Saturday, 11 August 2012

Shufflin' to work... #1

Over the past few weeks I’ve been setting my iPod to shuffle on my way to work. Admittedly, this doesn’t have anything to do with trying to explore my bulging and mostly unlistened to MP4 collection, it’s really because I’ve been finding it more and more difficult to pick an album out for the half hour or so journey. Shuffle just seemed the easiest solution.

Now, a few moons ago my good friend Euan (who writes this lovely little blog) did at one point document his shuffle journey to and from work. I don’t think he’s still doing it, which is a shame as it was a good insight into what’s on his stereo. So,  I thought I’d appropriate his idea (sorry) and occasionally start to lay down what randomly infiltrates my lugholes on my way to work.

The rules here are simple: write a couple of sentences about the track that appears on my shuffle before said ditty disappears back into the gaping 7,000+ song void that is my iPod. Also, I can only write about the tracks from the moment the train leaves the sattions and arrives at my destination. So, it could be a long, long article depending on Network Rail’s competency.

Now before I start - as something of a pre-emptive disclaimer for some of what's about to appear here -  I have to declar that I’ve been working as a music journo for about seven years and there is definitely a lot of shite that I’ve barely bothered to listen to still lurking in the dark, dank depths of my iPod. So, some of this tunesmithery is not there of my own accord. Although some of it is – for which I make no apologies. Well, maybe a few.

Let the shuffle begin...

Friday, 10 August 2010. 8:18am train leaves Colchester...

Yeasayer – Ambling Alp (instrumental)
 A bulbous, bouncing bass and ski-slope tumbling drums slosh together around my eardrums, while a persistent synth-line worms and wiggles across this jungle canvas. Doesn’t even miss the vocals. An ebullient, and rather hopeful start

My, my, mt, isn’t this an awkward, cranky, dirty, melancholic, lo-fi thrum? It’s like the personal score for a wind-up ballerina from the wrong side of a New York crackhouse. Eerie, is probably the word.

Hmm… this takes me back. Primal Scream’s blues-rock-schtick might have tickled my 15 year-old self, but this Hammond-heavy, funk-gunk wig out has a tame, laboured feel to it. Given the amount of pharmaceuticals Bobby G and co packed in their personage at the time, it’s a toothless, edgeless bore.

Woah. I forgot about this. What. A. Track. A buzzing, tectonic roll of synths and strings, it washes out on an ice-cool motorwaying aesthetic that nods it's head to the effortless minimalism of Pantha Du Prince.

An airy, feathering fug of 80s keyboards and echoic vocal simplicity that’s dichotomous enough to shiver spines and move feet. This is Maus at his genius best.

Blam. Blam. Brrrrrp. Brrrrrp. This is as demented, childish and jaw-droppingly ferocious as you’d expect. The only lyrics I can make out behind the din of the train seem to be “eclectic melodies, popping out our hairy bits.” I hope, hope, hope I’ve heard that right.
It’s taken me a while to “get” this Chromatics record, but “get” it I now do. Yet if this this brooding, elongated, spacious epic had been my introduction I’m not sure I would have bothered trying. Dull as fuck.

Otis Redding - A Home in Your Heart
This is gorgeous. Old-school, hip-jiving soul resplendent with parping brass, shotgun percussing and a golden guitar line, topped of by the gravelly pipes of Otis. Amazing.

I forget just how “indie” R.E.M were in the beginning. This breezy, jangle-pop number is not Stipe et al their finest, but it’s a touchstone for the jaunty, non-aggravational direction the band took in the 90s.

Just what you need on a sunny morning on the way to Chelmsford. A melting, slow-burning affair led by languid guitar chimes and bleary-eyed vocals. Reminds me of why I took such a shine to Real Estate in the first place (that second album really wasn’t up to scractch though).

Train arrives in Chelmsford at 8:50am

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