Albums of 2009

After many months of deliberation here at L&L Towers (ok, it’s just me sitting there looking out of the window trying to remember what on earth I’d done all year), I’ve put together my top albums of the year. Like the Albums of the Decade (starting here), the idea was to only choose albums which I happily listen to all the way through, and had listened to a whole bunch of times. This time, rather than the album art, I’ve gone for YouTube videos. Enjoy!

The Top 5, not in any kind of order, except the first one.

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

Horrifyingly predictable for anyone who’s spent any time reading this blog. Whilst it’s not quite up there with Yellow House, still more detailed, more melodic, more emotional and more surprising than pretty much anything else that came out this year. Returning to it after a few weeks absence has got me playing “All We Ask” many times a day. A thing of sheer, dark beauty which slowly unravels itself into your brain, like some odd robotic monster.

(Is this the oddest video of the year, or what?)

MP3: Cheerleader (Live) by Grizzly Bear

Buy “Veckatimest: Special Edition” (CD)

The Xx – Xx

Came out of nowhere, made by teenagers, and wonderfully quiet. The bastard child of Low and Burial. Talked about at some length here.

MP3: Crystalised by The Xx

Buy “XX” (CD/MP3)

Metric – Fantasies

Many people found this too shiny and strident. For me, it was the soundtrack of the first part of the year – deep in job-hunting mode, wandering around the City in jeans listening to Emily Haines’s metallic majestic marvel. A proper album too; well-paced, with a proper start and even more proper fists-pumping-in-the-air finale.

MP3 – Sick Muse by Metric

Buy “Fantasies” (CD/MP3)

Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue

Again, came out of nowhere, and picked it up as a recommendation from another blog (the marvellous Fat Roland). Whilst other people have mixed folk and electronica (“Folktronica”, one of the worst genre names in history), to my mind Bibio have done it the best so far. For whatever reason, I never posted anything about this before, but it’s been happily playing away in my kitchen and in the car many times this year.

MP3: Lovers’ Carvings by Bibio

Buy “Ambivalence Avenue” (CD/MP3)

Mew – No More Stories….

Also horribly predictable. This album didn’t really make much sense to me until I saw them live, then it all started to click and fit together properly – ironic, given the complexity of their music. If you like your music a touch more unusual than the norm, but don’t feel warmed by the “Look at us, we’re clever, like”-isms of Animal Collective et al, this could be for you.

(Actual music starts about 2:20)

MP3: Introducing Palace Players by Mew

Buy “No More Stories” (CD)

Not quite the best, but still good

I couldn’t do an end-of-year list without mentioning Bill Callahan, Jason Lytle or Kingsbury Manx. All had albums out this year, and all had some highlights that were amongst their best songs, but the albums as a whole don’t quite make the top list. Still worth it though.

And Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is good too, but the chirpy popness doesn’t quite last the whole album, causing me to lose interest about half-way through.

Albums I need to listen to more, that would probably have made the list if only I had some more time to listen to them properly

Richard Hawley – Truelove’s Gutter

Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs

Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport

Jim O’Rourke – The Visitor

Mark Eitzel – Klamath

Mastodon – Crack The Skye

I’ve listened to these albums a few times and they are starting to settle in nicely, but not enough for me to hand-on-heart call them albums of the year. Maybe they will appear on my list of albums I have loved in 2010 that were actually released in 2009 but I didn’t hear them then.

Albums I have loved in 2009 that were actually released in 2008 but I didn’t hear them then.

Frightened Rabbit – Midnight Organ Fight

This’d be up in the top 5 above if they’d released this in 2009. A great record by Grumpy Scots, and I suspect they’ve got more to come in 2010.

MP3: I Feel Better by Frightened Rabbit

Buy “Midnight Organ Fight” (CD/MP3)

Wye Oak – If Children…

When I first started this blog, in the depths of January, I rooted around a bunch of sites looking for some new music. And I stumbled across Wye Oak, and after listening to a selection of tunes far too many times, I went out and spent a bit of my redundancy money on the album. Very fine it is too.

