Mar 15

My Own Private Record Club*

FT110 comments • 5,499 views

boredoms vcn This is a post listing the records I’m listening to for my YEAR OF ROCKISM**, as outlined here (cut and pasted from Tumblr):

I’m going to listen to one album on a once-a-day basis for a week, a different one each week. Not in order to write about them or anything, unless I decide I want to. Just a minor attention-span workout, the listening equivalent of that “20 minutes of brisk exercise daily” or “5 a day” advice. I realised now I don’t review albums any more I’ve got out of that habit of intensive listening, except for Popular, which is done very much with writing as the aim. It would be healthy to get it back, I reckon.

The albums will mostly be a) stuff I already own that b) I know I like but c) have never really given the time they deserve. The listening cycle is Friday to Thursday, until such time as I miss a day, at which point it will shift currently Tuesday to Monday. Albums below:

Week 1 – 16/1/15 – 22/1/15: WU-TANG CLAN – “Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers” (Comments 1-13)
Week 2 – 23/1/15 – 29/1/15: BRIAN ENO – “Music For Films” (Comments 14-15)
Week 3 – 30/1/15 – 5/2/15: SKY FERREIRA – “Night Time, My Time” (Comments 16-20, 58)
Week 4 – 6/2/15 – 12/2/15: MILES DAVIS – “Sketches Of Spain” (Comments 21-56)
Week 5 – 13/2/15 – 19/2/15: LIZ PHAIR – “Exile In Guyville” (Comments 57, 59-67, 70)
Week 6 – 20/2/15 – 26/2/15: FKA TWIGS – “LP1” (Comments 68-69, 71-85)
Week 7 – 27/2/15 – 9/3/15: KANYE WEST – “The College Dropout” (Comments 86-100)
Week 8 – 10/2/15 – 16/2/15: THE BOREDOMS – “Vision Creation Newsun”

*You can talk about the records if you want, of course! You don’t have to, though. This is simply bookkeeping.
**I am not using this word seriously.


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  1. 61
    Mark M on 14 Feb 2015 #

    Re57/59: Like Tom, I don’t know Exile On Main Street well enough to plot the links, if they really are there. Obviously, Divorce Song gets quite Stonesy at the end, but a deeper conversation about the records? I’m none the wiser. (There are good songs on Exile On Main Street, but overall, I used to find it quite a wearing listen. I much, much prefer Beggars Banquet).

    Liz Phair is apparently in the documentary about Exile On Main Street (Stones In Exile), which I’ve seen, but I can’t remember her in. In fact, possibly the only thing I do remember is the revelation that one of the little kids who can be seen in the pics/footage of the Exile recording, and who rolled joints for the band etc even though he was only eight, turns out to be Jake Weber, who grew up to be the actor best known for playing the long-suffering husband in Medium. I really like that fact, for some reason.

  2. 62

    maybe not soon if it’s too close to liz p’s exile, but i think EoMS shd actually go onto this list at some point — i have a lot more time for it than MM it seems (as “pure” music, if that makes sense given its sleazepit contents)

  3. 63
    Ed on 16 Feb 2015 #

    Exile on Main Street seems to be a touchstone for some US indie rockers: an inescapable ancestor that you have to either revere or reject. Like Sons and Lovers for Northern novelists.

    I wonder if Phair was in part inspired by Pussy Galore’s cover / reinvention of EoMS a few years earlier.

    Earnest piece on the PG version in The Quietus: http://thequietus.com/articles/04402-death-of-the-rock-gods-the-rolling-stones-pussy-galore-and-exile-on-main-street

    Excitable piece on XTRMNTR: http://www.xtrmntr.com/pg/exile/

  4. 64
    Matthew K on 19 Feb 2015 #

    This thread from I Love Music, which alternates the lyrics from each of EoMS’s and EiG’s tracks, makes it apparent that the two albums are a dialogue. At least, that’s how it strikes me.

