Even though there is nothing worse than those who indulge in stress-based or who-is-the-most-busy competitiveness, I still intend to make a vulgar bid for the throbbing-veined, red-eyed rosette today. You see, not only did I move house (and not one of those 3 taxi-loads, from one end of the borough to another affairs - I mean a Proper Move, cross-country, involving the help of VANS and BURLY MEN who seemed to think it appropriate to CAST ASPERSIONS on my sexyal REPUTATION). I also went to Paris and back, did a tax return, DJed at a five year old’s birthday party and bore the weight of the BIGGEST, most CRASHINGIEST writing deadline you ever did hear about. Oh, I has it so very very hard. And there is you, swanning about there in actual jobland in actual offices. AY ME.
Single of the Week!
Bullion - ‘Say Goodbye To What’ (One Handed Music)
Let me declare first that Mr Bullion is a favourite and best of mine – partly because when I interviewed him he told me how he tries very hard not to listen to the original when he is arxed to remix something – avoids it entirely if he can – and I thought this was a brilliant approach. And I know I have mentionitis about it, but he is still the man what did that remarkable Pet Sounds/Donuts reswizzle thingy, and I am fairly sure I played nothing so much as that last year. ANYWAY, on ‘Say Goodbye To What’ he takes an inordinately wibbly, Psych ladyvocal, couples it with a kiddie choir, slams down some lovely bass-y organ stabs and all-a-sudden, here is my pop-hop toyshop and I run in and spend all my vouchers and tug on Mummy's sleeve and want everything, right now, eyes popping. Granted, there are a lot of young men with too much time on their hands and neglected lovers who spend too much time chopping up beats'n'shit as if there was something automatically interesting about it. But there are very few who, having done so, emerge from their home studio with something completely brilliant. And Bullion is one of them, he really, really is. More here - even though six snickers for a seven, is just the tiniest bit cheeky.
Musee Mecanique - ‘Like Home’ (Souterrain Transmissions)
Sometimes it is important to explain where one was and what one was doing when one first listened to a record, because sometimes one’s circs make one more disposed to a record than one might normally find oneself to be. Which is why I am duty bound to point out that Musee Mecanique came on my stereo just as I emerged from the metro in Paris - and I had a faceful of the posters for the Serge film, and it was still playing as I stood outside the station, admiring the elegance of the typeface that spelt out Gare du Nord in stark, sharp white. It was the first time I ever went to another country on my own, and I had just met two of my favourite people in music, and I had bought some unspeakably fine wine and Pate d’Evil to take home, and lawks, was I happy. Luckily for the M&Ms, when I listened to ‘Like Home’ again this morning, sat on a cold slab in the drizzle, it was still completely wondair - all swirling accordions, tip-toeing xylophones, muffled handclaps and warm, Fronch atmospherics. So as the deliriously indulgent wording on my artisan foie gras packaging has it, this should be ‘accompagné d’une coupe de champagne, d’un vin liquoreux type Sauternes ou d’un très bon vin rouge.’ Or, you know, a well skanky bottle of rosé like the stuff you can get for three pound twenty in Tescos, I am sure that will do just as well. Lush.
Lightspeed Champion - ‘Marlene’ (Domino)
I didn’t even know I liked Lightspeed Champion, so that is at least one good thing to come out of a week that has been at times rather trying (the other is 20 new friends - even if none of them are taller than my waistband). And perhaps someone should have told me that they were a less po-face and decidedly more dancefloor-bothering version of The Dears - for I am sure I would have bothered to pay attention if they had. All my many failings aside, though ‘Marlene’ suffers (only slightly) from mannered vocals, in its favour it has an actual slamming bassline that sounds like someone beating a pub table with a rubber fist [DAMN YOU CARTWRIGHT, I ORDERED GINGER WINE, YOU BLESSED FOOL] and some strings that quiver like orchestral fern fronds in a light wind. The press spaff calls 'Marlene' things like ‘epic’ and ‘grand’ and ‘expansive’ - but I prefer to call what they are doing here ‘funky histrionics’; it has a nice ring to it. Really good. More here.
Hell feat. Bryan Ferry - ‘U Can Dance’ (Gigolo)
Bryan Ferry makes a funny feeling happen in my tummy. And that makes it doubly odd that my only response to this is to squeal – to no one in particular – about how one of the girls in the video was in one of those model competitions what they have on the telly. You see, I always assumed they were not proper models – or at least, that they were not given proper contracts. And so it would be back to Greggs for them 18 months later, shuf-shuff-shuffling pasties and floppy sausage rolls around on large metal trays; listening to Queenie banging on about her Arthur and how her rheumatism was vexing her something terrible and she would get it looked at, but GPs aren't like they once were; they never listen to you now. But apparently I am wrong again, so there you go. Although: do notice how I just said ‘floppy’ and ‘sausage’ in the same sentence.
Editors - ‘You Don’t Know Love’ (Kitchenware)
Seriously, honestly, I do not lie - and I may not know love like what Editors do, but I do know that the beginning of this single honestly sounds exactly like popular entertainer Mr. Vic Reeves doing his Pub Singer bit. Except that it has some rubbish synths flopped on it, and they are wibbling about aimlessly as if they had lost their house keys. I think my main problem with Editors is that they make Doom Rock for people who have NOT EXPERIENCED ANY DOOM WHATSOEVER - it is an exercise on trying on doom for half an hour but not being sure about how they have cut the sleeves - rather than flinging off all your clothes and diving in headfirst.
