Saturday, April 13, 2024

Belle And Sebastian - enter sylvia plath, 2015

"She survived this first suicide attempt, later writing that she "blissfully succumbed to the whirling blackness that I honestly believed was eternal oblivion". She spent the next six months in psychiatric care, receiving more electric and insulin shock treatment under the care of Ruth Beuscher. Her stay at McLean Hospital and her Smith Scholarship were paid for by Olive Higgins Prouty, who also recovered from a mental breakdown. According to Plath's biographer Andrew Wilson, Olive Higgins Prouty "would take Dr Tillotson to task for the badly managed ECT, blaming him for Sylvia's suicide attempt".

Bee Gees - medley new york mining disaster nineteen forty-one holiday too much heaven heartbreaker islands in the stream run to me world live, 1989

"Let's talk about the Bee Gees. That's an iconic group. Not just a great band, but a great group of songwriters. Even long after the Bee Gees' success on the pop charts, they were still writing songs for other people, huge hit songs. Their talent went far beyond their moment of normal pop success. It is a loss to the music industry and a loss of an iconic group. The beauty of this industry is that we do pay tribute and every artist coming up is a fan of a generation prior to it, so there's a real tradition element to it"

Coldplay - champion of the world, 2019

"This song serves as encouragement for those struggling with everyday life who feel they are not functioning properly. Though at times, vocalist Chris Martin fears his dream will never work, he urges himself to persevere. Then one day, he will "stand before conquistadors" and become "champion of the world." "Champion of the World" was recorded as a tribute to Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchinson, who struggled with everyday life. He eventually killed himself in May 2018 after a lengthy battle with depression and anxiety. The music was inspired by his solo track "Los Angeles, Be Kind," recorded under his solo moniker of Owl John. Chris Martin had previously covered the song at a charity event with the LA Philharmonic. The song was released on November 20, 2019, on what would have been Hutchinson's 38th birthday."

Friday, April 12, 2024

The Smiths - there is a light that never goes out, 1986

"I didn't realise that 'There Is a Light That Never Goes Out' was going to be an anthem, but, when we first played it, I thought it was the best song I'd ever heard."

Sufjan Stevens - john my beloved live, 2015

"After listening to Carrie and Lowell dozens of times now, I've determined that the song John My Beloved perplexes me more than any other. Some people say it's about his lover, others say it's about his mother. I don't think it's about either. The song is full of biblical references and I think the song is about Sufjan's struggle to maintain his relationship with Jesus after his mother's death. "Beloved of John" is clearly addressing Jesus, since John was one of Jesus's favorite and most devoted disciples. Sufjan is saying that he made a mistake for reading the bible only as "some kind of poem." Later in the verse he asks if the "fossils" he finds have any life on their own. I think he is asking if the people who have passed away in his life still have any life of if they are just fossils. In the first chorus, he asks Jesus to "pretend" to listen to his "greedy demands" and then realized that he is dead without Jesus. In the second verse, he continues to struggle with the rejection of Jesus and trying to deal with things on his own. The story of Icarus is referenced, and correct me if I'm wrong but I believe this is the story where the boy flies to close to the sun and melts his wings thus falling to his death. He asks, "lord hear my prayer" but immediately follows this request with a line that communicates he feels he has wasted his time doing so. He then asks "can we be friends" in the following chorus saying that the world is just broken and lonely. The "tongue on your chest" line has always thrown me for a loop and I'm interested to hear some of your thoughts on it, but I think it means that he is trying to taste the love of Jesus, but frozen and holding his breath at the same time. "Kiss on my cheek" sounds like a reference to the way Judas betrayed Jesus, symbolizing the fact that Sufjan too betrayed him at times. But now in his life there only remains a mark reminding him of what he did. At the end of that verse he says "my fossil is bright in the sun" showing that he is still saved by the light of Jesus. Finally he "contends" that he needs Jesus in the last chorus saying that even though he feels dead God is there to save him when "fossils fall on his head." The death of his mother certainly hit him hard but he knows that the love and light of Jesus is still there to protect him."

