Wednesday, January 30, 2008

tunes help you breathe more easily

I'm "working from home" today, hem hem, so I've got iTunes in random selection mode in the background and it's been kicking out some great sequences of stuff, in addition to some stuff of a slightly more ropey nature. I was jotting down some notes just to see if I could get a randomly selected run of ten songs which I would not only be happy to admit to owning, but would be positively keen to recommend to others in order to enrich their lives. We had a few runs of 7 or 8 before iTunes stepped on a musical landmine (White Christmas by Bing Crosby on one occasion), but we got one in the end. And here it is:
  • New Slang by The Shins. Featured in the film Garden State, here in fact. Full version is here.
  • Roscoe by Midlake. From one of my favourite albums of 2006. Here's a rocking live version (with slightly muddy sound) from Seattle in 2007.
  • Long Flowing Robe by Todd Rundgren. Legendary uncategorisable rock maverick, stepfather of Liv Tyler (good), producer of Bat Out Of Hell (unforgivably bad) and constant re-interpreter of his massive back catalogue, as this frankly bizarre bossanova reworking of I Saw The Light from 1997 shows.
  • Heartattack And Vine by Tom Waits. Nice spiky guitar work on this one, which dates from just before Waits gave up on instruments as conventional as the guitar and started playing things like water tanks and bicycles instead, most famously on Swordfishtrombones in 1983. Here's a slightly less guitar-y, more big-band-y live version which looks like it was recorded in about 1948.
  • Little Lover's So Polite by Silversun Pickups. I downloaded this off iTunes after hearing it on Radio 6 Music a while back. Good song, but the main selling point for me is the deliciously filthy guitar sound, more of which can be heard on Well Thought Out Twinkles and the album Carnavas.
  • Shasta Beast by Eagles Of Death Metal, Queens Of The Stone Age's Josh Homme's not entirely serious side project. It's an irresistible song, though, a short clip of which (with some odd animation) is available here.
  • Resurrection Fern by Iron And Wine, from the new album The Shepherd's Dog. Whispery acoustic folk, although some of the other tracks on the new album branch out into more ambitious instrumentation, some of it electrically powered. Back in the folky idiom, this is the older song Naked As We Came (no, it's not what you think).
  • Birthday by the Sugarcubes. It's Bjork. She's bonkers.
  • Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft by Klaatu. Like most people I grew up thinking this was a song by The Carpenters, but it isn't. There was a bizarre rumour going around for a while that Klaatu were actually the Beatles who'd reformed anonymously after their break-up. The other interesting Klaatu fact is, of course, that they were named after the Michael Rennie character in the film The Day The Earth Stood Still. Klaatu barada nikto!
  • Farmer In The City by Scott Walker. Slightly odd lyrics to say the least ("can't go by a man with brain grass / go by his long long eye gas"), but it's by a distance the most listener-friendly thing on his frankly terrifying 1995 album Tilt. Apparently the song is about Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, not the most obvious of subjects for a pop song, but his demise (being repeatedly run over with his own car on a beach) is appropriately grim. Incidentally Pasolini's Wikipedia page includes him in the category Modern Pederasty, not a category people are clamouring to be included in I would guess.

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