Friday, February 13, 2009

Radio Flyer's Recommendations for Valentine's Day Blues

Hi everyone,

Sorry if you've been trying to avoid the fact that Valentine's Day is this Saturday - but you were bound to be reminded somehow, and how better than Radio Flyer Review's Valentine's Day recommendations? I have identified which recommendations fit with which circumstances and have included a key so you can figure out which music will match your situation. If you're planning to have a happy Valentine's Day with your significant other, sorry, but this list is not for you.

*Music for the broken-hearted
**Crying in your beer music (a specific subdivision of music for the broken-hearted)
#Music for the angry and bitter
+Music to make you feel good about being independent (I don't have much of this because I really don't own or listen to much music to make anyone feel good about anything, but I tried...)

In no particular order:

1. Rid Of Me by PJ Harvey #
Break-up albums don't come angrier than PJ Harvey's masterpiece. Every line of every song is pretty much another kick in the face whoever it was who pissed her off. There's something darkly empowering about the album, but it never once feels good. Of course, the title track takes the cake: "I'm gonna twist your head off, see? / Till you say don't you wish you never never met her."

2. "In My Life" by the Brian Jonestown Massacre #
This has got to be my favorite bitter break-up song in the indie rock canon. "I'm gonna take you out / I'm gonna make you cry," etc. Word of advice: never break up with Anton Newcombe.

3. Country Music ** (and sometimes #, +)
The entire genre of country music (well, at least all of it that isn't completely crap) is made for this situation. It's hard to go wrong, but if you really have no idea where to start, I'd suggest going back to the classics, either the genre's leading ladies (Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt) or even back to Mr. Johnny Cash himself. But really, just about anything from the genre will do.

4. "Fuck You (An Ode To No One)" by the Smashing Pumpkins and "Violet" by Hole #
Pumpkins' leader Billy Corgan was once romantically involved with Hole's Courtney Love, and rumor has it, they wrote these songs to/about one another, obviously post break-up. Seems like there may have been some hard feelings.

5. No Shouts, No Calls by Electrelane *
I know, I know - will you shut up about Electrelane already!? The answer is no, I won't. I love this band and I can think of very few lyricists who capture heart-break as honestly and accurately as Verity Susman. If this album isn't enough for you, also try "Birds" off The Power Out ("It's not that I can't go on without you / Got a lot of things to do / I'm busy, busy all the time / Still I can't stop thinking about you")

6. "Good Arms vs. Bad Arms" by Frightened Rabbit **
Hands down, the best crying-in-your-beer song of 2008. Key lyric: "I'm not ready to see you this happy"

7. Pre-war blues *,#,+
There's something very cathartic about hearing someone 80 years go saying exactly what you're thinking now, and particularly saying it on a crackly old recording over some nice guitar lines. There's a lot to chose from here, but here are some recommendations:
> J. T. Smith - "Howling Wolf Blues" (*) or "Heart Bleeding Blues" (*,#)
> Lucille Bogan - "You Got To Die Some Day" (#) or "Lonesome Midnight Blues" (*)
> Martha Copland - "I Ain't Your Hen Mr. Fly Rooster" (+)
> Robert Johnson - "Love In Vain" (*)

8a. Disintegration by the Cure *
This is an obvious choice, but still merits mentioning. One of the greatest break-up albums ever, this is perfect for crying your eyes out to for hours on end. Track picks: "Pictures of You" and "Disintegration"
8b. "Doing the Unstuck" by the Cure +
This isn't exactly a happy song, to say the least, but in a way, it can be helpful to have a I'm-Getting-Over-It song from someone you know feels just as miserable and hopeless as you (in this case, Robert Smith). Yes, it's sarcastic, but there's something empowering about it anyway.

9. Late 90's American indie pop *,#
For some reason, at least in the US, the late 90's were a great era for honest, direct lyrics. Some examples to get you started:
> Magnetic Fields: "I Don't Believe In The Sun" (*) or "I Don't Want To Get Over You" (*)
> Quasi: "I Never Want To See You Again" (*,#)
> Elliot Smith: "Somebody That I Used To Know" (#) or "Everything Reminds Me Of Her" (*) (OK, these weren't technically released in the 90's, but what's a couples months' difference?)

10. "I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You" by the Ramones +
It doesn't get more direct than this.

Last resort...
Now, I happen to know a lot of people going through a really hard time right now, be it the stupid holiday this weekend, the economy, or just a string of bad luck. Now, I really hope none of you reading this are bad off enough to take these recommendations, but sometimes you just need music that's as low and messed up as you feel. So just in case...

For the very, very sad: Things We Lost In The Fire by Low

For the very, very angry: I'll Sleep When You're Dead by El-P or Broken by Nine Inch Nails (cliches exist for a reason!)

For the utterly miserable: Still by Joy Division or Spiderland by Slint

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