We had a lively discussion in The Listening Room last week, so lively it has brought BC Magazine a new writer and a new series. The discussion I refer to is whether or not we, the listeners of this room, should be trying to champion more obscure music with our selections. My answer to that is yes and no.
There may be some of our participants who are using this forum as a crusade to spread the word about a favorite album or artist and they will not rest until we have all gotten on board. Some of us are using this as a vehicle to talk about music we love, damn the torpedoes. Some of us might be doing both at the same time. Some of us might take one approach one week, the other the next. Some of us simply aren't thinking about this that much and aren't taking ourselves so seriously. That is the beauty of panel discussions. We are all bringing our own vibe to the discussion. Speaking of discussions, thanks to everybody who has stopped in and commented in these first installments.
These may not be the best songs ever, they may not even be our favorites, but they kept us entertained last week. You could do worse than to try a few of them out and see what they do for you.
DJRadiohead "The Fear" from This is Hardcore by Pulp
This is "Our Music From a Bachelor's Den"
The sound of loneliness turned up to 10
A horror soundtrack from a stagnant water bed, and it sounds just like this:
This is the sound of someone losing the plot
Making out that they're OK when they're not
You're gonna like it, but not a lot"
The powers that be will be thrilled to see my big lyric blockquote, but I felt I had to do it. That's almost as great an opening to an album as "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste." This, boys and girls, is how you make an entrance. That opening salvo is paired with a brilliant use of overblown, overwrought, goth-flavored horror music. The keyboards sound like the ones you remember hearing when Scooby-Doo went into the haunted houses, the backing vocals shriek and wail, and guitars are made to sound like harpsichords.
I was very late to the Pulp party. In fact, I didn't buy my first Pulp CD until after Jarvis Cocker had pulled the plug on them. I am now playing catchup, importing these wonderfully-remastered deluxe editions of their best albums. I have Jarvis' solo record and Pulp's Different Class on the way. I have a feeling you will be hearing about them again next week.
Mark Saleski: "LDN" from Alright, Still by Lily Allen
Ah the sweet Caribbean breezes, the sparky horns, the lilting melodies, the crack whores, and the muggings. What?! Yes, I had heard nothing about Lily Allen until her recent appearance on Saturday Night Live. There's just something about a pretty girl in a party dress tossing these images against such happy music. This song does spend its time in the ugly side of London, but it has what might be the catchiest pop song chorus ever written. I am powerless to resist.
Pico: "Ash Wednesday Blues" from Ash Wednesday Blues by Anders Osbourne
There's a lot of songs about Mardi Gras, here's one about the day after (and so appropriate as I listen to it on this February 21).
In a New Orleans-themed album that ranges in sound from The Band to Dr. John to the Subdudes, the title song is a quiet, introspective number accompanied by just a piano and an organ lurking ever so subtley. Both the mood and Osbourne's singing reminds me a lot of Billy Joel's "She's Got A Way". And that's not a bad reminder at all.
Michael Jones: "They Don't Know" from Stay by Simply Red
Over the past few days I've been listening to an advance copy of Simply Red's Stay, which is slated for release on April 3rd. I'll admit that the biggest reason I found myself wanting to review this album is the strong feelings of nostalgia I get when I think of Mick Hucknell's voice. Songs such as "Holding Back The Years," "Money's Too Tight To Mention" and "If You Don't Know Me By Now" are musical stepping stones along the path of some of my most treasured memories.
So, imagine my surprise when I first popped Stay into my stereo, and found it to be something new, vibrant, and decidedly not something nostalgic. Sure, Hucknell's voice is just as wonderful as it ever was, but these songs are just as strong as anything Simply Red has ever released. My favorite song, and the one that's been in heaviest repeat on my iPod, "They Don't Know" just has this wonderful throwback sound to everything that is good and right in the world of soul music. It's just a beautiful song that gives my heart goose-bumps.
Anywho, that's what's spinning in my ears the most, lately.
Cara de Pescado: "Wishful Thinking" from The Ditty Bops by The Ditty Bops
The Ditty Bops are a California duo playing a mix of swing, folk, bluegrass, jazz, and ragtime that makes it impossible to not sashay alongside. Think Andrews Sisters singing They Might Be Giants or The Beatles singing Broadway Jazz numbers and you might get a pretty close mental picture of this duo fun enough to land a major label contract after only eight public shows. The foot-tapping melody of “Wishful Thinking” may lack deep or philosophical lyrics, but it does summon a feeling straight out of the Roarin’ Twenties. It may not be the world’s greatest song, but it sure is a happy ditty.
Glen Boyd: "I Wanna Be Your Dog" from TV Eye (1977 Live) by Iggy Pop
This morning I scored tickets to see Iggy And The Stooges (everyone else was tripping over themselves to get Police tickets), and brothers and sisters, I am stoked. So do you think I celebrated by dusting off my copy of Raw Power? Nope. I went straight to TV Eye, the live album recorded during the 1977 tour he did with Bowie on keyboards right around the time Lust For Life came out. Much as I love the original Stooges (and can't wait to actually see them live), the band heard on this performance combines the Stooges well, "Raw Power", with razor sharp musical chops cleverly disguised as sheer, unbridled punk-rock energy.
Iggy is one of the few guys in music who can couple lines like "I'm so messed up, I want you here" with "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog" and make you actually believe it. The last time I saw him in the eighties, he was banned from playing in Seattle by starting a near riot with members of the audience storming the stage and tipping over the P.A. columns. Maybe this time around, I'll actually get to hear the band. Either way, I can't wait.
Anna Creech "IKEA" from Smoking Monkey by Jonathan Coulton
I saw Jonathan Coulton last night in Seattle, and leading up to and after the show, I've had a variety of his songs on rotation in my mental jukebox. He played all of them at the show except one, which was a slight disappointment because I love the song "IKEA" almost as much as I love the furniture. Like most of his tunes, it's lyrically witty and easy on the ears. (You can download it for free from his website, but do consider chipping in a buck for it anyway).