Retrospective Musical Naval Gazing – #15 (2005)

Today should have been all about Kanye West because 2005 was the year, that he really arrived.  Yes there were a few hints at what was coming a few years earlier, but it was 2005’s ‘Late Registration’ album of which the track that stood at Number three in my run down ‘Gold Digger’ featured that catapulted him into one of the planets biggest stars.  Sadly, Kanye has turned into an antisemitic bellend of massive proportions and this is last time you will read his name on these pages.  He has joined an illustrious list.  I can only apologize for defending him in the past. I could try and link it back to some obvious mental health issues, but I’m not sure I want to.

So instead lets talk about LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire, both of whom dominated my top ten tracks for 2005.  I can’t get explain the buzz I got when I first heard ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’.  It was like I’d been shocked.  I was in, yet again, a cool clothes shop in Exeter and I was looking at their retro band tshirts but yet again decided against shelling out £20 on an Allman Brothers shirt, when it came on over the speakers.  It sort of froze me to the spot, well until James Murphy hollers “Solo” and then you kind of just want to leap about, but you can’t do that in a trendy clothes shop that sells Rod Stewart Tshirts for twenty five pounds a pop. So I stood there casually pretending to look at the beanie hats even though I definitely do not want a beanie hat that has the word ‘Dickies’ emblazoned on it but I have to hear how this cowbell solo ends.

 Of course, a few weeks later the debut album dropped and the rest is pretty much history.

Daft Punk Is Playing At My House – LCD Soundsystem (2005, DFA Records, Taken from ‘LCD Soundsystem’)

It was kind of similar with the Arcade Fire and in particular the song ‘Rebellion (Lies)’.  The first time I heard that I was at the Cavern Club having just watched (British) Sea Power tear the place apart – and as it happens they were at number five on the top ten – and I don’t feature them nearly as much as I should.

Please Stand Up – Sea Power (2005, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ‘Open Season’)

Anyway, the DJ popped ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ on just after the lights came on, and again I kind of just stood there, a lone idiot on a deserted sticky dancefloor covered in plastic glasses, taking it all in, nodding along like I knew what this was and that I was already far too cool to shout “YES” at the top of my voice. But it was astonishing from the way the strings crackles into life around sixty seconds and the way the “Wah, Wah” bit joins in at around one minute 40.  Astonishing.  All of it.

Rebellion (Lies) – Arcade Fire (2005, Sony Music, Taken from ‘Funeral’)

Ironically, the record at number four in my 2005 was in stark contrast to me that night, because as I stood their clutching my British Tea Power Mug, nodding, like a lost tourist.  I definitely didn’t look good on the dancefloor.

I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor – Arctic Monkeys (2005, Domino Records, Taken from ‘Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not’)

Finally for today, some leftfield French electronica, which found itself at number seven in the top ten.  Its pretty wonderful this.

My Friend Dario – Vitalic (2005, Play It Again Sam Records, Taken from ‘Ok Cowboy’)

I’m going to come back to this series a bit later in the year, because I want to start something new from Monday. Thanks for all the nice comments I’ve had on this series so far.

100 Songs with One Word Titles (90 – 86)

Some of the members of the musical jury put notes next to some of the songs, to try and explain why they had chosen certain songs and not others as shown in two of the five songs on display today, which are all songs that when I ordered them originally were all roughly in the places that jury voted them in.  Apart from the first one, which was a bit higher.

90. Toxygene (7” Mix) – The Orb (1997, Island Records, Taken from ‘Orblivion’)

‘Toxygene’ was never supposed to have been released as a single.  It started out life as a remix of a Jean Michael Jarre track.  The Orb not sticking to the script, ‘Orbliterated’ it, and removed almost all trace of the original from it, causing Jarre to have a hissy fit and subsequently refusing to release it.  So The Orb took it back, changed it again and it went into the Top Five in the UK. 

89. Dare – Gorillaz featuring Shaun Ryder (2005, Parlophone Records, Taken from ‘Demon Days’)

The legend of course goes that Ryder was too drunk to say the word ‘There’ whilst recording this and “Dare” was as close as he could get and even then it was to do with a noise he kept hearing in his headphones rather than the actual lyrics that he should have been singing.  Regardless of whether this is true or not (Ryder says it is), ‘Dare’ is tremendous and Ryder’s half-drunk Mancunian drawl is addictively perfect.

88. Today – Smashing Pumpkins (1993, Virgin Records, Taken from ‘Siamese Dreams’)

I’ll hand you over to musical jury member number 7 here, who told me “Oh, god I feel so dirty giving ‘Today’ so many points.  Billy Corgan is a dick and the majority of his songs are over bearing smugathons but ‘Today’ is just so damn good, that riff, the chorus, everything.  Damn you Billy Corgan”.

