This month is dedicated to the splendor of the ordinary, which is sort of a hobby of mine, and to voyages not yet taken.
The Suburbs- Arcade Fire
I have spent a good deal of time lately wandering amongst houses and blocks, looking at windows and lawns and discarded toys and armchairs on verandahs and wondering whose they are. Marveling at people in the street. Seeing someone walking somewhere to do something that I will never be involved in or know at all and being amazed by that. I think there is something really cool about the lives that are lived all around us. All the different happenings laid out over suburbs like clothes to wear the next day.
Do You Realize?? – The Flaming Lips
This song. If you’re ever feeling down about the state of the world, or politicians have been doing stupid, awful things again, or someone has hurt your feelings, chuck on this bad boy. If you can manage to be walking through lovely Autumn air past gorgeous flowers at the time that will only help.
Winter- The Dodos
I know it’s early, but it wasn’t chosen only because of the absolutely excellent cold snap we’ve been having and the fact that I get to wear my gloves again and be snuggly all the time. It’s also one of those songs that no matter how many times I listen to it, I can’t get enough. It’s melodic and sort of heartbreaking and full of tippity tappity drums and woopy brass and the ukulele. Damn. Also as singalong songs go, this is a hit. So be buoyed and sing along, Doyle.
Neighborhood #1 (tunnels)- Arcade Fire
There is something so like a journey about this album. Complete with fading maps and an increasing sense of joy. It’s like every time I listen, I don’t know where they’re taking me. Or I just love it a whole hell of a lot. Either way. Man! Just, fucking, turn this up, yeah? Revel in this shit.
The Giant of Illinois- Andrew Bird
Sweetly sad is tasty treat that I’ll never tire of. There will be a lot more of it over the year. Also stirring strings. And plunky strings.
Doyle, bless his heart, wisely announced that he loved the Beirut stuff I’ve been putting on occasionally and coincidentally I have been eating them up lately so it’s only right that they’re here. I like this one a lot. It has a slow build, an obvious sort of polka vibe but manages to stay quite dramatic and a bit tragicised. They just do every little bit so right, you know? Perfect piecemeal layering of drums, and strings and brass and harmony like a really passionate, slightly eighties gypsy cake.
Break Me Gently- Doves
I am going to Europe later in the year. I had sort of forgotten about it a lot up till recently but I’ve been getting that stirring feeling again. The one that knows I’ll be somewhere new soon-ish and is glad because it craves the unknown like oxygen. This song always makes me think of the first time I was walking the streets of towns in Ireland, all those years ago.
Different Names For the Same Thing- Death Cab For Cutie
Another Europe song. Though I didn’t get this album till I got home, whenever I hear it I’m right back on a train to Switzerland again waiting for a landscape I’ve never looked at before or staring out at the ocean in Spain or stalking through dark German streets. It’s the perfect sound for it all.
Happiness- Riceboy Sleeps
For this song- do me a favour: stop whatever you’re doing, close your eyes, and wait patiently. It’s long, and it’s a little slow but if you wait and you listen and you let it carry you some time near the middle you’ll hear it. Your day and your sadness and your tired shoulders will drip off you like water and you’ll be somewhere white, and golden and else.
If I Had a Boat- James Vincent McMorrow
I found this song last month (thank you free iTunes download) and have already endangered it by listening to it in excess. I am now on rations, which will hopefully last a while longer. I find it to be gorgeous, totally dramatic, and wonderfully full up of a sorrow that I don’t really understand, which is my favorite kind. I don’t really know what he’s doing some of the time lyrically, but man, find a more Grey’s-Anatomy-cliffhanger-episode sounding song. Dare you.
A Sunday Smile- Beirut
I don’t know what it is! His voice? The absolutely edible harmony? The fact that I’m frequently transported to some sort of Bulgarian wedding or funeral feast when listening? Whatever it is, the chorus brings me near tears and definite chills.
I believe this requires no explanation.
A Minha Menina- The Bees
Because it’s not all melancholy and gorgeous, lilting harmonies. Sometimes it’s ridiculous, utterly danceable fun.
