Sunday, 1 March 2015

Out we jumped...

It is with great sadness that we announce the tragic death of artschoolbop. Good while it lasted, always quit at the right time, etc. From now on, thoughts get broken and ideas become increasingly disjointed, art gets better and wine gets worse:

In the meantime, this is beautiful: 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A break

And with that... 

Hard to do it one week before Bob Dylan puts out a new album an artist who gave this site its name releases a mini-opera featuring a Mark E. Smith impersonator's caravan holiday ruined by Screwdriver, but what can you do. 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

LIST #13. (no title)

Impossible but true.

Of course it is ridiculous to even contemplate the idea of compiling a list of the greatest songs ever; but after so many pointless lists – why the hell not.

At various points in my life I’ve mentioned each of these ten songs as the best song of all time. As the saying goes, if you had 10 cents for every song I’ve said is the best ever – you’d be a millionaire.

To all boring people: list #13 is very objective.

#10. Spiritualized – “Ladies And Gentlemen, We’re Floating In Space”

It is sort of silly to know it, but I do. The greatest three seconds of my music-listening experience up to this point happened when the lights went off and a woman’s voice said “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re floating in space”… Icy yet somehow deeply affecting. Then the music began. Dublin Concert Hall. Spiritualized live.

I know “Broken Heart” can move you to tears and “Come Together” will give you an erection, but Christ almighty – this was the moment that negated everything else. And I do mean everything.   

#9. Television – “Venus”

Broadway looked so medieval… Television had nothing to do with punk. Verlaine’s voice, guitar interplay, surreal lyrics – but how about those backing vocals that get you every time.

#8. Dexys Midnight Runners – “Burn It Down”

Can you think of a better start for a debut album than “Burn It Down”? Scratchy radio: “Smoke On The Water”, “Holiday In The Sun”, “Rat’s Race”... Enter the inimitable voice of Kevin Rowland: Oh for God’s sake, burn it down! A classic moment.

Then the horn section kicks in and you know you’ve just found your new favourite band.

#7. Tom Waits – “Falling Down”

Oddly, “Falling Down” is a studio recording that appeared on Waits’ live album Big Time. Anthemic and gloriously downbeat, this might be the best way to start your day. Also, I wouldn’t mind if this song was played at my funeral. No idea how he does it.

#6. The Velvet Underground – “The Black Angel’s Death Song”

Can’t explain this either. But then again – this is like falling in love. If you can explain it – it’s bullshit. Reed’s lyrics make sense only occasionally, but who cares – John Cale’s viola drives me insane each time the song is on.

Not trying to be original. And still looking for a person who would agree with me that this is their best song.  

#5. Black Box Recorder – “The Facts Of Life”

According to Jarvis Cocker, Luke Haines sabotaged his career by inserting the c-word (Jarvis doesn’t say the word, the lovely man that he is) into “The Upper Classes”. In a way, “The Facts Of Life” was also an act of sabotage. But at the opposite end of the spectrum. Because this actually got Haines into Top Of The Pops.

Heavenly pop music – made all the more heavenly by the cynicism involved in creating it.

#4. Kate Bush – “Leave It Open”

The primordial, bizarre, out-of-this-world brilliance behind these intensely Protean three minutes shows that it is perhaps not entirely impossible – to choose a favourite from The Dreaming. I don’t know how this is not #1, but with this here list – I have to ask myself that question again and again.

#3. The Fall – “Janet, Johnny & James”

I cried the first time I heard it. Cried during a Mark E. Smith song. It’s that good.

I started loving PJ Harvey even more after she said this was one of her favourite songs of all time. It’s that good.

I wrote a short story once because I misheard the lyrics of this song. It’s that fucking good.

#2. The Go-Betweens – “I’m All Right”

Imagine if Lennon and McCartney were one person. Can you do that? Now add Ray Davies. Multiply the result by Jagger and Richards. Add Pete Townshend. Throw Dylan into the mix...

The resulting talent would still not produce a song as good as “I’m All Right”.

She knows that I'm not ready
When my nerves are steady
When my eyes are free of tears
She doesn't want to hurt me
It's OK
I'm All right.

Splashing and dashing myself
A sad man
Trying to lift a hundred weight
If I can
When I say I'm available
She smiles
She doesn't want to hurt me
It's OK
I'm All right.

