It’s time for my annual X (X being 5 this year!) years post in London post (well, almost a month over, but hey). This year I’ve made a Spotify playlist of music that I associate with London having listened to it whilst here, or as I’ve roughly titled it London’s Track Record.
The idea here is that these are the songs I most remember from the last 5 years, I’ve put it all in a rough order of when I listened to it first.
You can link straight to songs below, and I’ve whacked some comments alongside justifying my choices. Do please comment and nag if you need an invite for Spotify, I have some to spare.
Enjoy. I blame Pitchfork for making me get all musically retrospective with their P2K feature. Proper were the 00s a good decade for music posts to follow…
London’s Track Record
My main listenning on train south was Ratatat’s debut album which had obsessed me for a while, if I hear the last few songs I always feel like I’m heading south for some reason.
Fridge – Cut Up Piano and Xylophone
My initial commute to work was cross-town from my aunt’s house in Leytonstone. I found myself with a good hour or more to fill so would read and listen to music a lot in the mornings and evenings. One morning I was changing trains at Gospel Oak when I hit this track just as I descended the stairs to get the train. It felt weirdly apt and set me up for the day
Sufjan Stevens – John Wayne Gacy Jr
I doubt it’s possible to really have been an indie kid and missed Sufjan, but for a while I was rapt and remember spending a lot of my first London summer relaxing and listening to this whilst reading.
I can’t remember which review made me realise I’d love Orange Juice but it was a really persuasive one. The Glasgow School collection has a lot of gems and Wan Light is such a simple and great wee song. I think I only realised I loved it when I was humming it in the shower one morning.
A band that were all too short lived but mercifully easy to discover via emusic. It’ll take decades for someone else to do simple cello rock this well again.
Death From Above 1979 – Turn It Out
About as different as it could be was good old Death From Above, I remember winding myself up listenning to this album at work one day and then hitting 35mph on the bike ride home, music can have a bit of power. Of course it was the one time an HGV would fill the road coming the other way so it lasted about five seconds.
Hot Chip – (Just Like We) Breakdown (DFA remix)
Continuing the theme with the other DFA I still think this is better than any other Hot Chip track, and especially love the form of this, even the length which is clearly designed for mixing just works as a long home listen. And it’s better than Sound Of Silver too.
The Emperor Machine – The TV Extra Band
I’d spent years listening to retro game music, so it was essentially inevitable that I would would like a retro synth act. The review I read only gave it 3.5 stars but this dominated my listening for ages.
Ah, Richard X. Oh, Annie. I’m a sucker for this and the fact that it’s having a go a Geri Halliwell just makes it more compelling.
Much like Sufjan, Beirut (well, Zach Condon) was fated and doomed to be indie popular. And I frankly was happy to hop on for a ride. A pretty mournful album which arrived at just the right time in so many ways.
Jens Lekman – Pocketful of Money
Jens on the other hand has a bit less mainstream appeal but does the simple things so gloriously right. Frail and fantastic, and the way the sample of Beat Happening’s Gravedigger Blues and Jens’s vocals fight over the same line in the mix makes for glorious chaos.
Jason Forrest – My 36 Favourite Punk Songs
I’d first come accross Jason Forrest as Donna Summer, where he seemed to be coming from the mashup scene. In truth he was just doing his thing and this is from his second album where more song-like things appeared. This, though is as simple as the title and just plays the hooks of 36 of his favourite pop songs into one track.
The Futureheads – Favours for Favours
About as mainstream as I’ll go here, I think The Futureheads have got better as they’ve gone along, though they’ll never be my favourite band their storytelling’s ace.
Of Montreal – She’s a Rejecter
Speaking of storytelling it may be hard to cull a single track from Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer, but I think picking The Past Is A Grotesque Animal would be unfair on what little audience I may have. So, have this, it feels like an end, and it’s certainly near one but it showcases so much of what was right in that album in both drama and soundscape.
The Chap – I Am Oozing Emotion
This is so much simpler that I need only say that it just works.
They Might Be Giants – Withered Hope
Well, I had to put some Giants in here somewhere, and as they do tormented love songs so well I can’t resist. Horns!
