I managed to post my Top Tunes of 2006 before the year was even over. This year’s been a bit busier so instead I like to think I’m first with the forthcoming 2007 nostalgia action. Do you remember the iPhone? You had to actually touch it with your fingers!? Do you remember it?
This year, rather than upload individual MP3s, I’m putting my Top Tunes on my muxtape. So go there to listen. As it has a limit of twelve tracks I’m going to post my list, in rough order of when I first heard them, in three parts, roughly a week apart, starting with…
Rappers’ Delight Club — Hum
In short, this is four minutes of the looped Elmo themesong, but with kids laying it down. They rap like monsters, like beasts, like cheese-shop clerks. Like kids, really — and beyond the ceaseless sparkle of the song, there’s the plain flact of their flow. “In terms of making money / I’m a gorilla / I rap so well / they call me rapzilla.” Oh yes, yes yes. Minah is my favourite - she’s a queenah. Or this: “I’ll be sizzlin’ / like the chicken noodle soup / I sold more cookies / than your whole girlscout troop.” It’s endlessly quotable - no, it transcends mere quotes. You want to be these kids, eight-nine-ten-eleven, strutting and whooping and rapping like it’s as easy as tying your shoes.
Downloadable from their MySpace page.
Ben Folds — Bitches Ain’t Shit
I can’t remember where I first heard about this but I downloaded it from Sugartown. I love this mini genre of “folk rap” — sensitive boys and girls with acoustic guitars covering raps — which I thought was a pigeonhole I’d made up, but it appears to be a Flight of the Conchords joke. Anyway, I love Ben Folds and love him more now. Contains naughty words.
(It was very difficult to choose between this and his cover of Such Great Heights but my unnecessarily strict rule of only one track by each artist forced me to do so.)
The Teenagers — Homecoming
I heard this on the ‘Take Your Medicine’ podcast which I think is no more. But from the same author’s MP3 blog, Nothing But Green Lights:
Possibly teenage and impatient. Multiple perspectives. Rude Pop songs. Quite possibly British, or at the least a loose association to Britain. Quite possibly Art school. Irrelevent — whatever. “She’s such a slut” and other such stories of romances that should keep you on side for the duration of the song, and quite possibly into the second repeat because like any song that hopes to rise above; it has to say something or tell a story.
Possibly even ruder than Bitches Ain’t Shit.
Chas ‘n’ Dave — Edmonton Green
Yes, Chas ‘n’ Dave, and not in any ironic “yeah, remember that Rabbit one or whatever, they were funny weren’t they” kind of way. Great song. Nostalgic but not maudlin. Picked it up from the Sound of the Suburbs blog:
It is [1977 album] Rockney that has held my attention and given me the most pleasure as it contains songwriting that, dare I say it, is in the same caliber as the Kinks and Squeeze to name just two. Their matter of fact was of story telling about life, their life, in London, which when you think about it is a lot more honest that singing about Route 66 or Kansas City! … Personal favorite is Edmonton Green, close your eyes while listening to it and see if you agree that it comes over as Blueberry Hill by way of Primrose Hill after a detour down New Orleans all served up with a healthy portion of jellied eels.
John Cooper Clarke — Readers’ Wives
Also heard on Sound of the Suburbs, another bit of great Britishness. I couldn’t name, let alone hum, anything else by John Cooper Clarke but this brief and catchy thing from a 1978 Peel Session makes me want to hear more.
Cold flesh the colour of potatoes,
In an instamatic living room of sin.
All the required apparatus.
Too bad they couldn’t get her head in.
Los Campesinos! — You! Me! Dancing!
I may have hard and fast rules about only one track by each artist but the committee has yet to adjudicate on whether I’m allowed the same track two years in a row. So I’m sneaking this one in as I still couldn’t (and still can’t) hear it enough.. Also originally heard, in 2006, on the ‘Take Your Medicine’ podcast / Nothing But Green Lights:
It’d be pure 100% brew twee without the overlap, and tangled melodies that unravel themselves to reveal a 7 headed, multi-coloured, glokenspiel wielding indie pop behemoth who just wants to sit outside your house and harmonise with the chimney pots. … “Indie power rangers” is about the best description of a band I’ve heard in a long time, and fits them nicely.
Nephews of Phela — Mulah 2
Somehow I found this “superfly remix” at Captain’s Crate but another site, Tonegents, explains the track’s origin, a remix of Yegelle Tezeta by Ethiopan musician Mulatu Astatke. This one goes on a bit, but in a good way, and due to random playing I associate it with the short walk from Latimer Road tube station to college.
The Moonflowers — Tighten Up
If I had to keep just one track from the list, this might be it. Another one via Sound of the Suburbs this is in my playlist of tunes guaranteed to pick me up in an emergency. It’s a cover of a song by Archie Bell & the Drells which I don’t want to hear because it can’t be this good. As someone who doesn’t have a funky bone in his body, I stamp this soundly with the funky stamp of success, yes sir.
Joni Mitchell — A Case of You
As someone born in 1971, she’s one of those well known musicians that has always been around but whose music I would have been hard pressed to identify, let alone sing along to. But a TV documentary about 60s/70s Californian music prompted a handful of purchases at a 60s/70s Californian music-themed promotional stand at Fopp, including Blue.
It’s pretty stunning. I feel that as a rational no nonsense 21st century guy I should dismiss this kind of stuff as hippy nonsense or, even worse, cashing-in hippy nonsense. But no, blimey. This track might have stood out most because I’d heard the first two verses many times before I knew their origin, as they’re half sung in a Mountain Goats song I know well. But not so well I can remember which Mountain Goats song.
Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip — Thou Shalt Always Kill
I can’t remember where I heard it first, maybe Rob Da Bank’s show on Radio 1, but I think this was one of those distinctive songs that many of us went crazy for when it came out but had probably had enough of by the end of the year. Or, really, given the Internet and the music industry these days, we’d probably had enough of it by the time it was released. In this respect it’s good to be eight months behind on posting my favourites of 2007 as I think it’s sounding good again now.
Kate Nash — Birds
Most of the time I’m terribly out of touch with popular music. Which was a good thing in Kate Nash’s case as I was oblivious to her becoming popular, something which usually puts me off musicians. (I don’t think it’s solely snobbery, more that it no longer feels like they’re singing to me: they’re suddenly singing to millions of people.)
Like the previous track, I may have heard her first on Rob Da Bank’s show, in a great session. I think I’m right in saying some people find her accent affected. Wha’ever. We all adjust our accents in different situations and so long as it works she could sing in Glaswegian as far as I’m concerned.
Art Brut — Emily Kane
I adored Art Brut’s Formed a Band in 2004, which I first heard on MTV in a hotel room in Novi Sad, Serbia (which was nice), but I didn’t think to look for anything else by them until I came across a session by them on The Perfumed Garden John Peel blog. Then I kicked myself for leaving it so long.
Few new(ish) bands consistently get me excited but Art Brut (and Los Campesinos!) make me feel like a young indie kid again. They’re great fun live and songs like this one just thrill me.
There we go, part one of three.