As 2005 draws to a close, found myself pressed by a friend to think about a song that summed up the year for me. That's tough, one song? I had plans yesterday to post my 41 favorite songs of the year (that's right, 41), but I was shoved out of the office early before I could post the playlist, which, naturally, is only extant in complete form on my work computer. So, look for that on Tuesday.
In the meantime, here's four songs that meant a lot to me this year -- two old and two new. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Cindy Hotpoint's year -- in four songs.
Here's something novel -- four more Christmas-y songs. Yes, yes -- I know. It's time for some forward New Year's thinking and 2005 recapping and Christmas is so, well, earlier this week. Well, damn the hipsters and the trends, I say it's okay to listen to Christmas-themed songs until Epiphany, which is so totally next Friday. Okkervil River -- Listening To Otis Redding At Home During Christmas. I spent time Monday and Tuesday going through boxes of my things still lurking in my parents' garage. It's been nearly 12 years since I left home! I didn't find the things I was looking for (a few key mix tapes from high school), but I did find lots of long-forgotten photos and letters and mementoes. (Okkervil River's website. Buy Don't Fall In Love With Everyone You See @ Insound.)
Have some melancholy tinged with hope, sorta:
Neko Case -- Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis. Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers -- Hard Candy Christmas. One of my best friends from childhood had her first baby the day after Christmas (congrats, Auggie & welcome to you, Lucas!); my best friend from college is pregnant with her second child (Margot, I can't wait to meet you!). I basically trashed what amounted to being my starter marriage this year; my current bestest gal pal is getting a real divorce. But it's all gonna be okay, for all of us. I don't mean to give the impression that my holidays were depressing, they were anything but! (Buy New Coat of Paint: The Songs of Tom Waits @ Insound.) (Buy Once Upon a Christmas @ Amazon.)
Hello to readers referred from My Old Kentucky Blog & Clever Titles Are So Last Summer! We're back from 2 days on the road in a car full of Christmas loot. If you're ever stopping over in Ozona, Texas -- check out the Super 8 Motel at exit 372 off Interstate 10. There's a solarium. With a pool and hot tub! It was the nicest roadside motel I'd ever stayed at.
Anyway, here's a song to tide you over until I can get my act together (tomorrow, we hope!) and maybe talk about my five favorite songs of 2005 or something like that.
I made the grievous mistake of not grabbing some mp3s of a CD my mom recommended, Les Double Six, a super French vocalese sextet from the '60's. (Mom, if you're reading, send tracks, pls!) So, here's a song instead that, when listened to on repeat, made the drive a lot less tedious.
Happy Holidays & such! We're out of here for about a week, but that doesn't mean there won't be a post or two maybe that comes as a result of raiding the 'rent's music collection. This condition is genetic, you know!
(Something about Liz Fraser's delivery makes this song even more melancholy... I mean, Frosty does melt and all. It's sad...!)
Listening to The Chieftains' Bells of Dublin is a tradition in my family, along with watching the "Christmas Cake" episode from the BBC series of All Creatures Great and Small and the Cary Grant/Loretta Young classic The Bishop's Wife. This song is about how you know, by the time Boxing Day (that's the day after Christmas) rolls around, you've had just about enough of all that cheer and goodwill nonsense-- towards your family, at least:
Covers Aught-Five. I've started to think about the daily theme for these entries when I go to bed, and who knows how long this will continue. However, fueled by the acquision of Gold Sounds, the jazz album of Pavement covers as interpreted by James Carter, Cyrus Chestnut, Ali Jackson and Reginald Veal, last night, I bring you a few of my favorite covered (and cover-ish -- I guess doing a standard isn't really a cover, but...) songs from 2005.
Gold Sounds (Carter, Chestnut, Jackson & Veal) -- Cut Yr Hair. The entire album is fantastic, but this is still the standout track. Maybe that's because it's the only Pavement song that I really like. Featuring James Carter on sax, Cyrus Chestnut on keys, Ali Jackson on drums, and Reginald Veal on bass, they take indie dude-rock to dizzying heights of unparalleled joy.
Okkervil River -- Black Sheep Boy Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff channels Tim Hardin, joining the venerable company of Wilson Phillips and Rod Stewart. Oh, I kid, I kid. This is the lead track and thematic lynchpin for one of the best albums of 2005. Okkervil River, a long time favorite, is finally coming into their own. I expect even bigger and better things from these fellows in the future. Bette Midler -- Is That All There Is? Remember how when The Divine Miss M covered Ben Folds' "Boxing," and we realized a) that she was still a hell of a song stylist, and b) that Ben Folds was seriously one hell of a songwriter? Well, she kind of even blows that out of the water here. The world-weary Bette has seen it all, and she lets you know that with just a sardonic twirl of her still-golden voice. From her excellent album of standards from the Rosemary Clooney songbook.
All Spoon, all the time. That's what we're about today. I had the privledge of seeing a really great set from the band at The Parish in Austin last night (it was a Christmas benefit show thrown by local gicky "alternative" radio station 101X). It's been a few years since the band played a venue of that size, and it was really nice to see them all up close and personal after a whirlwind year of playing 1000+ capacity venues in support of their latest album, Gimme Fiction. In fact, it made my heart do that squeezy ache thing for most of the set, you know what I mean? I guess that means I may love this band way more than I should. But they're home to me; Spoon will always be the soundtrack to my time in Austin.