MP3: Warning by Wye Oak

Buy “If Children” (CD)

Albums by bands I love that I really should get round to listening to at some point

Twilight Sad – Forget The Night Ahead

Flaming Lips – Embryonic

Yes, I know. Love both these bands but there just isn’t the time, you know?

The “People Tell Me I Should Love These Albums But I Just Don’t Get It” Award (sponsored by Kissing In Kansas)

Nominees:

Fever Ray – Fever Ray

Animal Collective – Merriwether Post Pavillion

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

And the winner is Animal Collective. People keep telling me to give it time, but as I’ve not even listened to the Twilight Sad or Flaming Lips yet, that’s pushing it. But you know, 2010 and all that.

(I still don’t get it, but have a listen and see what you think)

MP3: My Girls by Animal Collective

Buy “Merriweather Post Pavilion” (CD/MP3)

So that’s me albums done. Join me in a few days for the tracks. Some blinders in there, you know…

Albums Of The Decade (Part Six), And A Song

This is the final part of six-part series, of my albums of the decade. It’s a totally personal view, of albums I’ve listened to tons and love dearly, rather than good albums with some great songs on.

If you’d like to read the rest, here’s Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five.

Another Cracking Cover

The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters (2007)

Moaning about your teenage years has never been as elegaic as on this album. Anger, betrayal, loneliness, that sense of not belonging anywhere, and realising that some people are just plain nasty, it’s all here.

MP3: Walking For Two Hours by The Twilight Sad

Buy “Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters” (CD/MP3)

The Toughest Rubik's Cube In The World

Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid (2008)

Or how a band can go from pretty damn good to superb. Dropped by their label, self-recording the album in the keyboardist-cum-producer’s house, this is a 56 minute long tribute to sticking together through thick and thin and sticking at what you do best, and waiting for the world to catch up with you.

MP3: The Bones Of You by Elbow

Buy “The Seldom Seen Kid (Abbey Road Live Edition)” (CD)

Where's Wally?

Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (2008)

Even more backwards looking than Midlake, but with a pastoral beauty that just cannot be denied. My son was two when this came out and he couldn’t stop listening to “White Winter Hymnal” and “Oliver James” (though the lyrical content was perhaps not suitable for a young child).

MP3: Oliver James by Fleet Foxes

Buy “Fleet Foxes – 2CD Special Edition” (CD/MP3)

So that’s it. I know that at 3am tomorrow, I’ll awake with a start and remember a great album I missed. But that’s always a peril with writing lists; if I thought about them any more I’d never post the bloody thing. Hope you’ve enjoyed it, and maybe found something new. My absolute, top albums? Probably “You Forgot It In People” and “Yellow House”, but that’s just me.

And to finish off with, here’s my song of the decade:

Her Name Is Yoshimi

The Flaming Lips – Do You Realize??

Because it’s a song about love, death, the mystery of life; manages to be slightly melancholy yet hugely uplifting; and is filled with a true, real joy that makes your soul yell out at the sheer beauty of life. Played it at my wedding, and they’d better play it at my funeral, or I’ll be haunting their sorry asses. Probably by singing it, out of tune, in a ghostly voice. That’ll be fun. Anyway, this is Oklahoma’s state song for a reason. It’s brilliant. If you’ve never heard it before, what on earth have you been doing with your life?

MP3: Do You Realize?? by The Flaming Lips

Buy “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” (CD/MP3)

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Albums Of The Decade (Part Five)

So, here’s part five of my series of personal albums of the decade. No Radiohead, eh?

Albums Of The Decade (Part One)
Albums Of The Decade (Part Two)
Albums Of The Decade (Part Three)
Albums Of The Decade (Part Four)

Rentaghost!

Midlake – The Trials Of Van Occupanther (2006)

I recommended this to a friend’s husband. He called the next day to complain about “Horrible 70’s soft-rock”. I told him to give it a chance. A month on and he was playing it every day. The greatest ever concept album about a mathematician living in a 19th Century American town.

MP3: Head Home by Midlake

Buy “The Trials Of Van Occupanther” (CD)

Tap That Table

The National – Boxer (2007)

A raging indictment on modern America, possibly. The best drumming, ever. I’ve played “Apartment Story” more than any other song in the last two years, according to my iTunes.