  5. 65

    i’ve hoisted the jazz discussion up into its own post, so it can carry on w/o derailing tom’s project here

  6. 66
    Tom on 20 Feb 2015 #

    Conclusions from the Exile in Guyville week:

    – It’s a tremendous record, and probably the one where the repeated listens have done it most good, as different parts clicked with me and as I started listening past the lo-fi vibe of it (which led and leads a lot of people into hearing it as ‘confessional’ or w/ever, completely contrary to what LP says about it) to hear the craft and decision-making in it.
    – Though credit where it’s due, I was primed on this reading by Isabel Cole’s marvellous OWOB on her: http://oneweekoneband.tumblr.com/tagged/liz_phair/chrono – Cole, while loving the record, plays down Guyville quite a lot in her overview FWIW.
    – The sound and feel of it is really poignant – SO tied to a time and place and way of making music – so things like the slight tempo change on Gunshy, the long instrumental intro to Shatter, the entire sound of Explain It To Me are all memory catnip for me even though I barely remember the album from when I heard and quite liked it at the time.

  7. 67
    Tom on 20 Feb 2015 #

    Also the final play was a Main Street / Guyville alternating playlist which I found VERY interesting and rewarding, the two records flow together very well, and I think there are links on a bunch of levels: sometimes in terms of mood, sometimes as a counterpoint to the Stones’ mood, sometimes critical (“Canary” sounds even more sad and angry after “Sweet Black Angel”, and the “Let It Loose”/”Flower” juxtaposition is hilarious), sometimes musical – it makes you hear Guyville as a rock’n’roll record and also backs Main Street into the corner of being a personal one.

    There’s a great quote in that OWOB about how seriously Phair took the “response record” theme (VERY SERIOUSLY). And I truly think it works. BUT this is so much in my sweet spot as a listener and critic – the rock record as OULIPO style intertextual game – and I know how easy it is to invent and hallucinate patterns once you’re looking for them. So don’t trust me on any of the specifics! But I loved it. Definitely when I do the EIMS week I’ll end it with a reverse of the experiment, try and take Main Street as an anachronistic reply to Guyville, and see how that works (it’ll make it sound REALLY GROSS, I’m predicting…)

  8. 68
    Tom on 20 Feb 2015 #

    FKA Twigs this week – taking a little bit of a chance since I don’t really know how much I like it. But that’s the point of the exercise I guess!

  9. 69
    Tommy Mack on 20 Feb 2015 #

    I too am on the fence about Flat Twigs. Maybe I’ll try to give it another spin this week.

  10. 70
    Mark M on 20 Feb 2015 #

    Re67: Yes & yes, in that so it turns out she did really mean it, but also that – in the manner of a conspiracy theorist/Adam Curtis/stoner – it would surely be possible to make those connections anyway.
    That’s a terrific OWOB – thanks for steering us to it.

  11. 71
    Tommy Mack on 20 Feb 2015 #

    FKA not Flat Twigs! New Android spellchecker a bit overkeen I must say.

  12. 72
    Ed on 21 Feb 2015 #

    I absolutely love LP1: my favourite album of last year.

    It’s as retro as The Strokes: an exquisitely crafted piece of 90s nostalgia that takes as its reference points Martina Topley-Bird, Aaliyah, Bjork’s Homogenic and Red Shoes-era Kate Bush.

    The concept – exposing the anomie and melancholy at the heart of hedonism and glamour – is not entirely original, either.

    But what FKA Twigs does with it is both challenging and ravishingly beautiful. The bridge in Two Weeks stops my heart like nothing else I have heard for a very long time. And the way she sings “motherf***er” is both hilarious and intensely moving.

    Her persona – an anonymous objectified dancer who has found her voice – may or may not be an accurate reflection of her biography; I don’t care. The idea of presenting a perspective on contemporary pop that has previously gone unheard is brilliant.

    Spending a week with it is an excellent idea.

    @67 Ha! I also did that: interleaving EoMS and EiG in a Spotify playlist. It’s now my most favourite thing to listen to.

  13. 73
    Tom on 24 Feb 2015 #

    This is proving an interesting one – of course all listening is context dependent, but the effect of that on my basic enjoyment of the album is really strong with Twigs.

    It’s not a conscious effort, but each of these records is getting played in roughly the same range of contexts, because obviously I have routines (by choice or otherwise) and there’s only so many points into those routines that listening to a whole album fit. So every record is getting played while in the office, while working from home, while out doing something (shopping, often), at night before going to sleep, commuting etc. Very different opportunities for concentration/passive absorption and so on.

