As a neat way to top and tail the Summer, this week I am back at the coastal caravan with my unfaithful old internot. This means three things; one, that I cannot check facts and therefore have to take the press releases at face value (which I am sure the music PRs will adore), two, that I cannot watch the videothings and make judgements upon which are fearfully offensive and which are not (this also means – woo! - the music must speak for itself, man), and three, that I Spy a cast-iron opportunity for making up some stuff that I can pretend I read but sadly cannot check for truthiness because ohdearmemydongleisbroken. Do see if you can spot the lies, damn lies and fiddled statistics, in the following reviews.
Single of the Week!
Windmill - ‘Big Boom’ (Melodic)
I have mentioned unfairness in these webular parts before, when I listened to a record while in the sea - jumping waves and spotting and sighing over cutely-whiskered seals. The basic premise bears repeating, which was that because I was already having so much fun, it imbued the single in question with an unfair air of beach-based paradise. And it was difficult to know from whence the joy came – the record or the moment. So it is with Windmill, what I listened to up loud, at night while far above me a rangy and clear night sky thrilled with hactual shooting stars. And because ‘Big Boom’ has alarmingly affecting strings on it, the whole thing was very Very. Then, readers, I heard young Matthew singing paeans to the Epcot Centre’s emblematic ride (a ride about the future, science, space and technology) - and I thought; ‘Were you to design some stringent circumstances in which to listen to ‘Big Boom’, you could not have wished for circs as spookily right as these’. Because Mr Dillon is singing about Disney’s mission in building the big silver golf ball, and how his memories of being shuttled round it on an old slow rollercoaster with crap buttons that didn’t quite work was curiously emotional, even now he is a Real Boy looking back.
Well, SNAP. Because I went to Epcot in the 80s and it was dreamy - a vision of the future where – curiouser and curiouser - somehow people still wore flares (they put the exhibit together in the 70s, see). And I think there is something deeply moving about the grand designs for life that attempted to marry the positivity of the atomic age, post-war optimism and technology - it’s what those clever modernists were trying to do, too. But when you look around you at all those new towns swizzled together in the 60s (like the one I grew up in), all that Corbusier On The Cheap, you just think, ‘Oh bugger, we failed’. So I felt like that when I went to Epcot – warmed by the rank creativity, but disappointed by the non-appearance of domestic house robots in the world we’ve ended up in. I think this is what this song is about (apparently the whole album is on this fascinating theme), and I am delighted. Never mind dancing about architecture, this week I propose you cry about amusement parks.
The Raveonettes - ‘Bang!’ (Fierce Panda)
‘You’re as cool as ice cream’ say the Raveonettes - which is rather nice of them, and luckily I can now properly pronounce their name after hearing Our Editor say it on the radio (RAV/RAVE – tis all very vex-making). Anyhoo, on ‘Bang!’ they have channelled a non-sad Shangri-La sound, and it is quite like Johnny Boy’s peerless You Are The Generation Who Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve (eerily prescient title Johnny Boy, clever old you etc), except it’s rather less immersive. Perfectly serviceable in-thrall, retro-pop then - with the twist that in the 60s you weren’t allowed to sing about kids wanting to ‘fuck out in the street’. And even if the RAVE-ee-on-ettes are not singing that, they have certainly gone out of their way to make it sound like they are. Which is v. naughty and wrong. All in all - quite nice, but not really worth going out of your way to mug a civilian for.
Lucky Elephant - ‘The Rev. Tilsley & His Magic Lantern’ (Sunday Best)
Lucky Elephant are my favourite band on Sunday Best, and make a habit - if not a career - out of glorious Mark Mothersbaugh, soundtrack-style, sometimes-vocal-less Ice Cream Parlour Pop (do look up ‘Edgar’ if you get a chance, it is heaven; I bang on about it something silly here). They are people for whom the word ‘twinkly’ was invented, and this word in the 1970s Christmas tree fairy lights sense, rather than deeley boppers / lingerie manufacturers’ idea of what is a suitable hen party outfit (ick, ick, ick) / the glittery pink abominations that constitute modern girls’ toys. ANYWAY. While LE’s Reverend clearly shares a high street with the cartoon Jamie of my youth, he chooses to shine his magical light right in the faces of some Wurlitzer organ circa Charlie Brown, some appealingly exaggerated French vocals (alright, okay, that’s how he actually speaks - but as I have mentioned before, my not-really-real, small-town xenophobic streak is chasm-wide, so do allow me to find it amusing when People Talk Funny). It also has some lovely lyrics about fortune telling / not drinking responsibly. I mean fair dos, because though it doesn’t sound like any vicar I’ve ever met (total: one), this does not really matter in pop very much. Yum.
Spiral Stairs - ‘Stolen Pills’ (Domino)
There’s an agreeable Stooges-via-the-poppier-parts-of-the-Bad Seeds air to ‘Stolen Pills’. But I suspect it is emphatically not about some vitamin-quaffing rotter who steals your Sanatogens and then you get in a bit of a snit about it and are all like ‘ohmigod! wherearemySanatogens, youblurryysneak-thievingshit?’ Then again who knows, it really might be, one cannot deny that this is possible. What I DO know is that it has a pleasing sort of urgency and a recorded-as-in-a-portaloo, muffled-mic raggedness that I suspect will please those who know Mr. Kannberg from his Preston School of Industry/Pavement olden days of yore. Apparently, he has had a shit time for the last few years, split up with his girlfriend slash wife and has now written a record about how shit it wor/how life is better now and everything. I have to say, I feel this is a tiresome thing to put in a press release and suspect its interestingness depends on whose heart is broked. And as it isn’t mine, I am all a bit OHBOOHOOWHATEVERSCOTT about it. All of which is patently and indecently unfair, as this is well worth a listen.
