Everett True’s 20 favourite songs of 2011
This, you need to understand, is random and entirely dependent upon my mood when compiling this list.
Most of the following songs are drawn from the Song Of The Day series. As ever, I’ve tried to discriminate in favour of male artists to prove we aren’t prejudiced here at Collapse Board … it’s so difficult when so few are stepping up to the plate (what’s the matter with the boys? don’t they like making music?) … and, as ever, I’ve tried to feature songs only released during 2011 (although I bent this rule to include Shellshag and Hive Dwellers, as I couldn’t bear to leave either out).
Some of the more eagle-eyed among you may note similarities with a post I wrote halfway through the year. Well, duh. I wasn’t going to exclude those songs simply because I’d written about them before. You can find the videos to each song by clicking on the links.
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
Chosen for its lightness of touch
Not a note wasted, not a note pointlessly repeated. Not least among its virtues, Let England Shake is a triumph in restraint
Or to put it more concisely: The new Radiohead album is 37 minutes long, but only contains 37 seconds of music. Let England Shake is 39.6 minutes and contains exactly 39.6 minutes of music. I can’t help feeling that sides me with the Jools Holland’s of this world. Fuck it. Another reason to feel conflicted over Polly. Her music is rooted in a certain tradition, even as she messes with that tradition and builds upon that tradition and moves that tradition onwards and upwards. Radiohead do nothing except be Radiohead.
No Mas Bodas – Flesh
Chosen for its feline grace
I want to mention Ništa Nije Ništa here. I love Ništa Nije Ništa. The name might mean little to you, but the two albums I’ve heard (released via Faust’s Hans-Joachim Irmler’s record label) made me so happy some years back: a little reminiscent of the female jazz improvisation combos led by folk like Lindsay Cooper and Julie Tippett I would see at the London Musician’s Collective in the early 80s, their music is febrile, Dada-flecked, skitterish, playful, admonishing, circular. I’d like to mention Effi Briest too, just cos I can. No Mas Bodas remind of these bands, just a little, not too much … enough and no more. Their music is – damn it all, I was going to use the description “beguiling”, what the hell is wrong with me? – is most welcome in this house: subtle, chiding, elliptical, warm, inviting. Playful, experimental, spontaneous but clearly with an idea of what’s going on, the voices trilling and vibrating but not in an (overtly) cute way, brass and string instruments adding texture and counterpoint. This reminds me of Danielle Dax, too – but at some point, everything great reminds me of Danielle Dax. So be it. You can hear No Mas Bodas here, and here.
Colombina Parra – Flores como gatos
Chosen for its lyrical beauty
Whoa. I don’t want to use the word extraordinary. I don’t want to use the word magical. Both seem overblown in this context: I’m immediately attracted to the delicate touch, the intimacy in Colombina’s voice. Just a playful acoustic guitar, and a memorable tune. Quietened, as there’s no need to shout. Almost childish in its merriment. Reminds me of Eliza Doolittle a little – a very little. Reminds me of Astrud Gilberto a little – a very little. The musical form is entirely different in both cases. I ain’t quite sure what the musical form is actually, not being as up on Chilean folk music as perhaps I ought to be on this sounding. Perhaps there’s an entire world out there, this buoyant and fun and wonderfully expressed, waiting to be discovered. If so, I’d sure appreciate someone tipping me off about it.
Karaocake – It Doesn’t Take A Whole Week
Chosen for its theatrical desolation
“1-2-3-4-5-6-7 days and it’s over/I fucked up big time/You screwed up everything/You screwed up everything/You screwed up everything,” the French girl intones dolefully over a jaunty, jittery Casio beat – like a phalanx of Gameboys left to run wild on the kitchen table in Gregory’s Girl. There’s something very Jane Bond And The Undercover Men about this, but way more intense and not playful at all, or a little bit George Pringle (only far more melancholy).
Hive Dwellers – Get In
Chosen as the song to lead us into a possible future utopia
Dull as a post
I got internal bleeding and bad breath
An obsessive misfit with a sunken chest
Could you sell your soul for unrequited love
Or do what Jesus does?