It’s Raining Again

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Here’s yet another hypothetical Mix CD!  Feel free to track these cuts down and burn your own copy!  The theme here is “It’s Raining Again”/Fall-Winter/a “Less Light” mix. Some of the tracks I chose were pretty obvious, and others were more based around the sound; part of the fun is the wide-range of interpretations the theme has, so…

Cloudburst At Shingle Street – Thomas Dolby
This is from The Golden Age Of Wireless, Thomas Dolby’s first full length album. Oddly, while it’s the last track there, it’s the first track here! I suppose this is probably a bit more of a spring-type of song, a spring-type of rain, but I like it too much anyway. While reading Brian Eno‘s diary, he mentioned Shingle Street, which makes me think it might actually be a relatively famous location that I just didn’t realize. After doing a little bit of research, I’m not sure if it is — it’s just a place in Suffolk, although I did find this, which was pretty interesting about a foiled German invasion plot during the beginning of WWII that happened on Shingle Street. I don’t think this has even remotely anything to do with the song, but it’s still kind of interesting, I suppose. Looking on Wikipedia, though, doesn’t bring up anything on Shingle Street as itself, though, so I guess it’s just your standard, everyday street where you can, apparently, find Brian Eno walking occasionally.
Fish Don’t Know It’s Raining – Aki Onda
I’m a bit of a fan of Japanese Noise stuff and other experimental music. I found this a while ago, from a compilation called Japanese Avant-Garde – Agitation & Stillness – Noise & Silence, which apparently came out in 2002. It came out on Sub Rosa records, and included Otomo Yoshihide (which is probably why I downloaded it from SoulSeek!). It looks like it’s still in print, and has liners from David Toop of The Flying Lizards-fame, the first Frank Chickens record and General Strike! I think I’ll have to pick this disc up for real, actually. Aki Onda was a member of Audio Sports, and has worked in Jazz, Electronic and Noise. This track is actually very mellow and almost ambient; very pretty music box sounds and flutes, along with electronics. It also appeared on the album Precious Moments put out by Softl Music. On this track, Aki Onda is credited with cassette recorder, Momo is credited with the synthesizer, Sakana Hosomi is credited with electronics, and Jyoji Sawada is on fue (a Japanese flute). Unfortunately, I don’t know much about Aki Onda or this track, other than that I really like it and it’s very nice.
My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains – Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band
I dig Captain Beefheart a lot, and I don’t care if it makes me square — Clear Spot is my favorite album. I love the R&B and soul stuff that Beefheart would do, and this is a particularly pretty song. The strange title might throw some people off, although it really shouldn’t; it’s similar in sound to some of the other Clear Spot tracks, like “Too Much Time” (my favorite!) and “Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles”, which also showed up on The Big Lebowski soundtrack (the scene where the Dude has made a White Russian before his landlord invites him to the performance). Strangely enough, The Tubes covered this song on Now.
Night Drain – Frank Chickens
This is a cut from my favorite Frank Chickens album, Club Monkey. The album is a soundtrack to their musical/opera of the same name (for a synopsis of the story, see the notes to “M.Y.T.H.” from the last compilation). This is one of the more dancy-tracks from that album. This was produced by Grant Showbiz, who produced records for The Smiths, The Fall and Billy Bragg. All the boys say “Frightening! All the girls say “Tough!”
A Power Play – Barnes & Barnes
This is a bonus track from the long lost Barnes & Barnes album Kodovoner. The album was stuck in limbo for over 22 years, and finally came out a few months ago. This is one of the only songs that showed up on that album (aside from the Soak It Up EP) to have been previously released — albeit in an instrumental, edited mix that played over the credits to their home video Zabagabee. Unlike the other songs so far, this one doesn’t explicitly mention rain, but it’s definitely got a dark, moody atmosphere. The last track opened up the darker section of the mix (going down into the night drain), and this one is squarely in the murky, creepy underbelly.
Rain On Down – Drywall
Drywall is a project of Stan Ridgway from Wall Of Voodoo, and this is from the newest album Barbeque Babylon. This one is a little Tom Waits-y, but with Stan Ridgway’s distinctive vocal delivery. Another dark-atmospheric one that’s got a pretty cool groove to it. 
Suicide Journalist – Chris Morris
We’re pretty much in the pitch blackness here, but, man, what an exquisite piece of storytelling. This is a monologue from Chris Morris’ radio show Blue Jam (and the compilation CD of some of the best bits). If you enjoy this, I’d recommend checking out the entire series, which is available for download if you look for it. Also recommended is his TV work, particularly Jam (based on Blue Jam) and Brass Eye, his parody of the ubiquitous TV News Magazine Show. This was also based on a series of columns he wrote under the name of Richard Geefe, though there are many differences (obviously, as the forms of radio and print are drastically different). Not a very cheery track, but such wonderful wordplay and perfect use of language. One of my all time favorites. 
Travels In Nihilon – XTC
The last track from Black Sea, from what I’ve read, it was originally 12 minutes long; the version that appeared on the album was only half that. Again, lots of great atmosphere on this track, and it’s probably one of the most rain-based songs on here. Also, unlike some of the other songs, it fits both the darkness theme and the rain theme! I’ve been a big fan of XTC for a while now, and I typically prefer the first five albums (though some of the later stuff, such as SkylarkingWasp Star and the Dukes Of Stratosphear material is very, very good as well). It’s a little different than the other stuff from this era, but still good.
Flood – The Flying Lizards
