SONGS FOR YOUR HEART TO SING
Go find them.
Listen to them.
The Detroit Cobras - Midnight Blues
The joy of finding treasure when you're not even looking. As late as December 30, out watching the mighty Bucky at the last Purr show of the year, diminutive DJ Tiny Jude says "What do you think I should play now?" Glancing at the records in front of her, eyes alighting on some Detroit Cobras CDs, your correspondent replies "How about 'Right Around The Corner'?" Unable to locate said tune on the un-tracklisted and sleeveless discs, Jude plays 'Midnight Blues' instead, a fantastic Del Shannon-esque 50s-rock number previously unheard by this reporter's ears, with a brilliant, unexpectedly-early ending. A fitting finale to any year.
Annie - Chewing Gum
As so often, the viewers of the WoS Forum come up trumps again with one of the year's finest chart-pop singles, a genius metaphor for transience with a hook you could catch whales with.
Client - Rock'n'Roll Machine
Ever since New Order pioneered the "Northern electro-bleak" genre it's been one of the most powerful in rock's canon, and this is a fine example. Your reporter almost never misses gigs at Purr, but failed to attend the show headlined by this two-piece outfit featuring Sarah Blackwood from Dubstar, and regrets not catching this melancholy robotic hypnodrone based around the unlikely refrain "Rock'n'roll is all I wanna do" to this day.
The Go! Team - Bottle Rocket
Euphoric, cacophonous racket from what sounds like a delirious high-school version of the Avalanches. Absolutely the most irresistible thing you've heard this year - if you can hear it without dancing around like a grinning drunk idiot, some bastard's nailed your feet to the ground.
The Hot Puppies - Green Eyeliner
By far the best single so far released on the label of this reporter's favourite indie-pop club (guess which one). Classically catchy pop with a shoutalong chorus, telling the sordid tale of a teenage temptress setting her sights on a married man, from the joint-finest band (along with the mighty Ivory Springer) currently gracing an indie toilet near you. Get out more.
William Shatner - Common People
From his astoundingly terrific new "Has Been" album - the context of which lends this even more emotional power - but even on its own it's one of the most extraordinary covers of all time. Not kitsch, not ironic, just plain awesome.
Bowling For Soup - 1985
Sounds like your typical dumb'n'bouncy American punk-by-numbers, but the lyrics are even bleaker than Common People's. Why is everyone in pop so miserable at the moment? Who cares, if it's making them write such ace songs?
The Dears - Heartless Romantic
And related to both the above, this sounds nothing like them, but has the same undercurrent of unbearable sadness married to a tune doing its best to talk the lyrics down off a windowledge. Much more sparse and downbeat, but no less lovely for it.
The Futureheads - Decent Days And Nights
Fantastic choppy pop that brings to mind the last mod revival. Aren't we due for another one of those soon? Or were The Libertines it?
Michael J Sheehy - Twisted Little Man
Gorgeous slice of melancholic alt-country, reminiscent of the Cowboy Junkies and jaw-droppingly moving when recently used as the closing-credits music on Sky's Wild West swearfest Deadwood.
Devendra Banhart - Noah
The most shameless attempt to clone an old pop star and sell it to a modern audience since Jamiroquai's third-rate Stevie Wonder impressions, this time it's Marc Bolan (in his acoustic era) who's had his DNA swiped wholesale. But this is a dreamy, hypnotic track based almost entirely around the seductive line "Not everyone can relate/To what you and I appreciate". Pretty.
Johnny Boy - You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve
Just about as life-affirmingly incredible as pop music gets.
The Killers - All These Things That I've Done
Terrific singalong stadium-indie,
spiritually located somewhere in the sizeable gap between Snow Patrol and
the Polyphonic Spree, from band named after the one in New Order's "Crystal"
Bobby Conn - Without You
Startling, funereal take on the old
Nilsson track from the 70s, blossoming into spectacular histrionics at the
Mark Lanegan - Sideways In Reverse
Urgent, dirty MC5-style grunge, much
better than anything he ever did in the Screaming Trees.
The Constantines - Young Lions
Extremely reminiscent of ...And You Will
Know Us By The Trail Of Dead at their most tuneful and melancholy. Which is
The Concretes - You Can't Hurry Love
Not THAT "You Can't Hurry Love". Perfect
sunny summer pop.
Nouvelle Vague - Too Drunk To Fuck
Totally implausibly-effective lounge-jazz
cover of the Dead Kennedys classic, originally found at the excellent covers
Copy, Right? Works so well you suspect the DKs actually wrote it in jazz
time in the first place.
Pretty Girls Make Graves - All Medicated Geniuses
A bit like a poppier version of The Slits
- a choppy, slightly reggae-tinted burst of youthful enthusiasm.
