After being unable to pick a favourite last week, this week I have five. Which are variously Yeti Lane, First Aid Kit, Drums of Death, Toro Y Moi and my new favourite favourites, Everything Everything. You will have to excuse the superlatives, but I honestly cannot help myself.
Single Of The Week!
Everything Everything - ‘My Keys, Your Boyfriend’ (Young & Lost)
It’s a while since I’ve made a sweeping, un-researched-other-than-on-Wikipedia, rank generalisation about a huge chunk of the country, so let’s begin by talking about Northshire; and specifically its propensity for churning out impossibly amusing and damnably clever jerk-pop. Let me draw a circle around three bands and call it a thing, even though we all know this sort of statistical cherry-picking would normally see me struck off. Here are your three; one, The Futureheads, two, Field Music - and now, the embarrassment of pop riches that is Everything Everything, who have made my month with their new, scurrying chameleon of a single.
The first thing to say is that it darts about, a million hair-pin bends and tight corners a minute, and you might find this alarming; a little Too Much Distraction at first. But you should persevere, because Everything Everything have done that thing so hard for we reviewers to document; they have been over-ambitious. And of course, sometimes there are bands you want to give two marks to – one for their high goals, and one for how successfully they have netted them. But to my mind Everything, Everything get a starred-A for both. They have thrown traditional song structure out of the window along with baby, bathwater, all the eggs, basket and kitchen sink.
The second thing to say is that the lyrics are wonderfully strange, with references to Faraday cages, A4 paper guillotines and having the filth of the street under your nails – all this, everyone, in a song about adultery - usually a tiresomely over-trodden topic. The third thing is that it is a Proper Pop Record, with all the fulsome joy, excitement and inventiveness this implies. And the last thing is what EE have written on their MySpace. ‘We like to play music for humans,’ is what they have scribbled and – fortuitously - because I was one last time I checked, this means they play for me. Extrapolating wildly, I am also taking it to mean that they are mine. And you absolutely cannot have them, for I will not share, however many special marbles you try to tempt me with. Quite honestly, the whole thing is all rather Christmas Day.
Fever Ray - ‘Seven’ (Rabid Records / Co-Operative)
There is only one woman on the planet who can sing a line about the modern and miraculous cleaning products we humans use to wash the crud off our dishes, and still make it sound impossibly sinister. Karin Dreijer is that woman. And it is only with her fourth release that I realise she has been winking at us all along. Knowing our nation’s propensity for entertaining and fawning over oddballs - especially the Scandinavian kind - with completely po-faced, accepting seriousness, I feel the line ‘We talk about love’ / ‘We talk about dishwasher tablets’ at once declares the following ideas: 1) ‘Yes, you do think I am a mental Scandi-pop electronic-tart who conjures spooky darkness out of every situation, however domestic’ And 2) ‘But I am in fact perfectly sane, as evidenced by my sense of humour, You. Total. Divs.’ In any event, ‘Seven’ is in all respects a Good Point, Well Made, making me hope that all the stinkily pretentious things that have been written about Dreijer do in fact make her clutch her sides behind closed doors. Anyway it’s brilliant, because now Doing The Pots will be so much more enlivening. I will be able to ponder Karin’s deliberate, mischievous oddness, rather than thrashing my way through the usual thought bog - which is about how unfair it is, that it is always me bloody doing them.
Yeti Lane - ‘Lonesome George’ (Sonic Cathedral)
Darn these pesky records I find at the very last second when I have already written reams and bored the face off all present. But this is gorgeous, plaintive, fuzz-pop from some new-to-me French cats who betray an indecently good way with melody that may even recall the talents of James Mercer and Sufjan, but which is set-dressed with flickering 8-bit synths, delicious syncopation and some boomeranging riffs. This is the second record this week I intend to spend ACTUAL MONEY on because I need to hold it in my hands. Indeed, when Yeti Lane sing about wanting to be ‘delivered from pain’ they manage to convince me to such a degree that I almost want to email them and check they are alright. Live videothing here though really I think you should go to their MySpace to listen, because live videothings are pretty much always rubbish.
