This week is last of the absurd pre-Christmas log-jams, and I am pleased to tell you there is much to love. Not least Old Blakey (drama), Pulled Apart By Horses (rampage), Tickler Tea & Magic Fuzz (The Funk) and Robyn (love-scarred wisdom I intend to ignore).
Single of the Week!
James Blake - ‘Limit To Your Love’ (Atlas)
Oh James, long may you make me insufferable. Let me [mangle Browning] and count the [unforgiveable] ways I have listened to your single:
ONE: Lying on the coverlet, all the lights off, tears streaming. It gives me no pleasure to report this.
TWO: Raised from my desk chair, arms wide, bawling each word like an Am Dram. More fun than it sounds.
THREE: As a soundtrack for the crap-hounding of Emergency Wine for my sister and I, when all outside was menace, graveyards and shut-shops. Atmosphere, man.
FOUR: In a raw fury. As in, YES THERE IS A BLOODY LIMIT, ISN’T THERE JAMES. [Clinks glasses, there's nobody there] AND - BOY, OH BOY - DO I EVER KNOW WHAT IT IS.
FIVE: In the background, while washing up. This is perhaps the worst.
SIX: As a lazy, aural sticking plaster and/or rescue ring. Used like people use porn, when they have forgotten that one’s mind and the ACTUAL REAL-LIFE PHYSICAL PRESENT are the sauciest tools in one’s arsenal of frisk. Essentially; make-everything-better-James, slatternly listens.
SEVEN: Halfway down the stairs, unable to descend any further, because the sheer, ackfing weight of its monstrous brilliance and affectingness was TOO BLOODY MUCH. Although if I'm honest, this isn't wildly dissimilar to ONE, is it? No.
You see, it isn’t wearing off, I have it well bad. And I’ve listened to it side by side with Feist’s original, to try to see for why. (My theory: she sings it like it’s a closing aria; whereas James does it like it's an aside, which is all the more heartbreaking).
I also know there are those who – perhaps quite rightly – are fed up with all the shouting a chap like James provokes. And I understand that irk - I’ve been on the internet and thought OH SHUT UP EVERYONE, HE'S NOT THAT AMAZING, even when the shouting has been coming from me. The thing to remember here, is that The People can’t help themselves; I mean, he makes grown men talk about how the pauses are as important as the sounds. In the end, I come back to my own madness; which is when I decide that if you don't put 'Limit To Your Love' in your end of year Top Five right at the very dizzy top, you can RACK OFF. I mean it, too.
Robyn - 'Indestructible’ (Konichiwa / Island)
‘I let the bad ones in, and the good ones go,’ sings Robyn, in the latest of her songs about Going Out With Terrible Sods But Carrying On Regardless. ‘I’m gonna love you like I’ve never been hurt before’ she continues - which, of course, is a direct reference to that ‘dance like nobody’s watching’ quote tricked out by people who haven’t read many poems before or have only just been alerted to poetry's particularly fine habit of expressing that which is very human. And this would make Robyn The Mark Twain Of Pop, had Mark Twain actually said it. He didn't, but that won’t stop me from thinking it would be a great thing to call her; I don’t think Mark would mind. Anyway, sadly I cannot concur with the sentiments expressed in 'Indestructible' - I think a little reserve and a little caution in the field of love goes a VERY LONG WAY.
*N.B. In this video there is a lot of pashing. Also, Robyn is wearing a brilliant top made out of catheters. Luckily they don’t have wee in them. But sometimes I think watching a lady wearing a top made out of wee-filled catheters would be preferable to watching people GETTING OFF WITH EACH OTHER SNOG SNOG BLOODY SNOG.
Tickler Tea & Magic Fuzz - ‘The Shakedown’ (Tape Club Records)
Absolutely amazing funk work-out I discovered rather late in the day in this maddest of release weeks. Oh Lore, it’s the greatest. You know, somebody once asked the important question; 'Bass: how low can you go?' And apparently in Tickler Tea and Magic Fuzz’s case, the answer to this is SO LOW, that it sounds like the bass has a poorly tummy. If this doesn't put a smile on your face, you are ill also.
Tricky - ‘Ghetto Stars’ (Domino)
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going to bother with 'Ghetto Stars'. But I did, and found it was not a quarter bad. Granted, it’s more of the same DOOM and TRUTH and THE SOUND OF GUNS BEING LOADED, what with THE SOUND OF GUNS BEING LOADED being the sort of thing it is normal to hear in Tricky's manor. But it’s got some super-strings on it. In case you were wondering, Super Strings are like normal strings, only superer because they have eaten lots of oily fish. Pilchards in tomato sauce on toast. I’ve eaten it. A few times. And what of it.
