The End of Summer Shuffle
Okay, so we've still got a week before Labor Day puts the white shoes back in the closet. Personally I am more than ready to kiss this summer goodbye. Now how about a little traveling music?
1. Antwoman / Robyn Hitchcock
From Jewels for Sophia (1999)
Time to usher in the weekend by blissing out to this surrealistic tone poem, with its fuzzy guitars and raga beat -- "being just contaminates the void," Robyn announces in his ironical Cambridge twang, and you are free to take him seriously or not, at your pleasure. And here enters the voracious and elegant Antwoman, "with her Audrey Hepburn feelers / And her black and white stripes . . . " What does this song mean? If you have to ask . . .
2. Warm and Sunny Days / The Dears
From No Cities Left (2003)
This is how they do indie pop in Montreal -- lushly jazzy and just a wee bit melancholic. Warm and sunny? Well, maybe by Canadian standards . . . But I've gotta say, I could spend a lot of time relaxing by the pool to this one.
3. You're Gonna Miss Me / 13th Floor Elevators
From The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966)
And with this one song, Roky Erikson and company invented Trip Rock, lo these many years ago. Brilliant! Love the Durango-like guitar strums. "You're gonna wake up wondering . . . "
4. Secondary Modern / Elvis Costello and the Attractions
From Get Happy!! (1980)
And now, pow! "This must be the place, / Second place in the human race, / Down in the basement / Now I know what he meant . . . ." Ah, the flip side of a British high school education. Drunk on puns, romantic rancor, and Stax soul, Declan and the boys never made a finer album; it's planted deeeeep in my musical DNA. Dig the syncopated petulance of this line: "Nobody makes me sad like you / Now my whole world goes from blue to blue." Perfecto.
5. My Shadow / Keb' Mo'
From The Reflection (2011)
Get your hips moving to this one. I love how Keb' weaves Delta blues, a little jazz, and indie lyric sensibility. Right on the threshold of losing that girl, still baffled by her desertion -- aw, Keb', she ain't worth it! (Groove on that organ chord progression, like dark movie music. The Shadow knows!)
6. When I See That Girl of Mine / The Kinks
From The Kink Kontroversy (1965)
Wonderful little raw demo -- this is why we love reissues with bonus tracks. Back then, Ray was still trying to peddle his songwriting; Bobby Rydell eventually recorded this tasty little number, but I could definitely hear the Beach Boys doing it. So it's not "Waterloo Sunset" or "Come Dancing" or any of Ray Davies' most iconic and personal tracks -- it's still a jewel of a pop song, full of adolescent yearning and insecurity. If all you can listen to is Bobby R.'s version, try to imagine it with Ray's warbly North London twang -- it's incredibly sweet.
7. Lady Grinning Soul / David Bowie
From Aladdin Sane (1973)
Monumental, heartbreaking -- so many thanks to my Kinks pal Mark for asking me to blog about this one.
8. Film Noir Angel / Johnny Hoy & the Bluefish
From Film Noir Angel (2006)
A tasty shot of Martha's Vineyard dieselbilly, courtesy of train guru Brian. You've gotta trust a music friend who only gives you three music recommendations in five years and they are all dead on perfect.
9. Com Trol / Bill Lloyd
From Boy King of Tokyo (2012)
Okay, now I'm feeling guilty that I haven't yet written about this delicious new album. I promise I will! But here's a lovely teaser, with that wacky satiric edge that makes Bill Lloyd's pop music so much damn fun.
10. It's AWonderful Lie / Paul Westerberg
From Suicaine Gratification (1999)
Aw, I was just thinking about how much I love Paul Westerberg, on a recent trip to his hometown of Minneapolis (I have been doing way too much heartland traveling this summer.) And then up dials this acoustic charmer, its brave shrug underlaid with a world of devasting hurt. "It's a wonderful lie, / I still get by / On those . . .. " Don't we all?