This Week's Singles: 23/11/09
Two of this week’s best singles are available for free on the internet. Don’t never say I don’t do nothing for you.
Single of the Week!
North Atlantic Oscillation - ‘Call Signs EP’ (KScope)
‘It’s amazing what they can do’ say North Atlantic Oscillation on ‘Cell Count’ – and despite the wow-man-ery of this lyric / its massive plainness, it marks my favourite chorus of the week. Occuring over some ‘Rock’ that is ‘Space’ but is not ‘Space Rock’ (thank the Lord etc. Or at least, if they are Space Rock please do not be telling me because I already have it nestled in my head that all Space Rock is wrong – possibly even immoral – and it amuses me to keep on thinking this). And so, with a lead song prettier than a 1940s polka-dot tea dress (but nothing like so uptight), I find myself conjuring the word ‘gleamy’ – which means that this is both twinkly and dreamy at the very same time. A slightly cursory swizz at the rest of this EP leads me to tell you that they really are quite alarmingly good, with ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ winning me over like a sumptuous romantic bastard proferring Eurostar tickets in one hand, a winning Euromillions ticket in the other and a magic lamp with unlimited wishes under his arm. Which is all quite ‘ooo’ when you think about it. More here, or for a free download of ‘Cell Count’ go to the NME blog, which is here.
Nice Nice - ‘One Hit’ (Warp)
Here are new Warp signings Nice Nice, and do pay attention at the back because we have a new band name meme. Apparently indie is no longer all about bands who call themselves The [Somethinks] - that is both old and hat. Now one simply needs to repeat a single, innocuous word. And to be fair, I quite like ‘Nice Nice’ - it is a warm and mitten-y sort of name. But to be unfair to them, it is also wholly unrepresentative, because they make an almighty racket. The sort of entirely pointless racket that – to invoke a Palinism - makes me very giddy happy.
On ‘One Hit' they are singing about how ‘this world is too intense’ and do you know, I have to agree - especially when I am trying to wake up and drink a coffee and there is a missing person on the milk bottle [WHY IS IT ONLY ICELAND WHO DO THIS] and before I know it, the day is horribly, nastily poignant and I am looking at a missing person smiling from the photograph knowing that he very probably isn’t smiling now. Saying all that - the single image this record conjured was kind of not intense, and was rather more domestic. Because I was sitting in the garage [this sounds like the sort of shed-based, brandy habit old chaps have - but I assure you I had good reason to be in there] and I was looking at all the boxes of My Stuff and I thought, ‘This record sounds like what would happen if a band came into this garage and set about bashing all those boxes with their instruments. It is a bashy record, a determined and rather minxy sort of mess.’ To help, I have taken a picture:
This represents the scene just before the chaos begins, before Nice Nice start delving their fingers into all that cardboard crap and start chucking each of my prized items over their shoulder as if they were so many lucky spiders. Then they take their choppy guitars, shouty vocals and throw them amongst the detritus and do that twisty thing you have to do when you are putting out a cigarette. And like Spielberg’s Gremlins they will be giggling maniacally, while I stand there like an even more ineffectual Phoebe Cates saying ‘Now look here, that is not very Nice Nice, is it?’. But Nice Nice won’t stop and I sort of won’t care. Because when messes are this delicious, it is alright. This one is also free - right here.
Special Benny - ‘Airfilter’ (Proper Songs)
Continuing this gratifyingly un-depth look at band names, we have ‘Special Benny’, which immediately recalls un-PC 1970s playground insults of the sort I remember being flung about the concrete when I was little. And I can hear Lawrence Littlefield - who ruined my first week at primary school and who I have still not forgiven* - saying something like, ‘Flippineck you special BENNY’ at me - mainly because ‘special’ was one of the best and most effective words we mini people used if we wanted to upset one another. (Younger readers may need to cast a sideways glance at this Wikipedia page to see what I am on about). As for the song, it is a curious thing indeed. Because it begins all Adem-y, folk-strum-sparkle, and then goes all naïve, soft-vocalled prettiness, and then THERE IS A FUNKY BRASS EXCURSION. In folk-strum-sparkle circles, funky fresh brass hardly ever happens – never mind a sax solo at about the 3:20 mark – which gains full marks for its very surprisingness but then has at least two taken away. Because whenever my brain hears so much as the word ‘sax’ it thinks two things. One: Kenny so-called G, and two: songs what are called things like ‘Sax Me Up’. I knew if I Googled ‘sax me up’ there would be a song called it, and not-so-lo and behold, there it wor. Warning: it’s terrible, and ‘Airfilter’ isn’t.
