Music but not jazz (you’re welcome) -

Music but not jazz (you’re welcome)


You either like The Magnetic Fields or you do not like The Magnetic Fields. There is no try. You either think their epic 69 Love Songs is one of the great, hilarious, heartbreaking, weird and sometimes terrible records of all time, or you do not. There is no hemming, and certainly no hawing.

If you’ve never heard The Magnetic Fields and are at all keen to see where you may end up on this spectrum, I recommend listening to their newish song, You Must Be Out of Your Mind – a tune that, I’m sure most fans would agree, condenses into three minutes much of what The Magnetic Fields are about (brooding, despair, sarcasm, crazy lovers, crazier ex-lovers, baritone and general, all-round jangliness). Stephin Merritt writes a lot of lines that make you cringe, and a lot more lines that make you wish you’d written those lines.

From the second verse of You Must Be Out of Your Mind:

You can’t go round just saying stuff because it’s pretty/And I no longer drink enough to think you’re witty.

Other current songs of awesomeness:

Answer to Yourself, The Soft Pack – If you’re an aspiring hipster, you can say things like, “I liked them back when they were called The Muslims and they had credibility, man.” Sure, people will punch you in the face when you say this, but that’s the price of being a hipster. Also, you have to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. No one said being a hipster would be tasty. (When I was in university, we used to listen to The Cult before exams to psyche/wake ourselves up. I recommend that current university students use this song. It’s a real psycher-upper… so long as you don’t dwell on the lyrics about thinking you’re going to die and everything.)

September Gurls, Big Star – Not a new song by any means, but back in the rotation for death-based reasons. Children by the millions…

Got Nuffin, Spoon – I listened to the new Spoon record, Transference, and didn’t like it. Then I listened to it again and I loved it. There hasn’t been a flip-flop this abrupt since every single thing Stephen Harper did last week.

Ain’t No Grave, Johnny Cash – It’s becoming apparent that Johnny Cash may have died from Rick Rubin working him to death.

Heaven Can Wait, Charlotte Gainsbourg – She’s mostly French but her music is mostly not. And that’s mostly fine by me, because that way I can mostly understand it.

Method Acting/Cortez the Killer, Dave Rawlings Machine – An epic 10-minute number that covers both Bright Eyes and Neil Young. On iTunes, you have to buy the whole record to get this song – which I did, because I’m the world’s foremost impulse buyer of everything that can be bought impulsively: music, books, gum, politicians, ponies… When ultimately I declare bankruptcy, the reason will be “one-clickedness.”

Norway, Beach House – Entire chorus: “Norway-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay/Norway-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay.” Can’t wait to see what they do with Sweden.

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Music but not jazz (you’re welcome)

  1. " It's becoming apparent that Johnny Cash may have died from Rick Rubin working him to death."

    Good one.

  2. Is the magnetic fields song better than "Born on a Train"?

    (I like about 2,000,000 of their songs, but that's from a catalogue of roughly 1 billion, I think).

    • luckily merritt is also in two or three other bands so he could record the other five billion songs.

  3. Pabst Blue Ribbon? I had one many years ago. You'd have to hold me at gunpoint to get me to drink another.

    • I did take a half class in classical music at UWO. I think it was in the summer. It speaks to my failings as a sophisticate that I did worse in that class than I did in calculus. And I only attended about three of my calculus classes.

  4. Thank God, a list of proper music recommendations.

    Feschuk – two comments.

    1) the last time you made list, one of your recommendations was Edward Sharpe/Home and my missus curses your name when I play the song for the millionth time now. But she loves your columns so you are mostly forgiven.

    2) Weird that you mention The Cult. Was talking to a mate of mine the other day about The Cult concert in toronto in 1987 when Guns/Roses opened for them at The Ex. Were you there?

    Three new songs to me but I have no idea if they are technically new songs:

    MIA – Paper Planes
    Peter, Bjorn and John – Young Folks
    Noah And The Whale – Five Years Time

    And it was a lovely sunny day where I am yesterday and I was out and about in the car for a bit and the three songs that made me think I was a hipster even though I am middle aged and not at all a hipster:

    Outkast – So Fresh, So Clean "And we are … the coolest mofos on the planet …… In my mind ….. the sky is falling aint no need to panic"

    Ronson/Winehouse – Valerie – "wont you come on over …. stop making a fool out of me ….. why dont you come over, Valerie"

    Frank Wilson – Do I Love You (Indeed I do) "From early morning until late at night …. You fill my heart with pure delight ….
    Do I love you?"

    I am going to work my way through your suggestions later. Thanks for the tips.

    • 'Valerie' is originally by the Zutons. The cover came out only like a year after the original, and understandably stepped all over its chances of getting heard outside the UK, but if you like the song, you might very well like the rest of the band's output.

      • Thanks for the heads-up. I will check out The Zutons.

    • Can't say I saw Cult/GNR at the EX, although i probably SHOULD say it since it sounds like it would have been epic. Hard to imagine Axl being in an opening band – deprived of his God-given right to make people wait four hours for him to perform.

      Good list of tunes, jolyon. Even better by Noah and the Whale is First Days of Spring.

  5. Hey great taste… I'm listening to Big Star right now. Sad to see Alex Chilton pass away. That Beach House track is impressive, though the whole album is a bit too much sweetness to endure as a whole. Lot's of great musicians have died recently Lhasa de Sela, Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr (AKA: Jay Reatard), Vic Chesnutt, and Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, who's It's a Wonderful Life I never tire of (links to Canada's wonderful Guy Maddin's video of the song). And yeah, Stephin Merritt is great.

    • I can handle the whole Beach House album at once, but I'm 40% teenage girl so I'm capable of enduring a tremendous amount of preciousness.

      • OMG! Well, if that's the case, U will love their furry white jam space! Take Care is my favorite from that album.

        • It's like they recorded that video inside my dreams.

    • So sad to hear about Mark Linkous. Good Morning, Spider was in heavy rotes once upon a time.

      Also, if anyone likes teh punk, Titus Andronicus is highly reccommended.

  6. I love the new Spoon album. My favourite tune is "The Mystery Zone", but there's hardly a bad song on it.

    On the heavier side, some good recent (i.e. last 12 months) releases.

    Strange Cousins from the West – Clutch
    Horehound – The Dead Weather (Jack White collaboration)
    Them Crooked Vultures (eponymous). Collaboration of Josh Homme, Dave Grohl and JOHN PAUL JONES!! Takes several listens to get into, and some tracks are pretty weak, but overall its a good album.

    • Don't you mean Feschuk? I don't recall Wells ever mentioning writing exams.

      Although I suppose one only has to mention jazz and the whole world thinks of Wells.

  7. And there is a new single by the Hold Steady called "Hurricane J" which deserves a listen or a hundred.

    • streaming at Pitchfork if you have the right hipster creds to get there

  8. Yay, no jazz! Thanks for the tunes refs, Feschuk.