Othello Woolf - ‘Stand’ (Young & Lost Club)
He’s got some chops, has Othello. Though one cannot help wondering if his name is something of a curse. Because, of course, he is named after a board game. One I was everso completely addicted to about 20 years ago - and God, would I ever beat you at it, were we to ever play. Oh, I might spend a cursory two minutes explaining the rules (‘A Minute to Learn...A Lifetime to Master' is what it says on the box, and it would be right). But before long, me and the utterly quite dense contents of my brain would work their particular magic. And perhaps you would ask me to clarify the rules but by then we would have started playing and I would be concentrating so very, very hard. So I would not look up from the board, but instead jab vaguely in the direction of the box lid and you would say ‘This isn’t fun, Wendy, I thought you said Othello was fun. Let’s play a game, you said.’ And perhaps I might raise one brow in a circumspect sort of fashion, and make my move. 'This is a board game involving abstract strategy, played by two players on a board with 8 rows and 8 columns and a set of distinct pieces for each side,’ I would offer, ‘nobody said anything about fun. Now shut up and play.’ Anyway, forced to segue into an actual review of this record, I would say it is – JUST LIKE THE BOARD GAME OTHELLO doyousee? – one of rather pleasant contrast. Contrast between Mr. Woolf - his croony, Byrne-y delivery - and the 'lectric, picky, tickly and sparse guitars he has chosen for his backing. Any reservations I have come from the rather unpolished, let’s-have-another-draft lyrics - which seem to be about how your mind/sense of self is the only thing left to rely on when your parents die - but Othello keeps singing ‘So I’m told’ – which either means he hasn’t lost his parents (in which case, what would he know?), or that he doesn’t really mean what he is singing. But that is just me being painfully literal, and you might be right to ignore me. Remix above, with the original version here.
Munch Munch - ‘Cyclorama’ (Fear & Records)
‘Cyclorama’ is officially a good name for a single - and it is a word I intend to conjure into a physical thing of actual reality when I have unpacked my own bike and pumped up the tyres (I get told off otherwise). A Cyclorama around Norwich! And perhaps Munch Munch’s barreling, urgent, psych-pop single shall provide the soundtrack. It’s got a nice unstoppable pace, it doesn’t appear to be about cycling at all (can you imagine anything more dread than an indie pop single penned by hactual lycra-short-wearing men, readers – all D-lock this and hardtail frames that; it would surely reach top Shimano gear levels of utter boringness. And this is before one even considers the very real ridiculosity of men in cycling shorts – because they really do whiff of Peacocks [emphasis on the second syllable] and really are the sartorial equivalent of a neon sign saying ‘LOOKATMYCOCK’. I mean, ick). Anyway, this is quite good, but I’m not sure there’s enough discernible heart in it, for it to really win me over or make me give it a backy. More here
Souls of Mischief - ‘Proper Aim’ (Hiero Imperium Records)
There is no denying this is very definitely a Are-We-Back-In-1998-And-Concrete-Schoolyard-Is-Everywhere-Or-Have-I-Finally-Gone-Wrong-In-The-Head sort of hip hop record. But given how hungrily I lapped up That Sort Of Thing waybackwhen, I rather enjoyed ‘Proper Aim’. Naturally, this comes with a honking caveat - because I’m not going to play it again, because it is not the future, and we need the future; it is all we have.
Also out this week!
Faux Hoax - ‘Your Friends Will Carry You Home’ (Limited 7” on Polyvinyl)
Low-slung bass heavy and stripped spoken word thingy featuring that Dave out of Gang of Four and that Danny out of Menomena. And it is quite a pleasant excursion. More here. and here.
Get Back Guinozzi! - ‘Carpet Madness’ (FatCat)
Extremely pleasurable. Even if it is drowning in a high-grade, top-strength, rubber-gloves-are-mandatory level of kook. And it really, really is. More here.
Matthew P - ‘Swimming EP’ (Fiction)
Matthew P’s press release had me at ‘Suffolk beach hut’. And even though it is perfectly serviceable strum pop, I am a bit folk-popped-out at the moment. What is the point of it, exactly? It seems the most inward looking of approaches, with all the ‘Hey - it’s just me, my voice and my guitar [man]’ that implies. Musicians are selfish. But then, so are writers. More here.
Moonface - ‘Dreamland EP: Marimba & Shit-Drums’ (Jagjaguwar)
The XX - ‘VCR’ (Young Turks)
Check out the emoting in the video readers. It is like Girl, Interrupted, ‘cept set in a British borstal. Hey, why so angry, younglings? It might never ‘appen, you know.
Her Name is Calla - ‘Long Grass’ (Denovali Records)
Their MySpace, it say ‘We don’t take short cuts.’ And that is admirable, is it not?
Stairs To Korea - ‘All Of Your Friends’ (Brainlove Records)
Rather uplifting. And apropos of nothing, they are right funny on Twitter.
Alex Metric - ‘It Starts’ (Marine Parade)
Bloc Party’s Russell Lissack does the backing stuffs on this. Press release it say ‘brash’ – and that just about sums it right up.
Plastiscines - ‘Bitch’ (Because Records)
I got quite excited about Plastiscines about a year ago – by which I mean, I started pitching features on them to daft and glossy magazines. But this is really quite terrible – an approximation of girlpunk that seems to have been put together with a B&Q checklist. Oh wewl.
Mr. Fogg - ‘Keep Your Teeth Sharp EP’ (Kicking Ink Recordings/Bandstocks)
P.S. That lovely illustration at the top of the page is from the storyboard to Othello Woolf's new video. Isn't it just, though?
P.P.S. Wendy is on Twitter here.