My august playlist is finished and I would like to extend my sincerest apologies for writing 3000 words about it. It’s mostly for my own amusement so please feel free to scroll right past this. There’s a lot in here, from Grateful Dead covers to Sunn 0))) and everything in between so please enjoy.
The New Stone Age - Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: This is the perfect album opener because almost every other song on this album is Orchestral Maneouvers In The Dark’s normal fare of great downbeat synthpop but this song is like a nightmare come to life and it really sets the rest of the album in a different light. The otherreason I love this song is that ‘oh my god what have I done this time’ is a constant thought so it’s nice to sing along to. Buffalo Stance (12" Version) - Neneh Cherry: This song is an absolute masterpiece, the production is amazing, the synth riff is magic and this extended version is even better than the original because it has a lot more 80s scratching and also a bit in the middle where she says ‘WOT IS 'E LIKE??’ Wakin On A Pretty Day - Kurt Vile: This is a great example of why Kurt Vile is good because this song goes for 9 minutes and you don’t even notice. It just keeps cruising on and on and you don’t mind a bit Turn Out The Stars - The Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra & Jim McNeely: This is another ABC Jazz find, its a very beautiful piece of music but what I like most is the ending where it stretches out a long long note into a big mysterious chord for no discernable reason. Downtown - Destroyer: I have yet to look up a picture of what Destroyer looks like but I from his music I imagine him to be a sort of mineral deficient vampire type of man who has just been wandering around New York for a hundred years. I had a big moment with this album this month, it’s really just perfect start to finish. Wow I just looked up a picture of him and I’m not far off. Song For America - Destroyer: I caught myself singing the part of this song where it goes 'winter spring summer and fall, animals crawl, towards death’s embrace’ while I was walking around town a couple of weeks ago which was good. Hoping For - Bad//Dreems: Bad//Dreems are maybe the best Australian band around right now. This is the first song I ever heard from them a couple of years ago and I listened to it probably 20 times in a row while I rode my bike around the school I used to live next too one afternoon until a cleaning guy yelled at me. Mirrors - Justin Timberlake: My girlfriend called me a '20/20 Experience apologist’ once and I’ve never gotten over it. It’s a good album! And Mirrors is the best song on it! It does the classic Timberlake/Timbaland thing of finishing up a perfectly servicable pop song after 4ish minutes and then starting up on some bullshit for another 4 and I love it the whole time. Speaking In Tongues - Eagles Of Death Metal: The guitar sound in this sounds like someone in honking the horn of their car in the studio. Eagles Of Death Metal are a wildly patchy band but their first album is a classic front to back and this song especially is a standout. Pain - The War On Drugs: I cannot get over how straight up beautiful this album is. I’ve listened to it more than anything else this month and I think every time I have a new favourite song. It turns out I love this one a lot though because as I was putting together this post I realised it was on here twice. Simulation - Tkay Maidza: This album was kind of unfocused and I really hope Tkay figures it out for her next album because when she’s on she absolutely kills it and this song is a great example of that. Countdown - Beyonce: I’m not a huge Beyonce fan (don’t @ me) but Countdown is easily her best song (don’t @ me). It’s just so dense and agile and busy in every aspect it’s absolutely hypercolour. New Dorp, New York (feat. Ezra Koenig) - SBTRKT: This is still such a flooring song, it doesn’t sound like anything else and it’s so left-field while still being incredibly cool the while time. Also about a year after this song came out I found out that New Dorp is a real place in New York further confirming my theory that America is a cartoon. Three Mantras Of Bon - Phurpa: Sorry, sorry, I’m trying to remove it. I accidentally had a big moment with a few different drone things this month and I fell asleep listening to Phurpa for about a week which I don’t recommend because it is literally just Russian men groaning at you fifteen minutes at a time and it feels like death has come to take your bones away. This song is good because they stop groaning halfway in and start making interminable vuvuzela noises instead. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) - Arcade Fire: When @grumsal came to visit us this month he was quite drunk one night and explaining to me that Neon Bible is Arcade Fire’s most underrated album and Sprawl II is their best song, opinions that I’m quickly warming to. Boys - Britney Spears: This song made me burst out laughing while I was alone because the bass in it sounds so funny. It’s like a straight up standard MIDI bass sound in this professional pop song and it sounds so, so dumb. This song alse features in the Beyonce film, Austin Powers: Goldmember so that’s how you know it’s good. Notwo - Autechre: I wish Autechre has more straight up ambient songs like this because they’re very very good at it. This and Outh9X which comes after it make a good pair because Quaristice is almost exhausting by the time you get to the end of it so it’s nice to have 15 minutes of wind-down that you can still get into like this. Hundred Syllable Mantra - Phurpa: Sorry, sorry, they are back and they have more groaning to do. I got deeply into this song this month and even now listening back to it I just want to lay on the floor and fucking die because of it. That’s how you know it’s a good song: it wants to kill you and you want to let it. Melody 5 - Tera Melos: Tera Melos’ Untitled album is a masterpiece. It’s just pure creative energy, before they figured out you can sing on a song without itjust being yelling in the background. This song especially ecapsulates the spirit of the whole thing because it twists and turns forever without ever feeling forced or boring, it just goes on and on and on with new idea after new idea but still feels like a complete work as well. The sample at the end where she says “lucas[?] you are as beautiful as [?] and [?] [???]” makes me very emotional even though I have no idea what’s going on. Good song. Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah - House And Land: I found out about this duo because I’m a huge fan of the guitarist Sarah Louise but I didn’t even know she was a singer as well. This is great appalachian folk music without the watered down bullshit and WITH the sensibilities of modern composition. The calustophobically close vocal harmonies in this are just shocking. The Day Is Past And Gone - House And Land: I saw someone on their bandcamp page saying they’d never fully appreciated the function of the drone in this sort of folk music before they heard this album and they’re absolutely right. Everything pivots around the guitar drone in this song for the first half, then when the guitar takes over the violin steps in and everything weaves around it. Intro/Keep It Healthy - Warpaint: This is a great song but the intro especially made me think a lot about recording and the identity of albums and as inconsequential as it sounds I think the drummer fucking up and apologising at the very start benefits this album hugely because it immediately puts a very human face on music that could easily be quite aloof and distant to the point of alienation without it. Vaseline Machine Gun (Live) - Leo Kottke: I love Leo Kottke so much and this is maybe the first song I ever heard of his and it absolutely blew my mind but this live version is very funny. This is solo acoustic guitar music, american primitivism from the bluegrass tradition, it’s not cool guy music by any stretch but Leo Kottke has somehow packed out an auditorium full of folks who are absolutely hanging on his every note and when the central slide melody of this song starts you can hear one guy in the crowd just absolutely losing his mind over it in a couple of long, distant “woooooooo"s and I like to imagine that that man is me. Cavity - Hundred Waters: This song is so beautiful and so considered in every aspect. The frailty of her voice makes it feel like it could break at any second and the whole thing could collapse, the oscillating two note refrain that ties it together is so strong when it comes back and the percussion is so detailed in a way you wouldn’t expect from any other band but Hundred waters. Metastaseis - Iannis Xenakis: Thankyou to @thoughtportrait for introducing me to the nightmare music of true oddball Iannis Xanakis, I was reading about him for a few hours while I listened through his music and Metasaseis is a good example of a piece of music that has a lot of context around it, and the concept of the composition being individually scored for every single player in the orchestra is interesting and innovative and everything like that but it’s not essential knowledge to understand this: you just listen to it and get overwhelmed. For Organ And Brass - Ellen Arkbro: I am obsessed with this piece of music. It is absolutely transcedental but the first time I listened to it I heard a train horn honk in the distance outside our flat and thought it was part of the music, so it’s also that kind of music. It is twenty minutes of long, loud, organ and brass notes and I cannot get enough of it. Bogan Pride - Bad//Dreems: “big muscles pumping in my sweatshirt/ big muscles pumping in my dreams”. Almost every Bad//Dreems song is about The Boys and either being one of the boys or how much you fucking hate the boys or how much you fucking hate that you are one of the boys and it’s so good. Alice - Sunn 0))): The last part of my Drone Month was listening to this song a lot. This is my favourite from Monoliths And Dimensions because without any vocals or the choir of the others it feels very stripped back, the guitar moves in big waves and the brass follows. Also, I used this song to diagnose exactly which part of my car door was rattling when I played particularly bassy music this month, so it’s functional too. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) - Budddy Rich: I can’t believe I only found out this was a Beatles song this month when I was searching for this Buddy Rich version on Spotify. How embarrassing. I’ve listened to this album for years and this song is so melodically rich I wish it went for three times longer. Obedear - Purity Ring: I watched Search Party this month and aside from being an absolutely amazing show that somehow balances incredible characters, violence and mystery while still being hilarious it reminded me how good of a song Obedear is. I wish it had a proper opening credits sequence because this song never goes for long enough in the show. Out Of Line - Gesaffelstein: This song starts menacing and just gets more menacing the whole time. “a bitter sunken love in a bleach blonde submarine” is such a great line, and the voices barking on the offbeat near the end is so propulsive it makes me wish this song was longer. Every Time The Sun Comes Up - Sharon Van Etten: This song gets stuck in my head whenever I wake up and have a news alert about whatever the newest calamity is, but it also makes me smile because having a line like 'I washed your dishes but I shitted in your bathroom’ in such a downbeat and serious song is so funny. “I shitted.” Atomic Number - case/lang/veirs: This song feels like a folk song from another dimension where everyone worships the atom and the overlapping vocals in the verse are so nice. This whole album is just full of beautiful layered songs like this I really recommend it. Black Gold Blues - Laura Veirs: the case/lang/veirs album reminded me how much I like Laura Veirs and how much of a moment this sort of Kaki King/Tegan And Sara genre was for a while. The karate noises in the background of this song really make it. Golden Brown - The Stranglers: Will a song about heroin in alternating 6/8 and 7/8 featuring a harpsichord ever again be such a bop? Unlikely. Aquarian - Grizzly Bear: I’m still working out how I feel about the new Grizzly Bear album. It’s so dense and it always takes me a while to work through their albums but I like it so far and this song has really stood out to me so far. The drums especially make it, in the second half the dragged snare becomes the centrepiece that the rest centres around. Leak -Truth, yesnotesnotes- - Boris: If you’re still reading reply to this post and tell me whether you think of Heavy Rocks meaning Heavy as a concept Rocks like it’s good, or Heavy Rocks like big boulders. Because I’ve always thought of it as the former and I don’t know why. Speak In Rounds - Grizzly Bear: Here’s an easier Grizzly Bear song. I had it stuck in my head intermittently all month and would just sing it to myself constantly, to the point where I looked up the lyrics and it’s literally about drawing a picture upside down to distract yourself from tinnitus. The Obvious Child - Paul Simon: It’s crazy that Paul Simon put out the Rhythm Of The Saints right after Graceland because it’s like the expanded weirdo version of an already out-there album. Like a sequel from a different universe. Acetate - Metz: I was listening to Death From Above 1979 and then I realised I should stop fucking around and just listen to Metz instead. I love the loping rhythm of the bass that drives everything in this song and how absolutely noisy every single part of it is, it’s pure frustrated energy. Talkin’ World War III Blues - Bob Dylan: I’ve been reading a book about the Cuban Missile Crisis called One Minute To Midnight by Michael Dobbs and it reminded me how much of a bullshitter Bob Dylan is cause he said he wrote A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall about the Cuban Missle Crisis but there’s recorded evidence of him playing it like a year beforehand. Anyway this is a far better song and the best kind of Dylan song where he just rambles on about a bunch of bullshit that happened in a dream for 6 minutes. If I Had A Heart - Fever Ray: I’ve always sort of preferred Fever Ray over any of The Knife’s albums and as far as album openers go there really isn’t a better tone setter than this song and the huge throbbing synth that just sits there manacingly throughout while the organ builds walls over it. Dust Bowl Children - Alison Krauss & Union Station: A few weeks ago we saw a double feature of Hail, Cesar and O Brother Where Art Thou at The Astor and I learned that Hail, Cesar is masterpiece that I didn’t fully appreciate when I first saw it and I remembered how much I love Dan Tyminski’s voice. Incredibly good song from a huge voice about my personal passion: soil erosion and how we are all going to die because we haven’t learned from the sins of agriculture past. Give The Mule What He Wants - Queens Of The Stone Age: I’ve listened to the new Queens Of The Stone age maybe 5 times through and it’s just not doing it for me, which is pretty disapointing. There is a bright side, however, and it’s that their first album has been re-added to spotify after disappearing for about a year. This is a song I regularly get obsessed with and have to listen to over and over and over but I can’t pin down what it is that I love about it. A huge part of it is definitely the propulsive groove of the verses and the way the drums and bass just roll forwards so heavily. Thinking Of A Place - The War On Drugs: I’m so glad this song made it onto the album because when it was initially released I thought it was just going to be a Record Store Day exclusive single but it works so perfectly as a centrepiece to this album. It’s expansive and beautiful and it makes me so emotional! Two Trucks - Lemon Demon: Two pickup trucks making love. American made, built Ford tough. Atomic Bomb - William Onyeabor: This was another song that kept getting stuck in my head reading the Cuban