Playlist on Spotify at the bottom of each page.
”’Til tomorrow its fun’ is a line that sums us up pretty well, we can be pretty cynical fuckers at times but only when there’s a bit of joy to be had too…”
60. Whyte Horses ”Ecstasy Song”
(from Empty Words)
”This is not just a song about Ecstasy, its more about trying to recapture those fleeting new sensations you experience as a youth but also remembering there were crashing lows too. Making a wish and watching it happen, scoring the winning goal in a cup final on a Harley Electroglide dressed as Spiderman, then crashing into a dustbin and waking up. Its definitely a nod to an earlier me, I don’t got to clubs anymore so this is almost like a shrine to past feelings.
I had co-written this in an earlier form with Jez Williams from Doves around 2013 but it’s now evolved into something quite different from what we started out with. The new lyrics and melody were ideas that had been floating around in my head for a couple of years and came fully formed in one evening. The earlier incarnation had an Italo piano and a shrieked non-descript vocal, I always felt there was room for another song within the same structure. ’Til tomorrow its fun’ is a line that sums us up pretty well, we can be pretty cynical fuckers at times but only when there’s a bit of joy to be had too. Like our other song ‘Watching TV’ this has a touch of musical cabaret that could make an interesting alternative soundtrack to some of Khrzanovskiy’s works or early Disney.”
– Dom Thomas
59. Tom Misch ”It Runs Through Me (feat. De La Soul)”
58. All Against Logic ”Know You”
(from 2012 – 2017)
57. Escondido ”You’re Not Like Anybody Else”
(from Warning Bells)
56. Tracyanne & Danny ”It Can’t Be Love Unless It Hurts”
(from Tracyanne & Danny)
55. Kadhja Bonet ”Mother Maybe”
54. U.S. Girls ”Pearly Gates”
(from In A Poem Unlimited)
53. The Tallest Man On Earth ”Somewhere In The Mountains, Somewhere In New York”
(from When The Bird Sees The Solid Ground EP)
52. Little Dragon ”Lover Chanting”
(from Lover Chanting EP)
51. Saintseneca ”Ladder To The Sun”
(from Pillar Of Na)
”…the day I had to sing it was the day after the fire in which my home burned down to the ground, so…that was exciting…”
50. Neko Case ”Bad Luck”
”I wrote the song before hand and we also recorded the music tracks before hand, but the day I had to sing it was the day after the fire in which my home burned down to the ground, so…that was exciting… I was in Stockholm and all the guys in the studio kept me lighthearted, so it worked out.
I like to write kind of folklore songs and I was thinking about superstitions. Superstitions are so specific a lot of the time, like ‘Don’t walk under a ladder!’. It’s so specific and I wanted to invent formulas for superstitions, sort of, just to amuse myself because it sounded like a fun idea. Like black cats. Why black cats? Or how to unjinx things. Like, ‘Walk backwards with whiskey in your mouth’. You know, just weird stuff like that. I wanted to make some up. I know I always feel bad when I accidentally wake my dog up out of a dream, they’re like ‘uhh!’, ha ha. So it seemed like something that could possibly be seen as bad luck.
I had a rough demo of the track and Björn [Yttling] said ‘Let’s do that one from the ground up here’, and I said ‘Yes! Let’s do that!’, because I wasn’t really feeling my version. Why I had contacted Björn in the first place was because I wanted some new sounds and I knew he was a really great musician who had worked with a lot of awesome people on really good projects. So I was looking for new sounds and new insights. It just worked out so nicely.
Having Robert Forster sing on it as a secret guest was awesome! It was funny, because we made a video for the song and Kelly Hogan‘s dog Eddie plays Robert Forster in the video, which was really sweet. It was such a good time, Robert was so lovely. I’m such a huge fan of The Go-Betweens, it was so exciting.”
– Neko Case
”I wrote this about a kind of woman I know well. She is super smart, cool and kind, but lacks judgement in the field of love…”
49. Juanita Stein ”Get Back To The City”
(from Until The Lights Fade)
”I wrote this about a kind of woman I know well. She is super smart, cool and kind, but lacks judgement in the field of love. After seeing how emotionally destructive those poor choices prove, I was driven to write a song about it. ‘Get Back To The City’ is the result of that. It was written in a very short burst of inspiration, lyrics, melody and all dribbled out one morning. The opening line sets the tone for the song.
Lyrically it’s classic story telling, melodically I’m keeping it steady in the verses, I suppose I’m instilling her with some kind of strength and energy. Then the chorus is a sharp rise in notes and I’m staying there. I wanted it to be uplifting, I want her/anyone who hears it and relates, to feel encouraged not defeated.
I spent a few days in the studio rehearsing the song with a band, figuring out the rhythmic structures and guitar riffs and went for it, recording it live until we got ‘the’ take.”
– Juanita Stein
”…the Buffalo Tom guys turned the nylon string folk song into a full-on rock song in about three takes. It reminded me of a Lemonheads song…”
48. Buffalo Tom ”Roman Cars”
(from Quiet & Peace)
”‘Roman Cars’ is based on real people, places and events that happened in my life. I wrote all the lyrics and music in about 11 minutes and the Buffalo Tom guys turned the nylon string folk song into a full-on rock song in about 3 takes. It reminded me of a Lemonheads song – a band we all know and love.
The lyrics for ‘Roman Cars’ ended up taking a few twists and turns. In the end, I chose the sentiment from the great Kinks song ‘Days’ – where Ray Davies reflects on a chapter of his life with a nostalgic ‘Thank you for the days’ chorus. ‘Roman Cars’ actually started out as a more mean-spirited FUCK YOU vibe in the spirit of Bob Dylan‘s ‘Positively 4th Street’ rant, but it took a turn – sitting in my backyard, playing guitar on a beautiful, sunny, summer morning. It’s also hard to write bitter songs at 54, surrounded by kids, dogs and blueberry bushes.”
– Chris Colbourn
47. Amen Dunes ”Believe”
46. Kenzie ”Dark July”
”We had Nick play this really crazy kit with the tiniest, trashiest hi-hats for one of the layers. The strings are from a Mellotron, like the samples used on ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’….”
45. Gold Star ”Baby Face”
(from Uppers & Downers)
”Like the rest of the record, ‘Baby Face’ was recorded at Valentine Studios in Los Angeles. It was the last song written for the album Uppers & Downers. I wrote it about my friend Zooey who had this crazy attic bedroom in Hollywood around that time. I liked the idea of ‘Baby Face’ being a bit ambiguous, most people assume it’s about a female. I started stacking two different drum loops on top of each other, after that I started messing around with adding Wurlitzer and the idea for the song started coming together.
Once we started cutting the track in the studio we had Nick Murray (White Fence, Thee Oh Sees) attempt to replicate these samples onto tape. We had Nick play this really crazy kit with the tiniest, trashiest hi-hats for one of the layers. The strings are from a Mellotron, like the samples used on ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. The track also features contributions from Zach Dawes (The Last Shadow Puppets, Mini Mansions) on bass guitar. The riff in the instrumental sections was played on an old Baritone guitar, it kind of reminds me of a retro spy flick.”
– Marlon Rabenreither
”It’s sort of based around a number of breakups I’ve gone through, the main part of it being a line I’d been kicking around already for some time, ‘we will both find out, just not together’…”
44. Hop Along ”How Simple”
(from Bark Your Head Off, Dog)
”This one was actually the very first among the tracks to be written, though it was not initially intended for the album Bark Your Head Off, Dog. In the early summer of 2016 we were asked to provide two unreleased tracks to be used in a coming of age movie. We said absolutely, and not having any unreleased material to speak of, I read the script and started writing a song with the most immediate and dramatically straightforward subject matter I could think of – i.e. a breakup song.
The movie was plentiful with young couples who were breaking up, so I figured it was a safe enough concept, and it was the first time I tried this sort of thing, so I wrote it with a slightly more distant hand (though a couple of personal moments still slip through). It’s sort of based around a number of breakups I’ve gone through, the main part of it being a line I’d been kicking around already for some time, ‘we will both find out, just not together’. I tend to hang onto a line, especially the more I like it, until the rest of a song finally comes along to support it.
The film ended up being put away for some time (I’ve since heard that it was picked back up and finished, but I think it all worked out for the best). That being the case, we had a fair amount of time to sit with the recording, which was a bit rushed to meet a deadline, and realized the mood of it seemed a bit off. Our immediate approach was to push for big emotion, and so it had kind of a bombastic style, more angst than straightforward rhythm.
Once we realized there could be a dance song in there, we changed direction completely, and although I recall this one personally kicking my ass a bit more than some of the other tracks (it already had a ”finished” version to surpass), to the very last day of mixing actually, it was thrilling to see it be reborn entirely. To even come a little closer to saying something the way you mean to say it is very exciting and rewarding. I feel quite lucky that things worked out the way they did.”
