It’s World Goth Day, so let’s discuss this ranking of Cure songs

The Cure perform in concert at the Frank Erwin Center May 13, 2016 (photo: Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman)

 

Perhaps because it is World Goth Day,  the ’80s music site Slicing Up Eyeballs took a reader poll and ranked all 225 songs by the Cure. They tallied more than 100,000 votes. The results are kind of fascinating.

Nos. 2 to 10? Completely understandable: “Just Like Heaven,” Inbetween Days,” “Pictures of You,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Charlotte Sometimes,” “Fascination Street,” “Disintegration,” “Close to Me,” “A Night Like This.”

No. 1? “A Forest” (separated by *one vote* from “Just Like Heaven” — don’t let anyone tell you democracy doesn’t matter).

I like “A Forest.”  But it would not necessarily occur to me that it’s  The Best or Most Favorite Cure Song of All Time.

But I am clearly in the minority. It is a beloved tune, by both fans (obviously) and the band (it is the song they have played the most times) and remains one of the earlier examples of the Cure in one of its final forms: propulsive, yet atmospheric; driving, yet moody.

And what with ONE VOTE separating the top two songs, it is a virtual tie between goth Cure and pop Cure.

RELATED: The Cure deliver three hours of you at Frank Erwin Center

 

So here’s my list of 15 favorite Cure jams. No surprises here (and, honestly, just something of a rearrangement of stuff on the Slicing list), mostly because they weren’t shy about making the sharpest songs singles. (My list is likely heavily influenced by the cassette version of “Standing on a Beach,” their first and best singles collection and one of the best singles sets of the decade.)

1. “Just Like Heaven” (One of the perfect songs of the 1980s, period)

2. “Pictures of You” (Peak romantic Cure, absolutely amazing for pining over someone)

3. “Inbetween Days” (Throw some sequencers on there and it’s a perfect New Order song)

4. “Plainsong” (Sublime in the purest sense – just overwhelming stuff and one of the all-time great album/show openers)

5. “Charlotte Sometimes” (Peak Goth Cure)

6. “Fascination Street” (Both single version and album version; total rocker, also kinda obscene; forever the sickest bass line)

7. “The Hanging Garden” (Peak Goth Cure, pt. 2)

8. “The Lovecats” (Stunning pop song; terrific stand-up bass)

9. “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” (Peak bitchy Cure)

10. “Boys Don’t Cry” (I’m not made of stone)

11. “Primary” (Total live jam)

12. “A Forest” (Look, I said I liked it)

13. “10:15 Saturday Night” (All-time great ode to FOMO; perfect if you are a bored, friendless teen just waiting for SNL to start)

14. “Friday I’m in Love” (Past the point where I was paying attention as a fan, but their best structured song since “Just Like Heaven,” perhaps?)

15. “Close to Me” (The song that reminded everyone, Oh yeah, these guys can make almost any set of sounds into something that becomes the Cure.)

So what are YOUR favorites?

 

This week: King Arthur, Lehane, “Anne” and Norm!

Even the star of “King Arthur” looks skeptical

“Since We Fell” by Dennis Lehane (Ecco) After she loses it on air, former journalist Rachel Childs has barely left the house. And then an encounter causes her life, marriage and possibly sanity to fall apart. Look, it’s the new Lehane; of course you’re curious. (May 9)

Norm Macdonald: Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery (Netflix) The newest special from the great Norm Macdonald. (May 9)

Zac Brown Band, “Welcome Home” (Southern Ground/Atlantic). The very embodiment of frat-country releases their seventh studio album, just in time for the end of college finals and the start of summer vacation. (May 12)

Harry Styles, “Harry Styles” (C(olumbia). Styles, former singer with One Direction and possessed of some of the greatest hair in popular music, makes his solo debut. Columbia is praying it has another Justin Timberlake on its hands. (May 12)

 “Anne” (Netflix). This is an eight-episode adaptation of the foundational 1908 all ages/children’s book “Anne of Green Gables,” about a complicated Canadian orphan girl and her adventures with friends and (adopted, more or less) family. You may make your own “bosom friends” joke here. (May 12)

Various artists, “The Bob’s Burgers Music Album” (Sub Pop). A double album with 112 songs from the first 107 episodes of one of the best animated shows of its era. (May 12)

“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Look, I love a King Arthur movie. Even bad ones (2004’s “King Arthur,” we’ll never forget you). But let’s be real: Does anyone remember the last time a King Arthur movie made any money domestically? Or any movie set in the Middle or Dark Ages? Was it in the 21st century? They tend to do OK overseas, but not so much in the States. Anyway, this one stars Charlie Hunnam as Arthur and Jude Law as Vortigern. Yes, I will see it, but I will be astonished if anyone else does. (May 12)

“Snatched.” Amy Schumer is the daughter, Goldie Hawn is the mother. They go on vacation. Hijinks ensue. (May 12)

Check out 16 essential Record Store Day releases

 

On Saturday, we, the people, celebrate the tenth anniversary of Record Store Day, the day record stores and record labels come together to celebrate getting off your butt and going into the recorded material emporium of your choosing and spending that money on exclusive releases in stores on that day only. (Unless they don’t sell out; then you may see them again.)

