12 rough jewels of integrity in a sea of overproduction and hype
This post is specifically designed to be read by my old best mate Ian (’76-’89, or thereabouts). We met at school, via a mutual love for comic books (see this interview, for further information), formed a band together and started dancing down the front of gigs (alongside the near-legendary Geoff the Postman). We haven’t been in touch since, not till very recently. Cue Facebook.
Ian left a comment on a link to this post, thus:
Seweeeet!!! Thought stuff like this had died and gone to the pub. A rough jewel of integrity in a sea of overproduction and hype. ‘course they’ll never ‘get’ anywhere – and therein lies their beauty. Made my day. Thanks fir that. Thanks indeed.
And that got me to thinking. What other bands featured on Collapse Board during the last few months/year might Ian (“greatest album ever, The Red Krayola – Soldier Talk“) appreciate in 2013? So I came up with a list, of sorts. It wasn’t easy. I’m trying to second-guess the taste of an old friend I haven’t seen, or communicated with, in over two decades. Still, this was the friend who took me to my first ever London show (Stiff Little Fingers + Essential Logic + Robert Rental & The Normal), specifically to see Essential Logic (I believe live footage of the actual gig surfaced a few years back wherein it’s possible to spot the two of us furiously dancing among the static self-styled punks). So, whatever. I’ve probably got a load wrong, but here goes with a few stabs in the dark:
(Click on the link to find out more.) (And Ian never really went for ‘cute’ the way I did, so that cuts out a few of the more obvious contenders.)
Los Cripis (as recommended to me by Geoff the Postman)
I couldn’t let this one go past without dragging it to the front page again This music is so fun and poignant: nerve-ends left exposed, clattering and jagged, guitars that run naked through the streets in a running battle with the tentative rhythm section, vocals that judder and jar, from Argentina and a trio like all the best trios are – they leave in the space and the clutter, and take out the boredom with the trash and remains of yr dad’s old Pearl Jam records. The reinvented, re-imagined sound reminds me of another great No Wave/post-punk, heartland ET territory, trio from Argentina – Las Kellies.
This is nothing – NOTHING – like Boredoms. OK. There’s squealing and freedom and guitars. That’s to the good. That’s a little bit Boredoms. There are melodies just when you’re least expecting them, and also at the very start. Yep. That’s fine. But it’s all subtle and doesn’t make you want to gnaw on your fist in awe. Your arm, yes. Maybe the way the music seems to leap through several symphonies of dissonant sound in the space of two minutes, maybe that’s the Boredoms hook? Yeah, maybe. Maybe the A-side of the 7″ is composed of 10 miniature songs? Dunno. It aims for the stars and over-reaches so easily, so clumsily, it’s brilliant. Throws them away laughing. Frankly, it’s more abstract art absurd than music.
Somewhere, tricky instruments play fun-smart, dumb-smart motifs/to one another/and occasionallyEXPLODE
The giant balloon is a cornucopia, a whirligig of wonder
The sound you hear is angels laughing at your own head
Imagination comes in teams
The key to the treasure chest containing all the maps is right here
All you have to do is grab it
Here we go. ‘SLACKJAWED’ in its entire fiery entirety. LISTEN TO IT!!! NOW!
I can only follow where others lead. Here boy. Down Rover. Here Fido.
It’s the title of my new music magazine. Where Others Lead. Every week in constipated black and white, 20 jaded douchebag Australian critics rediscover the bands that Vice was writing about six years ago, and dress them in clothes of zero visibility. Earplugs will be issued because it is A Danger To Future Life to listen to music without some form of self-inflicted impediment. Words will be paraphrased relentlessly, and whole sections of Bob Christgau’s Consumer Guide to Rocks will be quoted according to grade and condition. There will be no hypothesising or marginalising and certainly no – what are those damn things called again, he boilks, looking momentarily like Johnny Depp as a trillion-dollar Willy Wonka – hyphenating. The cover art will always be printed bigger than the review. When I say ‘cover art’, I mean the iTunes symbol for an MP3. No band will be featured unless they’ve performed a minimum of four Nirvana covers, preferably in support to Girls. GI URLs. Leashes will be mandatory. (Little-known fact, but Brighton’s own Kate Bush tribute act Bat For Lashes were originally called Back For Leashes, in anticipation of this very moment. There are photographs in existence. FACT.) If an artist is to be deemed “worryingly listenable” then they shalt be excluded, as the readers of Where Others Lead do not appreciate being worried in their pursuit of pleasure. Simon Reynolds’ Retromania will be viewed as something akin to a bible. Unless we decide to use it as a baton.
