It takes some sort of an emotional blow to hold on to every word being sung, like it was the gospel of truth itself.
So maybe I’m not in the best place emotionally, and this song started as something hopeful, something to embrace were it to play at my favourite indie club, but now I find it’s full dread, and there’s a part of me that will always want to remember what I was trying to forget.
They should still play this, near the end of the night, just as you start to feel the perspiration across the nape of your neck. A cold wind blowing to sweep the excess feelings of euphoria and regret, mixed together into the incense that you offer to the machinations of irony and wish it all away in one fell swoop. – Brian.
I want to forget / I want lights to / Blind me / I want to / Want to disappear / Oh DJ ease my mind will you / Play that song again / Because we were in love / Before / Before the rain begins / And if I cry / Cover my ears
“I did not become someone different that I did not want to be, but I’m new here“.
With Bill Callahan‘s deadpan delivery, these words don’t elicit much empathy. Instead, they operate in a normalised, everyday context, an idealised Smog world celebrating the commonplace, where being new is but one point in an ongoing, repeated cycle of living and reliving, just as it is.
Under Gil Scott-Heron‘s interpretation five years later, those same words take on very different meanings. Stripped of their comforts, they sound slightly upsetting. Who didn’t you want to be? What had you become? What are you doing here? For Scott-Heron, turning around isn’t about returning, but becoming something, someone new. There is redemption, and hope of true transformation, just like his own.
I was skeptical about Jamie xx‘s remix, but my intuition couldn’t be more wrong. Was a remix of a cover necessary? Clearly not, yet it shows itself to be the most surprising. The audacity of sharing that ‘newness’ with Scott-Heron and rearranging his lines seems to actually render that transformation complete, going as far as making redemption the sweetest thing, just as we like it. – Dan.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To… Caracal – Bears
Brazen smatterings of post-hardcore and hard rock are the name of Caracal’s game, something they do exceptionally well. There are shades of Underoath, Fugazi and mewithoutYou all over their straight-shooting, swashbuckler of an album, Bear. Shark. Wolf. Even if the music’s genre isn’t your cup of tea, one thing you can never fault this young band on is how proudly they wear their hearts on the sleeves, beating loudly for all the world to sit up and take notice. – Brian.
The opening two songs of Furniture‘s long-awaited sophomore album They Made Me Out of Dreams You Forgotten seem intent on presenting two very different sides of the Malaysian band. While “Once Set in Stone” opens the album as a fairy tale, sweet and at times whimsical, “Entrails” turns, turns, turns things around, providing a stubborn antithesis with its harsher edges and dischordant experimentation with yes, the lovely squall of those horns.
Even so, these two seemingly divergent paths aren’t as well defined as they would appear. Fairy tales end on a bittersweet note with the resolution to “leave the ever-afters behind”. And whilst “digging for something real”, the band really does seem to find what they’re looking for amidst the chaos. Surprisingly, perhaps in line with the album’s greater clarity of production and vision compared to the band’s hazier shoegaze debut Twilight Chases the Sun (2005), these opposing trajectories are resolved rather early by track three.
Misleadingly titled “False Start”, this is in fact where Furniture really takes off. The intro reins in the once wayward horns into a willing collusion, setting a blistering pace despite the opening admission of age and cynicism spent. This is also where the band’s indiepop inclinations, channeled through the Labrador-school vocals of Ronnie Khoo, is bolstered by a tight, rocking, and magically paced rhythm section. It’s a song that rewards you for staying the course with a rousing finale that turns out to be the opening fanfare for the rest of a thoroughly enjoyable album. – Dan.
The National have already got a few memorable albums under their belt, notably their 2007 indie breakthrough Boxer, but here is my favorite song by the band by some distance, released some seven years ago on their Cherry Tree EP (2004). Performed in a detached register, there is something less than cogent about the musical arrangement of “Wasp Nest” that nevertheless evokes an intoxicating late-night cadence compatible with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s prose. Picture Matt Berninger, in character, making a quick study of the spiral of uninteresting strangers at some party, then setting his sights on the girl with the immaculately bobbed hair, only to lament in his weary baritone about “all your wrath and cutting beauty, you’re poison in a pretty glass”. – Keith.
How rad is the new Lykke Li record? The 24-year-old Swedish singer has got style and confidence in spades, and her second album Wounded Rhymes is an enthralling excursion into a hardboiled wonderland of melodies and desire. Musically sturdier than her debut Youth Novels (2008), the ten songs on Wounded Rhymes color her portraits of heartbreak and loneliness with a new palette of sophisticated, shape-shifting sounds – in the form of the vamped up exuberance on lead single “Get Some”, the baroque swoon of “Love Out Of Lust”, and the understated melancholy of “Unrequited Love” and “I Know Places”.
Recorded during a stint in California and apparently while she was ‘romanticizing the idea of Los Angeles when the Doors, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young were hanging out there”, Li’s vocal performance on Wounded Rhymes reverberates with a sensual energy that manages to both transcend and deepen the sense of romantic restlessness captured on the new songs. “Paris Blue”, the non-album B-side to the “Get Some” single, is recorded pretty much in the same vein of Wounded Rhymes – a somewhat Lynchian torch ballad that effortlessly conjures up a vertiginous mood of yearning. And so empires crumble, republics founder. But fools must go on. – Keith.
Colin Stetson plays a variety of woodwinds. On his recently released New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges, he plays a solo saxophone, recording his tracks live in a single (and usually, first) take, accompanied sometimes by the guest appearances of Laurie Anderson and My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden. The latter delivers a vocal performance of a lifetime in her cover of Blind Willie Johnson’s “Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes”, dripping with soul and affection, enveloped by Stetson’s signature unceasing mourn.
