Single of the Week!
James Blake - ALL OF THE TUNES ON ‘Klavierwerke’ EP (R&S)
When I try to put down how I feel about old Blakey, it is hard not to sound like an epic ponce. For example, on ‘Postpone’ (which is my best) there is something hard to grasp about the little stabs of blarey brass. And it’s something to do with how they’re timed; and the weird sort of relief they offer in the sighing landscape of the tune as a whole. Do you see what I mean? It is very hard to pin down just how and why James makes fireworks happen in my woman-mind without writing in an utterly over-cooked and wanky way.
Anyhoo, on this - his ‘Klavierwerke’ EP (which, if I am scrupulously honest - and after five listens - has not really had time to bed down yet), I think it is fair to say there is less sighing. There are still snippets of shiny American R&B, but not as many as you might have come to expect. And it is a chillier proposition - he has snaffled some more classicals but they do not sweep like they do on ‘Sparing The Horses’. I mean, maybe it’s the sheer weight of expectation I have placed on James’ young shoulders without him asking me to, but I don’t know these mazelike tunes well enough yet. I think 'Don't You Think I Do' is my favourite but I'm not sure, I haven't played it 40 times like I have 'Postpone'.
What I do know is that in the end, it comes down to instinct. You see, I often worry that I am in no position to appraise music this bespoke because I spend so much time cherry picking from all the genre bins like an indecisive pan-handler; which bit of stream is best. I am a Jackie of All and a Master of None. But I do know precision when I hear it, and I know ache, and I just know James is better at this than anyone else. Music that makes you irrational! It is my very favourite.
‘Drip Feed’ is the highlight here, it is a meditative and dainty piano thing with just David Moyes’ affecting old tool of a voice meandering beautifully over the top. I mean, I say ‘dainty’, but then I read the press release and apparently it is an ‘ode to the uncertainty and doubt of care homes’, and so I had to listen again to make sure I was taking in all the sosherl care assessments and long-term residential contracts and upper limit retirement allowances. But I didn’t want to know, it’s not like I can't already tell that The Scottish Enlightenment are a bit too bloody good at big bloody downer songs. And of course now, NOW, all I have in my head are over-boiled, lamp-heated OAP dinners and someone in a tabard saying ‘WOULD YOU LIKE A TEA-CAKE MRS ROB-BY?’. And I will be annoyed that they have not even bothered to get my name right but too sodding weak and tired to do anything about it, my mouth will be dry, nyeh-nyeh-nyeh. Crap grey sponge cake, thin measly blankets, insipid paint on the walls, straining to hold books with cold, arthritic fingers and straining to read them with watery eyes and OH GOD OH GOD IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO ALL OF US.
So yeah. "Thanks" The Scottish Enlightenment. THANKS A FLIPPING BUNCH.
First Aid Kit - ‘Ghost Town’ (Wichita)
I do wish First Aid Kit would stop being so devilish heart-breaking, it is more than I can bear. But ‘Ghost Town’ is so effortlessly mournful and affecting; they really are a whirlwind of yearn and there’s naught I can do about it. This time around they want to make you cry by singing about what it is like to move on and be forgotten by someone. To be one of those people that just flits, all shadow-like, across the mind of another. ‘Oh God, do you remember her?’ you might say one day, browsing through some photographs. ‘Now. What was her name?’. And though I tried to think about the positive side of this – how wonderful that people pass though each other's lives and remain a fragment of them, however small. But in the end this wicked, WICKED pair halted me with the line ‘I swear I could be better. I swear I could be more to you.’ Which is when I may - figuratively speaking - have flicked the ears of my iPod very hard and said 'OH CRIPES JOHANNA AND KLARA JUST STOP IT WILL YOU. ENOUGH NOW.' And I know I’m not meant to go ‘Look! Look how bloody young they are!’ - but it seems to me they really are spookily gifted. To sing songs with such believable weariness and beauty is not easy and First Aid Kit really are too, too, too good at it. I love them.
Plants & Animals - ‘American Idol’ (Secret City)
Sometimes you have to judge a record according to how your feet respond. And my toes flipping love ‘American Idol’, they love the Roxy sax solos, they think the shrill brass is wizard. But if you were to pin them down and ask them what they like the absolute most, I think they would all ten of them agree; ‘American Idol’ is wicked because of that warmly urgent riffing that provides its amiable structure. Lawks it has charm, it has fuzzy charm in buckets, my toes want to buy it lunch somewhere fancy where they don't put prices on the menu. There is also something a bit Exile about it. I can even forgive them the will-this-do ending where Plants & Animals do that messy, whoops-my-tabulation-has-fallen-off-the-stand-I-will-just-play-anything-while-you-hit-the-fade-button, even though this is always a cop-out. So here is a song does not even bother to finish itself off properly [not like that] and I don’t mind, it is so wonderfully unslappable.
Snippet above and Myspace here - although at the time of writing it was only possible to hear this single in tainted, naughty places - because even though it is 2010 no one in the Plants & Animals 'team' can be bothered to sling their single up on the internet. So, you're going to have to trust me on this one, it's ace.[EDIT: I am told 'American Idol' is on Spotify. Hurrah, etc.]
