This Week's Singles: 17/05/10
This week's dispatch is late because poor old Wend has been Unwell. And though it is not 'unwell' in the Jeffrey Bernard sense, we are going to talk about drunkeness. Also stalking, wisdom, Aladdin lamps and Zoetropes. Yay!
Single of the Week!
LCD Soundsystem ‘Drunk Girls’ (DFA)
The helicopter noise at the beginning of ‘Drunk Girls’ is a pretty good musical approximation of that point in your evening when a group of girls - a whole whirlwind of lash - bursts through the door of your drinking establishment with red in their eyes. And though ‘Drunk Girls’ is not just about the squiffiness of the womens, they do get the best lines. ‘Drunk girls know that love is an astronaut,’ sings James, ‘it comes back, but it’s never the same.’ You see, it was this line that won me over. It seems to indicate that James is well aware how, though we girls look ferocious, unstoppable; and though at times we're almost willful in our determination to stick anything (and anyone) into our joy tunnels, that doesn’t mean we don’t know it's foolish. I mean, we’re foolish as You Lot, obviously. And there have been times when we've all looked out over the dancefloor, and realised how it really was all the P's - perverse, pointless, predatory - but you can't stop a thing from happening, time, booze and irrational behaviour really will march on. That's what I took from it, anyway.
All that said, I do have an irk. And it’s probably just (another) dreary overthink, but it’s an irk just the same. Because it seems as if James Murphy’s middle name is ‘Who Can Do No Wrong’ – as if it is Law that every emanation from his keyboards must be greeted with cries of 'Clever!' or 'Craft!'; we worship his Knowing. Which is quite strange when his songs are so determinedly arch and brash and throwaway. At these times of dark deliberation, I like to do that switcheroo thing where you imagine what sort of reception a record might garner, had someone else sung it. So there I were, imagining ‘Drunk Girls’ as sung by Madonna - even though she was always rubbish on her talky bits, an abysmal rapper - and this was when I realised it would be shit. So there you go.
Oh No Ono - ‘Internet Warrior’ EP (The Leaf Label)
I was listening to Eggs this week, and I was struck by how shrill it was, but not shrill in a Passion Pit, oh do shut up, sort of way. And of course, it is psychedelic and quite demented, but essentially very joyful. I mean, at one point it even has epic, Flash Gordon-style chord-change histrionics going on, and yet it still manages to be brilliant. ‘Internet Warrior’ EP however, is all about the swizzy remixes, whereupon quite a lot of Oh No Ono’s psych is stripped away, for to be replaced with bangingness. The highlight (and I should point out, there are many) is Caribou’s take on ‘Eleanor Speaks’, whereupon they do away with the original’s stately pace and instead slather on that bass noise that sounds like the pods in Alien; womm-womm they go, all threat and throb. Also: some heavenly, heavenly harpsichord, before it all goes quite DOOMDOOMLOCKTHEFRONTDOORTHEY’RECOMING, or OMGMYINTERNALORGANSARE ABOUTTOBURSTMYRIBCAGE, ISTHISMEANTTOHAPPEN ORAMIJUSTCOMINGUUUUUUUUUUUUUP. Depending on your point of view / state of naughty, of course. More here.
Philadelphia Grand Jury - ‘The Good News’ (Too Pure)
It took me a few listens to realise just how stalky ‘The Good News’ is, because at first it just sounds like a big, summery, amiable doofus of a pop song. And amiable doofuses are fine, though it's worth remembering they can also be a bit Lennie; squeezing things too tight. On looking closer, it turns out 'The Good News' contains lines about lurking which are right on the precipice between charming and overkill. So when they sing about stealing a tin of red paint and daubing a ten foot heart, you'll either think it's the loveliest thing ever or find yourself coming over all restraining order. It seems to me that the main difference between adoration and putting the willies up a person lies principally in whether your adoration is reciprocated. And the clever thing about this pop song is that you can't quite tell if PGJ have permission. What I'm saying, is that this is darker than it sounds. More here.
Aloe Blacc 'I Need A Dollar' (Stones Throw)
To sing something as achy, as careworn, as tattered and despondent as ‘I Need A Dollar’, you have to sound wise. And it’s got to sound like hard-won wisdom – we need to feel as if you've seen the breaks, and really believe you know it’s just one, stained compromise after another. So out of nowhere here it is, the brass lamp, any voice in the whole world is yours, if you’ll only ask and rub - and you’d be a fool not to ask for a good one, as Mr. Blacc has done. But the odd thing is, it’s almost jarring when someone has been lamped with a voice this beautiful and heartbreakingly warm. It makes you realise that those voices we’ve been told are good - the ones that ‘nail it’, or do loud things, or rangey things, or makes songs their own - they’re nothing like this; nothing at all. Because Aloe has the sort of voice that really does sound like the very distillation of Common Man. And – even better - he also happens to look preternaturally IMMENSE in a white tux and red bow tie, it is such a good look. I mean, he sounds like Bill Withers circa ‘Harlem’, as good as that. ‘I Need A Dollar’ also made me have a very strange hypothetical mindwang along the lines of ‘What would happen if every tramp or homeless man and woman in every single, piss-stained doorway could sing like Aloe Blacc? Would we listen?’ Which is probably quite pointless as mindwangs go. If not actually rather ‘Think Twice’ - for which I apolly, most profusely.
