Once upon a time in the glory days of Napster I recommended a bunch of songs. Then a lot of stuff happened, and some of the shit is detailed in this LJ post. Blah blah blah internet politics.
So, ten billion years later, I decide to add more recs, since I've bought more CD's and all since then. Actually, I should just make Calico write my music recs, cause I send recs to her and say, "get this! and listen!" I'll make her write the third batch.
The big freaking irony is that soon after I posted all the dead-cool music recs last time, I got sucked into Nsync slash. And suddenly the alterna-bitch who prided herself on owning nothing but music nobody had ever heard of was scouring the web for pop music. But! All was not lost! In order to convince myself that my taste in music wasn't affected, I bought three times the number of obscure albums than I'd previously owned.
Anyway, pop recommendations, a.k.a. Nsync for the faint-of-heart:
The only Nsync song I unconditionally loved was an acoustic version of For the Girl. This is gorgeous, flamenco guitar and a little percussion, and lush live harmonies. It's floating around peerspace as "4 the girl (live)". You'll know it when you hear it, anyway. <g> Also, of course, Lion Sleeps and That's the Way Love Goes. I'm a big fan of Give In To Me, if only for the fact that JC wrote it, and Justin was 14 when they sang it, and it's obscene. Finally, More Than A Feeling, whoo. Almost a capella, shows off JC's incredible range, and at the end there's this fabulous high note which, best I can figure, is Joey, 'cause I can pick Chris singing other stuff. It's at 3:08, and if anybody can give me a verdict on who it is, I'll be mucho grateful.
And that's it for the pop.
Followups on previous recs:
Alex Lloyd has another album out called Watching Angels Mend, and I love it; try Green and Lost in the Rain. (The first single was called Amazing, but I hated it.) It's a bit more acoustic than the previous album; the ballady songs don't really do it for me but I like the more melodic ones, and I only got it a couple of weeks ago, so maybe it just needs more time.
Augie March put an album out, Sunset Studies. I was warned it took a long time to grow on you, but I was like, "no, hey, I love this." And then about six months later, it all actually clicked, and I was like, "oh. my. fucking. god. I fucking love this!" They're... deep. They're doing something quite unlike everything else that's going on. Kind of doing a Radiohead in that they're going off into some place nobody else is, but unlike Radiohead they're going a lusher, richer place, with truly intriguing lyrics. I cannot get it off my stereo. I bought three albums last week, and only listened to the first one before Sunset Studies was back in. Favourites: The Hole in Your Roof, The Offer, and Here Comes the Night.
George finally put their album out! It's called Polyserena, and as Cal can testify, it's damn hard to get overseas. I was a little disapointed by the album, because it's mostly the singles from the EP's, and the new songs seem like so much filler by comparison. Still, worth it to have all those fantastic songs in the one place: Spawn, Bastard Son, Run, Polyserena, Breathe In Now, and The Special Ones. The new version of Spawn is terrific, with some truly (literally) breath-taking vocals. I hate the beginning of the new Breathe In Now, but after the first verse it's sublimely sweet ("I just want to know that you're okay"). Non-filler new tracks: Release (in which Katie shows off The Voice), and Truth, which is kinda trancy-trippy.
Other George to look out for: the triplej cover of Under The Milky Way, which gave me shivers when I first heard it, and still does. Delicate and penetrating at the same time; very nicely done. Hallelujah Sister is on a compilation called Corroboree, collaborations between white and aboriginal artists, and this is with Jodi Cockatoo Creed. It brought tears to my eyes when I first heard it live. It's not the greatest song ever, a little clumsy, but Katie sounds exquisite, and it has a devastating sincerity which really gets me somewhere most music doesn't reach.
The singer from Cordrazine is doing something solo. It's very new so I don't know what the deal is, but it's as Hamish and the song is called Lifesong, and it's a lot like Cordrazine but a little less bleak, a little more... the word 'sprightly' comes to mind.
The Whitlams have put out a lot of new stuff, none of which is really doing it for me. Fall For You is the only one I've really liked, a quiet, melodic piece.
iota put out a new album, Big Grandfather. Less my thing than the last album; much less poppy and much more aggressive, stripped raw and then built back up again to a big soulful foot-stompin' wail-fest. It's still pretty fun, and he's got a voice that could bulldoze mountains. There's something almost haughty about it; it's forceful and domineering, and it knows you like it like that. Struttin' Rock Roosta and Fomp Sweeva, if you're curious.
New Australian recs:
Gota Cola, oh my. Wavelength's Phase. I'm a slut for this kind of voice. If you like George, particularly Spawn, this is like that, except more so. Otherworldly with a bit of good heavy guitar.
