Everett True’s 20 Favourite Songs of 2012 (the edited version)
It seems like folk just don’t have the time these days for the full unexpurgated version. (You can find a much much more extensive version of this list, over here.) Fair enough. So here is my (rather arbitrary) 20 Favorite Songs of 2012 (the edited version).
P.S. I still can’t count.
Occasionally, music will intrude upon this world, but you best believe that headphones aren’t much of a way out – it’s too hot, too unpleasant – and if headphones aren’t much of a way out, about the most radical we can go before 6pm (the cut-off point) is Nancy Sinatra, or some bitchin’ shit like that. Unless I’m alone in the car of course, or doing the occasional half-hour down the gym: that’s how I slipped The Book Of Mormon through, the Song Of The Day compilations that survived Daniel’s destruction of the external HD. But I don’t write in those places. So there’s nothing abrasive. Nothing noisy. Nothing to unsettle. We have more than enough of that already, except of course we don’t. My life doesn’t change much day-to-day, you know? Tiredness is always present. I rarely leave the house, even in my mind. Sometimes think about what it’s like down Woodlands, the Valley, one of those cool semi-legal venues in Brisbane where I fool myself that like-minded souls congregate, even though I know no one has nothing in common with me. The long decline. The slow death. The petty bourgeoisie.
Man. Played this six times this morning already, and it’s 2pm now. And I still ain’t tired of it. It’s a little Grace Jones, a little Sparks and a whole load sexy and sinuous and glam and itself. I love the synthetic “yeah’s” and the minimal guitar solo. I love the distant rolling of drums and occasional note of piano, the ongoing narrative, the one-second of feedback that could’ve been lifted from The Pop Group’s ‘She Is Beyond Good And Evil’. The menace is playful but it’s still menace and it’s still seductive as all warm leatherette seats.
Music such as this often seems deceptively simple to play. There isn’t that much to it: a few catchy, melancholy choruses, a certain insouciant (though not arrogant) attitude, guitars and percussion that rattles and shakes. Yet it can’t be that simple, otherwise the musical world would be filled with albums as devastatingly beautiful as Twerps.
This is a corking great song, charged and energetic and full of mantra-like repetition and the best use of “yeah yeah yeah” since whenever they were last used so wantonly, and that it reminds me of all those other songs that it reminds me of – yes, it’s Sugar & Tiger good, it’s Royal Headache good – and I’ve already played it five times in the last 20 minutes.
Skip Skip Benben remind me a little of Tenniscoats, they have a similar wonderful unobtrusiveness and quietened sound. Different, obv. It’s the sense of underplayed grandeur that lifts this song. The vocals keep building up and letting go. Magical.
This song has many qualities: menace, swagger, insolence, humour, anger, confusion, incitement, a killer chorus that’s bound to get misinterpreted and misused. It’s a voice for our … I type “our”, but of course I’m a 50-year-old living in white Brisbane … times. It’s a sound of the UK that doesn’t shy away from what’s happening in the UK. It inspires. It chills. It elucidates. Does that make it unusual? Not from where I’m standing. It might in a world of BAFTAs and Q Music Awards and Ivor Novello Awards and fucking amoral music industry scumbags and folk who still think music should only be made by white middle-class males playing guitars singing ‘edgy’ lyrics about girls and drugs.
This is what I understand rock’n’roll – call it whatever term you like – can be. This is Plan B. This makes me proud to be part-British.
Matt Ward gets Buddy Holly in a way that I’ve rarely heard anyone get Buddy Holly.
Zooey Deschanel sings on this. I’m ain’t going to apologise. I have absolutely no problem with her, cos I like the openness, the on-edge quality of her singing voice. It ain’t sophisticated, that’s what I mean. It has a child-like delight. That’s really neither here nor there, though. I like this song because this song gets Buddy Holly in a way that few get Buddy Holly – maybe Dan Sartain if I’m pressed, but that’s a whole other side. And yes, it’s familiar like a friend you used to go out bowling with, and hug, and weep whiskey tears with, and you ain’t seen for 20 years or more but just know that if you do, that weeping’s going to start anew, you’re so fucking happy to be with her again.
