You shall be glad to hear there is no unnecessary preamblage from me today. We are just going to dive in like greedy sorts.
Single of the Week!
Get Shakes - ‘Love Hate’ / ‘She Found The Diamonds’ (Shake Recordings)
Let me begin by being irksome and not talking about Get Shakes, even though they have earned the top spot and deserve to be talked about. Because (as we have chanced to remark before) life, love, music - none of it is fair, no one ever said it was, it is merely our duty to go about making the best fist possible, without upsetting our fellow mens. Lecture dispatched, we turn to !!! - a band about whom I could quite honestly bore you rigid, representing as they do a very odd mix of the completely daggy and staggeringly cool (a dread word granted, but I have no alternative). I’ve never seen a band work a room like they, I’ve never seen a front man whose dancing was such utter woe, and yet who was – absolutely in parallel - so magnet-like. They are a mess. And yet, something happens when they play live or make a record, and it’s a delicious mixture of punk’s flicked Vs and disco’s abandon; straps falling sexily down and being left there. (I. LOVE. THEM.) I say all this so that when I tell you Get Shakes put me in mind of !!!, you will know what high praise I mean it to be. Granted – these Shakes are a shinier, poppier proposition. But they come from a similar place - tipped on the precipice about to overdo the attitude, pouting at you like a trollop. Proper blippy disco music then, that swaggers and grins.
The Afternoons - ‘I Want It Anyway’ (Saturday)
This sort of very British, jangle classicism never really goes away and I’m rather glad. Even if it doesn’t seem to do terribly well. Even if bands like Hal disappear after making an album so perfect, lush and heartfelt only the most deliberately unromantic sorts could fail to be converted, still I am won over by anyone who makes music this unashamedly glowing, one might almost warm one’s hands on it. This is a cup of Horlicks pop tune, hitting its rock marks like a seasoned RSC cove who still calls everyone darling, but isn’t bitter about the younglings hogging the best parts.
Kerogen - ‘Witness’ (Lewis Recordings)
At this point in my playlist I took off my headphones and finding them wanting, shot them a long, withering look. The trouble - as I find to my wallet’s horror - is that they only ever last six months. So like the gadget stinge I am, I buy mid-priced rubbish that is horribly inadequate when some dreamy sort finally sends me a dubstep record with PROPER BASS ON IT. And despite the fact that ‘Witness’ is very like the sort of Orb-ish chill-out record I could be found listening to as a nipper (when by rights I should have been tucked up in bed) – all unchallengingly pretty pianos and watery bubbles popping – it is saved by dubstep’s requisite ingredient, darkness. And as this doom zooms in and out of the middle distance, suddenly ‘Witness’ is a balanced record; proffering The Bleakness in one hand and Wispy Calm in another. Which is to say, I really liked it. But as readers of this fair portal know, the man what really knows is DiS’ own jimitheexploder, who tells me how Darkstar's ‘Aidy's Girl is a Computer’ has ‘just dropped’ (you know, one does wish one could get away with saying ‘just dropped’ but I really do find I cannot). Jimi – whose enthusiasm for this remarkable genre is humbling - he say “Now that's a single!” And let’s face it, I know who I should be more inclined to take my dubstep recommends from. That on is here.
Bless Beats/ Janee feat. Tinchy Stryder ‘Sex In The City’ (Moshi Moshi)
I. SAID. KWY-ET. And you can all turn to page 47 of the set text, because today we’re going to be re-tooling the theme tune used in the television adaptation of Ms. Bushnell’s modern literary classic. Now then, a gold star to the first of you to put up their hand and give me a word that rhymes with ‘city’. Anyone, anyone? Oh do come on. Alright, yes - you boy – Adams. Pity - is that what you said? Good, excellent. And you there – Lukowski – do sit up straight Lukowski, you won’t get anywhere in life slouching like that - what gem of linguistic brilliance are you about to offer your classmates? Witty? Why yes, that works, a merit for you too. Anyone else. Slater? I say, is it really usual for a boy of your age to have a beard? Most impressive, and yes, serendipity, you little smartarse, very good indeed. And what of Masters Stryder & Bless? What word do they know that rhymes with city? Oh, they're not serious, surely. That’s the word they wish to employ on an actual record? TITTY? I mean, do bear in mind they’ve had what - ten years? - to think of it.
Rob The Rich - ‘Tiger’ (Modular)
This is a bloody great heap of a thing. But hold up, WAIT A MINUTE – I preface this review by the following crucial informatory nugget - which is that I quite like bloody great heaps when they sound this exuberant. And when an accordion hums in and out, while some pleasingly wavery vocals soar over the top. And then some choppy drums herald the arrival of a proper Big Indie chorus (which in fairness I’m less sure about, because it’s a bit too blaring, a bit too whoopstheregoesmysongstructure). The thing is – and this is a good thing, I think – you can hear how spent Rob The Rich must be when they finish playing this song, you can smell how sweaty their hair; can see their clothes clinging to them. Overall - a whole lot of enthusiasm has been bodyslammed into this single, which despite not being perfect, I find I admire. Buy it here.
