Six Month Stickies # 6

February 13, 2011

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:

Low – If You Were Born Today

My respect for Low increases every year. This time around I find the biblical insistence in the lyrics appealing, especially on the Christmas album. There is something so painfully beautiful in this languid refrain about baby Jesus, and the shamed admittance that the inclusive love of the Christian message is all but lost on our modern age. The shambling quality of the jingles near the end play beautifully with the deep humming and plotting snare.

Low – Because You Stood Still

Your red ragged wings
and cold tiny hands
will never be able
to count all that sand

They said you were sick
yeah you’re mighty ill
they said you did nothing
because you stood still
because you stood still

Low – Little Drummer Boy

Something about the low-fi droning of the sustained notes throughout and far away drums and simplistic lyrics create this dense yet loose fuzzy space that makes me feel adrift in a bittersweet sonic twilight.

Sinéad O’Connor – Troy, The Last Day of Our Acquaintance

I think Sinéad O’Connor is one of the most gifted singers ever. The same is not true about her lyricism. If I didn’t understand English I would be able to enjoy her music much more. That being said there are a handful of her songs that show off her best qualities and minimize her worst. This is one of them.

The National – Mistaken For Strangers

Not sure why this song took so long to get stuck in my head. I think this was the best album of the last ten years.

Joana Newsom – Only Skin

It took many hours of listening to this album before I could really make enough headway through the denseness of the instrumentation, and exhausting thoroughness of the compositions and lyrics. Once I had, I was able to fully absorb and appreciate the great skill and care taken with this album. There is something especially illustrative with the section about carrying the dead bird to an elevated grave.

last week our picture window produced a half-word
heavy and hollow, hit by a brown bird
we stood and watched her gape like a rattlesnake
and pant and labor over every intake

I said a sort of prayer for some sort of rare grace
then thought I ought to take her to a higher place
said: “dog nor vulture nor cat shall toy with you
and though you die, bird, you will have a fine view”

then in my hot hand
she slumped her sick weight
we tramped through the poison oak
heart broke and inchoate

the dogs were snapping
so you cuffed their collars
while I climbed the tree-house
then how I hollered!
cause she’d lain, as still as a stone, in my palm, for a lifetime or two

then, saw the treetops, cocked her head and up and flew
(while, back in the world that moves, often
according to the hoarding of these clues
dogs still run roughly around
little tufts of finch-down)

Joanna Newsom – Cosmia

I really like the irregular rise in fall of her voice and modulation of spoken and sung words.

Camera Obscura – Keep It Clean

Just some slightly bittersweet cotton candy.

Studio – Out There

For some reason this track really hit the spot for me. I’ve had this album in my music library for years before unlocked its appeal.

Animal Collective – For Reverend Green

More addictive explosive exuberance from Animal Collective.

Purple Rhinestone Eagle – Sleep, Golden Sleep

I randomly saw this band play at a ratty Oakland house party that I was at for reasons I’ve long since forgoten. Anyway, I was surprised how into this band I was. All women line up, and a very unique sound.

The Beatles – Rocky Raccoon

I always begrudgingly admit defeat when a Mcartney penned song gets stuck in my head. Frivolous narration aside, I couldn’t help but like this song. Plus I like to imagine rocky as a raccoon. An adorable little raccoon in spurs and a ten gallon hat.

Bach – Lute Suite No. 2

Not often do I get classical stuck in my head. But this lute suite is just catchy enough to do the job.

Sigur Rós – Gong

I insisted on waking up to this song turned super loud during the days it was stuck in my head. For me the sticky point is 3:41 in the yearning way he smothers out those repetitive indecipherable vocals.

Paul Simon – Graceland

Paul is so awesome. Graceland is the ultimate.

She comes back to tell me she’s gone
as if I didn’t know that
as if I didn’t know my own bed
as if I’d never noticed
the way she brushed her hair from her forehead

And she said losing love
is like a window in your heart
everybody sees you’re blown apart
everybody sees the wind blow

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Into My Arms

Nick cave putting his offbeat humor and sardonic sensibilities aside for a moment of unapologetic earnestness.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Black Hair

I love the straight shooting low-fi repetitiveness of this song. The darkness and languid pacing of his voice and wheezing music creates a unsettling intense feeling. I get shivers every time he gets to the part about taking a train to the west.

