So it's RED NOSE DAY. Which means Comic Relief. Which means comedy, a lazy night in, appeals to the heart and donations of money. So what do I have? Uhm, music. Specifically, music about having a heart. Donate.
The Knife - Heartbeats (Live OneMusic)
José Gonzalez - Heartbeats (Live KEXP)
The Knife & José Gonzalez - Heartbeats (Remix)
Scala Choir & Kolacny Brothers - Heartbeats (The Knife Cover)
The Knife - Heartbeats (Rex The Dog Remix) [Info]
The Knife - Heartbeats (Rocketboy Remix) [Info]
The Knife - Heartbeats (rndnmbrs remix) [Info]
My particular favourite is the anonymous remix. In fact, that's probably my favourite version of the song when taking into consideration the original, the covers and the many remixes. Just so you know. Who knew that by combining the music of both and the vocals of both you could create such a brilliant, call-and-response style, track? Well, they did obviously. And so did many of the other remixers. I also like the choir rendition, and not just in an ironic fashion. I like all things which hint at innocence, and it doesn't get much more innocent than roughly sixty teenage girls singing "ten days of perfect tunes / the colours red and blue / we had a promise made / we were in love". Of course, like a lot of people, José Gonzalez's cover is how I first heard the song - with the minimal guitar playing and the subtle voice reminiscent of Elliott Smith. Yet the original is equally fantastic. Simply put, this is a great song, and by using the foundations of it, it's pretty hard to go wrong, hence the many remixes.
Donate to Comic Relief: here.
Or ring: 08457 910 910
Coincidentally, who saw The Apprentice (Comic Relief Special)? Hands down, the best piece of television programming this year so far. I even want to go out and buy an Alastair Campbell book or something ("Need not fear, in the future he plans to release a two-million-word book" - Ed). He just seems crafty, and likable. If this really is his two-years old blog, sweet. It's a fucking laugh-and-a-half. Every time you laugh, laugh heartily, and maybe donate. To Comic Relief you understand. Not a former spin-doctor. As likable as he is.
Over £34M now. Impressive. But don't let it put you off.
In the end, just over £40M was raised.
Celebration: Heartbeats (Leitworks Remix) / Post: Addendum
Friday, March 16, 2007
So it's RED NOSE DAY. Which means Comic Relief. Which means comedy, a lazy night in, appeals to the heart and donations of money. So what do I have? Uhm, music. Specifically, music about having a heart. Donate.
Be Your Own Pet
19 - 20 - 20
Pop music with a pleasing bite - like the burn you feel after smoking a well-made self-rolled cigarette with cheap tobacco. Kind of dizzying, and it burns, but it feels nice. For fans of Cansei de Ser Sexy and any girl-fronted punk group reliant on melody. Dance music for the kids who still make rock-signs with their hands and hold their hearts with their fists. The guitar's are jarring as if they just learned to play them recently, hammering down on chords in their bedrooms, watching MTV and saying "that should be me on that screen".
Be Your Own Pet will be touring with the Arctic Monkey's through the month of May. Dates: here. Buy CD's and so on and so forth: here.
Buy stuff from The Grates: here.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 17:09
First impressions of BARR/Brendan Fowler: This is different! Kind of crazy, and sometimes it seems too silly to be palette-able, but enjoyable none-the-less. Reminds me a wee bit of Bradley Hathaway.
It's nice that this guy's out there doing his own thing, for his own enjoyment - fuck the boundaries. The album title, Beyond Reinforced Jewel Case, is apt - relishing in the fact that musical foundations are there to be built upon, and trying to push his art as far as it will go. Basically he's doing provocative and aggressive spoken-word tracks over improvisational drumming - and the odd piano. Kind of like Arab Strap on ecstasy, coming up and coming down all at once.
