Anyway, here’s one of my monthly playlists, with some comments about each song.
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1) It’s Common (But We Don’t Talk About It)- Bratmobile
This song came out in 2000, 14 years ago now, yet there still seems to be the need to have the same conversations again and again about sexism. You’d think things would have improved somehow in that time, but apparently not.
2) The More it Works- Parquet Courts
I went to see these guys play last week. It was great. Maybe they’re not that original, but they put together all the things I like in a way I like.
3) Licence to Confuse- Sebadoh
Weirdly I got into both Sebadoh and Slint via the Kids soundtrack. I saw it 3 years or so after it came out, and taped it off Channel 4. It was my all-time favourite film when I was 15 or so. Yeah, I know. That’s a bit weird. A couple of years ago I re-watched it with 2 friends, one who had never seen it, and another who had seen it once in the 90s. I wrote about it a little here. There’s also a good quote from Bell Hooks on the film here. (For the record, the two girls are Jenny and Ruby.)
4) Walking With Thee- Clinic
A criminally under-acclaimed band.
5) Going Steady- Death From Above 1979
Pure testosterone and sweat. Sadly I missed their recent reunion due to being a totally broke post-grad at the time. Now I’m just standard broke.
6) Something I Learned Today- Hüsker Dü
When I was 15, I used to have a home-made Hüsker Dü tshirt. I took textiles at school, and I printed a transfer out, because I couldn’t get hold of a real one anywhere. As a so-called grownup, I have a real one. Here’s a photo of me wearing it on my birthday with a 50s dress 3 years ago, after being caught in a rainstorm. The Thai restaurant saw fit to give me a banana fritter with candles in it.
I was the only one out of my friends who was into Hüsker Dü. I got into them from following up leads from other things I liked like Nirvana and the Pixies. There was a second-hand record shop in my hometown called Magic Discs that I used to frequent. I bought Candy Apple Grey there on vinyl for a fiver and went from there. That shop was amazing. It was run by two crusties and a very friendly dog, and they would magically spirit almost anything you asked for from a box out of the back and charge you £7. I went there almost every week and they started pre-emptively reserving me things without asking, so I would go in and they’d whip something out from behind the counter that I wanted immediately. I also started getting a discount as a regular customer. It’s not there any more, and I miss that place so much. I am going to write about it in more detail another time. I still don’t really know any people who love Hüsker Dü enough.
7) Condor Ave- Elliott Smith
On the other hand, everyone rightly loves Elliott Smith. In the summer of 2010 I went through a weird phase where I only wanted to listen to Elliott Smith (and did only listen to him) for about 6 weeks. I have no regrets.
8) The Sands’ve Turned Purple- Cap’n Jazz
In the summer last year I was talking with my friend Chloe about going to see Braid. I couldn’t go, I think I was in Austria at the time or some other geographic reason. Anyway, we decided to try personally ranking the Kinsella bands. I couldn’t manage it, except for putting Cap’n Jazz at the top of my list, and Owen possibly at the bottom. I also realised I don’t like the Promise Ring half as much as when I was 16.
I have a question I ask people sometimes “Chicago bands, which is the best: Tortoise, Cap’n Jazz or Jim O’Rourke?”. Interestingly everyone I have ever asked this to who is likely to have an answer has had a very firm one. I like all three equally and could never choose.
9) Nosferatu Man- Slint
One of my all-time favourite albums, along with a huge amount of other people. I saw Slint on their recent tour. For some reason that I can’t remember I didn’t go to their previous one. At one point there was a woman behind me who kept making cat noises in the loud parts. I really don’t know what brought that on. Brian MacMahon is also a much more charismatic man than you would think.
10) Tooth Fairy- Rodan
I got the Rodan compilation for Christmas (not because my relatives take such keen interest in my tastes, but because I specifically asked for it). They are pretty much inseparable from Slint and Codeine in my head. I read once that Slint put out an ad for a female vocalist, and PJ Harvey was one of the people who answered. I don’t know if that’s actually true but IMAGINE THAT if it had happened. Anyway, you’ve got Rodan- Slint style stuff + female vocalist.
11) Special/Blown It (Delete As Applicable)- Mansun
For some reason, I’ve never been to Chester. The combination of Mansun, Hollyoaks, footballer’s mansions, half-timbering and the really nice girl from Chester who I used to work with whose boyfriend was a magician have given me a strange mental picture of the place. Paul Draper, what a voice. I once saw this album on vinyl in a charity shop, I didn’t have enough cash on me, and they didn’t take cards and were about to close. I came back the next day, and it was gone. Curses.
I don’t think I know anyone who particularly likes Mansun either. I think I got into them at the time by seeing a video on the Chart Show. It’s weird now with the internet and instant access to any music you like to think about how you would keep such an eye out for any of the rare chances to see or hear things you liked on the tv or radio.
Also, in terms of “Summer spectaculars” I had the chance to steward at a Cliff Richard concert when I worked at Hampton Court. The extra cash, and the possible life experience were tempting, but then I wasn’t sure if I could hack 5 hours of Cliff after a full day at work spent shouting at French kids/telling people fake maze facts. The whole day while they were setting up the stuff, there were suddenly lots of 50 year old women around taking a keen interest in scaffolding.
12) Silence Kit- Pavement
Another fine purchase from Magic Discs. 15 years later or so, the sleeve is looking a big dog-eared and has been glued back together multiple times. In my brief foray into the world of internet dating, I claimed that a “date with Ikea is often better than a real date, because I tend to come home with houseplants and a bag of pastries”. A man actually offered to take me out to Wembley Ikea, he’d heard the meatballs were sublime. I asked him if Stephen Malkmus would be there, and he said no. “No Malkmus, no date” was my policy. Words to live my life by?
13) Rain on Tin- Sonic Youth
Rain. Lots of rain this month. It’s also weird to keep seeing Thurston Moore out of the windows of buses or in record shops. My brain doesn’t seem to like the fact he now lives a couple of miles away. He was firmly filed away in the the “New York” category.
14) Girls of Summer- Arab Strap
In my eyes the all-time best Arab Strap album. (Obviously I like all the others too though).