Here I thought Soul Whirling Somewhere defined the genre of 'sadcore' with their first album "Eating the Sea". Now via the magic of eMusic, I realise that the honour goes to Red House Painters. Though 'Mistress' got all the airplay in 1993, I'm entranced by 'Katy Song'. After a brooding song with lyrics that would make Brian Wilson say, "Geez, that guy's a bit pathetic," the painters launch into a wondrous four-minute outro that could have repeated for the rest of the album without being tiresome.
And now for the random five.
Late Show by Book of Love
Album: Book of Love
Even though they hadn't found their sound yet, I still enjoy the first album of sugary pop band Book of Love. I first saw the cover in a lovely young lady's dorm room, and have always associated the album with that place ever since. This instrumental number attempts to rock out a bit, but cinematically so. The stronger numbers are the hits like 'I Touch Roses' and 'Modigliani'. Music for a good mood.
Autumn fires by Bill Nelson
Album: Chamber of Dreams (Music from the Invisibility Exhibition)
Another song from the Bill Nelson 4-CD box set (five, if you count 'Sounding the Ritual Echo', which I do). This track is very representative of the set; washed-out swirly guitars hum under a layer of twittery improvised birdsong. A staid parade comes through at the end.
Crossroads by Tracy Chapman
Sometimes I wonder about what makes an album 'work'. You could be a really good musician, write an album full of well-formed and well-played songs, and someone (like me) wouldn't like it. And I can't really say why. Maybe it's the religious imagery that turns me off, or maybe it doesn't 'speak to my condition'. But why doesn't it? What makes a piece of music click? and what would make you say, "I really like this artist. I could get behind this, and buy everything they've done and maybe even wear the t-shirt out in public"? I don't know. I just don't care about this music, even though I think it's technically fine. Have you got any bands like that?
Stop the Rock by Apollo 440
Album: Gettin' High on Your Own Supply
People may scoff that this song is in the collection, but I will defend it. I clearly remember the first time I heard it -- it was the year that companies were fighting each other for the right to use pop songs in their commercials, and Mars won this one. You must admit that the chorus is a bit of an earworm. Also it shows how much can be accomplished with just one chord.
Beethoven: Minuet in G, WoO 10/2 by Budapest Strings
Album: Meditation - Classical Relaxation
Ah, so this one's by Beethoven. I always think of him as fiery and all Sturm und Drang, but maybe it's just that portrait. A lovely and familiar piece. Maybe after a lifetime of listening to these mp3's, I'll remember which composer did what.
Mao Badge by Duffy
Album: 17 (Single 1)
Songs like this reminds me why Stephen Duffy is my musical hero. A pop masterpiece, with so much instrumentation and all in the right place. It's a lazy day with his favourite girl. "Let's just stay in, play old records, and watch TV -- something you taped on video." But relationships are uncertain: "I hope that you'll be here for the good and the bad times." And then a poignant aside: "I hope that there aren't too many bad times." It's a really beautiful song.