party album this song was a chance to breathe, to sit down, to think, to relax. It's just such a good song. And the cover - it feels completely different; not less of a sigh, just a different kind. The original was hot air on a cold neck; the cover is wet lips on a warm cheek. And it feels happier too. Bloc Party are resigned, but Jon Solo sounds content. The cover has a bounce but it's so laid-back-Sunday-morning that it's almost unnoticeable - you don't so much hear the cheeriness as feel it. If I walked out of the house right now listening to this song there would be a spring in my step, accompanied by a calm sort of happiness - more three-pints-in-two-hours excited than the usual one-after-the-other-after-the-other vodka-and-lemonade buzz.
As if you couldn't tell, this wasn't mulled over for hours, therefore complaints are probably deserved. I hope I haven't offended anyone - if you could see the way I smile as I write you'd know that all jesting was really a form of love. Also, if any of the descriptions seem way off, maybe they are, but they made sense at the time. Perception is a funny funny thing.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 19:12
Monday, June 11, 2007
Bloc Party - I Still Remember (SebastiAn Remix) [Info]
Bloc Party - I Still Remember (Lull's Music Box & Tears Mix)
Bloc Party - I Still Remember (OrtzRoka Dub Remix) [Info]
Unlike SebastiAn's remix - which in the beginning has hues of Queen and Mika (and thus is on the brink of being almost too silly to be enjoyable*), - or Lull's 'Music Box & Tears' mix - which is so simplistically happy that its cheesiness is slightly off-putting, - OrtzRoka's dub remix is so mildly euphoric that it seems designer-made for late-night chill-out sessions. Preferably with a few close friends, resting upon hilltops, looking across the ocean at a golden sunset. The scenery itself would complement the floating, casual contentment of the tune. This song is perfect for those nights (you know, the one's where you're tired but happy - the one's that come after a few days of relentless partying) when you're so exhausted that the original version's unashamed happiness would be too much - but where the sentiment of gleeful remembrance (with a tinge of regret) is perfectly apt.
None of the remixes however, (with the possible exception of the OrtzRoka Dub - which, taken on its own terms, is fantastic), manage to conjure up the original glory of the original - if you want to hear that, go buy the album (it is well worth your hard-earned / student-loan-loaned cash). If you want to hear Bloc Party remixed SUPERBLY look no further than this tune:
Bloc Party - Helicopter (Allan Breakneck Mix)
*Don't get me wrong, I like Queen and used to be a massive fan when I was younger, but mixing Bloc Party with Queen over-/under- (?) tones just doesn't really work for me, personally. I will concede however, that whenever the beat kicks in the remix begins to get a lot better.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 15:10
Monday, June 04, 2007
Kissy Sell Out - Get Ready For The K Hole!
You'll recognise the music instantly. Maybe you don't know how or why but you won't (read: shouldn't) care. And you might (but shouldn't) be put off - because it seems a bit, well, louty, doesn't it? But what's social class and every-day facades got to do with the enjoyment of music*? Nothing, really. Or they shouldn't, in any case. Music should transcend all social boundaries (real or self-imposed). So I offer you this, and I hope you smile and you enjoy it. It's euphoric, and it's ridiculous. It's dance music for the Mike Skinner generation - self-conscious, tongue-in-cheek, intelligent, fun-loving, socially-aware, silly. And maybe you're thinking that this description seems a bit flattering - (perhaps it is) - but if you have experienced, or seen others experience, even some of the events detailed in the lyrics, then this song will mean so much more to you. Quite simply put, it's hilarious.
Beyonce - Irreplaceable (Sta Remix) [Info]
Similarly, if you think you're too cool for pop music... trust me, you're not.
*Note: If it seems contradictory that I say social class should have nothing to do with the enjoyment of music, but then continue on to insist that 'Get Ready For The K Hole!' is more enjoyable if you understand the spot-on-ness of the lyrics - well, I'm sorry, but I'm sure you understand what I mean.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 15:35
Friday, June 01, 2007
We'll keep this brief since I still have more stuff to pack.
Reed KD - Seventeen
This is the song I think of when I think about the fact that everything I own has to be moved: "I was packed away in boxes". But I don't want to get lost - oh no, I'm coming home. But the line, "we'll never be seventeen", is so simple and so heartbreaking. Time doesn't stand still for anyone - everyone has to grow up at some stage. Thankfully, my time is not now. So while this song is small, short, simple, and sad, my heart is bursting with life.
Reed KD - Please Forgive Me
Mistakes are made, relationships fall apart and the world keeps on spinning.
A. A. Wallace - I Can Break Your Heart
A. A. Wallace - Godspeed You Black...
If I was looking for a replacement for the late Elliott Smith, I would probably pester this guy to continue making such sad anthems. The truthfulness of each song is gutting. You might say it's uncalled for, and maybe it is, but sometimes people beg for your opinion so much that eventually you forget your social grace, and you tell them, straight out, "It's not that I was reckless, I just didn't care".
These artists present two sides of the same coin - one is apologetic, romantic, and (tries to be) hopeful, whilst the other is honest, romantic, and miserable. I'm sure you can work out which is which. They are both honest in their own ways. And both have songs that deal with moving, packing, dreaming.
Don't think that these songs are any less amazing just because nothing much happens. It's the subtle details in life that change people, that change hearts. Like buying that Mickey Mouse notepad for your best (female) friend. She might not even say thanks, but in her heart she is smiling. If you ask her six months later when she knew she might be falling in love with you, it's that simple gesture that she'll recall. And when you're separated, and in a different country, it will be the train journeys you take alone, past valleys, greenery and beaches, that leave you sobbing uncontrollably. Our hearts are touched by the smallest things.
