Songs of the Week 09/02/2022 (coming to you from 09/10/2022)

Hey everyone! I’d normally have two things to apologize for, but since I’m working on not doing that, I’m going to only apologize for one. I am sorry for the absence last week— as you may notice, the shriveled dong banner art was made pretty close to this post releasing last Friday before that fell through. I am not, of course, sorry for the shriveled dong banner art. It’s art, okay? Be mature. There’s nothing funny about a man’s little brother. Look, nudity is obviously a metaphor, okay? And should be destigmatized anyways. We’re all grown ups here. Jeez. Weirdo.

As a side note, I’m almost glad I’m releasing this a week late— as I’m finishing up writing this, I’m wearing a sweatshirt for the first time since easily March, and you can still smell the cold rain in the air. People outside my apartment are all wearing beanies and red noses, and the edges of leaves are starting to fade to yellow, and that can only mean one thing: I am becoming more powerful. I never intended for these to be listened as playlists because they can be so eclectic at times, but this one is smooth listening no matter the order because the equinox creeps ever closer, and my cognitive capabilities are only increasing. Soon, I will unlock the hallowed secret of work-life balance, and as the veins on my temples crackle out like lightning and my brain inflates to Hindenburg proportions, there will be no one left to stop my ascension. Okay, songs, here we go:

TIME ESCAPING | Big Thief So, maybe this hasn’t been so much of a Peter Gabriel summer as it has been a Big Thief summer, huh? Or maybe it’s just been a clunky noises summer, a clunky noises lifetime, because like the rest of my music taste according to my girlfriend, “Time Escaping” is a delightful clamor of pots and pans and twangy strings. In all seriousness, even at the beginning of the summer, I would never have expected there to be so much Big Thief related fanfare on these posts (and there’s more to come), so I think now that it’s finally starting to feel like the three-week Colorado fall again, it’s safe to officially say I’m a big Big Thief fan. As with one of my personal favorites “Certainty,” the second track on Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You has a bit more of a sweeter twang than a sad one. Its percussion is genuinely so weird that I had to do some research to figure out quite what’s going on, and even after clicking a few links, all I’ve found out is that nobody quite knows the answer. This percussion alone is worth listening to this song for. I think perhaps the second best word for it after “clunky” is “impressionistic”— individual measures have the same scratchy discordance as sorting through your recycling, but it collectively creates this swirling build that sputters to life and carries the song on mismatched wheels. And, as always, I’d be remiss not to mention Adrianne Lenker’s vocals and lyrics, which lend a welcome extra dimension to this song. But it’s not nearly as noisy as the next one…

HELL’S BATHROOM | Omission Sound This almost feels irresponsible on my part, but after all of this hype about Jim Noir, my first featured song of his to make the Songs of the Week cut is… not from Jim Noir. Not really, at least, though chronologically, this is technically the earliest starting point in his discography. Omission Sound is one of Jim’s first recorded projects, before the “Jim Noir” pseudonym even came to be, and it’s clearly a starting point. I mean no disrespect in saying that— as someone who has only recorded one song at the age of four about squishing spiders on the moon, I can confirm that even virtuosos have to start somewhere. In Jim Noir’s case, it’s quite a departure from the bombastically absurd, Beach Boys/Beatles/britpop psychedelia we all know and love him for today (we all know him, right?)— in fact, his work with Omission Sound is far more in line with 90s atmospheric music or even 2000s weird internet synth (see last week’s pick, “Don’t. Trust. Horses.“), much like the odd instrumentals that populate interludes in every later Jim Noir album. While the majority of Omission Sound’s only (as far as I know) album, Solutions, is only vaguely melodic behind stretched synth tones, its final track, “Hell’s Bathroom,” brings the album to something of a startling close. Not only does it have a wonderfully Jim Noir title that identifies it as a standout before even listening, but it takes the album in an entirely different direction, flushing listeners into a churning, crackling, brimstone rhythm. In all seriousness, I’m also pretty baffled by some of the noises in here— there are these low scratches that make up the backbeat that almost sound like the barks of robot dogs (??). More than any similarity to Jim Noir’s current music, it’s reminiscent of youtube animator PilotRedSun’s incredibly… distinct musical style? That’s about all I can say for it— maybe that’s what the term “avant garde” is for— but if you want a sense of it, check out the classics “dogowner,” “Grinch’s ultimatum,” “Rocko’s Gaming Tragedy,” or, more recently, “Burners.” Your dreams will never be the same— familiar, but never quite the same. Anyways, all that aside, if you’re interested in listening to this, there’s a catch— it’s only available on Jim Noir’s patreon. Dude’s not even paying me, I just like him enough to sound like a shameless sellout. Currently, he’s fundraising for his new album, and the day I stop talking about that is the day hell freezes over. Or… or the day it comes out. Either way, he’s releasing a new EP every month as part of this, so if you want more Jim Noir, that’s the place to go. In the meantime, I’ll put some of his earlier music on my next few songs of the week to catch everyone up to speed.