MP3: Brainy by The National

Buy “Boxer” (CD/MP3)

Don't Fancy Yours Much

Iron and Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog (2007).

Or how a folk-rock balladeer can fill his sound out and make a wonderful, lustrous album. The stripped down acoustic versions are bizarrely even better.

MP3: Innocent Bones by Iron and Wine

Buy “The Shepherd’s Dog” (CD/MP3)

Or, A Reminder To Get A Better Graphics Artist Next Time

Feist – The Reminder (2007)

I really wasn’t sure about putting this in the list. Great singer, great musician, some great songs, but the album? Then I listened to it again and changed my mind. It’s great. Though I think she could do much better.

MP3: My Moon My Man by Feist

Buy “The Reminder” (CD/MP3)

See Feist and Sam, Now This Is An Album Cover

Band Of Horses – Cease To Begin (2007)

Like Josh Rouse, there’s nothing revolutionary about this album, it’s just superb, melodic, dramatic, emotional alt-rock.

MP3: No One’s Gonna Love You by Band Of Horses

Buy “Cease to Begin” (CD/MP3)

Albums Of The Decade (Part One)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Two)


Albums Of The Decade (Part Three)


Albums Of The Decade (Part Four)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Four)

First off, let me say, oh balls, I missed something…

My Photoshop Crashed And Did This

Devendra Banhart – Rejoicing In The Hands (2004)

Pretty much kicked off the whole freak folk movement. Not quite as mind-boggling as his first album, but a far more listenable and loveable record.

MP3: Will Is My Friend by Devendra Banhart

Buy “Rejoicing In The Hands (Of The Golden Empress)” (CD/MP3)

Right, back to the list. Here’s my own take on the albums of the decade. My criteria? Do I really, really, really love them and can I listen to them happily all the way through?

Parts One, Two, and Three. Enjoy!

Like Kandinsky, Only Less So

Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)

A yowling, yelping, thundering record packed full of ideas, vim and vigour. Came out of nowhere, and kept me awake during those early days of being a new father.

MP3: Grounds For Divorce by Wolf Parade

Buy “Apologies to the Queen Mary” (CD)

Great Cloud

Low – The Great Destroyer (2005)

Low turn their amps up past 2, and make a great album. Again, I’d forgotten how good this was until listening to it recently. “Low go pop” is probably pushing it, but they showed that they can engage with the outside world at something approaching the outside world’s pace, rather than their own glacial stride. I’d say it was their best album.

MP3: California by Low

Buy “The Great Destroyer” (CD/MP3)

The Recording Studio

Grizzly Bear – Yellow House (2006)

The most atmospheric album of the decade. And the most baffling, mysterious, ominous, lovely, chilling and gorgeous one too. I caught onto this late (in 2008) and it’s still a wondrous thing.

MP3: Easier by Grizzly Bear

Buy “Yellow House” (CD/MP3)

My Photoshop Crashed Etc

Russian Circles – Enter (2006)

Post-rock meets metal to stunning effect. Doesn’t quite sound like anything else out there, and shows you only need three people to make a Godspeed! style racket.

Micah by Russian Circles

Buy “Enter” (CD)

Boys And Girls On An Album Cover

The Hold Steady – Girls and Boys In America (2006)

When I first heard the line “She was a really cool kisser and she wasn’t all that strict of a Christian” I knew I was in safe hands. Still a high-water mark in making rock and roll transcendant. No-one’s done it this well since Bruce Springsteen back in the ’70’s.

MP3: Hot Soft Light by The Hold Steady

Buy “Boys and Girls in America” (CD/MP3)

Albums Of The Decade (Part One)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Two)


Albums Of The Decade (Part Three)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Five)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Six)

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Albums Of The Decade (Part Three)

Here’s part three of my list of albums of the decade. These are albums I love and have listened to, ooh, hundreds of times over the years. Pretty much all of them are still on my very full iPhone, instead of more current stuff like Animal Collective or whoever, because they are great. Oh yes.


Part one is here
and part two is here. Enjoy.

