This week I am upset. With myself, with stoopid Dinosaur Pile Up and their stoopid song with its stoopid riffs that I am stoopidly keen on.
Single of the Week!
Dinosaur Pile Up - ‘The Most Powerful EP In The Universe!’ (Big Brain/Friends vs. Records)
I rather like it when your ideas about who you are / what you like are thrown into confusion. And this is what Dinosaur Pile Up have done, just as I thought I was finished with this column and was about to send it off to the html hellhole in the sky. But on the basis of ‘Opposites Attract’ – a magnificently dumb and heavy of riff Weezer soundeylikey - I am prompted to declare that if this is what bringing Grunge back sounds like, I am going to welcome it with an open arms, if not a sweaty bared chest. Not comfortable with the idea of myself as a flasher, I listened to it again. And try as I might to turn that smile upside down I could not; my nice grown-up tea dress was morphing to dirty plaid before my eyes. And I hate Weezer. And I am not sixteen anymore, and I thought I had got over that fact, even though keen-eyed readers will be well aware I am regularly banging on about age and ancientness and mourning my youth (do today, in fact). Damn you Dinosaur Pile Up, but I like you. A lot.
Listen at MySpace, here.
Arctic Monkeys - ‘Crying Lightning’ (Domino)
If this is about what I think it is, I am on cold, hard, familiar territory. And it is an exemplary seven inch subject. I know this Lo, this Becky Sharp, I remember those girls from school who could weep on demand, snatching all the sympathy while you keeping your tears to yourself was not a victory; it meant everyone thought you were a bitch. The Arctics’ Jezebel arrives sucking on a strawberry lace. And though it is hard to avoid casting a blaring searchlight on Alex’ notebook like some sort of Pop Police (‘So Mr. Turner, you’re the indie fucking Byron, are you?’) I am not going to, because it seems to me to be too early to declare his genius; it is not entirely helpful. As for the song itself, it has rather a grand and bitterly theatrical air which just about works, bearing in mind that for me they have always been a band to admire rather than cherish. Though since this is a charity release, I may shelve my objections.
Tiny Masters of Today - ‘Real Good’ (Mute)
It seems to be that any song which has a Johnny as a protagonist is a proper pop song in the most traditional sense; it has a 50s shiny diner chromeyness to it. In fact, in what we shall loosely call my ‘research’ for this column, I found a whole actual website dedicated to this chart archetype (Chartetype? No. Anyway, said site - ‘Johnny Songs’ - is here). I am also happy to report that ‘Real Good’ sees TMOT finally fulfilling the promise of their press, releasing a single which is Hanson-happy and MmmmBoppy enough to raise a smile from the dowdiest, most difficult music-loving blowhard. This is enormously likeable, E-numbered punk-pop from a band too young for mine old heart to bear ('Oh, do shut up' etc).
Listen at MySpace, here
King Creosote – ‘No One Had It Better (Bullion mix)’ (Domino)
I feel a strange sort of fondness for King Creosote after his silly ‘KC Rules OK’ sticker campaign a few years back – it seemed a neat and old-fashioned way of him declaring how skill he was, without falling into the sort of ego-trap the likes of Kanye West tumble into regularly. And I couldn’t feel fonder of the man who created ‘Pet Sounds: In The Key Of Dee’ if I tried. Luckily, for a morning where I am in no mood to have my hopes raised and dashed, their combined efforts are a joy, with Bullion’s rangy, galloping approach to melody proving a neat counterpoint for KC’s incredibly amiable intoning. This pulses like a skipping heartbeat fuelled by a defibrillator gone slightly wrong; it jumps oddly but never loses sight of the listener’s wellbeing.
No videothing, but you can hear it as part of a Marc Radcliffe show here.
The Citadels - ‘Golden Islands’ (Friends Vs Records)
‘Everything, all the time / I want to feel / Everything all the time’ seems like a prayer too far to me, however swizzy your synth landscape and twinkly your Passion Pit-redolent single. It’s not far removed from Leo Blooms’ desire to have ‘everything I’ve ever seen in the movies’ i.e. too big an ask for most of us not to end up very disappointed indeed. All that said, wanting everything is a very good sentiment for a pop song. Even though The Citadels are not from paradise, but London, where I suspect they wake up every morning wanting the world, but settling for a tiny bedsit and the sort of half-life where things are only very occasionally, (and only for seconds) bathed in Powell and Pressburger Technicolor. In any event, happily it turns out that ‘Golden Islands’ is one of those moments, it being a pretty and pulsing three minutes which though very now and very MGMT (it’s not their fault they got there first). Rather like having an anti-SAD super-light beamed into the circuits of your stereo. That is, lovely.
Little Boots - ‘Remedy’ (679)
Remedy is the point in the Little Boots album where she really shows her hand, flying a Steps-style flag so shamelessly indebted to the giddy pop music of the early 90s that one cannot be left in any doubt as to her influences (Rusko remix or no). And do you know, I happen to love it, it has a chorus so determinedly, almost brazenly tailored to literal dancing I was at the school disco in my head before I had a chance to tell off my synapses. You know, you can almost hear the moves, ‘No more POISON’ (hand to mouth as you pretend to drink a sickening dancefloor elixir, then wag your finger ‘No’) / ‘KILLING my emotion’ (motions stabbing) / ‘I will not be FROZEN’ (runs hands up and down arms in ‘brrr’ style) ‘Dancing is my REMEDY REMEDY REMEDY’ (generally goes nuts). So shoot me, I think it’s a top bit of nonsense, whether your ‘floor’ is located in your kitchen or down your local discotheque.
Bastila - ‘Ghosts’ (Sunday Best)
This was a lovely surprise, Bastila being something of a new one on me. For the similarly uninitiated, they are in the business of making the sort of flickering, brightly-burning wibble rock that I am supposed to call new wave of shoegaze, but I feel this is doing it down. And even if the press release was not here to helpfully inform me that this was produced by Mark Gardener, that is the genre drawer in which my brain would have ended up. Really it is not so much music as a sort of impressionistic rock painting - and though this means it will be accused of being wetter than a Manchester winter in some people’s books; the aural equivalent of a limp hand-shake, I find ‘Ghosts’ to be oddly romantic as it sweeps and soars.
The Nextmen ft. Ms. Dynamite - ‘The Lion’s Den’ (Universal)
Gratifying though it undoubtedly is to hear Naomi back on a ragga tip, this could have comfortably been released about 10 years ago were it not for the saving grace of some utterly modern electronic flourishes, including some triumphantly artificial bass bin proddings (the best noise on this single, by far).
Cold Pumas ‘Altered Yeast’ & Male Bonding ‘Stare At My Problems’ (Split 7”, on CYAN)
‘Stare At My Problems’ has been on my pod for quite some weeks. And it’s cropped up -unexpected and unbidden - so many times now that I have gradually come round to its defiantly dischordant charms. It’s thrashy, throwaway and has a chorus almost entirely made up of Oooh’s - but there’s a surprisingly pretty little coda at the end that rescues this from having too much punk spittitude (sorry) for its own good. ‘Altered Yeast’, despite being a wicked name for a record, is an utter racket. And sadly I am rarely in the mood for those.
Cougar - ‘Stay Famous’ (Counter)
‘Digit Cleaver’ - featuring the vocal stylings of Maximo Park’s Paul Smith – is a very pleasingly blippy math rock tune you can have for nowt here.
The Molotovs - ‘Come To Grief’ (Fierce Panda)
Listen at MySpace, here.