PIPOPAPIPO | Dewey Martino Hey, speaking of obscure instrumental ambience with fun titles, how about Dewey Martino’s “Pipopapipo?” I have a lot to say about this song, but the title pretty much sums it up— listen and you’ll see what I mean. “Pipopapipo,” like the rest of these songs, populates its atmosphere with all sorts of clunky sounds, but it shifts the tone of this list a lot further south. With its crackling recording and what sounds to me like wistful clarinet, this song creates something of a soft but stark scene, undeniably bleak despite the quirkiness of the synth riff that penetrates the fog. The album cover definitely shifts my perception, but when I close my eyes and listen to this one, I see a black-and-white film of a polar bear floating on a lone iceberg. Even without this imagery, something does sound inherently old about this sound, from its jazz-adjacent instrumentation to its stuffy microphone, though I should say it’s not quite as oppressively depressing as dementia music. I might not be selling this for some, so I should really reiterate that it’s calming more than anything else— there’s just a note of sadness. I don’t know much about Dewey Martino, but like Omission Sound, he appears to have started on an online platform and remains pretty deeply in obscurity, so support him if you can!

DISTRACTION | Ty Segall Onto something with a little less melancholy but just as much soft psychedelia, we’ve got Ty Segall’s “Distraction,” from his latest album, “Hello, Hi”— a surprising and surprisingly welcome departure from his usual formula. Leaving behind his usual, bluesy, screeching guitar, Ty Segall seems to be following exactly in Jack White’s footsteps (I wonder who could be coming next) by releasing a more acoustic-oriented album with a black and white cover that loses none of its electric energy despite being significantly stripped down. Ty Segall, to his credit, doesn’t seem to be just influenced by Jack White here— there’s a TON of Sergeant Pepper’s Beatles sound on this, with its off-kilter harmonies, background voices, and whimsical lyrics. “Distraction” is such a solid example of this, with a guitar melody that I’m tempted to describe as mature— it’s simultaneously subdued and strong, which makes it both relaxing and somehow encouraging, putting one foot in front of the other at its own pace. It put a huge smile on my face the first time I heard it, and when listening to the full album, it was quite a nice surprise to end with what is, in my opinion, “Hello, Hi”‘s strongest song (deserving of more than just three consecutive apostrophes). It’s been my anthem for the past few weeks, and I’m certain I’ll always associate it with the end of summer this year.

I’VE GOT YOU SURROUNDED (WITH MY LOVE) | Jack White Hey, speaking of releasing a more acoustic-oriented album with a black and white cover that loses none of its electric energy despite being significantly stripped down, how about Jack White’s Entering Heaven Alive? Was that just three callbacks in one? Yea, I’ve got layers. They don’t call it Max Todd Dot Complex Multifaceted Spiral Into Self-Referential Narcissism Reflective of Dante’s Depiction of Hell Except It’s Just Sixth Grader Marvel Pop Culture Riffing Quirky Humor for no reason. And hey, while we’re at it, speaking of narcis— I mean, multifaceted, let’s circle back to Jack White, whose newest release Entering Heaven Alive I’ve talked about numerous times already. This might be the last song I feature from it, but let’s get this straight: these past two albums have been a blessing and are both no-skip situations worth listening to in their entirety. “I’ve Got You Surrounded (With My Love)” might actually be my favorite thing off of this album, though— it hooks me with the first beat of its muffled, buzzing drums, which lead into… well, it seems like pretty experimental rock to me, but I’m not really landing on an emotion? That said, the hypnotic, ominous percussion never disappears, tinging the energy of the guitar and piano here with a dusty, eerie breeze. And honestly, I thrive in that sort of weather, so I’m cool with that.

As for this week’s art, all jokes aside, I’m super excited to share this:

This is Sascha Schneider’s Hypnosis, a painting that, like many of the songs today, I find incredibly striking despite its seemingly sketch-like quality. I found this painting through the movie The Lighthouse— I won’t spoil why, of course, but it’s given to the viewer quite bluntly in one of my absolute favorite shots of the movie, maybe of all time (there’s multiple in that one that could make the cut, honestly). This painting is almost assaulting, and while its depiction of hypnosis isn’t exactly so subtle, perhaps it’s the boldness of it that makes it so arresting. It’s far more sinister than the songs I chose for today, but I hope it’s spooky enough to usher you into this fall. It’s fall now, right? We’re agreeing on that? Okay, fall, go!

3 comments

  1. JT · September 11

    I love that Big Thief song. (Full disclosure, I tend to like clamorous pots and pans and twangy strings) It reminds me of E Costello’s Hurry Down Doomsday.

    • maxtodd · September 11

      Never would’ve thought of that, but it’s totally the same style, isn’t it? That’s awesome.

  2. Pingback: Songs of the Week 11/25/2022 | Max Todd.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s