Adjo, everybody! I'm leaving for Sweden today, so I thought I'd leave you with a bit of tribute to that country and its music. For a country that dips into the arctic circle, Sweden is pretty darn cool--and it's been pretty darn cool for a while. Plenty of great music has poured out of the country over the last few decades, and while the Swedes are best known in America for dance-y pop music, the music that's come from there runs the genre gamut. So here are my twenty favorite songs by Swedish artists, and I'll see y'all in August. (List after the jump.)
Thursday, July 22, 2010
"Temptation" by New Order
This non-album track is one of New Order's best, a paradigm of new wave and both dance and pop music in general. While New Order's albums may not all be super consistent, their music, as a whole, gives me more joy and inspiration than the music of almost any other artist or band. "Temptation"--and many other NO tracks--is just one of those songs that I can truly listen to ten, fifteen times in a row and enjoy it every time. That good.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
About a month ago, I celebrated my eighteenth birthday, which means in the eyes of many--myself not included--I am an adult. An adult. Eek. Thankfully I'm developing a Peter Pan complex, and I have parents I still live with and who care about me, so I don't actually feel as though I've made the transition to adulthood quite yet--and, quite frankly, I'm not sure I ever will.
Anyhow, this momentous milestone has caused me to reflect on the life I've lived so far. It's been a good one, and I won't bore you with an autobiography. What I will bore you with, though, seeing as this is a music blog, is a list of the pieces of music that have defined my lifetime, both for me and for many others.
What this means is that below is a list of the twelve albums I love most that have been released during my first eighteen years, plus a little blurb about why I love each of them. Seeing as the albums hail from a span of nearly two decades and cover a (small) myriad of genres and labels and whatnot, there isn't exactly a common musical theme--nor did I hear most of these albums when they actually came out. What is common is that all of these albums were born in the era of Me, June 1992 to June 2010. (It's important to note that albums such released in 1992 but before June of that year, such as Slanted and Enchanted (released in April), are not eligible.) (A list of my twelve favorite songs from the era of Me is included in brief at the bottom.) Read it all after the jump...
"Mind The Gap 8" by The Haters
This piece from the legendarily obscure noise group is actually quite serene. Created by stapling records together, a la Christian Marclay, "Mind The Gap 8" is a mess of thick, heavy textures that, when layered, produce a nice, ambient result.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
"Don't Turn The Light On, Leave Me Alone" by Can
Writing more about how amazing and influential Can's music is is probably redundant, so rather than talk about how freakin' great this song is, I'll just say that it has my favorite title of any Can tune. So there.
Monday, July 19, 2010
If you've read other Pitchfork 2010 recaps already, you may get the impression that the fest wasn't very good this year. And while, in terms of amount of quality acts, it may have been the worst one I've been to (I've been to four), I still enjoyed it very much. As I sit here reflecting and typing with my newly tanned fingers--it was very sunny all weekend--I find that the last three days were pretty awesome and three of the best days of my summer thus far. So suck it Jim DeRogatis.
It's hard to rank live acts; different artists take such vastly different approaches to performing. Also, what makes the best live act? Is it one that sounds exactly like the record? Is it one that has crazy visuals or lights or acrobatics? I don't know, but I'm gonna list my twelve favorite acts of the fest, in order, below. So join me in recounting this past weekend, one filled with shirtless hipsters, vegan curry, and oppressive sunlight. Oh, and great music, too.
1. LCD Soundsystem (Saturday, 8:30)
A giant disco ball, a near-perfect setlist, a beautiful Chicago evening, and an ever-sarcastic and ever-brilliant James Murphy made the fest's most anticipated (by me) set the best set as well.
2. Lightning Bolt (Sunday, 4:15)
Though a big, sunny stage may not be Lightning Bolt's ideal venue--I think a shit-covered stairwell would probably be better--the band was loud, exciting, and just what I needed to hear.
3. Pavement (Sunday, 8:30)
They're legends for a reason; their songs are amazing, and, though they didn't do anything super fancy during their performance, they played those songs well and with spirit.
