Let the Beat Build #10: September 2013
Spotify playlist: Let the Beat Build #10: September 2013
Diversions playlist: LTBB #10 Diversions
1. “Who’s Got the Crack?” - The Moldy Peaches. KW: “PUT YOUR MOMMA IN A HEADLOCK BABY! AND DO IT RIGHT!” Last month you mentioned noisy poetry, a la Dr. Octagonecologyst. Well then, Moldy Peaches is mainlining uncut, as Clay might say.
2. “Ten Crack Commandments” - Notorious B.I.G. JW: Ugh, I know this follow up is a little “on the nose”. But I’d hate to miss this opportunity to play one of my favorite Biggie songs songs of all time. So favorite that when I first heard it, I played it for my mom in the car. I explained all the tenets, including “...and can hook a steak up.” SO FAVORITE, that I got up at Hip Hop Karaoke and rapped it. When they invited me, 2 weeks later, to come on the Shade 45 channel on Sirius Radio to rap on the air, I got it again. Did I kill it? No, I’m not really a rapper. Gotta go, gotta go, more pies to bake up. Word up. KW: I’m not a rapper either. I’m, um, something else.
3. “W.F.L. - Think About The Future Mix” - Happy Mondays. KW: All this talk about crack reminded me of the Happy Mondays, who supposedly bankrupted Factory Records with their final album, mostly because the label sent them to Barbados to record because it was the only place they could find where the band wouldn’t be able to find heroin, but they managed to find crack there and the record advances were turned directly into crack smoke. But these weird fuckers sure wrote some charming nonsense, didn’t they?
4. “Crazy Baldhead” - Bob Marley and the Wailers. JW: First I went to Fatlip, and the rumor that The Pharcyde blew all of the money from Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde on crack. Then I went to Ghost In The Machine because The Police recorded it on Montserrat. Did you know the cover of the album is a portrait of the three of them represented in LED display? Shimmied over to Small Axe, as a representation of the defiance against the power Coxsone Dodd and Duke Reid, had over the Jamaican music industry. Then I lateraled to Baldhead, because I think it somehow fits better after W.F.L. and it is also a song of defiance. And skull busting.
5. “Take the Skinheads Bowling” - Camper Van Beethoven. KW: This is genius. Basically everything about it. It pains me, though, to put this song here instead of “Club Med Sucks.”
6. “Punk Rock Girl” - The Dead Milkmen. JW: Well no! We only have it iced. As I understand it, this is even funnier if you’re from Pennsylvania. I can’t tell whether they’re making fun of punks, or everyone else. KW: Obviously, I’m supposed to put “Euro Trash Girl” here, but I’m not going to do that.
7. “Goodbye Girls” - Broadcast. KW: Trish Keenan and I have the same birthday, which kind of freaks me out. I’ve never felt that I’m able to see through the veil of Broadcast lyrics, but I have always had towering respect for the work they did before her untimely passing. I remember reading a great interview with Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle about her influence on his work, but that interview has apparently disappeared. Broadcast lyrics tend to be both abstract and evocative, without being unsatisfying on closer inspection. That’s a damn hard feat.
8. “Goodbye Horses” - Q Lazzarus. JW: You know it’s hard to be abstract and evocative without being unsatisfying when John Lennon can’t do it. That statement may be over-broad. But what the hell is Sun King? Beautiful song, nonsense lyrics, and no clear takeaway. Goodbye Horses has lyrics. But I have no idea what they are. The sounds in this song tell the story better than words. Listening to this song, I almost switched it for something Angelo Badalamenti. But this song does exactly what I want. Takes me into a story I can barely figure out.
9. “Courtship Dating” - Crystal Castles. KW: This song is great. Don’t read the lyrics. It will cheapen the exuberance of the song. It’s cheapening the song for me just thinking about the lyrics. Maybe Crystal Castles should have gone Hopelandic. Maybe Tony Asher should offer to rewrite some of these pop songs. Remind me to tell you about DANZIG MOTHERFUCKER.
10. “No, No, No” - The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. JW: Puff, puff, pass. I know. I know! Sorry for the delay. Crystal Castles sounds like Karen O, Metric, TVOTR, and the guy who holds Justin Timberlake’s headphones are all waiting in line for the same underground fashion week party in Bayonne, NJ. “Leave the Jeremy Scott. Take the cannoli.”
11. “Patty Lee” - Les Savy Fav. KW: Wait, what? Work it.
13. “No Sex For Ben” - The Rapture. KW: I kind of want to know what he’s talking about. Or how Justin Timberlake got involved. Ah, life’s great mysteries. OK, I read about it on Wikipedia. The story I had in my head was better. It definitely did not involve Ben Kauffman, who just proposed to me over email.
