Heavy Rotation Vol. 40

April 18, 2010


That’s a big, evil number. All black balloons and used-up jokes. Let’s not head down that road. That way lies madness. Or if not madness, then some form of doom-laden clichefest that is somehow supposed to distract you from the fact that life is continuing its unstoppable Sherman’s March to the Sea, black balloons or no.

40 got you down? The previous volumes all have smaller numbers:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

James – Born of Frustration.mp3
Leading off with a return to a simple time, it’s fan favorite James who spent most of the late ’80s – early ’90s making intelligent alterna-pop, blowing past the throngs who were waiting for the “next Smiths” and splicing atmospheric ear candy onto a sparse, jangly spine.

If someone ever asks what “alternative rock” sounds like, this would be an excellent example. It sure as fuck isn’t everything that followed the “grunge years.” Oh, and it’s got a lot of falsetto, so it’s perfect for the shower.

The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio.mp3
What James would sound like if they were fronted by a fully-matured male. Atmospheric, intelligent, etc., drenched in melancholy and a weary, dark nostalgia. “You can never go home,” they say, and since I can’t find anything in the music world that disagrees with that sentiment, I’d have to agree. The leadoff single from their upcoming album High Violet, and if this is the statement of intent, I’d have to mark it a solid “buy.”

The Big Pink – Introduction to Awareness.mp3
I’ve featured this pair of shoegazers before with their crushing single, Velvet. Still the oddest of bands, formed by a former member of Atari Teenage Riot, whose noise terrorist pedigree would seem to lend itself to a more aggressive brand of music.


(Fun fact: Alec Empire (the founding member of Atari Teenage Riot) released a “tribute” album to Elvis Presley featuring the so-bad-it’s-good track title “Jailhouse Cock Rocks the Most.”)

The Lowbrows – Midnight Pirates.mp3
The Lowbrows are back. Of course, they didn’t actually go anywhere, and thank god for that as they continue to kick out jam after muthafuckin jam with no discernible drop in quality. Like Linda is Tonight and Danse Macabre, Midnight Pirates takes a bunch of unrelated ideas and runs them through some sort of filtering system that removes anything “non-kickass”  and delivers another dance floor devastator.

Starts out with some slow-moving body blows and some early-90s rave synth stabs before taking the governor off at the 2:11 mark and sending the juggernaut crashing through the VIP room and right onto the dance floor. Another drop and jaw-crushing build later and the dance floor is set to explode.

Simian Mobile Disco – Born to Synthesize (The Lowbrows Mix).mp3
Electro near-rockers SMD get themselves manhandled by the staggeringly good Lowbrows, who take this pulsing track and insert a wobbling, tweaking bassline and some very gorgeous pads. Uplifting, blissed-out and powerful.



  1. Yes! That’s the flavor! I’d take seconds… thirds even.

    • Welcome back from the dead, RR! I’ll try to keep the “flavor” more consistent from now on.

  2. I didn’t think anything could top last week’s HR, CLT. But seeing as the Lowbrows are my Quaaludes (I’m trying to wean myself off crack) and “Papa’s got a brand new pigbag” is going to be my wedding song (for real this time), I have to remain loyal to these asian sensations.

    All addictive selections, CLT. A+ as per usual.

    • Good old quaaludes. That’s the anti-crack. Like morphine for heroin. Or NA for beer. Wait. It must be better than that or you wouldn’t return week after week.

      Thanks for the high marks and good luck with your eventual wedding. At least we can be assured of only the most awkward and uncomfortable songs for the “dollar dance.”

  3. I cant yet listen to any of these for fear of interrupting the SHIt HOT disco song that has currently been randomly selected on the ipod – “You’re the only one (Your’re My Number One) ” By Katie Kissoon. Oooooh, smokin!!

    Will have to return later for a listen!

    • This page ain’t going anywhere. We shall await your return with bated breath and the irritating tapping of impatient fingers.

  4. Aside from the fact that 4 is a lucky number for me so 40 must be 10 times more lucky, I couldn’t help but feel that you were somehow referencing our advancing collective birthdays….I hope not CLT. I hope not.

    I enjoyed James, it reminded me of the good old days. I had no idea that was alternative. If someone had asked my I would have unintelligently spouted off Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins or Soundgarden. That’s why I come here (in addition to finding great music, and finding hilarity in every post) to learn how to have an intelligent musical convo…sorry B.

    I enjoyed every one of these again CLT. You are indeed Da Man.

    • Many thanks, Scott. I’m sure I was referencing our near-distant future, but I tried to play it off with incredibly dark humour. I’m not sure if it worked. I noticed today that my calendar keeps advancing, no matter how many times I try to bury it under debris on my desk.

      Glad you dug the tracks and thanks again for the visit.

  5. James — a schtupping song if I heard one (and a little Bono-ish if you ask me). Absolutely LOVED it!!

    The National — the vocals totally caught me off guard (from falsetto to bass…and a little Johnny Cash-ish)

    The Big Pink — what Gregorian chanting would sound like if the monks were seriously stoned and someone slipped in some contraband instruments (a little Kurt Cobain-ish). Props for choosing the PERFECT word to describe the organ: gauzy. And I’m oddly attracted to this song.

    The Lowbrows — least favorite song. Couldn’t differentiate whether I was hearing Las Vegas sirens in the background or if it was coming from the song. Decided it was paramedics coming to put this song on a stretcher and haul its ass out.

    Simian Mobile Disco — again, jarring (perhaps because my nervous system is shot all to hell [Scott may be able to relate])

    I’m starting to think I enjoy your selections more than Cirque du Soleil shows. I don’t have to dress up, find a parking spot or embarrass anyone with enthusiastic applause and whooping (right now I am cupping my lips shouting “Bravo!!” at the monitor and clapping like crazy with hands held high in the air…too bad there is no “meet and greet” after the show though).

    Refreshing, soothing, energizing, invigorating…better than a beer or a ‘lude. You are indeed Da Man!!

    • Thanks for the generous comment, e3h. I agree, the Lowbrows can be a little jarring, but that’s part of what endears them to me. It’s a tough sell, but for those who are buying, it’s a foregone conclusiong.

      I’m glad I can finally rate myself up there with those pompous acrobats in the Cirque. They’ve been lording their perfect balance and tight six-packs over me for too long.

  6. Primo collection CLT and the fact that I spent over 17 minutes here says something. I think I liked The National the best. Sweet as fair food!!

    • Awesome comment, FJ. Who knew being compared to fair food could actually be a compliment?

  7. I couldnt afford the whole 17mins so I just went with what Mr MFJ said and listened to The National. Wonderful voice, but it certainly didnt match the ‘perkiness’ of that disco I was listening to earlier!

    • Well, I appreciate you taking the time to fire up one of the tunes. You could always surf away on another tab while listening, if pressed for time.

      The National have yet to be described as “perky,” but they’ve still got a lot of career ahead of them. Stay tuned!

  8. hi,fantastic pants in your post,I love thatnicepants,I need to find one for me,bill

    • Omar –

      I do indeed have some mighty nice pants. They’re fancy, even. But let’s face it. You just really want to talk socks. And you smell slightly of spam.

      Adios, Omar. Don’t let the blogdoor hit you in your jampacked commas on the way out.

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