Today was a rubbish day, and filled with no fun. Therefore, in order to cheer myself up, I am going to resurrect a thing I used to do lots of: music post!
Mixlet No 1: Songs about New York, written by outsiders
Because I might get my arse there in summer, unless the taxman comes to get me for my extracurricular activities.
New York – Paloma Faith
I love this. It's so full of drah-mah! Paloma starts by telling us a story of how her faithless fella has gone and abandoned her for this racy, exciting TROLLOP, and we're all indignant on her behalf until she reveals that the strumpet in question is New York. And we all go "If it was Birmingham he'd gone to, we'd be all pitchforks and torches alongside you, love, but this is New York". Of course he's buggered off. Have you thought, perhaps, of a You/Him/New York OT3?"
Best bit Around 2.42, where the glorious choir kicks in; I think it's meant to evoke Let The River Run.
New York – Stephen Fretwell
Stephen Fretwell comes from Scunthorpe, that firewall-invoking northern industrial town. Of course he dreams about going to New York.
Best bit: The NSFW defiance of the chorus
New York, New York – Ryan Adams
I DEFY you not to dance around the kitchen to this. DEFY YOU.
Best bit: "Hell, I still love you, New York."
Not strictly related to New York, but a Brooklyn band and mentions the New York Times:
Pluto – Clare and the Reasons
Three reasons why you should listen to this: (1) It has amazing strings; (2) It's about the news last year that contrary to all that we had been taught, Pluto was not in fact the outermost planet of the solar system. A song about PLUTO! How awesome is that? (3) You can now do that solar system playlist that nerdiness demands*
Mixlet No 2: Great songs in languages other than English.
Sénégal Fast Food – Amadou et Mariam
Produced, I think, by Manu Chao. The entire album is terrific but this is a standout because it seems specifically precision-engineered to make you dance in your chair and sing badly in French. And frankly, the world doesn't do enough of that, even in France.
Aldrig Ensam – Jonathan Johansson
The exact opposite of "Sénégal Fast Food" -- contemplative, cool, with a gentle, propulsive beat and a strange, almost choral vocal. I like the lyrics too, now I've worked them out.
Caravane – Raphael
I was arsing about on Spotify and came across the album this is from. It is aces, and that is the truth. Yes, there is the slight odour of fromage , but I do not care. It is a manpain anthem.
Best bit: C'est le Bon Dieu qui nous fait / C'est le Bon Dieu qui nous brise! See! It is fabulous!
Strawberries (Ulrich Schnauss remix) – Asobi Seksu
I quite like the original, but this remix is amazing; it transforms an awkward cuss of a rock song into a dreamlike swirl of sound that's like a cross between the Cocteau Twins and Lush on a very, very good day. Utterly gorgeous. (It's about the hallucinogenic look of strawberry fields, and in Japanese, I think)
Best bit: The chorus announcing itself with a drumbeat and synthesiser shimmer that's like sunshine breaking the clouds, at about 2.17. Also the awesome fuzzy synth and drums outro from about 3.14
Mixlet No 3: Top six ATM, not including Aldrig Ensam, Strawberries, Caravane and New York, which I have also been playing to death
Pencil Full of Lead – Paolo Nutini
If this doesn't make you dance like a LOON I feel sorry for you. This should be available on the NHS, so gloriously upbeat is it as Paolo lists all the happy things he has going for him in this sad and sorry life, including a sheet, pencils, a two-bar heater, a nice pair of socks and a TV licence. Paolo, I am glad you can take such joy from paying your taxes.
Best bit: The jazz trumpets! I love the trumpets!
Seven – Fever Ray
The three biggest exporters of popular music in the world are the US, the UK and Sweden. Fever Ray is the project of Karin Dreijer Andersson, of The Knife, and it is a really great album. Listen to it if you get the chance. This is my favourite track from it. It switches from a very sparse, beautiful verse to a soaring, complicated chorus. If you've heard Marble House, it's not dissimilar.
[Seven (The Twelves Remix) speeds the song up and reimagines it as a Seventies disco bunny classic.]
The Alien and the Earth Girl – Ben Christophers
I've had a truncated version of this song ripped from the internet for a long, long time. It's a B-side of a single released by Ben Christophers, a musician so famous that he's now playing keyboards for Bat for Lashes. (I love his work, but it might be an acquired taste). Last year, I tried to track down the single, which is not on iTunes, and ended up having to buy it from a specialist eBay record shop. So when I say it is obscure, I mean it's obscure. I have resisted sharing it on the intarwebs, even though I love it, because I have this huge fear that someone will download it then make a horrifyingly soppy vid to it -- probably a soppy Ten/Rose vid-- and thus play havoc with my mental cinema. So, please, in the unlikely event you download and like this song, no horrifyingly soppy vids.
High-Shelf Booze – Eilen Jewell
This could have been written any time in the past 70 years, and that's what's so great about it. It's all about being chucked and getting yourself good and proper slaughtered with your friends.
Fire - Kasabian
Ah, Kasabian, a band so wilfully thuggish that they make Oasis look like fey intellectuals. This is three great songs jammed together into one: first a loping shaggy dog of a verse; second a piledriver of a chorus with much wailing about flammability; and then it briefly goes all disco. It's a gloriously demented mess, and the only song posted here that I could imagine featuring on an episode of Supernatural or similar.
Dog Days Are Over - Florence and the Machine
Most of the really good music last year was by women, for the first time I can remember. This was among the best albums of last year. There wasn't a duff track on there. Even the cover version of You've Got The Love is pretty good, blasphemy though it is to cover that song.
(Floating about on the internet is a version of You've Got The Love by The XX. Do not touch it with a bargepole. Do not touch it with someone else's bargepole. It is arsegravy. )
For lilydale: Thou Shalt Always Kill, by Dan le Sac v Scroobius Pip
For nestra: Zombie Jamboree, by The Sandpebbles
For everyone: GREATEST SONG EVER. A million points if you can guess what it is before downloading. I know one fact about it, and that is that one of the co-writers put his kids through private school on the profits from this record.
*SOLAR SYSTEM PLAYLIST
The Sun Always Shines on TV -- A-Ha / Mercury - Underworld / Venus – Shocking Blue / Planet Earth - Duran Duran / Girl From Mars - Ash / Drops of Jupiter - Train (shut up, I like it) / Saturn Five - Inspiral Carpets / Neptune - Ian Brown / Uranus - Peter Green (I had to find that one up on iTunes, I admit) / Pluto - Clare and the Reasons