Although it is parlous to make comparisons between olden day sounds and modern nonsense, this week I have struggled. This is partly due to my having moved The Elizabethan (my favourite, favourite record player) into my bedroom; and it is partly because once moved, I started playing things like Hall & Oates, The Peddlers and Sunflower by the Beach Boys on it. And while I listened I had a nice cup of coffee from the Teasmade.
Faced with such fulsome early morning bliss, not much can compete. But Ghostpoet had a ruddy good try. It's alright though, I still love now.
Single of the Week!
Ghostpoet - ‘Survive It’ (Brownswood)
What I like about what Ghostpoet is doing here - even if you acknowledge that he is not the only one doing it - is that it is a deliberate sort of soporific hip hop that does not aim too high. This does not mean it is lacking ambition, but it is not a song sung down from a platinum turret and it does not bellow about how it owns a Bentley when you do not; I do not think it even wants one. ‘Survive It’ is just about getting through the day without gnawing off an arm, it is a rejection of all the patent nonsense that is thrown at us in the free world. So free is it, that we are expected to gawp at television programmes that insist we make absolutely everything perfect or we will have failed. It is either that or one must spend an hour sneering at endlessly re-capped proles; hahahaha fat people, hahahahaha peasants. Now I am ruddy sick of perfection and persnicketing, they can both tit off. And I think Ghostpoet would agree, which is why he has made a record that rejects the absurd vulgarity of modern life and simply encourages you to get through the next ten minutes with your head held high. The British are very good at the humdrum and understated; they can make the ordinary things sing. Pragmatic hip hop! Or 'Prag', as it shall henceforth be known.
Charli XCX - ‘Stay Away’ (This Is Music)
What you either love or hate about modern music is that everything is turned up high, ‘up high’ being the technical term for wanging all the knobs up to ‘the top’ and everything having about as much depth as Bible paper. What this means is that on an instant level everything is completely brilliant. But it is a bit like listening to a Mr. Whippy, because really, if you are honest with yourself, it does not really taste of very much. And if you are even more honest - and ignored science a tiny bit - you could probably argue that even the wateriest bit of white could, if whipped hard enough, go solid eventually. What with 'up high', 'the top' and 'go solid' being the very definition of cold hard logic and scientific theory, let us also take a moment to recognise that the chorus of 'Stay Away' sounds a little bit like Alex Winston’s ‘Locomotive’. And although 'Locomotive' is a far less modish proposition and not strictly relevant, it did take me 45 minutes of fruitless googling to work it out what 'Stay Away' sounded like - so you are going to be told whether you a) like it or b) do not. Don't get me wrong, this is quite a good single that bursts open both doors without knocking instead of shyly bumbling in like pop music should. And it has got a slightly embarrassing talky bit on it. But when I look at 'Stay Away' in the mirror, it has no reflection. Ooooooo.
CocknBullKid - ‘Asthma Attack’ (Moshi Moshi)
Officially speaking ‘Asthma Attack’ is a giddy shiny pop single from lovely Anita Blay about that London, and how it is bad for you but a hard place to leave. But really and actually it is A METAPHOR about going out with a person who is bad for you, but you can't leave them because they are really good at doing unmentionables. This is a good point, well made, as is my exhortation that you dump them IMMEDIATELY. Make sure you get your books back before you do, though, like I never remember to.
Justice - ‘Civilisation’ (Ed Banger / Because Music)
I will admit my copy of Justice’ A Cross The Universe tour documentary is still slumbering in the front room sideboard. Also that it is unopened, because I am scared of it. I do not want to see what two licentious Fronch chaps called Gaspard and Xavier get up to when the curtain falls, no, I do not. In fact, ever since I watched the trailer for said film I felt a tiny bit angry - because even if you do get into pop music to spend time with girls who have no pants on, I am not sure it is very gracious to film them and/or brag about it. ‘Civilisation’ is a noisy jam, it sounds exactly like a Joostice record should and it is very good but I think they may be scoundrels so I am going to ignore it. It will go home and say to its wife that it thought it saw me outside Markses but it can’t be sure if I saw them. I saw them alright.
Those Dancing Days - ‘Can’t Find Entrance’ (Wichita)
Another absolutely faultless pop single from TDD which leaves me absolutely cold despite Linnea’s voice cracking in an entirely marvellous way; a crazed bit of Poole twintone to my ears. However I cannot help feeling they are legions above the sort of videos which drown girls in NHS glasses and film their adorable be-plimsolled feet in a hazy glow. I mean, this videothing is pushing the button marked ‘winsome’ with both fists and a tonne weight from the Roadrunner cartoons, and I would like to call time on winsome, its number is up. This makes me sound most dreadfully bitter and jealous - even though obviously, OBVIOUSLY, ‘Can’t Find Entrance’ is marvellous.