How is your heart? I think mine is falling apart.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 18:11
Thursday, May 31, 2007
They were given note-pads and Bic biros. They were given spray-paint and public transport. They were given voices. They were given laptops and imagination. They were given face-paint and glow sticks. They were given voices. They were given a beat and feet to dance with. They were given sofas in night-clubs upon which they could sit, sleep or kiss. They were given hearts bursting with joy and life and love and wonder. They were given everything.
If you want to dance, then dance. Just because it's still daylight and the streetlights haven't come on yet -- it doesn't matter. Soon, the sun will go down and the kids will come up. It doesn't matter if your face is sparkling with sweat, glitter or a smile. Maybe you're covered in Day-Glo colours, or maybe you're still half-asleep from the night before. The point is... it's time to kick-start your little heart. And remember: there's plenty of time for hugging afterwards.
Electro-Graffiti At Bus Shelters
Chromeo - Fancy Footwork
Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles Vs Klaxons
Kavinsky - Testarossa (SebastiAn Remix) [Info]
Solomun & Stimming - Feuervogel
Parts & Labor - Fractured Skies
Pantha Du Prince - Steiner im Flug
Justice - Waters of Nazareth
Click to download all tracks as a ZIP file.
[Info] = website of the remixer.
Listen in the order shown. Or don't.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 12:13
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
If, somehow, you are unaware of the brilliance of Jeff Buckley (one of few artists who truly hold a special place in my heart), then these songs below, are the ones that I urge you to find, and listen to. In parenthesis you will see where they can be found -- after you find them, it's up to you to let them into your heart, and to change your life.
FIVE ESSENTIAL TRACKS
Last Goodbye (Grace)
Lover, You Should've Come Over (Live A L'Olympia)
Hallelujah/I Know It's Over (Mystery White Boy)
What Will You Say (Mystery White Boy)
Morning Theft (Sketches)
Although, the new compilation album, So Real, is also a good start.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 12:10
I Know We Could Be So Happy Baby (If We Wanted To Be) (Demo)
Lover, You Should Have Come Over (Live Acoustic In Japan)
All Flowers In Time (with Elizabeth Fraser)
Forget Her (alternate version)
The Boy With The Thorn In His Side (The Smiths Cover)
When The Levee Breaks (Led Zeppelin Cover)
Be Your Husband (Nina Simone Cover)
Ulalume (Edgar Allen Poe Reading)
He was already dead when I first learned about his music -- about his adoring fans who can breathlessly recite his lyrics and song-titles, and hum his melodies as if they'd written them themselves. But Jeff Buckley isn't the music-geek's personal soul-mate -- even the casual music-listener has heard or heard of him. His cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", recorded in 1994, emulated John Cale's and - later - the song became omnipresent, used in the sound-tracks of TV sitcoms and dramas, such as Scrubs, The West Wing, and The OC.
But this isn't about the prevalence of "Hallelujah" in TV and Cinema (to read about that, and the song's evolution, read this article). This isn't even really about the fact that 10 years ago today, Jeff Buckley went for a swim in the Wolf River Marina (Memphis, TN) from which he never returned alive. Because, tragic as that is, it doesn't say much about him, or his music. We can't ascertain how someone lived, or what they created in their lifetime, merely by knowing the circumstances of their death. (Although you can read a tribute detailing said circumstances here.) Really, this is just a celebration of the fact that Jeff Buckley lived long enough to record some unbelievable music.
Before he was signed, Jeff Buckley performed in the Sin-é (at that time, a café-style venue in New York's infamous Lower East Side), where he would play mostly covers, and improvise in a whimsical nature -- always encouraging audience participation. The Live at Sin-é EP got released to promote Columbia's new artist to the public before Grace came out, which was then posthumously expanded to a sprawling 2CD and bonus DVD package that truly emphasised the almost flippant nature of Jeff Buckley's talent -- he could step up to a microphone with just a guitar and his voice and wow an audience into silence. Even after his death his music continues to hush, touch, change.
It was through the release of Live A L'Olympia in 2001 that I first came into contact with his music: his guitar skills, his voice, his lyrics. My brother asked for the album as a Christmas present from our parents, and then he invited me into his room to hear it. And I was just... stunned. And when I read the liner-notes I was gutted -- why wasn't this amazing musician still alive? Why?! For a live album to be so emotional and playful and perfect -- it was and still is just incredible. [Buy]
But Grace, the album proper that I subsequently discovered, didn't have the same impact upon me -- the studio setting for me, appears to render some of the emotion sterile. Live, Jeff Buckley could be cathartic, amazing, overwhelming, but - to my ears at least - the studio setting removed some of these desirable elements and almost, in a sense, made the songs too pitch-perfect. In comparison to the studio albums of other artists though? It's still nothing short of incredible, and critics and fans agree (in 2006 Mojo named it the #1 Modern Rock Classic of all Time; in 2005 readers of Q magazine placed the album as #13 on their list of The Greatest Albums Of All Time.) [Buy]
Brief Words On:
Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk: This release left the songs as they were, in their unfinished states, as 'sketches'. Remarkably, this album, so clearly unfinished, is incredibly enjoyable. [Buy]
Jeff Buckley's influence: Admired by Radiohead, Damien Rice, and Martin Grech... enough said.