One Swan

Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans (2004)

For all the wondrous musicality of his “States” albums, this stripped-down, acoustic album shows the beauty and tenderness of his songwriting at its absolute height.

MP3: The Dress Looks Nice On You by Sufjan Stevens

Buy “Seven Swans” (CD/MP3)

Swim Until You Can't See A Band

American Music Club – Love Songs For Patriots (2004)

Making an album with the word “Patriots” in the title at the height of post-9/11 anguish and rage, then filling it with songs of anguish, rage, and the wonders of male strippers, was never going to make them too many new friends. But it’s their best album, and Mark Eitzel at his finest.

MP3: Home by American Music Club

Buy “Love Songs for Patriots” (CD/MP3)

B-

Joanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed Mender (2004)

If you find the first minute of “Bridges and Balloons” utterly wonderful, then you’ll love this. If you think she is a wailing harpy, then you may probably just want to move onto the next record. You’re missing out though, mind.

MP3: This Side of the Blue by Joanna Newsom

Buy “The Milk-Eyed Mender” (CD/MP3)

It's Supposed To Be A Funeral

Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)

Or how the Internet will get you noticed. Sure, there’s more that a touch of the U2’s about their later material, but go and listen to this again and be utterly transfixed by their tales of lost childhood all over again. So filled with drama that you need the quieter songs to catch your breath.

MP3: Neighborhood #2 (Laika) by The Arcade Fire

Buy “Funeral” (CD/MP3)

Loneliness Hangs In The Air, Indeed

Richard Hawley – Coles Corner (2005)

Lovelorn tales from Sheffield’s finest guitarist. His most complete album; this could just as easily have been made in 1957 or 1963, but it’s far too lovely to be snooty about.

MP3: Coles Corner by Richard Hawley

Buy “Coles Corner” (CD/MP3)

Lonesome Fire

M Ward – Transistor Radio (2005)

This could also say “The Transfiguration Of Vincent” or “Post War”, but look, I had to make a choice and as this was the first record of M Ward’s I ever heard, this is my choice. Go for all three, frankly. Ageless, timeless beauty.

MP3: Hi-Fi by M. Ward

Buy “Transistor Radio” (CD)

(2005 will continue in Part Four)

And out of chronological order, because I forgot it earlier:

Stripes And Stars And Stripes

Tortoise – Standards (2001)

Electro-free-jazz-noise-post-rock-funk, as played by aliens. Wonderful, exasperating, confusing and brilliant, usually at the same time.

MP3: Seneca by Tortoise

Buy “Standards” (CD)

Albums Of The Decade (Part One)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Two)


Albums Of The Decade (Part Four)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Five)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Six)

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Albums Of The Decade (Part Two)

Part two of my run through my favourite albums of the Noughties (will someone please think up a better name?). It’s a personal trip through what I’ve loved and listened to the most, and it’s not just a list of good albums with some great songs on that you get bored of half-way through (I’m looking at you Radiohead and White Stripes). These are all proper records, which I hope that people will still make in the age of downloads and blogs. You know, records you listen to all the way through. Remember that?

Part one is over here.

A Nerd, yesterday

N.E.R.D. – In Search Of… (2001, then 2002)

Main movers in the early Noughties explosion of forward-reaching hip-hop, this album rocks so much they re-recorded it with live instruments. For some reason not many people bought it. Maybe calling themselves “NERD” wasn’t a good idea. Shame, because it’s absolutely fantastic, and I’d forgotten quite how fantastic until I listened to it again recently. Better that Outkast.

MP3: <a href=’https://loftandlost.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/06-truth-or-dare-feat-kelis-and-ter.mp3′>Truth Or Dare by N.E.R.D. Track removed

Buy “In Search Of…” (CD/MP3)

Love This Cover...

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

Or how to be different, and how to use the Internet to get noticed, especially when you’ve been dumped by your record label. Not quite as forward-sounding now as it seemed then, but still a great record, and their best. See, Radiohead?

MP3: Jesus, Etc. by Wilco

Buy “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” (CD/MP3)

Beautiful in its Simplicity

Queens of the Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf (2002)

Dark, funny, twisted – the ultimate post-drink-and-drug filled debauchery album. Or, how to sing about the problems of getting fucked up, without moaning about how bad it is and how they are terribly, terribly sorry.

