So I decided that, like many of you out there, I don’t really wanna work that hard on Fridays. So I’ll make you a deal: you let me blather on about awesome tracks on Fridays and I’ll continue to do my level best to keep you from doing anything productive at your office. Sound good? I thought so. So go steal another donut from the box that your coworker brought in (you’ll probably exercise this weekend, right?) and check out some songs that I’m totally fucking loving these days.
The Future of the Left, “Suddenly It’s a Folk Song.” This is probably my favorite song right now. There’s something about the way Andy Falkous sings, “open wide for/sudden folk songs/ open wide for/ certain doom” that fills me with an endlessly giddy feeling. Falco repeats the phrase “certain doom” while some lovely harmonies appear with the line “and suddenly folk songs are part of our future.” This is how the world ends, people. Not with a bang, but with a folk song. I really wanted to find a video of this song featuring Muppets, but YouTube let me down. If it is within your power to make a Muppet video of “Suddenly It’s a Folk Song,” please do so forthwith.
Hot Chocolate, “You Sexy Thing.” I never promised you that these songs would fit together in any way whatsoever. Hot Chocolate was some kind of disco/funk band, but I don’t know any of their other songs or anything else about them. This song was in The Full Monty (I think), but that doesn’t really matter. “You Sexy Thing” has bongo drums, violins, and awesome vocal harmonies. That matters.
Listening Party, “Pachina.” I saw these guys open for Wolf Parade a couple of years ago and bought their entire recorded output (one full-length album and a self-titled EP) immediately thereafter. I just found out they put out an album last year and my music-buying dollar is going to be pointed in its direction very soon. Anyway, “Pachina” is a song about being lost as hell. The narrator implores his buddy to “leave my body in the middle of the road” if they never make it home (it’s pretty clear said narrator believes the situation is hopeless). This band, like Hot Chocolate, has badass vocal harmonies (the comparison ends there) and they kind of remind me of early Modest Mouse with better melodies.
Menomena, “Sleeping Beauty.” Menomena has built their career on layering together beautiful, dynamic songs and last year’s Mines was their masterpiece. “Sleeping Beauty” builds to a stunning chorus (it’s just the words “stand back,” but the way Brent Knopf sings it is ball-tinglingly awesome) and the drums on this song are probably a really good reason to learn to play the drums.
Sleater-Kinney, “Words and Guitar.” Like “Suddenly It’s a Folk Song,” (and hell, most Future of the Left songs), this track from Dig Me Out puts a big ol’ grin on my face and makes me want to rock out until I break myself. The song is primal, brutal rock ‘n’ roll that promises to “rock you ’til you’re good and dead” and could probably deliver on that. Corin Tucker is one of the all-time great rock vocalists and teenage girls who are busy wanting to be Lady GaGa should starting wanting to be her instead.
Mike Doughty, “Sweet Lord in Heaven.” I bet Doughty is tired of hearing how much everyone loves Skittish, his first official post-Soul Coughing album, but the fact remains that it’s a really beautiful record. “Sweet Lord in Heaven” is a lovely, lilting meditation on heroin and rock ‘n’ roll suicide (“Oh, I have felt/ Cobain’s Sarcoma/ growing on/ this will of mine”). This is probably my favorite Doughty tune.
Handsome Furs, “All We Want, Baby, is Everything.” I’m a huge Dan Boeckner fan, thanks largely to Wolf Parade’s “This Heart’s On Fire.” He and his wife, Alexei Perry, have a band called Handsome Furs and they have an album called Face Control that features “All We Want, Baby, is Everything,” which is about as beautiful a blast of 1980s pop as you could possibly ask for on a Friday. When Boeckner sings, “Heaven/ is a song we etched in gold,” I’m pretty sure he knows that song is really the one he’s singing.
Wolf Parade, “This Heart’s On Fire.” After reading what I just wrote, I think it would be stupid not to mention “This Heart’s On Fire.” Where “All We Want” is all synths and programmed drums, “This Heart’s On Fire” (from Apologies to the Queen Mary) is all pounding drums and Boeckner’s clanging guitar. Boeckner shreds his voice bellowing, “And you’re my favorite thing/ tell it everywhere I go/ I don’t know what to do” and then the song explodes into one of the most satisfying endings to any album I’ve heard in the last ten years. When everyone was counting down the best songs of the first decade of the 21st century (this was a thing. People made lists. Absurd, I know, but that’s what’s wrong with music criticism today – it thinks it matters), I was surprised to find that none of the lists had “This Heart’s On Fire” and LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” tied for number one.
LCD Soundsystem, “All My Friends.” See how easy this is? At this point, I’m basically free-associating songs to write about. Seriously though, “All My Friends” is one of the best ways to spend about seven minutes of your weekend. Not only is this one of the best melodies James Murphy’s ever written, it’s the kind of song (like “Nightswimming” by R.E.M.) that can have a very specific and rich context for each individual listener. The line “I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision/ for another five years of life” resonates very deeply with me and I’d like to think that, if I’m living right, it always will.
I think that about does it for this inaugural edition of the Lazy Friday Mix. You may be wondering if I started this feature with the ulterior motive of commissioning a Muppety video for “Suddenly It’s a Folk Song.” To that charge, I can only respond, “Perhaps.” But “perhaps” I will dream up some kind of mega-awesome reward for some creative person who can show me Kermit the Frog singing, “Open wide for/ certain doom” while Animal fucks up a drum kit behind him. Have a good weekend, kiddies, and don’t forget: April showers bring May flowers and Mayflowers bring smallpox-infested blankets.