I can’t really argue with astute reasoning like that.  Damn you indeed Billy Corgan.

87.Krupa – Apollo 440 (1996, Virgin Records, Taken from ‘Electro Glide in Blue’)

An absolute monster of a record.  One that essentially contains a sample from the film ‘Taxi Driver’ and another one from ‘The Ballroom Blitz’ by Sweet.  Apollo 440 then added some beats and some other drumming noise and mashed the lot together to give it a club feel and sat back and waited for the money to roll in.  A few years it was used to advertise two awful things, Sunburst – a disgusting fruity drink and Budwesier Beer, another disgusting fruity drink.

86. Intervention – Arcade Fire (2007, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ‘Neon Bible’)

I once compiled a list of my favourite songs of all time and this featured very highly indeed.  In the Top 20 I think.  So I really like it….but musical jury member number 4 did not agree….”Thank God there is more than 30 songs to vote for, I couldn’t bring myself to give ‘Intervention’ one point.  It would be very begrudgingly.  It’s awful, atrocious.” 

You can really go off people you know.

Nearly Perfect Albums #20 – Funeral – Arcade Fire

The ironic thing about ‘Funeral’ is that for a record that is primarily about death, and coping with people dying (during the recording of this album, about twenty family members and friends of the band collectively died, hence the album title), it is an album that feels full of life.  It at times also seems extraordinarily happy and its full of big songs, songs that should have the words ‘STATEMENT’ branded onto its forehead and painted purple in case you missed it. 

It took Arcade Fire the opening four minutes of ‘Funeral’ to convince indie rock fans to that the future did not necessarily belong to the new rock revolution that the NME were talking about.  A future where bands like The Datsuns and Jet were considered ‘groundbreaking’.  Because those four minutes were breathtaking.

Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels) – Arcade Fire (2004, Merge Records)

It begins subtly enough with the gentle throb of an organ and a simple piano chord repeated that slowly builds into something epic.  Then Butler’s voice kicks in, all raw and emotive, musically it was a bit like Talking Heads, a bit like David Bowie in his pomp, a bit like nothing we had heard before.  But it was magical.

Pretty soon we got a song called ‘Power Out’ which sounded like New Order and Joy Division at the same bloody time.  It sparkles brilliantly, swelling into a huge anthem.  It’s a fist pumping, passionate, mesmerising beast of a record, and after a first listen you are thinking that this must be highpoint of this record, they can’t top that, right?

Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) – Arcade Fire (2004, Merge Records)

And of course, you’d be wrong, there are two moments, greater than ‘Power Out’.  If you look back up at the top of this post I talk about ‘Funeral’ being full of big songs, songs that are statements and whilst ‘Power Out’ is definitely a big song, its positively tiny when you compare it firstly to ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ and scarily miniscule up against ‘Wake Up’

Rebellion (Lies) – Arcade Fire (2004, Merge Records)

Wake Up – Arcade Fire (2004, Merge Records)

Of the big songs, ‘Wake Up’ is perhaps the biggest of all.  A thunderous lust for life all about seizing the day with a massive chorus and a soaring blast of energy that didn’t just grab indie rock by the shirt collars it slapped it about it the chops whilst roaring in its face to try harder.  It remains the best song the band have ever written.

‘Funeral’ made misery sound good, and it is a record that we now know that only Arcade Fire could have made.  Of all the records that I have shortlisted as being ‘nearly perfect’, it is this one (and perhaps a couple of others) that I struggled the most to justify not being in the ‘completely perfect’ pile

Randomly Shuffled Songs #4

My Body Is A Cage – Arcade Fire (2007, Merge Records, Taken from ‘Neon Bible’)

Intervention – Arcade Fire (2007, Merge Records, Taken from Neon Bible’)

Church organs are funny things. Sometimes when a band uses them on a track and they sound majestic and otherwordly and I am left thinking that there is not enough church organs in modern music.

Other times they sound bloody morbid and I am left thinking that they have absolutely no place in modern music. For the purposes of balance I have decided to post an example of both from the same record. That record is ‘Neon Bible’ and for those of you that are remotely interested in these things, it was the first album I ever loaded on my iPod Classic back in June 2010.

That same iPod Classic this morning gave me ‘My Body Is A Cage’ on the shuffle. Its an example of where the church organ sounds rubbish. It makes the song sound bleak and when after about 2 minutes the military sounding drums crash in over the top of it you hope that the organ will stop, but no its still there right until the end. It ruins the song.

Then on other hand you have ‘Intervention’ which is an example of a church organ sounding fantastic. Here the organ sounds upbeat, cheerful and even when Wim Butler sings about his family dying or something, the organ blares away like its Christmas or something. Its bloody brilliant.