As cringeworthy words go, “dreamy” is right up there. There’s no way to use it without sounding like love-starved fangirl/woman since it’s primary usage is in front of the name of some heartthrob ( or even more cringeworthy, within it, Dr. McDreamy anyone?), but there’s no other way to say it: this song is a dreamy heartthrob. It’s delicate, pretty, sweetly introspective, undeniably in need of an embrace, and is highlighted by a recurring synth line that resembles a tiny choir ( the ending is straight out of 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love”, which of course is the dreamiest song in history). “You pinched me, said wake up, that my misery glows through my skin and makeup”…yes, totally dreamy.
Okay for a couple of seconds this caused Locals H’s 1996 hit “Bound for the Floor” to re-enter my consciousness ( honestly, the title of that song should be officially changed to “The Copacetic Song” at this point, since that’s what everyone calls it because no one can ever remember the real title…including me, I had to look it up). Anyway, it kind of sounded like that, until it didn’t. The melody made a hairpin turn, and everything started to swirl and make me dizzy. The vocal is literally an echo and is nearly smothered by a woozy, whining, power-pop guitar. There are “oohs” and “ahhhhhs”…and it’s just, well it could make you sigh and truly forget the world for a minute ( especially if you play it loud). It’s off the forthcoming album, “The Hood”, which is out in 2 weeks, and this is a blessed omen i.e. judging by this, sounds like it’s gonna be good.
This is everywhere today but it’s just so damn good that I really wanted to feature it here. Wrapped in the sunniest of chorus’s, and fattest of chords, “Cool” makes judgement, desire, and jealousy sound pretty damn heavenly. It’s as melodically gorgeous and incisive as anything off babe/genius Juliana Hatfield’s early 90’s albums ( she who specialized in this kind of sound and sentiment back in the day), which is a real achievement, I’m telling you. After about 2 1/2 minutes, the whole song literally melts and passes out in the sun. Perfect. Debut album lands in March, and yes, it will be very,very good.
And hey, here’s a some completely awesome Juliana Hatfield circa 1992 to play next 🙂
It takes mere seconds for this lush, jangling freight train to get rolling, and once it does it just don’t stop. In other words, it’s very easy to envision 100’s of bobbing heads absolutely losing their shiz to “Life in the Dust”. Spike’s sweet and anxious vocal lands somewhere between Jeffrey Lee Pierce of wonderful 80’s renegades Gun Club, and Tom Verlaine of Television: it’s as muscular as the guitar it thunders along with, never wavering, just crushing. The debut album is out in February and okay, gonna say it, forgive me, but play it loud.
As of this writing Londoner James Bakian is 14 years old. And hearing how accomplished and pop music perceptive “Know You” is will probably make you want to go back in time and confront your lazy 14 year old self and say, “why couldn’t you be as focused and ridiculously creative as James ? You disappoint me. Get out of here, I can’t even look at you”. Anyway, the song itself is sparse and skeletal and has a bit of a demo-ish quality to it i.e. it’s basically a heartbeat with James’s angelic and fluttery falsetto floating on top. It’s also in possession of a really handsome hook and, I’m telling you now, is better than anything on the last Sam Smith album. Nice one James.
January has thus far spoiled us rotten, with it’s wealth of beautiful tunes, but sadly that’s all come to a grinding halt this week…nah, I’m just screwing with you. Once again January has blessed us with far more than we deserve. And with that, here are the Weekly New Wonders Playlists in your choice of Soundcloud or Spotify.
Gonna write about some of these songs individually this week so stay tuned !
- The usual end note: The Playlists are slightly different as in a few songs are only available on Soundcloud at the moment, and another of the tracks is only on Spotify, so you may wanna check them both out.
“I’m not a woman, I’m not a man, I am something that you’ll never understand”
Okay, I think that’s one of the best opening lines of any pop song ever. Up until I heard Prince sing those words in 1984, I’d been convinced that Morrissey was the only person who really and truly understood me. I even wrote him and told him so ( still waiting for a response). This song changed all that.
I didn’t really get into Prince until the 1999 album came out which, as hardcore fans go, is kinda late. At the time I had a secret crush on this guy I went to school with named Manuel who had pretty eyes, an eternally serious expression, and was a talented artist. I would daydream about him for hours on the train every day while my 1999 cassette played in an endless loop on my Walkman…or at least I did for a little while, until I had my epiphany. Well, not a sudden one, maybe it was more of a realization over time, which was that my affection for him was solely based on his slight resemblance to Prince in the Little Red Corvette video. Why was I wasting time on the middle man (Manuel) when it was Prince I was actually in love with ?
