Sunday, 6 December 2009

A Week of Obsessions

My use of magical music infinito-software Spotify has started to change (evolve? devolve? I'm unsure) recently. I remember my confusion, upon initially downloading Spotify, at the sheer wall of music that lay before me, bigger and growing faster than it would ever be possible to listen to. A joyful confusion, to be sure, but nihilistic in its revelation of my ultimate insignifance.

So I used it as a Kate Bush listening-machine.

After a while, I discovered playlists. I could allow other people to whittle down this impossible amount of music. With this confidence, I discovered Spotify as a request-granting immediate-gratification social DJing tool.ut, finally, its true purpose has been revealed: Spotify is the replacement for the role the NME; MTV2; MySpace and various blogs have served throughout my life. The discovery feed. Without much commitment, I can hear pretty much anything- all I need to know is the name. (Which remains, of course, the big difficulty in discovering music.)

There's a much longer post in me on the nature of discovering music, and the drive behind that so, with no further ado, I recommend the accompanying playlist to Pitchfork's Top 500 songs of the 21st Century list. And three songs, two that I've listened to on repeat and one that inspired me enough to write this post.

El-P - Stepfather Factory
I am constantly torn by my love of hip-hop. It's very limited, to certain acts and specific song and then, I know it all feeds one emotion- this male, chest-beating aggression thing. I know it can be a pretty harmful genre, socially. It's irresponsible.
Then I hear this and it's genuinely terrifying in the way some of OK Computer was when I first heard it. The nearest comparison I can draw, soundwise, is I Can Ride A Bike With No Handlebars, if you remember that. The ultimate disenfranchised attack on American values, corporations, the family unit... It'd be mockably, teenage-ly, broad if not for its genius idea- the titular Stepfather Factory. And then it bends some of the sounds just right and it's threatening and depressing and a call to arms.

The Honeydrips - (Lack of) Love Will Tear Us Apart

I haven't actually listened to this much yet, but I can spot an obsession when it's coming. Distant, airy female vocals, clever-clever title, and a beat that sounds like a stretched-out combination of '90s dance and Christmas jingles. It's a bit of a pity there has to be a male (pseudo-rapping) voice on the track at all, but it only lasts about 10 seconds.

Antony & The Johnsons - Hope There's Someone

This is the big one, the most obsessed I've been with a song in months, possibly longer. When he won the Mercury prize from pretty much nowhere in 2005? and got hit by the NME hype-train, I made the mistake of scoffing. I was young and didn't know better. A musing on loneliness? Sexuality? Death? All of the above? It really doesn't matter- the strange wavering voice is genuinely touching and actually oddly catchy... I'm trying hard not to fall into my normal journalistic mode of description here. Suffice to say, if you like any kind of emotion in your music, you owe it to yourself to listen to this song. Three listens should give it the time to embed itself in your soul.

Sometimes, it's enough to just be the guy that tells people about nice songs.

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Videogames, film, music, comics: feed them into the Alex-Spencer machine and out come neat little articles. Like the ones you're looking at here.