This week I have reinstated the Singles Bike Ride system of appreciating music and then writing about it. I don’t know why I abandoned it. What a fool.
Single of the Week!
Blue Daisy vs Tokimonsta - ‘USD’ (Black Acre)
While I am often perplexed by the music that plops onto my doormat, I usually get there in the end; a couple of listens, some drinks, some dancing, I know what I like. And though I also like what I know, there are times where you need to ask a grown up for help, and it is perilous to blunder through. So when I found Blue Daisy doing shimmery battles with TOKiMONSTA, I knew it was a sharp-scissors sort of occasion, so I done some Goggling, talked to Jimi, read some press. Which is when I discovered that ‘USD’ - an utterly gawpable blast of dense - is what They call ‘hip-hop futurism’. Also, it is ‘compressed’. Which means that they have shoved all the rumbling beats and unstoppable, vaguely oppressive glitches and prickles into a tiny space. You know, like a canned rainbow, or a neon tank squashed into a matchbox. What They mean, is that THERE IS A BLOODY LOT GOING ON ALL AT ONCE. And it might have been too sickly, were I not blessed with a sweet tooth.
In any event, if this really is musical Futurism then it's alright, I can do that. I have been to the Estorick and fainted over all the crazy Italians with they big ideas and they stark graphics and they canvases that try to convince you how fascism and war is sort of cool. And while ‘USD’ is essentially the aural equivalent of a million of those massive sequins that poncy ladymags call ‘paillettes’ sewn onto a tiny doll’s dress; while it is Too Many Colours and You’ll Make Yourself Sick, I still want to eat it, wear it, sleep in it.
You know, I can tell I love something when I write something this mental, pseudy and off-message. ‘USD’ is baffling, wonderful.
‘I Am Europe’ is something of a triumph, it is the sound of someone at the top of their game. But though I imagine it would be easy for Mr. Gonzales to rest on his laurels and make pretty piano house for the rest of his days, he is still messing about like quite the proverbial. From the warmly-looped, vocal collage (with all the breaths left in) this starts with, to the joyful piano runs, to the Countdown ticker breaks, sonically this all, assuredly works. But then you get to the lyrics, and I am afraid I have to part ways with old Chilly, albeit with a peck on each cheek; as is the Fronch way. They are deeply grotesque. But for those of you less delicate than I, here is the Europe of Gonzales’ imagining. It contains:
a ‘dogshit ashtray’
a ‘piss-powered taxi’
an ‘imperial armpit, sweating Chianti’
a ‘toilet with no seats’
a ‘painting made of hair’
some ‘gay pastry’ and, what frankly doesn’t bear thinking about,
a ‘racist cappucino’.
You see, while most of these images are all too touchable, smellable, seeable, I’m not sure I want to listen to a record that contains hair paintings, and only partly because anything to do with hair puts the willies up one. All of which makes it doubly odd that I have listened to ‘I Am Europe more than 20 times this week. It is an absolutely perplexing, completely brilliant and yet resolutely awful single, and it manages to turn my stomach and make me grin, allatonce. Some ‘blinding’ remixes, anawl.
Curly Hair - 'Pumpkin Eye' (Willkommen)
Last week I was all a-vex at Cute Indie, I wanted to kick its kittens and post its divvy diary on the internet for all to laugh at and comment under - just to teach it a lesson for being so infernally NICE. Which is why Dog saw fit to present me with Curly Hair, who are a band that make me want to take it back, all is forgiven, I owe you one. Were you to add up all the elements here (xylophone, handclaps, cute girl vocals, audible hairslides) it should essentially drive you round the twist. But ‘Pumpkin Eye’ is everso very moreish, it is charming; I want to embrace my inner knock-kneed gawkess and give it a ride in a stickered-mini. Also, even though the publicist told me they were twelve and a half - and even though he admitted this was a bald-faced lie [I LOVE PRS WHO LIE] - and even though I did not believe him, but also, at the verysametime thought ‘Jesus, if that is true, this band is nearly a THIRD MY AGE, I HATE THEM’, still I love their single.
The Chap - ‘Even Your Friend’ (LO)
Someone recently made an observation at me that I rather liked and knew at once I should steal and pervert for my own ends. They drew my attention to just how long in the tooth the Old Man Of Rock is; how he has been a-lingering, a-strumming and a-drearing on for TIME. And how, having hit his 60s, he has gone a bit greyface; he is listening to Veg Talk and cursing Vile Jude in The Archers [I think I mean myself here]. But, as I believe he is entitled to - and has earnt - a fulsome and comfy retirement; and as I would quite like to pick up a monthly music magazine without some craggy old Irrelevant on it; may I direct you to a band who prove the rule. A band who are still innovating a good half-decade after the four white men of rock stole the blues. As in, The Chap. Who - for all their downsides (the main one being, they are not exactly what one would call emotional) – are still making pop songs that do new things. Because what happens in ‘Even Your Friend’ is as twisty-turny as the best kind of thriller, one has simply no idea what is coming next. It is the unknown path that strays from the moors, there are no signposts – I mean, at one point it even goes a bit Jedward X Factor rap medley – so you know, top marks to them, no one else is doing this. Don’t get me wrong, I know this is far too grand a theory for a single this slight. But as regular readers will be well aware, sometimes I get carried away.
