Single of the Week!
Villagers - ‘Becoming A Jackal’ (Domino)
Does listening to heaps of music turn you into (more of) a wet? I only ask because when I was making post-Sunday lunch coffee for the Robys (and I was only bloody doing it so I could hear what ‘Becoming A Jackal' would sound like on my parents’ kitchen stereo**), I found myself quite overcome. AGAIN. Obviously there were some mitigating circks I shall attempt to outline here, the first being that I am a massive enormong for Simon & Garfunkel. [And yes, I do like the Dog-based ones on Wednesday Morning 3am, what are you going to do about it.] The second is that over the course of the last 62 columns, I have listened to A LOT OF EMOTING, and I am not sure it is healthy. Of course, we have talked about this before; we indies are over-sensitive in the worst and best possible ways. But could it be that listening to This Much Indie has made me so highly attuned to the emotion you humans call emotion, I now boo-hoo more often than Bon Iver in his tedious shack? I mean, at the risk of posing questions like a cack-minded SATC character, it’s a birrova problem if it has; it goes against all the toughen-the-fack-ap I have been trying my darnedest to do. Whatever, ‘Becoming A Jackal’ sounds like any and all of ‘The Boxer’, ‘Hearts And Bones’, ‘Anji’, ‘I Am A Rock’, ‘Kathy’s Song’, ‘America’ – maybe even bloody ‘Bright Eyes’ – and it is no less charming for same. Now, do you want another question? I mean, apart from that one? And this one? I will ask one then. Here, you know who else Villagers sounds like? Del Amitri. And yet strangely, it does not matter, because though 'Becoming A Jackal' is some cinematically serious, triple-strength yearn, I (fool I have become) believe him. From the endless drift of the word ‘streeeeeeet’, right down to the wonderfully hollow chiming that make up this single's stark backdrop, I think it is bliss.
** Get this for an outrage; it is better than mine.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - ‘Round & Round’ (4AD)
Nar-nar-nars in songs are never not good - just ask Bananarama. And even though I wish everyone in music sounded and looked heggzactly like them three (there is not nearly enough rufty tufty cheek in modern pop music, everything seems so drearily ungrubby) Ariel Pink is still ace. Partly because he sounds like a soft rock Stephen Malkmus (a good idea) and partly because he proffers warm - very nearly MOR - arrangements in one hand, while offbeat sensibilities are grasped tightly in the fist of the other. ‘Round and Round’ – which, it goes without saying, has the best artwork this week – nearly wins, too – especially on the oxymoronic booming softness of the chorus, where we are asked to ‘hold on’. My only gripe is that it's everso slightly let down by a scattergun approach, dipping its greedy mitts into too many different ideas, too many times; you never get comfortable.
Mariachi El Bronx - ‘Holy’ (Wichita)
Only a total jerk would illustrate a review of Mariachi El Bronx with a picture of Chevy Chase in a comedy sombrero. Which is why I will attempt to claw back the small part of my depleted cred that remains, by saying a) I meant it as a compliment (The Three Amigos IS FUNNY, YOU KNOW?) and b), I just meant to say; MEB are larksome. And their album really is the sort of thing your whole ‘cru’ will appreciate, from your Moms to your Pops to your five year old nephew. My whole family love the shit out of this album, and yet it is more mournful than you can possibly imagine; more weal than a skipful of Serious Indie. If I ever go on holiday I want them to be the hotel houseband; and as me and Jorge sink our thrimptieth tequila, I want them to be singing about the greed of the catholic church and Wronged Men, as he props me around a lantern-lit dancefloor. Mmmmn.
