Posts Tagged ‘Robyn Hitchcock’


Heavy Rotation 71

April 24, 2011

The 71st edition of the Heavy Rotation is an unfocused as ever, swerving chaotically from chaos (Arab on Radar) to icy (Gatekeeper) to jangly (Robyn Hitchcock) to dark (Zola Jesus) to icy and spacey (Soft Moon). Small doses, evenly spaced, might be the best course of action. If you’d like a track removed, email me at


Sweden: home of quality sex changes and the Pirate Party. The latter apparently isn’t enough. Now there’s a semi-official Pirate Religion (Kopimism). Someone familiar scratches the surface of their theology.

Speaking of “pirates,” the RIAA has finally produced a killer chart detailing file sharing’s destruction of their industry. It’s an incredibly stupid chart (sales would grow indefinitely? Albums purchased per capita?) and as such, is mocked relentlessly (“Napster Kills the Kerosene Industry“) by an author whose self-promotion we are tiring of swiftly.

Chess therapy. It’s an actual thing. Here’s an actual case study.

Oh, yeah. Clifton’s back. For now. I’ll try to have him kick out something every couple of weeks or so, but I’ve made promises like this before. Caveat emptor and all that.

More Heavy Rotation here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

Gatekeeper – Chains.mp3

Here’s another track wot sounds like early Front Line Assembly! You know, from back in the day before they decided, “Hey, that Ministry sound that everyone’s ripping off? Why don’t we rip that off?”

Nope. This isn’t any of that tired bullshit. This is Gatekeeper in full on attack mode, blowing past their electro-altar dedicated to the holy trinity of atmospheric soundtracking (John Carpenter, Giorgio Moroder and Goblin) and straight towards the analog ghost of industrial past, summoning such long-gone (or past their prime) antagonists as Skinny Puppy, Front 242 and the above-mentioned FLA. Dark and convulsive stuff.

Zola Jesus – Night.mp3

Sauntering out of the darkened corners of the underground, Zola Jesus projects doom and gloom like the reanimated corpse of Siouxie Sioux, pitting her distinctive voice against the minor chord undertow.

(Yes, I know Siouxie Sioux is not dead and has, in fact, released albums recently. Stop pointing that out. That means you too, Steve Severin.)

Robyn Hitchcock – Primitive.mp3

Very few songwriters can coin a phrase like Robyn Hitchcock can. Even fewer can weave these phrases into bittersweet songs of devotion. And I don’t think anyone else could get away with inserting the phrase “Google me” into a song like this without sounding jokey or cloying.

But he makes it work. And that’s why his cult-like following is, well, so cult-like. He’s a wickedly incisive absurdist who writes a love song like no one else can. Or probably even should.

Arab on Radar – Number 3.mp3

Sounding more like Public Image Ltd. than PIL did past 1985 or so, Arab on Radar whips up a post-punk racket, utilizing little more than some strafing guitar runs and a concussive breakbeat that sounds about a step or two removed from the Chemical Brothers’ Setting Sun. (Or going way back — the Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows.)

There’s angry-sounding raving all over the place, probably attacking the status quo or some such. I can see this doing permanent damage to listeners, especially live and would probably open up a portal to hell if ever remixed properly and aimed at the club crowd.

Soft Moon – Into the Depths.mp3

Soft Moon mine the desolate heart of space rock, channeling the “sinking ship” desperation that lies somewhere between denial and acceptance as the heroes/victims ride out their final moments in a glorified tin can as their space station’s orbit steadily decays.



Heavy Rotation v. 59

January 23, 2011

Featuring Zombie Zombie, Atlas Sound, Robyn Hitchcock, Ceremony and Gr†ll Gr†ll. Contains equal parts shoegaze and witch house. Contact if you would like to have your fine piece of music removed from this post.


The latest in sustainable food: human cheese. You read that right. If nothing else, check out the sustainability flowchart in which something magical happens involving a child, a toilet and an El train car.