Sky Larkin - ‘Still Windmills’ (Wichita)
The first best thing about Sky Larkin’s new one, is how it clatters. It is all your debris-lined skips, under-bed messes and riotiously disorganized garden sheds come at once. The second best thing is when it all stops and Katie says ‘Why wait?’, as if she might be rather unimpressed with those who falter and do not Act. And though the third best thing falls into the category of general irrelevancy - and though I’m not meant to say this sort of thing – may I tell you how Sky Larkin are some of the most amusing and darling smashers in music, they are All Charm, Good People. And lastly, may I say in reference to the videothing that this is not how you do justice to an artichoke. What you want to do, right, is whop the heart and the meatier stems under a medium grill for about 8 minutes - along with some pine nuts, parma ham, parmesan and a massive slug of olive oil and a tiny, tiny bit of garlic – and then eat it with some nice sour-dough bread. Delicious, just like the Larkins.
PVT - ‘Window’ (Warp)
PVT used to be called Pivot but are now not because vowels are like totally trad and wrong and whatever. And with ‘Window’ they have very nearly ‘killed it’ and made something 100% ‘sick’; I very nearly had to stop what I was doing [trying on moccasins in Clarks] and make a note about how it had won. Because it begins in quite tremendous fashion, with a Laurie Anderson slash Radio-Gaga-Gone-Art vocal-collage and it is massive, desperately urgent. And it carries on getting more upset, you want it to calm down but it shan't, it's been holding it in for too long and now it must have its day, like Reggie Perrin at his sales conference, IT MUST BE BORNE NO LONGER. It's even got a drum solo at the end [DRUM SOLOS ARE WRONG] that I love. In the end, despite all the winning drama, it does not appear at the top of this page because it does not make me feel quite as faint as 'USD'. But there's not much in it, really.
Male Bonding - ‘Weird Feelings’ (Sub Pop)
Rumbly bass, tinny high-hats and angry grunge guitars signal the beginning of ‘Weird Feelings’ and lore, it shouldn’t be as effective as it is. But Male Bonding are getting really, really good at this. Even the GCSE music guitar solo is rather charming, and it is in-and-out in two and a quarter minutes; not outstaying its welcome and making you smile politely at each other while you wait for the minicab. All in all, a snippet of a single, but a very sharp one.
Yu(c)k - 'Weakend' (from ‘Weakend’ Cassette EP on Mirror Universe Tapes)
You don’t need me to tell you that title track ‘Weakend’ is about arriving at Friday, but suddenly realising that the world you inhabit is much more middling and Wednesday. It catalogues imperfect moments, it is sigh-inducing. And though it is a calmly paced, meditative and short little song with wavering, softened plucks, graceful bass and no drums, what it has in spades are affecting vocals, that echo crisply high, in the mix. And perhaps I project eversoverytoo much, but I think it is about that point in a relationship where you realise that the weekends are not what they oughta or used to be; you are missing some Friday fireworks. I mean, it’s more hopeful than that, it’s sad and sensitive and a little like a Ride song gone serious - as in, with all the melt and fizz stripped away. Part of me wants to take it out for a walk and tell it to leave, get out now; that it doesn’t have to be this way. But I’m not sure it’s ready to listen yet, it still thinks it can work things out.
Plants & Animals - ‘The Mama Papa’ (Secret City Records)
Plucky and dischordant, ‘The Mama Papa’ has some delightful Marquee Moonish guitar runs, though they’re obviously not nearly so grand or majestic as that. And it’s all quite angular, all quite rangy-of-bass, with some chords that waver and flicker in unexpected places. I think - though I can’t be entirely sure - it’s about getting away with things under your parents' noses, possibly while they behave badly and head for divorce. It might be that. All very likeable, anyway.
Tunng - ‘Don’t Look Down Or Back’ (Full Time Hobby)
All I’ll say is that you need to get past the 1:30 mark, because while this sounds at first like any other (brilliant) Tunng single, there are some surprising bits where they rock out.
Kisses - ‘People Can Do The Most Amazing Things’ (This Is Music)
What Kisses have done here, is to take the doom pop template, but apply it in a singular fashion to a positive subject. ‘People Can Do The Most Amazing Things’ has insistent basslines and not-joking vocals - yes, of course it do. But lyrically it is about The Intrinsic Potential of The Peoples, and that is heart-warming.
Villagers - ‘Ship Of Promises’ (Domino)
This isn’t the one where he yelps like a dog. He does sound like him out of Del Amitri on it though. [I must stop being facetious about those I admire, mustn’t I? It’s like kicking a boy in the shins, when really you think he’s dreamy.]
Also out this Week!
Ash - ‘Carnal Love’ (Atomic Heart)
I hope nobody’s pension is being used up to pay for all this. A release a month? Careful now, Ash.
Juana Molina - ‘Un Dia’ (Reboot Remix) (Domino)
The Ray Summers - ‘Heska Rashka’ (A Badge Of Friendship)
Marina & The Diamonds - ‘Oh No!’ (679 Recordings)
The Charlatans - ‘Love Is Ending’ (Cooking Vinyl)
These Furrows - ‘Without Manner’ (Underdogs/Robot Needs Home)
Dansette Junior - ‘Paranoid’ (Sony)
Zebra and Snake - ‘Nighttime’ EP
Leni Ward - ‘Opening Doors’ (The Library Recordings)
Wendy is on Twitter, here.