Here are 10 releases that jumped out at us (or are of special interest to Austin listeners).

No, this is not nearly all of them or all of the good ones (the full list can be found here). No, not every store will have every record. (A list of participating stores can be found here.)

Yes, getting all of them would set you back a lot of money.

But man, there’s a lot of spectacular music here.

David Bowie, “Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles ’74)” A previously unreleased live recording from September 1974, a transitional show between the Diamond Dogs tour and the Philly Dogs tour, the sci-fi glam god turning into the soul man who fell to Earth. Produced by David Bowie and mixed by Tony Visconti, over the course of three LPs.

 Vic Chesnutt, “West of Rome” The late, great songwriter’s second album, on vinyl for the first time. This version features a rejiggered track listing, two studio outtakes, four-track demos and live versions of songs from the same era. A deep dive into real-personhood at its most raw, broken and beautiful.
Steve Earle, Live at the Continental Club”  Two song 7″ featuring live versions of Waylon Jennings’ “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” and his own “Fixin To Die”.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, “Welcome to 1979”  One of the great Americana singer-songwriters of his era throws down six live cuts with his band on this 12″ EP.  Side A: 1. Can’t You Hear Me Knocking (Jagger/Richards) 2. Storm Windows (Prine) 3. Heart on a String (Jackson/Buckins) Side B: 1. Atlantic City (Springsteen) 2. Sway (Jagger/Richards) 3. Never Gonna Change (Isbell)
 Robert Johnson, “The Complete Recordings” Here, have some roots of 20th century human expression. Not that most folks who are interested in this music don’t have it yet, but this is a pretty nice package, all 42 known recordings on three LPs.

Luna, “Penthouse Deluxe”  Remaster of this gorgeous album with a second LP of unreleased tracks, rare b-sides and demos, including an extended version of their “Marquee Moon”-style, guitar shimmer-jam “23 Minutes in Brussels.”

The Meters, “A Message from The Meters–The Complete Josie, Reprise & Warner Bros. Singles 1968-1977” Three LPs collecting 40 single sides of some of the greatest funk — no, make that the greatest music — ever recorded. Essential listening for all conscious humans.

 Ramones, ’76 – ’79 Singles Box  Speaking of music that changed the world, here are slices of perfect punk as they were meant to be heard, (seven-inch) black plastic discs going round and round and round and round. No word if this is some of the singles or all of them or what,but they will come in a cigarette-style outer box. which makes a nice paring with the Sex Pistols – “Anarchy In The UK –The UK & US Singles” The four original UK 7″s and one US 7″ presented in replicas of the original 1977 sleeves, housed in a singles box.

  Santana, “Live at The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 16, 1969” First time on wax for this legendary, career-making set. Peace and blessings to drum god Michael Shrieve.

Sun Ra, ” Janus”  Totally excellent compilation of five rare tracks from the Sun Ra Arkestra, drawing from tapes recorded between 1963 and 1970. A swell introduction to the man from Saturn.

UGK, “Too Hard to Swallow” The first album by Houston hip-hop legends Bun B and the late Pimp C gets the vinyl treatment for the first time in celebration of its 25th anniversary.

Various Artists, “Girls In The Garage – Oriental Special – Volume 9” Female-fronted garage pop from throughout 1960s Asia.

Various Artists, “Where The Pyramid Meets the Eye” Tribute compilations were all the rage in the early Nineties and this 1990 tribute to Roky Erickson remains one of the all-time best. Nearly every song is a keeper; personal faves include heartbreak of Bongwater’s “You Don’t Love Me Yet,” the space-frippery of Julian Cope’s “I Have Always Been Here Before” and Poi Dog Pondering’s “I Had to Tell You.” A double LP with three bonus tracks previously available only on the cassette.

The War On Drugs, “Thinking of a Place”  This two-part song, on 45 RPM over both sides of a 12″, is the first new music since 2014. from these gauzy guitar thinkers who absolutely do not sound like Arcade Fire, no way.

