22 of Princess Stomper’s favourite songs of 2012 so far
Graham Coxon – ‘The Truth’
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this sounds like NIN, but it has a sort of fuzzy dirginess to its bleak rhythms that has caused others to make the comparison. From new album A + E, this demonstrates that Coxon must have been the driving force behind Blur’s self-titled fifth album, but this is way more immediate and arresting. More what he must have had in mind. It has picked up Reznor’s habit of sounding woolly and warm and strangely cold at the same time. It sounds like it was recorded underwater, or perhaps wrapped in cotton wool. (I’m guessing Kevin Shields probably tried that at some point.) It’s got strange, indistinct samples of speech – you can’t work out what they’re saying. It’s Krautrock. It’s infectious – the sort of thing you’d find yourself humming if you’re not too careful.
Thinking Plague -‘ The Gyre’
I was in a prog band once, very briefly, for about half a dozen gigs. They were between vocalists and I filled in. I had a Fast Show cough the night we played the Islington Hope & Anchor – I didn’t even get a note out – but we played Margate twice and it was wonderful (seriously, if you’re in a band, play Margate – they love you there). When I left the band, Ben said they were splitting up anyway because “not everyone wants to listen to Yes”. I’d never heard Yes, and still haven’t, but I’ll take his word for it. I really don’t know anything about prog at all, but apparently Thinking Plague are a Really Big Deal in prog circles. For the uninitiated, it’s more a sort of nightmarish psychedelia with ballsy percussion rather than some fancy bullshit about unicorns. This is from their new album, which prog fans have probably heard already, but passers-by like me should pause a moment, hear it, and say “wow”.
Firefly Burning – ‘We Are Leaves’
Talking of prog, this is filed under “alternative alt-classical classical experimental folk gamelan minimalist post-minimalist Hackney” at Bandcamp. Their Facebook page lists their influences thus: “John Adams, Benjamin Britten, Sufjan Stevens, Steve Reich, PJ Harvey, Joni Mitchell, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Eska Mtungwazi, Salvatore Sciarrino, Portishead, Underworld, Godspeed, Orbital, Nina Nastasia, Odetta yeah!”
It’s warbly-vocalled folky experimentalism with the emphasis very much on voice and percussion, overlaid with strings and all sorts of noises. It reminds me of a cross between Steelye Span and In The Nursery via Pram. I just listened to it five times in a row.
I’d concur with the DJ Shadow comparison in the blurb. It’s self-consciously beautiful in the same way that Zhang Yimou’s Hero is beautiful.
Anna Calvi – ‘Jezebel (Version Française)’
I’ll forgive her the (apparently) gratuitous French since it’s an Edith Piaf cover, but this is the French version of the first song I heard by Anna Calvi. I remember thinking it fell somewhere between Siouxsie Sioux and Nina Hagen, and only just the right side of ridiculous. She’s come a long way since then – I even heard her in Costa Coffee when I got my last gingerbread latte. This bounding percussion and galloping guitar rhythm has become something of a trademark, and it still sounds great.