Obvious comparisons are rarely flattering


Oasis via Queens of the Stone Age, with all the charm and self-awareness of the former?

Whole thing makes me kinda sad, these guys used to be genuinely interesting and, I dunno, clever. Now they’ve gone and recorded something that sounds like it should be called ‘Be Here Now Again’.

In reality the album’s called ‘Suck it and see’.

Which might actually be worse.

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This video won’t embed for some reason. Maybe it’s magical or from another universe or something. It’s that awesome and I won’t spoil why, just watch it. Note the surreal comparison between the beat-up old guitar and what must be the blingest microphone ever made.

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Drip before the deluge

I actually had to spend a minute just now hunting through about fifty Pitchfork/Song, by Toad/Random music blog tabs to find the page I was listening to this on. It’s another new Death Cab track, the opener from Codes and Keys. Which as I said last time isn’t something all of you are going to be into* but I’m not exactly forcing you to listen to it, am I?

Maintains a steely gaze and a steady hold on his revolver.



Is it deeply uncool to just link to Pitchfork?

Do I really care all that much?

Is this really a new Death Cab track rather than a low-key Postal Service song?

Is it a really good sign for the new album? (given that I’ve only listened to it twice…)

Is there a reason why this is all phrased as questions?

Valid questions.

As I mentioned, I’m trying to catch up on music news post-dissertation. This is being made somewhat more difficult by the sheer quantity of SXSW-related stuff floating around, so it might be a week or so before I launch into Tuneocalypse. That’s where I post a shitload of new music. It’s coming.

* I’m not entirely sure if I am, that’s what makes this new album interesting for me.

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Because there are people that need to know these things

The first single from the new Death Cab for Cutie record just dropped, you can hear it through the link below. Seems a bit more polished than their older stuff, a little slicker maybe; but at least this first track seems a little less cheesetastic than the bad parts of ‘Narrow Stairs’ were*. I’m reserving judgement till I hear the rest of the record but I’m a little more optimistic than I have been


* That would be every track other than the first two. And maybe ‘Cath’. It really wasn’t a particularly good album.

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Very Brief Holy-Shit Moment

Second track of the three available through the link below. It’s one guy playing a saxphone the size of a small car. There’s nothing else, just that fucking massive saxophone. I’ve never heard anything like it.


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Just a quick one

In two senses actually; there’s a new Explosions in the Sky track up over on Stereogum. They’ve been pretty quiet the last couple of years so it’s nice to hear something new from them, even if they’ve never really been my go-to ‘mostly instrumental post-rock’ band*. It’s only three and a half minutes but has the sense of size I’d usually associate with a longer track.

Weirdly, if someone were to ask me for an example of a ‘normal’ post-rock band I’d probably pick them over bands I listen to more often, but I suspect that’s because I’ve never really been able to get a handle on what makes them unique. Sigur Ros have that whole ‘dude sounds like a girl singing in a made-up language’ thing going on and Mogwai sell themselves as ‘kinda dickish purveyors of permanent hearing damage’, EITS seem to just be a bunch of normal guys who make massive sounding instrumental music.

All that said, I really like the stabby vocal thing going on at the start of this new song and on my fourth listen I’m starting to pick out the rise and fall of the track as a whole. It may be that they’re actually more subtle than I though, playing around with a different kind of dynamic shift than the other bands I’ve mentioned. If that’s the case then I’m a lot more interested in hearing what the rest of the new album sounds like, although I do wonder whether without the insane jumps in volume and feeling of tension I’ll be all that fussed in the long run.

But those are problems with me and not the track, which for all the rambling is just a cool song that you can listen to through the link below.


* That would be Mogwai. Or Sigur Ros if you don’t count singing you can’t understand as vocals, which is a notion that looks sillier written down than it seemed in my head.

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Totally Not Dead

Been really really busy with dissertation work. But the new The Pains of Being Pure at Heart* record is available for streaming on their website and I figured that that’s the sort of thing that should be common knowledge.

I may have mentioned before that the title track, ‘Belong’, is great. Very Smashing Pumpkins but in a ‘when the Smashing Pumpkins were really good at writing huge songs that make you feel awesome and weren’t just Billy Corgan and an assortment of seven-year olds he’s convinced to play with him for the hour or two it will take them to go off him to the point where they’ll develop a heroin addiction, refuse to ever be in the same room as him ever again, and run off into the hills to incompetently tend to their horses.’