14. “Holy Thursday” - David Axelrod. JW: Admittedly, I’m new to David Axelrod. Like Labi Siffre, it seemed inconceivable that I had not known all this loop and break beat gold. Though he owns the lion’s share, James Brown is not responsible for all of Hip Hop. But thanks to GTA IV’s soundtrack, we can handily connect Axelrod to The Rapture. And that’s the value of a well intentioned mixtape. Rockstar has known this from the beginning. You create an experience by curating the soundtrack of a game, especially one that is as immersive as GTA. And you avoid the easy out of picking songs that are “most popular” or fundamentally “sponsored” by a record company’s promotional budget. You want to add Tears for Fears to give your period piece authenticity? Then you pick Pale Shelter, and not Shout. You pick Warm It Up Kane, and not Parents Just Don’t Understand. And, in a game like GTA, you have your jams that you go to intentionally. If you’re driving from Los Santos to San Fierro, you may turn on K-DST in hopes that Young Turks will come on. If you’re pulling a timed getaway mission, you ALWAYS want that shit on Playback FM so you can blaze to Rebel Without A Pause.
16. “Broken Up A Ding Dong” - The Beta Band. JW: Suck it John Cusack.
17. “Web in Front” - Archers of Loaf. KW: Is this the right place to slip in some Archers of Loaf? Yes, I think it is. I’m loving his explanation of how this song is stupid. Archers of Loaf is one of those hip deep cuts, which I got into because a radio DJ friend of mine put it on a seminal mixtape back in the day. Suck it John Cusack.
18. “Heaven Is A Truck” - Pavement. JW: My friend who influenced most of my musical taste between 8th and 11th grade played me Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain when he first got it. It was one of those formative purchases that you make because you think cool people are listening to it, the actually cool ones. I was like, “Oh, I think I like this. I want to like this. Who let this guy sing though?” By the third listen I was like, “Damn! This is brilliant. He’s speaking like me if I was 6 years older.” Suck that Lloyd Dobler. KW: The first Pavement I ever heard was “The Classical.” I wasn’t ready for that jelly. The next Pavement I heard was Crooked Rain in a dorm party on Broadway that had hung plastic on everything so the guests could paint on anything. Pretty rad. I didn’t get into Pavement until years later, when I heard “Circa 1762” on the same mixtape that had “Web in Front” on it. “Circa 1762” is still my jam, jam, jam, James. I think I could spin a whole mix of just Malkmus’ weird brilliance.
19. “Águas de Março” - Antonio Carlos Jobim and Elis Regina. KW: Only, like, the best duet ever. OK, well, the best Brazilian duet ever. Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway are up pretty high on my list. Anyway, a funny story about this one. Back in college, my friend David was obsessed with bossa nova and Brazilian jazz, samba, and especially Jobim. After a couple years of this, he met a coworker who was Brazilian, and he asked her to translate the lyrics into English so he could understand them. The funny thing is that she refused, she assured him the song had no meaning, that it is just words strung together. I just came across the translation and sent it to him.
20. “It Ain’t Me, Babe” - Johnny Cash (with June Carter Cash). JW: I was very very close to putting on Utah Phillips with Ani Difranco, because it’s existence is interesting. However, I fell asleep in my big yellow beard. And my beard was in a puddle of whiskey. And my whiskey was in my trousers. I picked this song because when Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon sing it on stage in Walk The Line, it’s full of so much energy. And I love this song. But this is one of the first instances of Spotify having the obscure song I was looking for, and then realizing how not quite right it is without the moving picture. So, the O.G. version actually suits me quite well. And of course, when I say O.G., I don’t mean O.O.G., but simply the duet the way it was meant to sound.
21. “Series of Dreams” - Bob Dylan. KW: I am reminded of the awesome and strange Dylan/Cash duets, many of which are only available as bootlegs. I staggered left and came up with this new unreleased “Series of Dreams,” which is Dylan’s chain of flashing images approach put to fantastic use. And those drums. Love is the answer.
22. “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” - Paul Simon. JW: Quick, before you listen to this song again, erase what you remember most about it - the “hop on the bus gus” shit. Now play it, and feel that shuffle-y pop, kit-ta-kaah! My drum teacher in high school, amazing woman, used to swear by Steve Gadd. When she first told me to play this song, I was like, “um, that’s not cool.” And she’d say, “Now Jonathaaan, ahm naht even shyuure you know whaht coool is.” She was from Mississippi. And she’d sit down and play that Gadd riff like each hit was a firework explosion from different distances up and down the river. I’d basically make her do it at the start of every lesson. I once sort of nailed it. But when it came back around to the next line, I fumbled. 2/3rds of this song is really beautiful. I hope you like that part. KW: Hmm, Meters, “Look-Ka Py Py”? No, how about...
23. “Honey Touches” - Ponytail. KW: I wish Ponytail was still around. As I sit here in this cold office on the second day of autumn, staring at a computer screen, I think about how I’d rather be losing my shit, bouncing off the wall at a Ponytail show. These MFers could jam.
24. “In A Big Country” - Big Country. JW: I don’t have any deeply nostalgic memory about Big Country, though I did love this song and songs of this ilk when it was popular. I don’t have any good historic story about them. But something drew me here. Maybe it’s the electricbagpipesynth thing they’ve got going on. So for pop cultural crossover, I’ll leave you with this, which is what my brain saw when I read Ponytail. KW: This song is too heavy for me, a lot wrapped up in this one. I’m going to flip it and reverse it.
25. “Beercan” - Beck. KW: Winos throwing frisbees at the sun. That sounds about right. “In a Big Country” is great, but it’s listening music. This is get-up-and-dance-your-skanky-ass music.