Thursday, 28 July 2011

Six Shuffle #1 - 28th July 2011

A long time ago, in 2008, I had my own music blog with a friend.  I wrote a lot on it.  One of my favourite things that I did was a feature called "Six Shuffle" - I would play my entire musical library on Shuffle, six times in a row, and have to write something about the song or artist in the time that the song played for, without skipping the track.

It was fun, for me at least.  You can check the archive by clicking here. Be warned, it's wanky and poorly written for the most part, so it should be fairly recognisable as my own writing.  So, here it is: the "rebooted" first edition of Six Shuffle for Tones of Town.

The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters
The final and title track of the debut album from one of Scotland's greatest recent exports.  The Twilight Sad are up there with some of my favourite bands of all time, simply because they seem to do exactly what I wanted to do if I had been in a band - loud angry Scottish vocals, spooky lyrics, crashing waves of distortion and guitar, and thudding drumming.  They are my own musical tastes distilled into one band, and this track, a long, winding, immersive ambient track, misses a few things that make the band such a favourite of mine... but that is precisely why I like this track so much.  It embodies their range, and also echoes there EP release Here, It Never Snowed. Afterwards, It Did. that expanded on most of the tracks from the first record to this slow, drawn out expanse.  It works.

The Beatles - We Can Work It Out
This is a stark contrast to The Twilight Sad.  Taken from Past Masters Vol. 2, or the indie-est selection of Beatles tracks you can get this side of the Stereo versus Mono debacle that plagues their back catalogue.  I made the mistake of keeping the Stereo mixes as they play havoc with my left-ear deafness - it sounds like the Fab Four are screaming in my right ear with a band playing just slightly off to the left, in a different room.  Anyway, this song is one my favourites from the band, partly due to the changing pace of ryhthm, and the sweet melody that permeates through the track.  Also, an accordion?  Points given.

The Horrors - I Only Think of You
This neatly ties to a Tweet I made a few weeks back:

I have barely listened to any Horrors material before the release of the recent album Skying, and I did feel dirty listening to their third LP before their first and second, so I acquired them and started listening to them... but they made no impact.  This track is over 7 minutes long, and in that run time it feels like nothing happens.  It is like a cover of How Soon is Now? or My Bloody Valentine that never quite made it.  The production feels like 20 years old, which isn't a bad thing... but it feels so bloody boring.  Maybe in context it works, but as a solo track... meh.  Also, I am yet to be convinced by Skying, but it's at least slightly more interesting on first listen that this track.
Radiohead - How to Disappear Completely
Ah, Kid A... the best/worst Radiohead album there has ever been - in my eyes, it's their Magnus Opus, but my best friend finds it abhorrent.  He is an ardent Bends/Pablo Honey fan, and can't even really listen to OK Computer.  However, in a spate of that "you SHALL like what I like" I have tried to force the later Radiohead releases upon him, letting him hear Knives Out, or Reckoner, and this, one of their most beautiful songs ever put to record.  Some suggest Nude is better, or Street Spirit, or even the recent Codex, but this for me is such a fabulous pop song, with exquisite instrumentation and a clever structure, especially in the face of the rest of the album.  You can draw the lines from this to Nude, I guess, seeing as they are from similar time periods in the bands lifespan.  I really enjoy Kid A and Amnesiac, as not only are they good records, but my gateway albums into electronic experimentation and various other artists, which I think they were and are for a lot of music fans. 
Boards of Canada - Paul Russell's Piece
Speaking of moving into electronic music, Boards, already circle jerked by me on this blog, appear here in one of their shorter, rarer cuts.  The track just ended... moving into...

Boards of Canada - Dayvan Cowboy
Apple really need to look at their random algorithm.  I have 50Gb of music at my disposal and they pick two Boards tracks.  I am not complaining.  Dayvan is one of the stand out tracks from the band, and their most famous track - it's adorned hundreds of BBC programmes since it's 2006 debut.  It appears also on the 2006 EP Trans Canada Highway, which I love.  It's not my favourite Boards track, not by a long way, but it's certainly one that I love to hear, and smile when I know it's coming up.  The previous track in the shuffle is actually from their first "release" if you can call it that, whilst its canonical presence within the Boards discography is still discussed amongst fans.  See, it comes from A Few Old Tunes (Side II) which is a bootlegged tape of cuts from before the band had made a true release.  The story suggests that it was handed out to friends and family in the 1990s.  It has a sister; Old Tunes Vol. 2, both of which I downloaded a long time ago - I don't even know if a real copy still exists. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the release, which I happen to love.