One of my favorite writers, P.J. O’Rourke, dissects the endless layers of bullshit political coverage that swallowed up the senseless tragedy in Arizona, turning five deaths into a petty partisan hockey fight.

What exactly goes on in these catalog dream homes? (Hint: mind games, pretentiousness and some wickedly funny punchlines.)

Zombie Zombie – Assault on Precinct 13.mp3

If you’ve heard their stunning debut (A Land for Renegades) or seen their killer G.I. Joe meets The Thing video for Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free, their latest project will come as no surprise. Zombie Zombie pay off all their outstanding debts to John Carpenter with a pitch-perfect collection of covers tackling all his most famous themes.

This one’s a stomper. Respectful without being obsequious. Expansive without losing sight of the original. Wave off the nurse. Your blood pressure may be rising but you’ll feel just fine.

Atlas Sound – Quick Canal (feat. Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab).mp3

A dizzying eddy of a track, all exquisitely tangled multi-tracked vocals and electronic rushes balanced atop a loping, percussive chug seeming built from an amplified phonograph needle stuck in a perpetual runout groove.

Sadier’s vocals (and unintelligible vocalizations) redefine both “soaring” and “ethereal,” as does Atlas Sound itself.

Robyn Hitchcock – Luckiness.mp3

This song (off Robyn Hitchcock’s latest, Propellor Time) always hits me right here (indicates heart) and right here (indicates throat). I couldn’t tell you exactly why but it presses all those happy/sad buttons at the same time. I think the ancients called this type of mixed emotion “bittersweet.”

I can’t tell whether this is a song of gratefulness or a song about loving someone so much you set them free.*

Luckiness in luck, lucky as it strikes you
Lucky in your veins
Luckiness in love, lucky ’cause she likes you
Over distant skies, over distant plains
Lucky in your veins

*Perhaps the wizened snot-nosed jangle punks known as the Dead Milkmen said it best with their track If You Love Someone, Set Them on Fire.

Ceremony – Breaking Up.mp3

Once upon a time there was a band called Skywave who delivered a trebly bunch of feedbacking titled Synthstatic. It was destined to be one of those brightly burning candles that burnt half as long, or rather sputtered and went out completely soon after delivering their audacious platter of well-heeled noise.

Agreeing to disagree, the bandmates went their separate ways. One, a certain Oliver Ackerman, took his noisy toys and headed back to his shop, emerging shortly thereafter under two new names: Death By Audio, his effects pedal workshop and A Place to Bury Strangers, his eerie approximation of the banshee-in-a-windtunnel that was the Jesus and Mary Chain of 1985. (You’ve probably heard of them. I’ve mentioned them in passing a time or two.)

The other two, Paul Baker and John Fedowitz, headed off in a slightly different direction, armed with their Wonder Twin powers — form of a bottom-heavy squall of white noise. Ceremony was born, a torrid love child of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s amp-impaling feedback and the roiling bass swagger of Girls Vs. Boys.

Behold. The prodigal phoenix, rising from the ashes armed with brutal melodies spiked in poisoned emotions.

Gr†ll Gr†ll – They All.mp3

Somewhere, out on the wrong side of town, cruises a jet-black SUV. At the wheel: a doom merchant with trouble on his mind and time on his hands. The otherworldly pulse of bass announces his arrival and the child-like treble interjections only serve to highlight how incredibly dark the street becomes as his machine passes through.



Heavy Rotation Vol. 20

October 25, 2009

Twenty. There’s a nice round number. Well, not so much the first number but the last is nicely rounded, all curvy and ovoid, just like man’s first attempt at the wheel. They reasoned that it should be as strong as an egg and twice as large. Years later, someone discovered the “o” and history was made.

If you’d like to make a little history with us, please feel free to click away at the links below, which will trigger some ridiculously good tunes in semi-video form and possibly (if you click the southernmost link) a treasure trove of ridiculously good tunes for your very own computer, like a home version of the game you just played.