Private - ‘My Secret Lover’ (Relentless)
This week’s entirely spurious dance entry is Private - which is a good name for some cats who employ vocals which sound a bit Scritti Politti and a bit 'Beat It' - though obviously less good than that, because that would probably break the axis of the world with its sheer amazingness. It all goes a bit Alvin & the Chipmunks towards the end, and has a telephonic breakdown in which a sexy lady talks about things like ‘acting like a man’ (FYI this is a concept only ever to be found on wibble-funk or disco records, c.f. 'taking it like a man' etc). In the end it is a sort of pop whine, but quite a nice one.
Tricky Meets South Rakkas Crew - ‘C’mon Baby’ (Domino)
It does amuse me everso that noisy, larksome nonsense like this gets sent my way - not least because while I sampled the delights of ‘C’mon Baby’ I was wrapping some darling little Poole Twintone espresso cups in newspaper and wondering how much more the local charity shops will gift me in the way of cheap-but-bijou pottery. Rakkas ‘Crew’ shout it up something silly and in a way this is top larks - all Hooray Tricky You Have Done ‘It’ Again - but mostly I think I think this because it it is a single that has been dipped in 400% strength vocoder solution and that sort of thing tends to be lively. I just don’t know how many times I will play it. More here.
Flo Rida feat. Akon - ‘Available’ (Atlantic)
While it is not strictly necessary for me to point out that I do not read Guardian personal ads from the comfort of an Islington Georgian townhouse - while Jasper and Jocasta run amok attired in Boden at my feet and some peasant soup from Planet Organic simmers politely - and is lazily stirred on the Aga - by my City-jobbyist husband, I shall. Because this is how I have reconciled myself morally to this particular pasttime. [Apropos of nothing my favourite ever ad was by a classical-appreciating love-lorner who titled his Shopping List ‘Baroque My World’ - and I sort of would have liked to baroque it had I any more than a glancing knowledge of Pergolesi.] ANYWAY, upon listening to ‘Available’ I thought about how nice it must be being Flo or Akon, and being able to use a pop single in lieu of a 25-word summation of your Best Bits. I mean, none of that nonsense whereby one lists one’s interests (country walks, red wine, independent cinema, Sunday lunches, Radio 4 – I mean, * LOOK * WHY DON’T YOU JUST ALL GO OUT WITH EACH OTHER AND HAVE A MASSIVE GREAT GUARDIAN FUCKATHON BECAUSE YOU ALL LIKE THE SAME BORING THINGS AND THAT BASICALLY MEANS WE’RE ALL THE SAME AND THAT IN TURN MEANS THE ENTIRE EXERCISE IS * POINTLESS * - AND DATING IS POINTLESS IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT FOR MORE THAN TWO MINUTES - THE WHOLE THING IS JUST SO MASSIVELY, REDUNDANTLY RANDOM FOR WORDS ALTHOUGH PERHAPS I WILL ALLOW YOU TO SEE HOW THIS SORT OF DOGSHIT THEORY IS PROBABLY - AND IN A VERY REAL WAY - WHY MY OWN ROMANTIC LIFE IS ONE-PERFECT-PARADISE-TURNED-TO-SHIT AFTER ANOTHER). Sorry everyone, but quite honestly sometimes one really does despair and after all, is it really wise, is it really so sensible to appoint someone with the predilections that Akon appears to have, as one’s ‘wingman’ (which is a hateful concept, by the way)? Also, that’s not how you spell ‘flow’.
