This week I have gone to the caravan again to range about on empty beaches and ponder my own essential self, because I really am a bit dread. Lucky for you, all this means in terms of singles, is that I am very cosy as I write about ‘em.
A bit too cosy, if I am honest.
Hang on, I might just turn the heater down.
Single of the Week!
Tame Impala - ‘Lucidity’ (Modular)
Even though ‘Lucidity’ is Tame Impala doing their best ¾ period Beatles impression, it is still having single of the week. It is having it because it is the warmest three-minuter in this week’s selection, it is having it because it has a psych guitar solo on it that does not result in the entire song being dread [impossible, impossible!]. And it is having it because to listen to it is to be covered in fuzz, you have sat in the back of someone’s Rangey and they have dog blankets that hum with warm fur. You don’t even mind, you don’t keep shivering or trying to brush it off, it is fine to be all doggy if Tame Impala are making you that way. Mmmn, dog hair.
Niki & The Dove - ‘DJ Ease My Mind’ / ‘Under The Bridges’ (Moshi Moshi)
To the accompaniment of some rolling, thunderous drums, here is Niki drawing a white bird out of her pop hat. And she is here to tell us about that well-worn trope, the power of the dancefloor and all the drama what happens on it. The trouble is, I think it is drama in the sense of Batman Begins, when Batman did INSIST on going all Spiritual Wonk and having his skills taught to him by mystic eastern peoples, as if WE NEEDED TO KNOW A LITERAL BACKSTORY. By which I mean, sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet about the fact that sometimes one needs to earn drama; it should be used sparingly, with gaps for we to breathe. And that if, instead, a person wishes to tip out a skip of theatrics all over one record, they must not be surprised when some of us wrinkle our noses.
I also can’t help feeling that if Niki were to pen a single about making toast, it would still sound this doomy, she would still be inflecting her chops off. And it would still be the aural equivalent of a galloping unicorn with sequined horseshoes and a tight t-shirt that says 'Dennis Potter is My Homeboy' stretched over its magnificent white, horse pecs. Of course, some people like disco unicorns, so I don't think Niki need worry.
Yeasayer - ‘Madder Red’ (Mute)
Here are Yeasayer doing their sexy man-cult thing, and it has a video so darned odd, I daren’t watch it; I’ll have to sleep with the lights on. And though Yeasayer have their claws into all my arteries, I have to admit to getting a bit annoyed with this when I listened harder and started scribbling down the lyrics. ‘Madder Red’ you see, is the plaintive cry of a man taking no responsibility for how gosh-darned awful he is, and it made me a lil bit angry, even though it is a magnificent pop song and I should wager, largely fictional.
It all started right, when he went ‘If my vices are a burden, please don’t let me off, cast me from your home,’ and then there was this other time, where he was all like, ‘It’s getting hard to keep pretending I’m worth your time’. So I didn’t want to say anything but inwardly I was shouting, ‘Well, MOVE OUT OF HER HOUSE THEN, FUCKFACE’ and I nearly said ‘PUT HER OUT OF HER MISERY AND DUMP HER THEN, CHILD-CHOPS’. And that’s not even me projecting, this is not even me using this column to send not-so-hidden messages to the nitwits I once loved (because I should never do this, of course). Don't get me wrong, 'Madder Red’ is brilliant - but its protagonist is basically using shithead shorthand for ‘I am a drug-taking man-pixie, and I can’t take no responsibility for the flakeyness of my own actual self, so um, can you do it for me?’. And the thing is right, Mum, [sobs down phone] is that I think he might be a bit of a shit.
Kano feat. Michelle Breeze - ‘Upside’ (Bigger Picture Music)
Often when a person is out of the spotlight and skulking about in the shadows, they get up to all sorts of personal things. This seems to have happened to Kano, who I think has made his most him album to date - he sounds more comfortable, creative, offstage suits him. You see, ‘Method To The Madness’ has as many hairpin and unexpected twists as the bafflingest thriller (not least an amazing dancehall pop song – Lady Killer - in which he bonks his hactual teacher in the sports hall), and one of its many fine, and utterly modern moments is this, ‘Upside’. It has a brass section that screeches, a barreling backbeat, and a vocal turn by Michelle Breeze that might as well have been warbled by Maria Callas, for all the relevance it ‘should’ have to a Kano release. Being something of a late developer mesell (or, at the very least, a work in progress), I am drawn to anyone who takes a while to find a fondness for their own skin. Good for him, is what I am thinking.
Die & Interface feat. William Cartwright - ‘Bright Light’ (Clearskyz)
Though I am often sent singles that are wildly inappropriate for the People Of Indie I write for, sometimes I am glad this happens. So it is with ‘Bright Light’, which is very definitely cheese-grater-to-your-eyelids abrasive. It is also everything-that-is-wrong-with-the-world, but that doesn't stop it from being ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC if you give it a spin or ten - after which it starts to make a delightfully offensive sort of sense. And because I think – or am starting to believe – that any single that makes you go ‘Wha?’ is automatically interesting; and because I want to poke it with my fingers just where it doesn’t want to be poked, I am gonna. You see, ‘Bright Light’ came on my stereo like the smoothest of slow jams, and it was smearing along in a way that made me feel perfectly justified in writing it off; Not For Wend. But as my finger hovered over the skip button, all of a sudden what happens at 0:43 kicked in - which was when I realised that it was possible to make a single of two entirely disparate and juxtaposed halves, that still works as a perfect whole. Though I suspect the majority of people will find this so sonically offensive they will want to throw something at me, I don’t think you have to like ‘Bright Light’ to admire what it’s doing. It took me several listens to get there, mind.