The Rakes - nineteen eighty-nine, 2009

"Klang is the third and final studio album by English indie rock band The Rakes, released on 23 March 2009. The album was preceded by the first single "1989" on 16 March. The Rakes recorded the album with Chris Zane in Berlin, Germany, a decision that lead singer Alan Donohoe explained is because "The London music scene is so dull--it's like wading through a swamp of shit. We just wanted to be somewhere more inspiring."[13] Hence the name of the album which is the German word for 'sound'."

Alvvays - belinda says, 2022

"It's such a phenomenally efficient piece of storytelling and I think Molly is a really specific lyricist who works on her songs with the keen eye of an editor, so I was wondering if anyone else thought there was something very dark at the core of the protagonist's story. Lyrics seem to really focus on fear, guilt and shame. The singer has to leave town to have her baby, and when "word gets around" in the new town, she'll have to move again. Molly could have sung "See how it goes" twice but she sings "See how it grows", as if there is a chance that something may be wrong with the baby. And finally, heaven is a place on earth but "so is hell". Has anyone else pondered this or is it just me?"

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Belle And Sebastian - electronic renaissance, 1996

"In reviews most people have latched onto the danceable elements, the lovely bubbling synths and the sharp electropop, which I don't think is that much of a strange departure because there's been disco and pop all through your history, if you go back as far as 'Legal Man' and stuff like that, there's disco in the DNA."

Genesis - get 'em out by friday, 1972

"The backing instrumentation on this track is really intricate, and almost demands a close listen to really appreciate. You’ve got Tony with his fast-paced semi-melodic chord playing, and doing countermelodies over Steve’s guitar. Steve for his part has a short guitar solo that really rends the air. Mike’s playing against all that with a bass riff that doesn’t sound like it should work with the rest, but it does. And of course there’s Phil doing some really snazzy things on drums. You’ve got gentler sections with Peter playing some really lovely flute. It’s fascinating how it all flows together, and as an instrumental it’s arguably one of their best pieces."

Asobi Seksu - thursday, 2006

"New York’s Asobi Seksu certainly had their unique angle in the mid-aughts shoegaze revival with their blend of dreampop and J-pop, complete with bilingual vocals from frontwoman Yuki Chikudate, but as the decade rolled over, their attempts to move away from the elevator pitch that made their early work so appealing yielded diminishing returns and they called it a day after 2011’s Fluorescence. But their relatively brief career still produced four studio albums, one of which was and still is damn near sublime – 2006’s Citrus. On that record, everything they were doing and trying to do with songcraft and sonics came together perfectly. There’s highlights a-plenty on the album, but one of my faves is “Thursday"

Allo Darlin - some people say live, 2012

"Allo Darlin' began as a vehicle for the solo songwriting exploits of Elizabeth Morris. Australian by birth, Morris moved to London, England in 2005, where she began making recordings under the name the Darlings. Morris would only release one disc under this name, a three-track affair called The Photo EP, which came out on the U.K.-based indie pop label WeePOP! in late 2007. Morris changed the project's name to Allo Darlin' the following year. In a 2010 interview with, Morris explained that she got the band name from her time working in Soho. "I used to work near the market sellers," she said. "Every day I'd walk past and the old guys would yell out "Allo darlin'" as they ashed into their fruit bowls."

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Belle And Sebastian - le pastie de la bourgeoisie, 1997

"3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light was Belle & Sebastian's third EP, released in 1997 on Jeepster Records. The lead track on the EP, "A Century of Fakers," uses the same backing track as "A Century of Elvis" from Lazy Line Painter Jane. Another song, "Songs for Children" (sometimes known as "On the Radio") plays directly after "Put the Book Back on the Shelf" (on the same track) on both the CD and 12" versions of this release. The front cover features band member Stuart Murdoch with Victoria Morton. The EP was later re-packaged as part of the Lazy Line Painter Jane box-set, and all four tracks were collected on the Push Barman to Open Old Wounds compilation. Both NME and Melody Maker made the release their Single of the Week, and the EP became the band's first to reach the UK top 40 singles chart, peaking at #32."