Holy, Holy, Holy- Sufjan Stevens
Doyle is not a religious guy. And I haven’t snuck this song in as an attempt to change that. I just feel like this song celebrates all the quiet, small glories that are around us daily, and I know Doyle would dig that. He sees the beauty in the mess and even though he might not agree, I think that connects him with something vast and lovely.
To Build a Home- Cinematic Orchestra
Just another haunting and mammoth tune to take us out. We started in the suburbs and we end here. Seems fitting to me. Like we’ve turned in a driveway and realized we’ve arrived and we hadn’t realized. And it’s wonderful and awful all at once because it means the part where we’re moving has ended and something new is happening.
God I talk some shit.
A Girl Like You- Edwyn Collins
A long time favourite, smoldering away in the back of my head until I hear it on a dance floor or alternately until I’m constructing a leviathanesque playlist teeth full of nineties classics and my housemate Kate says what about that Edwyn Collins song at which point it bursts into life again and I shimmy my shoulders and wonder how I ever got along without it. One of the coolest tracks to slip stealthily out of the nineties. Undeniable sass.
A Commotion- Feist
Still love this album and the intensity and slight tension that this song begins with, its seeming chant of “Barbara BUSH” (I know that’s not what it is, but come on) and its brass and slightly seventies detective film grooves are good companions for the very changie weather and of course the roller coaster that is mine, Doyle’s or anyone’s life. It’s been a fairly emotional and odd old March but as Leslie says “If it rips you all apart, then glad you still at your heart”. This is just. So. Good.
Trounce- Jonathan Boulet
Some more lovely chaos, because who is without that?
This is one of those songs who seem to be about you, and your life and your pain and everything that has ever been wrong, but rendered in such a beautiful way that you’re almost glad that tragedy happens, that things break and fall apart so you could hear it written so. A perfectly crafted soundtrack for heartbreak.
Santa Fe- Beirut
On a lighter note, this is one of the best tracks from Beirut’s latest album. Which is odd because it seems so different from their other stuff I love so much. But it never fails to make me smile, and nod my head and still manages to skirt Majesty while being fun and light and perfection in your ears as you’re walking on a sunny Autumn day. Gorgeous.
As I said, it’s been a bit of a rough month. So I’ve been diving accordingly into my stashes of stupidly haunting and melancholy sounds, the kind that make me stare into the middle distance and hunch my shoulders against the weight of the world or wish it was raining and I was in black and white. All that crap. Anyway, this track is one of my favorite heart-punchers from way back. Got me limping heroically through some tough times. No idea really what it’s about but you try listening to this and not desperately conjuring up things you have to overcome to a soundtrack of anguished piano and brave guitar.
Is There a Ghost- Band of Horses
Another one of my heart kick songs, though a bit of an odd one. I just really love the sound of it.
Power- Kanye West
Now for something completely different. Some of the month just gone, (and I’m willing to bet the one coming) has needed some stupid-arrogant beatz to feel totally awesome too. I’m sort of digging on hip-hop lately. I’ve always had it in me, I suspect. Anyway I dig this song a fair bit and frigging lap up the disgustingly obvious irony that comes with that. It’s a little gift for Doyle, on account of how gangsta he is.
Money- The Drums
A bit more fun, plus, what the hell, right? Ostensibly about a dude who wants to buy someone he likes (I guess) … something, but has no money, and the reason he wants to buy them something is that they’re going to die? Also some obscure references to guns and running away so I can only assume it’s a hitman singing to his hitlifepartner and being bummed that all that cash they saved up has been frozen by the feds. Fun though. Fun.
Weightless- City and Colour
Look- I’m not that girl. It’s not all Oh God My Life. I just need Doyle to have the chance to belt out “THEN YOU TURN AND YOU WALK AWAY FROM MEEE” like everyone should. Plus, how smooth and excellent is it? It’s a little jammie, a little rough and his voice is so lush and wonderful.
