More Hilton. A review I wrote about his solo album All in Your Head a few years back.
Sunday, January 31, 2021
So January is at and end. I'm sure a month we're always pleased to see the back of. I'm delighted to report that there has been no end of great and interesting music. Much of which I've written about on here. Here's a playlist of my favourite things:
Mid-Saturday morning and I'm two tracks into the new Besnard Lakes album, (take a deep breath), The Besnard Lakes Are The Last Of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings, and I'm pretty much dumbstruck. Boy is this ambitious. It sounds like they're after some kind of unholy mix of Pet Sounds, Big Star's 3rd and Flaming Lips Soft Bulletin, and more remarkably that they might not actually fall too far short.
Besnard Lakes are a band that have popped up intermittently on my personal musical radar for a few years now without ever fully registering. I had to check just now as to whether I'd featured them here as a Song of the Day artist. Apparently I haven't. So I'm making amends in that respect anyhow. Because on the basis of what I've heard thus far, (listening as I type), it's the least they deserve. There's something quite fantastic going on here.
I'm clearly not alone. Uncut Magazine made the record their album of the month a couple of issues ago. I'm currently in a state of some frustration trying to track my copy down, having made the unforgivable error of tidying up my flat a couple of days ago. Never mind, I'll try to do the whole thing justice myself.
So, biographical basics. Besnard Lakes hail from Montreal, Canada and were formed way back in 2003. That's so long ago that you might be led to assume that they've long since lost any creative spark they may once have had. Trust me they haven't. There may be some true gems in their back catalogue, I'm sure there are, but frankly this one is more than enough for me, for right now and some time ahead I imagine.
The record is full of things that I would usually expect myself to hate. It also reminds me of Pink Floyd, and not the Pink Floyd that I'm generally partial too. Namely the Syd incarnation. But the Roger Waters one that I'm generally utterly allergic to is the one that comes most readily to mind here. Also other Prog offerings that I've never even been able to summon up the courage to immerse myself to even really listen to. The Alan Parsons Project. Peak period ELO. It ends with a seventeen minute title track for goodness sake. A seventeen minute title track which is utterly magnificent at that. Perhaps I've been ungenerous and should open myself up to some of these things. The Last Of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings is doing strange things to me. I'm quite lost in its cosmic wonder.
Because Wonder seems to be the key word here. The Besnard Lakes are adrift in Cosmic Wonder. Like your older brothers record collection, they remind you of things that you were born slightly to late for. Like another slightly less than hip reference point, The Moody Blues, they seem to find themselves in search for the mythical lost chord. I actually suspect they might have actually found it at some point during their journey.
I'm not sure what I'm writing will encourge you to investigate further. All I can say is that I urge you to do so. This is some record. I'm not altogether sure that it's entirely a 2021 album, (save for its solemnity and portentious themes),but it is a truly fascinating one, and one of great achievement and perhaps in this of all years we need to put aside inherent prejudices and lay ourselves open to what is so often and so foolishly described as guilty pleasures. The Last Of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings is full of guilty pleasures and I'll certainly be back for more. Time to make myself presentable and see if I can track down that copy of Uncut Magazine and remind myself to tidy up a bit more judiciously next time. I'm sure it's around here somewhere.
P.S. I found the magazine I was looking for. It was where you would have least expected to find it. In a pile of other music magazines. I was pleased to disover that the review, (well worth a read in itself), concurs with a lot of the conclusions I arrived at myself in the review here.
Saturday, January 30, 2021
Friday, January 29, 2021
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Fear of Music - The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk & Disco # 169 Sons of Bazerk Featuring No Self Control & The Band - Bazerk, Bazerk, Bazerk
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Kim Wilde's debut record and the only one she ever made that I'd say was necessary in any way. Sure it's completely phoney. Kim's not remotely edgy even though she's pretending to be. Nor is she remotely street or remotely New Wave.The band are not her gang. They're just session musicians. This is totally fabricated from start to finish. The whole thing is nicked quite unashamedly lock, stock and barrel from Blondie's Parallel Lines routine. But the tune is great, its momentum is full on.
