This week is a proper mixed bag, though I am afraid to say there shall be no upset apple carts as far as Speech Debelle is concerned. So if anyone wants to start a backlash, please do so as far away from me as you possibly can.
Single Of The Week!
Speech Debelle – ‘Better Days’ feat. Micachu (Big Dada)
Quite apart from the fact that it is entirely gratifying to see UK hip-hop back in the spotlight (and Christonabike, one does hope this isn’t a fair-weather blip), what strikes you most about ‘Better Days’ is the almost glacial light it’s bathed in. Rising above the Jazzmatazz basslines, however, is the sense that this is a perfect shoulder-shrug of a single. Because the only way to describe its pace is to say that it literally lollops along; bored and sick to the back teeth of the world it inhabits. And yet, while this is indeed a very dejected statement of intent, in the Micachu choruses its snarling smile breaks into a grudging almost-grin. Very special, is what I am saying.
Eliza The Arrow - ‘Toast The Tiger’ (One Little Indian)
Listen at MySpace here.
Ex-And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead & Forget Cassettes members Elizabeth Grace Cameron and Donald Eugene Schroader III are nearly, but not quite, impressing ex-Sabbath covers band ‘vocalist’ Wendy Marion Roby I. With vocals like a quivering candle and suffused with rich orchestrals, in its favour ‘Toast The Tiger’ is a little bit reminiscent of Bjork’s masterful 1993 collaboration with David Arnold, ‘Play Dead’. But sadly it doesn’t quite work - because when you start out this wobbly and distraught, you don’t have anywhere – or at least as far – to go. Still, well worth keeping your eye on if you’re in the market for some lush histrionics (no snottiness intended).
Koko Von Napoo - ‘June EP’ (Trouble Records)
Listen at MySpace here.
Shambolic French jerk-indie which becomes more appealing the more one listens. This despite the incredibly – one suspects deliberately - rubbish drums, Year 1 Casio skills, and so many breathy yelps one is reminded of an asthmatic Slits. Oh, and do try not to snigger like a twelve year-old boy when you type in their MySpace URL (and pronounce it with a comedy German accent).
Mstrkrft - ‘Heartbreaker’ feat. John Legend (Geffen)
It’s a shame John Legend is so dull-as-ditches, because immersed in Mstrkrft’s undoubtedly beau pianah-led pop smarts, one almost finds oneself liking him. And truly, after a few spins, I began to enjoy ‘Heartbreaker’ so much I even went so far as to think Legend might have a bit of the Q-Tips about him. Now there’s a man with delivery, and blessed with a voice so cheeky and amiable you could not but want him to be your best pal, regardless of what he happens to be singing about. Anyway, ‘Heartbreaker’ starts wonderfully well – all Ben Folds rising chords and synthy urgency – and it is the best sort of pop song, about things having gone horribly wrong; full of regret at love lost. Naturally this is not one for the difficult-noise appreciating cats among you, but for a shiny, Timbalandy pop song, it is extraordinarily good.
Race Horses - ‘Cake’ / ‘Cacen Magmu’ (Fantastic Plastic)
Listen at MySpace here.
Either the Welsh are a nation of oddballs (let’s just use the entire nation to make a point shall we, I never thought a good bit of generalism should get in the way of a rant) or we’ve only ever scratched the surface of what Welsh indie can do. And though I am duty-bound to point out that Race Horses share vocal sensibilities and a refreshingly psychedelic approach with SFA, the point is that this is a song about cake. One which begins with a Lynchian bit of Red-Roomed backwardsness, morphs into a Libertines-as-sung-by-Gorky’s-style chorus and then snowballs into a beautifully fuzzy indie-pop tune about forgoing speedballs and cheeky Vimtos for a nice Victoria Sponge. Proper ace.
Modernaire - ‘Faites Vos Jeux’ (Roxour)
Listen at MySpace, here.
An uncharacteristic and thoroughly shaming glitch in my usually swizzy filing system has seen Modernaire slip under the radar, ending up in entirely the wrong pile of sevens. But even though this came out a few weeks ago it still only takes four shiny squids to make it your own. And it is well worth that, if not more of your hard-earneds. Let’s get the nasty business of genre out of the way, because ‘Faites Vos Jeux’ is indeed electro-pop (can you hear my sighs as I type that term? Here they are in case you have missed them: SIGH SIGH). But listen: this is electro-pop of a very odd, charming and almost twee sort, which manages to rise above the tag by employing some Suzanne Vega da-da-dahs and a delicious storybook approach to lyrics (‘Never been to Budapest, never wore formal dress / Went to a casino, came back penniless / Married to a vagabond, living in sin / Found him dead in the gutter, soaked in gin’ / ‘He died in my arms, in a casino in Monte Carlo’.) I am a sucker for a story song at the best of times, but there is a charmingly feminine, Upper Sixth At A Good School flavour to the vocals on this which make it rather special. And not at all like the all other arch and knowing electro-pop we are verily drowning – nay, gagging - on. P.S. Please do excuse the rank leather perviness of the below video - it was the only thing on YouTube with the song on it.
Fukkk Offf - ‘Love Me Hate Me Kiss Me Kill Me’ (Coco Machete)
I am a bit past the stage of liking bands/wearing band t-shirts for the express purpose of offending my Mum. Sadly even if you can get past their utterly awful name or the U2-redolent song title, this isn’t nearly as banging or daringly outré as it might be.
Jonathan Jeremiah - ‘What’s A Guy Got To Do?’ EP (Island)
We seem to get one of these every Summer – a Newton Faulkner here, a David Gray there – bloody nice blokes whose biographies bellow shamelessly about authenticity and ultimately make you feel a bit sad. And not being funny or nothing, but this is really, really creepy, like a lost sub-Bacharach 60s pop song which sounds cute before you realise it’s actually the sort of tune a Bates might play before he offed you in the shower (and then called his Mum). Also, a huge thank you to whoever thought that the answer to Jonathan’s single-title question was to get him to cover Massive Attack’s ‘Protection’. I mean, honestly. LEAVE IT ALONE.
Also out this week!
The Tease feat. Megan Wyler - 'I'm Not Invisible' (Universal)
You know, the one from the Ford Ka advert - try not to hold that against them, as it's pleasing in a Cardigans-10-years-ago sort of way.
Beni - ‘Maximus feat. Sam Sparro’ (Kitsuné)
Screaming Lights – ‘Volts’ (Anti)
Mistabishi - ‘Printer Jam: Barbarix Remix’ / ‘White Collar Grime’ (Hospital)
12” release for the dubstep re-rub of everyone’s favourite dot-matrix floor-filler. People in the house say Epson! Etc. Listen at MySpace, here or enjoy the daft genius of the original, below.
Kid Harpoon - ‘Stealing Cars’ (Young Turks)
He’s been working with Trevor Horn. Does it show?
The Dead Weather - ‘Treat Me Like Your Mother: Diplo remix’
Extremely silly lyrics and the all-round dramarama of last week’s pomp-rock single, as channeled by Diplo. Free, here.
God Help The Girl - ‘Funny Little Frog’ (Rough Trade)
As lovely as you would expect.