I woke up thinking about new systems of naming animals – thanks dream pixies – and hearing ‘Idiot Heart’ by Sunset Rubdown. I traced this back to falling asleep thinking about the #fridaymix. I’d tried to shoe-horn some Sunset Rubdown in on Friday but the ‘Sunshine’ theme really only gave me the option of ‘Setting vs Rising’, which is a throwaway track from ‘Random Spirit Lover’. Damn you #fridaymix!
Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, half asleep.
Sunday morning DJ set
On a good Sunday morning i’ll be asked to perform a short DJ set for my wife as she potters about the upstairs of the house. I say ‘Sunday morning’ but really this can happen at any time of the week. I say ‘be asked to perform’ but really I mean ‘choose to perform’. My wife rarely notices but, 15 years in, I am undeterred.
This morning I kicked off with ‘Reptile Smile’ by Th’ Faith Healers. Haven’t listened to that for a while and the spine (of ‘Mr Litnanski’) somehow caught my eye. Are there bands out there now making this sort of noise, combining pummeling rhythms with pop sensibility? If so, please tell me who they are so I can buy all their records. While you’re at it, if you know of anyone making spiky, groovy, dance-punk like Death By Milkfloat and early New Fast Automatic Daffodils used to, I’d appreciate the details on a postcard please.
I watched closely and Jo literally tapped her toes for about 15 seconds in the middle of the song. What’s more, she didn’t ask me to turn it off. A good start.
Next up, ‘Ping Pong’, I know Stereolab and Th’ Faith Healers were stable mates at Too Pure, but this was just another spine that jumped out. A few nods of the head from Jo, then she’d gone by the time it came to ‘Moogie Wonderland’.
I tried ‘Your New Friend’ by Smog next. Whilst I was marvelling at how much deeper Bill Callahan’s voice has become, Jo drifted in and referred to it as ‘hurdy durdy’ music, apparently referring to some quality in the vocals. Apparently I listen to a lot of ‘hurdy durdy’ music.
‘Your New Friend’ is lovely, but it always makes me feel uneasy. I don’t deal particularly well with infidelity in music, films, books. This song deals with that moment when you realise that your partner is looking elsewhere. It captures the sort of mild petulance that seems to come naturally but really doesn’t help your cause. I don’t like to think about it too much. There’s one other song I know that hits the same tender spot, ‘Coffee Stain’ by Sarah Harmer. Jo’s cousin gave her the ‘You Were Here’ album when she visited her in Vancouver in 2002, and it was one of about 4 CDs we had in the car for our subsequent 1600-mile road-trip along the West coast of the USA. ‘Asleep In The Back’ was one of the others. ‘Coffee Stain’ used to really creep me out. It opens: “There’s a coffee stain around your eyes/and lines that I don’t recognise/Everything changed from being okay/the night that you came home so late”. I used to want to switch it off in the car in case Jo decided that yes, in fact, she probably ought to just bugger off and have an affair.
I tried to play it next but the CD case was empty. Note: this would have been the only time the CD player had been used this week. Instead I found a live version on YouTube and played this via the hifi.
‘Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle’
I gave Jo a lift into Sidmouth to meet a friend and played Bill Callahan, which suited the sunny morning perfectly. ‘Jim Cain’ is as beautiful a song as I can remember hearing. As ever, there was a slight tension between Jo wanting to have a conversation and me wanting her to listen with rapt attention. I asked her whether this was ‘hurdy durdy’ music and she said no and that this was a much nicer singing voice than earlier. I told her it was the same chap. Fair enough, they do sound quite different.
On the way back I sat in the car to let the repetitive, extending refrain from ‘Too Many Birds’ play out. Such a simple idea, so brilliantly done.
Bitch Magnet – ‘Umber’
This has replaced Beach House in my in-car alphabetical familiarity marathon. I went through a phase in the early nineties of buying records by all sorts of post-hardcore outfits I somehow imagined to be connected to Slint or someone else in some way, or to each other in some other. Polvo, Squirrel Bait, Drive Like Jehu, June of 44, Bardo Pond the list really does go on. I actually boiught the first Palace Brothers single due to some perceived Slint connection – it turned out that Will Oldham took the photo on the cover – and it also turned out that he would become one of my favourite artists of the last 20 years. Good photo Will.
Some of these records turned out to be great. Others not so. Many languished. Bitch Magnet got their first spin for years in the car this afternoon and ‘Umber’ sounded pretty good. Sabbath-inflected noise that knew the benefit of being delicate from time to time. I think it will last longer in the car stereo than Beach House did.
Whilst tidying up this evening I listened to ‘Island Brothers’, the Haiti relief single by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, and its flipside. This was supposed to get an outing at Thurdays Devon Record Club meeting, but after playing ‘Zaireeka’, listening to anything else in 2D seemed pointless. Both fine songs. Followed, on a whim, by ‘Your Fake Name is Good Enough For Me’ by Iron and Wine, I think still my favourite song of the year so far. During this Jo came in and briefly, and for comic effect, shook her booty.
Whilst typing this I’ve been listening to ‘Dragonslayer’ by Sunset Rubdown on the laptop.
So that’s it, I reckon. I’ll compose some thoughts about the #musicdiaryproject at some point over the next couple of days. It’s been fun though, eh?