Hope Of The States - Black Dollar Bills
Like Travis would sound if they
accidentally got given Spiritualised's rider one night. Or Mogwai produced
by Jim Steinman.
Pink Grease - The Pink G.R.Ease
Glam-kitsch live favourites release their
near-eponymous anthem, somewhat superfluously offering already-stomping
listeners the chance to sweat.
The Datsuns - Blacken My Thumb
Adrenalin-charged blood-pumper follows up
"Harmonic Generator" with a second song in a row threatening to finally live
up to the band's early hype.
Modest Mouse - Float On
Grinning indie-pomp, too cheerful not to
Jimmy Eat World - Goodbye Sky Harbour
Stunning 16-minute album track recently
belatedly discovered by your correspondent and played almost non-stop since.
David Wrench - Fuck You (And Your War On Terror)
Dreamy Pulp-ish anthem with slightly empty lyrical threats (lanky albino indie
singer apparently going to "bring down" President of USA), but
backed up by quite the crooniest piece of loungecore agit-prop committed to record in some time.
And it's nice to see the resurgence in extremely sweary pop continuing, in a slightly
less puerile form than usual.
Cool American two-piece who sound like they should be Quentin Tarantino's
house band (specifically, in From Dusk Till Dawn), with a sparse, seductive
take on the old Merseys song made most famous by Dave "David" Bowie.
I'm On Fire
Tremendous, surging, speeded-up fuzz-pop cover of Bruce Springsteen's best
song ever, which without changing any of the words seems to reverse the tone
of the original and turn it into a declaration of joy/fury rather than fear.
Which is exactly the sort of thing good cover versions are about.
The Walkmen -
Latest in the long line of Strokes soundalikes, these have a slightly more
menacing shade of the sound, and this is an urgent, gripping tune, and
clearly a moving tribute to the
Software game of the same name.
Brand New -
The Quiet Things That No-One Ever Knows
Totally generic New Found Glory-style emo-punk, but no less of a
toe-tapping, fist-shaking epic-angst corker for that.
Morrissey - I
Starts off like another plodding dirge from the mostly-mediocre new LP by
the BNP's man in Los Angeles, but swiftly picks up the pace and gradually
grows into an oddly touching and heartfelt plea to someone or other that the
grouchy old curmudgeon is apparently rather keen on. Or, possibly, a bunch
of NME journalists. It's hard to say.
The Professionals - 1, 2, 3
The little-known and short-lived band formed by Steve Jones and Paul
Cook after the Sex Pistols broke up made a whole bunch of brilliant rock
songs in their brief life, marrying the Pistols' trademark Panzer-division
soundwall to downbeat chord sequences and unexpectedly sad lyrics, and this
is one of the best examples of the formula. The unlikely starting point of
both Oi! and the indie bedwetter sounds of Coldplay. Except great.
Surferosa - Olympia
Terrific chunk of stadium rock that starts like "Holidays In The Sun"
but then turns into a big new wave anthem, from some awesome Norwegian live performers
who don't, apart from this, translate all that well to record.
Probot - Shake Your Blood
Exactly how you'd expect a band formed by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters
and featuring Lemmy from Motorhead on guest vocals to sound.
Six By Seven - Bochum (Light Up My Life)
Steely Northern romantics continue their long journey from terrifying
sheet-noise merchants to A Flock Of Seagulls for the 21st Century. Like a
soaring wall of sound, if you can imagine a wall soaring.
Cerys Matthews -
Caught In The Middle
Sad, pretty little song, all acoustic guitars and cello, with the former
Catatonia singer's voice at its little-girliest.
Better Living Through Reckless Experimentation
Former Boo Radleys frontbloke Martin Carr with a piece of stomping sunny pop not a
trillion miles removed from the Wake Up Boo! era.
Britney Spears -
Even removed from the fantastic video, this is a great tune, in fact the
first genuinely great single Britney's ever recorded (and just as her career
seems to be heading down the dumper, too). Driven by see-sawing violins and
with a mean snarl hiding behind the pretty smile, it'd make a perfect Bond
Carina Round -
Into My Blood
Early-PJ-Harvey soundalike with a tune that sounds a bit derivative first
time round but grows on you with every play.
Kasabian - Reason Is Treason
Xtrmntr-era Primal Scream disguised in really obvious wigs.
Ash - Clones
Heavier than lead, and denser than the bit in the middle of a black
The Barbs - Massive Crush
The Cramps meet The Datsuns in a 1950s gang movie and have a midnight
car race in leather jackets. This is the soundtrack. (And
this is the video.)
Cuban Boys - EMI
The creators of 1999 novelty hit Cognoscenti vs Intelligentsia (better
known as Hamsterdance) with a cheapskate biscuit-tin-techno rendition of the
Sex Pistols anti-record company anthem. (Hamsterdance was released on EMI.
