Jan - Feb 2014 // Alive Even Though
1. "Nightlight" — Little Dragon :: A montage tune for the new year.
2. “The Green Room” – The Tins :: I found this by asking a coworker who has opposing tastes what her favorite song of the last six months was. Musically it’s, you know, just fine, but I really like the lyrics… Nice to hear a bit of frank bitterness from the sensitive guitar strumming crowd.
3. “Bad Leroy Brown” — Jim Croce :: So there’s this bar in the neighborhood I recently moved into and it’s just… awful. The jukebox, a marvel: free from the renovational efforts by young people trying to cherry pick the best from eras before. Like someone loaded it up with whatever was popular among middle aged drinkers in 1982 and then promptly lost the keys.
4. “25 Bucks (feat. Purity Ring)” – Danny Brown :: This one was on repeat for days. It’s the first in the triple threat of depressing songs these last two months. (The next two follow in order.) I really love the Purity Ring lyrics, but it’s really hard to take them out of context and retain the weight they have when they’re paired with the music.
5. “Loner” – Burial :: Burial is hands down one of my favorite musicians of all time, but I find it to be so inextricably linked (chronologically, neurologically, contextually) with times and feelings of major, crushing, unbreachable depression in my life. I genuinely admire and enjoy the music, I do, but listening to Burial just makes me linger longer in the dregs. New release (“Rival Dealer”) is so fucking good, though, you guys. I want more more more.
6. “Romantic Streams” – Sleep Over :: God DAMN is this song sad (so pretty, though). The third and final in the Depression Trifecta. If “25 Bucks” was the angsty, brow-furrowing intro track and the Burial discography was the long stretch of pure depression, vast and numb and hallucinatory, “Romantic Streams” was the closing act: a monument made from all the happy memories of the past made sad by circumstance. (Okay, and like, when the pillar gets so large and looming it suddenly bursts into a thousand butterflies that scatter into the blue and somehow you know that while you will certainly never forget this twisted mass, you will learn to cherish it and love harder because of it.) ***
7. “Knowing the Ropes” – Michael Nyman :: This composition should send you alight on your toes and fill you with wonder. Also appropriate for your montage needs.
8. “Peasant in Paradise” – Leatherface :: This band is a powerhouse. I guess many people are turned off by his garrulous screaming (beats me), but the lyrics and the music are really (really) something special. Also, they’re British but they sound like an American band from the same era, and I wonder if that has anything to do with them remaining in relative obscurity.
9. “New Beginnings” – Zabutom :: I went through a chiptune phase years ago, before streaming music was ‘a thing’. Now, somewhat ironically, with Spotify in my life, I now have access to a much larger chiptune library. Fuck the haters (“It’s just nostalgia porn for geeks.”) — chip tune is an inevitable marriage of music and video games (arguably the first and most honest expression of human proclivity towards beauty/whimsy to both come to and be made from computers). And we have to admit to the sheer bizarreness of these sounds and of the deliberateness from whence they came… Ugh. I could probably go on and on about this shit. LISTEN TO CHIPTUNE.
10. "Merchandise" — Fugazi :: Consumer culture still getting me down.
11. "Love Is Real (feat. Holly Miranda)" — Theophilus London :: The more I listen to Theophilus London, the more I like Theophilus London. He’s like a cross between Michael Jackson and Lou Bega — cosmopolitan and vaguely European in manner (or at least not very American), stylish but not ostentatious… I picture him, having made a decent sum from his modest success, packing up and flying all over the world to fuck beautiful women, dine poshly with locals of exotic destinations, and all the while charming men, women, babies, and dogs wherever he goes. PLUS, “Love Is Real” is a wonderful sentiment.
12. "Savory" — Jawbox :: Apparently I overestimated the reach of this song. I thought it was nothing but a groan-inducing, overplayed hit from 1994 (I was four when this came out, though, so I have no real concept of much of anything) — but no one seems to remember it. Come on, you guys. After Minor Threat and before Weezer there was a sound called Emo (et. al.) and it informed an entire generation of soft-spoken programmer dads with horn-rimmed glasses and good hair.
13. "How Long Have You Known" — DIIV :: Forever, forever. <3
14. "Bones of Man" — Chad VanGaalen :: “I felt at peace and alive even though the ship was goin’ down.”
15. "Ryde On Da Regular" — araabMUZIK :: I listened to an unforgivable amount of Gramatik and araabMUZIK this month. If I could have one musical party trick, it would be to hit the MPC like araabMUZIK. It’s pretty impressive that he does all of this on MPC.
16. "Echosassy" — Gardens & Villa :: …which is not a sister publication of Southern Living, but rather a band of SoCal boys that have a refreshing take on shoegaze. They seem to cull from all the most recent trends and make something actually memorable and — dare I say — musical. 4/5 stars.
17. “Strychnine” — The Sonics :: The Sonics are perfect! Sarcastically allegiant to the song structures of the 50s, which makes their druggy naughtiness even sweeter.
18. “Insides” — The Soft Moon :: Were you hoping that I would dig up more shit exactly like this? You’re in luck! Airy, repetitive, goth sounds get me every time.
19. "Midnight Snack" — A Taste of Honey :: Spread this disease as far and as wide as you can.
20. "Self-Esteem" — The Offspring :: I never liked Green Day but I really respected the Offspring when I was growing up. I totally believed them, thought they were Sublime but with balls, and that they hated everything about themselves and their genre and were therefore actualized in a way that other pop-punk could never hope to be.
21. "Kristallen" — Det Vackra Livet :: Two fellows from The Mary Onettes master their debut album in ice caves under the ground and the result is breathtaking.
22. "The Bee Hive" — Lee Morgan :: Have you ever heard of those people who suffer a massive stroke, a brain injury, or other neurologically-disruptive event and wake up only to discover that they can now speak fluent French or have a newfound love for piano concertos? Pretty wild stuff. Well, none of that has happened to me, but lately I feel violently overcome with the need to hear trumpet music. Lee Morgan in particular has captured my ears lately and this recording is probably my favorite. He sounds super fucked up (on heroin) and the story of his life that goes along with the music is very interesting. His common law wife and eventual murderer allowed a final interview before her death and you can read her story here.