Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Play To Z: The Hazards of Love to Kings & Queens

Holy crap, it's been a while. I'm gonna stick with just observations on this one, because there's a lot of ground to make up. However, I'll aim to A) be more regular and B) do an actual "topic" post ASAP, 'cos there's stuff I wanna write about

Some Observations

Listening to "I L U" by School of Seven Bells has a weird gut punch effect on me. It's not a song I associate with a particular moment, or that I came across at an especially difficult moment in my life, but as soon as I hear that first ethereal note, I get this weird romantic stomach ache. It's like a mainline to heartbreak.

"Intergalactic" by the Beastie Boys was perhaps the third single I bought (on cassette, natch) and is one of the foundations of my musical taste. I listened to a few Beasties albums in this selection, and every one was tinged with a little sadness at Adam Yauch's passing. I think he may be the first "celebrity" death to have had a real emotional impact on me, and I can only point to the long shadow the Beastie Boys cast over my life as the reason for this.

Remember before Mark Ronson put horns on everything?* Remember when he made dancefloor fillers like "Ooh Wee" with Ghostface Killah, Nate Dogg, Trife and Saigon? Sigh

"Higher and Higher" by Jackie Wilson will forever be the song that animates the Statue of Liberty in Ghostbusters 2, which I must have seen at least 4 times before I got around to seeing the first Ghostbusters. I know most people look down on the sequel, and perhaps it's just nostalgia talking, but I honestly rate them equally.

I've never been a huge of The Killers, but if you don't sing along to "Mr Brightside", you're made of stone. There should be more songs about jealousy. It's an underrated emotion.

I'm pretty sure The Weeknd has brought out his full album now, but I'm not sure anything will compare to the dark icy majesty of House of Balloons. Such a perfectly formed EP; at once a mission statement, a portrait, a confession and a memoir.

David Bowie's description of Bob Dylan's voice as "sand and glue" on Hunky Dory is basically spot on.

If you're a drummer in need of inspiration, go listen to Those Dancing Days' self titled song (helpfully linked right here) and go slack-jawed in awe at Cissi Efraimsson's astonishing skills.

People with far greater skill and knowledge have written at length about why In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel is so very good. I'm not sure I'm even capable of articulating this album's brilliance. Jeff Mangum's dream-like lyrics touch on family, faith, death, destiny and the weight of history, articulating meaning through a swirl of imagery and the tremulous power of his voice, so heavy with emotion. It's one of the outstanding achievements in pop music in the last 20 years.

I think I've shared this story before, but it's worth repeating. When I was in Sixth Form (I'm not sure if I was 17 or 18 when this happened) I worked at a newsagents in Norwich's train station. I basically ran the shop with another similarly-aged boy or girl on weekend afternoons. To get home in the evenings, I would walk up Prince of Wales Road, a dirty street that hosts numerous low rent night clubs and takeaways, essentially the hub of Norwich's nightlife if your aim is to get slaughtered and swap infections. One night, late in the winter, I was walking up this filthy road that to me represented a side of youth culture I felt I would never understand, let alone want to mix with. Usually quiet on a Sunday, it was especially dead today. It was cold, and it was snowing, and In Time, REM's greatest hits, was playing on my Discman. As I approached the top of Prince of Wales (the street slopes uphill towards Norwich Castle, where my bus stop awaited), "Nightswimming" came on, and something changed in me. It's a simple constructed song, but one with a lot of power. Something made me turn back, and look down this street that I so associated with drunken idiots and the trudge to a job I hated. The snow had transformed it, made it clean and new and beautiful. I felt something electric pass through me and stood frozen in that moment, confronted with this striking metamorphosis as Michael Stipe sang softly of still lakes and stolen moments. In that eternal second, I knew how magical music was.

Hey, I'd forgotten that the first four tracks on It's Not Me, It's You by Lily Allen are basically perfect. Come back and make another album, Lily. Music is weaker without you.

I think "The Prowl" by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys would be a pretty sexy song anyway, but I came across it because of this (sort of NSFW), so that's pretty much cemented it as boneriffic.

*I realise he's put out another album that's less horn-filled and so this jokes a little old, but the point remains

Rediscovered Gem

"She's A Rejector" by Of Montreal

No comments:

Post a Comment