Panda Bear - ‘Tomboy’ / ‘Slow Motion’ (Paw Tracks)
In a way, it is probably a good thing that I did not realise this came out when it did, because it has saved you all the bother of reading a four-sided wordscursion on just how and why I LOVE THIS MAN. The short version (ha, ha) is that this is yet another completely transportive, utterly immersive set of Praise Pop songs which chug along at a fair old pace, dragging you into their soupiness. I mean, I risk sounding like a wispy nutbag when I tell you that for me - Wendy Marion Roby - listening to Panda Bear is like having my hair brushed out of my face, before someone I rather like plants one right where it matters. Nobody read this, I’m embarrassed.
Feldberg - ‘Dreamin’’ (Self-release, available on iTunes)
If there were any justice in the world, any song containing the line ‘I forgot to feed my cats’ would be picked up roughly by the scruff and dropped into the nearest wheelie bin. But somehow or other - and despite having the cutie-pie little girl from Toy Story 3 on vocals – Feldberg manage to (just about) get away with ‘Dreamin’’. This is largely because it falls on the right side of naïve, partly because they sound a bit Cardigans, and also because it is hard to mount a Facebook hate campaign towards a single that skips over such lyrically delightful and amiable ground.
Rose Elinor Dougall - ‘Carry On’ (Scarlett Music)
Here, as on the rest of her slight - but entirely charming and plaintive - album, Rose Elinor does what I like most about her. Which is to say, she sings how she speaks, losing none of her day-to-day inflections or accent, and thereby sounds almost bewilderingly normal, as well as the tiniest bit bored. I make this sound like it’s a bad thing. It isn’t.
Gallops - ‘Gallops’ EP (Bloody & Biscuits / Holy Roar)
A rather pleasant, Errors-o-like noodle. But it may have been lent some precious atmoss by the fact that I was stood outside the caravan in the plain dark listening to it, and there were gathering clouds and a spooky moon. Listen here
Groove Armada feat. Will Young - ‘History’ (Work It Recordings)
You might chinny reckon it’s not possible to have an impromptu disco in a caravan awning with wipe-clean curtains. But you would be wrong, because ‘History’ has triffic bubbly synths and almost the air of a Vince Clarke cast-off. I mean, I’m not saying I lost it completely to this single (that would be madness) and ‘fair’ ‘dos’, I did check the curtains were closed. But that was because I didn’t want to offend Barry and his very nice wife Pam with my moves. Also their dog, Jed. Their caravan is called a ‘Senator’.
Toddla T feat. Wayne Marshall - ‘Sky Surfing’ (Ninja Tune / Girls Music)
I love Toddla T, I think he is larks. And ‘Sky Surfing’ is all very bouncy, but it feels like him on a half-day. Toodle is not coming back after lunch because he is meeting his mates down the bowling alley, and you can’t stop him, and he won’t wear the shoes. What a rebel.
Black Diamond Bay – ‘Worship The Sun’ (Kudos All Stars)
‘Worship The Sun’ shouldn’t really work, because on it Black Diamond Bay have gone a bit Morcheeba. Perhaps it doesn’t seem so bad because it is more Morcheeba Gone Dark; it’s them but sat round a pub back-room table, plundering their remaining pennies on One Last Game. And as the card sharps make secret signals at each other using complex hair-tosses and pointed nose-scratches, and as the clocks get perilously close to Bad 5 o’clock, this song pulses along with its strange vocal stabs, busted bass and whispery exotica vocals. All of which makes ‘Worship The Sun’ sound heaps better than it is, sorry. Carried away. This caravan is a bit hot, though.
Also out this Week!
Tracey Thorn - 'Opposites' EP (Strange Feeling)
EP of re-swizzles taken from Thorn's rather mournful Love And Its Opposite LP. One of which - a WALLS's remix of 'Kentish Town'- is available for nought pence, here.
Funeral Party - ‘Just Because’ (Jive)
Very yelpy and rather metallic indie.
Antony & The Johnsons - ‘Thank You For Your Love’ EP (Rough Trade)
I can’t ‘do’ Antony any more, sorry.
Tricky - ‘Murder Weapon’ (Domino)
On which Tricky begins like a musical jewellery box, before sampling Duane Eddy and his Art of Noise. Imagine being called Duane, everyone.
Roots Manuva meets Wrong Tom feat. Ricky Ranking - ‘Jah Warriors’ (Big Dada)
You can’t take ‘Witness The Fitness’ away from old Roots, no you can’t. Sadly on this one he is not challenging school bairns to unfair running races, but waffling on about Jah.
Redlight feat. Ms. Dynamite - ‘What You Talking About?’ (MTA Records)
Ooooooo, it’s brash. It’s brash alright.
Calories - ‘FFWD’ (Tough Love Records)
I am at the caravan with almost no internet so cannot tell you what this sounds like. But I did make a note of Calories’ videothing before I left home, so you have a listen, it's here.
TeamABC - ‘Water’ EP (Lightning Heart Records)
Team ABC said something charming to me last week on Twitter and it made me feel dead warm and lovely. Bit too cute for my tastes - but as I say, nice coves. Video here.
Sarah Blasko - ‘No Turning Back’ (Dramatico)
This has a very pretty illustrated videothing.
Pull In Emergency - ‘15 Years’ (Mute)
Produced by Gordon Raphael (who done The Strokes/Regina Spektor, and boy-oh-boy, can’t you tell), this is a perfectly assetable bit of discordant jangle that I think is about snogging one of your friends and then it all going a bit weird. (Listen right, don’t do it.)
Wendy is on Twitter here. Exciting.