Chilly Gonzales - ‘Never Stop’ (Phantasy Sound)
A mesmerically crispy bit of wonderful, ‘Never Stop’ starts with a finger click, before adding a couple of looped piano bars and a snare. And that’s just about it, apart from the addition of two words, which are - no, guess what – ‘never’ and ‘stop’. The wonderful comes from the fact that - having started with such paltry elements – Mr. Gonzales then proceeds to build a dance around them, and he is spinning his strands like plates or a Zoetrope, which is good because a) it makes you nod, in a non-dread way and b) because it makes you pleasurably dizzy. Now, as anyone in possession of a delay pedal and a skipful of charm already knows, this is the bit where I intend to make a clichéd point about People Who Take Small Ideas, Stick With Them, Don't Add Extras And Make Something Perfect, and it is a bit like putting melody into relief, or amping up the contrast, so you can see each element very clearly. ‘Never Stop’ is a charming bit of execution, from someone in masterful control of his talents. I think it's yummy. More here
The Hundred In The Hands - ‘Tom Tom’ from ‘This Desert’ EP (Warp)
Just because it is possible to work out what Her Out Of The Hundred In The Hands sounds like (60s beat girls, Her Out Of Broadcast, women in Parisian cafes smoking pink Sobranis, cashmere, etcetera) doesn't mean it isn't marve. Or easy to pull off. 'Tom Tom' is the special moment on 'This Desert' EP when a balance is made between THITH's beats, jerk and pretty, and it's basically delightful. MySpace here though at the time of writing THEY HAVE NOT BOTHERED TO STICK THE BLOODY SONGS UP. I mean, all that internet, and nowhere to bloody hear the bloody record. They don’t make it easy for we, do they?
Darke And Taylor - ‘Tanktop (No Sleeves)’ (Oh Crap! Roadblock)
This is a song about a girl in a tank top (with no sleeves, although surely this is the very definition of a tanktop, so um, what are they talking about) and it is very daft. But also charming, with a Tim Key-like talky bit in which we are told how ‘her arms were cold, but her torso, was so warm.’ More here
Tunng - ‘Sashimi’ (Static Caravan)
Tunng make me do that proud, OMG EVEN IF BRITAIN IS BWOKEN, IT STILL DOES THE BEST MOOZIK EVAH thing. Which is vaguely silly, but in my defence Tunng are so frickin reliable, they are never not good. The inexplicably titled 'Sashimi' has an extremely brills middle eight in which Spanish guitars - possibly even balalaikas - are used, before some lazer-guided, dizzying synths tumble about like shooting stars.
Tweak Bird - ‘A Sun (Ahh Ahh)’ (Souterrain Transmissions)
Two minutes of absurdly heavy riffs are followed by a spooky jazz section. And it is a very good - if rather chilly - listen, even if this description makes it sound rather GET OUT OF TOWN. And by 'town', I do of course mean 'jazz'.
Wild Palms - ‘Deep Dive’ (One Little Indian)
I know this is ace because I listened to it earlier in the week; even if I can no longer remember what was ace about it. Unfortunately I now find myself in a place where the internet is so slow, it took me THREE HOURS to download one episode of The Archers. It was worth it though, because I found out Brenda is going to make Tom Archer a proposition vis à vis his sausage business. Important.
Also out this Week!
Band of Skulls - ‘Death By Diamonds & Pearls’ (You Are Here Records)
Atari Teenage Riot - ‘Activate’ (Digital Hardcore)
Bodi Bill - ‘I Like Holden Caulfield’ (Sinnbus)
Scream Club - ‘Break You Nice’ (Crunks Not Dead / Rock Machine)
White Rabbits - ‘They Done Wrong / We Done Wrong’ (Mute)
Apples - ‘Theo’ (Popular Recordings)
Teenagers In Tokyo - ‘End It Tonight’ (Back Yard Recordings)
Wendy is on Twitter here. Sometimes. She fell out of love with the internet about two weeks ago and though it keeps calling and throwing stones at her window, she is still a bit 'Write me an epic poem or do one, Sunshine.'