Anyway, link below;



And a question for everyone, why do all the good fuzz-pop bands have one member who’s a bit Asian? Not really Asian, just y’know, a bit.**


* Capitalisation is their’s, not mine.

** There’s what… The Pains of Being Pure at Heart… Yuck… okay, that’s only two but it certainly seems like it’s a thing. Just me?

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‘Happy Indie Music’ – Reuben and my last fm vs. My own self-image: pt.2


The saga continues…

25. The Tallest Man On Earth

Jaunty folkie.

Indeterminate – 8

24. Drive-By Truckers

Swings and roundabouts…

Indeterminate – 9

23. Big Boi

Big Boi is like a one-man walking party. Only with more sex and awesome guest verses.

Happy – 6

22. Archers of Loaf

Semi-comprehensible self-laceration…

Downbeat – 14

21. The Pillows

Completely incomprehenisble Japanese grin-merchants…

Happy – 7

20. Kanye West

We’re talking the latest album for the most part. But I really loved College Dropout too…

Indeterminate – 10

19.  John Vanderslice

My favourite song of his is ‘Dead Slate Pacific’, a love song about wanting to hang himself…

Downbeat – 15

18. The New Pornographers

Music dominates lyrics here, this is seriously happy music…

Happy – 8

17. Yo La Tengo

Weird. Atmospheric. Really friendly.

Happy – 9

16. Wilco

Jeff Tweedy can be kind of a douche. A sad douche.

Downbeat – 16

15. Frightened Rabbit

More like ‘Self-hating Catharic Rabbit’, amirite? Eh? Eh?

Downbeat – 17

14. Jimmy Eat World

I have no shame, only big girly emo-tears.

Downbeat – 18

13. Superchunk

Useful tip: The complete Superchunk back-catalogue costs an awful lot less than a lifetime of anti-depressants.

Happy – 10

12. Pavement

Are there emotions in Pavement songs?

Indeterminate – 11

11. Radiohead


Downbeat – 19

10. Modest Mouse

Trying to think of an upbeat Modest Mouse song…

Downbeat – 20

9. Meursault

As we enter the top ten it’s turning into a big catharsis party…

Downbeat – 21

8. Future of the Left

Mclusky mk.2…

Indeterminate – 12

7. Lifter Puller

Dark rather than downbeat, but no-one has too much fun at party in the Nice, Nice…

Indeterminate – 13

6. Pixies

Mclusky mk.0…

Indeterminate – 14

5. Bob Dylan

The Ur-Miserable-Folkie. (Particularly if you’re me and have a habit of putting ‘Blood on the Tracks’ on loop.)

Downbeat – 22

4.  The National

Faded, gloomy, aristocratic…

Downbeat – 23

3. The Hold Steady

S’all about redemption really…

Happy – 11

2. Los Campesinos!

Item of Evidence No.1:

Item of Evidence No.2:

Indeterminate – 15

1. The Mountain Goats

He’s written songs about dying, child abuse, dying, the end of relationships, being really really lonely, drug abuse, dying, shooting someone in the face, and dying but it all ends up being about getting through it and surviving. And he’s written two of the greatest love songs I’ve ever heard; Twin Human Highway Flares and…

So he’s indeterminate too, giving us a final result of…

Happy – 11

Downbeat – 23

Indeterminate – 16

So I am kind of a sad-sack. But but but, a few notes;

1. A lot of the more cheerful stuff is a recent development, I suspect it’ll come to the fore more and more over the next few years. Misery, like Warhammer, is a teenage hobby.

2. I tend to tell people about the happy stuff, it just seems kinda weird saying ‘You’ll love this song, it’ll totally make you feel like shit’.

3.  I really like cathartic music, it’s pretty much why I’m as obsessive as I am. It’s easier than getting professional help…

So yeah. Anyone else want to have a go and stick their results in the comments?

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‘Happy Indie Music’ – Reuben and my last fm vs. My own self-image: pt.1

When asked to describe my music taste today, part of a rather tangential conversation about not very much of anything, Reuben said he thought I was into ‘happy indie music’. That threw me a bit, I’ve always thought of myself as a miserable bugger and that the vast majority of the stuff I listen to was less than cheerful. Moody even. So I’ve decided to do a little self-evaluation and inflict it upon you lot. I’m going to go through the top fifty acts on my last fm and decide whether they’re ‘happy’, ‘downbeat’, or ‘indeterminate’.

