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Monday, June 20, 2016

Numbers 60 - 51 "The Night Is A Blackbird"

#60, Nurse With Wound
60.Lass Mich - Faust & Nurse With Wound
Disconnected (2007)
Nobody seems to really know anything about the actual provenance of this album. It sounds a LOT like NWW got a hold of some Faust out-takes and decided to fuck with them, and a lot LESS like an actual collaboration. Some artists find themselves included in this list possibly more on the basis of a body of work or album than on a stellar standout single, and this is Nurse with Wound's moment. NWW as band, as opposed to NWW as Steven Stapleton began performing live again in 2005, but this appears to mark something of a side project - though Stapleton has apparently played a couple of live encores with Faust over the last couple of years. Anyway, while the whole album rightly deserves a place here, as certainly the best NWW offering I've heard in a long time, Stapleton is impossible to keep track of, so who knows what gems I may have missed? Regardless, this is probably the most accessible track off the album.

59.Clint Eastwood - Gorillaz
Clint Eastwood (Single) (2001)
It's kind of hard to imagine how Gorillaz ever had their conceptual birth. Would anyone in the nineties have even remotely dreamt that Damon Albarn would ever put out a rap album? Or that Misterdobalina WOULDN'T be the only thing Del the Funky Homosapien would be remembered for? Del performed on Gorillaz first album under the identity of "Del the Ghost Rapper", with the band having an unusually exhaustive fictional metanarrative incorporating cartoon half-ape/half-human characters. Del was supposed to be a spirit that was hiding from death within the band's drummer. Whatever.

It's funky, dance oriented pop, and that's arguably a height Gorillaz could be said to have scaled almost alone during the decade.

58.Sabrina - Einstürzende Neubauten
Silence is Sexy (2000)
Marking a neat and definitive break with their erstwhile trademark industrial raucousness, Silence is Sexy saw The Neubauten reborn as newly restrained, pared back, experimental unit. Silence itself is, obviously enough, the unit of analysis for the album. It's in the spaces BETWEEN events that the band creates meaning, not from the events themselves. But it's the very success of that pursuit which the band themselves seem to want to undermine, and the title track concludes oxymoronically with the rejoinder that "silence is not sexy at all."

Sabrina is easily the most radio friendly offering from the album, and quickly became one of the band's staple performance tracks. The song asks the question of what colour can be ascribed to this new music. Those who know the band's ethos know that they have always drawn inspiration from dada-ist processes of creation, using randomly drawn cards as musical instructions from which the songs are then improvised, so the idea of colour representing both mood and sound is no great leap of logic. And Sabrina answers in a resolute voice that the colour of silence is BLACKNESS. "It is as black as Malevich Square/The cold furnace in which we stare." And it's a brilliant blackness, with a video that does it complete justice.

57.The Night Is A Blackbird - Augie March
Strange Bird (2002)
Yep, well I'm pretty confident this isn't going to be in anyone else's top forties anywhere. So all the other lists are wrong. This song is like a slow-paced ritual emotional disembowelment. That's a GOOD thing. And Glenn A Richards is probably Australia's greatest contemporary lyricist. And I'm probably the only person in the country who thinks that. So all the other Australians are wrong too.

56.To Clean - Woods
Songs Of Shame (2009)
Don't know much about these guys, though they've been around since 2005, they only actually ever appeared on my radar through this whole noughties list shebang. It's New York folk, but with a disharmonic twist, they're extremely prolific - with nine albums in the last ten years, this is an extremely well crafted neat little gem.

55.Can't Stand Me Now - The Libertines
The Best Of... (2004)
Somehow they managed to come across as a pack of frat boys, but man, Pete Doherty could WRITE. "Cornered, the boy kicked out at the world/ the world kicked back/ a lot fuckin' harder now". That's basically James Joyce. Shuddup.

54.The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores - Morrissey
You Are The Quarry (2004)
Who did the decades most extravagant and unexpected comeback? The bloke who'd been putting out wallpaper since 1995. Who won an entire new legion of fans and extended his career by at least another decade with one album? This bloke. Even while failing to release its pinnacle track as a single.

This is absolutely everything that is utterly brilliant about Morrissey. Its simultaneously curmudgeonly AND self-deprecating, it ripples with pathos but sung with a knowing wink. He knows this is everything people have come to expect of him, many of them not intending to flatter. But he sings it to soak up the flattery, whether it truly exists or not.

53.Four To The Floor (Thin White Duke Mix) - Starsailor
Silence Is Easy (2003)
Here's a weird one. So, EVERYONE knows the remix. NOBODY has even heard the original. And you listen to it and you wonder "how the hell did anyone ever think to turn THAT into a dance track?" and to have it become one of the most ubiquitous, and seemingly obvious such beasts ... it's all very strange. You can compare them below. The remix is in a whole other league entirely.

52.Pork and Beans - Weezer
Weezer (Red Album) (2008)
The award-winning video draws extensively on the still reasonably nascent YouTube and its meme stash. Could you be ANY more frigging po-mo if you TRIED?

Well yes, actually. Apparently this killer-catchy number was written in anger after their record company insisted they produce significantly more commercial material. The pop culture references "They say I need some Rogaine to put in my hair", "Oakley makes the shades that transform a tool", "Timbaland knows the way to reach the top of the chart/ Maybe if I work with him I can perfect the art", are so deliciously obvious, the chorus so over-amped, this is the hit single that tries to murder every other hit single ever.

51.Oh Yeah - The Subways
Young For Eternity (2005)
Another one you'll probably struggle to find in other lists. I have no idea why. The list of songs during the course of the decade capable of stopping in your tracks - "what the fuck was THAT?" - isn't very long. But I still remember the first time I heard this, but it was on RAGE, so by the time I was hooked the band's name had already flashed off the screen. Then they played the Big Day Out, and I was just checking out this new band - or probably more accurately checking out Charlotte Cooper (all the great rock chicks have been bassists of course) when they flipped into this, and so did my brain.

The album was really promising also. I probably should have found room in this list for "Rock n Roll Queen". You can have it as a bonus below. And they sounded well polished beyond their scant years, although by all reports their more recent albums haven't really matched the promise of their stellar debut.