belle and sebastian will finally be in singapore next month for their first ever show here, and i can hardly wait for it already. just this morning, i was digging through my collection and found this avalanches remix of their best single of 2003, “i’m a cuckoo” (does anyone remember that cuckoo game they put online to promote this?). such a perfect choice it was to commission this elusive aussie duo to work their nostalgic, tropical magic on an already irresistibly catchy pop gem, with the light-headed flute opening reminding me of all i loved so much about the idyllic masterpiece that was since i left you. while the original sounds richer owing largely to trevor horn’s distinct choice of fully inhabiting every hook, this remix focuses less on melody and more on mood and atmosphere, in this case a joyous and celebratory one that makes listening to it here almost as good as being on that breezy island this mix was done on, wherever that might be. and because i’m in such a good mood this morning, i’ve also included a rather rare japanese version of this song as well, just for you. enjoy! - dan.
mp3: belle and sebastian – i’m a cuckoo (avalanches remix)
mp3: belle and sebastian – i’m a cuckoo (japanese version)
belle and sebastian will play at the esplanade concert hall on 7 august, 7.30pm. see you there!
the period after belle & sebastian‘s lukewarm release of fold your hands child at the turn of the century was perhaps the most crucial of the band’s career. at that point, many had felt the glaswegians had probably run out of ideas and trapped themselves within a tweefolk sound that was beginning to wear thin. the next proper album in 2003, dear catastrophe waitress, provided just the change they needed, boasting a polished gleam without loosing any of its understated charm, a direction pushed to even greater perfection in 2006’s the life pursuit.
that turning point, however, cannot be viewed apart from the other possibilities that the band could have taken. according to stuart murdoch, it was during the dear catastrophe waitress tour that he began to envision something different, songs with strings and female vocals that didn’t fall under the institution that had become belle & sebastian. in the course of the subsequent five years, this has grown into the project now known as god help the girl, revolving around murdoch’s musical narrative supported by the uplifting vocals of catherine ireton, celia garcia and alex klobouk, with mick cooke’s expansive orchestral arrangements.
“come monday night” is the first single to be released, and offers that exact glimpse into what else belle & sebastian could have become at that turning point. the lush but clearly defined strings are a natural progression from the simple arrangements found in their earlier albums, but with a certain buoyancy distinctive of the band’s later efforts. what we get then is an alternate view into the belle & sebastian universe without having to depart too far from its current solid form which you’d be wicked not to care about.
mp3: god help the girl – come monday night
“come monday night” will be out come this monday on rough trade, who together with matador will release the album on 22 june.
last week i had a class reunion, meeting up with friends, some of whom i haven’t seen more more than a decade. school seems so far away, and while the memories remain, they have over the years been buried under new things which themselves will soon become old memories in due time. that evening, at least, was an almost surreal experience in reliving those memories, and digging up those that have already been archived and filed neatly in some secluded corner of my brain. strangely enough, everyone looked the same; the same with me, i was told, even when it’s clear everyone’s changed in some way or another. how much have i really changed through these years? maybe i’ll wait to the next reunion in another ten years’ time to find out.
mp3: belle and sebastian – we rule the school
i spent my christmas eve night at church, as i have been for quite a while. part of the message was on the small and obscure circumstances surrounding jesus’ birth, and i thought it rather apt that my favorite carol, “o come, o come emmanuel” was sung near the end of the service during communion when there was lots happening around and not many people taking notice. it’s such a shy song with such weighty words, with even the chorus of rejoicing sung just barely above a whisper, so hearing it tonight in all its unassuming subtlety left in me the most lasting impression. with that little thought, i pray the meaning of christmas will resound in your heart too amidst all the noise that inevitably comes with the season these days.
mp3: belle and sebastian – o come, o come emmanuel
our guest contributor for today is stuart murdoch of belle and sebastian! most of you would know the title of this blog is borrowed rather loosely from the band’s “i’m waking up to us”, one of my favorite songs of theirs, so it’s particularly apt that our 100th post is graced by stuart himself, sharing candidly about his daily routine and its accompanying soundtrack from a good twenty years back:
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
everybody loves self referencing song titles, especially in the charming ways they extend and prolong the myth-making process (“belle and sebastian”, “the story of yo la tengo”), but there’s a refreshing absence of that kind of baggage in hallelujah the hills‘ own self titled track which featured in last year’s collective psychosis begone. the band’s name itself is lifted directly off the bizarre 1963 film by adolfas mekas, shot in vermont which the song mentions as the place everybody gets born and dies in. in that sea of simulacral referencing, the song takes apart that impending narrative, lest any listener even begins to harbor the thought of constructing one, all with the sweeping dismissal: “meta, meta, meta and the novel is dead”. and the song? oh, it’s good raucous fun.
mp3: hallelujah the hills – hallelujah the hills
p.s. the band has just made available their “preparing to qualify” ep for free download.
one of mozart’s most famous works is “seranade no. 13 for strings in g minor”, or more commonly known as “eine kleine nachtmusik” (literally, “a little night music” in german). i’m sure you’ve heard it before. well, some of you have mentioned to me that a lot of the music featured here isn’t exactly music you’d wake up to. that’s true in a way, since i’ve used the blog title a lot more loosely to encompass anything i’ve been listening to lately. it’s also of course a tribute to one of my favorite bands belle and sebastian, who’ve released an ep called i’m waking up to us. anyway, i reckon there’s room to occasionally feature music i’d really wake up to, and i’ve decided to hijack mozart’s title to call this series [eine kleine morgenmusik]. first up is this delightfully fuzzy pop tune by the pains of being pure at heart, a sunny side up with lots of pepper on top.
mp3: the pains of being pure at heart – everything with you
Posted in eine kleine morgenmusik, indiepop, mp3
Tagged 7", belle and sebastian, c86, eine kleine nachtmusik, everything with you, furtuna pop, happy birthday wolken, i'm waking up to us, mozart, slumberland records, the pains of being pure at heart, twee