Brother- Matt Corby
Someone has got to make sure Doylie is up to date and obviously Matt Corby has been going gangbusters lately. I may be entirely naff and not nearly underground enough by saying this, but I think this song is a gorgeous tumult. Also, also- Doyle does this novelty singing voice that sounds remarkably like Matt’s when he does the bellowie parts. Looking forward to hearing his remix.
I am Trying to Break Your Heart- Wilco
A long, long, long time audio hot bath of mine. The beginning bars see my shoulders relax and my mouth set itself in a contended smile, ready for a quiet and lengthy and satisfying trip. I frigging adore it. I just can’t think of many songs I love more and that I think get it so right. It’s just got so much going on, you know, but you never feel like it’s too much. It’s just this lovely, busy, quaint and normal story. Also, it contains one of my favorite lyric fragments of all time and uses the word ‘assassin’ as a verb.
Spice Up Your Life- Spice Girls
Another rememberance for aforementioned playlist, I believe this song to be a prime example of the good that can come from a nineties girl band. I would like to imagine that Doyle will turn this right up and shake out the weirdness the rest of the playlist has left as well as anything else unsavory that might be hanging around. God bless pop music. Dare you not to jiggle anything.
Much Against Everyone’s Advice-Soulwax
A wee little Swedish rock/pop nugget for you. See, the month has been off, and pained and melancholy and weird and tiring, but it’s also been excited and pleasant and sky-music-flower-friend filled. In short, it’s been like any other month, only a little more in need of bandaiding so you still need a bit of a strut. Where would be we be without the strut?
There Is a Light That Never Goes Out- The Smiths
The happy ending.
So it’s getting a touch ridiculous. I haven’t actually laid eyes on Doyle for over a month. I hope he exists, but it’s possible I’ve been composing CDs and sentences for a friend who I created.
That would explain how dazzling and well dressed he was.
Oh well. Here is March.
Itchin’ On a Photograph- Grouplove
The beginning of Autumn should sound fresh and clean and fun. There is something quite emotive and nostalgic about Grouplove’s sound and there are threads of a colder wind moving through the party here I think.
Allah, Allah, Allah- mewithoutyou
I dunno. This song appeals to me so much, but it’s sort of hokey too. It’s so celebratory and joyful. It’s about the God in all of us, and about joining with your brothers and sisters and being thankful and forgiving all together and I think that is marvelous. Also, any song with a big old group sing is going to sucker punch me right in the cry hole.
“If you care to sing forgiveness songs come down and join our band, and we’ll cut you like a sword and sing forgiveness songs”.
A/B Machines- Sleigh Bells
Firstly. If you don’t know Sleigh Bells, like me about three weeks ago, please just do yourself a solid and GET ON IT because you WILL BE A BETTER AND MORE ROCKING PERSON FOR IT.
Secondly, this song is so much fun (as is the entire album). The combination of electro trash pop, hot guitars, heavy beats and sickly sweet vocals is somehow strut-tastic in a way I didn’t know could exist. It’s musical wizardry.
Home is a Fire- Death Cab For Cutie
I found out they were touring near the beginning of the year, at the same time as I found out Bon Iver and Beirut were. It was a heartrending time for me, as I didn’t have a lot of money to throw at bands. I went with Death Cab, because in the end I feel like I made my decision a long time ago, when I gave them my heart. Dramatic but true. And though their latest album was average at best, I still adore them, and always will.
Ps they were SO GOOD live and it was last month which is why they’re getting some airtime in the mix and this song was one I really did actually like from Codes and Keys. Thank you boys.
Blindsided- Bon Iver
This song always makes me feel unconscionably soothed. I’m never sure what it’s about. It sounds sort of longing and sad and settled at the same time. It’s a balmy evening swaying in a hammock type song. So, so lovely.
Because in every month, particularly ones that are a bit busier and maybe a bit flustered, like mine’s been, we need to sway in a hammock every now and then.
