Everett True’s 64 Favourite Songs of 2012
Last year was sensational for music. Here, re-acclimatise yourself.
This year was even more sensational, so much so that I find myself having to increase this list somewhat to incorporate a little of all the fine music out there. Some but not all, by any means. (I mean, 11 of these slots could have been given over to the Dexys album alone, and another six to Lady Leshurr.) So bear with me. This is where the good shit starts. I’ve broken ’em down month-by-month in an attempt to give this list a semblance of context.
August was a hell of a month, as was November… or maybe I just finally came into my stride in those months.
Click on the links to find the full original articles. Sure I’ll do a mix-tape if folk want it. (There’s a link to a Spotify playlist in the comments.)
More than anything, the way Royal Headache’s guitars shake and buzz on ‘Surprise’ (and most of this Sydney band’s really excellent debut album, as well) reminds me of Factory Records’ Great Lost Pop Band Of The 70s, The Distractions. That was pop, out and out. Did The Distractions play house parties and semi-legal venues like Royal Headache, Kitchen’s Floor, Blank Realm, The Deadnotes and dozens of other fine Australian pop/garage/punk bands of 2011-2 do? Did Buzzcocks? I dunno. It seems that the underground is as focused as it’s ever been: one crucial difference, though. No one wants to be their generation’s Nevermind. They already saw what that did to a band.
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.
There’s a review of the Melbourne three-piece’s self-titled debut album that’s just gone up on Mess + Noise, which boasts the line: “Often compared to Calvin Johnson’s legendary lo-fi outfit Beat Happening…”
I stopped and thought about this for a few seconds (I’ve been known to occasionally wax lyrical about my fondness for Calvin Johnson’s ‘legendary’ lo-fi outfit Beat Happening) and then I clicked on the Soundcloud. Do they have a bass-player? A female band-member?
Sure. I could hear a superficial similarity. Particularly to the third and fourth Beat Happening albums. The vocals seemed a little anonymous, not unpleasantly so, but in a late-night, lo-fi Melbourne pub kind of way. Liked the guitar sound and the Shop Assistants-style stand-up drumming. More Pounding Serfs than Beat Happening if you want the truth of it, but I’m not denying I posses way too much knowledge here. I stopped and thought about it for a few minutes more. Was I to be put off, or snared in, by the comfort of familiarity? Fuck it. Why am I even caring about such notions? If I like music I like it. If I don’t I don’t. This song has a laconic bent, a warm beating pop heart.
It’s a sonically rich landscape where the voices swoop and swerve like dream-pop guitars. It’s a heavily narcoticized girl group who stole the Cocteau Twins’ drum machine (it’s OK — they weren’t using it) and watched way too many episodes of Twin Peaks. I can’t decipher any of the lyrics, but then I need subtitles to make head or tails of The Mighty Boosh so that could just be because I grew up in hicksville America. Hey TTT, e-mail me your lyrics at Scott_Creney@yahoo.com so I can sing along in the car. (Scott Creney)
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.
In my book, The Fall lite isn’t an insult.
It could see how it could be, easy. It could imply that this music is watered-down, made deliberately to make consumption easier. It could imply that all the pathos and anger and stirring beats have been removed and all that is left is the surface fluff, the gloss. What fluff? What gloss? Prinzhorn Dance School have a wonderful lightness of touch that reminds me more of early Fall lite bands (NOT an insult) like those wonderful misanthropes The Passage or even the strange rhythmical music of more obscure souls like The Cosmopolitans and The Leopards. It’s wiry, early 80s but doesn’t feel retro. Love the silences between the vocals. Sure, we’re talking Gla*o Babies. Sure, we’re thinking early Mekons and Gang Of Four (before the first album) although of course if we went back and listened to early Mekons and Gang Of Four (before the first album) we would also have to change place and context and we can’t do that cos we’re in Brisbane right now, 2012 and it’s sweltering. And this music makes me happy, you understand. Prinzhorn Dance School’s whole new album Clay Class is beautiful easy listening for me, but that is not any sort of a put-down. Guitars shudder and jar. Vocals tickle and cauterize. Folk sound aware. You could argue that it sounds a little polite and mannered compared to some of the above but I think you’d be wrong to. I know this music makes me happy, relaxes, makes me think that sometimes it’s OK to be smart and understanding of the groove, and minimal.