MP3: Hangin’ Tree by Queens Of The Stone Age

Buy “Songs For The Deaf” (CD)

Great Album, Terrible Cover

Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People (2002)

If you have this album, and haven’t listened to it in a while, go and do it now. If you haven’t got this album, go out and get it. This record shows how a diverse bunch of musicians can make an album that is uplifting, eccentric, full of life and love and sheer bloody joy. Oh, and tunes. Lots and lots of tunes.

MP3: Stars and Sons by Broken Social Scene

Buy “You Forgot It In People” (CD/MP3)

Better than BSS, But Only Just

Josh Rouse – Under Cold, Blue Stars (2002)

An album that envelops you in warmth, emotion, and tunes. So many, many tunes. Not revolutionary in any way whatsoever, but I adore it.

MP3: Nothing Gives Me Pleasure by Josh Rouse

Buy “Under Cold Blue Stars” (CD/MP3)

About A Million Times Better Than Mew's Other Album Covers

Mew – Frengers (2003)

That voice. That music. Drama, twisted tales of obsession and love and the loss of innocence, all over beautiful, inventive, gorgeous rock music. And that voice, again.

MP3: 156 by Mew

Buy “Under Cold Blue Stars” (CD/MP3)

We Recorded The Whole Thing Together, Honest

Outkast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003)

Breaking up is so hard to do, so why not just do two solo albums together, and make the best damn funk/soul/hip-hop/kitchen sink record ever? (A real toss-up between this and Stankonia, to be honest. This just about edges it)

MP3: GhettoMusick by Outkast Track removed

Buy “Speakerboxxx / The Love Below”

Albums Of The Decade (Part One)


Albums Of The Decade (Part Three)


Albums Of The Decade (Part Four)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Five)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Six)

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Albums Of The Decade (Part One)

No White Stripes, no Radiohead, no Flaming Lips, no The Streets or Burial or many other great bands. All those bands, and many others, made records with some great songs on (damn, Flaming Lips made the best song of the decade). These are all albums that I still play, still love, and still listen to all the way through. Now, I haven’t gone crazy in the descriptions because I know I’ll get to all of these artists as part of my Pitchfork 500 stint, so it’s 100 words or less. Long-time readers will know this is very, very hard for me to do!

Oh, and there’s hardly anything from 2009. I need time and distance for this, you know.

Dongs Of Sevotion

Smog – Dongs Of Sevotion (2000)

Your one-stop shop for mordant observations on the misery of humanity, shot through with enough wit (“Dress Sexy At My Funeral”) to keep you coming back, again and again and again. I listened to this for much of 2000, and adore it still.

MP3: Dress Sexy At My Funeral by Smog

Buy “Dongs of Sevotion” (CD)

Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas to Heaven!

Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000)

That slow, dreadful build up, that paroxym of noise. They’d never reached peaks like this before, and they, and Post-Rock, never did again.

MP3: Antennas To Heaven… by Godspeed You Black Emperor!

Buy “Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven” (CD/MP3)

The Kingsbury Manx – The Kingsbury Manx (2000)

The sound of autumn, distilled into some wonderful songs. Soundtrack to many happy moments, staring wistfully at the rain through the window of a warm room. If doing that makes you happy, this record will make you happy.

MP3: Pageant Square by Kingsbury Manx

Buy “The Kingsbury Manx” (CD)

Great Cover, This

Lambchop – Nixon/Is A Woman (2000/2002)

Two albums? Yes. One is a lush, rich record, with big statement songs. The next album is stripped down, often with just and acoustic and minimal accompaniment. Both are wonderful and there’s nothing to choose between them.

Great Lyric: “This learning not to demonstrate your asinine and callous traits\It’ll take some practice”. I love that line.

MP3: Grumpus by Lambchop

Buy “Nixon” (CD/MP3)

Buy “Is a Woman” (CD)

Another Great Cover

Scary Man!  Scary Beard!