This may or may not be a coincidence.)
The Sixths feat. Clare Grogan - Night Falls Like A Grand Piano
Eternally-dreamy former Altered Images singer and movie star makes a
long-overdue return to the world of pop with a wistful little number
accompanied only by one of those things that sounds like a harp but smaller,
the name of which currently escapes me.
Juliette Lewis -
Rid Of Me
And also in the actress/singer vein, a curiosity from the soundtrack of
cop/prostitutes/virtual reality thriller Strange Days in which lead Juliette
Lewis tries her own, pretty straight, take on one of PJ Harvey's finest
M.A.S.S. - Hey Gravity
Spiky, jangly, female-fronted indie-rock, from a band whose headline
slot at a gig in Bristol I once, probably unfairly, left early because
they paled beside the support, the majestic
Klang. This is my apology.
Death In Vegas - Girls
Previously unknown to your correspondent, but revealed on the high-class
soundtrack of the superb "Lost In Translation", this is a dreamy piece of
swooning electro-fuzz that sits well alongside the movie's accompaniment of
blissed-out My Bloody Valentine and early Jesus And Mary Chain.
Mogwai vs Whitney Houston - Sine
Whereas this eerie, distant bootleg mix isn't part of the LIT
soundtrack, but is the sound of the whole film condensed into under five
minutes, in case you've got a bus to catch or something.
The Verlaines - Doomsday
Another long-lost, but now re-found, classic from the late 80s. Sort of
like an Antipodean version of the Go-Betweens, this tune's notable for the
fantastic, incredibly mild-mannered wigout it builds to at the end.
The Whipping Boy - We Don't Need Nobody Else
Towering, heart-tearing love-gone-wrong anthem from 90s Irish
melodramatists. One of the saddest songs ever written, yet a lesson in finding
life-affirming beauty even in the burning, shattered wreckage of misery.
Junior Senior - Shake Me Baby
Ridiculously joyful tambourine-bashing sunny summer pop from
non-one-hit-wonders, like Robbie Williams fronting a Hallelujah gospel choir
Sleater-Kinney feat. Fred Schneider - Angry Inch
Explicit-lyriced garage-thrash tale of a botched sex-change operation
(from the movie "Hedwig And The..."). "With a scar running down it like a
sideways grimace on an eyeless face", sings the bloke from the B-52s
about his now-mangled reproductive area. Yay!
Courtney Love - Mono
She's back, and she seems to be quite fired up about something or other.
Fantastically venomous lyrics - oddly, Courtney seems to be far more
coherent in song than she ever manages speaking or writing. Less pop than
the "Celebrity Skin" era, frantic and furious.
The Butterflies Of Love - The Mutation
Like being a barfly in a smoky jazz bar in France, only without anyone
ruining it by playing jazz.
Beards - (I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear
Blondie's greatest hit, as translated by two female Brian Wilsons during
the Beach Boy's bonkers-in-a-sandpit period.
Hyper Kinako - Don't Delete My
I don't really know how to describe this one. Sorry.
Pianosaurus - The Sun Will Follow
Two-minute-long driving-down-the-freeway song from long-forgotten late-80s
cutesters who played all their songs on toy instruments.
Velodrome 2000 - Even Jesus Only
Loves Me As A Friend
Sort of like a 21st-Century version of "Add It Up" by the Violent Femmes
recorded in a toilet. You're tempted, aren't you?
Emm Gryner - Straight To You
Nick Cave ballad covered by a non-rubbish Tori Amos.
ARE Weapons - Hey World
Reminds me, kinda, of Sigue Sigue Sputnik circa 1990. This is a good
thing, if you were wondering.
Billy Ocean - Red Light Spells
One of the
greatest records of all time, or you're an IDIOT who is DEAD
INSIDE, but on no account allow this song into your car, as it's been
scientifically proven that it's physically impossible to drive at less than
120mph as Billy pours out his tortured heart in white-knuckle desperation to
a pounding pulsebeat,
and you wouldn't want it unexpectedly coming on during the school run.
Corduroy - Motorhead
Straight-outta-Starsky-and-Hutch 70s soul-funk rendition of the epic metal headbanging anthem.
The French - The Wu-Tang Clan
It's always weird when people split from bands (Hefner, in this case) in
order to make records that sound exactly like the last ones that said band made.
Bewitchingly beautiful bleepy-bloopy bedsit bemoanery.
Takako Minekawa - Fantastic Cat
If you don't know how this sounds before you hear it, you just haven't
been paying attention.
The Raveonettes - Heartbreak Stroll
2m 25s long,
sounds exactly like the Raveonettes. Yay!
Pink - Trouble
Courtney Love goes disco, with a chorus like being hit by an Inter-City
Go on, try staying miserable all the way to the end.