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.
Authenticity matters. I’m not sure how much it matters or why it matters or whether it should matter, but clearly it matters. Yes, I do buy into the myth of Sinéad O’Connor. Yes, I know she’s a performer. Yes, I know these are songs. Yes, I know all is artifice, that the most glorious moment in this most glorious revenge song comes when suddenly she turns into Amanda fucking Palmer – but Amanda fucking Palmer, as fine as she is, is a cabaret performer, whereas Sinéad O’Connor delights in confusing her life with her art (and of course no one can separate the two: the way we view the world influences the way we react to the world). This album – and the title is an immediate giveaway, How About I Be Me (And You Be You) – is about betrayal and searching for meaning and a home in middle-age when life has constantly shown itself to be indifferent to your feelings, and wanting a man, and wanting a constant, and wanting wanting wanting … and this song is … fuck man.
I have no idea how what age Dan Sartain – that super-cool wiry cat from Birmingham, Alabama – is. I’m guessing he might’a been born some time around the year Ramones released their last brilliant album, the U.S. punk hardcore-inspired Too Tough To Die. I have no idea what folk this cat hangs with. In another age, I’d have been drinking Maker’s Mark bottles dry with him, for sure. No way this cat could have kept me from a-knockin’ on his door. His songs are too fucking sweet for me to have behaved in any other way. (He out-Lurkers the fucken’ Lurkers, you understand? Do you feel me? HE OUT-LURKERS THE FUCKEN’ LURKERS!) The way he swaggers, but don’t swagger, with an almost ineffable Jonathan Richman cool, would have made him impossible for me to resist. Not that I’d have wanted to. His new album is called Too Tough To Live and it’s fucken’ Joan Jett, J. Richman, Ramones great, the way every song is so focused, says what it wants to say and moves on but not without first lodging some fucking cheese-grater thrashing ear worm inside your brain. There’s guitar solos, shit yeah. There are melodies, fuck yeah. There’s hooks, there’s energy, there’s energy but most of all there’s LIFE.
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.
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.
Been listening to Nicki Minaj’s new album Pink Friday Roman Reloaded on the bus in this morning, all 22 illegally downloaded tracks of it. (Note to censors: this is, of course, artistic license. I’m fucken’ wi’tcha. No fucken’ way would I do shit like that. Jes’ makes it sound more real, ya feel me? Like rappers and shit bragging about bling when it’s just a song, not real life. Think about it.) Think the mock-Audrey Hepburn (My Fair Lady) vocals and sub-Crass appropriation of classical motifs on the opening track ‘Roman Holiday’ are so grating they’re borderline genius, the way shoving a foot-long Parmesan grater up my ass is fucking genius, the way it hurts but hurts so good. Think … wait, 22 fucken’ tracks? That’s way too much Nicki Minaj for my tastes. Especially when over half of it could be anyfuckingbody. I preferred it when I didn’t know how to pronounce her name. Minaj, as in minagerie, right? Exotic, yet base.
I wasn’t going to write this series any more, was going to give up on Collapse Board. Still might. Seems like pitifully few come here, seems like pitifully few ever have. Mostly, it’s teenage kids searching for pictures of cows and s&m and fashion accessories. I don’t blame anyone. Mostly myself. I link through as a knee-jerk three-minute reaction to whatever knee-jerk story is happening, and expect music fans – my constituency, right? the passionate and the awkward – to be happy with that. Or I review some major label album without a major label platform. Or I write about some music that’s been diverting me or leading me to question my existence again and everyone tunes out because, well fuck, it ain’t them.. and does anyone even fucking *listen* to music once they’ve got small kids to fend with?
As Kevin sings, “I can’t be a fucking stereotype/But it’s lonely being here and living this fight”.
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.