Syd Matters - ‘Hi Life’ (Because Music)
When ‘Hi Life’ first came to my attention, I was in the middle of a very important head-based argument with an imaginary foe (again). But I stopped what I was doing (winning) and pricked mine ears, because it sounded like there was something nice going on. At first it sounded like Tunng doing Radiohead, but ‘Hi Life’ isn’t a cover, and when you put it in your brain using massive headphones it becomes one of those lovely airy, early Simon'n' Garfunkly productions in which someone using their thigh as an instrument sounds warm, affecting and even – hang it all - meaningful. ‘Hi Life’ must not be listened to using tinny laptop speakers or fold-out travel ones. I want to eat it. Because it is – like the likes of Villagers - the very sound of yum.
DELS - ‘Trumpalump’ (Big Dada)
This has some of the classiest production values I have heard in quite some time, and even the – albeit slight – chiptune flourishes are not enough to put me in a mard. Not that Dels could ever make me chippy, my love for him is long and hard documented in grasped biro that goes right through to the paper underneath. This also has this week's best artwork and employs some absolutely balmy chimes at around the 2:20 mark. See, I want music to make Dels very rich indeed, because I know he’d buy his mum some really nice presents if it did. Even Bakewell Tarts and Nana Dels (RIP) get a shout-out in this, his third single. I mean, he’s not exactly getting any shittererer.
Fiction - ‘Big Things’ (Hit Club)
Fiction are quite plinky plonk and rinky dink. Such things inevitably split the crowd, but I find ‘Big Things’ pleasingly jaunty. It is like their guitar strings were made of licorice. And though I doubt they do that thing with licorice string that this really disgusting girl used to do at my school; and instead just twang theirs, they still are really quite passably entertaining, even if I am not waiting for maffs and secretly thinking very wrong and well sinful things about my maffs teacher. Not really. I used to think them about the Vicar though. Fiction, on the other hand, are happy and talented, talented and happy. It's enough for me.
Ensemble - ‘Envies D’Avalanches’ (FatCat, listen here)
Ensemble were aided by a darling turn I took around the block with my wellies on. It was snowy; all the terraced houses looked strangely still; the air crispy; as tasty as crisps. And because it is ‘a while’ since I took my French ‘A’ Level, I had a bit of trouble working out what they were on about, because ‘Envies D’Avalanches’ is of course in foreign. I definitely heard the word ‘trop’ (FYI it means ‘loads’), and I definitely started to think about quivering saws which were very possibly cutting down Christmas trees for the imminent prettification of our living rooms, and I also very definitely thought it would be plain madness to treat them with any sort of disdain and call them this week’s French Entry because their nationality is a mere side-note. Also, they are from Montreal. And perhaps, in the end, do we not all envy avalanches, and how they roll and destroy without thinking, there is something magnificent in land masses that Just Won’t Take It Anymore. I think Ensemble have captured no small part of this geographical drama on their single. Which may in fact be about Stan Boardman for all I know.
No Age - ‘Fever Dreaming’ (Sub Pop)
Deliberately badly recorded Squally Showers. You know, and [passive aggressive voice] that’s just fine. But the Mum in me wonders why you would deliberately obscure what you’re saying, when presumably what you have to say is quite important. Presumably No Age don’t want me to hear what they’re saying. Do you want me to hear what you’re saying, No Age? Oh, that is the point, is it - not hearing what they’re saying IS THE WHOLE POINT, WEN-DY. Alrighty then, I get it.
Cerebral Ballzy - ‘Insufficient Fare’ (Moshi Moshi)
I suspect Cerebral Ballzy would quite like Some People to get their knickers in a twist about their band name, but I am not sure I have the energy; one has the sense this would be giving them just what they want; which in turn makes me want to go all double bluff heaped upon switcheroo. In any event, ‘Insufficient Fare’ is very loud and would be fun to listen to if a person was absolutely ratfinked on alcoholic cider booze. And you know, if I were a Christian rock band I would probably bury all the vocals down in the mix like Cerebral Ballzy. But then, if I were still Dog-fearing, I would not call my band Cerebral Ballzy. Apparently this song is about fare-dodging on public transport. Needless to say, this sort of flagrant disregard for public decency is where me and Cerebral Ballzy part ways.
Seeland - ‘Abraham, Martin & John’ from ‘Under Abraham’s Mind’ EP (LoAF Recordings)
Seeland do not believe in the leaving out of things, they believe in noise upon noise and bauble upon bauble. Usually this would put you on perishingly dangerous ground; mind out Seeland. But somehow they pull it off, despite sounding like I did back in the Christmas of (I think) 1988, when Santa brought me a Casio and I would insist on pushing every key and making my family listen to all the noises; listen to this one, oh jeepers. To make a record this touching, when every five seconds something new starts fizzing in your right ear (because Seeland have gone mad with the concept of 'stereo') is quite some feat. So well done that band.
Pulled Apart By Horses - 'Yeah Buddy' (Transgressive)
Right noisy uckfers, making a right ippfling racket. But let me let you into a secret. Earlier this year, I felt I had to be nice about PABH, because ‘their team’ had been nice to me by helping me secure a ticket to see the popular The Man-hating band Muse. But now I listen to ‘Yeah Buddy’ and realise that I might be starting to actually love them. Listen to them laughing at the end! Goodness, what a high old time they are having, and how well they communicate same. ‘There ain’t nothing to it, but to do it’ sing the Pulled Aparts - and though this isn’t exactly Plato, it’s still true. I think it’s the bit where it goes all riff-mentile at 01:40 that does it for me.