Link Wray, “Beans and Fatback” In 1969, eleven years and several lifetimes after his world-historical instrumental “Rumble,” whose twang and shudder was the very sound of 1950s at its seediest and make both power chords and distortion root integer of rock music, Link Wray (1929-2005)  found himself on his father’s farm in Maryland, the “3-Track Shack.” There, he, siblings and friends made three albums: “Link Wray,” “Mordicai Jones” and this one, “Beans and Fatback,” roots records that don’t quite sound like anything else: a blend of blues, country, gospel, Native American chants and folk that sounds like it could have been cut tomorrow. A dispatch from when the old, weird America was turning into something even stranger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week: ‘American War,’ an X-Men relaunch, the music of Waylon Jennings and much more

“American War” by Omar El Akkad (Knopf). Terrifying, post-apocalyptic  debut novel from this Egyptian-American author, perhaps a bit slipstreamish (think “Station Eleven,” maybe, “) on the sci-fi spectrum. It’s 2075 and America is a mess — constantly hot, full of refugee camps, the sky filled with drones and fully engulfed in civil war, Akkad examines the Chesnut family over two decades of life during wartime. Expect increasing buzz for this one. (Tuesday)

 

“Love & Rockets Magazine #2” by Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics). Second issue in the three-times a year, magazine-sized (well, more like Golden Age comic sized, somewhere between a comic and a magazine…look, it looks really cool) version of the greatest American comic book series of all time. Essential reading since 1982 for everyone with eyeballs. Mature readers.  (Wednesday)

“X-Men Gold #1” by Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf (Marvel). Given what a Marvel VP’s impressively unfortunate comments about comics, marketing and diversity, it’s not too surprising that the X-books are going back to first principles. This book highlights a lineup that is essentially the classic Claremont 70s/80s crew — Kitty Pryde is the leader with Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, (Old Man) Logan, and Rachel Grey-Summers in the Marvel Girl/Phoenix role, doing super-hero stuff (like fighting the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants). Rated 12-plus. (Wednesday)

 

“Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings” (Columbia Legacy) “Outlaw” is a CD tied to a special that airs 9 p.m. Friday on CMT, the broadcast (and CD version) of a set recorded July 6, 2015, at ACL Live. Look for Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Chris Stapleton, Shooter Jennings, Jessi Colter, Bobby Bare, Lee Ann Womack, Buddy Miller, Sturgill Simpson, Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Bingham, Alison Krauss and a ton more. (Friday)

Father John Misty, “Pure Comedy” (Sub Pop). We are in an era where a Sub Pop act can have a Target exclusive CD edition with five collectible cards. (Friday)

 Future Islands, “The Far Field” (4AD). Not sure that anyone who saw them on “Letterman” ever really forgot it — Dave certainly seemed gobsmacked. Produced by Dallas-based genius John Congleton, they seem to be one of the most personally well-liked bands around. (Friday)

 Joey Bada$$, “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” (Pro Era/Cinematic Music Group). Guests include ScHoolboy Q, Styles P, J. Cole and Chronixx. (Friday)

The New Pornographers, “Whiteout Conditions” (Collected Works/Concord). The first album in three years from this often-stunning pop act. This is the first album on Concord and the first not to feature songwriter/singer Dan Bejar, which seems like a mistake for both parties. (Friday)

Wire, “Silver/Lead” (pinkflag). Wire has been kicking around in one form or another for more than 40 years. Singer/guitarist Colin Newman is 62. Wire bassist/singer Graham Lewis is 65. Wire drummer Robert “Gotobed” Grey is 65. Not only do they rock harder than bands one-third their ages, they rock more interestingly as well. Inspiring, always. (Friday)

Pierce Brosnan as Eli McCullough  in “The Son” (James Minchin/AMC)

“The Son” (AMC). The long-awaited, somewhat hyped, Central Texas-shot adaptation of Austinite Philipp Meyer’s totally excellent generational novel about a Texas family. Stars not-a-Texan Pierce Brosnan. (Saturday)

‘I don’t feel at home in this world anymore’ on Netflix Feb. 24 and other cultural happenings

“I don’t feel at home in this world anymore.” Austin filmmaking 16807109_10202566880731066_1936925860904908797_nreasserted itself in dramatic fashion at Sundance when River City actor/writer/director Macon Blair’s “I don’t feel at home in this world anymore” took the festival’s Grand Jury Prize for U.S. feature. It is Blair’s directorial début.