Rose Elinor Dougall - ‘Fallen Over’ (Scarlett Music)
I am glad to see Rose back in my pile again - she makes the sort of unbending, unswayed indiepop that we Britishers are so very good at - and this sails along in the most delightful way without rocking anyone’s genre boats or noise yachts. But since everyone in indie has spent the last three years banging on about their vintage Korg collections (and honestly, who really, truly gives a shit) I find this quite refreshing. The lyrics are particularly winning, concerning as they do accidentally sort of falling in love without quite meaning to. So when she sings ‘I tripped over your tongue / And you tripped over my heart / It was the best time I’ve ever fallen over / All the bruises and scratches that I didn’t get’ I think, ‘Yes, this is the problem with having a pash on someone - it is always so curiously ill-timed and allatonce and beforeyouknowit you are entirely useless, a human being only good for giggling / biting your lip / being such a tiresomely massive div that the only person able to stand the sight of you is the one you are pashing on. Which makes a funny sort of sense if you think about it - although it is a bit irresponsible and blameless, all ‘Whoops I fell into your bed and now we are sexing it up, how did that happen?’ etc. ANYWAYTIMESAMILLION this is an uncommonly lovely single - even though that particular word has been worn right out like a stubby pencil. Listen here.
Piney Gir - ‘Say You’re Sorry’ (Hotel Records)
‘Say You’re Sorry’ is about a fling which has developed beyond its flitty parameters. By which I mean - those times when someone has gone from having the odd snog at a work ‘do’ to booking hotels under clever aliases / saying things like ‘What are we going to DO?’ - and dangling the idea that they might split up with their partner as if a situation like an affair needs ramping up and requires more bloody dramarama than it is already born with. But! It also has the second dose of (hugely welcome) marimbas in as many weeks, so everything is alright. I managed to mishear the lyrics, thinking ‘I don’t want to wait around for you’ was in fact ‘I don’t want to twit around for you’. And I have to say, I prefer the mishear - it invokes the idea that you might dick around on Twitter wildly flirting with undesirables until your cheating partner noticed, or perhaps just the very literal and quite appealing ‘twit around’ – which could sum up those times when you skip from one pointless, procrastinatory task to another while you wait for your beau to get home from 'working late'. That being quite enough idle extrapolation, I will tell you how ‘Say You’re Sorry’ - which lazy sorts will file under ‘pretty’ and ‘twee’ (because it is catchy, doyousee) - but we will just class as ‘confident’, is a charming, unassuming, much-harder-than-it-looks pop tune with a naïve (trans: rubbish) video and you must not overlook it after one solitary swizz because you Think You Know What It Is. You do understand, I say all this as one who ABSOLUTELY NEVER jumps to conclusions about records based on a first listen. Never!
Dead Kids – ‘German Heart’ (Sparrow’s Tear)
Although ‘German Heart’ sounds exactly like the sort of thing Judd Nelson would punch the air to while walking away across a football field, I find myself liking it. And wondering if it is called ‘German Heart’ in a fit of xenophobic pique. Which I almost and sort of identify with, having had a terrible experience with a German exchange student when I was fourteen. I am trying not to tell you how I was stuck at a dining table eating brown brot and sausage for breakfast for three frigging weeks with two 150-year old grown ups who did not speak a teeny, tiny, solitary syllable of English because my new German friend had decided to go on a SPORTS HOLIDAY when she was meant to be MAKING ME WELCOME AT HER HOUSE. And I don’t want to tell you how I cried when she told me she was sodding off - how I did my best mid-teen attempt at swearing [I am ohsomuch better at this now] and she just said ‘VY ARE YOU CRY-ING, VENDY’ and I wanted to go right bloody home there and then but I couldn’t. So let’s just say I identify with Dead Kids - even if they do not jump to conclusions like what I do, and even if they do mean their song title entirely harmlessly. Rather good, with an inexcusable talky bit.
The Girls At Dawn - ‘The Girls At Dawn EP’ (Captured Tracks)
Hugely messy and hugely endearing, I found this too late in the day to do it justice. But if you too are fond of sloppily recorded drone rock - that sounds like the Supremes might, if they had swapped Ms. Ross for a lady amalgam of Dot Wiggin and her out of Bikini Kill, it will be an unalloyed, delirious joy. MySpace here. And um, I think I might love them.
Also Out This Week!
Lunar Youth – ‘Misfits’ (Young And Lost Club)
Two Door Cinema Club - ‘I Can Talk’ (Kitsuné)
*We will have to save this for 'another time'. But basically he was a RIGHT LITTLE SHIT.
Go and tell Wendy to stop banging on about herself and to start reviewing things properly with reference to genre, The Canon and real, actual grammar on Twitter, here. She makes it all up, you know.