My cop-out of the week is here, in all its resplendent glory, allowing me a bit of a break from draining my creative juices from the great big grey sponge that is my brain. Something like that, anyway. This week, on the Sunday Mixtape, to make it sound like a proper fixture rather than just a way for me not to think of something original for today, I’m going to be doing a set of songs based around the Upbeat Downbeat. Or, to put it slightly more elaborately, a song that lifts you up, before a song that brings you down. I’m going to take you on a seesaw of audible emotion. It’s going to get rough for a bit, before it gets nice, before it gets rough again. That’s the whole point.
Here’s the mixtape on Grooveshark, although there are YouTube links too. I’m so good to you.
1: Go – The Apples in Stereo
I feel quite sorry for The Apples in Stereo; they’re putting out similar stuff to the Beatles, but they’re about half a century late, and so hardly anyone’s paying any attention to them. Of course, the Beatles are still pretty great, and so The Apples in Stereo are pretty great. That’s deductive reasoning for you. Holmes would be proud. Either way, Go is a great track, and an even better opener.
2: Breaker – Low
That feeling, Low (do you see?) in your gut, that’s me shoving in a downbeat to kill whatever high you just got from The Apples in Stereo. And Breaker is the Low track to really pull you down. Just look at that video. Watch the guy stuffing his face with cake, gargling milk like his life depends on it. To Low, that man is you, and you’re just engorging yourself, you greedy bastard. You need to fix your outlook on life.
3: Drunk Girls – LCD Soundsystem
Or get drunk! The pop hit on an album with no pop hits. Drunk Girls is the way to pull someone into This is Happening, before they suddenly realise that this is a deconstruction of music production, and an absolutely phenomenal record. It’s got a chorus to sing along to, and a verse that you can shout while drunk. Strangely appropriate, or deliberate? With LCD Soundsystem, it’s always the latter.
4: Two Headed Boy Pt 2 – Neutral Milk Hotel
I don’t think anyone needs me to trumpet In an Aeroplane Over the Sea. I think that’s been done before. I think that’s been done a thousand times before. It’s a great record, and not only because the songs are sung with the earnestness of a cancer victim. Apparently the whole thing is a love letter to Anne Frank. Who knew?
5: My Favourite Boxer – Of Montreal
This is a clever one, you see, because it’s upbeat, but the content of the lyrics is downbeat. Did you see what I did there? Yeah, you didn’t know I was that smart. You thought that I was just pulling these songs out purely for their musical content. But no, I was doing some clever shit behind the scenes. And now you’re feeling all stupid. Well you should, I’m better than you. (I’m probably not.)
6: Merilualu – Ous Mal
This is probably one of the most beautiful songs to come out last year, and it’s typical that it took a ‘Albums of 2010’ post for me to find it, nearly a year late. The things I could’ve done with this song in my life for a whole year! Although, I’d probably have spent more time ildly listening to it than getting work done because of it. But that’s always the way.
7: White Knuckles – Ok Go
Left field pick! I keep coming back to Ok Go. They’re always pretty great, and there’s a diversity of sound in their songs that makes them eminently listenable. White Knuckles sounds nothing like This Too Shall Pass, for instance, despite being about as good. And they’re both on the same album! That’s great. That really is. I should probably say something about the song now. Err.. it’s good.
8: Classic Noodlanding – Do Make Say Think
POST ROCK! Although if you were to put Do Make Say Think next to Godspeed, you’d only get confused. In a world of useless genre names, post rock is the most useless. It encompasses such a wide variety of stuff that even something that’s essentially jazz with allusions to crescendo can be shoved in the same pile as minimalist soundscapes. They’re not the same thing, but in genre, so they must be. Silly, silly tags.
9: Oh My Heart – Mother Mother
Canadian Indie, that’s both upbeat and dark at the same time. Like that other song I did, earlier. It’s much easier to find an musically upbeat and lyrically downbeat song than it is to find a musically downbeat and lyrically upbeat song. I wonder why that is. I guess it’s easier to sing sad things to a happy tune than it is to sing happy things to a sad tune. I’m sure that says something about the state of life. That we can put on a happy face while we’re sad, but not a sad face when we’re happy. But how do we tell? How indeed.
10: Tippy’s Demise – Stars of the Lid
And that’s the mixtape over, and you’ve got some Stars of the Lid to send you to sleep. Stars of the Lid are my sleeping music. If I’m ever stuck awake, tired and angry, I just shove on And Their Refinement of the Decline and smile a happy smile, curl up in my He-Man bedspread, and suck my thumb until I fall asleep, with just the nightlight for company. (Actually I grow some more beard and settle down by the campfire, after hunting some animals, LIKE A MAN.)
That’s all folks, see you tomorrow.