A Meme That Involves Ears

1. The person (or persons) who passed the baton to you.

The trusty Tito Perez — whom I wish I had run into while at Coachella.

2. Total volume of music files on your computer.

Somewhere in the area of 40 Gigs, although it could be quite more than that. I have a horrible tendency to put everything in one place, which includes music I buy, music I — *ahem* — try out, and music that slips into my hands at gunpoint.

3. The title and artist of the last CD you bought.

This Perfect Day, C-60. As some regular readers know, I’m madly addicted to Swedish rock. (The Shout Out Louds, for example, was one of Coachella’s highlights. And I sung along to almost every song!) For whatever reason, Swedish rock contains a sense of purity that really needs to be explored and understood more. And in the Shout Out Louds’ case, I can’t think of anyone else willing to use xylophone so unapologetically in a live set. My guess is that it has something to do with Systembolaget, which I’ve yet to try. But I’d hazard a guess that drinking the stuff would probably make me pick up my guitar again and write cheery goofball songs.

4. Song playing at the moment of writing.

Doves, “Ambition” (a supremely sad song from a very good album, Some Cities)

5. Five songs you have been listening to of late (or all-time favorites, or particularly personally meaningful songs)

I’ll stick with the songs in my head at the moment:

M.I.A., “Bucky Down Gun” (Really, how can anyone resist this track? Old school hip-hop mixed with crazed banshee-like rapping, a clarion call that is deliberately artificial and lyrics that demand a call to revolution, which seems particularly apposite in our current political clime.)

Nine Inch Nails, “You Know What You Are?” (Look, I’ll confess that With Teeth is a spotty album and that even a cursory examination of this song’s lyrics shows that Reznor makes little sense. But I still contend that Trent Reznor shrieks “fuck” perhaps better than most. And somehow, I’ve really come to appreciate that crazy-as-fuck percussion.)

Of Montreal, “Oslo in the Summertime” (Thank you, Kevin Barnes, for yet another addictive album, The Sunlandic Twins, that sneaks up on you after several weeks of listening. What’s particularly striking about this track is the semi-electro tone mixed with the languorous Ray Davies feel to the lyrics. The first time I heard this song, I was mildly annoyed by the buzzy timbre. The third time, I had a goofy grin on my face. And now the song just won’t go away.)

Doves, “Almost Forgot Myself” (I don’t think I’ll ever hear a track this year as uncoditionally directional as this one is this year. This may be the best use of a percussive clang in a pop song since the Beatles’ “Everyone’s Got Something to Hide Except For Me and My Monkey.” Plus, it sums up what’s so fantastic about the Doves: a moribund tune in a minor key driven by a defiant snare and a guitar fuzz that involves carrying on in the face of existential chaos.)

Royksopp, “Eple” (What is it about Nordic pop exactly? I’ve been relistening to Melody A.M. for the first time in about two years, and hoping that these folks might get me crazy about electronica again. This track, in particular, which offers a goofy downbeat drive just this short of mellow without coming across as yet another pretentious ambient nightmare designed for the New Age, Air-listening crowd.)

6. The five people to whom you will ‘pass the musical baton’

Maud Newton, who I hope will remind me about the importance of guitars
The Old Hag, because I’m damn curious about what she’s listening to these days
Mark Sarvas, because I know there’s more than meets the eye to his audio palette than certain CM-lead bands that get too much airplay
Speedy Snail, because he’s been considerably silent on the musical question (and I blame his insane devotion to Neal Stephenson)
Scott Esposito, because he’s younger than me and probably has a better set of ears than I do

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