I have suffered this week at the coast, everyone. Not just the indignity of a wetsuit when I was too lily-livered to venture into the sea unwrapped, but also some of the most brain-meltingly awful lyrics one has ever had the displeasure of wading through. One of the culprits – not one of this week’s picks, they shall remain un-named - actually had the temerity to include the line ‘Burn, burn, burn / Burn baby, burn like a…’. Naturally I were all like ‘Burn like what, hot new musical things? I really must know, I must, I MUST’ – you know, expecting a couplet of such refreshing and original magnificence the clever cells would get knocked clean out of my head. Instead, what I got was ‘Burn, baby, burn like a fire burns’ - at which point I threw the CD, like a small and graceless Frisbee, into the waves. Very satisfying, I can tell you.
Single of the Week!
Phenomenal Handclap Band - ‘You’ll Disappear’ (Tummy Touch)
Listen at MySpace, here or slightly-rubs live 'experience' below.
The fact that PHB have already bagged Single of the Week for ‘15 to 20’ is not going to stop me awarding them another top spot this week, because they have managed to distil all the youthful exuberance of the Red Hand Gang, modify the sharp edges and imperfections of a band like The Go! Team and swill it all together with some beamingly nice and box-fresh girl rapping. I am pashing on this band so much it is almost pervy and even their fondness for prog cannot put me off. Because when PHB fiddle and wobble their guitar it sounds like a chase sequence for a 70s Hanna Barbera cartoon, and not in the least redolent of goblins or enormous a-holes with multiple keyboards. They do not take themselves too serious, and neither should you. It is called fun – and they will need to remember this when they split the royalties, between eight.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Heads Will Roll’ (Polydor?)
If you’re going to write a song about the Red Shoes draw of the discotheque, one ought to make damn sure it’s the sort of irresistible belter that would drag even the shyest, most uncoordinated nitwit from lurking in the shadows and propel him to the floor. So while the Ting Tings’ ‘Great DJ’ reckoned it was a Siren song about a Siren song, it was to my ears pathetic, wet, utterly hollow. And ‘the drums, the drums’ they spoke of – well, they were some of the darnedest, rin-tin-tin-tinniest I have ever heard. I wanted to bash anyone what liked it over the head with a super-heavyweight vinyl copy of ‘Me And Giuliani Down By The Schoolyard’ and kept bawling words like ‘over-promise’ like a mental shouting at cars. This brings us neatly to ‘Heads Will Roll’, in which Karen O comes over like Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts promising actual death for those who have hips but don’t shake ‘em. And despite the lovely air of menace, it’s very nearly (but not quite) there. Certainly ‘Heads Will Roll’ has grand ambitions, it’s got eddying whirls of shimmering synths and an imposing approach to melody before the beats kick in. But somehow it seems like it’s trying too hard, that even with the inclusion of some gratifyingly doomy orchestration, and Karen’s particular strain of straining, it’s not big or infectious enough. I wonder whether, if the lyrics had not been about murder on the dance floor, I would have been this harsh.
Solid Gold – ‘Bible Thumper’ (Solid Gold Music)
Conveniently enough, Solid Gold share a certain number of !!!’s proclivities. Not least deliberately washed-out bass lines, washes of post-punk anti-melody, be-witching syncopation and whispery vocals. And it is a very compelling though horribly short listen, clocking in at an extremely confident two minutes forty eight. I rather admire bands willing to stick to their guns and write up a song of this length. Solid Gold have not troubled themselves with three endings like a badly plotted film that can’t quite tie itself up, there are no extra codas or middle eights. It’s just a perfect little slice of angular moodiness that I find extremely endearing.
Killa Kella – ‘Built Like An Amplifier’ (100% Records)
I am including this for two reasons. One, because it allows me to point out that Killa’s record label have missed a trick; because anyone worth their Simon Cowell salt knows that these days, you need to give it at least 110 or you are not trying nearly hard enough. And two, I am interested to see someone compare a lady’s merits to that of an amplifier. For I always had an inexplicable fondness for the American epithet ‘stacked’ and this record is about a woman who is so dangerously, solidly built and, one imagines, so massively LOUD she is positively Jordanesque. This has desperate vocals (desperately desirable woman = desperate vocals, do you see?) which remind me of (OHYESTHEYDO) Jesus Jones (!) and it is so ‘influenced’ by Justice it is vaguely shocking. But despite all that, and the fact that ‘Built Like An Amplifier’ is proper U-grade GCSE dim, I rather liked it, the Sway mix even more so.