Radiohead with regards to Jeff Buckley: The vocal for Fake Plastic Trees, perhaps my favourite Radiohead song, was recorded by Thom Yorke in two takes after seeing Jeff Buckley perform. After the vocals were laid down, Thom Yorke apparently broke down into tears.
A gushing summary: Music bloggers in general are stereotyped as being obsessed with the new new NEW! with only the briefest backward glance at what's come before, but few new artists can hold a candle to Jeff Buckley in my eyes. An example of someone adept in all fields of musicianship -- his remarkable voice spanning four octaves (read more at the official Jeff Buckley FAQ), his guitar skills (which, unlike many, he only ever showed off if it was beneficial to the song -- few realise how incredibly skillful he was at guitar because of this), his interpreter's ability to transform the songs of others into his own (see the Sin-é sessions for proof), his lyrics ("My kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder... all my riches for her smiles when I slept so soft against her") -- his whole craft was impeccable. Thus, despite today being the 10th anniversary of Jeff Buckley's death, his music continues to live on and touch the hearts and minds of others.
Jeff Buckley Official Website / Jeff Buckley Official Store / Jeff Buckley Discography / Jeff Buckley Guitar Tabs / Jeff Buckley on Wikipedia / Grace on Wikipedia / A Beginners Guide To Jeff Buckley
If you want to download more rarities, live versions, and songs written in tribute to Jeff Buckley, then go to I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS. There are a lot of great posts (all conveniently linked at the bottom).
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 07:42
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Prerequisite: Understand that any incoherence is (hopefully) to do with sleep-deprivation.
You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve
Every time I hear the new Editors' single, Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors, my mind drifts and this is the song I think of. That drumbeat is so familiar. It's not the exact same - but when recalled through hazy memories and backward glances, it seems to be.
It almost feels wrong to feature this song as we step warily into Summer, when the song feels like its stuck in a permanent Winter - instruments played by frost-bitten hands, all exuberance and frustration, in front of kids with rosy-cheeks. A song of star-sparkles, countdowns and sleigh-rides; (seemingly) playful banter mixed with sincere sentiments.
But, in a way, it also feels right to feature this song. A reminder of Christmas* - a time of believing in something, be it Jesus or fairies or human kindness or the healing power of nature, etc. In these crazy, summer days filled with barbecues and drunken after-parties it's good to remember that sobriety can be just as pleasant. Just fill your living room with friends and watch ancient sit-com reruns on TV - perhaps after a nice Sunday dinner, or a swim in the lake. It's not that cold this time of year you know. [Info]
It's almost as if the spirit of Leonard Cohen is hanging from the chandelier, smoking a Regal Filter and breathing hot and heavy in your ear. But it's a tired, resigned Leonard Cohen - all romantic longing and nostalgic regret. And try as his band might to lift the tune - blowing upon embers to rekindle a fire - they're actually the ones making the song sadder; bitter reminders dressed up in jubilant brass and lively percussion. Once upon a time things were so precious - life was exciting, everything was beautiful. Now its only the memories of easier times that remain; but recalling those bygone moments almost keeps them alive. [Info/Buy]
Said The Gramophone featured Fake Empire** just-the-other-day, and unwittingly nailed my opinion on The Twilight Sad's debut: it's perceptibly flawed - and I won't deny it - but it feels right that it's flawed. All truly beautiful things are flawed (we would probably be too suspicious of them otherwise) - yet it's the fact that they carry their flaws in such a way that we shrug them off, dismiss them, (eventually we might not even notice them). They wouldn't be the same without these minor imperfections - and we love (when we truly love) people, places, albums, et cetera, for what they are, not for what we want them to be. And my obsession with this song feels like more than just a casual fling.
*Even the clever title seems like a barbed rebellion against the consumerist nature that plagues Christmas. Sometimes it's ok to sit in and enjoy yourself; relaxed in a room full of casual smiles and easy conversation. At least that way the rent gets paid.
**I have no doubts about posting this song: it is a summer song, lilting and catching sunlight, smoke rings, sadness and the dearest of memories. Surprisingly, I'm not a fan - per se - of The National, but they do have their moments.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 19:22
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
All Cleaned Out
There is no beginning. You (the listener) are thrown face forward into the frame. Straight in with the melody and the there-before-you-realise chorus. The misery of (maybe) a mother, who goes through new-boyfriends like she goes through old Biro's and cheap-beer, curled up in a sheet of note-pad paper and thrown from a window; gliding as it catches the air and reflecting sunlight in the same way that a mirror reflects eye-wrinkles and fake-tan-streaks. [Info / Buy]
(image credit: Ann Ranlett)
It could be the creaky instrumentation that starts an episode of Poirot; melodramatic, curious, hackneyed, adored. The gallop of hooves and the troubadour lyrics; despair in a light-of-calm. "The circus girl fell off her horse - now she's paralysed." Cold and unforgiving, yet passionate and inspired - so altogether unjust, unhappy, unsatisfied and so altogether alive. "I'm going to run the risk of being free." Evocative of the type of controversial wisdom that be gleaned from aging leather-bound books - mere pontification on the fact that "the shackles that bind us are those that keep our lives unified." And (perhaps) unfulfilled. [Buy]
Patrick Wolf had some convinced he was retiring. But really he's just taking a break. And this is good news.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 18:59
Sunday, May 06, 2007
A mix for patio-parties underneath shimmering sunshine. Electro, house, pop, etc - the kids in skinny jeans and skin-tight t-shirts (cap-sleeves! yeooo!) are listening to this music while they eat their lunch. A few guys with cardigans and scarves on are sitting on a bench, smoking a cigarette, and listening to this music. Some guys playing basketball - behind a school / beside a play-park - have got their sneakers on and when they rest they absorb the sunshine and the music. They love the beats. They love their dancing feet. They love to shimmy, sway, sashay across the court. The house-beats follow their footprints across the gravel.