4. Panda Bear (Saturday, 7:25)
The bloggers weren't so keen on Panda's set, but, well, I thought it was pretty enjoyable. He coupled ethereal droning with his usual detached vocals and a crazy accompanying video.
5. Cave (Sunday, 1:00)
Sunday openers Cave brought the psych, layering kraut-y grooves over organ drones. One of my favorite things about Pitchfork is how they always bring in awesome local bands--like Cave.
6. Beach House (Sunday, 3:20)
I've seen 'em before and they always sound the same. The thing is, I like how they sound. Their Pitchfork set was another bout of hazy, dreamy pop that was thoroughly relaxing.
7. Robyn (Friday, 6:25)
Friday was definitely a duller day, especially after Modest Mouse's disappointing finale, but Robyn was a bright spot--she danced and boogied her way to the day's only great set.
8. Dam-Funk (Saturday, 3:45)
Though he came on late and his music isn't entirely fresh or unique, he gave a very fun and charismatic performance. And I can't say anything bad about a guy with a huge keytar.
9. Free Energy (Saturday, 1:00)
Free Energy are as fun as they are unoriginal, but at a festival populated with plenty of artists who stand still and moan, their long hair and hyper dance moves were very welcome.
10. Liars (Friday, 5:30)
Friday's only other saving grace, Liars were manic and sweaty and drone-y. And while I was expecting to be a little more excited by them, they were still very worth seeing.
11. Wolf Parade (Saturday, 6:15)
I've hardly heard a single measure by Wolf Parade post-Apologies but Wolf Parade's set was pretty darn good regardless. Plus, few bands can pull off sprawling jam sessions in 9/4 time.
12. Girls (Sunday, 2:30)
I had moderately low expectations for Girls, but they played their throwback '60s pop quite well and included a couple energetic noise freakouts to break up the hooks.
So there's my top twelve, all of which were nice to see and made Pitchfork 2010 a very nice time.
Other things I liked at the festival: $1 water, vegan food, an abundance of Sriracha sauce, my new Washed Out T-shirt (even if I didn't see them play), not getting too sunburned, Rian Murphy's intro to Pavement (after I realized that it was a joke), getting a free LCD Soundsystem poster, and that guy selling water next to the L stop that was describing the act of drinking water as though it were something else (sex). Also: a special shoutout to Titus Andronicus, whose show at Subterranean after the fest on Friday was one of the best shows I've been to this year.
That's what I think. Only about a year until Pitchfork 2011.
"Stoned Alone" by Coma Cinema
Whereas most modern indie rock (and closely related spinoff genre) bands care noticeably more about style and aesthetic and supposed subtlety than things like personality and emotion, Coma Cinema makes honest, simple music that's interesting not because of the vintage synths they play or the cool glasses they wear, but because it's humbly relatable. This track, from their recently released album of the same name, is bare and beautiful; it's plainness and upfrontness make unique.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
"Untitled (1)" by Pelt
Ever since the thoroughly untimely and thoroughly depressing passing of Jack Rose last December, I've made a point to sift through the majority of his back catalogue because, well, the man was amazing, and I didn't really know that until he died. Pelt, a band he rotated in and out of, is an awesome, drone-tastic experimental Americana band, and this track, the first one from their untitled 2004 album, is just that: Americana-infused drone. Jack Rose was a truly magnificent guitarist and composer, and hearing stuff like this--in addition to his more bluegrass-y solo work--only makes his death sadder.
Friday, July 16, 2010
The Ramones didn't exactly change their formula much over the course of their legendary career; "The KKK Took My Baby Away," which came out in 1981, sounds like it could've easily been a cast-off from any of their previous albums. But, for whatever reason, The Ramones were able to essentially play the exact same music (with different lyrics) over and over again for two decades and always have good results.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
"Swastika Girls" by Robert Fripp & Brian Eno
This crazy, electronic-y, noisy, tape loop-y, ambient-y piece from the master producer and the master guitarist is an essential part of both artists' repertoires, which means it's pretty awesome.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
"Cumbia & Jazz Fusion" by Charles Mingus
This monster track from the album of the same name showcases the master bassist foraying into, well, cumbia and fusion. And it's pretty darn awesome. It swings and bounces like the best cumbia, explores and experiments like the best fusion, and all the while stays complex and subdued like the best Mingus--that's my favorite part: that you know it's Mingus right away, even if he's using unfamiliar instruments, rhythms, and scales.
