Earworms – Apr 27

You may have heard a little Todd over the years, but if you haven’t heard this you haven’t started.  It’s been his encore song for as long as I can remember (mid-70s) and is the perfect rallying call for the optimistic at heart. Pure pop genius. – Magicman

A haunting traditional medieval ballad sung acapella. She also plays the mouth bow which is common in Senegal. I discovered her on a 6 degrees CD, From Senegal to Setsesdal, which was mostly a combination of Senegal and Norwegian musicians. – goneforeign

There’s something kinda oooh about Dessa, and nothing wrong with that.  A spoken word poet, author and MC from the Doomtree Hip-Hop Collective in Minneapolis, she’s just released her first full-length album, A Badly Broken Code. You really want to like the whole idea of poetry, light hip hop, cheerful Girls Aloud choruses and woodwind tricks, but a promise to make, promise to make is to give the words more bite next time.     – tin

French hip-hop with an infectious, soul-style English hook.  I have been singing it all week, despite not being any kind of a hip-hop fan. The whole thing is a bit serendipitous; I only heard of the band through the publicity for a local festival later in the summer, which I am now pretty certain to attend.     – WilliamsBach

I’ve been reviewing Steve Mason’s new album, so what have I had in my head every hour of every day? Dry The Rain! The bonkersness of the lyrics, the way it suddenly swooshes open, like the sun breaking through storm clouds, making every leaf and pebble look so much sharper…. I always think, how awful for Steve Mason that everyone bangs on about that song as though he’s never written anything to match it (and how much more awful that I’m one of those who thinks he hasn’t).     – Maddy

This popped up on my ski mix & I’ve listened to it every day since. It’s got it all –  love & lust, a lurk & a lark wrapped up in perfect ear candy.  I really like songs with semi spoken lines over a great musical bed  & this fits the bill.      – Fintan

This is from a compilation of original songs covered by Aretha Franklin, and I love how this sounds like it’s wrapped in cotton, the piano rolling almost as if it were underwater.      – eJay

55 thoughts on “Earworms – Apr 27

    • I suspect some of your extra work this week was in finding certain people’s selections in easily-usable forms; a task that was beyond certain selectors. Humbleness and appreciation in equal measure.

    • And thanks to me we have a new standard in earworm editing:
      A haunting traditional medieval ballad …
      As opposed to those haunting indie medieval ballads, I suppose? Sorry GF.

      (On the other hand, I didn’t invent any words this week. bonkersness?)

  1. Of the new-to-mes, I liked the Todd, Hocus Pocus was nice too (coincidentally, I was listening to a podcast reviewing their latest album on my way home tonight), and I need to check out Dessa again. Nice to hear form Maddy and Dry The Rain, always associated with that scene in High Fidelity for me.

  2. I’ve only heard the Pulp and Beta Band songs before, but funnily enough they’re the two that grabbed my attention the least, probably for that very reason.

    Actively listening to the Todd Rundgren selection has made me realise I’ve been dismissing him without ever having knowingly heard anything he’s ever done. Somehow, I get the feeling that won’t be a surprise to many of you. Sorry … partic at magicman and thewinslowboy. All I can say in recompense is that he’s straight onto this week’s library search list.

    Other than that, Dessa made me sit up and listen most, I think.

  3. @Fintan – if Babies is on your ski mix, I’m utterly intrigued to know what else you associate with skiing!!! Do tell! 🙂

  4. Cheers, Blimpy. Perhaps I sense a post coming on but in short Surfers, Bankrobbers, Minor Prophets & other Love Cats able to Float On Dreams Into The Valley while being Kissed by Lipless Suicidal Blondes seeking Sanctuary on the slopes.

  5. Dessa is powerful.

    Dry the Rain reminds me of reading my first ever RR (Autumn Songs) me and a couple of friends – did cds for each other and Beta Band were the only cross over on all three… out of 50 odd tracks.

    the lill lisa track is lovely.

    I think Babies is ace.

  6. Not my normal cuppa but the Dessa is ace. Hocus Pocus an instant WTF for me had to repeat. Dry the Rain has been an off & on worm for me since High Fidelity (& yes it roped me into buying a Beta Band album which has been played once I think). Johnny Ace really is great( what we would call wet knee music here) I can never get enough that kinda sound.

    • I listened to that Dessa album 15 or 16 times over 5-6 weeks trying to sort out whether it was any good or not .. most of it sat on a stump watching the dog chase squirrels. And I think I rewrote the blurb’s conclusion twice that many times. [And this was the best you could up with?] There’s a couple of poppier ‘singles’ off it, but I don’t think they capture the spirit of the thing as well as Mineshaft II. Dunno if we’ll be hearing more from her or this is all she’s got – time will tell.

      (Interestingly, the singles may be what will.i.am and Cheryl Cole were trying for last year. That album was an abject disaster, though. I got to hear it for a week courtesy of my kids – it only took em that long to realise it’s popularity was just hype, and they are both under 10!)

  7. Some good things there. Loved the Todd and Pulp tracks, which I already knew well.

    What I didn’t know was the Beta Band, I shall admit to not knowing their music at all. It was ace.

    An omission I shall have to remedy asap. Thanks Maddy.

  8. Difficult to choose between the newies this week (and for me, that’s everything bar Pulp) – they’re all great. But perhaps am most drawn to the Todd Rundgren (who’d always just been a name to me before – Dolph Lundgren? Nils Lofgren? Who?). And the Beta Band is quite lovely. But really they are all great.

    That-era Pulp is so strongly associated in my mind with a particular long-gone stage of my life (drinking Lemon Hooch down Popstarz, batting off the advances of an inebriated Barrymore, etc) that I find listening to it a little weird/uncomfortable now. It’s an (I believe) indisputably brilliant song, but I’m much more likely to delve into This Is Hardcore for my listening pleasure these days.