First Aid Kit - ‘Hard Believer’ (Wichita)
We have all heard it said that the reason siblings' voices have a such a special effect is due - rather obviously - to the genetic similarity; that it creates two voices which harmonise in a gooder way than for those of us not related by blood. But this notion does little justice to just how engaging, just how warm-hearted and essentially transcendent First Aid Kit are - whether their pipes are hammered from the same, hearty, inherited mettle or not. Their deceptively simple sentiments - ‘Love is tough’ / ‘Time is rough’ (TELL ME ABOUT IT FIRST AID KIT, I AM HEARING YOU ETC) are glorious; and the bit where they almost yodel is honestly sublime (by which I mean; this record makes me cry, I might as well admit it). Anyway, despite not bagging the top spot, First Aid Kit still win the red rosette for Rousing-ness this week. Thing is, if you don’t find this entirely magnificent, I regret to inform you that there is rancid citrus where your heart should be. And also - not that you, readers, should give two hoots – that we would never get along. Beautiful.
Drums of Death - ‘Got Yr Thing’ (Greco Roman)
I am doing my best not to invoke Twilight because I am not a convert. But it is fair to say that there is an inordinately appealing, slightly wonkily-principled state of attraction, whereby girls go all weak at the thought of men who are a tiny bit scary. But before the feminists take my t-shirt, card and badge away, I will explain. First, that there is the obvious Niagara gulf between finding something rather frisk-making in one’s imagination and wanting someone to take a chunk out of your neck and make you undeaded in real, actual life. It is completely – and in all seriousness – all about things that are For Pretend Purposes Only and/or an amusing hat to try on (and crucially take off) at will. This roundabout of caveats duly circled, I will go on to explain how Adam and his Ants were the first men to teach me about the magnificent pop power of men in face paint - all sidewise smirks, frilly cuffs and moronically phallic rapier swords. And how it really does feel as if Colin Bailey has spied this theatrical baton, and is going to bloody well run with it. I mean, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Men of Dance Music have spent a good two decades being by and large insufferably dull, appearing to think that having a nice hoodie / expensive pair of Japanese jeans is enough effort when it comes to one's image. So don't be too surprised if I start bellowing about NEW ADAMS when someone comes along in funny black and white markings with a thrillingly good backstory about voodoo witch doctors replacing his heart with a drum machine. Now I’m not saying only mildly confuddled straight girls will get this (that would be fearfully silly), but I do think some people will absolutely lap up the added frisson of cheeky that Drums of Death provides. And for those that don't, the sheer, good-natured entertainment points will soar - whoosh, whoosh - right over their heads. Poor them.
Crookers feat. Kardinal Offishall & Carla-Marie - ‘Put Your Hands On Me’ (Southern Fried)
Glossing over the fact that I listened to this while staring out a window which has been (eminently tastefully) dressed with Laura Ashley curtains, while also keeping half an eye on an Ebay tab listing vintage Poole pottery (did I mention I was middle class and allergic to indie’s deliberately scuffed-converses? Oh well, have now). I mean, obviously we mid-century teak-collecting, Heals fabric-coveting uptightresses enjoy dancehall-flavoured hip-house as much as the next personage (perhaps more, one might argue, for it allows us to escape) - but it is only fair to admit that I am someone who had to unsubscribe from Toddla T’s Twitter feed because I had absolutely no criping idea WHAT HE WAS ON ABOUT. Anyway, despite Crookers technicolour silliness being rather jarring (especially as it was immediately after First Aid Kit on the playlist) ‘Put Your Hands On Me’ is top larks. At one point I believe they are asking if I will let them ‘give it to you like you’ve never been given it to’ and who am I to deny them, when they have made a record this daft. Shocker of a videothing, though.