Birdy Nam Nam - ‘The Parachute Ending’ (Sony Music France)
Rather neatly, ‘The Parachute Ending’ was co-written by young Xavier & Gaspard, and it is all massive Bladerunner bass lines and evocative sad synths at the beginning before putting on its most banging of trousers. I am instructing you this morning to simply enjoy the pencil work of graphic artists Will Sweeney & Steve Scott, who have drawn the beautiful intergalacticisms which make up the video and artwork. Because when you watch it you realise that this is precisely what ‘The Parachute Ending’ is – a video, a book, a badge, a sleeve, a stupidly expensive screen-print sold to men who work in advertising or a competitively-priced t-shirt for the rest of us. But it is not a single, unless you are already two feet down in the K-hole and don’t care how good the bangingness is, as long as it is there and it is very, very noisy.
Lissy Trullie – ‘Self Taught Learner EP’ (Wichita)
If Juliana Hatfield’s backing arrangements had stubbed their collective toes and were massively on the rag and then got into the pod from The Fly with a from-concentrate watered down glass of Chrissie Hynde squash, they might conceivably have come out the other end sounding a bit like Lissy. It’s got some nice ‘la-la-la’s’ on it, but apart from that I find myself rather unmoved, especially when we get an inexplicable cover of ‘Ready For The Floor’ and I am getting more and more irritated by inexplicable covers, blaming Jo ‘Bloody’ Whiley and the creative vacuum and wank-for-brains weekly excursion that is her trip to the ‘Live Lounge’. Even the name is annoying. OHMYGODIT’STHESUGABABESDOINGIBETYOULOOKGOODONTHEDANCEFLOOR-HOWPOSITIVELYSTRANGEANDHOWBRUHLIARNTLYWITTY!THEJUXTAPOSITION!-IT’SLIKEI’MBEINGBURIEDINAIRONYLASAGNAWITHFOURTEENLAYERS!
Amadou & Mariam – ‘Masiteladi’ (Because Music)
“Fuck knows what they’re singing about, but it sounds lovely,” is what my friend said, and who am I to argue with such sheer, un-embarrassed and deliberate ignorance. One might almost assume said friend was almost proud, though I suspect they just remembered that I find it inexplicably amusing when people loudly repeat retarded things - especially if one does so in front of unsuspecting liberals in Islington gastro pubs. ANYWAY we poor civilians should be warned that this is a bit Chris Rea in places, and do you know, they don’t really mention that in the Observer Music Monthly 10-page spreads on music to make you feel better about Africa and ‘understanding’ it, despite the fact that they’ve all got sawdust for tea while we’re all madly chomping down on foie gras and Beluga for breakfast, chucking the leftovers into the Alessi swingbin. I realise this is a hopelessly, irretrievably immature response. And ‘Masiteladi’ really is a lovely song with a lovely video, that will probably only remind me of Simon In The Land Of Chalk Drawings (dig out the episode with the Bowie rock singer in it, it’s brilliant).
Animal Collective - ‘Summertime Clothes’ (Domino)
It’s about six months now since Merriweather Post Pavilion caught us all in its blinding lights, and by now you should have had enough time to figure out if it is indeed a masterpiece, or if we are willing it to be one, because we cherish AC so much. What I’ve been doing is going back to Taylor Parkes’ beautifully calm and collected summation for the The Quietus and like picking a scab, I can’t quite leave his review alone. All I know is that ‘My Girls’ sums up everything I ever wanted and all the dark thoughts that have been swizzing about my head for the past year. It is a song with such simple, honest intentions and it so perfectly matches how I feel, I cannot think of MPP as anything other than geniuses for capturing them thoughts. But if I am as honest as Taylor was (and I found his honesty maddening), apart from ‘Brother Sport’ I do not hear that same perfection throughout the album and ‘Summertime Clothes’ - though lovely - is not even in the same universe as my favourite two songs. In the end, I have decided that if two songs are so great that they literally blow your head apart and then quietly, kindly put it back together with balm and kisses – and because reactions to music like that are so horribly rare - then that album is perfect. Even though you know it isn’t.
Paper Route - ‘Carousel’ (Universal Motown)
If this record could magic itself into being and sit opposite my folding picnic table, it would bellow RADIO ONE PLAYLIST! RADIO ONE PLAYLIST! PLAYLIST ME YOU TOTAL COW! DO IT! DO IT! and I would try to calm it down by offering it a cup of tea but nothing would satisfy the attention-seeking little bastard, because when I tried to do the quick crossword with it; ‘Four down, eight letters, ‘Declare publicly’’ it would just say ‘PLAYLIST’ at me for every clue, again and again. God only knows, Paper Route are trying. But listening to them is like being stuck in a lift with Coldplay shouting in one ear and Muse in the other while a major label tea boy tries to steal your wallet and U2 undo your bra.
Cheatahs - ‘Warrior’ (Young & Lost) Listen at MySpace, here
This, being full to the brim with early 90s fuzz and strop, it is a bit all-my-yesterdays for me. But don’t let my ancientness get in the way, because ‘Warriors’ is really rather good.
Jamie T - ‘Sticks n Stones’ (Virgin) On YouTube, here
The Big Pink – ‘Stop The World’ (4AD) Listen at MySpace, here
Wendy is on Twitter here