It's been a while since I've put up any music. Just single tracks this time, since I imagine we'll be talking at length about full albums when the best of 2011 arguments start. So here's a bit of a preview in five songs.
Johnny Guitar Watson, “Those Lonely Lonely Nights.” I don't get why people kept writing love songs after this.
My Head Explodes by nogoodnik
Ty Segall, “My Head Explodes.” So what if he stole the chords from Marcy Playground. Listen to what he does with them. Rockiest rock song of the year. Also listen to Segall's awesome explanation of it: "When you play music and you're a person on a stage, sometimes people can put you on a pedestal, and that can do a lot of things to your head. And... what if it actually exploded all over the walls during a show?"
Handsome Furs, “Memories of the Future.” Dave, I can feel your frown. But I don't care if Alexei is super annoying onstage. She's written terrific lyrics here. Nothing better than hearing Dan “Springsteen + Ocasek =” Boeckner, a guy who hates every song written after 1978 with equal and unrelenting intensity,* croon “Nostalgia never meant much to me.” Over 80s synth pop. That might sound dismissive, but I think the tension between lyrics and music here is actually really interesting. This band likes to write concept albums about the aftermath of totalitarianism; Sound Kapital is apparently inspired by a tour through Burma, and Face Control was about postcommunist Russia and Eastern Europe. So that terrible twentieth century tendency of regimes demolishing history and starting a nation and a culture over at year zero lays in the background here. But back to Dan singing Alexei's words: “I threw my hands to the sky, I let my memories go.” Nietzsche said forgetting isn't a mental lapse, but an active, deliberate thing societies must do to reinvent themselves. Freud said that willful forgetting is repression, where everything you tried to forget turns out to frame your existence in sneaky and unpredictable ways. I listen to this and remember a few of the many things I've forgotten--things that, like the anxious, glitchy backbone of this song, shape everything, and aren't too hard to spot or source.
Antlers, "Corsicana." This is not exactly what I thought their new album would sound like. It's just so... pretty. And the lyrics are filled with spite and broken bodies. I'd call that a winning combination.
Wild Flag - Future Crimes by Music Meds
Wild Flag, “Future Crimes.” One day I'll get past my Carrie Brownstein fanboy crush. Just probably not anytime soon.
And since one of the five is obviously not from 2011, a bonus cut from my daughter's playlist, which is what I'm listening to most of the time anyway:
10 Heigh-Ho Whistle While You Work (from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) by PantsDanced
Brian Wilson, “Heigh Ho/Whistle While You Work/Yo Ho.” I know right, did you hear the one about the lobotomized pop god who called his record company and said I want to make an album of Disney covers? But seriously listen to this. Brian Wilson's whole career was building up to these three and a half minutes. It's perfect. Somewhere between Walt Disney and Brian Wilson, California convinced the world to accept its hokey grotesquerie as mass culture. This song makes it all sound grotesque again. So thanks for that, Brian.
*I doubt Boeckner's ever said as much in an interview, but I have it on pretty good authority that he's said it.