Three videos I played, trying to get a fix on noon:30 – three (two?) sisters from DC, so I’m told – and each time, they threw up something entirely different. The first one is totally eviscerating, brutal. The guitar keeps distorting, the mood builds, the voice keeps chiding until… whoa! PUNK ROCK!
Neonbabies (this is ancient, but there aren’t NO WAY Ian ain’t lovin’ this!)
A 57-second blast of jazz kronk/punk madness.
Listening to d-Wizz 2.0′s 24-track handmade CD album Fav Trax Box Sets I & II is like being stuck in a Value Village every day of your life while a cheap 80s keyboard pumps out schmaltzy 80s songs gone horribly awry.
I mean, fuck description or context or vibrant juxtaposition or little squirmy eye words that burrow their way inside your brain and help layer layer of meaning and enjoyment onto the already virile, febrile, enjoyably oblique and cut-up found sound music. Just tell us straight: IS IT THE BEST FUCKING TOP 10 GREATEST SONG EVER FUCKING RECORDED IN 2012? Should we be handing in our hipster glasses at the door if we don’t check this out? Tell us oh barely-venerated treasure map-keeper, tell us.
The Deadnotes (minus The Legend!)
I recall when I first saw The Deadnotes play live in Brisbane. It was the final show in that series of shows Lawrence English had upstairs at the Powerhouse, where everyone lounged around on cushions and looked on open-mouthed at Tenniscoats‘ deconstruction of piano strings. The Deadnotes – there were three of them: Leighton, Stuart and Eugene – spent at least 10 minutes trying to make a solitary amplifier work, becoming more and more wound-up, in front of an oddly attentive crowd. Maybe the crowd knew what to expect. I didn’t. When the three-piece finally started, it was … I’m not sure how to put it because hyperbole doesn’t suit the gentle garage/improv magic of the music they played. Stuart on trumpet plucked melodies out of nowhere, fucking with the tone through his effects pedals, and then discarding them rapidly as he went on search of more beauty. Eugene rattled and hewed at his shambolic guitar – you could tell here was a man who loved Half-Japanese, 60s Australian garage rock, No Wave. And Leighton played keys and uttered the occasional guttural vocal. It’s no good, as Samwise would tell you in Lord Of The Rings about Gandalf’s fireworks, I can’t do them justice. All three must have swapped instruments, because drums were also rattled.
It’s like it’s 1978 again and Robert Lloyd is still sarcastically singing sarcastically biting words in his sarcastic deadpan manner over sarcastic atonal deadpan guitars, going through the motions because there’s nothing else to do: Those amateur wankers.
Bunch of bitter, going-to-seed, 50-something men pretending they’re still 17.* I can relate. The other side’s even better. It’s like Industrial Records never needed to exist. Try denying the rampant gob of ‘Cunt Life’; try denying the rampant sardonic basic sarcasm of ‘Sick Of Myself’. “Look at us,” they spit, bile overflowing from every orifice now that they’ve been through emergency gall bladder surgery. “WE SUCK!” No room for melody or intransigence because life fucking gets worse every stifled, stunted year that passes. Noise annoys, but silence scars even harder.
Damn. People still create music like this in 2012? Damn. It’s like being 19 again.
And they’re from Australia too. I am CLEARLY not hanging around with the right people. I mean, forget Australia. This new split seven-inch between Hissey Miyake and Terrible Truths (on Bedroom Suck) is one of the singles of the year. I can’t resist strange rhythmical music. Cannot resist it. Everything is jagged. Everyone is aware. Everyone throws weird goblin-like shapes on the office wall and slurps around kissing and hissing and making extravagant, succulent claims on attention. I mean, the boys all had their turn a few years back – fucking impersonating bad Gang Of Four records and bastard Joy Division and all that Retromania stuff. And the boys really fucking stuffed it up, didn’t they? (Maybe it’s not their fault. Maybe the template was too intrinsically damaged or recognisable or whatever). So now the girls have their turn, and fuck. Of course I love and know the bands that Hissey Miyake and Terrible Truths know and love. Of course I like the music that Hissey Miyake and Terrible Truths like to roll around in. It’s my none-so-secret lover. And of course I know that they know a whole bunch of shit I don’t know, and that they’re approximately 3,000 times more sussed than I will ever be. Just makes me hurt all the more that I ain’t out among the proles and middle-class throwbacks experiencing this music live.
Bangs alive, but I would dance!