Eskimo Joe. My darling, darling, darling boys. They're young, and they're cute in a way only their mothers could hate. As all the reviews say, they used to be obsessed with videogames, and now they're obsessed with girls, because they've just figured out how to get laid. Alt.rock, basically, except with so much vulnerability and dry wit. It's like they start writing teen angst rock, but keep realising that being a teenager is actually pretty fun. Liar is my fave, nice and mellow and has a lovely falsetto (I'm a slut for falsetto too). Who Sold Her Out is on the heavier end, pretty straightford rock, made catchy by the rhythm and delightful by the lyrics, which are about writing songs about their girlfriends ("who sold her out? yeah, we sold her out.") Planet Earth is the cutest thing ever:
Outside a marketplace on Earth
There's a subject we all talk about
It's called "girls, and how they work."
Also Wake Up, and Head Hurts, and Slow Down, and fuck, if you like any of these songs, just buy the whole album, okay?
Sia Furler. God dammit, I haven't got enough money to get her album (Healing Is Difficult), which had mixed reviews but I still want for myself. Singles are Taken For Granted, which is gritty/hypnotic/funky/cool, and Drink to Get Drunk, which I like less but most people like more. It's pretty cool but a little too spoken-word for my taste. She sings on the Zero-7 songs Distractions and Destiny, which are a different sound, that Brit lush thing again.
Speedstar - particularly Fallen Star. Sad and haunting and compelling, perhaps a bit too heavy on the echo effect, but still well worth listening to. They do great lyrics--
I realise how quick the world can fall away
And understand the plans we make can go to waste
and drop away like a fallen star
Silverchair. Holy fuck. Diorama kicks the ass of every other album they ever put out, and they've been putting out seriously good shit for years. They've got that whole orchestra thing going on again, but unlike previous efforts, they actually really use it. This album has been described as colour to their previous black and white, and I have to agree. They've discovered melody. My two favourites are the two really orchestral ones: Luv Your Life and Across The Night. Fuck. Just fucking brilliant.
I never put any silverchair on my previous recs, a serious oversight on my part. Emotion Sickness, which is probably best described simply by the title, featuring David Helfgott on piano. Anthem for The Year 2000, which is my favourite kind of rock, the kind where you can really swing your hips while you mosh <g> (see also White Zombie's More Than Human). Ana's Song, tragic and cutting. Miss You Now, kind of heavy and sad. I am, of course, listing all their mellower tracks here.
Ice Cream Hands - Dodgy. Kinda forcefully acoustic, but so buoyant it's irresistible. "You could be the piece that finally fits, you could be the glue for the broken bits." Boppy thrashy fun.
Machine Gun Fellatio - Unsent Letter. Oh, oh, oh, so lovely. These guys are weird as hell, great when they want to be, but more interested in being outrageous, and then they go and release this. Just a tiny bit of funkiness in a sad, bare song about an unfinished relationship, and it's wonderful.
... finally wrote your song
another unsent letter
in a pile addressed to you
care of something somewhere better
If you're feeling brave, and in the mood for weird, Motherfucker On a Motorcycle is a scream, as is The Girl Of My Dreams Is Giving Me Nightmares (which really kicks out in places). Kind of Rocky Horror for the New Millenium, very lewd and very camp.
Still in the mellow camp... Neil Finn - Sinner. Okay, so technically he's a New Zealander, but if we like a New Zealander, we like to say they're Australian. Strings and lovely lyrics and quite a nice little rhythm going here; manages to be both pensive and exuberant.
Mark Seymour - Last Ditch Cabaret. Another one for pensive and exuberant, with a similar sound, this song gives me a mental image of slow dancing as the roof falls in. I think he means the song to be a little more cynical than I take it, but it's one I think about a lot.
Grinspoon - Chemical Heart. I don't normally like these guys, but I adore this song. Mellow, for them, with some guitar that sings (and sings better than the singer does <g>). Rich and warm, especially when compared to their usual thrash.
The Hive - The Mordecai Tapes. A little hard to get hold of but worth it (search hive and tapes). Along the lines of the Avalanches, chaotic and wild, rising and falling in intensity, with a stunning vocal by Lior Attar.
Custard - Goofinder. Did I forget Custard, last time? I couldn't possibly have, but apparently I did. This is just so tight, so bouncy, so coooool. This song captures how perfectly on Custard could be. Their timing is incredible; they played like they had a single brain. You'll note that I speak of Custard in the past tense... Wah. I mentally file this song alongside They Might Be Giants - Birdhouse in Your Soul.
