Archive for lots of instruments

62. ‘Apple of My Eye’ by Ed Harcourt (2002)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 8, 2010 by G.K. Reid


Ed Harcourt: working the requisite sideburns, like all good troubadours should.

As some of his fellow men in this countdown (Rufus, Fyfe, R Kelly) can attest, romanticism and postmodernism make for strange bedfellows. To have one’s Keatsian impulses continually tempered by one’s own damned, inescapable self-awareness, in a world where a declaration of love is just as likely to trigger a cringe or an ironic riposte as it is a swoon. ‘Settle down, Keats’, the object of your affection may say derisively, as she rolls her eyes and hits the ‘send’ button on her iPhone. (Do iPhones have send buttons?)

But Harcourt, again like Rufus and (on a good day) Fyfe, excels at playing out this dilemma to the sounds of lushly orchestrated, multi-instrumented pieces of transcendent music. Because while words of love can easily be mocked by some cynical bastard somewhere, it’s much harder to argue against the sound of trumpets and violins and a few well-placed handclaps. Music will never lose its purity. And those high-notes Harcourt hits in the choruses of Apple of My Eye are as pure as they come.

Bonus points: ‘Here Be Monsters’ is one of my favourite winter albums. In that, I listen to it a lot in winter. It’s the musical equivalent of drinking mulled wine by a log fire, with an Old English Sheepdog at your feet. Also, another excellent, funny video:


74. ‘Trains to Brazil’ by Guillemots (2005)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 12, 2010 by G.K. Reid

Bit ropey.

An impressive 4-minute opus from a band who seem determined to sell themselves short.  Everything here just works perfectly – the jaunty drumbeat, the saxy interludes, the rousing melody, the vocals pitched somewhere ambiguous between joy and anger, and that simple plea underlying it all: ‘can’t you live and be thankful you’re here?’ 

Bonus points: I saw Fyfe Dangerfield on Never Mind the Buzzcocks once. Seemed like a nice chap.

80. ‘The Opposite of Hallelujah’ by Jens Lekman (2007)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 12, 2010 by G.K. Reid

How people wave in Sweden.

Turns out that, if it looks like a gay, and it sounds like a gay… it’s probably just a Scandinavian.  Sorry, it’s a tad difficult not to be facetious about Jens Lekman when he skirts so dangerously close to the border of Tweeville so often. In reality, Jens continues the fine Swedish tradition (well… ABBA, right?) of crafting melodic/melancholic pop baubles of the highest quality.  With more than just a touch of the Belle and Sebastians about it, The Opposite of Hallelujah perfectly captures the awkwardness (and, perhaps, futility) in trying to forge heartfelt or meaningful communication with a family member (i.e. someone you fundamentally love but may be completely dissimilar to).

Bonus points: ‘I picked up a seashell to illustrate my homelessness / but a crab crawled out of it, making it useless’ — it may be twee, but it’s certainly a contender for the ‘Best Rhyming Couplet of the Decade Award’

81. ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ by Arcade Fire (2005)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 12, 2010 by G.K. Reid

Why so glum? Oh, yeah, all your families are dead.

Not long before this song broke out, I had actually arrived at the conspiracy-theorist suspicion (espoused here) that maybe we humans didn’t actually need to sleep in order to function, and so I spent a week trying to prove this hypothesis by… not sleeping (I am ever the scientist). Conclusion: we do need sleep. Anyway, Win Butler convinces as a man driven by defiant paranoia about the fundamental facts of human life, and Rebellion emanated a sonorous triumphalism that still seems fresh and vital now (even as the band’s shitck has grown ever-so-slightly grating).

Bonus points: I actually prefer ‘Power Out’, which was also released as a single. I just happen to think it works better as an album track. Rebellion has a life of it’s own.