Bonnie Prince Billy – Ease Down the Road/Master and Everyone (2001/2003)

Two albums? Yes. One is a lush, rich record, with big statement songs. The next album is stripped down, often with just and acoustic and minimal accompaniment. Both are wonderful and there’s nothing to choose between them.

MP3: Wolf Among Wolves by Bonnie “Prince” Billy

Buy “Ease Down the Road” (CD)

Buy “Master and Everyone” (CD)

This Cover Scares Me More Than Bonnie Prince Billy

Jim O’Rourke – Insignificance (2001)

A few months ago I realised I’d not copied this onto my new iPhone (which is constantly full). When I got home the first thing I did was put on “All Downhill From Here”. For a bitter, twisted, hateful song about how much Jim hates people, and the world, it sure is an uplifting song. The best produced album of the decade.

MP3: All Downhill From Here by Jim O’Rourke

Albums Of The Decade (Part Two)


Albums Of The Decade (Part Three)


Albums Of The Decade (Part Four)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Five)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Six)

Buy “Insignificance” (CD)

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Pitchfork 500 – Bowie to Smith

So, here goes, the first proper part of me listening to The Pitchfork 500 so hardly anyone can read it.

As a quick precis, Pitchfork (highly regarded and influential yet somewhat snobby music website), released a book toward the end of last year, detailing the greatest 500 songs from 1977 to 2007. And I’m going to listen to them all and comment on some of them.

This is also a rather long post – over 1200 words. Sorry. But there are some gags at the bottom.

First off, David Bowie’s Heroes. When I was a kid, David Bowie was a hugely popular yet deeply odd pop star. The “Ashes To Ashes” video is still burned into my retina, especially the bit where they walk in front of the digger:

And so, first track in, I’ve got two points to make. Firstly, Heroes is the wrong song. Yes, it’s good and everything; I can understand that’s a link between the Beach Boys and Krautrock; the production is amazing – with so much happening at once it’s impossible to take in for the first, ooh, ten listens – but it’s the wrong song. Ashes To Ashes is a far finer song, infinitely creepy, lyrically superb, marvellously evocative of a man on the edge, and I’ll bet if you walked up to the man in the street* and asked him to sing a Bowie song, it’d be Ashes To Ashes. I’ll be coming back to this point throughout the list.

Which leads me onto the second point. Whilst I can’t argue with the list as a whole – there will always be omissions, changes, etc – I’ll bet you that anyone can hum the tune to at least two or three of the first five songs on the list:

David Bowie – Heroes
Iggy Pop – The Passenger
Lou Reed – Street Hassle
Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express
Brian Eno – 1/1

But I’ll bet you $10m that hardly anyone, even someone working in Rough Trade, wouldn’t be able to hum two or three out of five of the last songs on the list:

Hot Chip – Boy from School
Animal Collective – Grass
Black Dice – Cone Toaster
Liars – The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack
Panda Bear – Bros

I mean, I’ve got a pretty reasonable grasp of modern alternative music (or I wouldn’t be doing this) but I haven’t got a clue how two of these songs go. I doubt I’ve even heard them.

Now maybe this is thanks to the atomisation, Balkanisation, whatever of modern music. There are so few shared experiences in music any more – just about the last UK No. 1 that everyone can sing along to was a charity song by Peter Kay (“Show Me The Way To Amarillo”). And that’s going back a couple of years. But ask anyone in their mid-30’s or above to sing David Bowie, or Iggy Pop, or Lou Reed, or Talking Heads, and you’ll get a pretty decent response. And these, even thirty years later, are challenging, brave, fascinating songs. And they all seriously bothered the charts. Now? Nada. Ok, so Girls Aloud do some bonkers things in their songs – how many songs in one? – but they are the exception in modern, pop, high-selling music.

Maybe it’s just that the Pitchfork team have got more and more snooty over time, and aren’t viewing the present with the same populist spectacles as they view the past. I mean, there’s no Girls Aloud.

Anyway, that’s Bowie over and done with.

Before we go any further, I’ll just say that I won’t talk that much about every single song, or I may as well start a book myself.

