another latenight playlist
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


So this is another night like the last time I posted, but I'm going to sort of monitor what I'm listening to as I do it, rather than trying to do an honest retrospective.

Clem Snide - Soft Spot
The new (unreleased) Clem Snide record sounds like it might be really good, if I were to pay enough attention to it. I like their quieter folk stuff (see: Favorite Music) more than the nosier rock things (see: Ghost of Fashion), and this album is more the former than the latter. In the background now, though, it's pretty beige - I can't help but feel that the Snide would benefit from an injection of folk-blues a la Iron & Wine. (Oh, for those of you who don't know them - Clem Snide is like an awkward, shuffling, American version of The Weakerthans. But less punk.)

John Fahey - Red Cross
Well, it's nice. But not exactly rocket science. He can (could) play acoustic guitar real good, but nothing here makes me shut up (ie stop typing) and pay attention. I like the version of "Summertime", though.

The Dears - No Cities Left
Gee whiz was this a surprise. I'm not big on The Dears - even living here in Montreal, I've never gone to hear their dark chamber pop stuff. The last record was comfortably moody but didn't have much depth... (I was just listening to it the other day, actually, and found myself simply putting "Hollywood" on repeat repeat repeat. That song is jubilant and wonderful... but that fucking two-minute organ solo at the end dashes its chances at mix-cd glory. fuck.) This new one, though, whoa! I was expecting something cheesy-political (e.g. Chumbawumba) given some of their recent concert antics (I heard stuff about air-raid sirens and diatribes and angry young men). Instead - dark, lush, with dazzling guitar bits and terrifically diverse melodic lines. This is a rich, rich record - one I'm going to come back to. Strings, horns, choirs, piano, organ... Radiohead with an orchestra and a dislike for straightforward song structure. Or something.

The Velvet Underground & Nico - s/t
Gave this thing another chance given my recent VU discovery/binge. Liked it more than the last time, but still not remotely ga-ga. I don't know how "Venus in Furs" never sounded really really interesting before. Because, egads, it is! "Heroin" also sounds much better than before - the best part, hands down, is the sad, regular drum clump. I like Nico's voice, but I wish she didn't sound like she was reading phonetic transliterations of the lyrics ("and wut coss toom shell de poo gull oo-eh"). Many of these songs are too long.

Moxy Fruvous - Bargainville
I've been nostalgia tripping this week, and this does the trick. Well, not really. I only ever knew "King of Spain" growing up (and "Green Eggs & Ham"... why isn't that on this record? Copyright reasons? Or is my chronology wrong?). Surprisingly pretty, in a fresh-faced-and-harmless accapella kind of way. Lyrics about new and amazing "cellular!" phones make me feel suitably ancient. But why do Moxy Fruvous feel the need to sully a lovely ballad like "Fell in Love" with a gag about corn niblets? At least the Barenaked Ladies (used to) know when to hold off on the chortling.

Mercury Rev - Deserter's Songs
Hm. I'll have to put this on again. As interesting sounds washed in one ear and out the next, I got the impression there was a lot worth hearing that I was missing. Like the Flaming Lips only a) minus the squelching synthy things, and b) not so lyrically inane.

Clinic - Internal Wrangler
I am listening to this for the fourth time in a row right now. It's very good - unexpected blooms of harmony, dusty drum machine, hypnotized bluesman vocals, gruff and sneaky streaks of guitar. And you know what the best part is? I had no idea. When I heard this album three years ago, I didn't like it. Not one bit. Too messy, maybe - too bluesy? too dirty? (I'm running through the list of usual reasons why I don't like things, and yeah, I can see myself maybe jumping the gun and finding this not-to-my-tastes.) Fact is, though, that it's swell. It has so many interesting things to hear on it - it's clever but laid-back, nonsensical but proud. Like The Notwist's older brother, maybe - the one who prefers Howlin' Wolf to Men Without Hats. Check out when things speed up at the end of "Distortions," and the sax juts in for a moment... The grin of the mosquito who swoops in over congo drums in "Voodoo Wop," introducing a mellower groove (and then the unabashed organ strains that might be the sound of The Strokes when they're dreaming). I think that I might like The Dears record more - some of the noisy stuff on here will simply never be close to my heart - but this is probably the better record. Did I mention it reminds me very much of the Velvets? It does. In a good way.

(Now I need to find Walking With Thee, Clinic's newer one, and give that a re-listen. Well, first I need to finish my paper [and listen to Internal Wrangler some more].)

Posted by Sean at April 28, 2003 2:56 AM
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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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Back to the World
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