They cover Shotwell’s ‘Wait Til Yesterday’. I have no idea what this means. It’s glorious but it’s still no ‘Little Birdy’. This is, and it feels like that every night I fall asleep and my waking dreams are more wonderful than my sleeping dreams and that, everywhere I turn, The Breeders and Lou and Jason are still all playing songs for me, every second of the day, every severed tendon. This is, and this is:
Fuck. No, wait. This is the Song of the Day today. As someone on YouTube put it, “This is a pipe-bomb split”.
It’s soul music and it’s sorcery and it’s subtle and it’s syncretism and it’s going to annoy the fuck out of me if people focus on the technology of Willis Earl Beal rather than the songs, but why should it? It’s all about the fucking context, right?
The test here is simple. Would I like this if I had no idea of who the person behind it is?
The test here is false. That’s not possible for me to imagine. It’s more Babes In Toyland – minus the guitar – than Bikini Kill, anyway. And it’s more spewing, mouthy, antagonised by unfairness, late 70s punk than either. (Yes, Honey Bane. I am looking at you.) More dislikes than likes on YouTube, huh? You just know how I feel about that. Need a copy of the lyric sheet. Written and recorded and filmed in under 24 hours, apparently. Shave 20 hours off that, and we start to approach Everett True heartland territory, not that length of spontaneity is a marker of anything beyond impatience and a possible unwillingness to see the job through. I don’t know about Kate not being herself here. I don’t think Kate is necessarily being her old self here. This is bad? People don’t like change, especially not from those they think can’t – or shouldn’t – change. This isn’t necessarily a great pop song, but it’s a provocative one, an irritant, one that makes you think: and that’s always a plus. Next time she tours, I’d like to see her put together a supporting cast of Muscles Of Joy, Tunabunny and Sky Needle. And The Thin Kids, of course. Oh… and Kate? If you haven’t listened to Patrik Fitzgerald yet, you really should.
Some folk like to make connections.
Me? I’m just happy to be here, lost within a swamp of sunshine and unfinished patios. I know that every time I hear this song crop up on my yet-unmade Song of the Day 11.0 mix tape I’ll be checking for the name, thinking, “Hmm, I really ought to check out more by this band, maybe when I’ve finished on my five-year jag of a 1979 nostalgia trip”. In their own way, they’re Smiths good: a backhanded compliment if ever I wrote one. Makes me think of the Echo & The Bunnymen that only existed in my dreams (i.e. without the bombast and guitars). I cannot escape the shadow of other people’s pasts, no matter how much I may want to.
Yes. Beautiful Chinese dream-gaze. No, NOT shoegaze – that music is bludgeoning and veers into Coldplay territory or the fucking Horrors (great review here) or someone. This music is much too delicate, positioned. Shoegaze could not exist without the amplifiers. Boyz & Girl clearly can. Maybe I should mention Skip Skip Benben here, as a reference to the side of Boyz & Girl I really like? This holds the Valentines and Sonic Youth in regard, clearly: but there’s also something other. A tenderness and sly humour at the heart of the darkness.
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.
Love rock. No one really understands what that phrase means outside of a couple of friends from the Pacific Northwest circa the time of the first International Pop Underground Convention (1991, Olympia) (it’s the one that directly presaged the first wave of Riot Grrrl) – and yes, I’m particularly looking Rich Jensen and Al Larsen‘s way right now – but this nails it. Bands rooted in genuine friendship, with a great minimal garage sound. Inventive, disruptive, tied only by the understanding that the more basic you keep it the more freedom you have. In every respect.
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.)
Three names for you.
And now tell me that I’m going to resist this: “Hey, I wanted to know how to submit our 7″ for review. If you’re interested in love, death, girl groups, punk rock and surf, let us know!”
This could be Fabulous Diamonds 2010 or something all molten and disturbed from Brisbane circa 1975, or one of those fine, fine Touch & Go bands from the 90s minus the understandable fondness for classic rock song structures. It’s not, though. It’s Beijing 2012 or thereabouts, and damn straight I love it that Sonic Youth are such a towering influence on so much non-Western music I encounter. Of course Carsick Cars are journeying in very different directions. (Damn. I can’t avoid cliche even when set free.) They are parallel to, not running behind.