Dancing Feet Need To Feel The Beat
Van She - Sex City (Nightmoves Remix) [Info]
Test-Icicles - What's Your Damage (Alan Braxe & Fred Falke Remix)
Superpitcher - Happiness (Lawrence Mix) [Info]
The Streets - It's Too Late (High Contrast Remix) [Info]
Radiohead - Street Spirit (Funkagenda Remix) [Info]
Professor Murder - Free Stress Test (Harkin & Wolf Remix)
New Order - Temptation (Secret Machines Remix) [Info]
Moby - Lift Me Up (Mylo Mix) [Info]
Midlake - Roscoe (Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve Remix) [Info]
The Knife - Heartbeats (Rex The Dog Remix) [Info]
José Gonzalez - Crosses (Stanton Warriors Remix) [Info]
Junior Boys - In The Morning (Hot Chip Remix) [Info]
Click to download all tracks as a ZIP file.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 22:08
Sunday, April 29, 2007
One Two Three Four
It starts off simple, slow and sweet with Girl-Scout guitar and Feist's trademark scratchy vocals. But soon enough, everyone around the campfire who can play an instrument decides to join in - even those who can only finger-click and hand-clap - to create this ebullient atmosphere; this reckless abandonment. It's so joyous - a song (penned by New Buffalo) filled with wonder and adolescent innocence. [Buy]
I'll Kill Her
I meant to feature this song around the same time as everyone else did, but somehow I never got around to it. Pleasing enunciation with a French accent; almost-but-not-quite spoken-word. Old-school guitar riffs which carry - and create their own - melodies, and simple one-note solos hovering just above. Chirpy, crisp, but oh-so-sad in its own way. Bitterness and obsession dressed up in quirky, playful clothes. [Info]
You can find an eighty-three minute long radio-show for which Pharrell, Ratatat and Soko picked songs - and played some of their own - here.
There's a bouncy castle and a chip-van - offering free food - outside. The sun is out and it's sidling up to the clouds and smiling. There's a speaker-system throwing old-school tunes across the grass. And if I was DJ-ing that Feist track would be played every hour. Somehow this feels worth mentioning.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 14:41
Saturday, April 28, 2007
The Twilight Sad [Buy / Info]
Cold Days From The Birdhouse
I woke up last night at 11:38PM. I haven't been to sleep since. A phone-call shook me out of my sleepy reverie. The phone-call ended, the words spoken were forgotten. But before that phone-call I had a dream. An ex-best friend was getting a piggy-back from a best friend. We were at the beach, right beside the ocean. I felt the sand curl around my toes, the warmth sinking into my skin. She was up on his shoulders; they were running. Everytime I caught up with them I tried to reach out to her, to feel the touch of skin on skin, hand on hand. And every time, they ran faster, further. She remained out of reach. When I went to rest my arm on her shoulder it was shrugged off.
I thought I didn't understand the opening motif of this song. I heard the words but they meant nothing to me. But the voice - intimate and warm, crackling like logs upon a campfire - the voice that sang them nearly broke my heart.
I realise now that I understand what those words mean. To me, at least. "You make it your own / But this is where your arm can't go." Everytime I try to rest my arm on her shoulder it will be shrugged off. I will never comfort her the way I did, once.
At the time, I thought I was making no difference. I knew that I couldn't possibly know how she felt. I'd never experienced the physical death of a loved one. I still haven't. But I did things that I knew how to do. Writing notes, sending supportive texts, sharing emotional songs. Often there was no reply. I didn't know what she was thinking; how she was coping. I didn't know if her brave face was all smoke and mirrors; if she was actually breaking inside. Afterwards though, she wrote a short card. A thank-you. It's under my bed, in a shoe-box stuffed haphazardly with memories. The magic from my life that's been captured, like lightning in a bottle.
"Your red sky at night won't follow me now / I won't wear your shoes" Friendships can develop out of mutual respect, trust, love. Friendships can develop out of shared experiences, walking in each other's shoes, empathising.
Friendships can develop out of similar likes/dislikes, loves/hates. But I only remember the things she used to like: bands, places, books. Any new interests she develops I won't be able to discuss with her. Anything new in her life I won't know about. When there's beautiful weather in her part of the world, it won't be something we share in common; it won't be something we discuss when there's nothing left to say. Never again will we sit together on steps and find shapes in the sky - in the clouds. I won't receive post-cards from her when she's in far-away places. No more magic will be conjured or captured.
Splinters of sentences rise up in the air like smoke that won't lift. Reminders of a scar that never heals. ("another hotel", "a romantic gesture", "another phone-call.") And can you hear that steady staccato-tap of a piano key that remains constant throughout? Like the second-hand's tick on a Grandfather-clock. It's the sound of time moving steadily on. The decay of memories.
What will happen when the memories run out? When I can no longer taste her in the air, or remember the way she walked when I hear battered Converse crunch along dusty gravel. When I can no longer look out upon a village, or a lake, or a meandering road along a cliff-side; when I can no longer look upon a thatched cottage, or a delicate painting, or the flowers - the roses, and the tulips, and the daisies - in a city-park and think, "This is beautiful. She would have loved this." What happens then? Is it as if she never existed? Except for some elegant hand-writing on an old-fashioned thank-you card? Will several words of hers, regarding a time I don't remember, be all that I have left? Will I just have a scar on each of my hands - a cigarette burn; knuckles dragged along a pebble-dashed wall - from long nights wrestling with impossible choices. Will I even remember those long nights?
"I won't clip your wings." Cowardly choices dressed up as good intentions. It is only in my dreams that I reach out to her, try to pull her close again. Even if things changed, circumstances and situations, I wouldn't even know the words to say to her. I could smile. I could hold a conversation for a few seconds. But after that I'd be lost. I'd chain-smoke; I'd drink myself silly. I'd stutter; I'd trip over my words. It's hard to understand how people once so close can be so distant.
"Will you come back?" She was up on his shoulders and they were running. Everytime I caught up with them I tried to reach out to her, to feel the touch of skin on skin, hand on hand. And every time, they ran faster, further. She remained out of reach. When I went to rest my arm on her shoulder it was shrugged off. I think I'm grateful for this.
This song is a perfectly constructed collage of thoughts and feelings. Invigorated, emotional, achingly beautiful. The sadness of life. The difficult decisions, the failed friendships, the silent betrayals. The need to keep moving on. The steady piano key... Even the slide-guitar that opens the song signals change. "You won't follow me now." [Buy / Info]
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 01:17
Friday, April 27, 2007
Cheer Me Up Thank You
The vocal quirks - the deep sighs, the panned harmonies - remind me of Imogen Heap, but maybe slower, simpler. And is Sally Seltman really happier, or as she puts it, cheered up? Or is she still melancholic over the loss of a friend or a lover or a sibling yet trying to put on a brave face. It's no mistake that on its second outing the tail-end of the clichéd mothers-little-helper line, "and look at what we've got", is drowned out by wash-away coo's. Yet, when the song is this lovely I'm not sure that the pervading sentiment (whether truth or façade) even matters. But I do sometimes wonder. And why is it so lovely? The same words, looped, the music a constant, why do x + y = pleasing? Once again, maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe the song should be gratefully soaked up, absorbed and accepted without any real thought - like the words of loved ones sitting at the bedside of their comatose belovéd. The sentiments drift through the air and then wash away. [Info / Buy]
Tegan and Sara
Where Does The Good Go?
Not to turn this into a RIYL session, but: RIYL if you like The Weepies (mp3: Rocks & Water). Or recommended if you like pop music that is catchy, defiant, but inherently miserable. The dual harmonies are to die for; the sentiment is heart-breaking. [Info / Buy]
The entirety of Somewhere, Anywhere by New Buffalo is exquisite.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 07:45
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
So, Triptych starts today and carries through 'til Sunday (gigs strewn throughout Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Edinburgh). As a Glasgow resident, here are the local one's that I'm interested in:
Cat Power (mp3: Wonderwall) performing on the Renfrew Ferry with Tom Brosseau (today/tomorrow)
CSS (mp3: Music Is My Hot Hot Sex), Prinzhorn Dance School, Ratatat (mp3: Seventeen Years) at Barrowlands (tomorrow)
65daysofstatic (mp3: Retreat! Retreat!), Kling Klang, Stuart Braithwaite (of Mogwai) DJ Set at Subclub (Friday)
Etienne de Crecy, Loose Joints, Stevie Elements, Andrew Divine at Art School (Saturday)
Ballads of the Book: Idlewild, King Creosote, Sons & Daughters, James Yorkston, Emma Pollock, Lord Cut-Glass, Alasdair Roberts, Aidan Moffat, Mike Heron, Karine Polwart (mp3: The Good Years), Norman Blake, Trashcan Sinatras, Foxface, Hal Duncan, Rodge Glass, John Burnside, Bill Duncan, Alan Bissett (mp3: The Rebel On His Own Tonight), Robin Robertson, Laura Hird at Tramway (Sunday)
Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve: Erol Alkan & Richard Norris (mp3: Roscoe) at Admiral's Bar (Sunday)
Unfortunately due to lack of funds, I probably won't make it to that many of the gigs. Perhaps I'll go to David Kitt at ABC (not a Triptych gig) tonight though.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 08:27
The internet is an odd thing. When it's gone you instantly want it back so you can Google that festival, find out what gigs are happening later on in the week, check your e-mails, use Dictionary.com to define that word, find out an album release date, check out the cinema listings for your area, research whitening toothpastes in order to find out which of the commercially available one's is the least abrasive, find out what the weather looks like for tomorrow ('cause you're praying it's a nice day so you can go to the park and take pictures, but you don't know yet if you should even bother waking up), tell the world about that one New Buffalo song that's been on repeat all week, etc, etc.
But when you get it back, you wonder why you were so desperate in the first place. Anyway, for now it's back. It will be gone in an hour. While it lasts, I'm taking the opportunity to share with you some songs. Been working too hard? Been staying up too late? Been raining all day? Rest your feet on the chair next to you, drink some alcohol, and quietly buzz. You deserve a rest. You deserve a party. Shout-outs to Kiss Atlanta and Palms Out Sounds for bringing many of these to my attention. You want this mix described to you? Chilled out electro that indie kids can enjoy, party songs that never really become anthemic, pop songs for lovers of abstract paintings in art-galleries, music for the single man to put on while he's in the garden, sipping at his alcoholic drink.
Indie Kids Don't Dance
Editors - Munich (Pase Rock Bip Remix) [Info]
Daft Punk - Around The World (Killdahype Remix) [Info]
Lo-Fi-Fnk - Wake Up
Hot Chip - Colours (DFA Remix)
Chromeo - Needy Girl (Bloc Party's High School Prom Remix) [Info]
Van She - Kelly (Cut Copy Remix) [Info]
Vampire Weekend - Walcott (Insane Mix #2)
Bloc Party - Blue Light (Engineers Anti-Gravity Remix)
Peter, Bjorn & John - Young Folks (Punks Jump Up Special Disco Mix) [Info]
Dead Disco - The Treatment (Metronomy Mix) [Info]
Justice - D.A.N.C.E. (original)
Teki Latex - Les Matins de Paris (Surkin Remix) [Info]
Snowden - Anti-Anti (Treasure Fingers Remix) [Info]
Simian Mobile Disco - It's The Beat (The Teenagers Remix) [Info]
The Secret Handshake - Too Young (The Toxic Avenger Remix) [Info]
Click to download all tracks as a ZIP file.
[Info] = website of the remixer.
Listen in the order shown. Or don't.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 07:08
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Must Be The Moon
This song is a slut. It doesn't make a big deal about it. It swaggers like it would swagger if we didn't know it was a slut. It is what it is. It's as infectiously catchy as STD's. If you smile at it, it'll take you a walk. All of a sudden you're in its arms in your own bedroom. And as it gets redressed later on, it'll be casual about its nakedness, and if you point it out, it'll look at you and be like, "yea, I know, I'm getting dressed now". I can't stop listening to this song every time I put the CD in. I'm charmed; and if asked would I ever go for a one-night stand again with this song, I'd probably say no, but in my heart the answer would be yes, yes, yes! Oh, please! [Buy]
Highly regarded by !!!'s fans, (their best song yet, apparently), this makes me dizzy. I only heard it the other day. It sounds like a live session to me. Like they were in the middle of Soho one day, drinking, and they said to the bar-staff, "Hey guys, is it alright if we just set up here? Maybe, play a song or two?". And normally the response would be "No, of course not", but the sun was out, and these kids were charming. So they shrugged, nodded "yes". And it's like they recorded the whole thing, there on the spot, with the band just sort of glancing at each other with half-smiles and happy-smirks, jamming it up, instruments coming in and out of songs like restless guests at house parties ("hey the kitchen is where it's at man! - actually, no, I think I want to sit down in the living room for a minute"). Can you feel it intensify?! Can you feel it? Put your hands up! C'mon!
These songs are for everyone who celebrated the weekend and the start of the week with alcohol and friends.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 17:47
Friday, March 30, 2007
The Voom Blooms - Politics & Cigarettes
A little flash-back to a recent yesteryear (I believe this was recorded in 2005?), which is still relevant today. Insistent, marching drums, interwoven dual-guitar riffs, and passionate vocals struggling to be heard, all leading to the mildly dramatic chorus: "you and I, we're coming home". All done with just a slight nod to Interpol.
I first heard this track on the sadly departed blog, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 03:12
Thursday, March 29, 2007
U2 Songs - Live, Covered, Remixed
Scala & Kolacny Brothers - With or Without You
Rogue Wave - Seconds
J-Lo vs. U2 - I'm Real A Little While (Mash-up)
RX - Sunday Bloody Sunday
The Edge - Sunday Bloody Sunday (live) (incorrectly labeled)
Benjamin Costello - Sunday Bloody Sunday
Today, Bono (lead singer of U2; real name: Paul Hewson) was awarded an honorary knighthood. Due to being Irish, he will not be able to use the title 'Sir', though he did suggest some alternatives: "Lord of lords, your demi-godness," he quipped. His new title, is in fact, Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) and he believes he will be able to put it to good use in the never-ending fight against world poverty - "An award like this actually really helps me get through a few doors I wouldn't get through", he remarked. Last year MTV named him the most influential pop star of the past 25 years. Ends.
I finally updated my blog-roll. It took ages. That will be all.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 23:11
Montag - Sorry We Are Closed
M83 - Teen Angst (Montag Remix)
I'll confess: I know little about Montag. But what I have heard (the songs above and a variety of other things) is enough to get me interested. I love the Teen Angst remix - the first time I heard it my breath caught. Well, he has a new album, entitled Going Places, coming out on May 29th and a quick run-through of the contributors is enough to get the pulse racing. Here's the ones that excite me the most: Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy, Anthony Gonzalez of M83, Amy Millan of Stars, Au Revoir Simone. I will be awaiting the album with eagerness and anticipation. Will you? [Tracklist]
Au Revoir Simone
A little maracas from the bench beside the park. A few fingers tapping on the picnic table, just inches away from a couple of friends with their heads laid down. An effort to remain cheerful even though you can see the clouds taking shape overhead, the sky slowly darkening. You can see the lake through the trees. There's a sailboat on it doing it's daily trip back and forth. And there's people with trumpets in it! They're giggling and laughing, smiling at you. You try to return the gesture; to suppress the fear of loss. You remember that it's only when you have something beautiful that you are able to fear its loss. And you have that; so you smile back, and count yourself lucky. [Buy / Info]
Final Fantasy cover versions of songs by Mariah Carey, Bloc Party, Arcade Fire, Joanna Newsom, and more, are still available here.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 19:06
The stunningly beautiful Lisa Lobsinger's profile rose, quite noticeably, when she started touring with indie-rock legends (nay, GENIUSES) Broken Social Scene. She became another member in their ever changing roster of female vocalists (Feist, Emily Haines, Amy Millan). She likes to sing barefoot. When she sang "Anthem For A Seventeen Year Old Girl" my eyes welled up with tears. When she moved, my eyes followed her. I had to force myself to stop staring, so I could concentrate on the other members of the band. Broken Social Scene at Mandela Hall, Belfast = best live gig I have ever attended? Damn right.
