FT

30
Oct 20

Omargeddon #17: A Lovejoy

FTPost a comment • 54 views

Unlike several other Omar Rodriguez-Lopez albums, the contents of A Lovejoy are accurately reflected by its cover. The bright colours, glitzy lights and disco font signpost a collection of infectiously catchy dance tracks, so despite the name, there are no weird curve balls concept-wise about Ian McShane’s mystery-solving antiques dealer and/or Springfield’s resident pastor.

Spotify has a lot of obvious moral failures, as well as, I’m coming to realise, vexing technical issues. I’ve accepted randomly vanishing tunes, because at least that can be somewhat explained by label interference or artist whimsy. However, I was recently stumped by the realisation that their version of A Lovejoy is both incomplete and inaccurate. The final song is given as “Tlaquepaque”, which is indeed correct, but what you hear is in fact the song “Left For Dead”, which doesn’t appear on the track list, meaning “Tlaquepaque” isn’t there at all. At first, I found this extremely irritating, but I suppose it means that I got a bonus ORL song this year that I wasn’t expecting, and it also prompted me to push the purchase of this album up my current Bandcamp queue. You could argue that I should have bought these albums years ago, but I’m doing it now, so kiss my ass.

24
Oct 20

World Cup of 1980 Preview

FT3 comments • 296 views

This is the third time I’ve run a poll event based on a single year – 1980 follows 1990 and 2001, and they’ve all presented different challenges in terms of building out brackets that are fun, fair (well, fair-ish) and tell a story about what happened that year.

Go to a site like Rate Your Music and they make sense of 1980 in a familiar way. Their “Top 20 Singles” are entirely white and 95% male: Joy Division, Talking Heads, The Clash, Bowie, and so on.

All these people are represented in our version of 1980 – it’s entirely possible one of them will win the tournament – but to claim they tell the story of the year is nonsense.

21
Sep 20

Omargeddon #16: Cizaña de los Amores

FTPost a comment • 157 views

I joined last.fm in 2007 because I’d seen some of my friends use it to tag their LiveJournal entries with the song they were currently listening to and thought this was a pretty boss idea. But I soon realised that as far as I was concerned, its primary feature was the radio stream (which has since either disappeared or has been made a premium feature). I’d play it solidly as work* background music and appreciated the mix of 95% stuff I knew and liked and 5% random shit. At the time, I couldn’t possibly imagine anyone being interested in viewing my profile and so had no hesitation in publicly sharing my listening data. Then, after many enthusiastic years of scrobbling, I logged out in the summer of 2018 and haven’t been back since. This is largely due to this project, because seeing in black and white how often I listened to the same albums over and over in a short span of time made me cringe.

I had a similar amount of embarrassment at the end of last year when Spotify generated a slideshow of 2019’s top artists/songs, and I genuinely worried that if someone were to analyse that information, they’d conclude that I should be placed in some kind of a home. This weird and pointless self-shaming has certainly motivated me to seek out more new music this year, but in my heart of hearts, I know I’ll always find a lot of comfort in a select playlist of firm favourites played incessantly. I’ve previously likened it to being a small child who wants to hear the same bedtime story for months on end, and now more than ever, I just want to know that the story ends if not happily ever after, then at least how I expect it to.

Cizaña de los Amores (“Love’s Tares” and “Love’s Darnel” have both been offered up by machine translations) was recorded in Clouds Hill Studios, a location much beloved by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez for many years now; his most recent release was also recorded there. With Ximena Sariñana on most lead vocals, an eerie digital collage album cover by artist Sonny Kay, and a psychedelic pop core, the similarities between it and Solar Gambling are fairly obvious. Both feature recurring lyrics and melodies that often blend into a continuous flow, and instrumental or near instrumental songs acting as codas, so the parallels between the two make me regard them together as an unofficial double album.

3
Sep 20

#5: Thought I wouldn’t sell without you, sold 9 million

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 162 views

The music that excited me living through 2001 is spread across 4 or 5 of the brackets. This one has some of it – the bits where R&B was going pop, and pop was going R&B, with a sprinkling of other things which seemed to fit better here than somewhere else.

1
Sep 20

#1: La la la la la la-la-la

FT + New York London Paris Munich1 comment • 252 views

This bracket is for what you might call ‘pure pop’, though in the 2001 context that has very uncomfortable overtones, since the stuff in here – Kylie, Steps, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and others – is mostly music that’s resisting the pull of R&B we’ll see elsewhere. Mainstream pop, maybe – or just traditional pop, pop that’s at least friendly to the tween audience of Smash Hits or Saturday morning TV.