But the focal point of Judges has to be Stetson’s delivery, captured in its immediacy and spontaneity with an array of mics positioned throughout the studio room, clustered around the air of the horn, inside the instrument, and even on his throat. The sensitive recording arrangement, though, is merely a platform – and a highly refined one at that – to capture the musical breadth and emotional depth of Stetson’s playing, which reminds me of the playful free-spiritedness of Ornette Coleman and the woe-stained expressionism of Charles Mingus.
In “The Stars in His Head”, Stetson’s saxophone forms a pulsating, circular structure upon which he builds throughout the track, developing a quick-stepping percussion and a varying dialogue between the wordless cries of his throat and the increasingly frantic reactions of the horn. It’s amazing how one man practically manages such a seemingly impossible task, but what proves to be even more stunning is Stetson’s foresight in envisioning and delivering a work as beautifully complex as this. – Dan.
sharon van etten:
Lately, I have been obsessed with this band from Montreal called Automelodi. I work at a record label (Ba Da Bing Records) and my boss, Ben, is constantly getting new records in. He knows I have a soft spot for 80s/90s post punk/early electro, vaguely alternative music... and so one day, he put on a Wierd Records compilation. It was a vinyl set of like 4 pieces or something. There were so many good bands on there... however, Automelodi stuck out in my mind as being an authentic, genuine, NON-cheesy version of the 80s I wish I was a part of. The song in particular that gets me going in the morning is called "Schéma Corporel".
mp3: automelodi - schéma corporel
bani haykal from b-quartet:
often enough, it’s the early morning rush which gets me excited about shutting my eyes. and by morning, we’re looking at the 4 a.m. time frame where all you hear is yourself in a foggy blur, thinking if sleep is really all that important because the early few are storming off for work. in all honesty, there is no ipod nor a single earplugging devicetron which i’d attend to. often enough, it’s someone else’s sonic leak i’m getting addressed by. but, i’m listening to Steely Dan’s “Babylon Sisters”. in my head, at least. sanity ‘from the point of no return’, personally. it’s a breath of fresh air. despite its age. everything is beautiful then.
mp3: steely dan - babylon sisters
naomi yang from galaxie 500:
The perfect song to start the day is “A Tonga Da Mironga Do Kabuleté” – the live recording from 1971 by Brazilian artists Vinícius + Bethania + Toquinho. It is like a beautiful sunrise – although I think that the lyrics are actually some sort of political commentary disguised as a Candomble/Afro-Brazilian curse – but whatever! And then you should just leave the CD on, and listen to the rest of the album while you have your coffee. And you will have a great day.
mp3: vinícius + bethania + toquinho – a tonga da mironga do kabuletê (live in buenos aires, 1971)
jamie stewart from xiu xiu:
i have a nico button on my guitar strap and her excess eyeliner has been burning the dirge "janitor of lunacy" into my waking ears as of late, at least 20 times in the last week. until yesterday we have been on tour in scandinavia, russia, poland, austria, germany and czech. these grey locations held hands with her harmonium perfectly.
mp3: nico - janitor of lunacy
justin ringle from horse feathers:
i have been obsessively listening and waking up to this tune by gillian welch called "annabelle". it's a song about a sharecropper in alabama and it is so sad, beautiful and timeless that I can't help but listen more than once in a row. the harmonies in the chorus make my hairs stand up... beautiful song.
mp3: gillian welch - annabelle
tracyanne campbell from camera obscura:
my favourite song at the moment is called 'one in a million' by steve miller. it's really beautiful. his voice is like honey in the sun and it totally melts my heart. the lyrics are quite simple and i guess
corny but it's a great tune and the production is so good it really doesn't matter. i wish i'd written it. in fact i'd love to do a cover version of it. i was recently in stockholm visiting my friend victoria (bergsman) from taken by trees and we were singing it in the flat and talked about recording it. watch this space...
mp3: steve miller band - one in a million
stuart murdoch from belle and sebastian:
every day when i leave the house and walk over the iron bridge and up to the glasshouses, i listen to “what for” by james. i have a habit of dropping back 20 years in my thoughts, and having a parallel soundtrack running in my head so that i may be walking in a street in 2008, but my head is in 1988. i don’t know why that is. this is an up and hopeful song of the period from a band i used to care for deeply.
as we slip into the autumn here, i am prepared to let my new song of obsession become “the game” by echo and the bunnymen.
“everybody’s got their own good reason why their favourite season is their favourite season”.
mp3: james - what for mp3: echo and the bunnymen - the game
alison eales from butcher boy:
I'm waking up to Labi Siffre, and wondering how I managed to stay asleep for so long. His songs are diverse, unpretentious, and performed with tangible joy. I'm literally waking up to him as well - I have 'It Must Be Love' set as my alarm, and it is proving to be a very nutritious musical breakfast.
mp3: labi siffre - it must be love
who we are
i love music, but i can't play it for the life of me, so i might as well try writing instead. hope you like it. i'm from singapore, where there really is good music if you look hard enough. i'd love to hear from you (yes, you): email@example.com
I'm a four stringing minstrel of doom, and hired gun for the odd band or two. Few things excite me more than music, and whiskey soaked vocals are a definite plus, so please be sure to send some my way. When I'm not contributing to I'm Waking Up To and MAP, you should follow my misadventures at http://litford.wordpress.com And yes! I'd love to hear from you too: firstname.lastname@example.org
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