So the next few, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, yep, great songs, though I always thought Lou Reed was a bit of a cock. Then Kraftwerk. Fuck me, total genius. What more is there to say? Actually, quite a bit more, but I’ll come back to this later.

Brian Eno – baldy slaphead invents Ambient music and does it better than 99% of the people that follow him. Actually make that 99.9%.

The Ramones – wonderful. But possibly the wrong song. Beat on the Brat?

Talking Heads – wonderful, again. Big suit! Loon! Their best song (along with Once In A Lifetime)! Far too clever for pop music! What do you mean, there’s three more of their songs on this list? Jebus.

And then, it’s Television’s Marquee Moon.

Where to start? Well, I’ve no idea what it’s about (and it seems like no-one does). It goes on for 10 minutes, of which about five are a guitar solo, which to a child of the punk wars like me, is heresy. The song is sneered rather than sung. It’s bonkers. But I still can’t stop listening to it. Put simply, it’s fucking genius. Everyone from New Order, The Fall, Sonic Youth, The Smiths (you can really pick up Verlaine’s blend of precision and emotion in Johnny Marr’s playing), through to Radiohead and, well, any half-decent band of the last five years, has got this in their DNA.

Why? I told you, it’s fucking genius.

It mixes simplicity and complexity. It sounds fresh every time you hear it. The guitar lines interweave like the finest Persian carpet. There’s not an ounce of fat on it. The lyrics are bizarre, enigmatic, and draw you in, trying to decipher them (“Life in the hive puckered up my night/The kiss of death, the embrace of life/There I stand ‘neath the Marquee Moon” – dude, WTF?). The deftness of both Verlaine and Lloyd’s guitar playing – listen to the lead line between the verse and chorus, there’s a tiny bit of vibrato on the first ascending line then it’s played totally straight on the repeat, each time; a wonderful bit of texture, and exactly the kind of thing that makes me keep listening, and I can point out all sorts of bits like this, all the way through. Yes, it goes on, but it never once feels like it’s 10 minutes long. And it doesn’t outstay its welcome.

For me, and I strongly suspect the bands above, this is our Beatles, our Stones, our Dylan, our Led Zep. Much of the music you’ll find posted on the infinite set of music blogs stems from this one song, and Kraftwerk, and possibly a bit of Velvet Underground. Like Kraftwerk, it owes next to nothing from what preceded it. I once read somewhere that Marquee Moon was the first rock song that had nothing to do with the blues tradition and I think that’s nearly right (not that I’ve got anything against the blues tradition); in many ways it’s comes more from jazz and even classical music. It’s just bizarre. As are Kraftwerk. Speaking of whom, they once told an interviewer that they in fact were huge fans of Iggy Pop and were simply trying to make music, using electronics, that sounded like him. I suspect that’s an example of the famous German sense of humour**. In any case, like Marquee Moon, Trans Europe Express still sounds fresh and alive. Wonderful stuff.

And for both bands, probably their best song (though Venus and The Model respectively are very close).

As for Patti Smith, cor, she doesn’t half sound like that PJ Harvey.

Phew. I’ll try to keep the next one shorter. Which will be PUNK! And why I hate The Clash.

*I do rather like that John Lydon quote “I’ve met the man in the street and he’s a cunt”

**My favourite joke I heard in Germany was “What’s the definition of an Austrian? A German with no sense of humour”. It’s funny on so many levels.

Trans Europe Express by Kraftwerk

Marquee Moon by Television

The whole list is available here.

The Pitchfork 500 – Part 1

So, Pitchfork, one of the biggest music sites on the Interwebz, decides to release a list of their top 500 songs from “Punk to the Present” (eg about 2007). Cue pandemonium on the web, with accusations of snobbishness, racism, and all sorts.
But you know what? It’s not a bad list. It’s got all sorts of tunes on there, and I’m going to listen to them all.

And then comment on them.

From time to time, like.

First thoughts then. Georgio Moroder is some kind of genius. I’d never thought of the homosexual undertones of “Ever Fallen In Love” before. And isn’t Marquee Moon just the best thing, ever?

Ever Fallen In Love

Note: will try and post the other two later, but WordPress is sulking at me right now.