Seams - ‘Nightcycles’ (Tough Love Records)
'Constructed from samples from a 90’s Elliott Smith documentary,' Nightcycles really is about riding your bike at night. Quite apart from doing a quick hooray for a literal song title (they are rare these days), this is one of my favourite things to do at the moment - and only partly because you can ride on the pavement and because it is dark, none of the rozzers can see you or nick you or naffing. To heap happiness upon joy, this single actually sounds like what it is named after; it is the sort of tune that perambulates carefully at the beginning - a little unsteady - but it is also very roundandround; peaks of the wheel and down again. And it’s got darling little piano loops, and glitchy noises that might be about-to-die streetlamps if you are superimposing, like what I am. Of course, in order to be habsolutely perfect, it probably needs a 'hill', a 'gear shift', and the sense that you’re not completely sure where you’re going; things look different in the dark. And maybe even a Fluoro Safety Tabard Middle Eight, if Seams could just make that happen for me. Thing is, I think it does have nearly all those things, I have tested it on a late-night booze run and everything. It's glorious. More here.
Fool’s Gold - ‘Nadine’ (IAMSOUND)
Normally I am allergic to saxophones, because they seem to me the aural equivalent of a clown nose and also too jazz. I mean, for all the hotness of Her Out Of The Thingies, she still looked a right plonker in the videos, swaying her brass trunk all over the bloody place. But for some reason, Fool's Gold get away with theirs, and 'Nadine' is a swampy swayer with a delightfully low-slung, rumbly bassline over which the lead singer chap sings in foreign (don't expect me to read the press release, I am allergic after receiving paper cuts ON TWO SEPARATE OCCASIONS from the ones that came with Courteeners singles. This is not a coincidence.) Anyway, 'Nadine' is pretty great, managing to overcome the fact that one of the 'lyrics' is the word 'Llama' repeated - at length - for no discernible reason. No mean feat.
The Inspector Cluzo - ‘The French Bastards’ (Sony)
Rightso, it’s basically 'Sweet Home Alabama'. But French. And wacky. [I warned you about this]. And because they are French, they are allowed to call themselves bastards, even use a capital. 'The French Bastards' might even be a bit rock rap - which is obviously utterly abominational, 'rock rap' being one of the worst slaps in the face to Music that it has ever suffered, and it didn't even touch her, right. Anyway, it’s essentially quite shit, but sort of notionally amusing for one listen. FYI (and consider this a warning too) The Inspector Cluzo also have a song called ‘Fuck Michael Jackson’. So there is More Where That Came From. But they have NO songs about Peter Ustinov. WHICH IS RUBBISH. More here.
Mother Mother - ‘Hay Loft’ (Last Gang)
Even though irony has ruined everything from newspaper features to human interaction, everyone – or at least, every girl - should have a song they can dance to on the sly; one they can mouth along to while a half-smile plays across their lips. And well do I remember all of mine: NiN’s 'Closer' (17; Manchester; no one else on the dancefloor; how delicious then, and how embarrassing now), The Waitresses' 'I Know What Boys Like' (quite literally found in a bargain bin on a cassette, I had 'never known the like') and even Marilyn Monroe doing ‘You'd Be Surprised’ with its peculiar, not very under undertones. By which I mean, songs you can sing that make you feel In Charge, songs you Pretend You Are for three minutes. All of which is a roundabout way of saying that I think - for good or ill - ‘Hay Loft’ will be That Song to some girls. And I can see them shuffling about with long hair and scuffed jeans, mouthing ‘You’d better run, my Daddy's got a gun' and almost meaning it; letting it roll about their mouth and wishing they were kickass. Basiscally, lyrics you can try on for size are always a good thing; even if the songs themselves are entirely divvy. Like this one.
K-OS feat. Saukrates & Nelly Furtado - ‘I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman’ (Last Gang Records)
K-OS' Kheaven Brereton wasn't allowed out of the house until he was 21, and spent all his formatives watching American teen dramas. He thought they were documentaries and it was very frustrating and awfuls, because he wanted to rescue Summer from all her scrapes'n'japes. And even if only half of that sentence is hactually true, there needs to be some explanation for why he chose the theme tune to The OC and made it the basis of his hip hop ditty. I mean, even if you have a really good single title (do not we all wish we knew Ms. Portman, readers); and even if the sentiments expressed by the line 'I can’t really make you love me' are all very WEHEARYOU; and even if ‘I’ve been on the run, my shadow weighs a tonne’ is nearly-but-not-quite approaching Great Line status; by the end of the summer I guarantee you will want Mr. Brereton's blood for your table. THIS SONG, AND CONSIDER THIS THE FINAL SHOUTY CAPPED WARNING OF THE WEEK, IS GOING TO BE ALL OVER YOUR RADIO LIKE FLIES ON ISH. This is why I spent most of my time enjoying the 'drama' of Ambridge.