Raised By Swans - recaptured, 2023

"Raised by Swans is the recording alias of Canadian solo artist Eric Howden. A singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Howden chose the name 'Raised By Swans' in 1997 following a cathartic dream he had after leaving his previous band, The Gandharvas; the name relies on a homonym (‘raise’: to rear; to elevate) to convey a simultaneous sense of connection and freedom."

The New Pornographers - if you can't see my mirrors, 2010

"This song is absolutely revelatory. Perfect song for the summer, driving down some deserted stretch of road, windows down, feeling vaguely wistful but you can’t pinpoint why. The lyrics and the backing vocals are truly haunting. Easily Dan’s most underrated and one of his best ever."

Siskiyou - wasted genius, 2015

“an unshakable air of anxiousness and forlorn throughout as Huebert whispers lines like, ‘I am a wasted genius/ I never go down town’. It all leads to one truly frantic bridge, a wellspring of poignant emotions that finds Huebert bemoaning ‘all the stupid shit that people do/ and all the ghosts running around this room."

A Tribe Called Quest - check the rhime, 1991

"The Low End Theory is regarded for its socially conscious lyrics, which include subjects such as relationships, date rape, the hip-hop industry and consumerism. Other lyrics are devoted to word play, humor and "showing off." The album introduced the lyrical interplay and chemistry between Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, the latter of whom experienced a lyrical breakout. While acknowledging that Q-Tip had "already proven he is a highly skilled lyricist", Reef of The Source also stated, "Those who questioned Phife's microphone techniques on the first album will swallow those doubts as he practically steals the show on this one."

Jome - snow, 2017

"There is a wintry bitterness that cements the soft prelude before the chorus swarms in around us in soft lulling waves, acting as more of an explanation than an accusation. The simply lyrics offer a series of fragmented images– tangible, like the ‘wooden room’ and intangible, like ‘changing in an afternoon’, managing to perfectly represent the imperfect, often oxymoronic blend that we call memory."

Saint Etienne - he's on the phone, 1995

"a "twirlin' U.K. club smash", that with "its deliciously sweet pop hook and adorable girl-group vocals" is "ripe for pop radio picking."

James - hope to sleep, 2018

"Living in Extraordinary Times has been described as an indie rock release, incorporating elements of the music of U2, Underworld, Interpol, the Killers, the Courteeners, and Keane. All of the songs on the album were credited to Booth, Glennie, Davies and Hunter, with the exception of "Coming Home (Pt.2)", which was credited to the four of them and former member Larry Gott. A few years previously, Glennie started playing what Booth called "sexy" grooves, which made their way into new material. Encouraged by Booth's love of grooves during a song, drummer David Baynton-Power incorporated them into the songs. The grooves were aided by a collaboration with Andrew and Giles, both of whom were drummers and suggested a number of rhythmic ideas."

Cabane - now winter comes, 2020

"Cabane is the work of Belgian songwriter Thomas Jean Henri, a potent individual who continually reaches outwards. An eager collaborator, he's able to fuse his own, distinctly original work with the voices of others around him. There's a full album incoming, and it exemplifies the exacting way he approaches music, constantly seeking out something fresh. Take new song 'Now, Winter Comes'. Superbly well-timed for these dark days, it began as a melody, one that suggested another artist."

Guillemots - trains to brazil, 2006

"It was weird, I wrote in 2002 and was sort of thinking about the whole Twin Towers thing, but then a couple of months before the London bombings we decided to drag this song out and do it as a single, and then all that stuff happened. On my birthday, as fate would have it – 7 July. Very odd. But yes, it's also just a song about appreciating life, I guess."