Elephant Gun- Beirut
I find this song impossibly beautiful. It’s haunting and poignant and sort of a farewell and a welcome at the same time. Oh man it’s beautiful. Oh man. I just can’t figure out how they take me and plonk me in the middle of another person’s life -like the life of a gypsy, or a tired and sad circus performer, or an old man remembering his wedding- like they do. It’s not fair.
Easier- Grizzly Bear
First track on Yellow house, very gentle and plinky plonky, sort of quaint and faded (which incidentally is the sort of sepia kind of business they do best) like the antique bits and bobs that Doyle likes. Practical at some level but mainly pretty now.
You Are The Blood- Sufjan Stevens
He’s a nutter, our man Sufjan. No question. But he’s a brilliant nutter, and you can always sort of feel what’s driving him in the song you’re listening to, whether it’s the banjo folky business or the synthy auto-tune business. This one gives me goosebumps. The theatrics, and the build up, and the beat provided by alternating stomps and claps, and the poetry of it. It’s a storm. And a march. And an ode to something vast and powerful. Don’t even get me started on the entirely over the top and beautiful piano parts. I had a reasonably filling and satisfying month, spiritually speaking. And that is why the mewithoutyou and the Sufjan (and the everything else I suppose) are necessary.
We Laugh Indoors- Death Cab For Cutie
This is one of my all time favorites. It’s got a very down to earth, sort of get on with and go to the shops sound (in a cool way), and then cuts away to a bridge that just makes you want to slap the cashier (in a cool way) because how can anything be normal, and then it’s back to being eighties and edgy and slight and fun and cool weathery.
Infinity Guitars- Sleigh Bells
HOLY SHIT. I literally cannot tell you how much I FUCKING LOVE THIS SONG. My ratio of ass-kickery to non ass-kickery has really increased lately, mainly because I’ve lived on a diet of this song and a few cups of coffee. Doyle. If you’re real: here. Lose your shit. You’re welcome.
These Few Presidents- Why?
This song is a good Why? gateway track. It’s not overly offensive and is a little catchy and fun, but still has a bit of edge to it. I harbor an earnest belief that everyone would benefit from listening to a bit of Why?. Also if I hadn’t seen Doyle for years, his would be a funeral I’d fly to from anywhere.
I Have Nothing- Whitney Houston
So, the Whitney tribute track. Unexpected considering the rest of the mix? Possibly. But when you consider Doyle and my love for the cheesy PLUS the fact that without Doyle I could conceivably say I have nothing, not so out of place.
A Lack of Colour – Death Cab For Cutie
Oh, this song. It’s like, something blue and small and quiet that I didn’t even know was there stretches and touches my heart a little when I listen to this song and I start wishing for heartbreak so it could be all mine, be about me, because it’s so perfect.
I miss you Doyle. xx
Slow Show- The National
Doyle loves a romance. This track is one of the most romantic I’ve ever known. It’s human and rawish and honest and scared and sweet. More National as the café I visited reminded me of how amazing they are.
Pagan Angel in a Borrowed Car- Iron and Wine
Out of nowhere I rediscovered Iron and Wine. I only have one album and I rarely listen to it but I seem to have found the part of my soul it nestles nicely into. The soft but steady rhythm makes me think of dirt roads and the solid wash of rain that nearly makes you forget the sticky warmth of the day before. It’s a gentle but a certain song and I like that it has such a specific colour in my mind.
Bucky Done Gun- M.I.A.
On my third go at No Lights No Lycra they played this song and I knew it was meant for Doyle. It’s unexpected, tempo-wise and hugely dance-able which is just Doyle all over. Pop-tastic.
Kingdom of Rust- Doves
If the Iron and Wine song earlier was a bit of driving on a dirt road then this is pelting down a hill in the darkness, urgent and longing. Or something. It has a richness and a melancholy to it, I think. My February has been both full and poignant, so I think this is fitting.
Resurrection Fern- Iron and Wine
Another Iron and Wine, because it’s so lovely and earnest and it seems to be about looking hopefully towards an end to something. Or that’s how it seems to me. So it’s a summing up of February, which was lovely and a prayer for a sweet and soft and hopeful March.