Owen Pallett – ‘A Swedish Love Story’ EP (Domino)
‘A Man With No Ankles’ starts with some thoroughly detestable reverbed synth stabs that in normal circs would have seen it summarily spat on. And I do not even spit, I tell people off if I see a spit occuring, it is VILE. But because I knew I was in safe hands, I allowed Owen his little foible and carried on to the bit where the taut strums and the delightfully screechy and rather teasing strings come in. Which is when this single becomes the bit in Labyrinth where lovely Jennifer Connelly in her heavenly, over-stuffed crinoline is going all dizzy because walking cod-piece David Bowie has spiked her glass of bubbles, the massive dog. By which I mean, it is all rather spinny. 'A Man With No Ankles' is also FREE HERE - which I have to say, struck me as rather monstrous and awful as I ambled about this week, because I do not think a song this good should be free. So can we all agree to send Owen a thank you note like how people used to do in the olden days of yore? You don’t have to write it on Strawberry Shortcake notepaper like I will.
Timber Timber – ‘Until The Night Is Over’ (Full Time Hobby)
When I realised that the beginning of Timber Timbre’s New One sounded exactly like the (pure brills) theme from Fargo (which it particularly does in the above video), I forgot myself a little and yelped. You see, I am a bit sessed with Fargo, I think it is in all respects a perfect bit of cinema, it lacks nothing. Not a month goes by without me thinking about my favourite bit, which is this:
It is the line ‘Oh, I dunno, kinda funny looking’ in particular - what a delicious non-sequitur, and how apt it is for almost 95% of faces if you look at them for long enough. ANYWAY, as you might imagine, what with me having fallen very hard for TT a few months back, I have little to add that I did not already say here, other than to tell you that their halbum is in my top five for this year. And not just for the line in 'Lay Down In The Tall Grass' when Taylor Kirk asks ‘Will you choke your children, when they spit in your face?' which makes me shocked and shivery. Timber Timbre are a non-dread shack band! I can hardly believe it.
Janelle Monae - ‘Cold War’ (Atlantic / Bad Boy)
The brilliant thing about Cold War is that it is about PERIL and THREAT. Love behind the barricades, secret love, the sort of love you need a concealed staircase for. And perhaps this is why it is so thrilling. The closest you get to peril these days is someone being I don’t know, half an hour late back from work, and now what are you going to do, are you going put the peas on now or should you wait a bit. I mean, I used to think ‘We could do with a war’ and I half meant it, most of us are so far removed from the sort of situations that make your pulse rate quicken - and maybe that is why we pop things into our gobs to do it for us. Or ride about in the rain with our anorak hoods tied tight like Kenny, and brakes that don’t work and Katy B so loud in our ears that we can’t stop, can’t hear and pretty much can’t see (let me tell you, it was pretty dang thrilling, if a bit foolish). So we need a construct, we need Janelle to tell us a story about what it might be like to really fancy someone and want to snog them but you can’t, because one of you is a robot.
Here some amusing comments I found 'neath the video:
You see, I was particularly tickled by 'running from depravity etc etc'. It makes me want to put 'etc etc' after EVERYTHING. 'I hate you, etc etc', and 'Will you marry me, etc etc' and 'You have broken my heart, etc etc' and 'I slept with your Uncle, etc etc' and 'I have cancer, etc etc'. I mean, YOU GET THE IDEA. To explain, said comments were in response to 'ladyballer55' who asked this:
I checked, and he is either called this because he has quite literally ‘balled’ (or, ‘porked’) 55 women, or because he is the fifty-fifth man in the universe to have Done It with a woman. I mean, we will probably never know. Unless you, reader, are Ladyballer55? In which case, sod off back to your cave, you big berk.
Foxy Shazam – ‘Oh Lord’ (Sire)
What in the name of Dog is happening here? My guess is that Foxy Shazam are our American cousins’ answer to Mika. Mika and Cher. At the SAME TIME, squawking like the worst and shrillest sort of parrots. Needless to say, it is God awful.
Parker vs Black Sabbath – ‘Iron Mandem’ (Monkey Butler Records)
This is a dubstep take on Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’. It should be all the magnificent in the world. It is not.
Kelpe - ‘Margins’ EP (Black Acre)
In which Kelpe appears to have caught The Funk. But then, this is what happens when you share a Portakabin with the Doobie Brothers. They don’t wash their hands, it’s kind of disgusting.
The Morning Benders – ‘All Day Day Light’ (Rough Trade)
The Morning Benders are still sounding quite a lot like HAL – albeit a rather rockier HAL - and to be honest The Rock was not what I loved HAL for, so I’m hardly sure why I mention it. Anyway, this here, this ‘All Day, Day Light’ is a perfectly serviceable, heritage rock single. Which, though entirely pleasant, cannot - however hard it tries - convince me to put it in a Special Playlist. Bearing in mind I made myself to it four times before I came to this conclusion, I am not sure this is good enough. But it is also definitely not shit. So there you go.
Warpaint – ‘Ashes To Ashes’ / Sister Crayon - ‘The Bewley Brothers’ (Ltd 7” on Manimal Records)
Perfectly charming cover from Warpaint, all proceeds to Warchild, who do good things for people who have it a lot worse that you or I. It can be purchased here. So, you know, do.
Tokyo Police Club - ‘Bambi’ (Memphis Industries)
Also out this Week!
Cloaks - 'Desolate Turves' (Mini LP on 3by3)
Caitlin Rose - ‘Shanghai Cigarettes’ (Names Records)
MGMT – ‘Congratulations’ (Sony)
Dinosaur Pile-Up - ‘Mona Lisa’ (Friends vs. Records)
Modern Superstitions - ‘All The Things We’ve Been Told’ (Pink Noise / Last Gang)
Spotlight Kid - ‘All Is Real’ (Club AC30)
Sad Day For Puppets - ‘Touch’ (Sonic Cathedral)
Loadstar - ‘Link To The Past’ (Ram Records)
P.S. Sorry for using the word ‘heritage’. I will listen to this later, as a punishment.