The last, the only time I heard this song was in a Manhattan apartment over two decades ago: OK, the production from halfway in is semi-ruinous, but there’s no mistaking that plaintive tone, that minimal so sweet self-harmony, the loneliness at the core. Now I find myself unable to listen to the ‘new’ Joey Ramone solo album, but for entirely different reasons. I can’t get past the fourth song in.
Listen to the song below three times over. At least. It’ll make you feel like you’re skating blood and gouging intensity. There’s yelping. There’s guitar as taut as fucking taut does. There’s brevity. There’s…
If this band were all male, the music press would be wetting themselves silly over them. Just fucking glorious.
It’s weird. Every time Ian Svenonius dreams up a new project I seem to go out of my way to avoid it. I have no idea why. I dig the cat’s groove, most highly. Nation Of Ulysses, check. Interviewed them on time in London – travelled up to the Smoke to talk with them ’bout why they burnt their sneakers on stage, interview coincided with the big Huggy Bear push and I’m sure helped accelerate it – but didn’t stay for their live show at the Underworld that evening. Loved the Nation. The Cupid Car Club, check. Not sure I was even aware of their (admittedly brief) existence until after they broke up, even though I owned the 7-inch. Make Up and the gospel yeh-yeh groove, check. OK, I was more in tune there, infatuated as both I and Ian were with the solid gone – and I mean gone – asexual white boy funk groove of Pere Ubu and James Chance (the anti-James Brown), I could hardly overlook them. Weird War, check. I can’t even recall if I raved about them. Probably, probably. David Candy was cool, but by that point I was preferring his written word… and yes, this cat can write.
She’s got that whole Katie Stelmanis thing going on. You know. Intensity of emotion. Incoming inclement weather. Everything painted with MASSIVE sweeps of the brush. Not a pause for breath because the pauses for breath are part of the music itself. Terrifying, really. (I could be missing the point here, I can’t deny: maybe she has that whole Lana Del Rey thing going on. Maybe that’s a better reference in 2012. MTV Buzz has her down on Twitter as “gauzy and beautiful”. And I really don’t want to deny such a respected source. She really ought to cover her tracks better, if that’s the case.)
Some exploratory music is too mannered for its own good: no such worries here, such ferocity and menace of vision. The common way to describe a band like this is thus: create a sentence using the words “blender”, “Melt-Banana” (or “Boredoms” for you older noiseniks), “noiseniks”, “brutal”, “Glasgow”, “mind-melting”, “throw” and “totalfuckinggodhead” in some order or other, shake your shaven head ferociously from side to side in several minutes in tribute and go off down the canal to neck several bottles of.. fuck, I dunno… Jagermeister. But you know me. I can’t fucken do that. I’d be a fucken negative creep if I did that. (STOP IT! STOP IT!) Sometimes music catches me in exactly the right mood to listen to it, and this is one of those times:
The stench of hypocrisy emanating from the U.S. government over the Pussy Riot ‘verdict’ (inverted commas used, because quite clearly the decision was made to incarcerate the three women before the ‘trial’ even began) is overwhelming: think they’d have reacted any differently in similar circumstances on their own soil? ‘Course not. U.K. politicians, too. It’s all a gigantic bandwagon that folk can clamber on, nail their colours to the mast, the cynical secure in the reflected credibility of those who passionately care, a big old whirligig of sex and mock outrage and ‘free speech’.
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 thatRetromania 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.
In places, the new Pharmacy album reminds me of The Frank And Walters. (I know how you all hate those comparisons out there, figure it to be lazy jargon shorthand. It is. It ain’t. Often, I’m trying to lay down vapour trails for you all to soar along by. Partly, I want to point out I love the way the singer can’t hit the top notes but tries so hard.) I do remain worried that too little exposure to Vampire Weekend hasn’t hardened me up appropriately. The vocals are laconic but… c’mon. Name me some that aren’t.
Take a listen for yourself. The Felines, from Denmark – a trio of righteous rockin’ ladies, without a shadow of a secret my new pop crush. I so want to hear more. And, in a weird way, I so don’t want to hear more. This one song is so fine. It’s super-fine. Every lesson learned and then discarded on the altar of fun and righteousness. You could throw in some obvious comparisons, sure. Girls In The Garage, right? (This is far cleaner and simultaneously dirty.) Milkshakes, of course. And you’d totally miss the point. I better stop now. I don’t want you to hear me salivating. This is so fucking wonderful.
