SYNOPSIS: Tune in, turn on—turn down. NYC’s an absurdly loud place, and even when we pull the heavy velvet curtains close around us in our palatial sleeping chamber, all those jackhammers and drills, Boarshead delivery trucks, garbage men, rude folk on cell phones, screaming children, skull-crushing reggaeton beats, yammering NYU students, barking dogs, screaming B&T aliens, planes, trains, and what have we forgotten? Something. Probably lots of stuff. Oh, right—what with all that racket it’s hard to hear yourself think sometimes. We advocate a wee respite from all the sonic assault. While this week’s playlist is hardly SOOTHING SOUNDS FOR BABY it does have a CQ—that’s “chill quotient”—that just might help you relax a bit. Get your blanky ready, get horizontal and just… let… go…
NEXT WEEK: Smut (and nothing but) with our special guest Uncle Tom!
Intro: “Abstract Reality” by Godstar, from TEKNO ACID BEAT (Temple, 1998) A pre-op Genesis-P in disguise, here helping to define/blur the turf then known as acid house, though as always it’s about cut-ups, subversion, and audio mayhem for him/her/it. Rave on, darling!
“Swans” (demo version) by Rivulets, from A WISH ON A STAR (Dreamy, 2002) A Low compatriot, and a sweetheart. Listen up.
“Shot with a Diamond” by Loop, from A GILDED ETERNITY (RCA, 1990) The cover used copper metallic ink, which makes it immediately recognizable as a relic of its time, but the strange, seductive drones that seep from this record’s grooves are timeless. Not really shoegaze, but shares something with that genre. Let the youngsters who think they invented noise get an earful of this and maybe they’ll get it right one day. Or maybe not.
“While My Lady Sleeps” by Chet Baker, from IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU (Pacific, 1958) It’s mastered a little hot for our taste on this 1991 CD rerelease, but this classic album has an undeniable charm (in this case probably drunken or strung out or both, but so what?) which makes it a staple in the stacks for us. Sad, yes—but so is almost everything if you think about it. We think about it too much, that’s true. But this helps.
“Funny Love” by Family of God, from EXITER (Sugar Free, 2000) A great, underloved disc from the band who covered “We Are the World.” There are Iggy and Echo connections here, and just what the funny love he’s singing about is anyone’s guess. We bet it’s dirty.
“Current Therapist” by In Civilian Clothing, from WE MADE A KILLING, WE MADE A MESS (Right Place Records, 2006) It’s almost too funny to be here, really, but it’s so gently derisive and sweet (sweet?) in a “Common People” kind of genius way. These kiddies intrigue us. If they were just a little glossier they’d probably be on Le Grand Magistery. Maybe one day. Now, go say howdy and tell them we sent you.
“An Ocean We Can Breathe” by John Foxx & Louis Gordon, from SHIFTING CITY (Metamatic, 1998) Prettier than David Sylvian, and probably much much weirder. And tall. This song used to make Dudley, Stephin and yours truly almost sob back in our Dick’s Bar days. Now of course we stay home and tune our 12-string guitars. But then—oh, then! NB: Trying to breath water is a bad idea.
“I Remember” by Low, from A LIFETIME OF TEMPORARY RELIEF: B-SIDES & RARITIES (Chairkickers Union, 2004) Goddess Mimi sings this, which is almost a minimal new-wave track, though her husband and co-conspiritor/guitarist/vocalist in their sublime band sings it on the CD release of TRUST. It’s totally creep anyhow, in that crepuscular gloom way that makes us shiver with delight. The Mim-vocal version features on their wonderfully weird box set. Nice type, too! (We notice these things, of course.)
“Push It Out” by the Beta Band, from THE THREE EPS (Astralwerks/EMI, 1991) Oh, it’s so so so about this record. “Dr Baker” makes us cry and giggle. We like that. But this one makes us cry, giggle and slither around in our chair with something like glee . . . Their other releases are pretty much garbage, but this compilation still sounds grand, and—like any good work of art—defines its own terms immediately and succinctly. RIP Beta Band.
“Salad Days” by Young Marble Giants, from COLOSSAL YOUTH (Play It Again Sam, 2003) This perfect miniature is from these wild teens’ 1980 debut on the noble Rough Trade label. Cardiff had never heard the like, and even Courtney Love loved ’em enough to drill her way through “Credit in the Straight World” (also from COLOSSAL YOUTH) on her own monumental LIVE THROUGH THIS. We love ’em because they were calm, cute, played the Stylophone, made their own drum machine, and played weird-but-classic pop songs (well, sorta . . .) with brevity and wit. And did we mention Stylophones?
“Rain” by Tones on Tail, from EVERYTHING (Beggars Banquet, 1998) Yes, we often come back to these guys for a little melodic downtime. Funny, in retrospect, how little Bauhaus we played in the Treehouse in those days (despite what you might read, your Uncle LD was NEVER goth). But we sure pricked up ours ears for this incarnation of parts of Bauhaus the minute we heard their single “Performance.” Literally everything they ever recorded is available on these two discs, though the sequence is weird for those of us who knew the American release of their debut full-length POP (1984). Still, most of it is terrific. This progmonster song sequence meanders along for a while before anything really happens, and who cares if all those acoustic guitar overdubs are in tune, anyhow?
SOOTHING CATNIP & CHAMOMILE TEA (from about.com)
1/2 cup dried catnip
3/4 cup dried chamomile
1 cup dried lemon balm
1/4 cup dried mint
1/4 cup dried lemongrass
Mix the herbs thoroughly, and store in an air tight container. For a cup of tea, use two teaspoons in a cup of boiling water. Steep for five minutes and strain out the herbs. A little honey is yummy.
P.S. Catnip causes vivid dreams in some lucky people.