29
Aug 20

The Pollards Of Lop Episode 3: Debut Singles

FT1 comment • 204 views

It’s the latest instalment of our audio extravaganza (aka podcast) looking at this month’s @peoples_pop Twitter poll, which has been about DEBUT SINGLES.

For this instalment, I’m joined by Kat Stevens, Kerry Lambeth and Pete Baran, talking about what makes a good debut, why indie bands try hard to get it right first time and metal bands don’t, the meaning of wax cylinders, Bruce Springsteen’s rhyming dictionary, what Jive Bunny could have taught The Stone Roses, and the problem of George Michael. And more! more »

11
Aug 20

The Pollards Of Lop Episode 2: 1990

FT5 comments • 306 views

Here’s the second episode of our monthly discussion around the Twitter People’s Pop Polls – in this instalment, I’m joined by Maura Johnston, Sarah Clarke and Steve Mannion to talk about 1990.

  more »

8
Aug 20

Omargeddon #15: Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Jeremy Michael Ward

FTPost a comment • 101 views

To say that a new type of lockdown music has entered the swollen ranks of hyper-specific genres is clearly inaccurate, but I think it’s also safe to say that what is being released during this time has a unifying theme. I’m hearing a lot of frustration and powerlessness manifested as fear-driven anger. That fear and anger is sometimes passive, depressive, confused or hostile, but it’s always present, from exquisitely produced angstpop to rage recorded from a living room.

Recently, the Spotify algorithm overlord delivered me a song from the new Yo La Tengo album We Have Amnesia Sometimes. Recorded in the now-requisite socially distant fashion, it’s a dreamy landscape that flutters between smooth and itchy, existing in the state before unease tips into anxiety. Listening to it made me recall picking Omar Rodriguez Lopez & Jeremy Michael Ward to soundtrack my last holiday, chosen because of the song “Heathrow Waltz”. Back then, I did not get very far before switching it off, because it was far too similar to the airplane engine’s white noise and not at all conducive to the state of beach-soaked relaxation I was geeing up to.

I thought I’d give it another shot, since oppressive, droney background noise is pretty much permanently in my head anyway these days, and out of a sense of duty/fairness telling me that I couldn’t form an opinion of the album without listening to the whole thing at least a couple of times. I was wrong.

30
Jul 20

The World Cup Of Debut Singles (ADMIN)

FTPost a comment • 356 views

August’s Twitter poll at @peoples_pop is about DEBUT SINGLES. Day by day Spotify playlists linked to in this thread.

This is the traditional ADMIN post, especially for fans of POLL ADMIN. Do not read if you are not one of these.

11
Jul 20

Omargeddon #14: Un Escorpión Perfumado

FTPost a comment • 97 views

I recently reread Elena Ferrante’s excellent Neapolitan quartet with the same obsessive passion that consumed me when I read it the first time. It’s a sprawling Bildungsroman packed with evocative characters and slow-burn plotlines that, even on the reread, took priority over all other forms of media I could engage with. But if I didn’t subscribe to the well-known axiom that you shouldn’t judge books by their covers, I doubt I would have chosen them, because of the soft-focussed cheese that graces their covers.

Unfortunately, I didn’t apply this advice to not judging an album by its cover, so I put off listening to Un Escorpión Perfumado (A Perfumed Scorpion) for a very long time. It’s my least favourite ORL cover by digital collage artist Sonny Kay – the scantily draped woman with weirdly cylindrical, gravity-defying knockers makes me both side eye and eye-roll.  But this was a schoolgirl error, because when I did listen to it, the album proved to be both a delicious listen and very important to my ongoing desire to identify every version of every ORL song ever* for the mythical episode of Mastermind that I won’t ever appear on.

I found it particularly satisfying that these seminal versions were immediately apparent to me; usually I’m vainly trying to extract various hooky needles from musical haystacks. “Agua Dulce de Pulpo” (Octopus Sweet Water or possibly Octopus Kool Aid?) has since been reworked twice, first on Saber, Querer, Osar y Callar as “Tentáculos” (Tentacles), and again on Zapopan as “Tentáculos De Fé” (Tentacles of Faith). The remainder  of the songs on the album appear on 2016’s El Bien y Mal Nos Une.