This is part of the b-side suite on the first, self-titled Flying Lizards album made up of “Flood”, “Trouble” and “Events During Flood”. While the a-side of the disc is distorted and strange parodies of pop music, the b-side (save the last song, “The Window”) is a soundscape closer in feel to David Cunningham’s earlier, solo work in the field of “serious music” (termed by other folks who like to make a pretentious separation between that and Pop Music). Lots of great, dark textures on this one. It has the sound of a flood beginning and happening. Very Residential, too. If you like this, you might want to check out Eskimo by The Residents, or perhaps The Mark Of The Mole
Make It Rain – Tom Waits
“Make It Rain” isn’t quite a last track, but it’s almost (there seem to be a lot of end-of-album tracks on this compilation!). It’s on Real Gone, Tom Waits’ most recent album. It is very low-fi sounding and, as is a lot of stuff on that record, very dark sounding as well. Lots of great percussion, too, though that is a bit of a Waits hallmark. I don’t think he’s done an album in 20 years that didn’t have really cool percussion sounds all over it. This also has one of the more amusing lines on the album, “I’m not able, I’m just Cain”.
Stalled – The Handsome Family
We’re coming out of the darkness, and into Winter, but we’re still not quite out of it. After all, it IS a song by The Handsome Family. It’s from Through The Trees, and as with all of their songs, has completely beautiful lyrics. “Falling snow/Spun above the road/Winding through the woods/Where my pickup stalled/Falling snow/Whizzing through the air/Painting my windows white/’Till the trees disappear…” A great mood piece; very sad.
Dead Of Winter – eels
Speaking of sad, this is from the second eels album, Electroshock Blues, which E wrote to help him through the loss of his entire family (to cancer and suicide) as well as some of his friends. This is a song about seeing his mother getting cancer treatments which were torturous and ended up not working in her case anyway, and sort of dealing with that possibility. It, with Souljacker is my favorite eels record, and should be listened all the way through; it doesn’t have a story arc, but there is a definite emotional arc to the record; the first part is grief and anger, although it goes through to acceptance and the realization that “Maybe it’s time to live”. A wonderful album.
Baby – The Billy Nayer Show
OK, we’re out of the darkness! I love the Billy Nayer Show, Cory McAbee’s band. He’s also the director of some short films (compiled on a DVD called The Billy Nayer Show: The Early Years) and The American Astronaut. This is from the self-titled album, and is just a funny little song, included mainly because I love it and it mentions rain in the chorus. The song was also performed in the short film The Man In The Moon by Cory and Rev. Buck Naked. It’s a fun, dirty little one. And it’s not even 2 minutes long!
Rainfall – The Apples in stereo
This is from the most recent Apples in stereo album, Velocity of Sound. This might be my favorite Apples record — it’s more electric and harder than their other records, and it really works. This is one of Hilarie Sidney’s songs, and like a lot of these, has really great lyrics; “Downtown is like a slot machine” is one of my favorite song openings. Thematically, it’s a little similar to “14th Street” from the new Laura Cantrell record — that sense of seeing someone walking around and wanting to strike up a conversation with them which would inevitably lead into dating, which would lead into getting married, having kids and dying together, but being too shy and scared to actually do so. 
The Mess Inside – The Mountain Goats
The Mountain Goats seem to be finally getting their due, popularity-wise. This is from the 2001 album All Hail West Texas, the last (to date) recorded on the boom-box. As usual, excellent lyrics from John Darnielle. This is one of the more mood-based selections from this one, although it does take place in the winter — both temporally, emotionally and relationship-wise. A pretty and sad song.
Chicago – Sufjan Stevens
Another winter song, and probably the song heard by the most people who’ll get this CD! Illinois is one of the best-reviewed records of the year, and it is pretty good. I tend to think it’s a little long, but this is easily my favorite track on here. The repetition of “All things go, all things go” just make the song as does the powerful, driving guitar and backing vocals. Brian Eno had an interesting theory about the lack of Call & Response in pop music writing, but the popularity of it on the charts. His idea was that people like listening to it, because the backing vocals represent a different point of view to the narrator’s story, either society, other people, the narrator’s friends, or any other combination you can think of — a modern version of the Greek Chorus. However, songwriters now typically are the people who are going to sing the song, and as he’s noticed, singers typically tend to determine whether or not a particular segment of a track as being complete when they are singing, and incomplete when they are not singing — hence, they write lyrics for themselves to sing in toto. Sufjan Stevens in this track solves this problem (though, of course, this version ALSO has backing vocals that fulfill this role) — in the opening verses, the “All things go, All things go” parts would be done by the backing vocalists in a standard song, however, here, he sings them himself — in effect, answering himself, providing the alternate point of view that only hindsight can give (as the rest of the song is in the past tense). It’s a really interesting technique, actually. 
Rainy Days And Mondays – Petty Booka
And, well, this is probably the contender for song that will be on the most mix CDs this time around — though, hopefully I’ve chosen a different version! I am an unashamed fan of the Carpenters, and I came this close to putting the Carpenters version on. (I also almost put on the Cracker version of this song!) This might be my favorite of those versions, though — Petty Booka are a band that does alternately countrified covers or Polynesian-style covers of songs. This is one of the more Polynesian/Tiki/Carribean type songs — for an excellent country one, check out their version of “Material Girl” — and it really works well with the song. I’ve never been one to really dismiss “novelty” music anyway, but this is one of the ones that’s really good at working both as a joke and as a song in its own right. I really need to get more of their stuff — it’s really, really good. Luckily, they seem to play Seattle quite a bit, too, at least for a Japanese band!

 

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