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Typhoon Usagi whirling its way to Hong Kong

Typhoon Usagi is headed straight for Hong Kong, putting to rest any well-laid plans for a cruisey Sunday evening by the harbour.

The Hong Kong Observatory this evening downgraded Usagi from an all-conquering ‘Super Typhoon’ down to a supposedly meeker ‘Severe Typhoon’, meaning winds will reach only a breezy 150 km/h.

With typhoons on the mind, have a listen to one of my favourite tracks of the year – “Hurricane” by MS MR:

It’ll blow you away… Okay, perhaps that’s stretching the theme a step too far.

2012 Music Highlights

It dawned on me tonight that I hadn’t heard much new music this year, aside from a dash of Triple J streaming every few months. Besides perennial favourite Triple J, I usually turn to Pitchfork Magazine for trustworthy introductions to good new music. Fast forward three hours and below are my highlights of Pitchfork’s highlights for Aug-Nov 2012.

  • Autre Ne Veut: “Counting” [melodic electro hiphop]
  • S-Type: “Billboard” [instrumental hiphop somethingorother]
  • Angel Haze: “Werkin’ Girls” [rap] Note, the link will download an mp3. Profanity warning.
  • Philip Glass: “73 – 78 (Beck Remix)” [instrumental lo-fi/experimental]
  • Tame Impala: “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” [synth alt/psych rock]
  • Crystal Castles: “Wrath of God” [electro/goth/synth rock/trance/what? whatever it is, it is good]
  • Still Corners: “Fireflies” [alt synth pop] Note, the link will download an mp3.
  • Susanne Sundfør: “White Foxes” [alt dark electro]
  • Bat For Lashes: “Marilyn” [ethereal synth]
  • Jay-Z / Kanye West / Big Sean: “Clique” [rap/hiphop] Note, scroll down the page to find the play button…
  • Sky Ferreira: “Everything Is Embarrassing” [alt pop] Note, the link will download an mp3.
  • AlunaGeorge: “Your Drums, Your Love” [moody electro pop]
  • Swans’ “Mother of the World” felt interesting at the time but I am unlikely to listen to it again, ever. But go listen to it once if for nothing else but to appreciate the subtlety amidst the monotony.

    Top 5 Tracks for Week Ending 2010-07-09

    I love lists. So here’s one that I might – just might – continue to share over time: The top 5 tracks that are hugging my ears in a particular week. Last.fm does a stellar job of tracking raw plays over time, but what follows is not necessarily a list of the most played tracks in a given week. No, these are the tracks that run through my head as I try to fall asleep, and which remain there when I wake up:

    The National – “Conversation 16

    This track meanders around for a bit, lulling you into a false sense of peace until it notches up and sends you hurtling into an unfortunate corner of self-reflection. Powerful music makes you think, even if the lyrics bear scant resemblance to those thoughts. And with lyrics like, “I was afraid… I’d eat your brains… ’cause I’m evil”, it’s just as well.

    Pendulum – “Propane Nightmares

    I heard this for the first time on a recent flight and it rocked my world. It’s continued to rock it ever since. An absolute pumping killer of a track, it was released on Pendulum’s 2008 album “In Silico”, and it simply takes you places. Best track off the album, no less. Plus the band hails from Australia, and therefore deserve your love and attention.

    Faithless – “Not Going Home

    The opening track of Faithless’s recent’n’decent 2010 LP, “The Dance”. Vocalist Maxi Jazz is just the master of cool, with a voice that continues to demand respect. He’s the type of guy you want MCing just about everything. The fact that he’s now aged in his 50s makes him all the more brilliant.

    This track will be a dancefloor annihilator (if it isn’t already) with its addictive rhythm, regulation constant bass beat, subtle troughs and lofty peaks. It has shades of Faithless doing dance at their best: it’s one part “God is a DJ”, a smidge “Salva Mea,” with a pinch of “Insomnia”.  And the oft repeated, “It’s not over, I’m not goin’ home till I can take you with me, I’m not goin’ home…” just bloody well works. For me. And many others, I suspect.

    Beach House – “Walk In The Park

    Some tracks just have it. This is one of them. Moody, airy, sweet, and unwaveringly right. Easily one of my favourite tracks of the year, and if it doesn’t make my 2010 best-of, give me now whatever it is that I would have to smoke to delude myself into omitting it later.

    Hybrid – “Formula of Fear

    One of the best tracks off what might end up my favourite album of the year: “Disappear Here“, the latest release by one of the most influential electronic acts of the last decade – Hybrid. This is a sugary yet pounding track that serves as the crescendo for the first half of the album. Check out the live video!

    Most phenomenally of all, my wife approved of all these tracks. That is a rare and momentous occurrence, so enjoy it while it lasts. Animal Collective’s “What Would I Want? Sky.” and The National’s “England” should probably have made this list. But I decreed that it must contain a maximum of five tracks. So there.

