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On High Rotation

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Lately, I’ve been cranking up the volume on tunes with female vocals. Here are three that have been getting a fair bit of play on my sound systems…

Dum Dum Girls: There is a Light That Never Goes Out

The final track on side two of The Smiths’ 1986 album The Queen is Dead (yes kids, once upon a time, media had sides, and you had to turn it over) is There is a Light That Never Goes Out. It’s one of the best songs in The Smiths’ ouevre, equally showcasing Morrissey’smarr trademark over-the-top emo-angsty lyrics and voice and Johnny Marr’s instrumental skills, both on guitar and keyboards. The strings in the song are Marr playing an Emulator II sampling keyboard; as the keyboard player, he’s listed in the credits as “The Hated Salford Ensemble”, a reference to the fact that they didn’t want to use a synth but couldn’t afford a real string ensemble. I wore out a couple of cassette recordings of this album, and this song takes me back to the time of big changes: from high school to university, from living at home to living away, from an awkward adolescence to a less-awkward adulthood and a very memorable romance with a hardcore Smiths fan.

The California-based indie pop group Dum Dum Girls sound like a gene-splice of The Ronettes and The Jesus and Mary Chain, and their straight-ahead indie-rock-meets-Phil-Spector cover of There is a Light Never Goes out is catchy. I’ve been enjoying this track for the past couple of weeks. You can find it on their 2011 EP He Gets Me High.

The Bilinda Butchers: Careless Teens

The Bilinda Butchers take their name from Bilinda Jayne Butcher, guitarist and vocalist with the 80s/90s shoegazer band My Bloody Valentine. (In case you’re not familiar with them, but saw Lost In Translation, the My Bloody Valentine single Sometimes is the backing music for the “cab ride home from their first night out” scene.) Like their namesake, they make lush, stare-at-your-feet-and-space-out music that’s perfect for long drives or lazy afternoons or in my case, working away at writing apps.

I’d bought their album Regret, Love, Guilt, Dreams for a ten-spot (their Bandcamp page lets you name your price for digital downloads) back in the late summer and promptly forgot all about it until my iPad’s shuffle brought up the Careless Teens track during my recent trip to Chicago. Now it’s part of my current rotation.

Deerhoof: Secret Mobilization

Satomi Matsuzaki, John Dieterich and Greg Saunier are the trio known as Deerhoof, an experimental rock band from San Francisco. Normally, the phrase “experimental rock band from San Francisco” should be considered a warning sign, but I dig the weird little musical biscuits they bake. Their current album, Deerhoof vs. Evilwhich you can download for free, legitimately! – is a joy to listen to, from the Game Theory-esque Behold a Marvel in the Darkness to the folky No One Asked to Dance to Hey I Can, where they almost channel Chromeo. It’s a delightful, oddball album.

The video above is the official video for the track Secret Mobilization, and it’s just as odd as their tunes. Enjoy!

3 replies on “On High Rotation”

Seconding the rec for Ohbijou, but I’ve been obsessed with “The History of Modern Warfare, Part II” by Colin Stetson. It was up for a Polaris Prize (it may even have won, I don’t remember). On 1st listen you think it’s almost unlistenably weird, and a little boring (it’s just a bari or bass sax). Then you start to sense these pops, as little parts of your mind get blown. After 3 or 4 listens, it becomes addictive. Plus, Laurie Andersen.

Here’s two songs from the always excellent “Take-Away shows” series
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lK90kN871p8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r29hkt73RSA

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