Thursday, April 27, 2006

This Is A Long Song For Someone With Nothing To Think About: A Mocking Music List

Calum Marsh

Godspeed You Black Emperor!Musical lists based around single words aren't hard to come by on music blogs - hell, even we do them once a week - but lately they've not particularly interested me. The whole process of collecting songs and jotting them down for you, even, seems a bit silly to me. Let's face facts: the whole exercise is usually nothing more than an excuse to show-off what hip bands you know and how many rarities you can scrounge together (credit to Geoff, though, for unabashedly adding Weezer and the Foo Fighters to his themed lists). Art Brut sums the condition up nicely: "He no longer listens to A-sides /He made me a tape of bootlegs and B-sides!".

Yes, I'm making a list. Bearing in mind what I've just said, am I going to attempt a collection of songs free of ostentatious showiness, comprised exclusively of well-known A-sides by universally well-regarded folk-art rock groups? No, I'm afraid, to this end, pretension-free listing is nearly impossible: I'm writing this list with you, the reader, in mind. I'm aware while compiling that you're going to be reading - and judging, to some degree - my choices, and that awareness turns what would be an otherwise normal grouping of tracks into something self-aware and, by extension, purposefully played-up.

Okay, but what if I don't care that people are reading and judging? What if I choose songs which are normal and well-known, and choose them without considering how they'll be thought about by you? I doubt anyone has that much self-control - I certainly don't - but even assuming someone could choose not to show-off with hip bands and rare tracks, the choice to not do so would be purposeful, and that intention, in it's own little way, is pretty damn pretentious. Sure, it'd be easy for me to slyly announce that, hey, I don't care what songs I pick, I could care less about looking cool, and so on, but that easy way out is yet another pretentious trap, isn't it? By specifically announcing that you don't care, you're making it painfully clear that you do.

I guess the only option, then, is to go right ahead and get comfortable with the undeniable fact that this is going to be one hell of a pretentious piece of crap. Yep, that's how it's going down, folks: I'm picking cool bands and, whether I like it or not, I'm kinda trying to show off. We'll all just have to deal with it, I guess. So, continuing in this vein, I present this week's theme:

The Five Most Pretentious Songs . . . Ever!

Fiery FurnacesAh, self-reference. How refreshing. The following five songs are, like all good lists, incredibly pretentious. Some of the artists are decidedly aware of their own self-absorbed intellectualism, others are not - either way, these haughty smart-guys ooze pretension and love it. Oh, and just so there are no doubts about the ridiculousness of this list (or my awareness of its ridiculousness), I've taken the liberty of matching these tracks with similarly pompous drink recommendations - the sign of a real intellectual (but honestly, isn't that a great idea?).

Extravagance abound:

5. The Fiery Furnaces - Chief Inspector Blancheflower [MP3]
The idea: song as film. Separated into three wonderful acts, Chief Inspector Blacheflower sort of follows a bitter male protagonist as he visits Micheal, his younger brother, who has been secretly seeing his ex-girlfriend Jenni. Ever-lovable Furnaces Matt and Eleanor recount the tale through sing-song dialogue and novel-like description, shifting musical gears to signify scene-changes and exchanging quotations as if a conversation were really taking place. Sure, it's showy and flamboyant, but it's a hell of a lot fun, too.

Best heard with: Long Island Iced Tea
Long Island Iced TeaIt's no Bitter Tea, but it's close. This preposterously elaborate concoction is only worth the effort if you're really willing to give it your full attention - just like the Furnaces. Fill a Martini shaker with ice, then add 1oz Absolut Vodka, 1oz Bacardi Light Rum, 1oz Tequila, 1oz Tanquery Dry Gin and a half-ounce of lemon juice - shake well. Strain the result into an ice-filled tumbler glass, add a garnish (lemon wedges work well), and enjoy.

4. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Providence [MP3]
Seriously, 29 minutes? That'd definitely be pretentious, were it not the most rich and glorious thirty minutes of music ever recorded (a slight exaggeration, to be sure, but still...). Godspeed are very highly regarded, especially by me, but their reputation for being arty to an almost ridiculous degree is probably warranted. Regardless, it's difficult to fault the group for such a quality. Artists will always be arty, and there sure isn't anything wrong with that (especially if the result is a gorgeous as this).

