Jun 2008

Seven songs

It’s a music meme. Isn’t it always?

Via Phil at Gaping Silence comes this simple set of instructions…

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your [summer]. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.

(UPDATE 2: Following Justin’s lead. I’ve added links to each of the songs where possible).

  1. Well, I’ve been listening to a lot of Michael Franti & Spearhead recently (and still haven’t given up hope that they’ll play a Dublin gig this year). Franti is one of the great protest singers of our time. His attacks on the establishment (whether government or corporate) can be quite savage, but there’s always a powerfully positive aspect to his songs. That said, the Spearhead song that’s been on heavy rotation on my mp3 player lately isn’t a protest song at all. It’s that classic chilled-out summer groove, Ganja Babe, from Songs From The Front Porch. Harking back to early Bob Marley, this hymn to the herb is a perfect sunny day track. How can you not like a song that rhymes “heavy medicine” with “Thomas funky Edison”?
  2. Spiritualized played Dublin the week before last. It was a great gig (and Sian Alice Group rate as the best support act I’ve seen since Daau supported The The about six years ago). In the lead-up to — and in the wake of — the gig, I’ve been listening to a lot of early Spiritualized (the new album hasn’t really grabbed me the way past ones have, though I suspect it could be a bit of a grower). Anyways, the debut album; Lazer Guided Melodies; still ranks amongst the best records released by anyone during the 1990s and Shine A Light, a beautiful version of which was performed at the gig, is really doing it for me just now. (Note: for some reason, the only version I can find on Youtube is used to soundtrack a sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Go figure)
  3. This summer is a fantastic one for live music. I’m getting to see some of the great singer-songwriters of the past few decades; the top tier probably consists of four artists… Leonard Cohen, Prince, Tom Waits and Ireland’s own Christy Moore. All quite different, but all wonderful in their own way. Curiously it’s not one of Christy’s original compositions that makes this list, however. Over the past few weeks I’ve been entranced by his cover of Shane McGowan‘s Aisling from the fairly recent retrospective box-set. Just voice and acoustic guitar, it’s a heart-breaking love song and a lament for times past, never to return. Gorgeous. (Note: can’t seem to find this song online anywhere, so instead I chose this classic song of Christy’s for your appreciation; Viva la Quinte Brigada, his ode to the Irish volunteers who sailed to Spain to fight against Franco during the Spanish Civil War.)
  4. A significant shift in pace here. Leaping backwards about 20 years to the power-pop of late 80s girl-band Voice of The Beehive. One of the better pop bands of the era in my opinion, they seem to be curiously overlooked and I’m constantly suprised by how few people even know their singles. Back when it was released, I recall buying the 7” of I Say Nothing and almost wearing out the stylus on my record-player as I played it over and over. The vocal harmonies and jangly guitar blend together and form as perfect a slice of summery pop music as has ever been recorded.
  5. From roughly the same era, though perhaps from a parallel dimension, my next track comes from Isn’t Anything? — the first of the two Great albums released by My Bloody Valentine; the rest of their output being merely Very Very Good indeed. The fact that they’re playing gigs again is really exciting, though currently the only Irish performance scheduled is a festival. Sort it out! Anyways, it’s difficult to imagine a track that so perfectly captures the MBV sound than Lose My Breath, the second track on that flawless album and currently the first track on the “Summer Walks” playlist on my mp3 player. (Note: the only version I can find online is a badly recorded live bootleg. Not going to link to it as it really fails to do the track justice.)
  6. Most people don’t know who Stina Nordenstam is. Most people wouldn’t like her music even if they did know. Most people have poor taste. Her last album, 2004’s The World Is Saved is one of the best records of recent years (and she’s releasing a new one soon… very exciting news). On it, Stina appears to have finally perfected the fragile, claustrophobic, filtered-through-a-magical-industrial-haze sound that typified, though occasionally overpowered, her past output. There’s nothing on this album that quite compares with 2001’s heart-breaking Everyone Else in The World (the opening track from her previous album), but the beautifully weird 125 comes very close and has been delighting me over the past few weeks… “They shut down the experiment / It had long gone out of hand / But the nation’s funds were well spent / To the pride of modern man…” (Note: Can’t find ‘125’ online, but this video for Everyone Else In The World somehow succeeds in being almost as heart-breaking as the song.)
  7. This last one is a bit of a cheat. It’s not a song at all. It’s a singer. Specifically it’s Cibelle, the London-based Brazillian singer. Her solo records, as well as her collaborations with producer, Suba, have a splendid dreamlike quality to them that fits well with sunny days and balmy nights. Most of her vocals are in Brazillian Portugese (which I love the sound of, but don’t speak) so it’s not really possible to pick out a specific track. I just love the way the trance beats, odd instrumentation, psychedelic soundscapes and Cibelle’s caramel voice all blend to create a tiny slice of Brazil right there in your room. I’d recommend either Suba’s Sao Paolo Confessions or Cibelle’s The Shine of Dried Electric Leaves if you’re interested in checking out this sound for yourself. (Note: I sooo want to see Cibelle live. Check out this amazing performance)

If you fancy taking this meme out for a spin, then go for it. I’m not going to tag seven other people, but I’ll just say; if you can be arsed, I’d be interested in reading your response: Merrick, Gyrus, Justin, Rachel, David, and Larry.

UPDATE: it just struck me that I put together a compilation CD for a recent car-journey which — excluding Cibelle — includes the above tracks plus a few more. So, in 70 minutes, this is summer 2008 thus far…

  1. Lose My Breath — My Bloody Valentine
  2. You! Me! Dancing! — Los Campesinos!
  3. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! — Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  4. I Say Nothing — Voice of the Beehive
  5. Summertime — The Sundays
  6. Shine A Light — Spiritualized
  7. 125 — Stina Nordenstam
  8. Dance Tonight — Paul McCartney
  9. Do I Love You? (Indeed I Do) — Frank Wilson
  10. Ganja Babe — Michael Franti & Spearhead
  11. Tangled Up In Blue [Bootleg Series version] — Bob Dylan
  12. My Funny Valentine — Slumberwall
  13. Strange Apparition — Beck
  14. Iron Man — The Cardigans
  15. Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes — Paul Simon
  16. Aisling — Christy Moore

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