Thursday, November 06, 2008

Playlist/212: Christopher Schelling

Last week's debut (guinea pig) PLAYLIST was a huge hit. (Great stuff, Jesse!) So I'm happy to bring you list number 2, this time from my friend and book agent extraordinaire Christopher Schelling.

You can listen to the whole mix above or in a new window HERE.

1. "Good Day" Tally Hall
A wonderfully spastic pop song that owes as much to Queen as it does to the Beatles. But then, so do I. I was a huge Queen queen as a young teen. I was also a Heart queen, but the grand gestures of Freddie Mercury and the even fuglier guys in his band won out over the wonderfully whorish Wilson sisters, one of whom played a flute, which was not respectable rock. Faggot in leotards, yes; fat girl with flute, no. But the point is that this Tally Hall track is shiny and Queen-y and Abbey Road-y and it splays in a frightening number of directions during its three-and-a-half minutes without ever losing control. It's also got an inventive, if potentially seizure-inducing, VIDEO.

2. "S.O.S. Tan Fashion (Emergency)" Kevin Johansen + the Nada
I don't speak Spanish (nor any other foreign language) but Argentine-American Kevin Johansen's Barry White rumble makes complete sense, especially in this burbly synth treat. I have it on good authority that he puts on a sizzling live show, which makes sense because he's one of those effortlessly hot Latin guys. Check him out in STOP MOTION.

3. "Standing Bird" Love Psychedelico
I don't speak Japanese (nor any other foreign language) but it doesn't appear these slinky Japanese rockers do either. I could swear parts of these lyrics are English, but there's a lot that might be Eloi or maybe Cylon. The spiky, chugging British Invasion sound really works with this sinuous melody and spare arrangement. So what if you can't sing along?

4. "Love Love, Kiss Kiss" Alkaline Trio
After more than a decade as punks, these guys have clearly gotten old and tired and probably fat but definitely far less angry. Their latest album is downright poppy -- and unsurprisingly, their most popular. This is still a pretty harsh anti-love song, a condemnation of Public Displays of Affection ("You're making me sick/I wish you'd just stop showing off/For the rest of us that no one wants to love/It's hard enough trying to drink another winter all alone") but the bubblegum melody could have been lifted from an Archies song.

5. "Arms Tonite" Mother Mother
This past weekend I was in Canada. Calgary, to be exact, and it was ... well, it sure was Canada. Sadly, I didn't get to sample any homegrown music, but they definitely build their bands weird and wonderful up there. North-North America's latest skewed popsters, Mother Mother, have dropped some of their crazyass hillbilly eccentricity for their new album, "O My Heart." "Arms Tonight" sounds like they channeled fellow Vancouverians, the New Pornographers -- a very good thing indeed.

6. "One Second" Tegan and Sara
The weekend reminded me that Canada is an enormous country with a small population. Apparently Tegan and Sara need to live on opposite sides of it in order to get along. I didn't know this song from their "I'll Take the Blame" EP before I heard them play it live last month. It sounded much more like a new wave nugget than this studio version, but I love the creepy calliope quality it achieves. They are by far Canada's best identical twin lesbian folk rock duo.

7. "Blood Flower" Tilly & the Wall
This sounds like a lost girl group song -- if the girls in question were Manson chicks dropping a lot of acid. The band is often dismissed because they're named after an obscure children's book, and even more because they use a tap dancer as a percussionist in their live shows (not an entirely wise choice). But the two girls up front sure sound great when they howl together.

8. "La glaciazione" Subsonica
Genius paranoid rock from the unclassifiable Italian outfit. They can veer from Metallica to London Symphony within a song, but this one's pure e-pocalypse. It roughly translates (did I mention I speak no Italian?) as "The Freezing," and the message seems to be, "We're standing on the abyss, and when it explodes, the world goes with it." Everybody dance! How about the SCARY VIDEO, featuring a literal nuclear family?

9. "Impatience" We Are Scientists
Brooklyn's cutest duo (OK, one's cuter than the other) turned out a brilliant album earlier this year with Brain Thrust Mastery, and "Impatience" is the soaring, standout track. They've got more than a few hair issues, which they explore in the CHEESY VIDEO.

10. "Did You Give the World Some Love Today, Baby?" Doris
Gritty blue-eyed soul -– probably actual blue since Doris is/was a Swede. This is the title track (so catchy it had to be, huh?) from an obscure 1970 album that has a serious "Dusty in Memphis" bent.

Bonus track:
"Century Eyes" Shearwater
Jonathan Meiburg, part-time ornithologist and part-time member of Okkervil River, is full-time brilliant with his side project, Shearwater. Originally formed to perform the soft songs Okkervil didn't do, he's honed his "from a whisper to a strangled yelp" style to a sharp point, and the arrangements show his love for John Cale (who is not and never was John Cage).

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