Joanna Newsom – Baby Birch

I scare myself at times at how obsessed I’ve become with Joanna Newsom’s music. I feel like this track is to the last ten years, what Paranoid Android was to the nineties. In that besides being perhaps the best track of the decade, is on perhaps the best album, and sets a new bar for contemporary song writers, in what is possible in range, depth, poetry, musicality and innovation. It reminds me of Sigur Ró’s (Popplagið) in the way the song teaches you the vocabulary of its sound and development in the first half, so that you can understand and follow the thorough build to climax. The climax point for me is when the drums come in at 6:21. I almost have a seizure the way the music effects me at that moment. This song is so beautiful, it makes me feel powerless in attempting to explain it.

Joanna Newsom – Does Not Suffice

Another gorgeous song from Joanna Newsom. Simple, heartfelt and deeply honest. Suspiciously enough I was going through some lady separation of sorts, while this song figuratively and literally served as the soundtrack. Listening to the track together, especially the parts about boundless bed, scrubbing yourself red, an unloved sweet farewell allowed to seep in with unrushed poignancy.

The National – Anyone’s Ghost

High Violet is certainly no Boxer. But still infected me with a couple songs for a week or so.

You said I came close
as anyone’s come
to live underwater
for more than a month
you said it was not inside my heart, it was
you said it should tear a kid apart, it does

The National – Runaway

I like the thumping drums throughout.

ABBA – The Visitors

I dug through a crate of LPs at an estate sale down the street from my place and found a handful of records of artists I’ve been meaning to check out for a while. Abba was one of them. Little did I know then, that this album, and this song in particular would set off an Abba obsession that would eventually lead to an indulgence in disco music. I’ve listened to thousands of disco tracks since then, and even went as far as taking my overly tight white corduroy pants out of retirement for a night of dancing. I’m only now starting to equalize. It’s been a crazy ride.

Ava Luna – Past the Barbary

I saw this band play in a loft party/battle of the bands thing in Brooklyn. I was spending the weekend with a couple friends I lived with in Greece the previous year and I was struck by the kinetic freshness of the music, their exuberant performances, especially on the part of the female singers, who were arranged and choreographed like an act from the forties. I picked up their EP at the show and am very glad I did.

Sticky point = 1:55 Suddenly tumble-crash to a brief stop.

Ava Luna – Clips

I love the clacky drum pattern in the beginning. I love the nerdy white boy funk of the whole song.

ABBA – Dancing Queen

I would argue one of the hardest songs in recorded music history not to get stuck in your head. If you want to be a jerk play this track at a party, then listen as half the people leaving that night are humming bars of dancing queen. The undeniable exultation of this song is amazing.

ABBA – Crazy World

I’m fully aware of the high levels of cheese in this song. It’s corny, affected, contrived, and maudlin, all that notwithstanding, the narrative cut through me. Probably because I can relate to the story, except without the happy twist ending.

Red House Painters – Cruiser

I have no idea what happened, but suddenly I became alarmingly obsessed with Mark Kozelek’s music over the summer. And listened almost exclusively to Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon for about a month.

It started with this relaxed laid back meditation on memories and L.A. I really like the unhurried sweeping stucco speckled vistas of sand and low lying mountains, and curving highways this song conjures up for me.

Sun Kil Moon – Salvador Sanchez, Pancho Villa

Essentially the same song, ones a bit more rock, the other a bit more acoustic. Just catchy and satisfying both of them.

Sun Kil Moon – Neverending Math Equation

This has been one of my favorite covers to listen to for years.

Red House Painters – Japanese To English

More Kzelek indulging in his mopeyness.
“… translate Japanese to English, or English to Japan-eeez” That’s so great.

Live – I Alone, Lighting Crashes, All Over You

I’m not sure what happened. I suddenly became into Live in a way I haven’t been since middle school. I remember at the time seeing footage of him singing while shedding a single tear from the sheer passion of his lyrics and thinking “Wow…” The music seems a bit more cheesy now than it did at the time, but still a good listen even divorced from its emphatic mid nineties alt rock context.


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