Lykke Li - ‘Sadness Is A Blessing’ (LL Recordings / Atlantic Records)
While in many respects I can understand the temptation to romanticise depression; of all the things worth romanticising, misery is quite the saucy bleeder. The trouble is, I am not sure Lykke is the right bob for the job, what with her being so very darling. I mean, ‘Sadness Is A Blessing’ may have lyrics it is easy to concur with, but it is not nearly dark enough. And I say this with full knowledge contrast is quite obviously the WHOLE POINT; uppy, grinny wall of sound vs. dread subject matter etc etc etc. But it doesn’t quite work, and I find myself in hearty, heated agreement with CSS. If anything inanimate and missing its vitals is going to be made real; and if I do have to go out with the thing in question, music would be my boyfriend, any day of the week. Still; amazing video in which Lykke appears to have chucked sadness and is now going out with a) vodka and b) the creepy guy out of all the Lars von Trier films in which women SUFFER. Essentially it is a ponced up version of the Wannabe video, but sadly once you’ve realised that it all seems a bit daft.
Arctic Monkeys - ‘Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ (Domino)
A strangely self-parodic release, as if the monkeys were trying to make us sit an exam, testing us in the same way deliberate fibbers so on Twitter do (I love you, liars). Other possible titles: Don’t Lie There It Is Still A Bit Damp / I Wouldn’t Go In There Yet If I Were You / Don’t Drink That It Is Not What It Says. Which puts me in mind of my Dad, who labels everything in his garage, including old bottles of squash. One says ‘Dirty Petrol’ on it in permanent, black, handwritten caps. You don’t mess.
Eskmo - ‘We Got More’ (Ninja Tune)
As I said at the top, it is pointless to sit down and review the singles and wonder if the denizens of 2086 will look back at things like Eskmo’s ‘We Got More’ and think it sounds a) good or b) bad; no doubt they will have better things to do (like the trees and that). But you know, sometimes it is hard not to think this way. So while I can see that 'We Got More' is a distinctly enlivening jam, and that it will rattle and scratch at the inside of my head with its jerky electronics for the whole of this week, I am pretty sure whoever gets The Elizabethan in the future will not be playing 'We Got More' while they drink their space tea in the morning. If we have mornings then. Hopefully they will be banned.
Pony Pony Run Run - ‘Hey You’ (3ME Bureau)
The second of this week’s French entries has LOVE MEEEEEE written all over it and I am happy to obey, this is exactly the sort of European happy clappy nonsense I have a soft spot for. 'Hey You' is ridiculously upbeat and as catchy as something you need to go to a special clinic to get sorted out. Dirty beggars.
Cloud Control - ‘This Is What I Said’ (Infectious)
I can’t help thinking you would have to be a bit of a mental to not like this song. It is inordinately warm and summery and it is stuck in the past in the best kind of way. I think if Cloud Control ran a commune it would be a good one; you would not even mind that you had to shag the leader man or that his beard had a bit of egg in it. Eggy eggy egg egg.
Alain Johannes - ‘Return To You’ (Rekords Rekords)
In places, 'Return To You' is jaunty as an Elliott Smith jam, but shinier and more FM. At least it was until I read the press release, whereupon I discovered it forms one part of a whole album written in tribute to Alain’s wife Natasha Shneider, who died of cancer in 2008. Having taken part in a sponsored walk for cancer just yesterday, this leaves me all a-flutter - because despite one’s principles being ruffled by charitable events where all ladies must wear pink (because pink is the colour of women); and despite pink quite literally being the colour of all women if you think about it; and despite the fact that femmist principles do not matter in the bloody slightest when you have read the hundredth sign on a ladies back that says they are jogging 5km in honour of their dead Nanna, Mum or husband; I am still human and not a complete idiothole; tributes are tributes and when they are real like this is they are very moving. I still think that if you give women a goody bag at the end of a sponsored walk you should maybe give them something a bit better than some joyless low calorie choclit nibbles. And I could have done without them thinking that what I also wanted at the finish line was a pink rucksack with some ultra-thin panty liners in it. ‘GirlsgirlsGIRLS! Well done for jogging once round the showground in a pink tutu because someone you loved died of canker! But don’t forget! Your fanny smells! As it does EVERY DAY. I mean, you go, girls!' ETC.
Also out this Week!
Tokimonsta - ‘Creature Dreams’ EP (Brainfeeder)
Malachai - ‘Anne’ (Double Six)
The Strange Death of Liberal England - ‘Come On You Young Philosophers!’ (Republic of Music)
Barbara Panther - ‘Moonlightpeople’ (City Slang)
Thomas Truax - ‘Free As Fireflies In May’ (Self-Release, more here)
Pete Yorn - ‘Sans Fear’ (Vagrant Records)
Grey Reverend - ‘One By One’ (Motion Audio / Ninja Tune)
Strange Talk - ‘Strange Talk’ EP (Neon Gold)
Wendy is on Twitter, here. She was going to take a picture of the whole of the Elizabethan but it has got loads of dust on it and she can't be bothered, she's been up since effing six.