Six Month Stickies # 11
march 01, 2013
As usual the tracks of music that got stuck in my head in the last six months, in order.
* Click image to download a ZIP of the compilation:
It’s easy to not like Yes. They require patience, and a willingness to indulge their portentousness wall of complexity. Still, I’m astounded at the musicianship, and denseness of ideas in every song. A riff or bass line, or vocal melody that by today’s standards could be the only musical idea necessary to define a major pop song, with Yes, you have an idea of that caliber flying by every five seconds on a fifteen minutes song. Add the lush beautifully orchestrated, recorded/mixed/mastered care that goes into each song (So much more than today’s standard) and you have a perfect storm of musicality that we may never see again.
Heart of the Sunrise
I get this song stuck in my head every few years. It’s practically a prog rock symphony. The bass line alone makes it worth the 11+ listen. If you haven’t already, you owe it to yourself to watch the scene from Buffalo 66 that features this song.
Just listen to how well recorded that acoustic guitar is in the opening. Another killer bass line. So many great melodies flying by every second, dipping in and out of each other. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to coordinate something like this, yet they make it seem so easy. A little too much panning, but that was in style at the time.
Every Little Thing
So dynamic. Everything in this song swings wildly from one extreme to another, yet always tightly controlled.
Unusually straight forward and calm for Yes. Everything you expect is still there, but given such subtlety. Really shows how well recorded and engineered their sound is. Just listen to how delicately handled (what I think is a) slide guitar at the three minute mark.
I’ve Seen All Good People
One of the more catchy Yes songs. I like the abrupt thumpy kick drum. The lyrics are playfully and pair well with the flutes. Again too much panning, wish the guitar wasn’t pushed so far to the left. The heavy horns and hi organ are a pretty great pairing. Fun the way it gets so rumpusy at the half way mark giving excuse for some pretty fun lead guitar.
And You And I
There is something strangely transcendent about this song. This song has the most perfectly designed moment in (non classical/jazz) music I’ve ever heard. It’s the only way I can describe what happens at the 7:10 mark. The next minute is astounding. I can’t ever get over how perfectly crafted it is, and how well the song sets up that moment.
Tindersticks – Closing Titles
I was introduced to the Tindersticks watching the film White Material. After a little research I discovered that they are responsible for the soundtracks to all of Claire Denis films. This track sounds like they got the singer from Antony and the Johnsons? Great mood, like all the other Tindersticks tracks.
Such a great song. It’s tempting to think of them as a charmingly sloppy punk band with no grown up credentials, but this song shows off the impeccable song writing, and tastefully simplicity they were capable of when they felt like it. It must be an incredibly satisfying song to play/sing unaccompanied on a piano.
Date to Church
All Shook Down
Again showing off their range with these songs. I rather like to interpret the lyrics on Swingin Party, as two thieves in arms, willing to get hung, as long as they’re swinging together. I also like how they keep bringing up fishing, possibly betraying some bumpkin upbringing? What a fun band, it must have been great to see them live.
I’ve heard about Pavement being “the best band of the nineties” so many times and by so many people, I figured it was finally time for me to give them a go. I had to listen to all their albums five times through before I knew what to make of them. In fact, I’m still not sure. They seem to hover between brilliant and “meh” with me. Strangely unresolved. I do genuinely like a handful of their songs and respect them for not taking easy shortcuts with their music. I just don’t know if I would say they eclipse the best of Nirvana, Radiohead, Dirty Three, Smashing Pumpkins etc. But maybe?
Strings of Nashville
I finally got to see Dirty Three live, and quite by accident at the Hardly Stricktly Bluegrass Festival. Over the years I haven’t listened to them as much as I should mainly because they’re songs are so intense and demanding, that I rarely feel up to it (I also feel that way about Godspeed You Black Emperor!) Then I filled out the missing album in my discography which was Ocean Songs. And was delighted to find that it’s an overall mellow, meditative exploration of their sound, like the name suggests.
Sea Above, Sky Below
Some Summers They Drop Like Flys
The Shins – Sleeping Lessons
This may have been on an earlier sticky list but that catchy exuberance that jumps in at the two and a half minute mark snagged me again. Great, inspirational youth anthem.