    Anyway, with Twigs on Saturday I put it on while I was tidying up and I was thinking FFS I’m not even going to get through this week, what’s the protocol for not enjoying a record at all. And then I listened the next day when unable to sleep at 11 or 12 at night and was really beguiled. Which on the one hand, bleedin’ obvious that this record is going to be a better late night than washing up soundtrack, but the sudden swing between aversion and enjoyment really surprised me.

  14. 74
    Tommy Mack on 24 Feb 2015 #

    First time I heard her I hated it, thought it was both ethereal to the point of barely being there and also try-hard aren’t-I-kooky? But it did grow on me as I listened more. Still not sure how much I like it but there’s *something* there that makes me think I’ll listen again some time. I know that sounds like faint praise but it’s a big step up from my initial reaction!

  15. 75
    wichitalineman on 25 Feb 2015 #

    Haven’t yet got past my initial reaction of professional kook (I still struggle to listen to Joanna Newsom for the same reason) so I’m intrigued to see how this pans out.

    The FKA pisses me off. A pre-emptive TAFKAP move? It’s very “take me seriously”, which is probably my biggest pop turn-off.

  16. 76
    Ed on 25 Feb 2015 #

    The FKA is forced, not voluntary, according to Pitchfork: http://pitchfork.com/news/58366-fka-twigs-stuck-in-legal-battle-over-name/

    She’s like the London Suede, the English Beat, and The New Originals.

    I agree she’s demanding to be taken seriously, particularly in her videos.

    But I’m the opposite: seriousness is the quality I like best in pop. And for me it’s a big part of her appeal.

    @73 LP1 also probably not suitable for: Driving, the big room in a club, a cardio workout, children’s parties.

  17. 77
    Ed on 25 Feb 2015 #

    Sorry: should have cited Billboard, which is the original source on the legal battle over FKA Twigs’ name.


  18. 78
    wichitalineman on 25 Feb 2015 #

    Re 76: She was already FKA in 2013 when I first heard her (on Dummy’s best of the year list), which makes that story rather odd.

    I love “seriousness” in music, don’t get me wrong. I don’t like “take me seriously” which is a different thing, somewhere close to “we are weird” (another big turn off).

  19. 79
    Tom on 25 Feb 2015 #

    I think – with two plays to go – that this is going to level out as a good record that I don’t adore. It could do with trimming, especially in the middle section. And “Two Weeks” is a problem for it – it’s too good and engaged, promising a momentum the rest of the album isn’t really even trying to deliver on, which does the moodier pieces just after it a disservice. I’m not sure it really gets back on track until after “Numbers”. I’m going to try it on shuffle today, to see if mixing up the sequencing brings some of those middle songs more into the spotlight.

  20. 80
    Tom on 25 Feb 2015 #

    Ah, the plot thickens – it turns out I’ve been listening to the Japanese version of LP1, which has the whole of EP1 bolted on the end. On the one hand, this solves my length problem at a stroke. On the other, the EP1 tracks were my favourites on the record bar “Two Weeks”.

  21. 81
    Ed on 25 Feb 2015 #

    @78 OK, I see your point about seriousness.

    I still think that when “take me seriously” = “I deserve your attention and respect”, I am more likely to be favourably disposed towards it.

    Agree 100% on “we are weird”, though, which seems to me to have exactly the opposite meaning: “Don’t take us seriously”.

    Like so many other things, that was a syndrome brilliantly skewered by Peep Show.

  22. 82
    Tommy Mack on 25 Feb 2015 #

    Thing I hate about ‘we are weird’ is that it often translates as ‘this is our study of what has drawn critical acclaim for weirdness in the past. It’s gonna BLOW YOUR TINY MINDS!’ Genuine weirdness in pop = good thing.

  23. 83
    Tom on 27 Feb 2015 #

    I don’t think there’s a lot of “we are weird”-ness going on with FKA Twigs – everything is very artful and deliberate, precisely placed for particular effects, she’s using a couple of different registers to do it but once you get used to the high one nothing is especially ‘kooky’ or w/ever. I think it’s ultimately a good record – very strong on constructing tracks, on atmosphere, on putting emotion across, but just weak on hooks. Her next one could be astonishing. Or it could be more of the same, I guess. Glad I chose it, after a rocky start.