The previous 19 are here: the Heavy Rotation Archives


Switches – Drama Queen
Simply put, the kind of song that makes you want to head down to the bar, pound back several ounces of booze and get in a fight. Straight ahead buzzsaw powerpop with plenty of swaggering and sneering from all involved, all wrapped up in a catchy-as-fuck tune with some unabashed backup vox woo’s.

Load up the drugs we’ll let the demons come in
Bring all the kids they won’t know where to begin
Shoot ’em a line they’ll lock you up in the pen
If you’re rating my life give it ten



Robyn Hitchcock – Sleeping with Your Devil Mask
One of my favorite all-time tracks from my favorite absurdist. Although his music can sometimes be a hard sell because of his overall weirdness, this track in particular couldn’t get any catchier, and the lyrics couldn’t get much weirder.

As to what he’s on about? Who knows. Could be a dark, bitter relationship song. Could be a fatalistic parable of the ultimate death of us all. Could be a headful of acid committed to paper (and then instruments, I suppose). It could just be the sort of thing that drives certain people to yell inappropriately during Robyn’s occasional solo acoustic sets. Whatever it is, it’s worth listening to several hundred times.

It’s all compulsion, there’s no choice
My mother’s second name is Joyce
And once when she was very young
She saw a cellist being hung
Thirteen men with long black heads
All came and stood around her bed
And when the morning light came in
She saw their heads had all caved in
Their rotting brains fell to the floor
And crawled away towards the door

Sleeping with your Devil mask
Is all I wanna do
And when I stop it means
I’m through with you
Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah, yeah, yeah



HEALTH – Die Slow
From out of L.A. and sounding like m83 with Holy Fuck’s rhythm section (such as it were) and the Killing Joke’s guitars, HEALTH combine the airy, subdued vocals of a million shoegazer bands with the guitar/drum attack of Broken-era Nine Inch Nails (but running about half-speed). While the drums beat you into submission, the vocals and synth lines float above the fray, as if immune to the chaos underpinning them.



A Place to Bury Strangers – Deadbeat
One of my all-time favorite bands despite having only been around since 2006. Picking up the shattered amps and eardrums of the Jesus and Mary Chain, New York’s “loudest band” is all about returning feedback to its rightful place as “lead guitar.” This particular track opens with a very Cramps-like intro before plunging neck deep into swirling drones and piercing feedback, all the while being shoved forward by the rhythm section like G20 protesters in front of a SWAT team.

Oliver Ackerman’s laconic vocals seal the deal, with his futile question to a heartbreaking lover: “What? What the fuck? Don’t mess with my heart.”



Fuck Buttons – Olympians
Fuck. Yes. The Fuck Buttons return triumphantly with a new album, Tarot Sport. Building on their psychedelic and psychotic drums and distortion of their debut, the Buttons add some shimmering synths and build a more expansive and melodic groove from the claustrophobic psych-noise of Street Horrrsing.

The lead single is Surf Solar, which is incredible and the most immediately striking track on the album. But Olympians has been the grower, echoing back to their previous work (especially Sweet Love for Planet Earth). It builds from nearly nothing, just a fuzzed-out synth before the drums come rolling in. As you begin to feel that yes, this is nice and pounding but could get a little tiring after 4 or 5 minutes, the boys bring in an organ. As these tones begin to intertwine with the groove, some gorgeous synth pads pop up out of nowhere, like shafts of unexpected sunlight on a dark, cloudy day.

And then the distortion returns, calming our fears that the Fuck Buttons had gone all soft and synthy on us. The kind of cripplingly beautiful epic that comes around too rarely.

All mp3’s in a tightly-wound, emotional wreck of a zip file:
Heavy Rotation Vol. 20


[All music posted on Fancy Plans… is kick ass and too awesome to be contained. All music is also posted temporarily and, due to its high level of ass-kicking, should not be distributed without a prescription and care should be taken while operating heavy equipment or dancing around the living room (clothing optional, but do remember that the blinds are open/kids are still awake).
Should you wish to have your brilliant artistic statement forced back into confinement, please email me at Feel free to leave a comment, as that will probably be noticed sooner.
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