I came up with this playlist over four years ago and it’s the one I always come back to. Of all my mixes, this is the one most centered around a certain feeling: sweet melancholy spiced with the gleefully bizarre (thank you, Screamin’ Jay). The only recent addition is the Susan Cadogan track which, admittedly, makes for an odd transition into salty Memphis Minnie, but what the hell. I couldn’t leave out either.
“Strip-Teas” is a little surf-inspired number from the soundtrack of one of my favorite films, Sedmikrásky (known as Daisies here in the U.S.A.), the standout of the short-lived Czech New Wave movement. Here’s a clip of a banquet-turned-food fight featuring the song. If you love mod girls behaving badly, do check it out.
The Arthur Russell and Marvelettes songs are two of my desert island jams. Neither are quite representative of what the artists are known for–too gentle to become big hits–but both are amazing tunes about loving that feeling of being too deep in love.
Living for Today
Atlas Sound – Valley of the Saroos (Joe Meek Cover)
Arthur Russell – A Little Lost
The Marvelettes – The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game
The Sweet Inspirations – Oh! What A Fool I’ve Been
Ann Sexton – It’s All Over but the Shouting
Susan Cadogan – I Keep on Loving You
Memphis Minnie – Black Cat Blues
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – She Put the Wammee on Me
Strip-Teas (from Sedmikrásky OST)
Los 4 Planetas – Dos Guitarras
Ken Boothe – Say You
Jean-Bosco Mwenda – Mama na Mwana (Mother and Child)
Thanks for listening!
One of the weirdest books I read in 2012 is Amelia Gray‘s THREATS, which has lingered in my thoughts for months. The front cover is awesome and a cursory glance at the back promised a woman’s mysterious death, her befuddled husband and a detective named Chico. While the blurb does not prepare for what’s inside, it was enough to part with some cash.
The novel is not a fun read. Let’s get that out of the way. This is not the book to give friends who enjoy conclusions, linearity and understanding what happened. Gray respects her readers’ imaginations and leaves any resolution up to us. Throughout the novel, the protagonist-husband grows ever more batshit self-destructive and his unreliable viewpoint is one of few truths offered. Seemingly coherent recountings of events veer into unabashed surrealism. Resist feeling hurried when the plot moves slower than a nightmare train. Maybe you could put down the book and avoid the collision, but I couldn’t and really, you should not. Stick with it and embrace the ambiguity.
The titular threats, left scattershot throughout the house by the dead wife, are deliciously fucked up and give the sense Gray has enjoyed hating someone in her day. My favorite is:
CURL UP ON MY LAP. LET ME BRUSH YOUR HAIR WITH MY FINGERS. I AM SINGING YOU A LULLABY. I AM TESTING FOR STRUCTURAL WEAKNESS IN YOUR SKULL.
If you want an idea of what Gray is all about, check out her story On The Moment of Conception at The American Reader. It’s a bit like Aimee Bender penning American Psycho. Also, menfolk, be forewarned. It gets visceral.
Updated with a few thoughts on 1/25/13
Intuit woman in 1915 by the Lomen Brothers
A friend of mine requested a mix, which led to rediscovering 60s French singer Chatal Kelly’s haunting Caribou. An epic drum intro and mournful, girlish war cries makes this a standout in the cutesy yé-yé genre. The shivery, snow-queen feel is pitch perfect for these slightly melancholy days. Enjoy!