Best heard with: Manhattan
ManhattanWhy Manhattan? Two reasons: it's very classy and it'll take you a long time to get through. Infamously known as symbol of manliness (in the classy, suit-wearing sense, not the 'drink beer and watch football' one), this is probably the most difficult drink you'll ever consume. Incredibly stiff but strangely rewarding, it's perfect for standing out as the most hip (or, possibly, idiotic) gentlemen at the party - maybe not for keggers or jock-fests, though. Combine 3/4 oz of sweet Martini vermouth with 1 1/2 oz of Crown Royal Whisky (or, if you're feeling saucy, Mount Gay Rum) in a Martini shaker - shake well and strain over ice in a Martini or Rocks glass.

3. LCD Soundsystem - Yeah (Pretentious Version) [MP3]
Now, I know what you're thinking: how could this be pretentious? But seriously, I had to include the DFA somewhere on this list, being that they have the most pretentious discography in the history of recorded music, and this seemed like the obvious choice. When it comes to making pompous work, James Murphy is the unquestionable king - 'Yeah' is aware of its own prentiousness to such a degree that you can't possibly fault if for being so, though it most certainly is. The same formula applies to most of James's work, in fact: 'Losing My Edge', for instance, examines artistic arrogance more accurately and enjoyably than any music critic ever could. It's this sly self-awareness that allows LCD Soundsystem and the rest of the DFA to toe the line between sounding satisfyingly intellectual and contemptible .

Best heard with: Guinness Draught
Guinness DraughGuinness toes the same line that the DFA drew out: on the one hand, it's a beer - an everyman beverage designed for parties and wild times - but on the other hand, it's hard to get and most people hate it, which immediately establishes it as something of an extravagant treat. The Guinness drinker of the party is accepted with leery caution, seen by domestic-drinkers as questionable but non-threatening and by spirit-lovers as the same - in a sense, he's straight-forward enough for the normals and interesting enough for the weirdos. Just like the DFA. Open and quickly tip upside-down into a pint glass - let the head sit before drinking.

2. M83 - Car Chase Terror! [MP3]
I won't lie to you, I love this track. I know a great number of M83 fans who can't handle Car Chase Terror's theatrical cheesiness, but for me, it just adds to Before The Dawn Heals Us's sense of moody mystery. It's amazing the range of emotions M83 were able to evoke simply with digital sound on their previous record, and although Before The Dawn's move into more David Lynch-like soundscapes translates into fewer emotional moments, it reaches interesting levels which the former album did not - chiefly among them being a sense of subversively amusing mystery. It's not supposed to be taken lightly, mind you, but Car Chase Terror is definitely aware of its cheesiness and wants you to be too. By foregrounding their potential cheesiness, M83 prevents their music from being cheesy - it's so over the top that it no longer is, in a sense, and although that's incredibly pretentious, it's also a bold artistic decision - one that I feel worked out well.

Best heard with:
CosmopolitanSure, this is an infamously "girly" cocktail, but consider this: a Cosmo is such a girly drink, there's no possible way a guy could drink one without having that in mind. Like M83, self-awareness saves you from looking silly. Pretentious drink for a woman, but, because of the clear awareness, even more pretentious for a man. Mix 1oz of Peach Schnapps with a tablespoon of sugar in a tall glass (not a martini glass, as certain sexy shows will have you believe). Fill with pink lemonade and stir.

1. Xiu Xiu - I Broke Up (SJ) [MP3]
I do love Xiu Xiu, but I can't deny the pretension. His discography is stuffed with intellectual, avant-garde art that screams grandiloquence, but I Broke Up, probably more than any other, takes the Number 1 spot. Shouted out lines like "THIS IS THE WORST VACATION EVER!" and "DON'T FUCK WITH ME! DON'T FUCK WITH ME!" are obviously said with black humour in mind, but still, it's a bit much. Don't get me wrong, I love Xiu Xiu and I love this song, but how can this not take top honours? "I'M GOING TO CUT YOUR HEAD OPEN WITH A ROOFING SHINGLE!"

Best heard with: Absinthe
AbsintheOh, Absinthe, easily the most pretentious drink ever created. It's abrasive and extremely hard to handle, but if you give it a chance and really let yourself get into it, the results are quite incredible. You can probably find a watered-down version of the stuff at your local liquor store, but for the real thing your best bet is to search online. Note: I do not endorse purchasing or consuming Absinthe from or in European countries, and I won't be liable for any personal harm that comes to you if you choose to follow my drinking recommendation.