Frankie & The Heartstrings - ‘Tender’ (PopSexLtd)
Crappy lyrics, delightful delivery, irresistible, plucky guitars. I mean, it’s making a pretty big plea for your attention, it doesn’t half want you, it is sidling up to you and winking and nudging your elbow. Will you go with them, or shall you hop back on the night bus with your paligans?
Be Like Pablo - ‘The Post-it Song’ (Tuff Wax Records)
Scottish indie pop of the most traditional and twee sort. Neither of which are an insult; ‘The Post-it Song’ is charming.
The Fall - ‘Bury! Pts. 2 & 4’ (Domino)
Mark E Smith once sat next to me at a bar in Manchester. He asked me to get out of the way when he wanted to go for a wazz. And very polite he was too. LOVEHIM.
Akala - ‘XXL’ (Illa State Records)
Being a grade-A sucker for a siren, the fact that Akala uses precisely the sort PE used, gets me onside vay quickly. Not bad.
Fyfe Dangerfield - 'Faster Than The Setting Sun' (Geffen)
A very beau seven from a very beau chap. I once bellowed in his face about the majesty of Animal Collective, and he didn't even tell me to do one.
Tula - ‘No Name’ (Static Caravan)
Delightful limited seven from the label with one of the best names and logos EVAH. It sounds lush, anawl.
Also out this Week!
The Big Pink - ‘Tonight’ (4AD)
Beautifully packaged seven that came wrapped in A SPECIAL SQUARE RUBBER BAND. Sadly I am not a fan, but if you would like it, I will post it to you. Bagsy it in the comments.
Ten Bears - ‘Braces’ (East City Records)
Absurdly poppy fuzz pop. Got the tiniest bit of soft spot for it. Lyrics could do with a bloody good scrub, tho.
Yacht - ‘The Afterlife’ (DFA/Co-operative)
This has a cracking chorus which sounds a little bit like 'The Israelites'. Yes it does.
Sinden & SBTRKT - ‘Midnight Marauder’ (Grizzly)
Takes an age – or sixty-three of your precious seconds – to get going. But it’s got some nice womming, morphous bass on it when it does.
Roll Deep feat. Jodie Connor - ‘Good Times’ (Relentless)
Oh Lore, seven mixes, all of them dread. ‘Let’s go late night shopping, champagne boppin’ is what Roll Deep are actually singing.
The Brute Chorus - ‘Could This Be love’ (TAPE Recordings)
It sounds a bit Razorlight. Except a lot less annoying than that, obviously.
Savoir Adore - ‘Bodies’ (Cantora Records)
Rather propulsive electro-pop which includes a polite nod to Afrobeat. It is, after all, The Law these days.
Marina And The Diamonds - ‘I'm Not A Robot’ (679 / Atlantic)
The other day I thought I might have had a breakthrough with Our Marina. But as quick as it came upon one, it buggered off again. You shouldn’t have to try, should you?
Angus & Julia Stone - ‘Big Jet Plane’ EP (Flock Music)
Young British Artists - ‘Lived in Skin’ / ‘Million Miles’ (Red Deer Club Recordings)
Prettiest press release in this week’s postbag. I spect this is no consolation, now the YBA’s find themselves all the way down here.
Wendy is on Twitter, here She is very disappointed no one thought to start a conversation with her about Billy Collins, even though apropos of nowt, she wanged him into this column two weeks ago. SCREW YOU [NON-POETRY-APPRECIATING] GUYS.