Friday, 10 July 2009

Eye fillets #002

It's been a long time since my last (erm...first) eye fillets post. Just over 2 years by my calculations.

For those new to the game, eye fillets is the dodgy pun I use to describe "choice cuts". The eye fillets post series works this way:
  1. Put my iPod on shuffle
  2. Navigate to my "Eye fillets" playlist (which contains all my 5-star rated tracks)
  3. Write a commentary about the first 5 songs which come up
  4. Provide downloads of the 5 songs (for evaluation purposes only)
Please delete the songs after you have listened to them. And if you like the music, support the artists by buying their music.


1. Super Furry Animals - Hermann Loves Pauline [Link removed]

SFA are almost synonymous with quirky, and this is a typically quirky rocker that is a perfect encapsulation of what made me fall in love with this Welsh band. This is from their 1997 masterpiece Radiator, which was the first SFA album I ever heard (after Pete generously lent it to me).

Everything that makes SFA great is in this song. There's the oddball yet strangely intelligent lyrics ("An asthma sufferer like Ernesto Guevara"), the psychedelic acid-rock, and a melody that most bands could only dream of writing. There's so many indie bands out there who try to make music as intelligent and entertaining as this, but SFA are so far above their contemporaries that it's not funny.

While they are still releasing excellent music, none of their 2000s output has been able to capture the magic that they conjured up on some of their early songs like this one. The finest song they ever released, and it even includes a bonus biography of Marie Curie.

2. The Exploding Hearts - Sleeping aides and razorblades [Link removed]

Oregon band The Exploding Hearts only released one album before most of the band members died tragically in a car accident in 2003. The album Guitar romantic is thoroughly charming and entertaining, despite the fact that it wears its punk-pop influences so proudly on its sleeve.

On the surface (and on the initial spins), they don't sound very different to other punk-pop bands of the era like Green Day. Their sound is indebted to late-era Clash, Buzzcocks and Only Ones. There's nothing particularly innovative about the band, and it's quite likely that if they survived the accident they would have quickly faded into insignificance.

But after a few spins of the album, gems like this little number start emerging from the woodwork. This song has a great stop-start melody which for some reason reminds me of late-60s Motown, despite the fact that it's as far away from a soul/R&B number as you could imagine. There's great use of space in this song, and it just has a nice dynamic about it.

3. Crowded House - Whispers and moans [Live] [Link removed]

This is the live version from the bonus disc which came with my edition of their best-of, Recurring dream. While the studio version on Woodface is also excellent, this live version was the first one I heard and I have always liked it more.

Crowded House were a great live act, and this performance is from their original line-up, which included the sadly deceased Paul Hester. While I have seen them live since they reunited, I can't help but feel sad that I never got to see them before they broke up the first time.

Whispers and moans is one of my favourite Crowded House songs - a beautiful ballad with raunchy overtones, it's one of those songs that should probably have been as big as Weather with you and Don't dream it's over. But most fans, including myself, are quite happy for it to remain a hidden gem in an amazing career.

4. Antony & The Johnsons - You are my sister [Link removed]

I am a bird now was my favourite album of 2005, and this was one of my favourite songs of the same year.

I have always thought of the album as a conceptual piece about androgynous Antony being trapped in a world not meant for him. This stunningly gorgeous duet between Antony and Boy George has always been the emotional centrepiece for me, an integral part of the journey that he takes on I am a bird now.

A beautiful song from a stunning album that any open minded music listener needs to hear.

5. Belle & Sebastian - Get me away from here, I'm dying [Link removed]

A song which nicely brings this list full circle, this is the B&S equivalent of the first (SFA) song on this list. Like the SFA song, this is the highlight on their second (and best) album.

Scottish indie pop collective Belle & Sebastian are certainly a different band thesedays than what they used to be. Starting out as the 90s version of the Smiths, they had the perfect formula: the sad, witty and poetic lyrics of Stuart Murdoch, melodies to lose yourself in, and an amazingly talented collective of musicians to back it all up.

If I had to introduce someone to the genius of B&S, this would be the song I would play to them. If you like this song, I strongly recommend that you pick up any of their first four albums. In many ways, I wish that B&S would return to the sound of their earlier work, but they have clearly moved on.

Update: Song links removed.

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