So, there we were, ready to untangle the heady musical knots of this week’s releases. Except that this week we were beaming loud and not-so clear from a holiday caravan in the Easter wilds. Imagine it from your urban turrets – a place where phone masts and Twitter updates make nary a dent. For I was about as far away as can be. Not that it matters, of course, because like any Baden Powell alumni worth their camping badge, I came prepared. I had an internets-wherever-you-please dongle. It had real, actual, monetary credit on it and it was on a proper network and everything. We will call that network ‘2’, for the purposes of this review.
But how naughty this 2 are. For when tucked into our pretend house, we could not even summon the internet lords of Google. And while I was at one point considering a singles review system based on which songs sounded good when played down the phone, it quickly became clear that this was neither fair nor practical. Anyway, that is why I am late with this bulletin, and it is super apollies all round. And now, if you are assuaged and ready, we will begin.
Single of the Week!
Amanda Blank – ‘Might Like You Better’ (Free at RCRDLBL, here)
Goodness, what a bucket of sauce. "Might like you better, if we slept together" begins Amanda, breaking off from giving tips on the longevity of gold hoop earrings (coat cheap ones with transparent nail varnish, slap fans) and splashing references to Heathers, Adriana from The Sopranos and Marisa Tomei circa My Cousin Vinny on her marvellous blog. In any event, this is the single I have been waiting/relentlessly pestering PRs to alert me to, being variously pointless, disposable, giddy as all A.D.D. and snazzy as a pair of peach coloured trainers you were prepared to kill for, on your eighth 80s birthday. It’s what Salt’n’Pepa would sound like if they were smothered in noughties, New Joy-sey, outtamyface fierce and essentially perfect for anyone whose first LP purchase was Cheryl, Sandra and Dee Dee’s debut - which is to say, me. My mum said they looked like prostitutes, but readers, I was enchanted. And it is all happening again with Mandy.
The Wave Pictures – ‘If You Leave It Alone’ (Moshi Moshi)
With more than a whiff of the Jonathan Richman’s about them, ‘If You Leave It Alone’ ambles along, all naïve, shuffling brush-drumming and school orchestra saxophonery, and what do you know, there is much to love – the ‘Waves whole thing apparently being to conjure tunes that are deceptively unpolished and which lean towards a peculiarly old-fashioned sort of croon, yet filled to the brim with jarring references to the modern and humdrum and everyday. Although at times it threatens to tip over into the dreaded territory marked kooky, thankfully it does not. And I am gratified to report that this is a strangely silly song, sung with a raised eyebrow, set in an unstraight face, by a band who do not care what else is ‘going on’. Tremendous.
Prego – ‘The Longest Calm’ (Year Zero Recordings)
‘The Longest Calm’ will no doubt shortly appear on a TOTAL INDIE ANTHEMS comp of the sort you might expect to come across on a megastore countertop or hear playing over an OC/Hills montage in which something spectacularly dramarama has occurred. So while I expect this song is actually about something important, instead all I can see is Summer weeping in her bedroom or The Bloke One getting into his car to drive somewhere and punch someone who has like totally pashed off with his Moms. With really rather oppressive galloping drums 101, it sounds, oh dear, quite emo - all crescendos and cuttings-out and words broken down into their component syllables (ov-ah, lon-gest, se-crets) in order to signify im-por-tance. And while the press release will insist on frothing about the politely named Prego being a head-on collision between Coldplay, Elbow and My Bloody Valentine, on this evidence, they are a country mile from either MBV’s painful, ear-hammering loveliness or Guy Garvey’s neat band of subtle, ruined lovers. They are welcome to Coldplay, if that is what they wish.
Paul White – One Eye Open EP (One Handed)
Alright, alright, this is sort-of out already, strictly speaking. But it was not my turn, and I am so full of enthusement for Paul and his cleverness that I simply must recommend you spend your hard-earneds on him. For those who do not know, White amuses himself by chopping up soundtracks, beats and lyrical daubs like so much celery, before swizzing them up into a delicious hip-hop-based energy drink which will not give you muscles for to carry your Eastpac, but which will, more than likely, spirit you away somewhere odd, emotional, and shining with kaleidoscope colour. So despite some small misgivings about what They are calling the ‘beat’ scene (or at least, that portion of hip-hop which doesn’t stay in any one groove or melody for very long) 'One Eye Open' turns out to be utterly glorious, despite a caveat about repeated plays rewarding the listener. Lighting up strange and dark corners with opening samples from weedy outsiders ("I’m the guy they spit upon, I’m the guy they lose") you’re exposed to such an ambitious range of unlikely, eddying wild stylez and 80s early electro flourishes it’s enormously hard not to surrender. AND it comes with a remix of ‘Hustler’ by One-Handed labelmate and fellow musical polymath Bullion (he of the glorious Dilla/Pet Sounds re-rub) which is, quite honestly, wonderful.
The Shoes/Primary 1 – ‘Ho Lord’ / ‘People Movin’ (50 Bones)
Double A-side release from Phantasy Sound’s Primary 1 and remixers du jour The Shoes who are now a proper band, rather than fiddling about with bits of Esser, The Mystery Jets and Late Of The Pier. ‘People Movin’ sees them take on the opening lines of The Temptations’ ‘Ball of Confusion’ but instead of developing the original theme - i.e. that of the world being eight legions up dogshit alley – they magic up a pop record which variously touches on Love Below-era OutKast, early Money Mark and even The Free Design, it being full of plaintive organs and jaunty flutes. As I am tired beyond imagining of doomy world news, this turns out to be a very good thing, and this would be Single of the Week if I were allowed two choices (- or three, were I to include Paul White). Anyhoo, as for ‘Ho Lord’ (ho, and indeed, ho) this sees The Shoes and Primary 1 go extremely French on our bottoms, with lines about "not needing your seester" and a great big bloody chorus which is 100% guaranteed to put a berkish grin on your face. What larks, everyone.