When I listen to the mellower tracks off the album, I'm reminded of JD (Dr Cox: Newbie) in Scrubs. The way the show breaks down twice an episode so that JD can come to terms with what's been happening, transforming the mundane into seemingly profound life-lessons. BARR is a more aggressive JD, basically. But underneath all the posturing he's just confused and trying to make sense of this crazy world; looking for affection and appreciation along the way. He creates a sense of bafflement and befuddledness through the ad-libbed way that the song's come across - the way he will begin a sentence and then go back on it, correcting himself.
Is All For Updated
My List of Demands
"Is All For Updated" discusses fanzines, people who dislike his music, fashion, aesthetics, destruction of televisions, toning down affection. It also displays his blatant disregard for boundaries, his silly sense of humour: "R is for "They help us", and R is for "No they don't!"
"Us" explores the idea of art as catharsis; does an experience become less intense if you sing about it constantly? Of course, it's well-known that talking helps (British Telecom: "it's good to talk"), yet because of the sincerity, and perhaps the uncertainty, of the spoken-word, the simple discussion of reality does take on a constructive shine of pseudo-philosophy. However, the song also explores the idea of incorrectness: is it right to parade the scars of your life in front of the whole world? To shed your skin in front of an audience? "I saw you play and I liked it 'til I heard what you were saying; your words, about God and your mother dying from cancer. I was so offended. How can he throw that at people?"
Although "My List of Demands" is dark and brooding - at times almost a chore to listen to - it's lightened by the vocal inflections, the careless words "You said a fucked up mean thing to someone and ruined it all everything forever, FOREVER, and that's cool. I mean, you did it, whatever", along with the subtle, bitter, humour, "at your cost! you are being charged twice!" The song explores the topic of performance, audience appreciation, the feeling you get when you defend yourself, your family, your friends, the beauty of righteous indignation. Ideas are thrown up in the air and then a back is turned on them, people are at once bastards and friends, tangents are created and then followed. [Buy]
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 12:41
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Storm Raid Battle
Call it what you will, Nintendo-Core, Str8-Bit, IDM, that-Annoying-Game-Boy-Music... I certainly won't insist upon any genre names. If you want to know what these songs sounds like, think a game of Tetris where instead of rearranging the blocks with your thumbs you do it with your feet, like on those Karaoke-Style Choreography-Dance Machines that you get down at your nearest arcade. Then add in a few samples that wouldn't be out of place of Streetfighter or Mario (think: the Princess scenes), and you've pretty much got it. Stupid, fun, and addictive. Harking back to a more innocent age where the biggest problem in your life was completing that fucking difficult level on Zelda, unlocking all the extra tracks in Diddy Kong Racing, winning the world cup in International Superstar Soccer, or getting beat every! single!! time!!! you played multiplayer Goldeneye with your brother.
Twin Chevron Action Flash
Colonopenbracket or :( take this electronic whiz-kid music and use it to their own ends. Using their own voices instead of samples, they create their own songs full of adolescent worries and a pervading sense of fun. Emo-core? If core means using those bleeps that old computers used to emit when you pressed a key for too long, then yes! because it contains sounds like - and inspired by - those silly noises, and the vocals are so often emo in their nature, yet irresistable. "You're not the cutest guy in here!"
Sabrepulse + Colonopenbracket
Colonopenbracket - Twin Chevron Action Flash (Sabrepulse Remix)
This one seems to have been arranged by a child, fascinated by incomprehensible language, and so instead choosing to rearrange and play with vowel sounds to get the meaning across. And yet, some of it seems so genuinely sincere - too young to know how to lie! The track consists of electronic beeps inspired by too much time playing arcade machines and the sense of wonder reminiscent of spending many a long night down at the bowling alley trying to win a quid on the two-pence machine and then... finally!... just at the end of the night, hitting the jackpot! A whole two pounds and thirty-four pence! Life was so simple once (for the fortunate, anyway), and we should always be reminded of this.
Colonopenbracket are currently touring the UK, check out dates here.
Sabrepulse will apparently be moving away from 8 bit in the near future.
To buy things, go to their websites.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 13:19
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
I love making Mix-Tapes, or more appropriately, Mix-CD's. I made quite a few last year, and feel they are a good way of recapping last year's goings on in the blogs, (since that's how most of the tracks came to my attention). Below you'll see 12 out of the 20 tracks that were on the first one I made. It starts with the voice of Colin Roberts, former editor of Drowned in Sound. The mix-tape is fairly subdued and peaceful, although No Scrubs is great for novelty's sake, and each track stands up on its own two feet.
All The Little Things (You Have The Sweetest Eyes)
Carmichael - Treadmill
Monkey Swallows The Universe - Sheffield Shanty
Minus Story - Open Your Eyes
Au Revoir Simone - Hurricanes
The Rosebuds - Hold Hands And Fight (Live KEXP)
Rocky Volotato - The Light And The Sound
Antje Duvekot - Dandelion
Beat Radio - A Million Miles
Matt Pond PA - Grave's Disease
Architecture In Helsinki - Like A Call
Bravo Silva - I Can't Say Goodbye
TLC - No Scrubs (DJ Copy Remix) [Info]
Click to download all tracks as a ZIP file.
Beat Radio's debut album, The Great Big Sea, can be downloaded here.
["Our sleep is like a tape: when it runs out we just turn over"]
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 22:27
It's that time of the year again when the seasons are confused. There is rain for seconds, minutes, that absolutely drenches you, covers you head to toe in water, so that all you want to do is get inside the nearest grocery store and browse the shelves for products with nice packaging that you know you won't buy. But it stops, almost as quick as it started and there's you, left soaking wet, underneath a bus shelter, taking cover. And as the sun comes out, the clouds evaporate, but you're too wet to fully appreciate it.
I'm in Glasgow, and that's just how the weather is at the minute. Butcher Boy are also in Glasgow and they understand the seasons, the way they are so nonsensical, the way all this talk of seasons may just be a metaphor for life - how the good times and the bad times happen all at once, with no rest. Maybe that's why their music is a collage of musical touch-stones: the stripped back nature of early-day Belle & Sebastian, the shimmer and shine of Camera Obscura, the melodious harmonies of Voxtrot, and the oft miserable wordy foreplay of Morrissey.
Butcher Boy - I Know Who You Could Be
If the sweeping introduction of this song continued for a lot longer than it's mere forty-five seconds... I would be content. It could never outstay its welcome for me. The way it seems designed to soundtrack a camera sweeping in and out of valleys, plains of green grass, mundane villages with Post Offices, Telephone Boxes and Bus Shelters, before once again sweeping across and out away from the suburban sprawl, up the mountainside, before looking up to the sky just in time to follow a flock of seagulls on an outward journey.
Yet the introduction is short, never daring to even tread the line of repetition. Butcher Boy's music is one of economy, (ten tracks coming in at a mere thirty minutes), packed full of emotional strokes, charming melodies and pop sensibilities. Little is explicit in the lyrics, intentionally vague so that so much more is said than that which is explicitly stated. This is a glorious album that the listener is meant to embrace, hold tight against their chest like a pillow, like a lover, and make it their own. By causing listeners to read between the languorous lines, it can be at once universal and personal.
Butcher Boy - Keep Your Powder Dry
This song almost makes my cry. The delight, the delight! the delight! oh you don't understand, how could you? - you weren't there. As soon as it starts in with the shuffling, insistent percussion, and then breaks away into that melody! the melody! oh dear, it's lovely! The song shimmies and sways along a fine line between sadness and happiness, full of memories, oh those memories! Maybe the song is about a lover who never loved as fully as he/she was loved, or maybe its something else entirely. The story isn’t important though! It’s the style behind the content: throughout the lyrics, the sense of colour; Kodak images crystal clear upon the iris even in recollection! oh, the wonder! the shimmering of the clouds as the silver lining almost - yes it does, it does! - catches the Sun's light and, oh, how it shines! The melody carries this song - every instrument is at its beck and call, just waiting for the next twist and turn, the next stop sign, the next green-light, "it's ok! go! yea go! smile, darling, smile!" Even from the deepest valley you can see the Sun’s light if you look hard enough.
