In which, even when she is being the world’s most rubbish and lazy music blogger, Lis puts together a selection of songs that have caught her attention through the joys of iTunes shuffle this month.
Halfway through another year.
It’s strange though – I always feel as if my year begins with my birthday, rather than with the changing of the calendar. Less need to panic about the passing of time and what does and doesn’t change that way. Can always be conveniently readjusted in January.
Yeah, this one’s a Frank Turner lyric too. Shut up.
Always Take The Stage Like It’s The Last Night of Your Life: last month’s mix, June 2011
1. Gil Scott-Heron: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
Every notable death, premature or no, generates a flurry of retrospective. I always had this one kicking around my iTunes in some form – it was a go-to statement, the name of a friend’s blog – but I confess I never listened, really listened, to soul-man and poet Gil Scott-Heron until after his death at the end of last month. His solemn intonation barely disguises anger and cynicism. It’ll make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, as effectively as this eulogy will make you weep. You could buy a retrospective, or last year’s critically acclaimed I’m New Here.
2. David Bazan: “Wolves At The Door”
You call yourself a fan, but you somehow miss the fact that there was a record out for preorder so long ago it’s actually been released already. And still the Bazan juggernaut rolls on, like the neverending bass line in the new record’s lead track, playing house shows and spilling secrets in its wake – secrets you’ll be worthy of if you only ask. Buy Strange Negotiations, or read my interview with Bazan from last year.
3. The Pierces: “You’ll Be Mine”
There’s something ancient about this recording, despite the lush production that could only come from the 21st century. Something ancient, and full of longing. From You and I.
4. Something Beginning With L: “Mean”
The first time I heard that deadpan anyway, you don’t mean as much as you think you do refrain I wondered if it was some early Liz Phair I’d perhaps glossed over, but as the song descends into otherworldly ghost harmonies and bleeps it becomes something of its own, something unmistakeable. Buy Beautiful Ground or read my interview with the band.
5. Lovers Turn To Monsters: “Come With Me”
Gone. Huddled in the gap just above the floorboards, clutching at straws and memories. Forever is a place, too. Taken from Beyond Glasgow Howls, or read my interview with main man Kyle Wood.
6. The Weakerthans: “Greatest Hits Collection”
I know, I told myself. I’ll put some Weakerthans on, something where they’re sparky and vital and pop-punk-emo rather than just tenderly, beautifully, the latter. Because I’ll have seen them by then, you know. Aye, that’ll be right. Fallow is still ace though.
7. The Wave Pictures: “Now Your Smile Comes Over In Your Voice”
David Tattersall has one of those impossible-to-warm-to voices I’d adore if it came from a whisky-cracked American, which might explain why I can never decide if I love it or not. Think Jonathan Richman teaching sixth-form poetry in a slightly-too-warm English comprehensive. From new album Beer In The Breakers.
8. Beat Radio: “Beautiful One”
Beat Radio probably isn’t so different a proposition, but more free, somehow. A window flung open, a triangle’s tink, the sound of the bell and summer. I think Brian just threw this one up on Tumblr earlier this month (he does that), but that shouldn’t put you off buying the record I helped fund through Kickstarter or anything else.
9. The Mountain Goats: “Estate Sale Sign”
So the Mountain Goats released a new album earlier in the year, but you might not have noticed because I made more of a fuss about seeing them. That’s because, so far, this has been the only track to get the blood pounding in my ears with fuckup and fury. These things take time. Buy All Eternals Deck and see for yourself.
10. Sebastian Dangerfield: “You Played Your Part, Singer!”
So, uh, funny story. Sebastian Dangerfield (which is a band, not a secret agent) sent me some of their music a while ago, and I gave it a cursory listen and went “eh” and shelved it away. More fool me, because they popped up on one of Matthew Song By Toad’s recent podcasts and by god, is this cracking. At least, when they dropped me a line to follow-up, I was able to truthfully say they were ending up on this month’s mix. It’s from The Sound of the Old Machines EP.
11. REM: “Talk About The Passion”
I mentioned this a while ago actually, but I listen to the Medialoper Bepop podcast, which is produced by three guys out of oh, I’m not sure, somewhere American I guess. They talk about a lot of things – digital media, American sports, the latter of which I understand about as much as some of the things I’m producing for work while I listen – but what has kept me coming back since the days the site was a mere blog is lead ‘caster Jim Connolly’s passion for the same music that moves me. Specifically, 80s alt.rock by the likes of the Replacements and REM. It was them that got me listening to Murmur again, all the while trying not to think about there being a 30th anniversary reissue of the band’s debut. At least it’s older than I am, right?
12. The Submarines: “Shoelaces”
A husband-wife duo that my friends and I saw support the Mountain Goats, I loved their cutesy acoustic shtick so much that I was pretty taken aback when I discovered that – as a band – what they actually produce is heartbreak perfect pop music. This is taken from new album Love Notes/Letter Bombs.
13. Abigail Washburn: “City of Refuge”
I told you about Jewly Hight’s incredible Right By Her Roots, a study of some of the greatest voices in female Americana. Abigail Washburn’s was the final chapter as the most contemporary of Hight’s subjects, and her story and the writing were so compelling it reminded me I’d been sent a track from the album of the same name a few months ago. I doubt this is the last you’ll be reading on the subject.
14. Death Cab For Cutie: “Some Boys”
Some boys don’t know how to love… Oh, how I scorned. How I forgot that it doesn’t matter how middle-aged and middle-of-the-road and settled in their happiness they become, Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla and the rest can still wreak more havoc with a single lyric or a well-placed chord change than any band I’ve ever known. Codes and Keys burrow its way into a different place in your heart, but it’s so masterful that burrow it will.
15. Frank Turner: “Balthasar, Impressario”
This is a bonus track with certain editions of England Keep My Bones and it’s typically storyteller rich and as immersed in the same mythology as much of the album. The titular character’s performance days draw to a close, and he salutes his audience and the ghosts of vaudeville. Buy the album or read my review.
DOWNLOAD: Always Take The Stage Like It’s The Last Night of Your Life [zip]
Have I got time for a monthly most played before an early night? Oh, go on then.
Monthly Most Played as of June 2011:
1= The Gaslight Anthem, “We Came To Dance” [=] 1= Marah, “Walt Whitman Bridge” [=] 3. The Gaslight Anthem, “High Lonesome” [=] 4. The Hold Steady: “Banging Camp” [=] 5. The Gaslight Anthem, “The Spirit of Jazz”  6= Frank Turner, “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous”  6= The Gaslight Anthem, “Old White Lincoln” [=] 6= The Gaslight Anthem, “The ’59 Sound”  6= The Hold Steady, ‘Your Little Hoodrat Friend”  10= The Hold Steady, “The Weekenders”  10= The Gaslight Anthem, “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues” [RE] 10= The Hold Steady, “Hurricane J” [RE]