Sunday, December 13, 2009

Xmas Compilation CD 2009

It's that time of year again - Compilation CDs will be out in the post just as soon as I'm able to copy the CDs, write the cards and print off some stickers. Merry Xmas everyone!

1. Andrew Bird – Fitz & Dizzyspells

Starting, as is traditional, with someone I know absolutely nothing about, I assume that Fitz and Dizzyspells is a firm of solicitors specialising in Employment Law and those cases where old ladies leave millions of pounds to their cats. It’s a good song, and I could have chosen pretty much anything from his Noble Bird album.

2. Stanley Brinks & Wave Pictures- End of the World

A lovely sweet rambling number with (oh yeah) extended solos. He’s ex- of Herman Düne, stars of last year’s Xmas CD, and Stanley Brinks may no more or less be his name than André Herman Düne, which is what he was called last time he was here.

3. God Help the Girl – God Help the Girl

Slightly uneven but still interesting album, but it works best where it’s piled on thick: strings, syrupy vocals and the preoccupations of a teenage boy (I mean girl, it's written from the point of view of a girl, and it's not like Stuart Murdoch has just written one of his standard songs and flipped all the genders. P.S. I WAS BEING SARCASTIC).

4. Bishop Allen – The Ancient Common Sense of Things

By far the best thing on their otherwise excellently titled album, ‘Grrr...’, this is pretty nice, isn’t it? Gawd knows what the name of that xylophone-type instrument is called; a xylophone, perhaps?

5. The Duckworth Lewis Method – Jiggery Pokery

OK, so to appreciate this track you do need a certain amount of cricketing knowledge, but once you know that this is a song written from the point of view of tubby England batsman Mike Gatting about the first ever ball Shane Warne bowled in the Ashes which turned impossibly and got Gatting out, you can appreciate the Noel Coward-ly wordplay of Neil Hannon from the weirdly good cricketing concept album released with Tendulkar-like timing during the Ashes this year. Whew, that was a long sentence – I fell I owe you some more punctuation for getting through it: .,.,.,..,,.,
Perhaps it’s not too much of a claim to suggest that this is the only single-delivery test cricket-based pop song to feature the words ‘contra bassoon’. I’m happy to be proved wrong.

6. Hot Chip – Take it In

After their disappointing album from last year, this bodes very well for the new one. Having not laid sight on them recently, I’m unable to let you know whether the lead singer still dresses like Brains out of Thunderbirds, but it’s hard not to like the chutzpah of a band releasing a teaser to a new album which starts like a doomy militaristic New Romantic band writing their ‘serious’ song for their album. As my music player wryly notes: “Genre: Electronic”.

7. Annie – I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me

I probably haven’t given the newish album a chance yet, given that I was so enamoured of Bubble Gum that I went out and bought (yes, bought) her debut as an import because it didn’t get properly released here for literally a billion donkey’s years. Although in fairness to me, her record company didn’t seem to be too bothered about listening to it either, given that they apparently took about two years to release this one. Poor Annie.

To further confuse matters, I’ve put I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me on, which was released as a teaser for the album, but didn’t even make it on. Shame! Still, what more do you want than a song that steals Prince's inability to spell and also the stop-start bit from Kiss?

8. Phil Phillips – Sea of Love

Ok, this one only gets on by virtue of being from 1959, which is 50 years ago this year. He doesn’t really make the best use of the ‘sea’ metaphor, but makes up with it in doo wap, which is a fair trade-off in my book.

9. Belle & Sebastian – The State I Am In

Last year, I put a song that didn’t make the B&S BBC sessions album on the Xmas album. This year, to atone for that contrariness, I’m putting one that was on that album. You could accuse me of liking early B&S too much, but I’d just drop my pencil case and faint in a mixture of shock and under-nourishment.

10. John Martyn – May You Never

Poor old John Martyn died at the beginning of 2009. He was brilliantly inventive with guitar delay pedals and mumbly slurry vocals that you can’t really hear. Neither of which feature on this remarkably well enunciated track from Solid Air.

11. Dirty Projectors & David Byrne – Knotty Pine

From the actually good charity album Dark Was the Night, I know little about this track as I can’t find the CD case, sorry. I believe that it’s a part of David Byrne’s ongoing project to collaborate with every living person who has ever picked up a musical instrument. I wish him well.

12. M. Ward – Let’s Dance

I was going to put something on this CD from his new (cheery) album, but I heard this on the Adam & Joe show the other day and thought I’d put this on instead. I particularly like the way he deals with the tricky ‘If you should fall...’ section of the song.

13. Shakira – She Wolf

This is the inaugural Kirsty’s Korner Khoice track – selected by my better half of the fairer sex – and she’s plumped for Shakira’s brilliantly raunchy attempt to better Werewolves of London, including at least one aa-woooooooooooooh, and some wolfy heavy breathing. Her English dictionary is once again put to excellent use – look out for the unexpected coffee machine simile, and her biologically dubious assertion that nocturnal creatures are not so prudent.

14. Bob Dylan – O’ Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

It’s hard to be surprising in a near fifty year career, but his Bobness manages it here, putting his own unique Bob DylAN intoNATte-e-ON on latin, killing that dead language deader than the ghost of Christmas past in a particularly wooden stage adaptation of A Christmas Carol. It sounds very much like it was recorded in one take, without having had the benefit of seeing or singing the lyrics beforehand. Merry Christmas everybody!