Everett True’s 12 favourite songs of 2011 so far
This, you have to understand, is entirely random and dependent on my mood after a night with little sleep. All the following songs are drawn from my Song Of The Day series, here on Collapse Board. For simplicity, I’ve tried to include songs only released during 2011 (i.e. none of the gorgeous after-the-event discoveries, or even songs from 2010). I’ve also tried to showcase male artists where possible, to prove that I have no prejudice against the weaker sex. (It’s not easy. There just seems to be a complete lack of good male-fronted music. Why is this? Do men simply not enjoy making music?)
You can find the videos if you track back through the links to the original posts.
Cults photography: Greg Neate
1. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
Chosen for its lightness of touch
Not a note wasted, not a note pointlessly repeated. Not least among its virtues, Let England Shake is a triumph in restraint
Or to put it more concisely: The new Radiohead album is 37 minutes long, but only contains 37 seconds of music. Let England Shake is 39.6 minutes and contains exactly 39.6 minutes of music. I can’t help feeling that sides me with the Jools Holland’s of this world. Fuck it. Another reason to feel conflicted over Polly. Her music is rooted in a certain tradition, even as she messes with that tradition and builds upon that tradition and moves that tradition onwards and upwards. Radiohead do nothing except be Radiohead.
2. Pris – Blu-Tack Baby
Chosen for its invigorating powers
One great way of judging music is thus: “Are the band having way more fun than me? Do I wanna go get stupid inebriated amnesiac with them? Do I want to fool-dance manically down the front and trip over BANG among the drum pedals?” Are they the anti-Daisy Lowe? The anti-Tori Amos? The anti-Kings OF FUCKING LEON? Do they perform in their underwear? ARE THEY HAVING MORE FUN THAN THE OTHER 50,000 PEOPLE IN THE ROOM COMBINED? Yes, yes yes!
3. Gyratory System – New Harmony
Chosen for its continued ability to surprise
All I know is I love this music and that if my 20-month-old son Daniel was here he’d love it too, and that it bounces and quirks like a wind-up set of chattering teeth, and that it might well depict London aurally but fits in real nice with the a/c surroundings of The Gap, and that I love the way you never know what to expect next from all these “steam-powered sequencers”, and that the NME‘s description of their first album as “Kraftwerk meets Looney Tunes” is right on the money, with a little Metronomy and 23 Skidoo thrown in, and that I could quite happily have this music on any hour of the day, any day of the week.
4. Karaocake – It Doesn’t Take A Whole Week
Chosen for its theatrical desolation
“1-2-3-4-5-6-7 days and it’s over/I fucked up big time/You screwed up everything/You screwed up everything/You screwed up everything,” the French girl intones dolefully over a jaunty, jittery Casio beat – like a phalanx of Gameboys left to run wild on the kitchen table in Gregory’s Girl. There’s something very Jane Bond And The Undercover Men about this, but way more intense and not playful at all, or a little bit George Pringle (only far more melancholy).
5. Shannon And The Clams – Sleep Talk
Chosen for its inflamed girl group hamonies
Imagine Etta James duking it out with the lady from The Detroit Cobras over reverb-drenched gorgeousness, plus a little punk manhandling that even YOU Mr Scared White Indie Boy In The Corner Tentatively Trying To Grow A Fleet Foxes Style Beard might well fall for if only you remembered what it was like to have fun. Sure it’s a little aggressive. So is life. So what the fuck are you waiting for?
6. Cults – Go Outside
Chosen for its shameless capture of the zeitgeist
This music is too precious to be left in the hands of the hipsters alone. Yes, I’ve come to it late. Yes, I’m way unhip. But you know what? You move out to Brisbane and come through the other side and you realise that much as there is an undeniable thrill to be had in discovering music first – and there is – this is only the very slightest of the pleasures to be derived when compared to that of actually listening to the music. Here. Maybe you too aren’t lucky enough to exist within the reach of the post-No Age kids, and aren’t a Vice editor. Don’t be worried. Come enjoy this. Music to make you swoon.
