Archived entries for Music

A Patagonian Playlist

I am on the bus from El Calafate driving around Lake Viedma on my way to Chalten.  I’m staring out the window looking at the lake and stunning mountains rising dramatically out of the barren sierra, it is an inspiring sight.  Coupled with the isolation here, it has a funny way of making you at peace.  Even the clouds here a uniquely dreamy quality, making different shapes with a slow grace “Oh look there’s a dog”, and after glancing away for a few minutes “now it’s a duck”. When you draw your eyes away from the scenery and the clouds and close them for a moment you can almost feel the galaxy spinning around you. A brief unity.

And what do you listen to while you enjoy this moment?  Although, admittedly limited to what is on my aging 4 gig iPod nano, I though I’d share with you my patagonian play list.  One of my more gadget orientated friends has commented, somewhat harshly in my view, that I should be thinking about upgrading. Mine still works and the battery life is about 8 hours more than his new nano in comparison.  No question of upgrade then. So let me begin…

The news that Pavement is reforming and touring has got me very excited so I am listening to some of their albums for the first time for many years, so let’s start with Newark WiIder off Crooked Rain.  What about the chord progressions in this?  Genius.  Perfect for a lazy hot afternoon.  And let’s follow that with another track off Crooked Rain, Gold Soundz.  This is the indie song template, perhaps not the first but certainly one of the best.

One thing you will always find on my iPod is Suede’s Dog Man Star. I never tire of it, and have spent many hours listening to it while contemplating my past and future.  And the track in the playlist today is We are the Pigs.

“Oh let the nuclear wind blow away my sins.”

Yes, I do know all the words.  Much to the amusement of some people I was once I card carrying member of the Suede fan club.  And I do very good interpretation of this song on air guitar, for those lucky few who have had the dubious privilege of hearing/seeing it.

I have been revisiting lots of things in my collection over the last few months and enjoying rediscovering and remembering the times that went with them.  After all you need to understand the sum of your past for your future whole to be greater than the sum of those past parts.

Next is Elliot Smith, an artist that I have felt, somewhat vainly, was a fellow traveller of mine.  Two tracks off Either/Or are on the list today Rose Parade and Say Yes.  Sweet Songs with inteligent lyrics, and yes I do think I am an exception:

“And I could be another fool or an exception to the rule.”

After watching a documentary that Steve Dangerfield gave me on parallel universes (E’s father was the physicist that came up with this theory), I have been listening to a lot of Eels of late.  And I can thoroughly recommend this popular science doco too, about the science behind quantum mechanics combined with E’s personal journey learning about his father.  I can be such a geek at times.  The song?  Last Stop: This town.

“What if I was your only friend in this world.  Can you take me where I’m going if your never coming back.”

I was surprised the other day to discover that the most played songs on my iPod were all off Beirut’s Album, The Flying Cup.  I don’t know if it is the effect of the tango canciones slowly seeping into my head and their use of the piano accordion, but I am clearly lovin’ this album.  Or perhaps it’s the french influences on the album clicking inside my head with all the french films I have been watching of late (Thanks, Antoine!).  On that note you should check out MR 73, Daniel Auteuil makes Rebus look like a shandy-drinking pussy.  Getting back to the music, this album is full of soaring songs with a gypsy feel, beautifully arranged, and clever improvised percussion.  And the 5 most played tracks: Nantes, A Sunday Smile, The Penalty, Cherbourg, St. Apollonia.

After chatting to Kathy Angelone (Looking forward to seeing you babe at Meredith!) recently about her ongoing obsession with Tim Rogers, I recently pulled out my favourite You Am I album, Hourly Daily.  Three tracks off this album for me today:  Hourly DailyTuesday, and Who Takes Who Home? The last track is on my favourite last album tracks playlist, and coincidentally one which I will be playing by this time next year as one of my new year’s resolution will be to move on from the bass onto guitar.  And I will be playing it, no question.  Every time I listen to this album, I remember Sunday night games of 500 at Meike and Matt’s: Meike cooking dinner, Matt, Phil, and I chatting about the weekend over some red wine,  Meike and Matt being super competitive with each other over the card game, while Phil and I furtively look at each other to see if the other saw the joker being clumsily dealt into the pot.  Good days.