Monday, April 8, 2024

The New Pornographers - brill bruisers, 2014

"While greatly indebted to pop movements of the past—from ’60s psychedelia to ’70s glam to ’80s new wave—the New Pornographers have never felt like a purely retro exercise, their best songs too jacked-up and exuberant to lapse into studious classicism. But Brill Bruisers feels like their most contemporary recording to date, and a great deal of credit for that lies with the person who, historically, has been the one least likely to be mentioned in a New Pornographers review— Blaine Thurier—and fellow keyboardist Kathryn Calder. In contrast to Together’s cello-dramatic sound, Brill Bruisers foregrounds their playing, not to opportunistically recast the band as au courant synth-pop, but to restore the forward momentum that was in scarcer supply on recent records, from the starbursts that propel Case’s daydreamy turn on “Champions of Red Wine” to the zippy oscillations that power Bejar’s triumphant “War on the East Coast” to the meaty tones that lend the authoritative march of “Backstairs” (the band’s most imposing rocker to date) a little extra spring in its goosestep."

Prefab Sprout - we let the stars go, 1990

"The first five tracks on the album are straightforward pop songs with no deliberate linking theme. "Looking for Atlantis" is based around McAloon's nylon string Ibanez guitar and atypically uses only two chords. McAloon has summarised the song's sentiment as "stop wasting time, find someone and fall in love with them". McAloon considered the hip hop-influenced "Wild Horses" to be one of the album's best songs. Lyrically, it is written from the point of view of "the older man longing for the younger girl, without it being seedy". He initially contemplated sending the song for Daryl Hall's consideration. The actress Jenny Agutter recorded the spoken words that accompany the song's instrumental section."

Fleet Foxes - white winter hymnal, 2008

"In seasonal terms pop music tends to focus on summer with its array of scantily clad girls, cruising cars and sensual sunshine. While the timing of this single release from Seattle band Fleet Foxes might seem premature, their paean to the beauty of winter is a welcome break. It may not be strictly pop recalling as it does 60’s folk outfits like Fairport Convention as well as Welsh mail voice choirs and the Romantic poets, but with its soaring choral harmonies and stirring drums, White Winter Hymnal is a wondrous moment of cool reflection in the midst of summer’s heat."

Billy Bragg And Michael Stipe And Natalie Merchant - hello in there cover live, 1990

"This live performance of John Prine's "Hello in There" is a must-see if you're a fan of Prine, Michael Stipe, Natalie Merchant, or Billy Bragg. I happen to be a huge fan of all of them, so seeing Stipe, Merchant, and Bragg performing one of my favorite Prine songs is a great pleasure—I hope you enjoy it too! According to Natalie Merchant's YouTube site, which uploaded the video, it was recorded in 1990, in Glasgow, Scotland – "a first concert stop before heading to the former Soviet Bloc just after the collapse of the Berlin Wall."

Johnny Marr - european me, 2013

“It’s about realising that you’re a target for (...) insane materialism but instead of complaining about it, it’s me saying: I’m aware of this, sticking two fingers up to it saying ‘you ain’t going to get me because I’m aware you’re trying to get me’. I may be a target but I know I’m a target”.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

The The - love is stronger than death, 1993

"Love Is Stronger Than Death" is a song from The The's album Dusk. It was written by Matt Johnson, the only constant member of The The. Johnson wrote this song following the death of his brother. In his depression, he found that writing this song was therapeutic for him. The title is a paraphrase of a biblical quote: "Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame." (Song of Solomon 8:6).

Coldplay - the hardest part, 2005

"In the Entertainment Weekly review of the album, music contributor David Browne wrote that the song "is imbued with the sense of regret and letting go that we've heard from the band before, but with added musical muscle."

Morrissey - spent the day in bed, 2017

"Backed by chirpy organ and strummed guitars, it’s a typically existentialist, Eeyoreish song from the former Smiths singer, in which he rejects the “emasculation” and “castration” of the rat race, instead recommending that you stay in bed and ignore the news, “because the news contrives to frighten you / to make you feel small and alone / to make you feel that your mind isn’t your own”."

Saint Etienne - her winter coat, 2021

“We love Christmas, as you probably know, and it feels like it’s been a while since our last really Christmassy Christmas record. But I think Pete has done a properly beautiful, icy, frosted, festive job on ‘Her Winter Coat’.”