Reverie Sound Revue
An Anniversary Away (demo)
Anyway, she's also the lead singer in a little known band called Reverie Sound Revue who make dreamy ("Reverie" coming from the French word, "Rever", meaning "to dream") lullabies, full of soothing syllables, and easy going ambiance. I thought that after her Broken Social Scene recruitment they had broken up, but no... it appears they are now working on their debut album some five years after their formation. And above you'll see the first available track (a rough demo) from it. Pretty sweet, huh? It's a bit more eerie and ethereal than previous songs, and I like it. I am EXCITED. Although, I think it's also the thought of getting a physical disc with sleeve-notes featuring her beautiful face. And people call me shallow.
Reverie Sound Revue
Walking Around, Waiting Downtown
This City Belongs To Us
Rip The Universe
Passes and Passports
Enjoy catching up on what the band sound like, and learning what you should (maybe) expect from their forthcoming album (which as yet has no release date, and (I think) no record label).
Broken Social Scene
Anthem For A Seventeen Year Old Girl
It's All Gonna Break (live)
By the way, if you've never experienced Broken Social Scene live, you've never lived. If you haven't discovered their music yet, now is the time. Actually. One of my favourite bands, despite only finding out about them with the advent of mp3 blogs (and my subsequent discovery of said blogs), and the release of their FANTASTIC, yes, FANTASTIC, chaotic, beautiful, swirling, production-wise absolutely-spot-on, self-titled album. I really love this band. [Buy]
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 03:59
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Damien Rice released his debut album, O, in Ireland in 2001. I doubt you knew about him then unless you were an Irish resident at the time. My brother was just getting over his first big break-up, and brought the album home from Dublin one weekend, and I was instantly won over. The songs meant a lot to him, mainly for the bitter, caustic lyrics which he could relate to: "God may forgive me, but I, I whip myself with scorn" / "Cheers darlin', here's to you and your lover-boy...", etc.
Time went on, Damien Rice released a radio-friendly version of the song "Cannonball", the public went mad (long-time fans got mad) for the good-kid-done-heart-broken shtick. And consequently, Damien Rice became a household name. It took him close to six years to finally release his second album 9, much to the dismay of his fans. Irish animated piss-takers Eyebrowy made a sketch wherein an excited Damien Rice talks with his secretary on the phone. The conversation topic? The possibility of once again re-releasing O, this time in America: "What's the title they're thinking of? 'Cannonball Plus Nine Other Songs'?! That's brilliant! Why didn't I think of that?! Yea, tell them to go ahead with it!" Slightly scathing, perhaps, but definitely not without a grain of truth. In between the release of the O and the eventual release of 9 came a plethora of singles, re-releases, and of course the B-Sides album (which is, in itself, fantastic).
Many fans rejoiced when 9 was finally released. Some just replied, "Damien Rice? Who's he again?" No matter. It's a quality album with some brilliant tracks; some critics say it surpasses O, but for me that's definitely not the case - perhaps due to my emotional connections with the album, or perhaps due to O actually being the stronger album. [Buy]
Damien Rice - Radio 3FM
9 Crimes (live on Radio 3FM)
Rootless Tree (live on Radio 3FM)
Anyway I thought it was time to share some Damien Rice with you all. You'll notice that the piano that characterised lead single, "9 Crimes", is absent - replaced by guitar. Lisa Hannigan's vocal contribution is fantastic, as always. Piano takes main-place on "Rootless Tree", softening a song that before was an angry mess of fucked-off vocals and reckless guitar playing - Damien Rice creates an emotional ballad out of a song that was originally titled "Fuck You"; impressive. [Buy]
Damien Rice - KCRW
Delicate (live on KCRW)
Volcano (live on KCRW)
The Blower's Daughter (live on KCRW)
Perhaps the greatest strength of O's construction was the plentiful use of strings to add drama and emotion; thus it's interesting to see how the songs fare without any tricks - songs rendered as songs; simply guitar and voice; a father telling a story to a child and then seeing how well "the story of O" holds up when not seen in a cinema with SFX-galore. And the songs, like good stories, fare very well indeed.
Damien Rice - Extras
I Remember (live on Letterman)
Creep (Radiohead cover live on Today FM)
"I Remember" was one of my favourite tracks off O, for various reasons: the lyrics, including the line "I remember December"; the way it starts like a ballad and then veers off-course into a chaotic emotional frenzy. If you compare and contrast Radiohead's acoustic version of "Creep" (to be heard on the My Iron Lung EP), to Damien Rice's, then the latter is thoroughly underwhelming. Still grand though.
Volcano (Damien Rice cover)
Older Chests (Damien Rice cover)
Nothing to say about these other than: they're enjoyable covers. Benjamin Costello is currently working on recording his first album.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 17:47
I'm going to tell you something now, that I obviously don't need to: There are a lot of pleasures in listening to music. Like, yea Frank, I know! One of them though, is when you get stuck on a single track off an album (for instance, on !!!'s newest LP it's "Must Be The Moon"). Slightly strange however, when you're stuck on Track One Side One, as they say. It's not that the CD player's broken, but your fingers are. It's an uncontrollable urge to sacrifice hearing any other song and contentedly settle on the first song instead.
