Look out, look out, for the man who came in with little fanfare and left just as unassumingly not too long after. For that brief hour or less, Mike Hadreas – performing as Perfume Genius – was laid bare for all, his music an intimate, knotted struggle. As in their recorded versions in his debut album Learning, the songs all sounded too short and ended too abruptly, drawing out each time an awkward pause before the applause. But Hadreas knows awkwardness well enough to let those moments linger, keeping the tension going with an audience probably more nervious than he.
As the opener, “Perry” was an apt introduction to the tormented world of Perfume Genius, of memories haunted and still raw. Captivatingly, Hadreas worked hard in each of the subsequent songs to present the dark as beautiful, with the deeply personal “Learning” and “Mr. Peterson” garnering the most unanimous response from a 100-strong crowd that was mostly appreciative but at times dumbstruck. For me, it was the brittle cry and grippingly bare piano of “Look Out, Look Out” that struck hardest, that unsettled wariness remaining even as the bar started to clear and the evening to close. – Dan.
I’ve been waking up to some of the most well-crafted songs in a while, all courtesy of singer-songwriter Nicholas Chim.
The entire album entitled Forgiefan flows seamlessly from track to track. The song arrangements are astute enough that one gets the sense of a sculptor carefully and deliberately chiseling at his masterpiece. We’re not talking about cold dead stones, but at statues that come to life when bathed in the right light, and what a light it is! Nicholas’ emotive delivery carefully casts this light as he lays it all out, bare and broken, surrendered to the fates beyond control, just like that last shot of whiskey as the first rays of sunlight fracture through your window.
There’s a song for everyone, but I found myself drawn to one particular song. The first track, “In the End”, lulls you into the tapestry that Nicholas has weaved. Almost a song for the bereavement of love lost, shades of Kings of Convenience and Mark Kozelek in its delivery and its sparse yet deceptively simple guitar work. It’s the point of the blade that balances Nicholas’ entire world and where the most true words are hinged. “I still feel your knife in my heart.” – Brian.
Why Moby never sampled this track will always remain a mystery. Sun Ra’s “Door to the Cosmos”, the centerpiece of his 1979 album Sleeping Beauty, provides that perfect entry point to Motor City Drum Ensemble’sDJ Kicks mix, an effortless blend of jazz, soul, afro-beat and various shades of Danilo Plessow’s signature deep house. The track, with its soulful gospel intro and the rest of its casual free-jazz, sounds like one of Sun Ra’s more laid back efforts even whilst remaining entrancing as ever. That too mirrors the mix as a whole which works precisely because Plessow never tries too hard to make things work together – he just knows they would. – Dan.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To… Hanging Up The Moon – Water Under The Bridge
Hanging Up The Moon is the self-titled debut album and solo project of Sean Lam, best known for fronting Singaporean band Concave Scream. After an extended hiatus, Sean’s return to songwriting has been welcomed by many, especially for his minimalist and introspective approach. The songs in this album, which you can pay as you wish for at his website, were birthed in the stillness of the night before dawn breaks. You can just imagine the quiet corner where these carefully-crafted songs were committed to recording, without a squeak or whimper; and when each track is done, only a still air lingering. – Brian.
To download all 35 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.
I woke up a couple of mornings ago to Pulp’s “Live Bed Show”, the song lodged right in the middle of their unforgettable 1995 Different Class album. It was nowhere as anthemic as “Common People” nor as immediately tragic as “Disco 2000”, but its cynicism seemed to burn deeper than the rest of the record, with its protagonist struggling with life past her prime and only the reminisce of seven years ago, a memory that’s always left hanging. Struggling out of bed and dragging myself out of the house, I wasn’t quite sure what kind of past I was even identifying with when things were very different then, but the day soon took over, the sentiments quickly wore off, and I never even knew its name. – Dan.
There’s something calming and therapeutic about listening to the Field on a rare breezy Saturday afternoon. Maybe it’s the neverending loops, that lulling repetition, or the soundscapes themselves that seem to caress and envelope. Or maybe it’s really the weather that makes it perfect. I don’t know, and I don’t want to think too much about it before the moment gets ruined. – Dan.
Much of today’s 80s revivalist music filters away the period’s unfashionable bits until a distilled minimalist chic is left behind. For John Maus’ “Believer”, quite the opposite holds true. Although it begins on a sufficiently bare-bones new wave approach with that monotonously steadfast driving rhythm, everything else quickly gets piled on in dazzling proportions, including layer upon glorious layer of heavenward synths. Maus’ vocals, chilled, murky and haunted, manages to provide one crucial highlight in the midst of all this, delivering a deliciously familiar chorus recalling what we’d never admit to loving about Rick Astley. It’s a song that calls out all our pretensions; yet, because Maus never allows room for cynicism, it also offers a most heartwarming redemption for the faithful few who stayed the course. – 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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