Beginner's Guide To Viola

Playlist mania at Viola Music Club continues! This one we've been wanting to get going for a while now, but for some reason never got around to asking anyone to do it.

But after bumping into the amazing Viola Music Club 2010: the collected retrospective musings on the Rambling Fox blog, we felt to need to ask the author, Flint, to do us the honor of compiling a "beginner's guide to Viola" -playlist from an outsider's perspective. We got what we wanted and then some!

So you want to get to know this "Viola" thing but have no idea where to begin? That massive list of various releases on the right hand side is almost intimidating? Worried that a blind try will result in a less than perfect first impression? Worry no more! This chronological, compact-sized guide through Viola's history will only take around 48 minutes of your life, giving you a good nutshell of an idea of the history and various styles of our heroes that you can then use to guide your decisions on where to go next. Enjoy! And on a personal note, immense kudos for the guys of Viola for giving me the chance to do this.

...or download the playlist as a zip package!

  1. LOVELIGHTS - Every good compilation should start with an ace track to hook the listener from the get-go and encourage them to stay away frothe stop button before the journey even begins properly. Rather fortunate for Viola that one of their largest aces just happened to start their very first album, just in case someone was to do a chronological mixtape out of their works. Arguably one of their signature songs, in any sensible universe Lovelights would have been a gigantic hit. It also rather wonderfully nutshells what the debut album Tearcandy is all about: heartbreaking guitars, fantastic basslines and gentle melodies playing bittersweet odes for starry-eyed, hopeless romance.
  2. STARGAZING - Something slower and more tender. An almost poetically vulnerable sense of bittersweet love was a heavy part of the early Viola shtick, and to this day they still like to break out a sad ballad every now and then. They're quite good at it, and this Tearcandy highlight is a great example of it.
  3. SAD EYED DISCO DANCERS - There are two remix albums in the Viola catalogue, both titled Melancholydisco. Unlike most remix albums, they're just as essential to any Viola fan as all the proper albums (and later on, Music Club works). This is due to two reasons. For one, unlike most remix albums they're actually good. And more importantly, both contain a handful of kickass Viola originals. Sad Eyed Disco Dancers is heartbreak under the mirror ball, set under a relentlessly thrusting beat that never lets go. Never has melancholy been so downright danceable.
  4. TEDIUM ROCK - Viola's second album Anything Can Stop Us is probably best characterised as being Viola's most energetic album unit overall and several parts of it downright ROCK. Like this one - it's even in the song's name in case you needed any proof. From the very first moment I heard it Tedium Rock stood out and I always thought it was just one of my personal quirks, but apparently everyone else seems to share my love for it: makes for a great starter pack addition, in that case
  5. INVISIBLE REVOLUTION - Guitar pop jump-along goodness as light as a weather. Invisible Revolution captures something so very essentially Viola it's almost impossible to explain it. Call it a gut feeling kind of thing. You'll love this song now, and later on after you've heard more Viola you come back to it and have that wonderful AH-HAH! feeling and you'll know exactly what I'm talking.
  6. SINCE FOREVER NOW - Wonderabilia, Viola's third outing, is a chest full of wonders (appropriately enough). Great songs meet a fantastic synthpop production style, and Since Forever Now served as the first taster of it back in the day. It did the job fairly excellently so here it is once again, serving the same purpose. It's also probably as close to perfect as a pop song can get, and one of my favourite Viola cuts if you allow that sort of personal bias here.
  7. IMAGINARY TIMES - Wonderabilia is a busy, busy album sound-wise: the stuff of nightmares to anyone who can't stand anything other than bare-bones production. Countless little musical tidbits and sounds jump all over the place and add to the songs in their own way. Take for example Imaginary Times: would the song really convey the sort of impossibly optimistic, innocently joyful sense of sheer wonder if its chorus didn't have about a billion little things going in the background like a celebratory parade? And that sudden dance switch at the end and the way the vocals fade into oblivion just before the song itself disappears... ooh my!
  8. WE OWE LOVE - If the original tracks on the very first Melancholydisco album were danceable, the ones on the second edition downright detonate the dancefloor. Viola have a rather good knack for club-shattering, booty-shaking dance anthems and everytime one appears it's a cause for celebration. By dancing, of course. We Owe Love gets a special mention: not only is it full of immense awesomitude, but the pun in its title is downright delicious.
  9. NOBODYLOVERS - After Melancholydisco 2, Viola stopped making albums of any kind and started releasing individual songs each month - Viola Music Club was born. Nobodylovers was one of the earliest tracks that the then-new Club put out, and one of the downright catchiest things the guys have released. If you haven't been converted to Viola by now, you'll definitely be brainwashed by the end of the week after this song has found a permanent home in your head.
  10. BEAUTIFUL LOST THINGS - Most songs on this playlist are because they act as examples of particular styles or moods Viola have dabbled in throughout their career. This is here simply because it's so damn great that every Viola mixtape without it is incomplete.
  11. POPSICLE SUMMER - Romance, heartbreaks, stargazing angst and other great emotion may be what most of their output deals with, but the big, serious questions of life aren't what Viola is all about. At the end of the day, Viola are two whimsical and fun guys who do their best to transfer their wildly frolicing imagination to their music. Sometimes they simply want to move away from the usual norms for a moment, experiment with some crazy ideas, goof off a bit and all that. Sometimes they just want to do irresistably cute songs about popsicles. The VMC format of not having to worry about cohesive album units gives plenty of free space to to do just that, like with the smashing 2010 summer hit Popsicle Summer.
    A song the size of a small galaxy. Stars explode around this colossal anthem for astronomical love. The mixtape ends with a bang - one of their best and certainly the most epic tune. Viola Music Club is like Christmas every month, a gift box where you never know what's inside, and it's songs the likes of Astromelancholia that make the first of every month such an exciting day. Imagine, something as great as this could come out every month - for free! The life of a Viola fan is around 74% more exciting than the life of an average, ordinary pleb that does not check at the start of every month. Join the fun!
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