I've always appreciated music that could, perhaps, be described as twee, and enjoyed it for what it was. But it's never meant more to me than a pleasant soundtrack to a Spring Day. I think it was always the sense of faux-sincerity that, for me, it revolved around - these kids are delightfully rolling gorgeous melodies off the tip of the tongue - how unhappy could they really be? Yet with this album there's such a sense of wonder, and sadness, and a thousand other simple - yet so complex! - human emotions, that I think I begin to understand how a deliciously happy pop song can cause a listener to let a stray tear roll down their cheek. Profit In Your Poetry wears its influences on its sleeve - it's not revolutionary, yet, for me, it is. Maybe now when I look at a shelf with Belle and Sebastian CD's I'll give them a second look, instead of shrugging and thinking I've heard it all before. Maybe I finally understand this folk/pop/twee shtick after all: Even in sadness there will be memories of happier times and the hope for more.
John Blain Hunt, the leader of the band, says that Butcher Boy's music revolves around memories, an appreciation of the little details in life that make it worth living, especially the vivid sense of wonder! experienced as a child... but more than that; the idea that those moments are gone forever: they can't be brought back. For instance, when I was younger I would always ask my dad to make me tea and toast, despite being capable myself. And he always would, without complaint. But as soon as I decided to start making my own supper, the shared moment, the kind gesture, was gone forever. Today, there are only memories of that time when... Rain falls across the window. The sun will be out soon enough. [Buy]
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 01:11
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The Bar Is A Beautiful Place
World-weary, tired, compassionate. Heart-broken, earnest, misunderstood. Playful despite it all. There's something delicate about this song: the laugh at 2:35, the oh-so-tired "sha-na-na-na... na" throughout. Ryan Adams has offered up some great songs through the years, even great albums (Gold and Heartbreaker, for me), and you couldn't expect any less from someone who releases two to three a year. His music is something I appreciate, sometimes love, but have few words for. So go get yourself your supper, your Kleenex, and your memories, then curl up in your duvet and I'll (mostly) let the songs speak for themselves. [Buy]
Cry On Demand
I remember the exact moment I first heard this song. I was in a friends kitchen, this song silently caressing us from a battered CD player, kept quiet so his parents didn't hear. There was tea and toast, and each of us in our respective seats. We were too young to get into bars, but too cool not to try. He was tired and teary-eyed but sincere and friendly. I tried to be the same, but mostly Ryan Adams took my part in the conversation. I just sat there eating my toast, watching someone fall in love with a song for probably the fiftieth time - "Nobody cries, they just smoke and stare at their shoes." I swoon at an earnest vocal delivery. I close my eyes and let it hold me. There's one of those moments in this song three minutes in: "Why would you want to?" [Buy]
Wonderwall (Oasis cover)
The voice cracks, the music echoes into the ether. [Buy]
Call Me On Your Way Back Home
"Oh baby why did I treat you like I did?
Huni, I was just a kid.
Bubblegum on my shoe, but...
you loved me. and I loved...
you... Call me on your way back home, dear, 'cause I miss you.
Oh I just wanna die without you.
Huni, that ain't nothing new." [Buy]
La Cienega Just Smiled
This song bathes in a bath of tears, and it means the world to me. It's an acceptance of all that's been, not knowing what the future holds, but knowing that although looking back feels lovely - comfort in memories - damn, it hurts. Sometimes it feels like I miss you more everyday.
With songs like these, memories tip-toe out from their hiding places, like tears falling out of seen-it-all eyes. Evocative of the kind of understated beauty that should be understood through gestures, and caresses, warm bodies on cool beds, memories, regrets and silent shouts. Lowercase letters just don't do them justice. [Buy]
Ryan Adams will be releasing his new album, Easy Tiger, on June 4th through Lost Highway. It will feature a reworked version of this song:
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 22:09
What Else Is There? (Thin White Duke Remix)
Last year, I listened to "What Else Is There?" a lot. I first heard it on Zane Lowe's show, and he would always, always play it and never say the name, so it took me a while to find. But it was worth it. So, completely, worth it. I rarely listen to it: I save it for special occasions, keep it tucked away like a precious postcard. I don't think a dance track has ever moved me so much. Being that it's not my primary field, I know little of it, and I'm not the biggest fan in the first place, maybe (probably) it's my fault that I've never been properly moved before, or since. I mean, this song has brought tears to my eyes that can't be explained. While at work, putting the milk out, and forcing me to turn away, turn back, and smile. There's just something so innocent about it, I guess. The song is repetitive and simple and long. But every note seems so perfectly placed! It's repeated so much so you can grasp this! It's better than having to manually repeat the thing yourself. And you would.
This Gui Boratto song seems to fulfill a similar purpose for me this year. It's simple, repetitive, and long. But enjoyable! It's a driving song, for those long days when you turned left instead of right, and just kept going. It's a song for sitting outside with your best mate cooking the barbecue while you sit there drinking cider and soaking up the sun. The quiet days before the big nights. Oh it's a beautiful life, it's a beautiful life. [Buy]
Thin White Duke also goes by the name of Jacques Lu Cont. And a few other monikers. His real name's Stuart Price. He produced Madonna's latest effort. He does other stuff. I think he's great. The new Gui Boratto album is pretty good with the occasional stroke of rare beauty.
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 00:20
Monday, March 12, 2007
Owen Pallett is a violinist, pianist, singer, and lyric writer going under the moniker of Final Fantasy - referencing "The games [which] are ridiculously overwrought and convoluted emotionally," which he believes his music shares a similarity with. With two solo albums under his belt, Has A Good Home, and He Poos Clouds (a tentative concept album based around the spells within Dungeons and Dragons), he has established himself as an interesting and varied songwriter. He also co-wrote the string arrangements on both Arcade Fire albums, subsequently raising his profile among the indie crowd. His live performance also displays his adept skill at creating intelligent compositions, showcasing his talent for the creation and layering of textures. Live, he uses a sampler controlled by foot pedals in order to loop layers over layers, replicating the broad and ambitious strokes of his albums.
Another thing which his live shows are infamous for, are his superb renditions of songs not his own. Many of these are fantastic and show the playful, and admittedly gay, side of his personality, (evidenced by the Mariah Carey cover), and his appreciation of other musical acts, often making the songs more gentle and precious, (see: the Bloc Party and Arcade Fire covers). Some of the songs below have shoddy sound quality, stripped from YouTube videos - marked with an asterisk - but are still worth a listen. Also included is the album version of his Joanna Newsom cover, "Peach, Plum, Pear", featured on ...Has A Good Home.
Sweet Fantasy (live Mariah Carey cover)
No Cars Go (live Arcade Fire cover)
This Modern Love (live Bloc Party cover)
Paris 1919 (live John Cale cover)*
An Actor's Revenge (live Destroyer cover)*
Interview (live Simon Bookish cover)*
ABC (live Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark cover)*
Peach, Plum, Pear (Joanna Newsom cover)
Other songs he's known to have covered:
Joni Mitchell - Sex Kills
Xiu Xiu - Fabulous Muscles
...and a variety of songs off Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark album Dazzle Ships, including the aforementioned ABC.