Bell X1 – Flame (Chicken Lips mix)
In the wake of my Emperor Machine awakening I did start looking for emperor machine remixes and chicken lips remixes. This is fantastic because it takes a very ordinary and rather earnest band from Ireland and turns them into some form of audio dynamite with a sing-along chorus about toasting marshmallows on girls hotness – well, almost.
Foley Room seemed a disappointing album at first on headphones. Then I listened to this a dozen times at home and fell in love. I still feel guilty for using this as a ringtone for a bit.
A bathtime discovery. I’d had the kelpe album a wee while then the warm sounds of this filled the bathroom one Sunday morning and I finally got it. Bit more of a fan now, seeing as I’m wearing my Kelpe t-shirt and pre-ordered the new album yesterday. Comparisons to Boards of Canada may be slightly overboard but I can’t think of many other artists making such interesting sounds and using samples so well. This is a nice little contemplative track that gets more over in two minutes than the hour of Channel 4 documentary it’s samples seem to have been culled from.
Fog got me back into gig going. Fog got me mocked in goods-in for listening to bird sounds. Fog got himself a band. Output since has been erratic, consisting of zipped files linked from myspace but I do hope he won’t fully vanish. I first heard this live and was just blown away. It’s simple, but weird.
A Hawk And A Hacksaw – Ihabibi
This may not strictly be a “London” song because my abiding memory is of playing it to my sister as we drove around East Lothian on a lazy day when I was back home. I first saw A Hawk And A Hacksaw for Beirut’s first London show where they more than made up for his alcoholism making for a no show.
Misty’s Big Adventure – I Can’t Bring The Time Back
A simply glorious track that I remember them playing live the first time I saw them.
Why had I not got into Spoon earlier? Tight production, thoughtful songwriting and a strong rhythmic base – with added horns in this case.
El Perro Del Mar – God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get)
God knows I love El Perro Del Mar, I do hope her life isn’t as depressing as her music makes it sound.
All good songs should involve rhymes using animals. And a sinister cat when preformed live.
Pagan Wanderer Lu – Tree of Knowledge
Now I know most of you may not share my love for Pagan Wanderer Lu, it can just sound a bit too ramshackle, but I think there’s a certain charm, candour and class about his songs that I can’t ignore.
Yeasayer – Wait for the Summer
I had my ultimate polite gig experience seeing Yeasayer, a (tall) man whose partner had waited for him near the front saw he was . Rock ‘n’ roll. The band themselves have the same paradox being equal parts devil may care musicianship and prog rocky make the world a nicer place / imagine this kinda stuff. Suspect the second album will be decisive on their future.
I love this a lot. I may have overstated it’s potential but placed up against Lady Gaga etc it still shines brighter and yet feels in place.
I admit I only got this album when I realised that Mr Scruff’s Get A Move on sampled Bird’s Lament. However, it’s quite glorious, somewhat musical chorus in style (something missed when covered at the Barbican’s Moondog concert this year) and wonderfully expansive. There’s a few saxophones on here…
In a live setting Felix Kubin works even better but this track with it’s opposition of bleeps, attack and decay showcases the good he can do.
I admit I was hooked from the opening notes. I’m sure I’ve listened to this track more than the rest of the album put together.
Shantel is huge in mainland Europe (apparently). Why can’t we import this kind of genius rather than, say, Scooter or Crazy Frog? And yes, I am a sucker for the current wave of Balkan music.
I remember when Why? was new and his album was something only I listened to. It was therefore a bit of a surprise when I got back from his (sold out) gig last year to find my new house-mate had wanted to go. Somehow Why?’s found his time now, but he’s not lost any of his oddness.
Crystal Castles – Magic Spells
Can’t quite work out why this album did so well but maybe there’s something hypnotising about it. This track with it’s samples from V sits in my head as mood music all too often.
It was deeply remiss of me to only find The Long Blondes weeks after they’d split up, but at least the music ensures. I may be a sucker for apocalyptic pop but this is worth a thousand Muse songs about time running out.
As documented elsewhere this started off as a remix of a Japanese artist and Royksopp opted to re-record it with an English vocal. I would carp and say why didn’t just leave it as was, but this works too damn well to complain.
Annie Clark’s sound on her second album is an amazing development with fuzz everywhere, probably the most interesting singer/songwriter album in that regard since Suzanne Vega’s 99.9F, though I’m bound to be missing something…