From the creepy files: Paradise Motel - Bad Light. If you like Nick Cave, this belongs in the murder ballad department, with a little of the Angel theme's violin/guitar sound. Incredibly beautiful and utterly unsettling. "Came in spinning, twisting like a knife, like a gutter gorged with night." It seems to be about finding the body of a girl, twenty years after she was kidnapped.
Darren Hanlon - Falling Aeroplanes. Somebody reminded me of this, hence the whole update. Just him and a banjo (!) and it's the sweetest! song! ever! but trust me, I don't do sap. It's understated and lovely. He used to be in The Simpletons, who I used to see all the time and who had some fantastic songs... and I can't remember a single title. Note to self: follow up on The Simpletons.
Bluebottle Kiss - Return to the City of Folded Arms. The song's pretty good, but man, I just freaking love the title. Australian alt.rock, rough-hewn but not aggressive.
The Badloves - Green Limousine. Oh, man. Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. "Gonna drive my car where the wild things are." There's no word for it but cool-- a cool song about being cool. "Jonah caught a whale, put it up for sale, and bought a green limousine." Can I say it enough? Cool.
Random other songs:
Ani diFranco - jeez, everything, but Back Back Back and Swing from To The Teeth. Her lyrics are just, wow. Haven't got the latest album, yet. I just don't make enough money to keep up with the woman's CD's, and I don't have enough time to appreciate the ones I already have.
Spiller - Groovejet (If this ain't love). Features Sophie Ellis Bextor from before she became a popstarlet and fell from my pedestal. But oh, this song. So happy and hopeful and groovy. Fantastic. (Okay, I'll admit it. I have a huge crush on Sophie. The woman is drop dead gorgeous, and writes flawless pop music. If you're in the States, you probably haven't heard Murder On The Dancefloor, and really you should.)
Propellerheads feat. Shirley Bassey - History Repeating There ain't nothin' cooler than this song. It's all that and a heap more. Groovy funky jazzy swinging cool.
Kinobe - Slip Into Something and Grass Roots Horizons. Mesmerising lullabye chillout stuff. Just go get them and don't argue.
Dawn Robinson - Envious. While in the grips of Nsync obsession, I made a bit of a detour into R&B. Hell, this song gets me dancing. I can't sit still while it's on; I notice myself wriggling my hips in my chair and realise Envious is playing. The other ones I still listen to, even though it's (eek) religious, Mary Mary - Shackles, and Video by India.Arie, which I could talk a lot about but which I think articulates a new kind of feminism, which is a kind of self-referencing femininity, femaleness as something which is neither intrinsic nor imposed, but ultimately something which is performed. Plus it's a terrific song. <g>
From an earlier age:
I had a big PM Dawn thing, and So On And So On is kinda Avalanches-ish, before there was an Avalanches. Less known but still fabulous is their Hendrix cover, You Got Me Floating.
Frances Dunnery - American Life in the Summertime. Fucking classic. I suppose it's rock, but it's almost too perfect to be rock. It's taking the piss out of rock music with the lyrics, and the rest of his stuff sounds nothing like this, so I suspect that musically it's semi-parody as well. He's showing how easy it is, or something. Great car song. Makes you want to be speeding down the highway with the windows down.
INXS - oh, man, how could I forget INXS. The Stairs, baby, The Stairs. It just builds and builds and builds and then it soars. I bought this album at the same time as I was writing a paper on Orwell's 1984, and for me this song expresses all the tragedy of 1984, but somehow does so without its bleakness. If you don't know INXS, also see Never Tear Us Apart (ballad), Suicide Blonde (uptempo) and Full Moon, Dirty Hearts (bluesy, sexy duet with Chrissie Hinde).
Urge Overkill - Somebody Else's Body. Another one from the retro-bop-rock department. Good thrashy fun.
Natalie Merchant - Carnival. Oh, lovely throaty voice and wistful lyrics.
Lhasa - De Cara a la Pared due South fans know this song because it's the one Ray and Stella dance to, but it was also apparently in QAF US. The title means 'face to the wall' and the lyrics, in Spanish or translation, are just beautiful.
Jeff Buckley - New Year's Prayer. I love love love this.
If you don't know who Jeff Buckley is, get Grace and Last Goodbye
and Lover You Should Have Come Over and Everybody Here Wants
You, and pretty much everything else of his. If you do know,
listen to this one again, because it just keeps striking me.
There's a story called Death and The Veteran which I keep meaning to link
to at Christmas time (somebody frigging remind me, next December, because
you really need to be sick to death of Christmas commercialism and all
the bullshit, then read that story and weep.) Anyway, the story mentions
bones click-clacking, and the song sounds like that story, to me.