Being a former student of composition at the University of Toronto, as well as understanding intrinsically what makes a song great, are two things which lend themselves well to his remixing skills - a talent that he has in abundance, and which will be further showcased on the forthcoming Stars remix album, Do You Trust Your Friends, on which he will be remixing "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead". His remix of Grizzly Bear's "Don't Ask" remains one of my favourite songs. The "Black History Month" remix features on the fantastic Death From Above 1979 remix album, Romance Bloody Romance. On the song he adds an orchestral emotional knife, stripping away some of the immediate dance-ability.
Final Fantasy Remixes
Death From Above 1979 - Black History Month (Girl On Girl Featuring Final Fantasy Revision)
Grizzly Bear - Don't Ask (Final Fantasy Remix)
All this talk of Final Fantasy makes me want to go out, today!, and buy a violin!, and learn to play!, and then sing 'til my little heart's content. It also makes me think of how I saw him at ABC in Glasgow and thought the OMD cover was especially for us. He played his Theme Song for the first time ever also - that was special. Memories are great, aren't they?
What Do You Think Will Happen Next? (live WFMU)
This song is one of my favourite recorded live performances. As soon as he starts insisting, "YES I CAN! YES I CAN! YES I CAN!", I was sold. But to then go on and go crazy, ad-lib the whole vocal, draw for breath, mimic a child or a bird or the highest person in the whole world looking down from his plateau and just smiling - there's a smile! in the vocals! and a laugh! - and then to finish off with "it's going to be a bright, bright, sunshiny day" !!!... simply put, it's beautiful.
With regards to Arcade Fire's new album: I'm still unsure. It's obviously good... but how good?
No Cars Go
...for comparative and evaluation purposes. [Buy]
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 21:39
This song is a caravan song. Remember? We were there and I'd just made us pizza - this song is the shy-shrug as a piece fell from your fork. After we finished, and before we settled down with a blanket to watch an old comedy on TV, we were washing up - this song is the mischievous grin on your face as you lifted your hand and pressed it against my cheek, soft and warm, leaving a trail of soapy-suds in its wake. This song giggles and charms, holds the door and peeks its head round, just before saying its farewells: "Enjoy your week kids. Hope the film's great! Anyway, see ya later alligators!" [Buy]
Woozy With Cider
The imagery of the words remains the most evocative element of this song. The reflective voice, and the ambient music add to it all, but it's the words that conjure images, that make it such a pleasing spoken-word lullaby. My ears and my heart are well-acquianted with this song; with its self-deprecation and affection. I've just closed my eyes, rested my head upon the pillow, and my memories all come flooding back to me, passing across my eyes like faded photographs. That time we lay in the park and I gave you my apple; That night we stayed up late talking 'til five a.m.; The only time we ever stayed in a hotel together, and I was restless and couldn't sleep, convinced I was in love with you; When we were in the bar - I'd just come back from getting drinks for the two of us - and all my friends were looking nervous; avoiding eye-contact. Afterwards you told me that they'd let you in on my little secret: I think you're the most beautiful girl I've ever met. This song is all of those memories and more: a life-story condensed into a few words; set to the calming sound of electronic bleeps. [Buy]
Mistakes In Animation
Walking Along Seafronts At Night
This song could also be a caravan song, though not quite as giggly, and a lot more starry-eyed. Imagine: It had been a long day - we were both tired and restless from sitting about, drinking tea and watching ancient repeats of Rising Damp. Neither of us could drive so we walked to the shop, then down to the beach. You took your shoes and socks off and sighed; I zipped my coat and pulled my hood up over my head. We walked along the pier, your voice going against the wind, finding its way into my heart. I stopped at the edge of the pier, and sat down; You worried that I might fall in. I pulled my sleeves down over my hands, turned around and embraced you.
James Yorkston is set to release a new album, entitled Roaring the Gospel, comprised of rarities on May 14th. Mistakes In Animation is currently touring the UK: for a full list of dates, see here. I recommend you see him on tour; he deletes the line between performer and audience, and it's fun to watch. For more photos, see here. More from Luke Temple:
Posted by Say Anything Syndrome at 09:53