frustration and fatigue, the banality of everyday life
senselessly juxtaposed against injustice, train wrecks and massacres.
uncontrollable bursts of tears at spurts through the day
unable or unwilling to articulate the complexities and messiness.
dressed in washed out, neutral, old man cardigans
their simple arrangements and familiar harmonies soothe
so far removed from what just happened
but uncannily prescient
in sincere, if stilted, English
they gently ask for an explanation – b.
It’s All True, the luscious new Junior Boys album (their fourth), doubles as the kind of hauntingly beautiful breakup record made only for the introverted romantics who never quite believed in truly happy endings. While Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus may be drawing from more disparate influences this time round (Orson Welles, Howard Hughes, their experiences in China), the nine new songs on It’s All True still retain that carefully nurtured sense of elegance and poise that have always set Junior Boys apart. On “Playtime”, fluid electronics and downbeat synth-pop melodies channel the familiar refrains of an aborted relationship, the same raptures repeated, the same melancholy dance around the work of time and memory (“It’s over so fast you never know how to feel“). – Keith.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To… In Each Hand A Cutlass – A Universe Made Of Strings
Outlaws, stargazers and free riders – that’s the sense of freedom apparent in the debut album of In Each Hand A Cutlass. The masterpiece is called A Universe Made Of Strings, and while allusions to string theory and parallel dimensions are in order, no-one can deny the sprawling ambition that the group have laboured to achieve. Swirling with different time signatures, musical styles and rapturous energy, In Each Hand A Cutlass prove that genres are for the common man and that genius lies in the outliers. – Brian.
To download all 32 songs in one file click here. MAP is published on the 15th of every month, featuring a showcase of music handpicked by bloggers from all over the world.
The past few days have slipped me into a nostalgic mood. Not because I’ve been particularly reflective, but the things of old just seemed to creep up on me again, as they tend to do once in a while. I re-read Adrian Tomine’s 32 stories for the first time in years, watched the No Distance Left to Run documentary on Blur’s reunion twice within a fortnight, and listened to a slew of music from the 90s I love(d) so much.
Coincidentally, the song that’s been ringing in my head as I’ve been walking about on my own is something I’ve not heard in years, so I really can’t tell how it re-appeared in my life and why it refused to leave. The Dongs were a 90s Singaporean punk band that I don’t even know very much about, except that their track “Rebel Girl” was on a local compilation Left of the Dial that I was rather fond of, and that their drummer Harold still plays today in noise-rock collective I\D, which we featured sometime back.
On the recording, the production is muddy as typical of most demos of the era, though easily overcome with a louder volume that roars the hazily distorted guitars along with the singlemindedly pounding drums and stubbornly bopping bassline. The vocals are an even foggier blur but for the words “rebel”, “kill”, and “terrible”, which I’m convinced are all I need to know. And maybe that’s what it is – a glorious imperfection that perfectly encapsulates what I grew up listening to and embracing. – Dan.
Over the weekend, Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips played a couple of shows in Asia (Taipei and Hong Kong) in which the pair performed songs from the back catalogue of Galaxie 500, the band fronted by Wareham that came to indie rock prominence during the late eighties. From the moment their Taipei show on Saturday evening kicked off with the arching dream pop of “Flowers”, we knew we were witnessing something quite incredible — this was, after all, the closest we may ever come to the Galaxie 500 reunion we have all been pining for. Dean, looking every bit like the weathered music veteran that he is, was in good spirits and seemed genuinely psyched to be revisiting his former band’s songs with Britta and drummer Anthony LaMarca. All the sediments of memory revolving Galaxie 500 just kept flooding back in that hour and a half — the spacey everything’s-swirling-slow aesthetics and the hallucinatory texture of the music, Dean’s ability to make the most apathetic concerns, such as standing in line outside a convenience store (“Strange”), sound absolutely sublime.
Before he launched into “Fourth of July”, Dean made a wisecrack about being in Taipei on the same day as pop diva Lady Gaga. Galaxie 500 didn’t last long as a band, but it is obvious enough to me that the music of their three near-perfect albums will last well beyond after Lady Gaga goes out of currency, if based on the strengths of “Fourth of July”. Like many Galaxie 500 favorites, “Fourth of July” abounds in tedium and restless mysteries. But there is a sense of uplift that the song invokes rather emphatically, the celebratory music breaking through the topography of loneliness disguised as misanthropic bravado (“I stayed at home on the Fourth of July, and I pulled the shades so I didn’t have to see the sky/ I decided to have a bed-in, but I forgot to invite anybody”).
After closing the main set with “Fourth of July”, Dean and Britta returned to the stage with a beautiful rendition of Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Keep It With Mine”, a cover version they have earlier recorded for the musical score to the 13 Most Beautiful: Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests DVD. I have always had special associations with this wry little ballad written by Dylan, first hearing the song via Bettie Serveet’s awesome cover on the I Shot Andy Warhol soundtrack when I was a teenager quite some years before I would be exposed to Dylan’s original on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3. “ Back then, I guess I really kinda identified with the flippant attitude towards romance (“I can’t help it if you might think that it’s odd, if I say I don’t love you for what you are but for what you’re not”) in Dylan’s lyrics; now that I’m older, I’m not so sure about that sort of sentiment. Dean & Britta’s lovely version of the song immerses one in a more reflective mood, touched with a more mature ambivalence and a strange hopefulness that indeed, “everybody will help you discover what you set out to find”. – Keith.
Bon Iver may have expanded the geographical range of his music beyond his reclusive cabin in Wisconsin, but the atmosphere remains wintry to the core. Only it sounds a lot less fragile, even if still resolutely vulnerable. On album opener “Perth”, Justin Vernon raises his signature falsetto in proclaiming he’s “still alive for you“, championed by the biggest and most expanasive sounds he’s ever mustered. With it arrives a newfound boldness that reverberates long after he’s moved on to Minnesota and wherever else he chooses. – 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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