Aidan Moffat and the Best Ofs - 'Knock On The Wall Of Your Womb' (Chemikal Underground)
Professional sadface Aidan is one of my very favourite people in music, not least for this - the amusing take on snakes and ladders he created to promote the Best Ofs album last year. Anyone who bothers this much is automatically brilliant, even though all that grumpy makes me want to read Mr Tickle to him and tell him how - even though this is wonderful darkfolk - I would rather not imagine a big bearded man taking up residence inside my womb, especially not one who thinks it is larksome to play Knock Down Ginger while he's in there. I mean, really. Ick.
Listen at MySpacehere
No Age - ‘Losing Feeling EP’ (Sub Pop)
It feels entirely pointless for me to describe this record as screechy – or even more unhelpful, ‘loud’ - but don't blame me, blame No Age, because that is what it is. Anyway, if your head is turned by this sort of thing, No Age will see you right, look after you, hold your hair back while you are sick after too many brain-melting, squall-rock cocktails - you know, generally be your best friend forever even if you slept with their Mum. Pointless allusion to shagging someone’s mother there! It's a bit like Dear Deirdre, except marginally less titillating – or perhaps not, since I have written something about spanking below. I realise I have just committed the reviewing equivalent of starting this 'article' with SEX! NOW I’VE GOT YOUR ATTENTION - HA-HA!!!1!!!1111! For which: sorrysorrysorry.
Alexander Wolfe - ‘Morning Brings A Flood ’ (Redemption Records)
Rather beau strummy sad pop what pongs of Nick Drake, ‘Till Your Ship Comes In’ in particular is marked out by some accomplished, sweeping orchestrational prettiness. And though young Alexander could never be accused of taking a neon chainsaw to those pesky genre barricades, it is worth remembering that not everything in music has to. Keep going readers, the bit about spanking is not far off, now.
Toro Y Moi – ‘Blessa’ (Carpark)
If there was a panel of Saturday night telly, theatrically villainous judges in my head – which I suppose there sort of is; except there is no flagrant ageism on my panel, and they argue a lot, and there is no Bruce Forsyth doddering about. So if that were the case (as usual, BEAR WITH ME), upon hearing Toro Y Moi, the obvious, pantomimically camp one would be out of his seat, all giddiness, and would hold up a paddle what says 'Panda Bear' on it. Even though the other judges (who do their best to inhabit the opposite camp, rep-rah-zenting for my imaginary readers, god bless them) – well, they want to hit him with their own paddles as if this were an alarmingly rude Roger Corman b-movie from 1957 in which Sorority girls spank each other something silly for no good reason (anyone else seen that? Tis pretty special, let me tell you). Anyway, all I am trying to communicate is that I do not invoke Mr Bear lightly, and Toro Y Moi shares his merry, dreamy soundscaping - except it’s got a bit more of The Funk on it. Really, really, really good - so do make like me and have a swizz at everything on his MySpace, what is here.
Also out this week!
The Voluntary Butler Scheme - ‘Trading Things In EP’ (Split Records)
Mirrorkicks – ‘Turning Up’ (Fruit Pie Music)
Wild Beasts - ‘All The King’s Men’ (Domino)
The Spivs - ‘It’s True’ (1965)
French Horn Rebellion - ‘Up All Night’ (Once Upon A Time)
Wonderswan - ‘Furrpile’ (Unsigned)
Freak scenic copyists, yes. But really rather good ones. Listen at MySpace, here.
Erland And The Carnival - 'Was You Ever See' (Static Caravan)
Listen at MySpace here.
Suckers - 'It Gets Your Body Movin’ (Make Mine)
Listen at MySpace here
Teenagers In Tokyo - ‘Isabella’ / ‘Long Walk Home’ (Back Yard Recordings)
Listen at MySpace, here
Steve Abel feat. Jolie Holland - ‘Heart of Misery (The Bough)’ (Kins’ Land Records)
Listen at MySpace, here.
Wendy is on Twitter, here. If you come and say hello she will say hello back and everything.