Song Sifting

So I’m back from karaoke and wine with Ken, and for some reason the practice of picking discrete songs from a list rather than listening to entire albums has continued even now I’m home. Here are 5 songs. They probably don’t work particularly well in karaoke, but they sound bloody amazing on the speakers.

1) Black Steel (Tricky): I know trip-hop went out of fashion almost as soon as the term was coined, but there is still some trip-hop that is exquisitely, timelessly excellent, and Tricky’s Maxinquaye album epitomizes that. Black Steel is one of the very few covers I’ve ever heard that successfully reinvents the original and completely kicks its ass. Beats that sound like banging on the corrugated iron wall of a shanty town hut – hollow, desperate and rebellious. Martina Topley-Bird’s voice stalks through the wreckage like The Bride in Kill Bill, bloodied but resolute. Public Enemy, run for cover. This is the true hour of chaos.

2) Amongst The Books An Angel (Piano Magic): Piano Magic make a wide variety of weird electronic pop music. Not all of it is interesting or even listenable, but this is a pretty little track which deserves to be listened to on a good sound system. Laid-back beginning with acoustic guitar, fluttering reedy instrument, and earnest male vocals. Later on the backing instruments get more emphatic, more dense, and halfway everything breaks out into an Arabic warbling maelstrom. Randomly.

3) Just Be Simple (Songs: Ohia): No lie. It’s a simple song. Appealing melody, plaintive steel guitar, nice harmonies in the chorus, and full spotlight given to the lyrics. I particularly like “And everything you hated me for/ Honey, there was so much more.”

4) Break (Fugazi): I am wildly addicted to Fugazi riffs, and this has a great one. They played it as an encore when I saw them at the Forum in London, and at earsplitting volume, it sounded even better.

5) Dial: Revenge (Mogwai): If I ever wander on the astral plane, this will be my soundtrack. Acoustic guitar beginning (I’m such a sucker for that) and the guy from Super Furry Animals singing in Welsh. Then it builds to that lush cymbal (I didn’t think I’d ever be describing the sound of a cymbal that way but that really is the right word) that heralds the entrance of the orchestra and the music expands, a dim velvety universe enveloping everything. When it ends I don’t quite know where I am any more, but I have a hazy memory of being somewhere beautiful.


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