29/03 1 comment
Hope everyone had a lovely weekend – I was in Utrecht, and thoroughly recommend it. Here’s a great blog to get you started. Anyway, I digress - here’s my weekly collection of five, not London-related songs that have caught my ear in the past seven days:
Solid Gold – Danger Zone
Minneapolis’ Solid Gold are one of my favourite bands: their melancholic, rocked-up euphoria provides atmosphere and delectable beats in one fine sandwich. And now they’ve gone and given Kenny Loggins’ Top Gun tearjerker a most unlikely electro-pop makeover. Where the original was homoerotic and high-pitched, the cover is surprisingly elegant and priddy, while fondly retaining the desperate-sounding melodrama - think fists clenched in slow-mo, glazed eyes and dodgy denim jackets.
Rusko – Da Cali Anthem
Two fantastic things are combined here thanks to producer Rusko: the ever more popular genre of dubstep, and 2pac’s high-pitched dancefloor classic, California Love. I feel like this could have had better teasing of those oh-so-familiar lyrics. Nevertheless, as famous lines like “Innn the Ciddddyyyy” get the twostep treatment, so we see a potentially seminal moment, with dubstep threatening to make itself prominently known in the USA at long last. Are those hoochies I can hear screaming?
Wye Oak – I Hope You Die
Wye Oak are a great depresso band – that is, bands you listen to when upset in order to get more upset because actually you want to be upset. As the title hints, this latest (from new album My Neighbor / My Creator) ain’t a cheery pop number neither: like the band’s best, it meanders along through soundscapes as moodily pretty as Scottish mountains, with the smoky aura enhanced by a distant saxophone refrain as the song gives way to reverb. Jenn Wasner’s voice remains as impassive and soothing as ever.
The Radio Dept. – David
Like a swirling London mist, this one comes drenched in atmosphere: trance beats like a Streets remix, vocals reminiscent of Ian Brown but with a Swedish accent, and a resigned, regal tone. The Radio Dept.‘s imagination shines through via the quirky keys and digital add-ons, but it’s the echoey, jaundiced sound that stays with you once the song fades out. Confident and catchy, the trio are set to make a big splash in 2010.
Small Black – Despicable Dogs
The fairground’s closing: the sun’s setting behind the main tent, it’s pink pools of light catching glinting litter in the trampled grass, an abandoned shoe, still carousels, feathers from a toy bird won hours earlier rippling in the sudden wind, a closed coffee stand where a pretty girl glanced your way, the odd shuffling figure, now-cold hands thrust deep in pockets. This is the kind of bleak, maudlin scene that new Jagjaguwar signing Small Black conjure up: their songs are brief windows to other, allurring worlds.
MP3 links via the song titles.
16/08 0 comments
Certain songs, for certain people, conjure up an atmosphere all of their own. When they come on you’re instantly transported to the ideal scenario in hearing them, if everything fell magically into place.
Dreamer by Tiny Vipers (aka Jessy Fortino from Seattle) is one of those tunes for me. I imagine listening to it being performed in a cosy, dimly-lit room, the few lights there are all illuminating Jessy. She’d be sat on a small, humble stage and the audience, comprising 20- and 30-somethings in shirts and jumpers, quirky knitwear and the odd accessory (stylish, but not showily so), would be sat cross-legged or sprawled on the floor, a heady red wine or vodka tonic within reach, a lover not far distant, and life, at least for in this little passage of time, blissfully okay. As the aptly-named slowburn song builds gently towards it magnifcent crest, eyes close and minds go a mite dizzy, drifting away with the existenstial lyrics and finding solstice or familiarity in the hopeful message, and rather enjoying the tragic concluding lines as Jessy’s voice soars high and harkening. And when the number ends, suddenly and modestly, there’s a moment’s pause before the reality of gentle, intoxicated applause.
It seems something close to this vision has already occurred too – watch this video of Tiny Vipers playing a darkened den in Gronigen (Dreamer is about 4;50 in): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd5WGTdFW4Q
Another such track is Take It In by Wye Oak, a boy-girl duo from Maryland. It hums along balletically, the odd thrashes of a drum and rips on guitars become steadily louder and more constant, but never quite drowning out Jenn Wasner’s vocals. At first I find myself in another darkened room (helped by the fact that I have a live acoustic-sounding version), swaying my shoulders and forgetting my troubles again; then later, as the instrumentals get rowdier, it’s as though I’m in the midst of a noisy, perfect storm, yet completely safe as long as I can hear Jenn’s voice, a beacon of hope that reassures me everything’ll be alright in the end.
Again there’s video footage available of Wye Oak playing this song, although this time not quite in the surround I describe – on a bigger stage in North Carolina: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hm_UfJIQqDE
Silly I know, but I think all of us are capable of being so totally transported by the right piece of music for our ears. At least I hope so, and it’s not just me?
Better yet for me, I’ll soon have the opportunity to try and achieve these fantasies, or at least have a comparable experience, as both Tiny Vipers and Wye Oak are playing live in darkish London venues soon – the latter supporting the excellent Okkervil River upon their return to Scala…
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