Bonus Seventh Track
Incubus - Magic Medicine

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sunday New Music Challenge 1

A few Sundays ago I felt that it was a good day to try some new music; I had eMusic credits, some money to burn, and the idea that this week I'd like to listen to something good.  So, I did this on Twitter:

In return I got three suggestions in due course from @PPlasticHelmet, @Jook and @marckeetect.

So, unto the new music!

PETRELS - Haeligewielle

I am a man of varied musical tastes, and I really want to expand my samplings of various genres.  I have slowly delved into "IDM", also Minimal Techno, as well as Bleep and Glitch, but another one is ambient - I enjoy Oren Ambarchi and Fennsz, so more of this type is currently what I would like.  My musical tastes are jarring, if anything, and once you compare this album to my previously listened to entire Hives back catalogue in one sitting, this felt like a sudden intake of sharp fresh breath on a December morning.  It felt like ice, like air-con in musical form with a dark streak. It is swirling, dark, deep, and grandiose - a soundtrack to the soul.  The album is seven tracks long but it really feels like it should infinitely loop forever.  Simply put, exactly what I like.  Electronic ambient is right up my obtuse muso street, and this release is excellent.
Get this album here.

BUNKY - Born to be a Motorcycle

When giving myself the challenge, I mentioned that it should be an album that I "might like" - and when I fired up Bunky for the first time I was distracted by friends that were over chatting and relaxing. I said "Let me put this on, it's new and I've not heard it before" and within the first few tracks I had been asked "Who is this?".  I didn't really know - the funny thing was that this was the point of this whole thing, and Bunky is exactly what I wanted.  I love the use of the brass section, I like the playful lyrics, the breathy and shouty vocals, and I also really like the strutting nature of the tracks as well.  Wikipedia, my old friend, tells me that the band are from San Diego, and the name of the band is a combination of the words "bunny" and "monkey", so no real help there.  Bunky do sound like a band having fun, which is good, and feel like they have little pretence either, which is really good.  Very, very enjoyable.
Check Bunky out here.


Oh. I had heard of Scritti Politti once before; their name has been mentioned with derision by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant in one of their XFM Radio shows.  This album, which seems to almost not even exist outside of Mediafire, Pitchfork, and the fact I can listen to it, makes me quite confused.  Also, the album  feels like it should be interesting, in a way. I listened to Scritti Politti whilst I was sketching a fictional city's transportation network (something I do for fun) on a break during work and it's disjointed, scattered... it is obviously intended as political, and as an apolitical person it doesn't strike me as anything interesting.  I am sorry to say that this kind of music, with its barked lyrics, loose structure, and middling instrumental performance, which is obviously part of the whole deal, doesn't work with me.  It is beyond what I like in my day to day life.  In essence, the complete extent of political music that I like is Rage Against the Machine and that's 'cause they say fuck a lot.  Not for me, I'm afraid.
Scritti Politti's Myspace. :D

Friday, 1 July 2011

Your Favourite Writers #3 - NICK

Who are you?
Nick Dunkeyson. Yes, that is my real name.

Where are you?
N19, init.

How are you?
Pretty good, beyond the fact I'm spending my Friday evening fiddling around with a blog.

What are you?
Public sector enemy-of-the-right-wing-press; defiantly mid-twenties; music fan; sports nerd; computer game nerd; generally a nerd; hopefully vaguely likeable; totally pretentious.

How do you listen to music?
With my ears, hahaha. Erm, I listen on my commute (and return commute), sometimes on computer at home, go to gigs. I guess most people do.

How long have you been listening to music?
I guess I properly got into music around 2002, but obviously I'd listened to (and owned) odd bits before then. But mainly 2002, A-Level days.

First album bought by yourself for yourself?
Lightning Seeds – Jolification. Which I'm not remotely ashamed of.

Who were your “gateway” band?
Turin Brakes or Doves, I guess. Certainly The Optimist and The Last Broadcast were two of the first albums I played over and over again. Actually, maybe it was Coldplay, because I did listen to Parachutes masses too. Yeah, one of those three.