I’m listening to Local Girls because the label who released their new mighty and tumbling Deluxe Kicks album mentioned to me that they also released the new Fever Fever EP. And fuck yeah. That’s easily enough to get me listening. Trace the path. Trace the path. This Local Girls music is edgy and a little challenging: it recalls stuff I listened to in 1980 but it also recalls stuff I listened to in 2003: there’s a hyper-real falsetto or something, and speed, and pace, and edge, and the impression of claustrophobia and life crushing and crashing and chasing in just when you least want it too: it’s strange rhythmical music and I really hope you haven’t heard such strange rhythmical (female-led) music before because if you haven’t you’re in for a real fucking treat (and of course even if you have listened to loads of strange rhythmical music before then you’re still in for a real fucking treat): the album is a fraction disorientating in its range of rhythm and style and sounds – plenty that is fine from the past (serrated guitars, Pixies tempo changes, Raincoats semi-spoken word) is mixed in with plenty that is fine from the now (the realisation that isolation in the year 2012 is more painful than ever before; silences; menace, companionship): it’s very British (it shows in the sometimes weird reliance upon hoary blues riffs which always amounts to way more than the sum of its influences); female vocals like we like female vocals – nasty and narcissistic and sarcastic and open.
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:
Here are five artists this song by videoing remind me of (and this isn’t to their detriment, far from it):
- Muscles Of Joy – because they understand about the necessity of elasticity and invention and space and dub
- The Birthday Party – for the sparse but exceedingly effective use of guitar
- Ill Ease – because silence is a rhythm too (not so upfront, though: way more menacing)
- Yoko Ono – five degrees of separation, right? And everything comes back to Yoko
- This Heat – for the analogue electronica, or something (and can I just throw in a mention of Les Georges Leningrad or Vivien Goldman here: again, it’s the sardonic and literate vocals, the intimation of the silences, the jazz-flecked cadences, the fluidity and barely-hidden anger)
Elements, not steals.
This song by Brisbane band Slug Guts is the new Song of the Day on Collapse Board. Just sayin’. I love the 80s as interpreted by the Australian underground, too.
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.
Damn. People still create music like this in 2012? Damn. It’s like being 18 again.
And they’re from Australia too. I am CLEARLY hanging around with the wrong people. I mean, forget Australia. This new split seven-inch between Terrible Truths and Hissey Miyake (on Bedroom Suck) is one of the singles of the year. I can’t resist rhythmically strange music. Cannot resist it. Everything is barbed. Everyone is heightened. Everyone throws surly dragon shapes on the bedroom wall and lumbers around roaring and scoring and making lavish, juicy claims on attention. I mean, the boys all had their turn a few years back – fucking impersonating primal Mekons records and bastard early New Order and all that post-punk stuff. And the boys really stuffing fucked it up, didn’t they? (Maybe it’s not their fault. Maybe the template was too intrinsically wrong or familiar or whatever). So now the girls have their turn, and damn. Of course I know and love the bands that Terrible Truths and Hissey Miyake love and know. Of course I like the music that Terrible Truths and Hissey Miyake like to skitter among. It’s my never-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 three thousand times more sussed than I will ever be. Just makes me hurt all the more that I ain’t out among the students and working-class wannabes experiencing this music live.
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.
This new song is called ‘Move On’, and it’s from the 2012 album Pop Tune. I was going to link you to the studio recording, but the sound quality on this live recording is extraordinary: so diffused and sounding like it’s come down from a faded memory of a valve transistor radio in the 60s.
For the record? I have no idea whatsoever who Nude Beach are or how they came to be in my iTunes folder or why I decided to play them this inclement Sunday afternoon. The thrill of the chase. The chase of the thrill. It’s still there.
Pop music. Australian pop music. Heartfelt, pure Australian pop music. Heartland Australian pop music. Perfectly judged. Perfectly executed. This song is everything triple j is not.
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.