Aside from the whole ‘Am I actually a little ray of sunshine?’ angle, it’s a good way to plug all the music I’ve been into in the last three or so years, so that’s a nice bonus. And, of course, this is less than scientific and you should feel free to jump in the comments and suggest changes in category choices.


50.  Strand of Oaks

Beautiful downbeat folk. Sentiment is always sweet but he’s not a cheerful dude. His first album was about his house burning down…

Downbeat – 1


49.  James

These guys would be higher up the list if I’d been using last fm longer, used to be pretty much my favourite band. Big, uplifting indie.

Happy – 1


48.  Damien Jurado

Another less-than-happy folkie.

Downbeat – 2


47.  The Beatles

Yeah, ok.

Happy – 2


46.  Jay-Z

He’s too confident to be miserable, even if I think the verse on ‘Monster’ where it sounds like he’s fucking furious is the best thing he’s ever done. But it’s hardly bouncy grinning music either.

Indeterminate – 1


45. Idlewild

Bit of both; ‘American English’ is a bit of a downer, ‘Readers and Writers’ is a giant grin in song form.

Indeterminate – 2


44. Amateur Transplants

Evil doctors as musical comedy. Important word being comedy, I guess.

Happy – 3


43. Lil’ Wayne

Wayne’s way too crazy to be sad. And if someone bummed him out he’d probably just eat them.

Happy – 4


42. Iron and Wine

Miserable folkie no.3…

Downbeat – 3


41. The Thermals

Fiery punk-pop. (No pun intended). They get angry as hell but they aren’t down about it.

Indeterminate – 3


40. Fugazi

Again, fiery would be a good way of putting it.

Indeterminate – 4


39. Neutral Milk Hotel

Too loopy to tie to any one emotion.

Indeterminate – 5


38. Sun Kil Moon

Miserable folkie no.4…

Downbeat – 4


37. Mclusky

Completely fucking insane and loving every minute.

Indeterminate – 6


36. *cough* Lifehouse *cough*

We were all thirteen once. *hopes no-one remembers this list only goes back as far as late 2007. And that a lot of the plays were for one of the newer albums. It kinda sucked, though.*

Actually, I’ll happily defend their first three albums, they’re genuinely great nuanced radio-rock. And a little down…

Downbeat – 5


35. The Fine Print

These guys never actually released anything, all the tracks I have I stole from various websites. Their lead singer went on to be the guy that writes Penny Arcade, which is how I found out about them. Had a few really great songs. Not exactly the kings of cheer though.

Downbeat – 6


34. The Replacements

‘Look me in the eyes and tell me that I’m satisfied…’

Downbeat – 7


33. Gucci Mane

Another rapper who’s really too crazy not to be enjoying himself.

Happy – 5


32. The Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice

180 plays for one 7 track E.P…

It’s a really great E.P., and it’s called Moon Colony Bloodbath so…

Downbeat – 8


31. Dinosaur Jr.

J Mascis could probably use a hug.

Downbeat – 9


30. The Libertines

Drunk nutters throwing themselves around the stage. Gloomy at times but usually enjoying themselves.

Indeterminate – 7


29. Califone

Their last album was called ‘All My Friends Are Funeral Singers’…

Downbeat – 10


28. Death Cab for Cutie

The word sad-sack was invented for Ben Gibbard. True story.

Downbeat – 11


27. Brand New

Proud owners of the longest song title in my entire iTunes; ‘Good To Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Have To Do Is Die’.

Downbeat – 12


26. Bright Eyes

Early Bright Eyes…

Downbeat – 13


Tally so far:-

Happy – 5

Downbeat – 13

Indeterminate – 7

To be continued

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Just what the doctor ordered

So I got adrenaline injected directly into my shoulder today*. Strangely, it wasn’t a whole lot of fun; makes this awesome new Pitchfork column all the better though…


It’s a well-written hip-hop mixtape rundown, something I’ve been looking for for a while. Of particular note is the International Jones tape discussed at the bottom. It’s a great record; laid-back, weed-addled coolness and really really easy to get into. Just what I needed after today.

* I’m totally fine, just seems I’ve developed a nut allergy somewhere along the way. Feeling much better now.

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