"The wages of smug is Trump."

Kitten: Fall On Me (A Four-Star Single)

I've been a subscriber to for a ridiculous length of time--close to 15 years. For much of that time the company has offered a free download every day. And for much of that time I downloaded every one without listening to the samples first, missing only the days that I happened not to be online for some reason. This quickly got out of control, as they accumulated much faster than I could listen to them and decide whether I liked them or not.

A few years ago I got more selective, and listened to the samples first, skipping those which didn't seem like my sort of thing. That reduced the influx greatly. At the same time, I made an effort to listen to them within a few weeks of acquiring them, and flagged the ones I really liked with four stars in the program I use for listening to music on the computer (JRiver's Media Center). Media Center's ratings actually go from one to five stars. Four stars mean I like it a lot. The five-star rating is reserved for the really great. I haven't used it very much.

I put these tracks in a playlist called Four-Star Singles. I call them singles because I acquired them as single tracks, and for the most part never bought the album from which they're taken, so they play the role of the 45rpm singles of old, and also because many of them are catchy in the way that singles were supposed to be. Others just happen to fit some quirk of my taste. I have hundreds of them. 

That song I posted last week, "Calvary" by Chris Bathgate, is a recent addition to the four-star list, and it occurred to me that I should pass along more of them. That bit of extra publicity is the least I can do in return for the enjoyment they've given me. I'll try to do this on the weekends, as I have something of a tradition of posting music on weekends. 

I'm sorry to say that in very few of these instances have I sought out more music by the artists. There's just too much of it. I often hear people, most often nostalgic baby-boomers, complain that there's no good pop music being made today. There's actually quite a lot, more than anyone except a music journalist can keep up with. You just don't hear it all over the place the way you used to (unless, I suppose, you live in some ultra-hip place like Austin). I was about to say you have to seek it out, but it's not that you have to work at it, really. Just keep an eye on publications where it's discussed, like, for instance, American Songwriter. Despite its name, it's really more of a music-fan magazine than a how-to for songwriters, but its emphasis is very much on artists who write good songs, not the garish pop stars who get the mainstream attention. 

I like the big Phil-Spector-ish sound of this one. 


I mean, doesn't that really deserve to be on the radio? Is there still radio? 


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I like this a lot -- sounds like some of Camera Obscura's stuff, but bigger. I'll have to check and see if all their music has that sort of feel, as it's not uncommon for female-led acts of that type to throw a Spectorish song into the mix from time to time, even if they don't generally sound like that.

Not really Spector-ish, but 50's via 80's retro:

Nice. Makes me think of Julee Cruise a bit.

I meant to reply to your earlier comment: there is at least one Camera Obscura song among my 4-star tracks. It's not especially Spector-ish but it's great. As for Kitten, I have no idea whether this song is typical. As usual with these singles, this is the only thing I've heard by her/them.

"Makes me think of Julee Cruise a bit."

Right -- like a cafe scene from a Lynch film.

Beach House put out two CD's in the space of three months towards the end of last year. I like them both, but I listen to the second one, Thank Your Lucky Stars, more often. This tune comes from that one.

I see that Camera Obscura put out a new CD in 2013. I missed that one -- will have to check it out. I've got the previous two and they're both very good.

" a cafe scene from a Lynch film."

Yes, but missing the weird Badalamenti-Lynch arrangements, which are so important to the Julee Cruise albums. I have the Beach House album Bloom, which I bought partly on your recommendation. I like it but am not wildly enthusiastic about it, and I think part of the reason for that is that I kind of want the material to have more atmosphere.

Doesn't CO have more than two? The four-star single I have was on a 4-AD sampler that eMusic had at one time. I loved the song and was going to get the whole album, but then 4-AD left eMusic.

Yeah, CO has more than two, but what I meant was that I have just the two immediately preceding the current one. I don't have the earlier ones.

The two recent BH cd's have a similar feel to Bloom, but the songs are more focused on mood/atmosphere than melody -- the stuff isn't as immediately accessible. Personally I like that, but not everyone does. I have a friend who doesn't care for the recent stuff because to his mind the songs aren't as strong, even though the "mood" is more pronounced.

I probably would like the mood. Maybe I'll fire up my little-used Spotify account and give them a listen (assuming they're on there).

When I was googling around last night I saw some comments on youtube comparing "Fall On Me" to the old Suede song "Trash." I haven't listened to Suede in about a hundred years, but I found "Trash" on youtube and sho' nuff, as soon as it started playing I went "Oh yeah! This song!"

Hmm, yeah, definite resemblance, to say the least, in that chorus. I like the Kitten song better, though. I had never heard Suede before.

Suede was big in "Brit pop" in the mid-90's. They kind of set the stage for Oasis, Blur, and some of those other British bands that were successful in the mid to late 90s. I liked a few of their songs but wasn't a huge fan. Somewhere I have some sort of "best of" compilation but as I said, I haven't listened to it in ages.

Yeah, I remember the name. The only one of those I ever heard was Oasis and I didn't care for them. Just seemed like mediocre Beatles-ish pop.

No, me neither. I never really saw what the fuss was about.

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