Friday, August 7, 2009


"Kindly do the Needful"
I've been living and working in Bangalore, India for a year now. The English spoken here is rooted in British English, and also adopts some of the grammatical flourishes and phrasing of Hindi and more regional languages (there are a ton of them). The result is a number of cute linguistic idiosyncrasies. One thing I have found in Indian English is that it tends to be a bit more indirect. Written Indian English also has a lot of random capitalizations, like "Please pass the Rice and daal, Avinash".

"Kindly do the Needful" is a common signoff for an email, which is essentially a polite way of saying "Get your shit done".

So anyway, here's the playlist.

1. Carter Burwell - "Way out there"
This is from an opening sequence of one of my all-time favorite comedies, "Raising Arizona". I figured that this little shot of bluegrass adrenaline, which I thought was awesome when I was 10 and still do 17 years later, definitely deserves the opening spot.

2. Old 97's - "Melt Show"
This is from their album "Too Far to Care", which is a really good album full of the nervous energy and earnest longing in this tune. I like the guitars on this one a lot - they're raucous yet still manage to keep it tight.

3. Max Tundra - "The Enternatinment"
Max is one of my favorite electronica musicians. He puts out an album every half-decade or so, on account of the fact that he writes all of his stuff on a Commodore Amiga (ie: olllld school, I love the transition on this piece from schmaltzy glitch-pop to East European dance anthem. Max's 2002 album "Mastered by the guy at the Exchange" is one of my all-time favorites.

4. Unkown - "Light my mall on fire"
I recorded this on a digital voice recorder from a podcast on malls by RadioLab, which is one of my favorite programs.

5. My Bloody Valentine - "Map Ref 41n 93W"
This is a cover of a great Wire song - actually the only Wire song I've heard. The lyrics of this are fantastic. This is what Graham Lewis, who I'm guessing wrote the song, had to say about it: "There's actually a place called something like Centretown, Iowa [referring to the coordinates]. The song is about travelling. I flew from L.A. to New York in 1978 and crossed the mid-west, and it went on and on and on and on. It was just incredible that this grid system was imposed on an enormous stretch of land. The other verse refers to travelling through Holland, by road, seeing all the dykes which is another grid system. 'Curtains undrawn' -- seeing these blocks of flats, like dolls houses with people sitting in them all day with curtains undrawan. It's a travelogue." MBV's version is cool and bathes you in that swooshing guitar sound Kevin Shields made up.

6. The Charlatans UK - "Tellin' Stories"
Sophomore year of high school, 1997. My friends rocked out to STP, Bush and the Butthole Surfers, but I was way into Britpop - I'm talking Blur, Cast, Hurricane #1, and these dudes.

7. Guitar interlude
I don't know who this is - it was wedged between several gigs of music that my friend put on my computer as a backup for his music library.

8. Juana Molina - "Solo su voz"
A piece of Juana Molina's was used as background music for another RadioLab podcast on sperm. Turns out she was a successful Argentinian commedienne who had her own show TV show for a few years, and then dropped out to pursue music, which was her real interest in the first place. The music's kind of weird, though, so a lot of Argentinians scratched their heads at the decision. This is among the more straightforward of her songs, and I have no idea what she's singing about, but it doesn't matter, does it?

9. Jorge Ben - "O Namorado Da Viuva"
I worked at a nonprofit in Boston, and at one point helped manage a big gala (well, big for us) for the organization. The night was to be capped off with dancing by a live band - except the band got in a huge fight just before they were to go on stage and broke up on the spot. I kind of freaked out, and luckily my dad happened to be attending the event, and he ran over to Borders and picked up a half dozen Latin-themed dance mixes, one of which included this song. As it turned out, no one wanted to dance anyway, so there you go.

10. Jens Lekman - "Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig"
I don't love this guy, but I like him, and the breakdown at the end of this track is kickass.

11. Bobby Valentino - "Come touch me"
My younger brother is a DJ, composes and sells hip-hop beats, and most importantly is my guide to contemporary hip-hop and R&B. He's responsible for this one and a few others on this mix. I love the beat on this one.

12. Dazz Band - "Let it whip"
The first of two TV ad-inspired tracks on the mix, this one is from a Reese's commercial.

13. Bunny Wailer - "Cool runnings"
It's summer, right?

14. Andrew Bird - "Fitz & Dizzyspells"
Don't know much of this fellow except that he's a master whistler. Just a nice pop song here.

15. Beach Boys - "Child is the father of the man"
I've got a thing for crazy studio perfectionists like Brian Wilson and Kevin Shields, yet a lot of my favorite stuff of theirs are the rough cuts and outtakes, because they showcase all the creativity these guys had to offer without the pretence or the ultimately destructive obsessiveness with capturing the right sound. They already had it.

16. Brian Eno - "The Big Ship"
This one makes my heart swell. It makes me think of every major hello and goodbye I've had.

17. Fleet Foxes - "Blue Ridge Mountains"
These guys are pretty big now, and I expect that many of you have already heard them. This one is for those who don't yet know them, because Fleet Foxes is the real deal. This is from their first album, which is amazing and my favorite album of the last year. If I played an instrument, I would have already started a Fleet Foxes cover band. Seriously. Oh, and they kill live, too. They're like CSNY if those dudes could actually sing in tune on stage. I hope this link works, it's from a performance of their song "Mykonos" on Saturday Night Live:

18. Department of Eagles - "No one does it like you"
The opening sequence sounds like it was recorded in an airplane hanger. That's all I need to say.

19. Marlena Shaw - "California Soul"
Yes, you have heard this before. It's from a Dockers commercial.

20 & 21. J. Dilla - "Stop" and "Don't cry"
Dilla's one of the big-time hip-hop producers whose reputation has only grown since he died of lupus a few years back. These tracks are from the last album he recorded, mostly made from his hospital bed. This guy lived for music.

22. Alice Russell - "Hurry on now"
I like everything about this song - the horns, the hooks, the vocals, giving in to the devil, the ghostly strings at the close.

23. D'Angelo - "Africa"
Been hearing about D'Angelo for years, so I bought his 2000 album "Voodoo" recently. It's a slow burner, and it's taken some time for me to get used to a songwriter not interested in cramming as many ideas in a measure as he possibly can, but it's worth sticking with.