Grammatics - ‘Double Negative’ (Dance To Radio)
Are Grammatics a bit emo? I only ask because I managed to miss emo entirely – it occurring at a time in my life when I was in a sort of musical wilderness, love-latched to an extreme and constant sufferer of Tinnitus. And to be perfectly honest, getting excited about bands – a pleasure he couldn’t share – felt a bit like rubbing his nose in the smelly stuff. However many years it is later, and I still find myself rather unable to pinpoint exactly what emo means, much less how one is meant to spot it. And I get the impression it is a very bad thing; that it might possibly be filed next to Prog in the Pantheon of Wrongness. All of which is a roundabout way of explaining that if emo is what I think it is, this record has it in spades, and yet is all the better for it. But also that I must be a bit of one, and that on the strength of ‘Double Negative’ I fancy I am almost proud to be. Were the single a tiny bit reined in, I would draw those dread three letters in Big Caps on my forehead.
Housse de Racket - ‘Synthetiseur’ (50 Bones)
I doubt you remember, but last week I mentioned the marked proliferation of very very French pop music. And yes, I did just use French as a descriptive adjective and yes, I intend to do it again in a minute. [<<<<< Very possibly not my first bit of hactual tautology there! But then, at least I know what it means!] Anyway there I were, mentally trying out appropriate categories for my upcoming Singles of the Year list (‘Most Rousing’, ‘Most Blue’, ‘Best for Singing’ – tis all dreadfully scientific) when I realised we almost certainly need a pigeonhole for ‘Most French’. Again I bellow - vaguely xenophobic small-town idiotholes like me are being courted, our lowest common denominator senses of humour are being stroked like slinky cats who’ve just returned from the kitty spa. Or at least, that some God of Music somewhere is smiling down. Knowing full well that I like nothing better than putting on a pisspoor French accent and singing along to bands with pleasingly silly names, that sound like packet desserts considered the height of sophistication when I was a child. And who sing very camp disco songs about synthesisers. Or “sint-teh-teez-errs” as Housse de Racket would have it. In any event, whatever I’ve done to appease them, I must have done it A LOT. This is magnificent fun, ticking all my boxes like a robot doing a Census.
Kano - ‘Rock‘n’Roller’ (Bigger Picture Music)
I’ve done my research for this one, you shall be glad to hear. Scouring in real-life cupboards for my copy of Kano’s first long player and finally locating it, down the back of my record collection’s imaginary sofa cushions (under some ill-thought out, fluffball purchases). Anyhoo, do be grateful because then I went to the trouble of sitting for a whole afternoon, staring at his wondrously long and distracting eyelashes. The trouble is, for all young Kano’s fulsome charms (many of which, I feel compelled to assure you, are not aesthetic), ‘Rock‘n’Roller’ is a crashing disappointment. It leaves me to draw cheap comparisons with similarly named films by Guy Richie, and it's about as convincing as the ex-Mr Madonna’s cockney origins; flimsy as something with Made in Taiwan stamped on its thin plastic bottom. Kano is much, much better than this record would have you believe. But though I am sad, I promise to keep the faith. And you should too.
Meleka - ‘Go’ (Defenders Ent)
I realise this is an incongruous, UK funky house entry on our usually more raggedly-inclined chart. And it’s got them desperate, ihatechoobutiloveyou ladyvocals which personally I find nigh-on irresistible. Good job too, because I suspect you’re not going to be able to move for hearing this. Although probably not down the indie disco.
Theo Bard - ‘Listen Carefully EP’ (Tape Records)
Worthy of note not because it is a finger-picking folk record, but because it is a finger-picking folk record that confounds a few of the lyrical expectations of the genre. So instead of the usual tale of a red-right-handed man dashing out some poor poppet’s brains with a rock, we have all the dull ephemera of life as a young man in Britain Today. Not perfect - but in its favour, honest. MySpace here.
Records Deserving Of A Special Mention And Which Would Have Been Writted About Were I Able To Spend All Week On This Column! Which I Sort Of Do Already! Does Anyone Want To Lend Me A Tenner! Etc!
Smoke Fairies - ‘Sunshine’ (Music For Heroes)
Post War Years - ‘Soul Owl’ (Wealth)
Ex Libras - ‘Radar’ (Wirebird Records)
Los Campesinos! - ‘These Are Listed Buildings’ (Wichita)
Beat The Radar - ‘18, 19, 20, 21, 22’ (Akoustik Anarkhy)
And The Rest!
Grum – ‘Heartbeats’ (Heartbeats)
Lemonade - ‘Bliss Out’ (Sunday Best)
Duck Sauce - 'aNYyway' (Data Records / Ministry Of Sound)
Ladyhawke - ‘Magic’ (Modular)
Röyksopp featuring Karin Dreijer – ‘This Must Be It’ (Wall Of Sound)
The Wave Pictures - ‘Strawberry Cables’ (Moshi Moshi)
Swanton Bombs - ‘Doom’ (Young & Lost Club)
Come and say eh-oh to Wendy on Twitter here.