The Fiery Furnaces - Chief Inspector Blancheflower
Godspeed You Black Emperor - Providence
LCD Soundsystem - Yeah (Pretentious Version)
M83 - Car Chase Terror!
Xiu Xiu - I Broke Up (SJ)

Xiu Xiu - Knife Play
Godspeed You Black Emperor! - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
M83 - Before The Dawn Heals Us
LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem
The Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boat

Sunny Day . . .
Who Are You Calling a Narcissist?
Jesus, Mocking Music Loves You Too
Yes, But is it Heart?
The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
No Pan Troglodyte Business Here
Everything Is Automatic

Comments on "This Is A Long Song For Someone With Nothing To Think About: A Mocking Music List"


Anonymous Candice said ... (27/4/06 10:21 pm) : 

Have you tried the Absinthe at Avant Garde?


Anonymous moe said ... (27/4/06 10:28 pm) : 

if i knew you'd better i'd call you a pretentious jerk in jest, but alas i don't, so i won't. get it? pretentious list.. pretentious jerk... ah nevermind.. it was pretty lame to begin with.

although, i do enjoy a well made sour apple martini. which some will argue that perhaps it's not a "real" martini.
hog wash i say!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (27/4/06 11:09 pm) : 

this is the coolest post ever.


Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (27/4/06 11:36 pm) : 

Oh, that's so Calum posting as anon!

I kid, it is pretty great.


Blogger Jonathan Migneault said ... (28/4/06 12:02 am) : 

Leave it to Casey to break new ground...

This may be the first blog post ever in the history of humankind to match songs with alcoholic beverages.

Congratulations Casey! You're officially a pioneer (unless, of course, someone else beat you to the punch on this).


Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (28/4/06 12:07 am) : 

Cough... I'd like to take credit, but all I did was upload the songs and add some pretty pictures. It's Calum's foray into history.


Blogger Jonathan Migneault said ... (28/4/06 12:12 am) : 

Oh wow... I'm an idiot. I didn't even bother to check who wrote the article. Come to think of it, it was a very Calum-y (it's an adjective -- look it up) post.

Calum, if you're reading this I would like to offer my sincere apologies for mistaking your post for Casey's ;). I know how embarassing that could be...


Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (28/4/06 12:17 am) : 

Oh, it's good enough that I don't blame you. I wouldn't think it was Calum either.


Blogger Ekko said ... (28/4/06 7:30 am) : 

i'm a new reader to your blog, but i thought i'd let you know i dig it. good stuff.


Blogger shane said ... (28/4/06 9:17 am) : 

You haven't lived pretentiously until you've licked burnt absinthe sugar from a spoon in an absinthe bar in an immigrant district of Berlin at midnight. yay Fiery Furnaces. Oh, and Guinness is a stout, not a beer, and you have to let the pint sit, and then add the head. Now that's pretentious.


Blogger Calum Marsh said ... (28/4/06 12:12 pm) : 

Not if you're pouring from a Can, Shane. Just one pour to the brim.


Anonymous Jerad said ... (28/4/06 1:00 pm) : 

Where the hell did you get that cosmo recipe? It should be vodka, orange liqueur (Cointreau or Triple Sec), Cranberry juice, and lime juice. Unfortunately, I'm a guy who knows that off the top of his head.


Blogger Calum Marsh said ... (28/4/06 2:45 pm) : 


My apologies if it's not a standard recipe. To be honest, I've only had a Cosmo once, from a random nightclub in England, and I was too drunk to really remember what it was like.


Blogger Calum Marsh said ... (28/4/06 2:53 pm) : 

Also, "stout" is a family of dark beers. So while Guinness is certainly a Stout, it is a Stout Beer.


Blogger Bushwick is Beautiful said ... (28/4/06 3:03 pm) : 

Great post, Iwill try the Godspeed You! Black Emperor with the Manhattan, and get back to you.


Blogger mel said ... (28/4/06 4:50 pm) : 

I always wondered what was in a Manhattan after that episode of the Simpsons where Bart works for Fat Tony. Now I know to stay far away.

How's that for pretention?


Anonymous Jerad said ... (28/4/06 5:16 pm) : 

Hey, no problem. Honestly, I don't know exactly what makes a cosmo a cosmo, so there are probably lots of small and large variations on it. Anyhow, thaks for the fun list and the great read!


Blogger shane said ... (29/4/06 1:39 pm) : 

Touché Calum. I was just brought back to my first pint, when I mistakenly called it a beer, and was beaten to within an inch of my life. Ah, the good old days...


Blogger Tim Young said ... (29/4/06 2:54 pm) : 

You can mark me up as the guinness drinker!


Blogger Christopher Trottier said ... (29/4/06 4:35 pm) : 

Hey, I'd just like to thank you for sharing the music. Most of it is music I love. Oh yeah, and love from Canada.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (29/11/06 10:30 am) : 

Thanks for your pretenious list. May I also be pretentious? Check out the Muggabears ( I'm totally digging them now.


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