– Frances Quinlan
”…as the weather was shifting, I started taking a lot of long walks. I had an idea to write a song using one of those walks as the basis for the central metaphor…”
43. Wye Oak ”It Was Not Natural”
(from The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs)
”I wrote this song at the beginning of Spring 2016, at a time when it was just starting to be warm enough to go outside again. During the winter I tend to turn inward – it’s an important time of isolation and work and reflection for me. So I was just coming out of that phase, and starting to write again, and as the weather was shifting, I started taking a lot of long walks. I had an idea to write a song using one of those walks as the basis for the central metaphor – and once I had that idea, the rest of it came together very quickly. I often say that this is a story about finding an object of uncertain origin whilst walking through the woods.
I don’t like to give people too much information about a song’s meaning – it discourages them from finding their own equally valid interpretations, and I work so hard in the writing process to leave space for those. But I will say that, initially, I was thinking about the structures we create to try to understand, control, and ultimately repress, human love and sexuality. As is often the case with human nature, we have the best of intentions and yet our fear and insecurity causes us to corrupt that which we are trying hardest to save.”
– Jenn Wasner
”The song was written about my uncle who was going through a very dark depression, and at the time my family and I were doing everything we could…”
42. Zola Jesus ”Bound”
(from Okovi: Additions)
”I wrote ‘Bound’ in a little cabin in northern Wisconsin. The song was written about my uncle who was going through a very dark depression, and at the time my family and I were doing everything we could to convince him to stay alive.”
– Nicole Hummel
”It had a very eerie sound and I had been thinking about writing a murder ballad for a while anyway, perhaps partly inspired by hearing Tom Jones’s ‘Delilah’…”
41. Kitty, Daisy & Lewis ”Suspicion”
(B-side of The Game Is On)
”In the summer of 2006, when I was just about to sit my GCSE exams, which would later become apparent are completely useless, an ex BBC audio engineer called Peter Copeland died. I had never met him. He was a friend of a friend. He left behind a basement full of audio equipment, most of which became mouldy due to the damp conditions. We went to get a Scully disc recording lathe that was there and ended up with a few more bits including something called a ‘Reverberation Unit Type 636’ made by Grampian Reproducers of Middlesex. I hadn’t seen or heard of one before but I knew the company and also that it could be of use for our studio. Its early 1960s styling was irresistible and was another reason it could not go to the rubbish bin.
Some nine years later, I finally got around to getting this thing working (I was inspired to do so after learning it was how Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry got his signature reverb sound) and once I had it working on my work bench, I plugged in my guitar and the sound from this unit is what forced me to play the guitar riff for ‘Suspicion’. It had a very eerie sound and I had been thinking about writing a murder ballad for a while anyway, perhaps partly inspired by hearing Tom Jones’s ‘Delilah’, or maybe from listening to too much Leadbelly.
I wanted to go fully overboard lyrically with this song in an attempt to make the listener think, ‘fuck, this guys actually nuts’. The way I approached that was to display a full build up and execution of outright violence and make it even more disturbing by the fact that there is not any hint of sadness or regret in the vocal feeling or lyrically. The chorus only explains that ‘It was just a feeling, that came over me’. Its never established the the person has done anything to be suspicious of or what the singer is actually suspicious about. Most people may also not realise that the lyric, ‘Pass me my stone’, refers to an oil stone used for the sharpening of blades. This is only made apparent in the the third and fourth line of the second verse which reveals, ‘Let me sharpen my knife, I can see my reflection in the oil’. This was supposed to show that the singer has not only recognised what is going on by physically seeing himself in the present moment but, that he also feels absolutely no shame, guilt or any kind of emotional change.
The only part of the arrangement that introduced any element of sadness to the track is the strings. These fade in slowly throughout the songs two chorus’s. There was a full string arrangement throughout the whole track but we felt they were not needed and changed the tone of the song into something else.
I was also listening to a fair bit of early Freddy King (singles released on Federal Records) at the time which may give rise to some of the guitar fils and vibes.
We initially tried to record this track as part of our album Superscope but we abandoned it as we were not really sure where to take it as a production. The second approach was completed in some two days. Although, we never really saw it could fit in with the rest of the album, alas, it wasn’t issued until later on after Superscope.
Some maybe falsely lead to believe that the heavy reverb sound that can be heard on the guitar and vocal is from the Grampian spring reverb but, it is not. The unit had sever noise problems which time did not let me get around to sorting before mixing this record. The excessive reverb that is heard is from a German EMT 140 plate reverb which consists of a large sheet of steel suspended on a frame with a transducer on one end and pickup on the other.”
– Lewis Durham