A tirade concerning a wonked-up, pretentious concept called Unity of Vision? On a Tuesday? Oh, go on then.
Single of the Week!
Dogtanion - ‘Heavy Talk’ / Mr. James Bright - ‘Shut Up Shop’ (split seven on Tape Club Records)
Overlooking their determination to resurrect the tape cassette, Tape Club Records are another of those labels whose unity of vision spreads like delicious, homemade jam over everything they produce. So kudos to themdos for having logos, t-shirts, sleeves, fonts AND RECORDS which are all supremely, enviably ace. So good that I have just spent a joyous half-hour listening to not one, not two, but each and every song on their MySpace page - something which almost never happens. And I think if you are an honest sort of flippertigibbet, you'll admit this too. A cursory swizz, a thirty second showmewhatyoucandothen; we're all terrible Cowells at times. Anyhoo, what you need to know about this split single - which naturally has beautiful artwork - is that it is quite literally a bogoff, twoforthepriceofone chunk of Paul Simon-influenced, Smart Pop. And though this is a man much maligned, still many in our modern charts owe him quite a debt, even though ‘Heavy Talk’ is, if you can stand the comparison (and I’m not sure I can, but there you go) a bit like a less uptight and more Landen Vampire Weekend doing a comedy re-rub of 'Diamonds on the Sole of Her Shoes'. And it manages to be sincere even though the vocals are mannered and it has lyrics about not having enough room for all your footwear. 'Shut Up Shop' on the other hand, is low-slung wibble funk not a million miles from Phoenix circa 'I’m An Actor' – that is, totally brills, and totally infectious. Not least because it has some lovely plucked strings on it.
I mean, there is a longer rant here about Unity of Vision being very possibly the only way labels can convince us to spend actual money these days - for I would buy this single for the artwork alone. Even if the record were rubbish – which, hooray of hoorays - it isn’t. I might even buy it on cassette and play it on my brown and orange, vintage 1970s Fisher Price tape deck (how many indie points is that exactly?). In fact I will spill, because 'adding value' – that term so beloved of bellend brand executives - what do you know but it's a real thing; it really works. And were I to set up a label this morning, I would be plotting on a nano level how to polish all facets of my musical diamond, because it really does invoke label loyalty, it makes you feel like it’s all been thought out, and that makes you care. Were I less of a selfish loner I would form a collective! Get my friends to doodle the logo! Write a graphic novel about my musical escapades! Make clothes! Make badges! Sell the indie dream! But lucky for you, and my bank balance, I am much, much lazier than the people at Tape Club Records.
Bountiful amazingness on MySpace, here.
Blitzen Trapper - 'Black River Killer EP’ (Sub Pop)
And now I have been spirited away somewhere absolutely gorgeous – which is an odd thing to say about a record which is essentially about the sort of tar-black, heavy-hearted, Dylanesque Country landscape where doomed men do dark deeds (‘I found the girl’s body in an open pit’ / ‘Her mouth was sewn shut but her eyes were wide’). Blitzen Trapper could do with going back to class and snipping out lyrical clichés about hearts ‘as black as sin’ because that sort of thing does them a disservice when they're capable of records this sumptuously produced. But then I used 'tar-black', so what do I know. Anyway, despite the fact that this is exactly the sort of thing that will have Mojo-reading bores weeing their knickers with glee, that does not preclude the rest of us from lapping it up. Warm and dark all at the same time, like a Cheeky Horlicks what has whisky in it.
Brendan Benson - ‘Feel Like Taking You Home’ (V2)
Every time I think about Brendan Benson, a little part of me gets very antsy indeed. Because I lent Lapalco to someone years ago and they lost it, before promptly denying it had ever been lent. This being one of the most supremely irksome occurrences of modern life – lending things, not getting them back – it has almost overshadowed my fondness for Benson and his broad, FM sensibilities. Especially because he puts a shameless emphasis on grown-up melody, and I think that is harder to do than it sounds. Anyway, gripes with useless mates aside (I haven’t forgotten, you cow) ‘Feel Like Taking You Home’ sees the not-so-young Brendan reclaim the territory he lost when Jack White was roundly credited with The Raconteurs sound (rather unfairly I felt, they being far more in Benson’s image than White’s) and it is – guess what - a driving, synth-piano, estate car of a pop song about wanting to tell someone to get their coat. And it's very good, if a bit Daddish.
Released on 7” yesterday (but free mp3 courtesy of Stereogum, if you are completely skint, here
Dananananaykroyd - ‘Some Dresses’ (Best Before)
If sheer, unstinting exuberance were the sole criteria for getting to the top of the pop charts, Dananananaykroyd would have been number one for all of 2009 – like that woeful year tattooed on my memory when Kevin Costner and Bryan Adams RUINED A WHOLE SUMMER. It also occurs to me that part of their success is that they’re so intensely larksome to write about – they’re the uncomplicated, daft party indie band who somehow just plain old make sense, and they’re completely convincing even if (like me) it’s not really your cup of char. ‘Some Dresses’ is not going to upset the Fananananas, being more of the same extravagantly noisy silliness which makes it impossible to feel ill towards them.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - ‘Come Saturday’ (Fortuna Pop)
Absolutely amazing, if you like this sort of thing / weren’t there in 1986 / haven't moved on since. I mean, as copyists go they really are faultless, right down to the scattergun drum rolls. It’s a curiously knock-kneed sort of indie though - the sort of seven which wants to make you weedier and rubbisher at P.E. (especially catching). And to be honest, I’d had quite enough of dorky by the time I got to 18; I wanted to leave behind my dysfunctional, greasy-haired nerdiness. Not cultivate more of it.
Golden Silvers - ‘Please Venus’ (XL)
It is no doubt deliberate that the leading track on ‘Please Venus’ begins like the demo tune you used to get on early mini Casios. Luckily this artful, deliberate Raw Sex crapness works for them. I mean, no one else I can think of is trying to cultivate a career by sounding like a rubbish velvet bow-tied, comb-overed Phoenix Nights-style house band. Is this what we will have to call Bingo Hall indie? I sort of like it for its odd air and appalling organs and how that bumps up against the nasty lyrics about pocketed razor blades. Mind you, they don’t stay in any particular genre pigeonhole for long, because ‘Locked Up My Head’ comes over rather !!!, and on ‘Lilly the Lover’ they do rainbow barbershop choruses like The Chordettes, but as channelled via Dexys. Which is rather impressive, no?
Passion Pit - ‘To Kingdom Come’ (Columbia)
It could just be me being a div, but I’ve only just cottoned on to how shrill Passion Pit are. Or at least, I’ve only just decided that this is the perfect word to describe them. Despite all the amiable glitter, there’s a pleading quality to their sound. And perhaps it’s this sheer neediness that stops the haters taking them to their hearts and Pods. If countless moronic ladymag articles have taught me anything, it is that it really doesn’t do, it really won't fly to appear too keen. Still, full marks to The Pits for this week’s only lyrical reference to pot pourri. Or ‘pott purry’ as we vulgarians like to call it.
Also out this week!
Dizzee Rascal - ‘Holiday’ (Dirtee Stank Recordings / Def Jux)
LoveLikeFire - ‘Boredom’ (Heist or Hit)
Lily Allen - ‘22’ (Parlophone)
Biffy Clyro - ‘That Golden Rule’ (14th Floor)