She can see that I'm still angry
It's no good
I can see her during the day
That's good
I have to earn the night
At night
She doesn't want to see me
It's OK
I'm All right.

As written by Robert Forster.

#1. The Ronettes – “Be My Baby” 

If you don’t think so, stick to gardening. 

Friday, 23 January 2015

LIST #12. Spirits.

Spirits as in ‘not ghosts’. Spirits as in ‘any organic compound whose molecule contains one or more hydroxyl groups attached to a carbon atom’. Spirits as in ‘alcohol’.

Easiest list of all. Well, surely when it comes to The Pogues or Tom Waits you have options – but otherwise I didn’t even have to think twice. Each song is taken from a different decade (well, almost) but each represents a similar level of affection for what Raymond Chandler once famously compared to love. “The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off”.

In the immortal words of Withnail: We want the finest wines available to humanity. We want them here and we want them now.

#5. The Divine Comedy – “A Drinking Song”

Genius. From Promenade, undeniably Neil Hannon’s best set of songs. This one’s a lyrics video not out of negligence but on purpose.

#4. Okkervil River – “John Allyn Smith Sails”

This is different. Will Sheff’s greatest song is not so much about alcohol as about the tragic death of John Berryman. The “Sloop John B” ending is both heartbreaking and ecstatic.

#3. The Pogues – “Bottle Of Smoke”

So many to choose from. And… never say such things as ‘Flogging Molly’ or ‘Dropkick Murphy’s’ in polite company. Never.

#2. Tom Waits – “The Piano Has Been Drinking”

The best idea would be to listen to the whole of Nighthawks At Diner, but this, too, captures the mood. No one can romanticize alcohol as effectively and eloquently as Tom Waits.

#1. The Kinks – “Alcohol” 

Left with no choice. Ray Davies in 1971-72 was all drunken charm. The song.  

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

LIST #11. Drama.

Drama. Not as in theatre, although some theatricality is guaranteed. These are five of the most dramatic songs I know. Or the ones that sprang to my mind the moment it thought up list #11.

Also, great to know I’m not the only one suffering from January blues. The lists!.. The Guardian is going through the same shit.

#5. Whipping Boy – “No Place To Go”

Last song on their self-titled, posthumously released album that I’ve grown to like more than Heartworm. All intensity and desperation.

#4. The Waterboys – “Red Army Blues”

From A Pagan Place. Eight minutes of Mike Scott’s over-the-top drama. The way he sings “seventeen years old, never kissed a girl” – you would think he really never did. Priceless.

#3. Kate Bush – “Breathing”

Otherworldly stuff. Lyrically, vocally, musically – this is among her most powerful and complete creations.

#2. Nick Cave – “Lay Me Low”

Let Love In is patchy, messy, erratic. It could also be Cave’s most entertaining album ever. “Lay Me Low” is a blast. Singing this song at the top of your lungs is one of the biggest joys in the world.

#1. The Who – “Love Reign O’er Me” 

Of course.

Monday, 19 January 2015

LIST #10. Songs about not giving a damn.

I’ve just seen the tracklist for Noel Gallagher’s new album. You couldn’t make it up, could you. “While The Song Remains The Same”... Oh Noel. I so don't care.

These are five of my favourite songs on the subject.

#5. Pink Floyd – “Flaming”

Syd Barrett’s whimsical genius. Trippin’ or not, this has to be the most psychedelic song about not giving a damn.

#4. The Beautiful South – “Song For Whoever”

Paul Heaton on top of his songwriting game. The game: insert the name of a girl. The most cynical song about not giving a damn.

#3. John Lennon – “Watching The Wheels”

For me, the only way to listen to Double Fantasy is to treat it as a 7-song mini- album. Well, you know. As for “Watching The Wheels”, it might be the most romantic song about not giving a damn.

#2. A House – “I Don’t Care”

Sometimes you want to overstate the importance of what is forgotten, but I Am The Greatest truly is one hell of a record. And “I Don’t Care” is the most straightforward song about not giving a damn.

#1. Eels – “I Like Birds” 

Daisies Of The Galaxy is and (I believe) will always be Eels’ best album. “I Like Birds” is the best song about not giving a damn.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

LIST #9. Doldrums.

I’ve always believed the best state for listening to depressing music is pure, undiluted happiness. That way you look past the vibe and notice that the music is in fact… quite good. Sometimes. Otherwise, you just feel sorry for yourself and start killing animals.