  9. Well, two of the finest songs of the 90s there, so that’s a good start. Must dig out those Beta Band EPs. Never did get the album(s?). FWIW, my favourite Pulp album is We Love Life.

    Pleased to be introduced to Dessa – that’s what contemporary pop should sound like. Have never given Todd the attention he obviously deserves – liked that track.

    @Maddy – hope Benjamin’s doing well. We slept a full night in a baby-free room for the first time last night (I say full night – barring the hour of gettting her back to sleep in her room)

    • that’s what contemporary pop should sound like
      I find that a very interesting statement and if you have time to elaborate I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be interested in your thoughts.

      • I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be interested in your thoughts.

        Um, it was a bit of a throwaway comment, and now I feel like the teacher wants me to explain it to the whole class… I think I just mean it’s smart, fresh-sounding, poppy and catchy, with a lot of care and ideas gone into the production. If all pop singles met those (admittedly very general) requirements, the world would be a better place.

  10. Dessa is hard working, all i can say. I remember one time I was out with some friends drinking at a bar in MSP and she was just tucked in a corner writing away. She’s an amazing mind and fit for sure, but she’s just not gonna come out and scratch and attack. Her music burrows into your consciousness and stays for awhile. Not like a crappy club tune.

    I to hoped for more bite/heavy hitters, but I think if there is one female in the bunch who can bring it though it’s her. Just like her album, it’s a slow burner that eventually will be added to and get a crazy fire blazing.

    • We’re not bothered if she’s fit or not around here, but I know what you mean about the album burrowing in and sticking around. And I definitely get from reading some of her posts that she’s dedicated to her art.

    • Thank you. Will do, although I’m hardly the rap/hip hop expert around here. What’s interested me most in the comments is how she – or at least the featured song – is resonating with non hip hop people. Nice to see there is a place for literate hip hop that doesn’t need streetcorner bravado.

      • The crew record is great because they managed to combine nine different styles and backgrounds seemingly effortlessly. Mictlan definitely brings a bit more streetcorner bravado to the mix, but not excessively so.

        Dessa’s collaboration on POS’ Low Light Low Life song on Never Better is also quite good. (Also a great album if you haven’t heard it)

    • I’m quite impressed Mark. Right from the start I was struck by the thought that this is a soundtrack to something bigger and even as the styles changed I couldn’t ever shake that notion/gut feeling. There’s some strong pieces but I was hearing in black and white until my head started ‘seeing’ colour and swirling bodies and pinlight spots and backdrops – some cirque de soleil, some modern dance, a mime for a ballad, a Streetcar Named Desire set for a sung soliloque…

      Do you guys know any musical theatre people who could help you do a live song cycle? It could be big, you know.

      • Soundtrack to life perhaps? I’m not affiliated with the group at all, btw – I grew up with a few of the guys – but pretty much only see them at shows anymore.

        Dessa is curating a hip-hop weekend at one of the big theatres in Minneapolis, with a mixture of spoken word, dj’s, and live sets in a couple of weeks which should be pretty cool. Lazerbeak is pairing his new album with a DVD of videos for each song, which might push the envelope in that direction but we get to wait until late fall to find out.

        That said, they’ve always done intriguing video work, and have some impressive visual artists in the crew: http://www.youtube.com/user/DoomtreeRecords

  11. The Kirsten Braten Berg was gorgeous. Sounds like an interesting CD, GF.

    And I liked the Johnny Ace & the Beale Streeters, too. It was almost spooky/cinematic – I could imagine it in a David Lynch movie.

    Don’t mean to dis Dessa, but it was a little Alanis MOrrissette for my taste.

  12. hello! sorry to have been awol for a while – days too short by approx six hours. i try and keep up, pretty impossible. barbryn: ben very well, thank you for asking, full of attitude, leaping headlong into tantrum stage, the usual toddler stuff. good to hear you’re starting to get some sleep, well done! blimpy, new site looks great. i miss everyone. stay well all x

  13. oops, sorry, that last comment was (fairly obviously) from me. since i’m back: the other beta band song i’ve had on repeat in my head all week is the hard one, specifically that moment (excised from the album at one point, i forget the history now) when steve mason starts singing “one upon a time i was falling apart, now i’m only falling in love”, which was so, so, SO brilliant…

  14. What does “wet Knee” music mean, FIntan? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard that expression before.

    And I don’t suppose this counts as an earworm, but we just saw Snatch last night, and the movie was alright, but I really liked this song…

  15. I liked them all!

    Have to add me to the list of people who have to seriously reconsider their attitude to Mr Rundgren. Dessa was great – looking forward to hearing more.

    Maddy, you are from before my time on RR but it’s always great when old friends pop back and get to meet the new ones, so to speak. Loved the Betaband, which I didn’t know.

    GF you are forever broadening our horizons – keep it up!

    Would love to see forty plus comments on earworms every week!

    Great feature, Tin. May it run and run!

  16. Update: We got a thank you email from Dessa for all the positive comments. She’s thrilled to get some UK press, and said she giggled trying to figure out some of the cultural references.
    She tweeted the link (to her 2800 followers lol). (One complained about the old geezer who compared her to Girls Aloud lmao)

    • Yeah, back home my grandma even put it on her Wall. We tried to explain that was a Facebook thing, but she’d have none of it. So now every time the dog eats his breakfast next to the dishwasher, he can look up and see the caricature of me on my grandma’s wainscotting (that was as high as she could reach; she’s shrunk quite a bit over the years)

  17. Regarding the Johnny Ace track, “My Story”. Nice. I’ve got this on the “Johnny Ace Memorial Album – The complete Duke/Peacock recordings” which is very good, although I must admit I prefer Chuck Willis on this kind of material.

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