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Wednesday, April 13, 2011 

Music Diary #3 (last Wednesday)

Wednesday, April 6

I didn't manage to make it to the gym today (I usually go for 3-4 week days and then once on the weekend as well), and for whatever reason (the very long document I'm working on, all the non-album listening I did on Tuesday, the phase of the moon), everything I listened to during the day was on my iPod, at work, head down.

Subrosa - No Help for the Mighty Ones (8:30 AM)

I've mentioned this record on Facebook, but not here. So here's the relevent information; suffice it to say that this female-fronted, electric violin-using doom metal band made the strongest positive first-listen impression of any record I've heard in years, and so far it's still standing strong (it's also on Profound Lore, easily my favourite metal label, who happen to be based out of my province). I needed something to help me get up and go on the work I have for the day, which is (mostly) finishing off a really long document, so I turned to Subrosa's soaring, crushing sound. It worked really well.

Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway (9:50 AM)

I don't know if I'm the only one to do this, but I listened to this record next because I did not have a particular album in mind, hadn't heard this one for a while, and it was next in my iPod. As great as this one is, I'm not that familiar with it. I love Mark Kozelek's work (Red House Painters, here, solo, whatever), but I have so many albums by him that I haven't dug deep enough into many of the more recent additions to my collection (partly because I wind up just opting for Music for a Blue Guitar or the first self-titled Red House Painters record when I want to hear him). But this really is lovely, especially "Carry Me Ohio," "Duk Koo Kim," and "Si, Paloma." I make a renewed vow to actually give more time to Kozelek as I finish listening to this (not that the vow will be reflected in the rest of the week's listening).

Talk Talk - It's My Life (1:30 PM)

Spirit of Eden has been one of my favourite records of all time ever since Nick Southall (the guy who started the whole Music Diary thing) introduced me to it when we both wrote for Stylus. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on this particular blog, but Nick is not only a great writer but also a great encourager of writers; if not for him I would not have written for Stylus, which is functionally identical to saying that I would not be a music critic.

That has nothing to do with why I love Spirit of Eden, of course, although Nick's gorgeous essay on the album is what made me finally pull the trigger on tracking a copy down. That happened when I worked at the Beat Goes On, which led to me putting in reservations for all of Talk Talk's albums as well as Mark Hollis' solo record, and now I own all of their records except the first (which I don't think I really need). "Such a Shame" and "It's My Life" were the only Talk Talk songs I knew before I heard Spirit of Eden and they're both on this one, so I listened to it a lot after being temporarily stymied by my relative lack of reaciton to Laughing Stock (I'll get there, I'm sure). I've been a little obsessed with this record recently; when you get to the point where you even love "Call in the Night Boy" you know you're a committed fan of pop-era Talk Talk.

Talk Talk - The Colour of Spring (2:20 PM)

By contrast, I haven't really gotten into The Colour of Spring yet, and as much as this record reconfirms that, yes, it's gorgeous, it still don't leave much impression. It's definitely a blend of two records that I adore, and I imagine at some point it'll make more sense to me, but it's still a little fuzzy for now.

Twin Shadow - Forget (3:05 PM)

Hmm, it turns out I do more talking about music I'm listening to on Facebook than I thought (probable reason: more immediate response from people I know). When watching some other video I saw the clip for "Slow" tagged as NSFW, and I was at home, so I watched it out of curiosity. It's not actually NSFW (although it did make me feel a little filthy), but the tag did the trick; I'm still a little gaga over that song. I mentioned it to Stylus friends including the esteemable John Cunningham when I was in LA, and he told me that Forget was one of his favourite records of the year (I didn't even know it existed); he uploaded it for me when I got back, and sure enough, I am kicking myself for not knowing about it last year. This is just a really great record; I think this listen was prompted by hearing about the rather hilarious official video for "At My Heels."

The Radio Dept. - Why Won't You Talk About It? EP (3:50 PM)

At this point I've been at work since 8 AM and my ride is making noises about leaving, but he's not ready to go yet and I've got a good rhythm going on my document so I play something short to keep things going. I don't have a lot of EPs and the like on my iPod, so this one is one of my go-tos. It's not quite the single, although it has the same cover art. It's some sort of promo with the two songs from the single (the title track and "I Don't Need Love, I've Got My Band") plus "Liebling" and "We Would Fall Against the Tide." I got it from the student newspaper years ago on the basis that I'd heard of the band and it's small and perfect. It's kind of ridiculous that I've never investigated these guys further, although I do have "The Worst Taste in Music" on my computer (also good). I should at least get this.

Radar Brothers - The Singing Hatchet (4:00 PM)

My ride is running a little late and I'm suffering delusions that I can finish the document before he arrives (I don't), so I don't take long selecting my next play; this one is directly before the Radio Dept. in my iPod. I love love love this record and it's successor, as you can tell from my review of the next album they made (they mostly go by Radar Bros., it appears, and only used Radar Brothers for And the Surrounding Mountains, but I prefer the look of it and so that's how all my MP3s are tagged). But this might be my favourite album, maybe partly because a free download of "Open Ocean Sailing" was the first time I heard/heard of them. I kind of stopped keeping track of them after The Fallen Leaf Pages (and the album art for the new album is so ugh I just don't think I can bring myself to bother), but The Singing Hatchet and And the Surrounding Mountains will forever attest to Jim Putnam's genius in my books.

After all that, Wednesday night had my customary pub trivia night, which includes a music round. But I completely forgot to think of that in those terms, and I can't remember the answers (we got at least nearly all of them right, I don't think we had a perfect round this week), or even what the theme was. Apparently when I only hear less than 15 seconds from a song and I'm trying to remember which Led Zeppelin track it is (or whatever), I don't think of it as music.

Tomorrow: Another gym playlist, shirt-related listening, and a concert.


Esteemable! Also, funny to see you mention Zapruder Point yesterday: I haven't much kept up with Dan's music, but I've met him a handful of times around Chicago (we have a mutual friend), and he's a really nice guy.

Huh. You know, I went to write "esteemable," realized that I use it too often, and meant to use "inimitable" instead. Both apply!

And yeah, Dan seems like a really nice guy over email, which only made me feel worse, of course.

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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