My Top 1000 Songs #678: The Split

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.] 

I've filled this list with a lot of great music from New Zealand's legendary Flying Nun label. But while jangly/fizzy post-punk acts like the Clean, the Bats, the Chills, etc. are often nearly (alternative) radio-friendly, it can be a little harder to wrap your arms around the more experimental work of Chris Knox--both as a solo artist and one half of the Tall Dwarfs. But he's still got plenty of songs that blend sorta-catchy lo-fi, low-tech music with wide-eyed, Jonathan Richman-like charm; and it's not hard to trace a straight line from his records to bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and other members of the Elephant 6 collective.

One personal fave is "The Split," off 1993's Duck Shaped Pain LP. Sure, it's rough and ragged, the percussion sounding like spoons banged against a tabletop and the guitars a wall of cheap-pedal distortion, but it's also delightfully tuneful, simple piano-driven verses alternating with an earworm chorus buried in the din. Plus, spend a moment with the lyrics, and you've got a surprisingly devastating break-up song dressed up as a candy-coated confection. It's one of those songs where I'll unexpectedly find myself humming the chorus as I go about my daily routine without even realizing it.

Solo live 1991: