Monday, 27 May 2013

Play To Z: Under The Blacklight to What's Going On

Random Observations

A lot of people don't like Rilo Kiley's Under The Blacklight. I get it, I really do. Simultaneously their major label debut and final album, it's a departure from their previous sound towards a more commercially viable one, after a three year wait for a new album, and was followed by the band's split. But that's all tied in with following the band as that all unfolded. As someone who came to the band late and discovered all their material more or less at the same time, songs like "Breakin' Up" and "The Angels Hung Around" still stand out as fantastic songwriting, and great showcases for Jenny Lewis' wonderfully smoky voice.

I hadn't heard any Vampire Weekend before I bought their eponymous first album; I did so on a recommendation from some website or magazine so glowing that I felt fairly confident I wasn't wasting my money. I remember placing the CD into the stereo, pressing play and within about 30 seconds thinking "Oh, well I've found the album I'm going to be listening to all summer". The rest of it didn't disappoint, with barely a misstep and a fully formed voice that felt different to anything I was listening to at the time.

The terrible local radio station I listened to as a kid was the sort that still played Sting's "Englishman In New York" every couple of days, even though at that point it was already 10 years old. I'm not saying it's a bad song - far from it. I'm just saying, listening to it now, I wonder how much of my own image of manhood was influenced by Sting telling me that "a gentleman will walk but never run". That said, I don't like tea and love coffee, so maybe I'm talking nonsense.

At this point, we had reached the "Very Best of..." section of the alphabet, so I got to listened to a selection of The Jam, The Smiths and The Stone Roses in short succession. That was a good day.

My very good friend Jason (whose music taste I trust wholeheartedly) and I have a running joke/argument about which is the better Stone Roses song. I say "I Am The Resurrection", he says "Fools Gold", and whenever we happen to be at a 90s night and either of them is played, we will stand there shouting the song titles at each other until we get bored and start dancing instead.

I'm pretty sure Brian Ritchie, the bassist for the Violent Femmes, has extra fingers, or possibly some kind of telekinetic power over his guitar. Listen to the bass line on half of their songs and you'll be left wondering "How the hell did he do that?"

Cibo Matto's "Birthday Cake", an insane slice of Japanese mash-up hip-hop, will forever remind me of being 18 years old, of house parties and watching borderline incomprehensible anime while hungover.

"U-Mass" by the Pixies is possibly the best advert for a university that exists or ever will exist.

I've already written extensively about why "We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed" is my favourite song here, so I'll just say that nothing has changed, and it remains, to me, perfect.

Tim Fact of the Day:We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, Bruce Springsteen's album of American folksong covers, includes his version of "John Henry", who was one of the folk heroes I wrote my dissertation about. Enjoy that little morsel, fact fans.

When I was a kid, I used to get these weird...attacks, I guess? Looking back now, I'd say they were some form of panic attack, or at least some kind of anxiety, but back then I didn't know what they were. They were never serious enough to warrant mentioning them to anyone, and seemed to only happen when I was trying to get to sleep. It felt like the world had been slowed down, but I was processing it at double speed, like I was being overwhelmed by the wealth of information inherent in everything. I was clearly a very existential child. I mention all of this because there is something about "Impacilla Carpisung" by The Tings Tings that harkens back to that feeling - the way the vocals layer in the chorus, the slightly off persussion, the lyrics that linger on the border of nonsense. It's an uncomfortable song for me to listen to, and I somehow doubt it's the emotional resonance that the band was going for when they wrote it.

I suck at video games. I never played enough as a kid to develop the right mindset, mainly because my dad was convinced that plugging a Megadrive into the television would somehow destroy it, despite the fact it was DESIGNED FOR THAT VERY PURPOSE (I'm not bitter). Even games like Guitar Hero, which don't use a conventional controller, I struggle with. That said, I can rock "My Name Is Jonas" by Weezer flawlessly on Medium difficulty. Be impressed.

Rediscovered Gem

"Slick" by Chew Lips

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