Stiff from Dancing the Cha-Cha

Listening to some Love is All from the batch of downloads I leave on the work machine, after moving past lead singer Josephine Olaussen’s obvious debt to the singers for Altered Images, Life Without Buildings, and Pylon, I recognized that Swedes have always been good at this complex dance pop, and that Love is All, seemingly out of nowhere, is not out of nowhere, but squarely in context. Because Ray Wonder did this ten years ago, sadly before bloggers would have shot them to the moon of popularity.

Love is All — Felt Tip

Love is All –Make Out Fall Out Make Up

Ray Wonder somewhat spring from a member sprung from labelmates Komeda in the early nineties. A singles-collection album and some EPs gain them some word of mouth momentum for their XTC-meets-Matthew Sweet uberpop; but despite amazing skillz, they never get the cult status inexplicably gained by countrypeople Soundtrack of our Lives, and dissolve by 2000. Their wonderfully complete website says:

Henrik is currently playing with his new band, hank, Ludwig and Toft is recording the first album with their joint project BÖSS, new single out this spring/summer. Per is working as head executive at MNW Records Group (he also plays with some band with an unknown name).

I saw them at Brownies (RIP) in 1997 or so; fantastic show. I think Mr. Tapeworm missed this show due to a tapeworm flareup after he arrived. Mr. Tapeworm? Was it this show or Les Savy Fav that year?

Anyway:
Ray Wonder – Souvenir

Ray Wonder – Cha Cha

Ray Wonder – General Hugging Center

Ray Wonder — Hang Me High

All tracks are from 1996’s Good Music. You might be able to order stuff from North of No South Records, in Sweden, if they still sell ’em.

PS
Music for Robots has a well-executed dance remix of the Futureheads’ “Skip to the End,” although I’m still deciding whether it should be ridiculed for under-utilizing the original’s monstrous guitar riff.

PPS (DVD update)
Saw Syriana this weekend. Like John Sayles going global. You know a script as complex as this was kept a secret from the studio that greenlighted it. Otherwise it doesn’t get made. Riveting, too, if only to stay with it, but the ham-handed metaphors, employed via some characters’ personal lives (family death, alcoholic enabler), to match larger themes, felt forced and useless.

PPPS (TV update)
I’m into HBO’s Lucky Louie, and not just cause Louis CK’s wife wears an MC5 t-shirt, or because Jim Norton and Jerry Minor make me laugh when they simply stand there, or not just because there’s man-nudity, or because CK’s wife catches him masturbating in the closet to a pic of Jessica Simpson, by which CK defends himself by saying “it’s not like I was jacking off to her music.” No. It’s really because I can’t get the theme music out of my head. Not usually a fan or harmonica, but this does the job.

9 thoughts on “Stiff from Dancing the Cha-Cha

  1. First of all, Louis CK is awesome because his parents sent him to a camp for retarded kids for three years, from ages eight to 11. It was really a camp for retarded and non-retarded kids, the idea being that exposure to “normal” children would help mainstream the children with developmental disabilities (there were also emotionally disturbed and otherwise mentally disabled children there). But what parent wants to send their kid to retard camp? So Louis CK was the only non-retard there. He said one kid used to throw a rock at him whenever they crossed paths …Also, yes, it was Ray Wonder that was stop #34 during my year (or two) of alcoholic discontent. I had a fifth of whiskey on the train coming in and decided it would be a good idea to keep drinking. I remember having enormous trouble getting my coat on. At the Les Savy Fav show, I was very drunk, but just an asshole, not violently ill.I actually have the Love Is All Cd with me now. Bought it on the strength of a single I had, and it’s OK. Some very good songs, but Ray Wonder beats ’em.

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  2. Was trying to not out your Year (or two) of Alcoholic Discontent. Better discontent than incontinent! (or did you … never mind). I thiink we were both assholes at the Les Savy Fav show because we’d earlier interviewed them at the Knit and had found out that lead singer whatsihisface (has to be at least 35 now) grew up in Madison, NJ, aka the wussiest town on earth, and famous now for being the home of Tucker Carlson.And yeah, saw CK’s standup on the retarded kids camp. It’s the kind of punishment that makes your kid’s sense of humor forever.

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  3. FYI, download “We Got to Be Good to Each Other.” It’s a Ray Wonder song that’s not on any of the albums I have, but it was used in a Ford commercial overseas, I think, and can be found on most download “services.” It might be their best song.

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  4. Enormous propers for spreading the Ray Wonder gospel. I can’t recall a band so good that I’ve heard so little about, even when they were still around. They should have been huge. Not just uber-hipster cult huge, but huge. So amazing.I’m terrible with remembering names but my fave Ray Wonder track is that “too busy to be busy” (or something like that?). Wow.(Episode 0006 is ready to download for your listeneing pleasure.)

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