“You were only fooling yourself girl…”
And so pretty soon, upon that inner acknowledgment, it was all about Prince and I wanted more. When the release of Purple Rain was announced a year later, both album and movie, I could, not, wait.
When Doves Cry was the first single released off the album and…I didn’t like it. I know, I know, I have no excuse for myself other than to say I’d grown up listening to ELO records and wasn’t “sophisticated” enough to appreciate it’s genius at the time .What I liked was big swooping synthesizers, a lot of big orchestral junk, and whale sized hooks, and…that was it. ELO provided that plus cardboard spaceships inside the albums.
Of course as it turned out, Prince had something up his sleeve.
I bought the album the week it came out and for some inexplicable reason, never removed the shrink wrap, I just opened the slit to remove the record. And tragically there it remains to this day, hanging desperately off the sleeve, baggy, wrinkled and distended, being kept alive for no other reason than “well I’ve had it this long why get rid of it now”.
And yes, the record store was actually called “Slipped Disc”.
See Photo Exhibit A below :
Let go, and let God…no,no, I just can’t.
The Song: On side 2, right after Doves it appeared. Layers of big fat synth. A radiant hook. And the lyrics, oh man. I Would Die 4 U dammit. I loved everything about it. It did all those things a brilliant song is supposed to do, made you feel overwhelmed, exposed, sick, and like you were starring in your own epic movie…and maybe made you feel like you were actually cool because it made all your desperate thoughts sound positively valiant and beautiful. It ticked all the boxes and I played it over, and over, and over again.
When the song starts, we see him onstage, and after a minute cut to a scene where Prince is in the basement cleaning up the rage inspired mess he made, gathering strewn sheet music, and all of sudden finds the earring he gave Apollonia, that she threw at him during an argument ( justifiably I might add) on the floor. He gently fondles it, smirks ( see lead photo above, that’s a freakin’ smirk) and tosses it backward with laser accuracy to Apollonia, who it turns out is actually there with him because they made up.
I cried through the whole song. Even that corny scene. Crying over his death but mostly thinking about how much this song meant to me as a teen/loser/geek who didn’t know who the fuck I was, if I mattered, or if I was ever going to fit into this world or be understood. “I’m not human, I’m a dove, I’m your conscious, I am love”. Yeah.
And while there’d been no singing or aisle dancing, at the end of the movie, everyone applauded for several minutes for this miraculous guy we got to experience in real time.
Sometimes I can hear I Would Die 4 U, and feel fine, wash dishes or whatever…but other times it’s tears. Still, to this day. It’s never been Purple Rain, it’s always been this.
Last year, I got on a ladder with a handful of crumbling colored chalk, and wrote out the lyrics on a wall at Rough Trade in Brooklyn. A tribute to Prince of course, the one who created it, but also to the damn song itself…and for the infinite amounts of unconditional love it gave me when I needed it.
Oh yeah, here’s the song in all it’s glory:
A friend was recently telling me about a particular song he loved even though it always made him cry. He spoke passionately about how any time he heard it, it would trigger floods of tears. He couldn’t help it. I immediately assumed it was a ballad because, you know, it made him cry…but it turned out to be this shiny, straight up pop song which kind of fascinated me. It’d been a a top 20 hit in the UK a while back, and was by a band who never got beyond a certain level of notoriety. If you heard it, it wouldn’t strike you as a tearjerker, it’s far more likely to make you dance, but for him it was, is, and always will be a heart twisting, sob inducing, bear hug of a song.
And with that, let us introduce you to a new column called :
When You Hear This Song ( Will You Cry)
The name is a slight twist on the title of a song by Chic that appears on their classic (!) 1979 album “Risque”, and is about as lonely and sad as a disco-soul song can possibly get ( Listen above).
The column is not strictly about songs that make you cry, it’s people talking about a particular song that stirs something in them, ignites sad/happy/crazy/calming/deranged feelings. A song that when you hear it, no matter where you are, just triggers something in you, good or bad or weird.
This is primarily a guest column though I’m gonna write an embarrassing,over the top one to kick it off ( hint: it’s the next post) but mostly I can’t wait to read about everyone else’s songs.
P.S.You’ll notice I didn’t mention which song my friend was talking about which is because he’s gonna write about it here 🙂 I promise it will be awesome.
Here are the new playlists ! This month has been pretty fruitful, I mean it’s kind of ridiculous ( and overwhelming in the best possible way). You can listen on Soundcloud OR Spotify but please note, the Soundcloud list has a few more songs because they are not yet on Spotify…but you can’t go wrong either way. Get the headphones…