Favourite moment in any music ever for sending shivers down your spine? And why?
Christ, I set these questions and I've asked still myself a super-hard one. So I'm going to pick a few: Salif Keita – Yamore feels like it transports you to a hill overlooking Bamako or something, and you get the awe of this amazing foreign sight, except in music. Erm, Gorillaz – El Manana always gets me, there's just such tremendous sandess in that song. And of course loads and loads of Sigur Ros, with probably the chorus from Starálfur just pipping that moment when Untitled 3 takes off, and the moment HoppĂ­polla kicks in a close third.

What music would it surprise people to know you like?
This is going to sound like I'm taking the piss, but I genuinely really really rate Blue by Eiffel 65. It's a bit unsophisticated, but it's catchy, it's simple and incredibly effective, and damn – it's how all that Europop should've been. It's not trying to be anything it's not, and for that reason, it's not a guilty pleasure, it's just a damn fine song.

Remember music videos? What's your favourite?
Chevy Chase and Paul Simon crack me up on You Can Call Me Al,but for music and and a visual idea coming together, I'm gonna have to for No Surprises.

Do you care about album artwork any more? You do? Great! What's your favourite, and why?
Well, I don't really. But if you press me, Clem Snide – End of Love really nails the kind of slightly sad nature of the song; it's a bunch of family polaroids, but it's presented in a way that feels like something lost.

What's guaranteed to get you on the dancefloor?
The Walkmen – The Rat, LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends, TV On The Radio – Wolf Like Me. In the latter's case, it's also quite likely to earn me a shin injury resulting in a two-weeks-later-guess-I'd-better-visit-A&E-then moment.

What's guaranteed to get you off the dancefloor?
Depressingly, music I don't know. But I'll definitely take a step back if someone puts on Pavement or Guided by Voices or something.

Who's your favourite person as a person in music?
Everyone loves Guy Garvey, and so do I.

Best injury caused by music?
Anyone who's ever stage-dived and not been caught. Watching Jack Black hurl himself face-first on the floor was the only enjoyable moment in the super-creepy wince-fest that was School of Rock.

Best music caused by injury?
Luke Haines claims he didn't deliberately throw himself off a wall when touring Now I'm A Cowboy, but in any case the fact he was in a wheelchair for however many months probably contributed a hell of a lot to the gloriously acerbic sneer-fest that is After Murder Park. Bleak, darkly humourous and with this undercurrent of bile, it's British mid-nineties guitar music par excellence.

Most you've ever embarrassed yourself in the cause of music?
When at Uni in Nottingham, in my old band, yeah, I insisted on going on stage with a double vodka and guava juice. Guava, for those that don't know, produces a juice in a quite feminine shade of pink. In hindsight, mega-cringe.

Imagine someone you fancy, right. What band is it they say they love that tips your over the edge?
Maybe Sigur Ros. I'm a sappy old thing really and it'd be the idea of cuddling up to someone listening to Takk...

Worst band you've ever seen live?
The Magic Numbers were pony, but the worst I've ever seen was this band called Gisli, who supported the Beta Band on their farewell tour back in, what, 2004? JESUS FUCK they were rubbish. Mid-tempo, boring, overlong songs. Thankfully they were never heard of again.

Did you just fart?

You did, didn't you? God almighty. I'm trying to do a music questionnaire here.
Leave me alone.

Tell us your favourite story you've ever heard about some musician.
I was always amused by how Talking Heads – or rather, David Byrne - tried to write and record the vocal for Blind. It's one of their later, not very good songs. Apparently what they did was got him all dressed up like an office worker, sat him behind a bureau and had him improvise loads of stuff over the music. By all accounts it went on for hours, until he was sweaty, everyone was veering on the edge of sanity, and then called it quits.

After all this effort, after all this hard work, what did they get out of it? Well, not much. Most of it was ditched, and all they had was the daft “Blind blind blind blind!” chorus, for which “naff” just doesn't cover. We learn two things from this: one, bands will resort to desperate measures when they're running out of creative inspiration (like the previously brilliant Talking Heads were), and two, affectations and trying to be different just for the sake of it do not work.

Favourite soundtrack to anything – film, computer game, TV show, commercial:
Well, I wrote a whole blog on the Final Fantasy soundtracks, so yeah, those.

Whistle the theme from “Midnight Cowboy” for me.
Sod it, just listen to it for yourself.