7. Katie Stelmanis – Natural Woman
Chosen for its soothing qualities
I came to this via this magnificent review of Kelly’s. Man, that review is good. Man, I wish I could write like that: sardonic and salacious and snappy and soulful. Sucks, don’t it, when you discover someone so fluent, so natural at a craft you once almost prided yourself at being OK in? Fuck, that was a crap sentence. See what I mean?
God. I’m all toes and toes, hearing this cover version. Makes me want knife sex. Right now.
8. Skinny Girl Diet – Fourteen
Chosen for its transparency
This music is wonderful: brash, unafraid, reared and raised on my peers (Babes In Toyland, Heavens To Betsy, old school grunge). Female. Teenage. Reminds me of Skinned Teen a little, but it would. Riot Grrrl, like I always understood it … i.e. female empowering, and not scared to experiment with new musical forms, and not rooted. Exciting, because this music could go anywhere. There’s a Tumblr blog full of cat pictures and vaguely menacing attitude. Of course there is. There’s a great song on the MySpace called ‘Eyes That Paralyze’ which mixes the spirit of the ‘lost’ Slits Rough Trade/Y album with some Furious Pig-style harmonics and wickedly distorted guitars. Of course there is.
9. Crystal Stilts – Through The Floor
Chosen for the way it reminds me of one of the Sex Pistols’ weakest singles
This album is wonderful. I fell in love with it just around the moment the opening lines of ‘Through The Floor’ rang out: the singer sounding just like Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) singing that ace power-pop song ‘Silly Thing’ in The Great Rock’N’Roll Swindle, later slipping into Bauhaus territory only with a solid beating warm red pop heart (not Bauhaus at all then). The music is all wonderful giant slabs of depression and reverb-heavy bass: an organ sounding suspiciously like it thinks The Doors aren’t a bad thing, the melodic structure of the vocals somehow recalling The Smiths … sure, this is C86 but it sure as fuck is a C86 band I’ve never encountered before, and it don’t feel revivalist or jaded or tired or stunted but wonderfully, beautifully ALIVE.
10. Barbara Panther – Moonlight People
Chosen for its voluptuous groove
One day soon, doubtless I will know all that needs to be known about Barbara Panther. Today, I am just luxuriating in the knowledge of her music.
11. Art Brut – Bad Comedian
Chosen for its clarity of vindictiveness
The sentiments, the emotion, the lack of decorum, the pathetic recollections of ‘Martin Kemp Welch Five-A-Side Football Rules!’ … here was something I would be able to relate to. A sardonic band in the sardonic tradition of Yeah Yeah Noh, I, Ludicrous and the Godfuckingalmighty Nightingales – that folk actually like?! What’s up with that? I was psyched. Some sweet soul brother music to tide me through my Saturday. I flicked the windows down a few inches more, savouring the forest breeze, the wetness upon the air, and settled in to have a listen …
… and Daniel started singing ‘Knick-Knack PaddyWhack’. I’ve waited eight years already. I guess I can wait a few more days.
12. Micachu And The Shapes – Everything
Chosen for its innovative brilliance
Something to do with believing in the power of music: to expand, to combine, to find new paths of exploration never the while forgetting to entertain. Just about the greatest – and simultaneously most damning (for several reasons) – compliment I can pay this new Micachu And The Shapes album is that I can totally imagine it on this, and there’s rarely anything I desire more from music. That’s damning because it shows up plenty about me, the listener and my age. That’s damning, because it shows up plenty about the avenues a certain strain of music could have taken, but instead got infatuated and bogged down and stuck in revisiting the past. (Maybe it’s because all the female musicians got painted out for a while.)
13. EMA – Endless Nameless
Chosen for its bravado magnificence
This is about as great as it gets. EMA covering a Nirvana song (the first time she’s played it) and sounding precisely – if not deliberately – like Kim Gordon fronting a particularly beautifully brutal wash of noise from Sonic Youth. This makes an awful lot of circular sense, when you think about it. There’s a lot of demented distracted feedback and the sudden squalling sounds of guitars and amplifiers being abused. Sweet.