Gablé - ‘EP 2’ (LoAF Recordings)
The bit of paper that came in the envelope with Gablé’s round bit of plastic mentioned a review in Bearded Magazine; a new one on me. And these unknown extollers of facial hair or possibly iamthinking folk music have declared them to be ‘Absolutely Charming’ - which despite the Sentence Caps doesn’t half tell you nothink when, and I risk repeating myself here – you are in a caravan IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Because it turns out they are the oddest thing I have heard all year, and a number of points must be scooted in Gablé’s direction forthwith for sheer originality. ‘Purée Hip-Hop’ manages to be both as giddily amusing as the sort of daftly rubbish beat-boxing we got on Three Feet High & Rising (they sound as if they are having as much fun as them three, too) AND as gloriously addled as Tom Waits at his most wilfully whiskeyed. And the fact that it makes no sense and is as impenetrable as Woman Of Steel* does not seem to make one jot of difference to how entertaining a tune it is. I am almost tempted to do what my DiS colleague Andrzej the Unspellable calls ‘a proper review’ (how offensive readers, what need have we of those?) - but unfortunately it turns out that the rest of the EP is not quite so thrilling. Although as I say, tis still sad that records this genre-defying almost never, hardly ever turn up in my post. Listen at Myspace, here.
*(This: a game of strength and brute force played on the narrow landing by my sister and I as bairns - wherein one of us had to try to get past the other, while they attempt to body-block you. Bear in mind you have to say ‘Wo-maaaaan. Ahhhff. Steee-eeel.’ as a wrestling announcer might. Do try it.)
Wolfmother - ‘New Moon Rising’ (Universal)
RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH. Wolfmother are ROCK. I know this because they use riffs as if they were going out of fashion and the overmakes needed to be flogged off cheap on a market stall with the labels cut out so you can’t take them back to the shop like what a skag-munching tramp would. Unfortunately the anachronistic air of someone aping Robert Plant in two thousand and nine is exceedingly smothersome, and I cannot see how this would appeal to anyone other than 12 year old boys who can’t afford to see The Zep / are too fearful to do so because they are so amazingly oldancraggy. Most pointless record of the week - and that’s a fact I don’t need the internet for.
SWAY - ‘Mercedes-Benz’ (Dcypha Productions)
I did not think rappers named their songs after big shiny cars any more, not least because we are in a recession and the whole thing rather whiffs of inappropriateness and vulgarity. I was wrong - and despite a press release that tells me how this single is OFFICIALLY the HOTTEST RECORD IN THE WORLD (does anyone else find the word ‘hottest’ indubitably moronic, and feel we should have binned it fifteen years ago?) – it appears I am rather fond of old Sway, he seems like a nice sort. I also feel anyone who includes lyrical references to Laurel and Hardy can overcome a sample as obvious as this. Charming rude girls on the chorus, ‘Mercedes-Benz’ does a cheeky wink at you about every 10 seconds and poi-ssonally I couldn’t help but grin back.
I Concur - ‘Sobotka’ (Club AC30)
I am wondering if this is named after Frank Sobotka, what was in The Wire. But as my flimsy dongle does not allow for the requisite checking, let us assume it is. And that what we have here is an indie stomper about big burly men who work on the docks and are as peasy to bribe as a Columbian planning official. Of course, strictly speaking I should listen to the darned thing to figure this out. But ohwhoops, my iTunes has gone all funny. Sorry everyone.
Editors – ‘Papillon’ (Columbia)
I have mentioned this before, but I cannot so much as shufti the word ‘editors’ without hearing it pronounced ID-IT-AZ, à la Zane Lowe’s hid-yuss televisual voiceover. Can’t stand the band myself – all their doomery seems rather too forced (another pointless aside here; wouldn’t it be larks if Editors INREALLIFE are as happy-go-lucky as that embodiment of guilelessness; Dappy Stace off X Factor. This would amuse me everso). Anyway, here they are again (backbackBACK etc), do have a listen.
The Twang - ‘Encouraging Sign’ (B-Unique)
It’s a shame the Twangers chose to sign up with a label whose name suits them so very ill. And for a record so determined to win you over with its sheer amiability, it’s a shame it makes me want to drop kick a dog just for the hoot of it. (I should not do this readers, I quite like dogs, though as you might have guessed what with all the kooky witterings, I am more of a cat person. What I am saying is, I know it is wrong.) I’m afraid ‘Encouraging Sign’ is all very ohdear, invoking the deliberate pronunciation of Kate Nash’s Indie Years.
Johnny Foreigner - ‘Criminals’ (Best Before)
The Kiara Elles - ‘Odio EP’ (Vandal)
Slow Club - ‘Trophy Room’ (Moshi Moshi)
White Belt Yellow Tag - ‘Remains EP’ (Distiller)
Frankmusik - ‘Three Little Words (remixes)’ (Island)
Listen at MySpace here.They're dead, dead good.
Wendy is on Twitter here. Do come and say eh-oh.