More on the 90s

So yeah, I’ve still been contemplating expanding the Walk in Silence series to include the 90s.  I’ve started listening to the decade chronologically, much as I did with the original series and going through the 80s, and once again it’s been an interesting ride.

Presently I’m listening to Living Colour’s sophomore album Time’s Up, which came out in late August 1990.  It was the back end of summer, and I’d chosen to take the last two weeks off between my summer job (second year at the DPW) and starting my sophomore year at Emerson.  Chris and I got together to reform the Flying Bohemians as a duo, and recorded a few tracks in my parents’ garage.

I spent those last two weeks doing not much of anything: made a pretty decent compilation that I still listen to in 2016, did a bit of poetry, lyric and journal writing, a lot of Solitaire playing, and met up with all my friends who’d come home for a brief time.  For the most part, most of them had taken root in their college towns and gotten local summer jobs or were taking summer classes, so there was only a narrow window of time that we could meet up.

Me?  The only reason I’d come back home for the summer was that I hadn’t prepared myself for any summer position or an apartment to sublet for a few months.  It had crossed my mind, of course, but I hadn’t the time or the money to plan it out sufficiently.  I figured the summer of 1991 would be when I’d stick around.

That, and I’d wanted to spend more time with T, as well as distance myself from the frustration of freshman year.  Summer 1990 was time to start over again.

Où sont tes héros aux corps d’athlètes?

I’ve been listening to Air over the past few days…the band just popped into my head unbidden, and I’ve been searching for a good, laid-back soundtrack for my extended editing sessions lately, so it was a perfect fit.  Their debut Moon Safari was released on this day back in 1998 (which puts it right in the middle of my HMV years), but it’s so retro in its sound that you swear it came out in 1972 on some budget label and got played at K-Mart when you were a kid.  It of course ended up on heavy rotation during my writing sessions down in the basement.

In 2000 they released the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, based on the Jeffrey Eugenides book.  That too got heavy rotation for me, with its spooky, dark passages.  [Trivia: I didn’t know this until many years later that the singer for “Playground Love” is none other than the singer for Phoenix, going under the name Gordon Tracks.]  It kind of fit the mood I was in at the time as well, considering I’d just been shuffled out of the HMV job and wasn’t exactly sure where my next step was going to be.

They may have lost me a bit on album two (three?), 10,000 Hz Legend, but I think that’s because they’d chosen to update their sound a bit, bring the melodies forward a decade or two.  It took me a few years to get used to this one, and it’s got some great tracks on it, including a cameo vocal from Beck on “The Vagabond”.

Now the next album, Talkie Walkie, is probably my favorite of theirs, even over Moon Safari.  They hit their stride here, balancing their retro-synth sound perfectly with some lovely modern melodies.  They also provided an absolutely gorgeous track called “Alone in Kyoto” for Sofia Coppola’s next film Lost in Translation:

I’m still trying to get used to the next couple of albums (2007’s Pocket Symphony and 2009’s Love 2), most likely because my mind was elsewhere at the time, adjusting to our lives here in SF.  Eventually they’ll come to me.  Their most recent album, Le Voyage Dans la Lune from 2012, is fascinating in that it’s a soundtrack for Georges Méliès’ 1902 film of the same name.  And Nicolas Godin (the fair-haired one of the duo) just released a solo album of Bach-inspired songs called Contrepoint, which I’m hoping will eventually see release stateside sometime this year.

Why can’t you see, you’re fighting a million and me

God’s Favorite, “(Hurry Hurry) Sunday”
(not to be confused with God’s Favorite Band…different group entirely!)

Well, this is certainly a surprise!  This has been hiding on YouTube for almost a year and I never noticed until just this moment when I was doing a bit of Walk in Silence research.  This little gem of a track was the first song I ever taped off a college radio station (WMUA 91.1 at UMass Amherst) — the same taping session on 11 November 1986 that introduced me to The Go Betweens, Felt, and This Mortal Coil.

I listened to that tape so many times I pretty much wore it out, and it wasn’t until about a year ago that I had Jeff Shelton play it on his KSCU show The 80s Underground and finally heard it again after what seemed like decades.  I downloaded that particular podcast just so I could finally have the track in my collection again.  I was never able to find the vinyl anywhere when it was out, and as I currently do not have a turntable (yes, I am a heretic!), I can’t go on Amazon and buy it.

I remember hearing this track and thinking the vocals were a little too earnest (in that 80s indie way we’ve all come to love in retrospect), but there was that gently sweeping melody that kind of reminded me of early REM, who I was getting into at the time.  It also hinted at that pastoral walking-through-the-woods-in-autumn mood that I would get from a lot of the college rock I loved then.