Missile Crisis book, and also because of the news over the last month but probably mostly just because it’s a great song. There’s something about the vocal phrasing and the drum groove that makes this song feel really structurally strong for the jam that it is and I really can’t get enough of it. The Scene Between - The Go! Team: The Go! Team are the most underrated band in the world and I’m dedicating my life to getting them the respect they deserve. For some reason their newest album has been removed from Spotify except for this single which I’m thankful for because it’s a great song. The Werewolf - Paul Simon: Paul Simon is fucking 75 years old and he put out one of the best songs of his career last year! Who’s gonna stop him! Tilt Shift - Mosca: “I never lost a fight [to camera: I have lost a few fights] but I will fucking shoot you bruv” Tilt Shift (Julio Bashmore Remix) - Mosca: Tilt Shift is an incredible song and somehow I only found out that Julio Bashmore had done a remix of it last month. It’s a great remix because it sort of sounds like he’s just done a mashup of Tilt Shift and the Wii Shop Channel Theme, which is fine by me. Spit You Out - Metz: The riff in this feels like Queens Of The Stone Age’s first album if they were incredibly upset. I love how long this song is, they really wring every last drop out of it. The Deadly Rhythm - Refused: It’s been years and the drums in this song still kick my ass. It’s crazy that an album whose first lyrics are 'I’ve got a bone to pick with capitalism, and a few to break!’ can be so legitimately cool. Over Everything - Kurt Vile & Courtney Barnett: I am so excited for this album. The two most relaxed songwriters alive finally collaborating to be incredible relaxed together. I wasn’t a hundred percent on this song when I first heard it because Kurt sounds like he almost can’t keep up with the song, but after listening to it a lot I’ve decided that makes it even better. Also a good 60% of this song is just them jamming out and I really hope the album follows the same formula. The City - The Drones: There’s a great part in this song where the tape runs out during the recording and there’s a long break while they change it which as far as accidents go is an incredibly musically effective one. Drive - Ainslie Wills: This song should have been a huge hit, I’ve been obsessed with it for two years now and it’s still incredible every time. Somebody sponsor Ainslie Wills and force her to make a new album already. Me And My Uncle - The Lone Bellow: It’s truly crazy how much time I spent listening to a 5.5 hour Grateful Dead tribute album last year but it’s just that good. Please set aside half a day to listen to Day Of The Dead in full and have a massive Grateful Dead phase for six months after like I did.
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) - Arcade Fire.
They heard me singing and they told me to stop Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock These days my life, I feel it has no purpose But late at night the feelings swim to the surface
‘Cause on the surface the city lights shine They’re calling at me, come and find your kind Sometimes I wonder if the World’s so small That we can never get away from the sprawl Living in the sprawl Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains And there’s no end in sight I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights
We rode our bikes to the nearest park Sat under the swings and kissed in the dark We shield our eyes from the police lights We run away, but we don’t know why Black river, your city lights shine They’re screaming at us, we don’t need your kind Sometimes I wonder if the world’s so small That we can never get away from the sprawl Living in the sprawl Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains And there’s no end in sight I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights
They heard me singing and they told me to stop Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock Sometimes I wonder if the world’s so small Can we ever get away from the sprawl? Living in the sprawl Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains And there’s no end in sight I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights
“Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains”
White Flint Mall, Bethesda, Md.
Built in 1977 it originally featured 125 stores. Now all but 3 are vacant. Part of the mall is actually demolished. Dave & Busters closed about 5 days before we got here. Walking through the place you get the feeling like you aren’t supposed to be here. Can’t be too great for the remaining 3 businesses.
in my room, the blow // dance anthem of the 80s, regina spektor // dreaming my life away, best coast // sprawl II (mountains beyond mountains), arcade fire // bonjour jeune fille, the blow // dreamy bruises, sylvan esso // footshooter, frightened rabbit // the ocean (is bleeding salt), margot and the nuclear so and so’s // 26 is dancier than 4, this town needs guns // anonanimal, andrew bird
They Heard Me Singing: Songs that are too beautiful for their own good.
Matilda – Alt-J // Prince Johnny – St. Vincent // Only Ones Who Know – Arctic Monkeys // Never Tear Us Apart – INXS // Days Are Gone – Haim // Map of the Problematique – Muse // Sprawl ii (Mountains Beyond Mountains) – Arcade Fire // Ya Hey – Vampire Weekend // I Know It’s Over – the Smiths