Kano - ‘Spaceship’ (Bigger Picture Music)
A cautionary tale in which Kano tawks about a youngling who goes down the gym a lot because a double-digit size label is apparently the worst thing that can befall a woman these days. ‘She’s curvy but she wants a Cheryl Cole physique,’ sings my darling - and yet despite being surrounded by all the delights the modern world can offer, our heroine is NOT HAPPY. There are Bad Men who promise to ‘make ya famous’, she is ‘blinded by the stars in her eyes’. Basically it is not going to end well, and Kano is here to tell you to put down that copy of Grazia or Heat or Angler's Weekly, because you just are not going to catch that trout with a spade-end hook, give it up. As regular readers will know, I would do (just about) anything Kano says, so I have given up my dreams of being the next Pixie Lott and will instead settle for listening to ‘Spaceship’, with its production as shiny as big-screen sci-fi.
Paul Haig - ‘Trip Out The Rider’ / ‘Signals’ (Fred Deakin Remixes, limited 7” on Impotent Fury Records & Tapes, more here)
Him out of Josef K is remixed by him out of Lemon Jelly and released on a beautifully packaged and very strokeable seven. If you don't buy it you are NOT COOL or something. (It's good).
Worth a Swizz!
New Years Evil ‘Shame’ & The Black Tambourines ‘Tommy’ (Split 7” on Art Is Hard Records)
What a flipping racket. Also, good label name. Because you know, it is as well.
Gospel Music - ‘Duettes’ EP (Fierce Panda, listen here)
Erstwhile bass player with the Black Kids Owen Holmes has the line 'you don't meet nice girls in coffee shops' on his MySpace. And he sings appealing songs unappealingly called things like 'I Miss The Shit Out Of You'. He wrote his own bio on the press release anawl, and very entertaining it were. "I chipped one of my front teeth recording the jaw harp on 'Are Your Parents Still Together?'," says Owen. "The tooth is still broken and will almost certainly remain so." An intriguiging sort of cove, then.
Lucky Delucci - ‘Winter on the Moon’ (Free, here)
Likeable shuffle-pop with twinkly xylophones. If you’ve never worn a button badge as an adult you’ll probably hate it, but I happen to have a jar dedicated to the collection of same, so found ‘Winter On The Moon’ inoffensive and almost postcard-pretty. Let’s not forget, being nice isn’t a crime. But let’s also not forget that it is impossible for songs like this to give you the raging horn. So don’t put it on if you want to snog that girl from Finance at the Christmas Party.
Thirty Pounds Of Bone - ‘Crack Shandy in the Harbour’ (Armellodie)
I don’t want to know what a crack shandy is any more than I am happy to accept the existence of a phrase that refers to the excitement of men’s wangs in relation to lemonadey beer. So. It is fair to say that I approached Thirty Pounds of Bone with trepidation - expecting inescapable darkness, such as like when you read about a serial killer in the paper and sorely wish you hadna. I tend to avoid gory details these days, after once reading something unforgettable about a pair of ladies shoes worn by Rosemary West. They didn’t belong to her. Oh, World! You are so complicated.
The Distractions - ‘Lost’ (Occultation, listen/watch here)
The Distractions were once on Factory and split up before a great deal of you were even born. Now they are backbackBACK on Occultation Records, who have promised not to put a hex on me even though I have given them my address for the purposes of sending me records. THEY KNOW WHERE I LIVE. Which makes ‘Lost’ the most amazing record I ever heard, in like, my whole life.
Primary 1 - ‘Never Know’ (Grow Up Records / Atlantic)
Impossibly upbeat, but that’s not a crime either. Sounds a bit like Go West. They’ll hate me for saying that. But I used to like Go West. So there.
Also out this Week!
Japanese Voyeurs - ‘Milk Teeth’ (Fiction)
Japanese Voyeurs once had a single called ‘Sicking and Creaming’. Which was when I decided they were not for me.
Enter Shikari - ‘Destabilise’ (Ambush Reality)
Manic Street Preachers - ‘Some Kind of Nothingness’ (Columbia)
Once read a Manics fanzine. Was terrified. Put it down again.
Chief - ‘The Minute I Saw It’ (Domino)
Blood Oranges - ‘The French Word For Love’ (Things To Make And Do)
Blood Red Shoes - ‘Light It Up’ (V2 / Co-operative)
Beat The Radar - ‘Animals’ (Akoustik Anarkhy)
Basement Freaks - ‘Something Freaky’ (Jalapeno Records)
Flashguns - ‘Come And See The Lights’ (Friends vs. Records)
Bassanovva - ‘Chicken Lover’ (Grizzly)
Little Fish - ‘Sweat N Shiver’ (Universal)
To The Bones - ‘Astral Magic’ EP (Evening Economies)
Samson & Delilah - ‘Black Dog’ (Little Red Rabbit Recordings)