Blair, a native of Northern Virginia, directed Austinite Elijah Wood, Melanie Lynskey (“Togetherness”) and former Austin resident/Scratch Acid/Jesus Lizard frontman David Yow (whose acting career seems to be growing by the second) in the thriller about a burglarized woman who tries to track down the thieves and finds herself over her head. Blair shot the film last year in Portland, Ore. (Feb. 24)

RELATED: The oral history of Scratch Acid, Yow’s old Austin band

Dirty Projectors, “Dirty Projectors” (Domino). First music since 2012 for this act, which is probably just pretty much guitarist/songwriter David Longstreth at this point. Word has it it’s a breakup album about former bandmate Amber Coffman (who has her own solo record coming out later this year). Solange, Tyondai Braxton, Mauro Refosco and Dawn Richard all guest star. (Feb. 24)

 The Feelies, “In Between” (Bar/None). Man, all the old folks are putting out records. This is the second album this decade and sixth LP overall for these indie rock godfathers, who celebrated their 40th year of existence in 2016. (Feb. 24)

 Old 97’s, “Graveyard Whistling” (ATO). New music from Ryan Adams and these Americana lifers in the same month? Somewhere, Statesman music critic (and former “No Depression” co-editor) Peter Blackstock is firing up the turntable. (Feb. 24)

Where are we now? Reflecting on David Bowie’s death, one year later

One year ago this morning, the news hit like a thunderbolt across the face: Having kept a terminal cancer diagnosis secret from everyone save his family and closest confidants, David Bowie was dead at the age of 69.

aren';t we all
Aren’t we all?

From on top of Manhattan Chase to the Botella lanes, tributes flowed like tears. Any serious fan of pop music — and, to be fair, millions who were not so serious — who ever looked in the mirror and said, “I’m not like everybody else,”  owed Bowie a little something (or a lot something).

It wasn’t just that everything seemed to fall apart in the year that followed; it’s that it fell apart in ways that seemed specifically hostile to anyone who even identified a little bit with Bowie. It’s that this country (and in particular, Texas) seemed determined to devalue the qualities that Bowie represented — sexual fluidity, artistic exploration, a life devoted to creativity.

North Carolina signed into law a bathroom bill that stated that in government buildings such as schools, people can use only restrooms that correspond to the sex identified on their birth certificates and overturned an LGBT protection law passed by Charlotte, N.C. This is a virus that Texas seems to have caught and, quite frankly, artists are noticing.

Indeed, Texas seems to be on an anti-state-support-of-weird-people kick.

Rep. Matt Shaheen, a rep from Plano and North Dallas, and Sen. Bob Hall, who hails from Rockwall, filed HB 779 and SB99 respectively, which aim to abolish “the Music, Film, Television, and Multimedia Office in the office of the governor and other incentives for media productions.”

Those bills were filed a few days after Donald Trump — who sometimes seems like a guy right out of Diamond Dogs (but looks exactly like the sellout-era Bowie analog in “Velvet Goldmine”) was elected president.

Tommy Stone in "Velvet Goldmine." His Presidency is gonna be yuge.
Tommy Stone in “Velvet Goldmine.” His Presidency is gonna be yuge.

This was was about the same time the Republican-led Congress began discussing repealing the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”), a law that allows freelancers such as musicians, filmmakers, writers and anyone without an employer providing health care to acquire health insurance, perhaps for the first time in their professional lives. (Bowie, of course, didn’t have to worry about health care when he was starting out — he had Britain’s NHS, which was founded the year before he was born.)

Look, I’m not saying Bowie was holding the planet together. The Earth continues to rotate. But the world seemed a colder place without him, virtually instantly.

It remains so a year later.

This week: ‘Nashville,’ ‘Portlandia’ and the Dropkick Murphys all return for 2017

“Nashville” (CMT). The much-loved series moves from ABC to CMT for its fifth season. Hayden Panettiere is back, Will Chase and Aubrey Peeples are not, and Connie Britton will appear in only 10 of the 22 episodes. (Jan. 5)

“Portlandia” (IFC). The comedy that pokes fun at the only people who could possibly care about it goes into its seventh season. Guests include Abbi Jacobson, Maria Bamford, Run the Jewels, the B-52s, Andy Richter and more. (Jan. 5)

220px-11shortstoriesDropkick Murphys, “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory” (Born & Bred). The Boston-based Celtic punk outfit decided to record their ninth album in El Paso and the world may never know why. (Jan. 6)

Gone Is Gone, “Echolocation” (Rise/Black Dune). The debut album from a 21st-century rock supergroup features Mastodon singer/bassist Troy Sanders, Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, At the Drive-In drummer Tony Hajjar and multi-instrumentalist Mike Zarin. (Jan. 6)

“Emerald City” (NBC). As stated earlier, NBC’s “Wizard of Oz” reboot is a dark, adultish take on Dorothy and pals. Here, our heroine is 20 and Toto is a police dog. Look for a Game of Thrones for network thing, with Tarsem “The Cell” Singh directing all 10 episodes. At least it will probably look good. (Jan. 6)

 “The 74th Golden Globe Awards” (NBC). Jimmy Fallon hosts television’s potentially drunkest live broadcast. (Jan. 8)