And with the Meredith Music Festival firmly on my mind, the next track is Akron / Family’s Don’t Be Afraid, You’re Already Dead.  Why?

Because love is simple.”

I read some speculation the other day in NME about the headliners for Glastonbury next year, it being the 40th one and all.  U2 are headlining Friday night and the gist of the speculation was the Stones for Saturday night and Bowie or Dylan for Sunday.  A greatest hits set from David Bowie, one last time?  I think I will have to get past my vow of never setting foot in that muddy hellhole again.  I’m so excited at the thought of seeing my number one music hero that I’m going to have to pause here while I see if I can still register for a ticket just in case.  Right, that’s done.  The track?  Life on Mars.  Bowie has been a constant travelling companion for me, with Ziggy keeping me company in even the most obscure places.

What next?  Radiohead of course.  What better band to be lost in your thoughts to?  And the track?  High and DryThe Bends and OK Computer are back on rotation in my iPod, after a long absence.  In fact I think in Jacqui Pinge’s 2008 interview of me reflecting on the year gone by I nominated Reckoner as my favourite track from last year which might explain why In Rainbows has held it’s place for so long on my iPod.

And finally, R.E.M. Not because they are on my iPod but because I have been quietly singing Pretty Persuasion to myself for the last few days after listening to their live CD set Live at the Olympia, 39 songs recorded over 5 nights in Dublin in 2007.  The Olympia is a cool ye olde theatre and a great venue to see a band.  As well as trying out tracks for their new album, they also played a track of each of their albums and played 5 tracks off both Reckoning and Life’s Rich Pageant.  And they played with a raw energy that reminded me of how much I loved them.  For the record, I think their last album Accelerate is far away their best album for well over a decade.  Who says your best work is behind you?

So there you have it: Muscia es una metafora.  Perfecto.  Muy bien.

Footnote: When I started writing this post it was going to be about me revisiting my view that the Swiss are dull after a swiss girl flashed me in my dorm last night.  That and another anecdote about getting into the VIP bar at Prodigy in Santiago, with another swiss girl.

I think the music is where it is at.  Good call.

The (damned) pan pipes are calling…

One thing that you may not be aware of about me is my pathological hatred of pan pipes.  And it is being sorely tested here in South America.  They are everywhere.  And they set my teeth on edge.

I’m in Cusco at the moment and have just had one of the best massages I’ve had here.  The soothing background music was The Beatles greatest hits on pan pipe, so I asked for the CD to be changed, as there was no way I was going to be able to relax and listen to that for an hour.

The replacement, you ask – Radiohead’s greatest hits on pan pipe.  I kid you not, I couldn’t stop laughing and had to tell the girl massaging me I was ticklish.  Too funny.

It’s up there with the busker I walked past in Quito, with shivers running up my spine as I heard the pipes from afar.  As I walked past the busker a new song started.  Surely, surely, I thought, it can’t be.  Hotel California, I was so shocked I just stopped in my tracks and started laughing at the guy, while he gave me evil looks.

That said, I f*&%ing hate the pan pipes.

Miami Vice, anyone?

Wake up early in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal and walk across the road to the pier where the ferry for Santa Cruz leaves from.  After a “customs” check of two guys having a half hearted root around in my bags and a long wait I get on to the second boat, but find myslef one of the last to get on and am sitting right at the back of the boat.  The boat has three 200 bhp outboards on the back and as we head out to see they lower the middle one in so we have the full 600 bhp ready.

I get more than a little soggy on the way but the sun is out most of the time and I don’t mind.  As we crash through the swell, a scene from Miami Vice comes to mind at the start of an ep in one of the later series where Don Johnston is driving a speed boat, a scarab I think, from Miami to somewhere in the Carribean with a sound track of Voices by Russ Ballard and different camera angles for 5 minutes of him and cruising in a striaght line across the sea.  Indulgent but I loved it at the time for that.  Perhaps reading The Informers by Brett Easton Ellis helps the memory given its 80’s subject matter.  I chose Jarvis Cocker as my soundtrack – Further Complications.  And then smile at the memories of past fashion mistakes and wonder when I will buy that scarab…