Snow Patrol - Run
Because it's always really sweet when songs use the word "dear".
Sportique - The Kids Are Solid Gold
Winsome old-school indie with handclaps.
Supercar - Jet Bee Town
Great energising slab of monolithic fuzz pop from mixed-up Japanese
Comet Gain - Jack Nance Hair
Jack Nance was the actor who played the lead in Eraserhead. This is a
melancholy and pretty duet.
Elf Power - All Your Experiments
A lovely story all of their own from charming pop pixies with a fondness for
Stereo Total - Supergirl
Finger-clicking modern lounge from Berlin, but in French.
Half Man Half Biscuit - Lock Up
Your Mountain Bikes
The Wirral-beating foursome's entire oeuvre microcosmed neatly in 1m 35s.
The Fall - Theme From Sparta FC
"English Chelsea fan, this is your last game."
Shang Shang Typhoon - Let It Be
Japanese folk band lavish love on the Beatles' classic.
Slumber Party -
Keeping the memory of The Shop Assistants alive.
BMX Bandits - The Road Of Love Is
Paved With Banana Skins
Influential veteran tweesters return to form with standout track from
tune-stuffed new LP.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
Included as a reference point (ho!), because if it doesn't make your spine tingle,
you should piss off now and save us all some time.
The Pearlfishers - Dumb Dumb Dumb
Teenage Fanclub cover version, laden with beautiful harmonies and
sleighbells like the Beach Boys doing the best Christmas single ever.
Razorlight - Rip It Up
Even corporate "indie" gets a good song sometimes.
Finch - What It Is To Burn
Likewise corporate overblown nu-metal nonsense.
Ivory Springer - Time Travel For
Shellac-style sounds from one of the best live bands you can currently go
and see, if you've got any sense.
Loreta - Trouble With Boys
Brilliant butterfly pop, originally ruined by a hamfisted arrangement but
rescued by this exclusive World Of Stuart
Outkast - Hey Ya
One of those rare songs that everybody loves.
Gordon Gano w/ PJ Harvey -
Hitting The Ground
Great lead track from Violent Femmes frontman's so-so collaborations album.
Hotei Tomoyasu vs Eminem - Losing
The bootleg mix's 15 minutes of fame might
have been up a long time ago according to twatty Nathan Barley types, but
that's a bit like saying we should have stopped making movies in 1956
because all the stories had already been told. This splicing of "Battle
Without Honor Or Humanity" from the Kill Bill soundtrack with Eminem's "Lose
Yourself" shows the power of the form.
Kylie Minogue - Slow
Obviously. (And see directly above.)
Sharkboy - Some Misunderstanding
Lethally sultry noir torch ballad version of old Gene Clark song.
The Wannadies - Skin
Little-heard release from ace Scando-popsters. Similarly sweet in sentiment
to the 60Ft Dolls' immensely lovely "Hair".
Low - Laser Beam
The stillest song in the history of the world.
Wayne Kramer - Bonzo Goes To
MC5 frontman reinterprets one of the Ramones' lesser-acclaimed gems.
The Distillers - Gypsy Rose Lee
Raw and feral, like an angry panther.
The Flaming Lips - Suspicious
Shimmering, twinkling, fireside rendition of the Elvis classic, recorded for
the BBC's "Re:Covered" TV show and never released on record. But it's
Bis - The End Starts Today
Swoopy orchestral swoonathon from the one-time C86 shamblers, recorded as a
session track for BBC Radio Scotland's excellent "Air".
Motormark - Let's Go
Top electrodisco hit sampling "Blitzkreig Bop" to radical effect.
Frank Sidebottom - Flying
Covering an instrumental, and giving it words. A thing of beauty.
Shellac - Didn't We Deserve A
Look At You The Way You Really Are
12 minutes of stalking menace.
Longwave - Everywhere You Turn
MTV2's hype machine - sadly - fails for once.
Johnny Cash & Nick Cave - I'm So
Lonesome I Could Cry
Fantastically lugubrious collaboration on Hank Williams's heartbreaking
Grandaddy - The Go In The Go For
Wistful and lovely.
Fat Truckers - Super Bike
Suicide on a budget.
Northern State - Rewind
White-girl middle-class hip-hop? Bling!
Robbie Williams - Come Undone
Mainstream poisonous pop hate doesn't get better than this.
Lupine Howl - Don't Lose Your
Ex-Spiritualised staffers get it right after much practice.
That Petrol Emotion - Static
Vintage sinister prowler, which I've only just found again after years of
David Byrne - I Know Sometimes
The World Is Wrong
Stunningly pretty rainforest ballad from curious benefit album also
featuring Debbie Harry doing a voodoo chant to a Haitian horse god (also
once namechecked by Elton John). Funny old game, pop music.