Speaking of which, The Smiths are not on the list. Depression has always been Morrissey’s main selling point, so that would be too much of a cheap shot.

#5. The Pretty Things – “Loneliest Person”

Too often the most depressing songs have the sweetest tunes. Don’t play this one first thing in the morning.

#4. Love – “Always See Your Face”

Contrary to rumours, Arthur Lee kept writing songs after Forever Changes. Don’t play it after a painful breakup.

#3. The Replacements – “Here Comes A Regular”

"Summer's passed, it's too late to cut the grass" is one of the best lines in rock music. Don’t play it when alone and thirty-five and in a bar.

#2. The Flaming Stars – “Night Must Fall”

Fantastic, criminally underrated band. Don’t play it… late at night.

#1. Big Star – “Holocaust” 

This is mentally and physically devastating. Don’t ever play it.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

LIST #8. Jesus.

I just have to get this off my chest:

Dear people of YouTube,

I don't give a damn who or what brought you to this song.
I will not 'like' you if you are foolish enough to ask (in fact, I will not 'like' you in any case).
I don't care what year you're listening to it in
or what's the problem with those 16 people who didn't 'like' the song.
And I will surely not want to hear any of your own stuff. 

That's about it, thanks.

#5. Damien Youth – “Test Tube Jesus”

Damien Youth isn’t on any sort of radio. In fact, very few people know about his existence. But for all the great songs he has written, I believe it should stay that way. Obscurity suits him.

#4. The Vaselines – “Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam”

No, apparently he doesn’t. Christian children’s hymn… slightly altered.

#3. Judee Sill – “Jesus Was A Cross Maker”

Judee was of course a legendary figure (well worth discovering), and this is heavenly stuff. The definitive version, others don’t even count.

#2. Robyn Hitchcock – “Ye Sleeping Knights Of Jesus”

Well, if this is country – and it is – this is the best country you could ever hope to hear. In terms of songwriting, very few can touch this guy. From the classic that is I Often Dream Of Trains.

#1. The Velvet Underground – “Jesus”

Only Lou Reed could write a proper melody to a song with that kind of title.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

LIST #7. Misogyny.

Considering what it has all come to, I should probably preface this by saying that women are great and women are brilliant and where would we all be without women. And now that we’ve done the gentlemanly thing, here’s a list of five greatest misogynistic songs of all time. I wouldn’t advise to play these to a girl.

…At least I was decent enough not to include Frank Zappa. That took guts.

#5. The Decemberists – “We Both Go Down Together”

If you don’t pay attention, you might think this is a lovely dramatic tale about two lovers committing suicide. Oh no. Cruel Victorian rape.

#4. Ween – “Baby Bitch”

You’re beautiful, I guess.

Is there anything more cruel you could say to a girl?..

#3. Bauhaus – “Crowds”

What a song. The only reason this is not #1 is because it might really be about crowds and fans and that sort of thing. However, if this is indeed about a girl… Christ.

#2. The Rolling Stones – “Under My Thumb”

They had loads of those, of course, but nothing can beat this Aftermath classic. The lyrics are typical Jagger fare.              


#1. The Soft Boys – “Empty Girl”

You look divine, but honey please don’t speak.

Sickeningly delicious from Hitchcock. 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

LIST #6. Radiohead.

I can’t believe I’m doing this to myself, but…

Having once spent several years of my life saying Radiohead were a bunch of overhyped bores with fake suicidal tendencies, I then had to admit they were not entirely without talent. In fact, even the patchy Pablo Honey is not without its certain awkward charm.

Overall: mopey but adventurous. These are five of their best songs.

#5. “You Never Wash Up After Yourself”

Shows that Radiohead have a sense of humour. From My Iron Lung EP. That chord progression never fails.

#4. “Electioneering”

“Paranoid Android”? “Karma Police?” “Airbag”? No. This is the best song from OK Computer.

#3. “Everything In Its Right Place”

Pure aural bliss. However, if you want to laugh, here’s the most embarrassing review in the history of the universe. Those silly twats.

#2. “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”

I never much cared for The Bends (having heard it after the age of 18), but nobody can deny the sheer hypnotism of its last track.

#1. “A Wolf At The Door”

Dance you fucker.