Tuesday, June 24, 2008

7 Up

Funny how a few days off makes you lose all momentum. So I'm perversely grateful for Mr Impostume’s invitation to tell the world (well, you know…) my favourite seven songs of the moment. A bit off piste for me so I’ll try not to get too NME circa 1988 about it and go on about crystalline guitars and stalactites of sound. I won't tag anyone because I have used up my tagging goodwill the last time. So...

Concerning the UFO sighting near Highland, Illinois – Sufjan Stevens.

Stevens can be a bit too close to Paul Simon for my comfort but this is altogether stranger and more alien, more like something from the darker side of the 1970’s, the accompaniment to a Richard Prince painting of mid-western farmers staring up at strange lights in the sky, or the existential angst of Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters. It manages to sound both awe struck and painfully slight, like it might be blown away at any moment and it stops long before you expect it to, which is always good. I believe it’s probably about God but that’s ok with me.

Ghosts – Japan.

From a time when pop was obsessed with exotic otherness and gloriously unafraid to be pretentious this is a masterpiece of grandly arch songwriting. It’s also oddly heartbreaking, David Silvian’s voice cracking with a mixture of emotion and affectation. A perfect balancing act caught between debonair croon and genuine despair. Good xylophone too.

Landslide - Fleetwood Mac.

I have something of a soft spot for Fleetwood Mac especially Stevie Nicks era Fleetwood Mac (well only Stevie Nicks era Fleetwood Mac to be fair) and this is beautiful, a barefoot gypsy skirted lament for lost innocence and a dawning sense of her own mortality sung when she must have been about 24, which only makes it sadder.

Push The Button - Sugababes/Orson.

Slightly sacrilegious I know, but I'm plumping for Orson's cover version for sentimental reasons although its not strictly as blindin' as The Sugababes' stroppily libidinous original. Incidentally, in a rare brush with glamour for me I once sat at the same table for dinner as Heidi from the Sugababes. She was very short.

Don’t Talk to Strangers - Ariel Pink.

Sounds like the whole of the 1980’s being played out the window of a car passing you on the freeway while the tape recorder melts in the sunshine onto the seats like an ice cream. I can’t get enough of that sort of thing. It was the same with The Avalanches’ Everyday, which sounds like being trapped in the broom cupboard of a villa in the South of France whilst outside an incredibly glamorous party is taking place.

Millionaire - Queens of the Stone Age.

Has the best pause in any rock song ever, like the the moment of calm as someone catches their breath before throwing you headfirst out of a window. Brings an utterly propulsive thrill every time it happens.

Automatically Sunshine - Diana Ross.

Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, the best song to accompany one's wife walking up the aisle.


owen hatherley said...

Buckingham-Nicks Fleetwood Mac is a wonderful thing, especially the more indulgent it gets. I almost cheered at the moment in The Mighty Boosh where someone is asked what they're listening to, viz:
'Fleetwood Mac.'
'Oh, Rumours, yeh?'
'Nah, Tusk'.

Quite right.

Alice said...

Japan? Aaaaaaaagh!

Quite a mixed bag. Do your favourites would change from day to day, or hour to hour, depending on your mood (or after a phone call from a particularly difficult client?)

Charles Holland said...

No one admits to listening to tusk do they? Where do you stand on Tango in the night though? Not indulgent enough but still lush.

After bad client phone calls we wack up Echo and the Bunnymen's Happy Death Man!

owen hatherley said...

You're such hipster architects, aren't you...?

Me, I listen to Tusk all the time...was alerted to its brilliance by a Simon Reynolds piece in a Melody Maker anthology called Unknown Pleasures devoted to flop and/or obscure albums that are actually brilliant. A fantastic little book, the kind of writing you could never get in the music press nowadays (hence the migration onto blogs, I guess).

Lots of Tango in the Night is great, definitely - but the spectre of Mike and the Mechanics looms in the background sometimes...

Charles Holland said...

Hipster architects!? That was positively dripping with sarcasm Owen!

Is that a book that is readily available? I thought I knew my MM books. I remember they did a kind of inverse guilty pleasure sequence (i.e. hated 'classics') in the actual magazine once which was excellent and full of thoroughly perverse choices. My favourite was someone (I forget who possiboy Chris Roberts) who absolutely loathed The Doors. I was quite into them at the time but haven't been able to listen to them seriously since. Yes, Music criticism was amazingly ambitious then compared to the stunted version you get now although that the Quietus blog is good although slightly retro in terms of writers which I like.

owen hatherley said...

I just had this image in my head of the FAT office all sat round their desks listening to the Bunnymen and cackling, then plotting how to decorate their next shed. I mean it in a good way...

The book came free with some issue in 1995, and it's no exaggeration to say that it's because of that sort of stuff that I started writing in the first place. Taylor Parkes on ABBA's The Visitors is one of the best pieces of music writing ever, by anyone. (it's worth looking for in charity shops)

Charles Holland said...

Have you been in our office? It's a frighteningly accurate image.

Someone has listed all the songs on that MM thing on Amazon. But I can't find the book. David Stubbs on The Look of Love! What joy! Yes, MM got me into all sorts of things, Fancy learning about Bataille, Barthes and Kristeva from a bleedin' music magazine? And Taylor Parkes was superb. Clearing out some stuff recently I found a cut out review by Simon Price of Gene (sad but true) which STILL sums up my adoloscent love of the Smiths better than I ever could.

God, I've got to do some work!