Thanks to our adorable benefactor Bunkadoo, The Rich Girls Are Weeping no longer have to use evil free file transfer sites. I'll try to reposition the older songs today -- but for now, here's a whole mess of Spoon b-sides and personal favorites from the era encompassing the release of Series of Sneaks through Girls Can Tell (ca. 1998-2001), when the band signed to and was summarily dropped from Elektra and then found a home on Merge Records. With a whole lot of drama in between. And as a bonus, I've thrown in my two favorite Spoon songs of all time (both off Girls Can Tell), from a solo live set by frontman Britt Daniel on WNYU, May 17, 2001.
(A Series of Sneaks, Love Ways, and Girls Can Tell are available from Insound. The 30 Gallon Tank +3 7" (is available from Peek-a-Boo Records and The Agony of Laffitte EP (Saddle Creek Records) is out of print.)
Ok, so I lied. We're back this morning with more goodness. Which is good, really, because today's lead track is something I found earlier today, right after I woke up extra early to schlep into work for a loathsome meeting.
I came to Stars via a good friend who always seems to tip me off to things I really, really love or really, really hate. It's interesting seeing where our tastes diverge and meet up again. In the case of Stars, we're both suckers for boy/girl vocals and semi-swirly and complex pop songs, and the band delivers on both fronts. Unfortunately, I've never seen the band live -- I caught a sliver of a day party set at SXSW this year, but missed the two sold out shows they played with Death Cab for Cutie this fall. I imagine that tour gave them gobs more exposure, which couldn't be more wonderful in my book. The track below is a pretty straightforward cover of "Fairytale of New York," originally done by The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl, but the swirling strings and mellow saxes added to the brass section smooth out the song's rough edges. (It's one of my favorite Christmas songs, btw, which I think makes me kind of morbid. It's right up there with Tom Waits' "Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis.") Anyway, this song is the b-side to Stars' single release of "Your Ex-Lover is Dead," taken from their wonderful 2005 release, Set Yourself on Fire. (available at Rough Trade.)
Here's the thing about Tilly and the Wall. Generally, they're kind of too precious for my tastes, what with the tap dancing percussionist and heartbreaking little songs and all. But this track (and the hidden one after the silence...), which closes out their 2004 album Wild Like Children, is kind of amazing and epic, but it's the hidden track (after about several minutes of silence and then random studio noise, wait for it!) that really slays me. It's one of those songs where as you listen, you're pretty sure you know exactly the kind of person the song might be about. It's almost too intimate and raw and open, almost like you're trespassing on the memory. (Why did you have to get up and put your coat on?) I find that I always want to put one or both of these songs on a mix cd, but splitting the songs up, (or subjecting someone to several minutes of silence) just seems wrong. You'll see what I mean -- and sorry for the size of the download! (Available from Insound.)
We L-U-V Brian Eno. His work with Roxy Music, his solo albums, the ambient stuff -- everything. In case you were wondering, the name of this blog is taken from the lyrics of "Cindy Tells Me," off Here Come The Warm Jets, which may be one of the best records of all time. Seriously! (available from Insound)
Congratulations to The Decemberists on signing to Capitol Records! Here's a Picaresque-era b-side from that's appeared in a few places. I got it off the Acuarela Songs 3 compilation a few months ago, but apparently, the song is also available (though possibly in a different version) on the vinyl-only Picaresqueties and the UK single for "16 Military Wives," released by Rough Trade. The Acuarela Songs 3 compilation, released in celebration of Acuarela Discos' 10th anniversary, features rare and exclusive tracks from Destroyer, Maquiladora, Piano Magic, The Impossible Shapes, as well as a handful Spanish indie acts I'm afraid I don't know anything about. According to the press for the record, every song included was written especially for this compilation. (No longer carried by Insound, Acuarela Songs 3 is stocked by Tonevendor.)
Also in the press this week, Owen Pallett, the adorable flaxen-haired frontman of Final Fantasy and sometime fiddler for the Arcade Fire was profiled in The New York Times on Sunday, Dec. 11. Here's a great track from his pre-Final Fantasy project, Les Mouches (You remember what mouches are from your high school French class, right? Flies.) This track, "Divorce the Ones You Love," is a hodgepodge of frenetic strings, finger plucked guitar, and plantive nursery-rhyme lyrics from the sole Les Mouches full-length album, You Mean More to Me Than 10,000 Christians. (available from Insound.)
The Rich Girls Are Weeping is curated by super best friends Cindy Hotpoint & Pinkie Von Bloom. (And yes, they took the name from the Brian Eno song "Cindy Tells Me.") They formerly lived in Austin, Texas but are now based in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Almost all of the content contained herein is dependent the vagaries of your hostess' weird tastes and whatever they're really into these days. As such, The Rich Girls Are Weeping does not focus as strongly on flavor-of-the-instant acts as some mp3 blogs; however, if you are in a band or with artist or label management and would like to send promotional materials to Cindy and Pinkie, drop an email to elegantfaker AT gmail DOT com. (NB: We receive a lot of email -- please don't fret if we don't get back with you right away! Urgent messages & mashnotes can be directed to cindy.hotpoint AT gmail DOT com)
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