Sunday, October 05, 2008

six ways from sunday: rainy adventures in lo-fi

Even in the midst of a torrential downpour, the wheels on the bus go round-and-round in Marsaxlokk, Malta. (2008).

In the opening lines of the hit film, High Fidelity, the main character who's played by John Cusack, asks himself in a spate of frustration:

"What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?"

We, here at felix's daily starfish and waffles, don't have immediate answers, but these sonic dilemmas somehow seem appropriate to ponder on stormy Swedish Sundays like today. What can you do? We say: just slip on your headphones, press play, and drift away. When the music stops, you'll be as right as rain - we promise.

With that, here's a sampler six-pack of indie pop fodder for your rainy day, euphonic pleasure; active links below turn on the volume for full-length YouTube clips. Enjoy or, as the case may be, wallow with all your heart's content.

1. Elevator Love Letter :: Stars :: Heart (2003). The opposing male-female vocals of Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan front this clear-and-catchy number from the Montréal-based indie pop rockers. "Don't go / Say you'll stay / Spend a lazy Sunday in my arms / I won't take anything away."

2. Please Please Please :: Shout Out Louds :: Howl Howl Gaff Gaff (2005). Energetic arrangements, straight ahead rock-pop, and melodic hooks feature in this standout single from the Stockholm quintet. "But we're all happy 'cause the streets they're always there for us / And it's quite scary when you wake up in the same old clubs / It's getting darker and I know this time wasn't meant for us / So won't you please, please, please come back to me?"

3. Hand On Your Heart :: José González :: Stay in the Shade (2006). The Swedish singer-songwriter scores big in a stunning, acoustic rendition which sounds a world apart from the Kylie Minogue original. "You know it's one thing to say you love me / But another to mean it from the heart / And if you don't intend to see it through / Why did we ever start?"

4. Untouchable Face :: Ani DiFranco :: Dilate (1996). With 21 (and counting) albums released in the past 20 years, there isn't much that hasn't already been said about this prolific punk-folkie from Buffalo, New York. Delivering live performances like no other, Untouchable Face is vintage Ani. "You'll look like a photograph of yourself taken from far, far away / And I won't know what to do / And I won't know what to say / Except fuck you / And your untouchable face / And fuck you / For existing in the first place."

5. Long Lost Penpal :: Hello Saferide :: Introducing ... Hello Saferide (2005). Hailing from Östersund, Sweden, writer-singer-songwriter Annika Norlin is Hello Saferide, delivering quirky and ironic melodies wrapped in dry-humoured, Scandinavian style. Norlin blogs about some of her very own long lost penpals here. "Hello / Do you remember me / I am your long lost penpal / It must have been ten years ago we last wrote / I don't really know what happened / I guess life came in the way."

6. Pictures of You :: The Cure :: Disintegration (1989). Not so much indie rock as a throwback to 1980's post-punk pop revival, this obscure single from The Cure still sounds as good as the day it was first released. "I've been looking so long at these pictures of you / That I almost believe that they're real / I've been living so long with my pictures of you / That I almost believe, that the pictures are all I can feel."


  1. My current favourite sunday afternoon rainy weather song... but then again, I am going through a major polly jean phase at the moment. Makes me feel like I am 19 again. Scary.

  2. Well, there's nothing wrong with a little Polly Jean Harvey - she's the original angry woman, as far as I'm concerned, and I mean that in a good way. Thanks for the clip, I hadn't seen that one before.

    But yes, I do agree, 19 is scary.

    Off topic: we're going to have to get a beer sometime soon; my ineptness at keeping in touch is unacceptable.