There’s no other way

Arrived at 6 am and caught the tube to Brixton, then the bus up Brixton Hill and walked with my very heavy bags to Meike’s.  Arrive puffing from the effort – must get rid of some stuff.  Have a little chat with Meike and Alex before they go to work.
It’s a gorgeous day here in London.  32 degrees, the sun shining.  When it’s a sunny day in the UK you can feel yourself buoyed up by the collective good will of millions of people – they are that dead pleased that it’s a nice day.  I go for a bit of a walk around Brixton to get my bearing and a cool breeze brushes past me, suddenly I’m back in Bristol walking towards Temple Mead with a bag on my way to London.  I feel back at home again – I do have a real affinity to this place.
I’m meeting Meike at 2 in Covent Garden at her office.  We wander through the streets on the way to get lunch.  I really enjoy the easy company of my old friend and chat about things old and new.  After a really nice Thai meal we head off on the tube to Hyde Park corner to meet her friends Mags who has out tickets to Blur in Hyde Park.
After the support bands (I particularly liked Crystal Castles) we moved closer to the front for Blur.  They are clearly enjoying their day in the sun with Damon Albarn looking like the cat who ate the cream.  He was the one who wanted to push the indie band into being bigger and bigger, much to the chagrin of his fellow members.  Going indie again and then splitting up was a good move it seems compared to the way Oasis have gone.  They are loved by one and all here in Hyde park with everyone singing along to every song.  Tender is a massive fave with the crowd, they even start singing it while the band are having a little break a few songs later.
Mags is crying at times calling out to her husband (Damon), turning around to Meike “I’ve broken up twice to this song”, laughing and screaming out the words, crying again.  Blur is the band she grew up to and the nostalgia is over powering.  Meike asks me what is my band – her’s is stone roses.  I struggle to answer easily thinking of recent hobby horses but not “the” band.  Just too hard to make a decision.
Meike is her typically efficient way says half way through the last song (The Universal) that we should go before the crowds, but it’s all to late to for that.  Luckily we snag a cab and have beers until closing time at her local, the White Horse on Brixton Hill.  Exhausted we trudge home to a welcome pillow for me.
Have a look at the set list at http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/blur/2009/hyde-park-london-england-73d66ed5.html

Arrived into Heathrow at 6 am and caught the tube to Brixton, then the bus up Brixton Hill and walked with my very heavy bags to Meike’s.  Arrive puffing from the effort – must get rid of some stuff.  Have a little chat with Meike and Alex before they go to work.

It’s a gorgeous day here in London.  32 degrees, the sun shining.  When it’s a sunny day in the UK you can feel yourself buoyed up by the collective good will of millions of people – they are that dead pleased that it’s a nice day.  I go for a bit of a walk around Brixton to get my bearing and a cool breeze brushes past me, suddenly I’m back in Bristol walking towards Temple Mead with a bag on my way to London.  I feel back at home again – I do have a real affinity to this place.

I’m meeting Meike at 2 in Covent Garden at her office.  We wander through the streets on the way to get lunch.  I really enjoy the easy company of my old friend and chat about things old and new.  After a really nice Thai meal we head off on the tube to Hyde Park corner to meet her friends Mags who has out tickets to Blur in Hyde Park.

After the support bands (I particularly liked Crystal Castles) we moved closer to the front for Blur.  They are clearly enjoying their day in the sun with Damon Albarn looking like the cat who ate the cream.  He was the one who wanted to push the indie band into being bigger and bigger, much to the chagrin of his fellow members.  Going indie again and then splitting up was a good move it seems compared to the way Oasis have gone.  They are loved by one and all here in Hyde park with everyone singing along to every song.  Tender is a massive fave with the crowd, they even start singing it while the band are having a little break a few songs later.

Mags is crying at times calling out to her husband (Damon), turning around to Meike “I’ve broken up twice to this song”, laughing and screaming out the words, crying again.  Blur is the band she grew up to and the nostalgia is over powering.  Meike asks me what is my band – her’s is stone roses.  I struggle to answer easily thinking of recent hobby horses but not “the” band.  Just too hard to make a decision.

Meike is her typically efficient way says half way through the last song (The Universal) that we should go before the crowds, but it’s all to late to for that.  Luckily we snag a cab and have beers until closing time at her local, the White Horse on Brixton Hill.  Exhausted we trudge home to a welcome pillow for me.

Have a look at the set list at http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/blur/2009/hyde-park-london-england-73d66ed5.html



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