(image: Euro Disco)
I'll Be By Your Side
Well, that's how it is with Sally Shapiro's Disco Romance, anyway, (the track in question called "I'll Be By Your Side"). It's almost shameful how much I like it; it feels like a guilty pleasure. It's a throwback to eighties Euro-Disco, full of melodramatic flourishes and pretty vocals (with the occasional one awash in synths). I can't shake the feeling that I'm listening to an indie version of "Final Countdown" (yea, that one, by Europe). In the end though, I'm not too fussed. I'll stick to my guilty pleasure, my hairbrush hit (as Radio 1's detest-worthy Sarah Cox would say), 'cause my fingers move and all of a sudden it's on repeat; so what's a guy to do but give in?
Sally Shapiro's Disco Romance got a glowing review in Pitchfork. I don't know whether it was merited, because, as you know, you can't judge a book by its cover (incidentally, that's how I decide which books to consider buying), and you can't judge a CD by its first song (I have the CD is its glorious entirety, but I'm not feeling inclined to turn off "repeat" just yet). Pitchfork probably had a similar problem: "I'll Be By Your Side" came in at #27 on their Top 100 Tracks of 2006. [Buy]
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 14:24
I've never been one of the hardcore fanatics. I discovered The Moon & Antarctica (Modest Mouse) the same time I discovered Perfect From Now On (Built to Spill), Emergency & I (The Dismemberment Plan), Either/Or (Elliott Smith), Finally We Are No One (Múm), Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven (Godspeed You! Black Emperor!) and a couple of other gems. It was near Christmas and I'd just read a post on a message board listing a user's ten favourite albums. I respected his taste and so I went with it, straight onto Amazon, and about four weeks later straight into my CD player. The wonder of it all is that this was back (must be about six years ago now? I lived in a different house then!) in the time of Napster (which I rarely/never used) and dial-up. A time before blogs and the Hype Machine. A time when there were far fewer ways to sample an album. I bought all of those albums on good faith, and good faith alone - I knew nothing about, and had heard nothing by, any of the artists.
But wow. Yes, WOW. A word that succinctly indicates jaws-dropping; a short word suggestive of awe. Its use is just: a lot of those albums are gemstones, precious things I hold close to my heart. Albums I listen to either frequently or every now and then that still hold a magic sparkle. Albums that made me, very seriously, truly appreciate music for probably the first time ever.
However, as I said, I'm not a fanatic. I've always appreciated Modest Mouse, but at times they're too raw, or difficult, or inaccessible, and I don't have the patience. The Moon & Antarctica however, is a great album. But, in my opinion, so is their new one. As an avid fan of The Smiths, obviously I'm likely to be swayed by the inclusion of their guitarist, Johnny Marr. And he does lend a touch of accessibility.
Many bloggers/critics/etc either hate (yea, hate) or merely dislike We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, some find it mediocre, but few like it. I am one of the few. I guess I've never really been ecstatically delighted by the Modest Mouse sound, and thus I have no problem with their slight diversion from it. Perhaps surprisingly, the album is likely to end up one of my favourites of the year. Therefore, you should get the album (no, but actually: do it) and see for yourself what all the fuss (positive-and-negative) is about. There are too many aspects to discuss here (the fragility of "Little Motel", the clear-cut pop-single "Dashboard", the constantly brilliant vocal-deliveries, the guitar-work of Marr, etc, etc).
3rd Planet (album version)
3rd Planet (live at KVRX)
3rd Planet (live)
One of the first times I ever listened to The Moon & Antarctica was in an ex-girlfriend's (the term is for clarity - in reality it's too cold; too dismissive of everything that's been & gone, everything that still is) house. It was the first time I ever stayed the night there. The first track on the album, "3rd Planet", is, in retrospect (I don't know if it was actually during this song, but that's how I remember it) the song that sound-tracked the first kiss since we had separated, and consequently the sound-track to the entire rekindling of the relationship. Unfortunately, that line that everyone remembers, "I've got this thing that I consider my only art of fucking people over" is applicable. Nevertheless, the song is magical, personal, beautiful. [Buy]
We've Got Everything
"We've Got Everything" should be played in house-parties, in kitchens of University Residences, in bedrooms of young lovers. It's an exclamation of joy, of delight; a proclamation of a fierce and burning love for life. Maybe it's sarcasm, a piss-take of people who do think they know and have everything. Maybe not. I like to think of it as a semi-serious (the chuckle at 1:09) celebration - but of what? - of EVERYTHING. Of life, love, knowledge, science, literature, the world. Fuck it, it's all out there and it's ours for the taking. Coming from a mature* Isaac Brock it just sounds like a reminder to University kids, youngsters, hipsters : you have the potential to be anything / everything! ; so do it: aspire to it and achieve it. And it makes perfect sense coming from an underground indie band done good. [Buy]
Some other music for you to get your fanatical teeth into:
Modest Mouse Covers
Josh Ritter - Blame It On The Tetons
Goldspot - Float On
Sun Kil Moon - Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
*Incidentally, the message on "3rd Planet" was the exact same: "My boss just quit the job, says he's going out to find blind spots, and he'll do it" [i.e. Do whatever the fuck you want. You might as well. You can. And once you realise that, the possibilities are endless].
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 01:12