    This week it’s The College Dropout, by a Mr K. West. I’ll edit the post later.

  24. 84
    Ed on 27 Feb 2015 #

    A bit disappointed I was the only one here who really loves this, although I am sure FKA Twigs will get over it.

    Interesting to see her becoming tabloid semi-famous because of her boyfriend, which is a very different context for her than the one she has constructed herself.

    Having agreed that “we are weird” is a bad thing, I now worry I don’t really know what it is. The prime offenders seem to be from the 90s: the Super Furry Animals, the Flaming Lips, the Lo-Fidelity Allstars, the Klaxons. Also They Might Be Giants, perhaps worst of all.

    But there is a lot of “I am weird” self-presentation in artists I love: Bowie, Kate Bush, Bjork. FKA Twigs feels closer to them than to any contrived wackiness. Was Captain Beefheart saying “I am weird”? Sun Ra? I think so.

    Looking forward to The College Dropout. Another great choice.

  25. 85
    Tommy Mack on 27 Feb 2015 #

    Captain Beefheart said ‘I may be hungry but I sure ain’t weird’ so that’s that one settled!

    I’d say ‘weird’, like any other aesthetic only works if you feel there’s something of interest going on in there. Just Weird is as dull as Just Angry or Just Smooth. Obviously, who you feel delivers on their promises is at least partly a matter of personal taste.

  26. 86
    Tom on 1 Mar 2015 #

    This is a LONG album. A brilliant album, but a LONG one. I’ve already fallen one listen behind – more thanks to family illness than anything else.

    Looking at the man’s career as a whole, is there any other record by anyone that more genuinely deserves the description “the early, funny stuff”?

  27. 87
    Ed on 2 Mar 2015 #

    For real. I can’t remember ever having been as disappointed by an artist as I was by Kanye West.

    I have reconnected with him a bit in the past few years: I like parts of Watch The Throne and My Beautiful Dark…, and Yeezus is good knockabout fun. But The College Dropout promised unlimited potential, and I can’t see his subsequent career as anything other than a letdown. He could do anything: serious and goofy, rational and sentimental, seductive and aggressive, populist and arty, sacred and profane. And if his subject matter was already principally himself, he knew how to make his stories engaging. TCD is long, yes, but there isn’t a single song I’d be happy to lose from it. And at its heights, it’s spectacular. I used to listen to it walking round London, and a moment when I stepped out into blazing sunlight on a bridge over the Thames just as J. Ivy was reaching the culmination of his verse on Never Let Me Down is one of the most memorable musical experiences of my life.

    It is, of course, ridiculous to expect anyone to sustain that level of quality album after album, and I guess we should be grateful that West remains consistently interesting even now, especially given the tabloid circus that his life has become. There’s still a chance that he has more great work left to come. But The College Dropout has a sense of freshness and excitement, of a lifetime of pent-up ideas finally getting the chance to escape, that can never be recaptured.

    It reminds me of Joseph Heller’s great line (possibly apocryphal), when someone asked him why he had never again been able to write anything as good as Catch 22. “It’s true, I haven’t,” he is supposed to have said. “But then, nor has anyone else.”

  28. 88
    Tom on 2 Mar 2015 #

    In terms of length, it’s not so much that there are weak tracks, but three or four could have been held over for later records – this is very much not the Kanye way, of course, you get what you get all at once.

    I am very fond of 808s, half of Yeezus, scraps of MBDTF – I think it helped that I didn’t pay attention until Graduation, though, so I didn’t get any sense of disappointment.

  29. 89
    Mark M on 3 Mar 2015 #

    I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a Kanye album the whole way through, even though I like a bunch of his singles. But after three days or so of this, I’m enjoying it a lot.

  30. 90
    enitharmon on 3 Mar 2015 #

    @89 I have Mark, just three days ago on the evening Manchester to Barrow train. It was being played by a bunch of Manchester United fans who amongst other things joined in while standing on the seats waving their arms. I didn’t enjoy it much but then it had been a long day and I was very tired.

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