Thursday, 28 May 2015

My Top Ten Songs (Volume 2: May 2015)

Here are the worms that have been tickling my eardrums this month...

10. Ash - Cocoon

After 2007's Twilight of the Innocents, Ash claimed they were done with albums and would only release singles from now on because the internet was changing the way we consumed our music and kids were shit. Or something. Eight years on, thankfully, they've changed their mind, with a brand new album onomatopoeiacally titled Kablammo!

Judging from the opening single, there are no great leaps of innovation here, just hard & fast rock 'n' roll in the traditional Ash style, sounding like they never went away. It's good to have them back.

9. Modest Mouse - Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami, FL. 1996)

Modest Mouse are a band I occasionally love, but never for an entire album (even when they rope in Johnny Marr, as they did last time round). Their latest long player, Strangers To Ourselves (like Ash, their first in 8 years: lazy gits), has some pretty good tracks, but only one that blows my socks off.

Pistol is told through the voice of serial killer Andrew Cunanan, the murderer of Gianni Versaci (and four other people). Taking place one year before his tragic killing spree, it's disturbing and exhilarating: like Natural Born Killers on warped vinyl.

8. Christopher Cross - Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)

Dudley Moore's Arthur is not a great film...don't try and convince me otherwise. It is, however, undoubtedly one billion times better than its dire 2011 remake featuring the execrable Russell Brand. Anyway, the best thing about Arthur is its theme tune, composed by the combined might of Chris Cross (not to be confused with Kriss Kross), Peter Allen, Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach. Yes, it's cheesy 80s soft rock of the kind many lump under the "guilty pleasures" banner these days... but I don't believe in guilt when it comes to music. Class is class.

Heard this again playing on a Gold station in the local café. Made my day.

7. LunchMoney Lewis - Bills

Look, kids, a quirky novelty rap record (with piano!) from the current pop hit parade... yes, they actually still have that. Anyway, LunchMoney (Gamal to his mum) will no doubt go on to a glittering career as another bland Kanye wannabe (without piano), but right now he's cool and different. And I still like his tune... although give it another couple of weeks and I'll probably be heartily sick of it. Such is the law of novelty records.

6. Juicy Lucy - Who Do You Love?

If there's a recurrent theme to this particular post, it's that I still discover a lot of music through (a choice selection of trustworthy) radio shows... and that when I hear a song I like that I haven't heard before, I often jump to wildly inaccurate conclusions. Like when I first heard this, I thought it must be a new Nick Cave record. Turns out it's a cover of an old Bo Diddly track, recorded in the early 70s by a British blues rock band who were previously known as The Misunderstood but changed their name in honour of a prostitute from Leslie Thomas's novel The Virgin Soldiers (filmed in 1969 with an uncredited cameo from David Bowie).

Anyway, this rocks like your mum's socks and doesn't sound like it's well into it's 40s. But then, neither do I.  (Or maybe I do. Make up your own minds.) Also, for those of you who are interested in such things, the album cover features various images of "a burlesque dancer named Zelda Plum, naked except for a covering of fruit". Ah, the 70s...

5. Used To - We Can Deal With The Details Later

Heard Jarvis playing this on 6Music and had to track it down. Cynical, world-weary indie, it could have been Luke Haines before he went batshit crazy. Apparently the band have an album coming out soon called 'Festival of Disappointment' which is a good enough title to get my money. Can't find anything out about them on t'interweb though, and they only appear in the video with giant mirrors on their faces. You know, I wouldn't be surprised if this was another bizarre Luke Haines side-project. We'll have to wait and see.

4. Kool & The Gang - Get Down On It

Sam's first earworm. "Get Down... On It" has become his catchphrase over the last few weeks. We've even got him boogying to this... although he has a disturbingly Miley-esque twerk to his dance style that I'm hoping he grows out of before he embarrasses himself at the play group disco.

3. The Good Rats - Advertisement In The Voice

One of my favourite radio presenters at the moment is ex-Fun Lovin' Criminal Huey Morgan. He's on 6Music every Saturday morning but also does a bizarrely scheduled 3-6am show earlier on the same day on Radio 2. In the past, this'd mean his only listeners would be insomniacs and graveyard shift workers... but in the 24/7 world of takeaway i-Player programming, it means I can listen to him whenever I like. Which is good, because he plays a great mix of music (rock, funk, soul, hip hop, MOR), much of which I've never heard before... but I certainly want to hear again.

I've heard him play this achingly nostalgic ballad by The Good Rats a couple of times over the last few weeks and I was wondering whether it was a new release... until I did a little digging and discovered that it's from the band's 1976 album Ratcity In Blue. For those of you who've never heard of them before (myself included), The Good Rats came from Long Island, New York, and while they never quite made the big time, they did open for Springsteen, Meat Loaf and Ozzy (among others) and put out a good few records that are now on my Wants List.

Advertisement In The Voice will crop up here again if I ever do a Top Ten Lonely Hearts Column Songs. It stars a man who's got a good job, a nice house and all the trappings of wealth... but no one to share them with. And if I'd listened to those lyrics a little more attentively at first, I wouldn't have mistaken this for a new release...

I have a nine room house completely furnished in the best of taste
And I drive a brand new Porsche
I have a Quadraphonic system with complete access to tapes
And I could be your Santa Claus...

Ah, yes, 1976: when having complete access to tapes was the height of technological sophistication...

2. Elbow - What Time Do You Call This?

A new Elbow single is always a cause for celebration and this is Elbow at their most heartwarmingly anthemic. Sadly, it's not the precursor to a new album (though Guy Garvey's solo album should be out soon), instead it's a standalone "single" taken from the soundtrack of Simon Pegg's new romcom Man Up. As always, Garvey's lyrics perfectly mesh bittersweet romanticism with amusing northern colloquialisms to breathtaking effect...

Call me out on all my lies
Hold my ticker with those eyes
Weather every winter while
Check my spelling, ring my bell
Don't expect tender sex
Check my spelling, ring my neck
Separate me from my breath
Kiss me nearly half to death, ohh
(What time do you call this?)

1. Blake Shelton - Austin

I first came across Blake Shelton - and his debut single, Austin - a couple of years back while I was compiling My Top Ten Answering Machine Songs. I liked it enough that I bought his greatest hits package; but while there are many fine songs on that collection, my admiration for Austin just grew and grew. It's a great story - girl leaves boy, goes back home to her folks, realizes (after a year) that she's made a mistake, calls him up again as a longshot... and gets a surprise from his answering machine. But it's the minutiae of detail that make it so affecting, the inference that this guy is filling his life with activity - bowling, the Friday night ball game, weekends at the lake - to fill the hole she's left in his life. And though her response is cheese on a stick, if you don't get lump in your throat when you hear that last verse... you've no right to call yourself a hopeless romantic.

All that said, the one thing I can't get out of my mind is this: if this guy really is leaving details of his entire social calendar on his answering machine on a daily basis... it's to be hoped no burglars are calling.

So, those are the tunes that have been on high rotation in my head this month. What's been gnawing at your tympanic membrane?

1 comment:

  1. Kool and The Gang. The only group I've heard of. Says a lot about me and my choice in music and my lack of interest in new music.


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