Sunday, 27 February 2011

What I was listening to last week...

Last week, my house was all about sneezes and snotty handkerchiefs. They didn’t belong to me, mind you, but at times it certainly felt like it, such was the veracity that each cold-like symptom was projecting from Su’s cranial coves. So, much of the week was spent avoiding whatever germs were circulating around the flat and making sure the patient was fed, watered and entertained.

But yesterday, Su was on the mend. And on a day streaming with sunshine and tingling with a crisp, post-winter bite, we made our way to North Berwick and Dunbar for a few hours of picture taking and relaxation. Armed with a mixtape that furrowed the dankest cauldrons of my iTunes collection, it turned into a therapeutic getaway; lungs full of sea air and minds cleared from the sniffling, spluttering, choking of the previous five days.

Much of the mixtape belted out on the 27 mile trek brought me back to the bands and songs that have, in some small way, shaped my listening habits and, at times, my life today. So, for this week’s ‘What I was listening to last week…’ I’m going to take you through some of that mixtape tuneage.

Animal Collective – Winter’s Love

When I got married almost three years ago, my wife’s walk down the isle was accompanied by Animal Collective’s melodic woodland blowing. At the time, it was an unexpected twist to a nervewracking day, but listening back now, for the first time since we swapped rings, it’s inconceivable that Winter’ Love was made for anything else. In a career of fine moments, this is one of the Baltimore band’s finest.

Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

It was actually ‘Race for the Prize ‘ from 1999’s majestic Soft Bulletin that I selected for the mixtape, but Soundcloud has nothing from that era so Yoshimi… will have to do. I know the Flaming Lips are such an obvious choice, but for an 18 year old from the very north of Scotland Soft Bulletin was like nothing I’d ever heard. It was rich with slightly psychedelic textures and the most luscious, intelligent pop melodies. In truth, it felt like it came from another world. Almost 12 years on, it still does.

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Jeane, if you’re ever in Portland

Another track that wasn’t quite on the mixtape (right artist, wrong tune), but this tinny number from the much missed Casitone For The Painfully Alone (CFTPA) still twangs at my heart strings. Much of mine and Su’s relationship developed over long distance phonecalls, letters and musical mixes. ‘Jeane…’ -a perennial fixture on those emotion-packed CDs - captured our frustrations and fears at the time. Thankfully we don’t have to worry about whether Skype is going to drop a call anymore, and this ditty seems to swell with an added dash of retrospect from that time.

Beastie Boys – Egg Man

In our younger days, my best mate and I would spend our weekends terrorising our psychotic next door neighbour with night-long assaults on the Duncan Street decks. The usual sequence of events was that the evening would start off slightly tame - a glass of wine, a few records leisurely played - but by the time the Beastie Boys’ Egg Man made its way to the wheels of not-so-steel we were in full alcohol-sodden flight. Good times.

Captain Beefheart – Yellow Brick Road

Admittedly, Beefheart took a little while to stick with me. But, once persuaded by the brilliance of Safe As Milk, it didn’t take long before I fully embraced the Captain’s psychedelic swamp blues. Interestingly, Su commented on our way to North Berwick that this particular track sounds like it should be animated. I guess in a way, that’s exactly how the Captain probably saw it too.

Found – Machine Age Dancing

Okay, this one wasn’t actually on the mixtape at all, but I’ve been listening to the new Found record, Factorycraft, all week in preparation for a Drowned in Sound review. It’s actually very different from Found of old; less bleeps, more wiry guitars. So far, I’m enjoying this shunt in artistic direction, even if this cut isn’t quite the strongest.

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