give me your eyes, i need sunshine
At last, disc one of The Big Ticket's Mix '05 is finally up in its entirety, despite its tardiness. Cramming in all of disc two before 2006 arrives will be a tough chore, but I hope to be up to the challenge. Fingers crossed.
As disc one comes to a close, things start to get a wee bit dramatic, bordering on epic. "For Real" is the second song on Okkervil River's dark & emotional 2005 release, Black Sheep Boy (though this is actually the slightly longer single version). It starts off as a slow burner, quietly rising out of the ether with a subtle-yet-persistent guitar strum & becoming somewhat menacing with frontman Will Sheff's opening line: "Some nights I thirst for real blood, for real knives, for real cries." But then power guitar chords kick in & Sheff's voice turns more insistent, more desperate, and it all feels more & more intense. The tone ebbs & flows from there on, but it retains the fire-in-the-belly feeling that only builds & builds. Sean from Said The Gramophone (where Sheff guest-posted back in August) has been a big fan of this tune (his #2 song of the year), and he described it far, far better than I ever could on multiple occasions.
Upon first hearing it back in March:
"For Real (There's Nothing Quite Like The Blinding Light)" is one of the best things they've ever recorded, that perfect boom of word and sound, barbed yells and crushing blows. It's sinister but elegiac, scary but true. It's about murder and feeling, voices crying for sensation. "There's nothing quite like the blinding light / that curtains cast aside." The electric guitars are stuck through with spruce branches, with nails, with bits of eggshell. It's like the stamp in the middle of Wilco's "At Least That's What You Said," only instead of Tweedy's guitar solo there's the lamplight of a rhodes, the mounting panic of Will Robinson Sheff, and then a terrible tumble of drums, the searing chorus of pierced guitars, the knowledge that you're hurtling downhill, downstream, downtown, toward the smack and clasp that will make things clear. (The joke's on you though - you don't quite get there.) "Those blue bridge lights might really burn most bright / when you watch that dark lake rise. / If you really want to see what matters most to me / just take a real short drive."
And guest-posting at Beardblog in August:
A song full of such roaring life, covered in such black and flashing fur, that it’s hard to imagine it as a thing composed, the work of men in a room trying out parts and kicking at pedals. Okkervil River were a band of rustic mountain-men, Austin’s lonesome hermit poets, but here Will Robinson Sheff’s got teeth and a fever, he’s got claws, he’s got an electric guitar that shorts the lights. This is rock music for after you realise what you’ve done, or a song for running panicked through a field. It’s a track that requires a lantern – hold yours high.
Sean talk, you listen. He smart, write more good than me. Music, hooray!
MOV Okkervil River - "For Real" (24.1mb)
In his year-end wrap-up, Frank Chromewaves points to this animated video, which he thinks "is just creepy." I'm not sure what's creepier, the creepy video or the creepy cover artwork cover artwork by artist William Schaff.
Coming in at #10 on Pitchfork's 2005 albums list, writer Amanda Petrusich describes this track as "the record's shining center, a gut-punchingly perfect portrait of shit gone awry." Well said. The record she refers to is the debut album from Montreal's Wolf Parage, Apologies to the Queen Mary, which received plenty of buzz prior to its release on Sub Pop this fall. PopMatters (oddly) called it "the album of this year's decade," and Cokemachineglow simply ranked it as their #1 album of the 2005. Oh look, some more hype.
I was able to catch Wolf Parade twice this fall here in Mpls, opening for pals The Arcade Fire in First Avenue's mainroom in September & headlining the Entry just weeks later. On both occasions, they closed out their main set with this song, and both times it kicked my ass. The recorded version boasts the same powerful build-up, with verses seeming to circle round each other repeditively until they work the song into a frenzy. Keyboardist Spencer Krug doesn't just sing the lyrics, he lets loose mad, plaintive wails that grab & shake & get in your face. Louder, louder, louder..."NOBODY KNOWS YA, AND NOBODY GIVES A DAMN ANYWAY!" over & over & over & out. And I'm just left breathless. I thought this was a decent way to end disc one. Whew.
BTW: Wolf Parade did an interview w/the 'fork & has a MySpace, obvs.
Track 01: The Constantines - "Draw Us Lines"
Track 02: Spoon - "The Beast & Dragon, Adored"
Track 03: The Russian Futurists - "Our Pen's Out of Ink"
Track 04: Broken Social Scene - "7/4 (Shoreline)"
Track 05: Bunky - "Chuy"
Track 06: The New Pornographers - "The Bleeding Heart Show"
Track 07: Stars - "Ageless Beauty"
Track 08: Danger Doom f/Cee-Lo - "Benzie Box"
Track 09: Legendary K.O. - "GWB Doesn't Care About Black People"
Track 10: M.I.A. - "10 Dollar"
Track 11: Soulwax vs Lipps Inc. - "NY Lipps (Kazasaki Dub)"
Track 12: Vitalic - "My Friend Dario"
Track 13: Low - "When I Go Deaf"
Track 14: Gogol Bordello - "Undestructable"
Track 15: Silver Jews - "Punks in the Beerlight"
Track 16: Sam Champion - "It's Getting Late"
Track 17: Stephen Malkmus - "It Kills"
More lists!!! On Wednesday, Marv's Tiny Mix Tapes checked in with their top 25 album list (who needs 50 anyway?), not to mention their 2005 Tiny Mix Tape. And I thought my doofy little Mix '05 was semi-original - who was I kidding? Jeez. Well, at least I can feel a little validated by Stylus' agreement with yours truly that M.I.A.'s Arular was the top record of 2005. Told ya so.