Thursday, June 12, 2008

I've been tagged: My Favourite Records Of All Times

so... here we go. This is a bit awkward. I listen to so much music all the time, it keeps switching, so for this very pompous sounding list I mainly chose the golden oldies. And I wrote this list down really fast, as you should apparently, cos when it comes to blogging speed is essential, but you know, I'm out of the loop, more or less permanently, so then it took me over a week to actually do this. So fuck it:

1. FEHLFARBEN: Monarchie und Alltag

"Einkaufsbummel im Erdnussland/Was uebrig bleibt/wird Entwicklungshilfe genannt"

This record looms large over a lot of German- language punk rock/post punk/new wave. I listened to it when I was at school but I still listen to it now. It can still give me the shivers. It's fast and abrasive but it also has some dreamlike lovelorn songs. It is depressing but also reminds you of what life is really made of in this world, the here and now still hurts and exhilarates like it does on this record, it's got a pulse even though it sometimes sounds like it was made by machines. I'm so glad this band still exists though I still haven't seen them. Peter Hein, the singer and lyricist, is an amazing writer, his voice is crystal clear yet melancholic and obscure at the same time. He's done many interesting things but this record is still ... unsurpassed in German language rock IMO.

2. GUIDED BY VOICES: Alien Lanes. 

"Disarm the Settlers/The new drunk drivers/ have hoisted the flag" 

The second, third or fourth, depending on how you look at it, of the run of classic early 90s "lo fi" albums that defined GBV, and still does, whether you like it or not. I'm getting *a little* bit tired of the cult of "Bee Thousand", and the people/critics who will forever reference that one album as an eternal benchmark, and I've always thought Alien Lanes was even more engaging, even more diverse. But whatever, at the end of the day... this record will survive forever in certain people's heads, certainly in mine.


"Folge mir!"

My slightly unhealthy fixation on this German, once 4AD signed, goth band led by the amazingly icy singer Anja Huwe continues, albeit in slightly milder form, and I think this is my favourite of all their albums, certainly the first five songs. There is a goth club called Tocsin in Lisbon's Bairro Alto. Also there are a lot of X-mal fans in Brazil. And I wish they would reform, I think some people would just flip out, I mean it.  

4. THE CURE: Pornography. 

"I could lose myself in Chinese art/ and American girls"  

I'm an old school Cure fan though I'm still very much into them and what they are doing now, and they still play this stuff live anyway, and people still listen to it 26 years later. Pornography is the full on conclusion of the trilogy of classic early Cure albums (also featuring Seventeen Seconds and Faith) and somehow still stands as the most extreme, the most heavy, and yes, the most goth of all Cure albums. Songs like "One Hundred Years", "The Figurehead" and "Siamese Twins" had such  a strong influence on me when I was younger, it's hard to explain, but they still do. 



June 20 at the Roundhouse. They're coming back! And it's coming closer .... When I first bought this record on vinyl when it came out, it was literally warped and I thought that's why it sounded so... off, like a self destructing radio, so I returned it, got another copy, put it on, and well, it sounded exactly the same, hahaha

6. COCTEAU TWINS: Victorialand. 

"Throughout the dark months of April and May"

Now the Cocteaus were really quite far out, and massively important for me back in the 80s, especially this one, as it's even softer, more experimental, deeper than the others. They were really pushing the boat out with this one and I went right with them at the time. I used to play this all the time for a while when I lived in Berlin in the mid 80s, often very loud. It still haunts me, those days, I think it did something to me, turned a key and let me into a very special room where the colours would change with the moods. . .

7. VIRGIN PRUNES:  If I Die, I Die

"Sweet home under white clouds"

Another timeless classic. Really witchy, passionate, and powerful, so many things came together. I think they thought it was too pop/mainstream at the time but somehow the elements of it that might push it into such a direction work in its favour to some extent, cause it definitely isn't mainstream in any way to my ears, but does sound coherent and, yes, streamlined but that makes it more intense and complete. 

8. TOCOTRONIC: s/t (The so called white album) 

"This boy is Tocotronic"

This is the only newer one on my list, and it's difficult to choose one of their records but as they have been so important for me lately I feel this, or one of them, should be on there. It manages to be obscure and elegant, and "white" somehow, but still has the punch of the earlier records, it's just more refined and stands at an intersection, marks the point when they definitely moved into a more poetic and sublime territory, a move that has benefitted them to my ears, made them more complex. 

9.WEEZER: s/t (The Blue Album). 

"Dozer will not clear a path"

Who would have thought back then what was to follow, all the creative traumas, all the pretty power pop songs alienating even more people. Back then it was just riding a wave, a wave of newness to some extent, and it was beautiful, and it still is. And they can't go back to this, I reckon, yet still we have this, and all the several million other brilliant songs...

10. BAD BRAINS: I Against I

"Almighty watching, almighty watching/ I against I against I against I"

They introduced me to the inherent pleasures of both reggae/dub and fast,heavy,loud rock/hardcore (just before I discovered the Pixies) at the same time. This is still their most potent set of songs I feel, though I've got a massive soft spot for their "Quickness" album too, and the early stuff too of course. Seeing them again last year in the original lineup was such a joy, it's hard to explain. 

So in the spirit of quickness which is apparently a hallmark of good effective blogging (am I giving you ideas here?), I shall now stop. And take you to take the next list, the right-now top ten, ok?

1. OF MONTREAL: Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

"To me you're just some faggy girl/and I need a lover/with soul power"

I want to blog properly about this sometimes soon. Some line or moment of it comes into my head almost everyday...

2. THE NOTWIST: The Devil, You and Me
3. ROBERT POLLARD Is Off To Business
4. HOWLIN RAIN: Magnificent Fiend
6. HARMONIA: Live 1974
8. HOT CHIP: Made in the Dark
10. MOUNTAIN GOATS: Heretic Pride



Old Cheeser said...

Well done Mein Herr Thomas!!

Erm, you're you said over on my blog I don't recognise half the stuff you've listed...oh dear! Mind you, we do have quite different musical tastes so it's not surprising. But all to the good. And I like the way you write about these artistes, very descriptive and evocative. Fehlfarben, particularly. Do you think I'd like them?

As I said though I don't recognise about half of the artistes you've listed...actually to be precise, it's more like 3/4...! But I do know some of them - the Cure, My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins....By the way, are the latter still together? Liz Fraser sure had an amazing voice and I loved her on Massive Attack's "Teardrop" (rather mainstream I know...) And Brett Anderson has done a new album? Woohoo! Any good?

Anyways, thanks for taking up my blogging challenge, Mister!

thomas said...

Hi Simon - well Fehlfarben are not particularly known in the UK (unlike some of the "Krautrock" variety of German music), at least partly because the lyrics are quite important. You might like this one though, apparently it's influenced by Chic (who are on your list), was recorded as a throwaway/joke, and ended up becoming one of the most famous tracks on the album (and early German New Wave):
"Ein Jahr (Es geht voran)"

Cocteau Twins still have many fans but Liz Fraser so far has resisted any efforts to reform (they were supposed to play Coachella a few years ago but she dropped out at the last minute). There was some talk of a solo album by her but I don't think that has surfaced yet. I loved "Teardrop" too, I saw Massive Attack at the Brighton Centre on that tour and she appeared with them and sung the three songs, it was great!

Brett Anderson's newish album is quite downbeat but to my ears it is very honest and successful in keeping a certain mood throughout, something that was lacking in some of the other records he's done. I think he's recorded another one already, just acoustic guitar and him, that could be good!

Yeah, thanks for tagging me too! Sometimes it's good to be challenged : -) Hope to see you soon! thomas xx