    Eclectica 2008

    Here’s the track sequence of my best-of-2008 mix, “Eclectica 2008”. I thought it would be ready for CD cutting tonight, but alas, there’s still some audio editing to go. I’ll get there before 2010. Really. When it’s ready I’ll update this post with more info…

    [Update 1: It’s done. Fertig. Finito. If you’d like a copy, contact me using the form on the front page of this site, or @ me via Twitter

    [Update 2: I’ll post a spiel about the Eclectica concept and the rationale behind this specific track sequence ‘soon’]

    1. Juno Reactor – Inca Steppa
    2. Ashes Divide – Enemies
    3. M83 – Kim and Jessie
    4. Coldplay – Lost!
    5. Puscifer – Momma Sed
    6. Kings of Leon – Closer
    7. Oasis – Falling Down
    8. M83 – Skin of the Night
    9. Death Cab for Cutie – Graveyard Fires
    10. Moby – Live for Tomorrow
    11. Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts i/9
    12. Tricky – Past Mistake
    13. Cut Copy – We Fight for Diamonds/Voices in Quartz/Hearts on Fire
    14. Ashes Divide – The Ritual
    15. Juno Reactor – Pretty Crime
    16. Keane – Playing Along

    Music endorsement: Ulrich Schnauss – “Monday-Paracetamol”

    The artist: Ulrich Schnauss

    The track: Monday-Paracetamol

    The year: 2003

    The reason: Simplicity is a great thing. This instrumental track, has, at its core, just a few simple notes. It’s the brilliant production work that creates atmospherics and a resulting mood that turn this into one phenomenal piece of artwork. It’s so good that it has become my hi-fi reference track – that which is played to test the worthiness of equipment such as loudspeakers and amplifiers. A particular highlight is one particular bass note that, with the right furniture/speaker placement conditions, will vibrate windows in an entire house. A moment to cherish.

    Serving suggestion: Lights off or eyes shut, or both. Ears wide open. Sitting upright, centred between two good loudspeakers, placed in a way that subtly and gracefully amplifies the lowest bass frequencies. Best enjoyed loud.

    Jingles, and the first jingle disendorsement/bitch: BBC World news jingle remix

    Fox FM old logo

    I have loved radio and TV jingles for as long as I can remember. Back in the mid 1980s, Melbourne’s EON and FOX FM (two of the first FM stations in Australia) radio had excellent jingles. I still remember a 1987 TV ad for Fox FM with its ‘fox’ mascot skiing on some slopes, with their catchy “have a good time with the Fox” jingle playing along. Those were the days.

    I used to sit by the radio and wait for the jingles to be played – then recorded them for later listening, such was my obsession.

    Eon FM, later rebadged Triple M, had numerous exceptional jingles in the late 80s/early 90s. The best was their 3-minute instrumental station theme song, a guitar and drum extravaganza played very rarely, and worthy music in its own right. If I find it, I’ll post it here. And endorse it! [note: after a bit of Googling, I found the darn thing! Awesome! Watch this space]

    Eon FM Logo

    I am not alone in my Jinglephillic ways… there are several sites and forums dedicated to radio and TV jingles. Why do jingles have such a profound effect on so many people? Reminders of certain life experiences/periods? Station-pride? The power of marketing?

    Older jingles seem much more compelling than those we hear today, which tend to be too techy and less thoughtful. Why?!

    …Which brings me to today’s bitch: The remixed BBC World News theme is RUBBISH! This includes the 40-second jingle leading up to news at the top of the hour. The previous (2005) version was among the best jingles I’ve heard. The new one sounds crappily ambient – no guts, no feeling, just some background rubbish that’s best left for an elevator or airport restroom. WTF are you doing, BBC?

    Grr.

    Music endorsement: Chemical Brothers – “The Private Psychedelic Reel”

    The artist: Chemical Brothers

    The track: The Private Psychedelic Reel

    The year: 1997

    The reason: Sounds just like the title suggests. The perfectly placed final track off a great album, “Dig Your Own Hole”, this brings the CD home and finishes off any day well – building, building, building, building and fiiiiiiiiiinally….. climaxing. An anthem for the evening.

    Serving suggestion: Your chosen three-character substance (H2O?), surround sound, beat-responsive digital visualisation (kaleidoscope-esque), and no other lighting.

    Music endorsement: The Bionaut – “Lush Life Electronica”

    The artist: The Bionaut

    The track: Lush Life Electronica

    The year: 1995

    The reason: I heard this for the first time just a few hours ago and it immediately took me to a place significant enough to endorse right now. Instrumental big-sounding electronica. Food for your ears. Do it.

    Serving suggestion: A worthy listening companion, Bowmore single malt 17 year-old whisky (also hereby endorsed!), dark chocolate, dark room. An artificially bass-enhanced environment may add something but is not essential.

    Music endorsement: Eskimo Joe – “London Bombs”

    The artist: Eskimo Joe

    The track: London Bombs

    The year: 2006

    The reason: The warmest track off an album (“Black Fingernails, Red Wine”) full of highlights. Check this Australian band out now. Go preview said album on iTunes or Rhapsody or wherever you obtain your music. You will not regret it.

    Serving suggestion: Best absorbed with a nice espresso and a reflective mood.

    Music endorsement: Faithless – “Insomnia”

    The artist: Faithless

    The track: Insomnia

    The year: 1996

    The reason: Most songs by this brilliant British act could (and will) qualify for this column. This anthemic floor-pounder rings in my ears everytime I’m required to be up late: “so here we are… half past three in the morning… let’s roll another one”, lying idle in bed: “Creaky noises make my skin creep, I need to get some sleep, I can’t get no sleep”, and several other memorable lyrics sitting nicely between memorable music and that unforgettable chorus loop. The original version is still the best – though there are many good remixes out there.

    Serving suggestion: Best enjoyed in darkness, strobe light flickering, under the influence of a few G&Ts, with a makeshift lounge dancefloor, finished off with gracefully loud loudspeakers with tight and punchy bass.