Archive for September, 2011
The below is something I wrote for Cool Accidents, which is another, more reputable blog than my own.
In 1986, Paul Simon released Graceland, arguably the most important album of his career. Sure, Sound of Silence broke Simon & Garfunkel and Bridge Over Troubled Water sold 400 trillion units but Graceland was the record that demonstrated Simon as a musician capable of producing great songs in the absence of Art Garfunkel. Graceland was also famous for the scrutiny that Simon faced by virtue of his collaboration with South African musicians and recording in South Africa. Many believed that Simon had breached the UN imposed cultural boycott of all things Saffer but the UN soon delivered their official ruling that Simon “was a cool-guy and everyone else should just chill hey”.
Graceland won a Grammy for Album Of The Year while the track of the same name won Record Of The Year, and it’s that track that’s the basis for this post. ‘Graceland’ (track, not album) supposedly deals with Simon’s recent divorce and a cathartic roadtrip with his son to Elvis’ Graceland in Tenessee in the wake of the failed marriage. The verses are deep with heavy, downcast lyric (“She comes back to tell me she’s gone. As If I didn’t know that. As if I didn’t know my own bed.”) but the hope in the chorus is so inescapable that one can’t help but see the movement toward Graceland as redeeming pilgrimage. Anyway, speculative wankery aside, the track is unreal. Even if you don’t take the time to listen to the strangely diverse collection of covers below, at least revisit this classic track. Simon called it the best song he has ever written. 2011 is the 25th anniversary of the record so if you don’t already own it, maybe it’s time you took a good long look at yourself and thought about the way you’re living your life. Get it together.
Have your mind, eyes, ears and feelings gently assaulted by the dulcet tones of the Wilderness of Manitoba. Preload this on a large monitor and some quality speakers before full screening it and hitting play. It’s pretty compelling. There’s something unrepentantly 80s about shooting with a faded out black backdrop but it’s refreshing in a time when “on the go” and “take away” sessions are all the rage. I don’t need to see a band performing their songs acoustically in a Nepalese cave, I just want to hear music that speaks for itself. It’s just one track from their Hear Ya session so if you’d like to download audio of the entire session then you can do so by right clicking here. Alternatively you can download just this track below.
The Wilderness of Manitoba – Hermit (Hear Ya Session)
Owen Ashworth has been making music under the moniker of Casiotone For The Painfully Alone since ’97 but only at the end of last week with what is effectively the band’s siren song did I take the time to listen to a track through. Andrew Maxam tried to get me to listen back in the day but I said ‘Nay Andrew, I know better’. I did not know better. I couldn’t get past the dissidence between vocal and beat. This week, Roland K Smith put this on my plate and I’ve been enamoured since.
This track is the parting track he left in his wake as he left behind the years long project of CFTPA. Named and listed are almost certainly everyone he’s ever loved, known or met on yahoo chat. I’m still trying to work out how a track with beats this excitable still manages to have any emotional resonance yet it’s there, proving that you don’t have to resort to minor chords and falsetto to convey sadness.
Listen, then listen again in about an hour. It’s really, really good.
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – ‘Goodbye Parthenon’
He has swathes of recordings behind him, many of which you’ll find available free online.
Historically my forays into those things electronic have been brief, mostly by virtue of my complete irreverence for most things recorded and performed through a macbook, but when I heard this track on East to West yesterday afternoon I knew I had to share it to you. It stays true to the original while underlining the thing with a smooth beat and a splattering of glitch. The end product isn’t a club banger but will probably be a regular presence in all future party playlist I put together (which is to say literally hundreds of playlists, since I am invited to literally hundreds of parties, because of how much people like me as a person). Here it is:
Bon Iver – Perth (BASKE Tear Up REMIX)
Time constraints have left Sound Doc looking pretty sparse lately. It’s only this twenty minute window before I start work in the morning (time allowed to make toast, coffee and idle chat – “what did you get upto last night?”) that I’m managing to cobble together a little something something for you to read and hear. The track isn’t a new one, it’s a rerecord, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t sound all sorts of crisp. It swells with harmonies, rises, falls and builds again with production far superior to the first version we heard way back when. Inland Sea are currently on the road as part of the ‘One, Two, Ten Tour’ which will ultimately culminate in a Sydney show on October 22nd at the FBi Social which I suggest you get to, if the reports about their live performances are to be believed.
Meanwhile, I’m dying to post about the new Wilco record but my head will roll at work if I dare. I’m hoping that the first single will be the first track from the record, titled ‘Art of Almost’. To give you a sense of how awesome this record is, imagine your best friend in the whole world, now double that and kick it to the max. That’s what we’re talking about here, and those of you who know me well will know that I do NOT throw ‘to the max’ around lightly. This is serious.