It’s painful sometimes, to think of what I left behind. Lazy, arrogant, insecure and unmotivated. It’s a devastating combination. No wonder so few people read my words these days. I’d like to walk home through a drizzle at three in the morning, bone-tired but so happy because I managed to create something of value, something that increases the value of (my) life. Isolated but aware. I’d like to ski through snow angels. Friendly and convinced. The garage door rises. The garage door falls. There is no other sound here. The garage door rises. The garage door falls. Outside, it’s the remnants of another insultingly humid day. Outside, stasis pretends to reign. (It never does because that’s the biggest secret of the status quo. That nothing remains the same even as it insists it does.) Music is noise is silence is stasis is the sound of people enjoying themselves because they don’t need to think about enjoying themselves.
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.
This song destroyed me on the bus on the way to work this morning. Tears trickling down my face, I had to bury my head in a handkerchief so people didn’t stare.
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”.
This song is equal parts (lazy writer shorthand for anything but, incidentally) Giorgio Moroder, musique concrète, late night simulators allowed to run their natural course, and that intangible touch of melancholy dulled by too many years of living. It lingers where many would wrongly choose to leave. Isaac (age 7) was asking the other day if I could define grace. Grace, hmm? It’s a tricky one, not least cos those religious bigots hijacked it centuries ago to use as a bastard weapon to use round your bastard heads. It’s way easier to define in tangibles.
A while ago, I got talked into slagging off Sleigh Bells, because it was fun. I don’t feel bad about it even though I have long since seen the light of day. There’s always more than one perspective to be had, especially from within. Music you can hate one day, you’ll want to wallow in with the walruses the next. It has occurred to me that Grimes are another of these bands that some folk don’t want to be caught liking. Hipster shit (see commentary above). Yet, once again divorce the music from its context… (yeah that’s right, he remarks sarcastically, separate it from 95 per cent of the fun)… and this just whomps and willows and dives around the troughs of synth-pop with a giddy divisional grace. Stops and starts and keeps going because to not keep going would mean stasis and stasis means no sex. Being Everett True means I approach this from an ’83 perspective (which this fits deliriously into) and ’12 mindset (and I have no idea of the zeitgeist, only my own being) (as ever)… and this sounds like fun, the sort of fun I like having when out and when in because it’s fun. Oh god (he remarks despairingly) that is such an anodyne remark.
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.
This is the Age of the Song, gloriously returned. At 17, I had no time for anything else. At 51, I still have no time for anything else, although for different reasons. This means that I have no knowledge of Sasha Go Hard beyond what follows which, yeah sure, is the way I like it. Listen, I ain’t got nothing against bringing my prejudices and agendas to the table – at least I acknowledge them – but that ain’t what’s going on here. (See comment about Wu-Tang above: this music is familiar to me, but I am totally digging the female groove on top.) I like the immediacy, the immersion into alien worlds. I like living vicariously, on occasion. I like the energy here, the groove. I like the Sassy. I like Sasha Go Hard, whoever the fuck she may be… or least ways I certainly like this one track:
The following is mean, nasty and… wait. The following track is deliberately mean and nasty and spooky. It’s on it. I like the line, “My tongue is the fucking rapture, bitch”… and the fact that the lyrics to ‘Werkin Girls’ entirely remind me of this lost punk classic. Nasty, like diarrhea. Know what I’m sayin’?
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.
Now it’s time to ‘fess up and admit that yes, of course. Yes. I like this 21st Century groove, the cut-off jeans, the shadow boxing, the way everything is distorted and MEGA and seizure-inducing. the shallowness of the concept and the embracing of the NOW. Makes me want to bounce, and jiggle, and throw great expressive shapes on squares of neon cardboard. So yes. FUCK you and your underground.
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.
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.
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…
Damn. Now see, this is what I’m talking about. The following song is from a righteous six-track self-titled ramshackle punk album that is over in under 15 minutes.
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.
The second song is like the great lost Vivian Girls song, only with added male vocals. And there’s nothing wrong with that, no sirree. I really want to mention The Go-Go’s in conjunction with this album, but this really isn’t the place to do it.
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)