This is beautiful.
‘Incapable Of Love’ is theatrical and blowsy and self-promoting and deprecating and funny and sad and, stylistically, leans wonderfully towards the only film version of Brighton Rock that ever mattered, and it makes me feel so warm and so belligerent and so knowing and so happy to be alive every time I hear it. It sways, it swaggers, it reels punch drunk under the body blows of its own magnificence, it’s one of my Songs of The Year and it’s not even the greatest song on the new Dexys album. (Not that it’s a competition.) It represents a life I never knew, maybe once knew, maybe three times turned my back upon, maybe still have the capacity of living. Don’t scorn my wasted dreams. You can’t accuse Kevin of untapped potential… well, actually you can. And that’s one of the reasons the new Dexys is so brilliant. The mistakes, the contrariness, are part of the magic.
Everyone is of course disposable. I’m indelibly reminded of The Passions’ ‘I’m In Love With A German Film Star’ which, of course, means I must be dipping into my late teens/teenage virgin mindset to enjoy this, which probably explains the mention of retro future-pop in the opening sentence. Poised. Languid. In control. Not desperate because desperation indicates… wait. I want to go listen to some Elli et Jacno. As someone stated about them back then, “Every fine woman should also have a rectangular sheet of paper to dance on”.
Seems that much about the summer of 2012 is simultaneously synthetic and analogue. That is, lush and drifting and human and bubbly. That is, synth-pop. In the most delightful way, this Great Lost Song reminds me of the gentle cadences of The Pastels, particularly their later work, which surely comprised some of the Great Lost Songs of whichever summer they appeared in? For example, this song. Not that I’ve ever, even vaguely and tenuously, thought of The Pastels as synth-pop so it must be some of the softened water noises in the Holter/Kibber collaboration that’s causing me to think of my Scots pop sweethearts. Equally,Grimes. And not the nose rings nor the high pitch. This is sumptuous, beguiling. Makes you want to voyage forth and discover. It has an unassuming beauty all the more rewarding because it takes several plays to tease the beauty out.
The following song is all subdued and pensive and helpless. Utterly beguiling. (There’s a phrase I haven’t used for three hours.) Reminds me of ‘Stan’ but with, uh, rather different lyrics of course. It’s the pleading voice, the tinkling piano, the ramshackle beats. Stream of consciousness in places. All of us, all we’re trying to do is understand and discover. Most of my life these days I spend shut off. Not wanting to discover. Wanting to shut down. I like this because it’s immediately familiar to me. Isn’t that usually the case? I had no idea I was so down with 2012, though. We all watch our work disintegrate. We all feel like we’re a disgrace. Some of us don’t have the option of finding our own space, though.
She’s saying, “Marilyn/When I look good” but to these ears it sounds like “Arrogant/When I look good”. It’s about the strut, the pose, the swagger, the space between the silences, the insistent siren call of the clipped beats, the distortion in the bass frequencies. It really recalls The Normal’s ‘Warm Leatherette’. It really feels like there’s something going on. A riot of imagination and inspiration.
So fucking obvious, right? Right.
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.
Damn, but this one is great. Repetitive and laconic and laden with attitude and danceable as all shit and loping and streetwise (like the fuck I’d know!) and repetitive and deadpan blunt and laden with attitude and boy-girl anthemic and…
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!
These three songs might be three of the greatest awkward pop songs I’ve ever heard. I want to listen to them on repeat, over and over again, same way I once wanted to listen to Vampire On Titus, Beach Party, Palomine, The Groceries… so ramshackle and cuddly and spiky and GREAT.
Sure, there are acts out there like Camera Obscura, The Carrots and Belle & Sebastian who have all sold these same wares, but with The School it’s different. One gets the feeling it’s not just the music, but a way of life for them. I can imagine them allotting plenty of time for working on their scooters, looking through charity shops for vintage polyester dresses, on the hunt for super smart coats and boots, while spending any spare money left over on hard to find Shure 50s microphones and small tube amps. There is no doubt in my mind had they been around in the 60s we’d know Liz Hunt in the same way we all know Sandie Shaw, Timi Yuro, Dusty Springfield, Twinkle, Lulu, and Petula Clark. However Liz is not waiting around for some man to write her songs, she does it all herself which is what sets The School. apart from their 60s influences. (Mike Turner)