If the old guard still offend
They got nothing left on which you depend
So enlist every ounce
Of your bright blood
And off with their heads
Jump from The hook
You’re not obliged to swallow anything you despise
I need to be careful with music like this. It makes my indulgent emo spider sense tingle. I’m generally not very patient with this sort of melodramatic affair. I remember in the nineties when everyone was losing their shit over Goldfrapp’s Black Cherry album, I just felt embarrassed for her. And maybe in a few years I’ll feel that way about Daughter, but for now it perfectly rides that dangerous edge of earnest abandon, and over indulgent melodrama. Plus you got to love the cover of His Young Heart. One of the best I’ve ever seen.
Take Me Home
I really wanted to delete this album from my Library. It’s such a lot of self flagellating nonsense. Unfortunately however, it’s also really good.
On Your Way
Straight forward rock songs I expect to get stuck in my head. Not much to say about this, revises the tired point that rock will always live, we haven’t exhausted what can be done with guitars and drums yet.
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
The Rider Song
I knew this was one of my favorite songs of all time the moment I heard it. This is exactly the kind of song I would want to make if I could. This song pretty much represents the apex of my music taste.
‘When?’ said the moon to the stars in the sky
‘Soon’ said the wind that followed them all
‘Who?’ said the cloud that started to cry
‘Me’ said the rider as dry as a bone
‘How?’ said the sun that melted the ground
and ‘Why?’ said the river that refused to run
and ‘Where?’ said the thunder without a sound
‘Here’ said the rider and took up his gun
‘No’ said the stars to the moon in the sky
‘No’ said the trees that started to moan
‘No’ said the dust that blunted its eyes
‘Yes’ said the rider as white as a bone
‘No’ said the moon that rose from his sleep
‘No’ said the cry of the dying sun
‘No’ said the planet as it started to weep
‘Yes’ said the rider and laid down his gun
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
We Real Cool
Push The Sky Away
His lyrics have more weight and substance to them this time around, yet still nicely peppered with his overly specific, purvey, tastes. I really like when he gets odly specific about astronomy in We Real Cool. It’s so emotionally intense for me to listen to him sing about Sirius at the three minute mark, and I have no idea why.. If you cut out the nonsense he puts in between, there are some really nice lyrical moments in this song:
Who was it you called the good shepherd,
Rounding up the kids for their meal
Who chased your shadow running out behind
Clinging to your high flying heels
Your high flying, high flying, high flying heels
Who measured the distance from the planets
Right down to your big blue spinning world
And heartbeats and tears and nervous laughter
Spilling down all over you, girl
Sirius is 8.6 light years away
Arcturas is 37
The past is the past and it’s here to stay
The Mermaid Parade
This song made me tear up like a little baby the first few times I heard it. Such a beautifully constructed narrative, and heart achingly gorgeous song. At 2:20 when he says “Ah, you be careful Amand”. I nearly lose it.
This long, lazy, sprawling meditation on L.A., is the perfect southern tinged accompaniment to the equally long and sprawling song “Cruiser”, also about L.A., by Red House Painters.
Little, Pt. 1
Nice raw, scribbly, bleary-eyed sketch. (Nice drums, not easy to do.)
It was finally time to take on Tom Waits. He’s one of those artists, who music aficionados always swear by. But half the time I come across one of his songs, it just sounds like belligerent nonsense. It was time to sort this out for myself. I listened to his discography through five times (He’s been making a lot of albums for decades, so that’s no small feat) and was able to cobble enough solid albums between the heaps of nonsense to see what all the fuss is about. But geez Tom, you need to work on that signal to noise ratio. I think his unique brand of songwritting/humor/musianship comes through the most charmingly in Better off Without a Wife.
Dirt in the Ground
Come on up to the House
Better off Without a Wife
Unwound has always been one of my favorite bands. I’m not sure why I was satisfied with only three of their albums for so long. I finally got around to getting the whole discography, and sure enough their other albums are great. These tracks in particular get the job done.
I especially like the dark slide/rocking motion from 2:03 – 2:20.
sticky point at 3:37
Start dating a southern farm girl, and you’ll be introduced to Gillian Welch. I’m glad for it.
One More Dollar
Pass You By
Only One And Only