Flying Bohemians Trivia:  This song is one of three that inspired me to write “Lift Your Heart Up (In Your Hands)” in 1991 (the others being Love and Rockets’ “Welcome Tomorrow” and Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians’ “Swirling”).

The Singles 2014

Hi there, and welcome to another edition of Jonc’s year-end compilation! I chose to follow up with the same rules as last year, creating a digital mix by way of using the confines of ninety minute cassettes, just like in the old days. I’ve been throwing this together over the course of the last few days, and I quite like how this one came out.

This year’s tunage was an interesting mix of college radio and commercial alternative radio–songs heard on KSCU as well as Radio BDC, Live 105 and KFOG. I’ve tried to expand my listening tastes to various other platforms to pick up all sorts of different bands. There are two bands on this set (My Goodness and Catfish & the Bottlemen) that I found via free mp3s on NoiseTrade that are getting local and national airplay. There’s a track (from Jeff Williams) from a web series whose soundtrack I bought on a whim. And there’s a few brand spankin’ new tracks (Black Rivers and Noel Gallagher) that I couldn’t pass up. A very eclectic mix this year.

Click and enjoy! The links will open up a new tab so you won’t lose this page.

Jonc’s Best of 2014 List coming really soon!

Tape 1, Side A
1. U2, “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)”
2. tUnE-yArDs, “Water Fountain”
3. Big Data, “Dangerous”
4. Interpol, “All the Rage Back Home”
5. TV On the Radio, “Careful You”
6. Future Islands, “Seasons (Waiting On You)”
7. Alt-J, “Left Hand Free”
8. Night Terrors of 1927, “When You Were Mine”
9. Spoon, “Do You”
10. Beck, “Blue Moon”
11. My Goodness, “Cold Feet Killer”

Tape 1, Side B
1. OK Go, “The Writing’s On the Wall”
2. Phantogram, “Fall in Love”
3. The Kooks, “Bad Habit”
4. Failure, “Come Crashing”
5. Bleachers, “Rollercoaster”
6. Warpaint, “Love Is to Die”
7. Joywave, “Somebody New”
8. Johnny Marr, “Easy Money”
9. Robert DeLong, “Long Way Down”
10. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, “In the Heat of the Moment”
11. The Horrors, “I See You”

Tape 2, Side A
1. Dog Party, “The World Is Not a Game”
2. Foo Fighters, “Something from Nothing”
3. +/-, “Rewrite the Story”
4. Phantogram, “Black Out Days”
5. Elbow, “New York Morning”
6. U2, “Raised By Wolves”
7. Jeff Williams, “This Will Be the Day”
8. Embrace, “I Run”
9. Fenech-Soler, “Last Forever”
10. TV On the Radio, “Happy Idiot”
11. Beck, “Unforgiven”

Tape 2, Side B
1. Temples, “Shelter Song”
2. Banks, “Beggin’ for Thread”
3. The Drums, “Kiss Me Again”
4. Kaiser Chiefs, “Coming Home”
5. The History of Apple Pie, “Keep Wondering”
6. Robyn Hitchcock, “The Ghost in You”
7. Pixies, “Indie Cindy”
8. The Decemberists, “Make You Better”
9. First Aid Kit, “My Silver Lining”
10. The Black Keys, “Gotta Get Away”
11. Alt-J, “Lovely Day”

Tape 3, Side A
1. Big Wreck, “A Place to Call Home”
2. Broken Bells, “Holding On for Life”
3. OK Go, “I Won’t Let You Down”
4. The Verve Pipe, “Crash Landing”
5. Weezer, “Back to the Shack”
6. Catfish & the Bottlemen, “Kathleen”
7. Kasabian, “eez-eh”
8. Jungle, “Busy Earnin'”
9. Damon Albarn, “Everyday Robots”
10. Bombay Bicycle Club, “It’s Alright Now”
11. Black Rivers, “Voyager 1”

Tape 3, Side B
1. Joywave, “Tongues”
2. 2:54, “Orion”
3. The Notwist, “Kong”
4. K Flay, “Make Me Fade”
5. Delta Spirit, “From Now On”
6. Sloan, “You’ve Got a Lot On Your Mind”
7. Lamb, “We Fall in Love”
8. The Orwells, “Who Needs You”
9. Bob Mould, “I Don’t Know You Anymore”
10. Mogwai, “Teenage Exorcists”
11. TV On the Radio, “Trouble”