Friday, January 1, 2010

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20: December 2009

Primal epics top our chart this month! The Stooges' full-length version of "Ann" from 1969 is one of the most beautifully devastating rock and roll experiences to have been unearthed in the last decade. For 40 years, we knew this song as a brief, Doors-esque ballad of passionate submission, but now that we have the complete version we get a complete noise-catharsis with the late Ron Asheton's guitar leading the way to white light bliss. The mood of intense smoochiness continues with the Seeds' full-length version of "Up In Her Room". Oh yes, things are getting steamy here.

Richard Thompson's jaunty call to arms interrupts our reverie. "We're poisoned by the greedy who plunder on the needy." Still relevant, still kicks ass.

The Magnetic Fields bring back the romance with an enticing invitation, but throw in some subtle jabs at intolerance with the mumbled line "we got beat up just for holding hands". High time to do away with the ignorance of yesterday, we say. Jumping San Francisco girls Von Iva deliver one of their more low-key numbers, a sultry ode to a green-eyed lover. Then the Tall Dwarfs concoct an amusing collage of a distorted Jimmy Page quote that speaks the truth for many of us. (Time to note that a new Tall Dwarfs album is being worked on; despite Chris Knox's stroke, he is expressing himself with non-verbal vocals and according to what we're told on his blog, the results are amazing.) A classic from Sparklehorse, "Painbirds", goes out to all of our friends who struggle with their health.

Next up is a new San Francisco band, Society Of Rockets, who J Neo Marvin discovered when they shared a bill with the Conspiracy Of Beards. Harmonious, ecstatic Brian Wilson/Arthur Lee/Zombies pop. More, please. Then comes REM's 90s rant about America, "Ignoreland". So, is that us? Does it have to be?

The Mekons' Tom Greenhalgh offers up a wistful ballad about celebrity from his limited edition solo project, with his own children singing along poignantly. The awesome New Orleans singer Irma Thomas smolders on an irresistible soul love song, Gina Birch from the Raincoats (as The Hangovers) asserts herself admirably, obscure Santa Cruz banjo virtuoso George Stavis lets the sound unfold, and Dengue Fever show us the consequences of passive-aggressive behavior.

Cibo Matto make us feel like we're in New York with their vivid, surreal rap. Burning Spear chants down Babylon, the Pogues give you some more details of what Burning Spear is talking about, and Chumbawamba remind us that we have to take everything we hear with a grain of salt.

Bringing up the rear...what's that smell? Cab Calloway and the Wild Magnolias both seem to have the same thing on their minds. Be sure to have your card handy if anyone asks.

1. The Stooges - Ann (Full Version) - The Stooges
2. The Seeds - Up in Her Room [Long Version] - A Web of Sound
3. Richard Thompson - The New St. George - Henry the Human Fly
4. The Magnetic Fields - Take Ecstasy With Me - Holiday
5. Von Iva - Emerald Eyes - Girls On Film
6. Tall Dwarfs - Seduced By Rock And Roll - The Sky Above, The Mud Below
7. Sparklehorse - Painbirds - Good Morning Spider
8. Society of Rockets - I Am A Battery - Future Factory
9. R.E.M. - Ignoreland - Automatic For The People
10. King Tommy's Velvet Runway - Hello Star - Dance On The Volcano
11. Irma Thomas - Take A Look - Time Is on My Side
12. The Hangovers - I'm Glad I'm Me Today - Slow Dirty Tears
13. George Stavis - Winterland Doldrums - Labyrinths
14. Dengue Fever - Sober Driver - Venus On Earth
15. Cibo Matto - Sci Fi Wasabi - Stereo Type A
16. Burning Spear - No More War - Man In The Hills/Dry And Heavy
17. The Pogues - The Band Played Waltzing Matilda - Rum, Sodomy & The Lash
18. Chumbawamba - Everything You Know Is Wrong - Un
19. Cab Calloway - Reefer Man - The Hi-De-Ho Man: 1930-1933
20. The Wild Magnolias - Smoke My Peace Pipe (Smoke It Right) - The Wild Magnolias

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