Tag Archives: Drag City

Are You With Me Now?

I shan’t bother with the apologies. Suffice to say, inactivity plagues this blog, like most others. My remedy: trying to post shorter, more frequent updates. And they’ll mainly be Spotify tracks & playlists (mine and from others), or music from elsewhere on the web.

First, a quick note about Spotify: many of my favorite artists aren’t on Spotify. Very little┬ámusic from Drag City records, or many other independent labels, is ever published there. The reason is that artists make very little money out of ‘airplay’ on Spotify. I get that and I think it should be up to artists to choose how they want to distribute and publish their work. So I fully respect the rationale behind Neil Hagerty, for example, not having his music go up on Spotify.

That said, Spotify also represents a sort of adolescent dream made real. As a teenager, it was impossible to imagine having so much music available with the click of a mouse (or a touchscreen or whatever). It’s a great way of discovering music, particularly older tracks and compilations which just don’t make it to radio these days (with the exception of WFMU and a few other excellent stations). The Spotify Discover weekly playlist has been the source of quite a few new favorite tracks – some of which I knew, some I should have known, and some I’d never heard before. So, I’m happy to pay for a subscription to Spotify and also purchase music that I enjoy direct from the artist when possible, or from their record label.

For new music, Bandcamp and Soundcloud are excellent websites you know about already and then there are friends. We still share songs, after all.

Anyway, here’s a Spotify playlist of some songs I’ve been listening to a lot recently. Some new, many old. Some, like Spirit In The Sky buy Norman Greenbaum are true radio classics. Others, like Dion’s Daddy Rollin’ (In Your Arms) are completely new to me. Cate le Bon is a recent discovery, and I’m really looking forward to her gig in Barcelona this autumn.

Margo Guryan’s pop doesn’t seem to have that many followers these days, but in my opinion you can hear the bridge from her California Shake song, or a version of it at least, popping up in Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain (also her Sunday Morning contrasts nicely with the Velvet Underground’s track of the same name). She also wrote the lyrics for vocal versions of Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman and numerous other songs.

BRONCHO and Alvvays are just good bands I’ve been listening to a lot. Ex Hex’s Rips is one of my favorite albums of recent years: it’s just packed with great songs and even better guitars. They were excellent at Primavera Sound last year too.

Neil Hagerty, Ian Svenonius: Two pop music heroes you may not know but, like, should

Pop music can be a difficult terrain to navigate: just what do you feel okay listening to, and can you admit to it? This issue is at the heart of dozens of websites (like myspace.com and last.fm) and grips millions of young people searching for their Pan.

Myself, I pretty much decided that I’d stick with Royal Trux about seven years ago. For me, their blend of free jazz, 70’s opiate-rock, RnB, boogie-woogie and smart, personal, witty, political lyrics was enough. Despite my liking for bands such as The Fall, I am still certain that Royal Trux sum up what it is I want pop music to be: cool, sexy, angry, bored, wasted, wise.

Neil Hagerty, one half of Royal Trux is my first pop music hero. He was a guitarist in Pussy Galore, a band now confined to the ‘most mental album I own’ category (a bit like Royal Trux?!)… and while I’m unsure as to how much influence he had on the values of that group, I’m aware that he was behind their covering the entire Exile On Main Street album. A declaration of intent, perhaps.

Through their albums, Royal Trux have covered enough material for a complete website or two (see the links in my sidebar). Suffice to say, I drank a bottle of vodka the night they broke up. Stupid of me. It should have been juice. Since then, Neil Hagerty has released a series of albums (firstly solo, now with The Howling Hex), all of which I’ve found to be entertaining, challenging and good pop records. My favourites are probably the two solo/band crossover records, Niel Michael Hagerty – The Howling Hex and The Howling Hex – All Night Fox. Continue reading Neil Hagerty, Ian Svenonius: Two pop music heroes you may not know but, like, should