Single of the Week!
Charlotte Gainsbourg - ‘Anna’ (Because Music)
This week is a compound week in which at least three of my musical prejudices have been tickled out of their hidey-hole. Charlotte is the one with the longest arms, however, her spindly limbs have got right into my armpit. And I am trying to say ‘stoppit’ in the desperate way people do when you have them pinned down and have found the part of their body that reduces them to a child. It is ‘Anna’ that has done it, ‘Anna’ with its lovely echoing organs and cathedral production, ‘Anna’ with its rumbly, Daddy-Gainsbourg-style bassline. It helps that the vocals have been pushed up high so that all Charlotte’s drifty and elevated stylings are leant some (I think, usually missing) weight, and it helps that there is a delightful, building repetitive progression to the choruses. It also helps that this is in many ways a decidedly FM pop song, overandout in less than 2¾ minutes. It makes you beg for more, long after Charlotte has got thoroughly bored and gone off to torture someone else.
Graphics - ‘Mama Grizzlies' (Made To Play)
Graphics has recorded his single with the two twins from The Shining, and he has joined them in the vocal booth before looping in a dude who wants us to ‘feel the riddim of the bass’ – a juxtaposition that shouldn’t really work. What I like here is that we have a vocal line that sounds dangerously sedated and not a little spooky; coupled with the driving pace of dub; threesomed by some dulled, warm xylophone lines. Forced to file it, I will call it wooze-step. Really, really good.
James Blake - ‘Love What Happened Here’ EP (R&S)
As I like The Big Questions; and as my favourite caller on Down The Line will always be the one who asked, ‘What is point?’; this week in class we really did ask ‘What is art for?’. Eventually we came to the conclusion that the point is to create something to distract The People from their sorry, sorry lives and spirit them away somewhere beautiful or interesting, if only for a moment. And as much as I like this as a catch-all, this is not James Blake’s problem. He can make Good Art all he likes, but you’re unlikely to hear it over the sound of the jackals; right little shits, they are. I mean, I never thought I’d say this, but having now worked in both, I discover to my horror that there is more bitchy in music than there is in bloody television; cackles ring out from fashionable drinking holes, blogs sing with it, the skin of his rivals glow with sneer, as if lit from within. As for ‘Love What Happened Here’ and whether it is any good, the answer is a happy yes – ‘At Birth’ in particular has none of the piano wallow that saw Blake kippered - being jaunty, fiercely propulsive and not a little jazzy.
Bon Iver - ‘Towers’ (12” on 4AD)
As we have just discovered, everybody in music be well bitchy. But we all of us have our flashpoint artists, and as my own go-to band to make weak jokes about in order to feel better about myself is Bon Iver, perhaps they should feel proud. Inspiring hatred does at least mean you’ve done something enough for it to push buttons - and far better to be abhored than inspire a weak grimace or a six out of ten. Anyway, I promise to stop being a dick about Bon Iver* now I have listened to ‘Towers’. And I promise I did wrestle myself to the floor and did not release myself until I admitted how I think it is really beautiful, affecting even. It’s only three minutes long and it’s sung in a triple-tracked falsetto and it is cutting through all my smugness like a sharp blade. Actual solace! I never thought I’d get that from Bon Iver and I don't deserve it, not one bit.
Errors - ‘Pleasure Palaces’ (Rock Action Records)
Errors are backbackBACK and this time around they have left the rock in the jar, making a single that has more in common with Kraut rock and tech house than anything mathematically-inclined. As we have come to expect, it is a thoroughly classy excursion that leaps along without lags - as pretty as it is glassily distant.
Frank Eddie - ‘(Let Me Be) The One You Call On’ (Impotent Fury)
Lemon Jelly’s Fred Deakin has a new guise here. But I am mainly including ‘(Let Me Be) The One You Call On’ for the delightful plasticinematics of the video, which is adorably cute and unapologetically happy.
Metanomo - ‘Tape’ EP (HoHum Records)
Metanomo have a manifesto and being of Puritan stock I love those; high ideals, everybody reach and try harder. Their rules bar them from the use of microphones, digital sound generation and overdubs, and they are in thrall to analogue in the production of their glitchy electronica. Needless to say they are - at least by music’s parameters - ‘quite old’, which may explain the line about how ‘music has become a flaccid shadow of the social power it once was’. Unfortunately this roughly translates as Things Were Better In Them Days, just in case you younglings were in danger of enjoying your own modern landscape, you should realise it is ALL HOLLOW. Anyway, as much as I agree with Metanomo about restriction when it comes to the creative process; and how a little light choking can be quite good if you want to force yourself to make decisions based on need, rather than sheer sweetshop gluttony [do you see, technology is like a sweetshop, except nobody pays for their cola bottles]; the problem here is winning over a person when you have already said EVERYTHING IS SHIT NOWADAYS. Because it isn’t, and neither is ‘Tape’, even though I can imagine buying it in person from the Warp shop in 1995, just so I could have one of their carrier bags for my seminar textbooks. Scroll forward on the video, as side two is decidedly less of an excursion.
Francois & The Atlas Mountains - ‘Les Plus Beaux’ (Domino)
Francois & The Atlas Mountains are on a bit of a ramble, they are taking in the morning sunshine and striding through some thicket with sticks they have whittled all by themselves. And I think ‘Les Plus Beaux’ is provoking me to write such things because of its naïve, rustic air – it is pop music with glistening guitar lines delicate as dewy spider webs [sorry] and it has a bassline that bobs along like a happy frog. Basically what I am trying to say here is that this is very, very pretty, and that even the African flourishes work and are not insufferable because they are wielded lightly.
Dear Reader - ‘Monkey (Go Home Now)’ (City Slang)
‘Monkey (Go Home Now)’ is a bit of a genre-hopper, it won’t stand still. And though I am getting into a snit about the too-vague pomp of the lyrics, I am also finding myself reassured by its traditional values; it is working hard for you people, it is toiling, and there are more chops and changes in its four and a bit minutes than most people can be arsed to put on their whole album. If I was being lazy I would file Dear Reader alongside the likes of The Leisure Society – they are not as proficient or as cute, but you are left with the impression that straight-forward listener enjoyment far outweighs any ideas Dear Reader might have about fashion.
Arctic Monkeys - ‘Black Treacle’ (Domino)
How I feel about Arctic Monkeys is that one minute they were bristling scamps, and then I came back from putting the washing out and found four old blokes, sanding themselves down in case anyone snagged a nail. I never thought they’d go all Rock Monthly and now I am looking at them and saying ‘I feel like I don’t know you anymore! I feel like I’ve never known you!’. But Arctic Monkeys are just smirking and tossing their curly quiffs.
Also out this Week!
Philco Fiction - ‘A Portrait Of Silence’ (Something In Construction)
Essay feat. Rhian Sheehan - ‘Morning Mountain’ (Glyph)
Neverever - ‘Shake-A-Baby’ EP (Slumberland)
Reset! - ‘Don’t Let The System Control You’ (Cheap Thrills)
Redlight - ‘Get Out Of My Head’ (MTA Records)
Graphics - ‘Mama Grizzlies' (Made To Play)
Jack Robert Hardman - ‘Famous’ (Pleasant Pursuits)
Casiokids - ‘Golden Years’ (Moshi Moshi)
Dead Skeletons - ‘Om Mani Peme Hung’ (Too Pure)
Wendy is on Twitter, here. *She promises no such thing.