Monday, July 12, 2010
"Pistol Packin' Mama" by Al Dexter & His Troopers
Sorry for the Song-less days of late; I was out of town. Anyways, I'll bring it back with this old, little gem from Al Dexter. A pop-country song about a girl with a gun, it's catchy, funny, timeless, and a little peculiar.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I've noticed that many respectable blogs have created summer mixes. Why? I don't know. But I want Il Buono to also be a respectable blog and, lemming that I am, decided to create my own "summer mix."
Wait--but what is a summer mix? Hell if I know. But it gives me an excuse to make a nice, little playlist with nice, little songs that have a, um, summery feel to them I suppose. They're fun and beach-y or whatever I guess. (I'm not really into the whole chillwave/glo-fi/whatever movement which is what dominates many of these summer mixes.)
Several of these tunes were released in or shortly before the summer of 2010, which makes them relevant choices for the mix, and the ones that were released in previous months, years, decades, etc. are also relevant in my mind just because.
So here it is in downloadable form (!) so that you can all enjoy summer even more. (A tracklist is below.)
1. Santo & Johnny--Summertime
2. Sun Araw--The Stakeout
3. Julian Lynch--Just Enough
4. Oneohtrix Point Never--Ouroboros
5. The Beach Boys--Don't Go Near The Water
6. Dirty Projectors + Bjork--When The World Comes To An End
7. Cults--Oh My God
8. Pocahaunted--You Do Voo Doo
9. Dara Puspita--Soala Asmara
10. Janelle Monae--Oh, Maker
11. James Blake--CMYK
12. Joy Orbison--The Shrew That Would've Cushioned The Blow
I threw a couple random noises in there for posterity. Have fun and wear sunscreen.
"Time To Pretend" by MGMT
A few years ago I went to see Of Montreal at the Metro. MGMT was opening. I hadn't heard of them--this was many months pre-Oracular Spectacular--so I opened up their MySpace page to do some investigating. If I remember correctly, the page wasn't aesthetically pleasing; it looked like pixel-y, psychedelic throwup. As far as the music went, they had one song posted: "Time To Pretend." I liked it within four bars and was instantly excited to see the group perform live. Turns out they're a decent live band, so I bought their debut album. It wasn't very good. Except for "Time To Pretend"; besides that song, MGMT hasn't really made any notable music in my opinion. The fact that it was the only song on that old MySpace page might mean that the band itself knows that the tune is its magnum opus. It's a brilliant pop song that should stay brilliant and relevant for the next few decades.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
"69 Annee Erotique" by Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin
This positively dirty song by this positively dirty couple was chosen in part because it's now the 69th song of the day, but it was also chosen because it's just a great song. Its subject matter is probably very naughty--after three years of elementary school French, I deduced that the title means "69 erotic years"--but I would expect nothing less from Monsieur Gainsbourg. The immaturities in the lyrics match the lush, cheesy, bossa-y production perfectly to create a pop song so campy and ridiculous that it transcends its own camp to become a genuinely good song.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
"Flagpole Sitta" by Harvey Danger
This is one of those songs that I loved when I was little because it's catchy and says dirty words like damn and hell and, upon listening to it in recent days, have decided that it's actually a pretty darn good song; it holds up well.
Friday, July 2, 2010
"Soul On Fire" by Spiritualized
This song from Spiritualized's underrated Songs In A&E is a visceral, soul-stirring gospel song that also kind of sounds like a Spacemen 3 song, which means it's really great and beautiful and kinda creepy. It should've gotten more praise when it was released.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
"Oh Strange, Pt. 2" by Art Ensemble of Chicago
Recorded live in Paris, this piece from Chicago's finest art ensemble (and one of the city's finest musical groups period) is entirely ahead of its time (it was recorded in 1969) and entirely awesome.