'Out of Time is a great albumand one of those records where you can hear the band very deliberately going for mainstream success, and it doesn't come off too nakedly compromised or greedy.'
Monday, January 25, 2021
Sunday, January 24, 2021
'Keats and Yeats are on your side.'
After that Kiwi Jr. review, a broader definition of the term Twee. Something I posted back in 2016.
From this point on, one hundred pages from its end destination I found my attention began to wander and I even resorted to skipping paragraphs and sometimes pages. Partly because Spitz's main focus moved from music to film, the internet, the technological revolution we've all experienced in the last twenty years and how they inform the Twee phenomenon he was at pains to define. The focus here becomes relentlessly American, where it hasn't been before with Spitz jumping with some authority from New York to the UK over the preceding five decades. Boston also gets a look in with Richman and the Modern Lovers but according to his account Twee remains a predominantly East Coast concern in the States until it spreads nationwide after the millennium, much as punk had spread accross the country from its initial CBGB's base in the eighties.
As for the what goes on in the remainder of the book, with the exception of Wes Anderson, who I do think is, and will continue to be seen as an important figure, I was either unfamiliar with many of the players or cultural products he was discussing or, for example with the films Garden Stone and Juno, I feel that despite their basic enjoyableness, comment on an idea that is being set in stone, put on display like an exhibit behind glass. Something is just not nearly as exciting as it was. A basic process of passivity and consumption is setting in. Because so much of the best stuff in this tradition has been produced already and now it's most of all about collecting, refining, complementing in the minutest detail and most of all revering the canon. Or else, if there is an act of creation going on aping and mirroring what has gone before in ever diminishing circles
So while Spitz makes a splendid case in defining the idea of Twee, he's on shakier ground when attempting to justify using the term Revolution in relation to it. While I applaud the set of records and related culture that he extols, (it's pretty much me to a large extent, or certainly a sizable proportion of me), he does, and this is not a direct criticism of his book per se, make you yearn for more of the sheer creative, engaged energy that he describes in the first two thirds of the book.
A Shady Lane. Everybody wants one. New Sub Pop signings Toronto's Kiwi Jr. for sure. Their debts to Pavement and Stephen Malkmus are so entirely obvious, glaring and fundamental that it really has to be foregrounded from the off, before even mentioning, never mind discussing their second album Cooler Returns.'
But wait, because there's more to say. First and foremost Kiwi Jr. are far from the only alternative guitar band around these days that owe a considerable amount, perhaps their very existence to those well schooled, well fed indie chancers who gagged at their big shot at the mainstream by deliberately making a goofy video for Cut Your Hair when genuine rather than 'Cool' marginal stardum beckoned. back in the early Nineties.
Nevertheless, Pavenment's legacy remains huge. Ask Parquet Courts. Ask Nap Eyes. Ask any number of slacker early Twenty Somethings who choose to eschew the obvious melodic pop action plan and wander off into the trees like a non-placing Whacky Races contestant. Kiwi Jr. are merely the latest contenders.
And they're most definitely contenders. This is a darned good record. It should also be remembered very early on that Pavement most definitely did not invent this particular wheel, although they've come to define it more and more in some respects since the millenium.
So here comes, a list of progenitors for the alternative world of pop wonder that Kiwi Jr. draw on. This really started with The Velvet Underground. Then Jonathan and his Modern Lovers, early Television, Subway Sect, Buzzcocks, Orange Juice, The Go Betweens, The Clean and all those fabulous, fabulous Flying Nun bands. If you like I could make you a playlist but you'reprobably best directed to Twee by Marc Spitz which pretty much definitely catalogued and itemised this approach.
Kiwi Jr understand this school of thought from top to bottom, inside out. They add their own entry to this alternative encyclopedia with Cooler Returns and like Fonzie it is cool, though those who are not prone to this kind of thing will probably not understand. The record never lets up. One song after another takes the self same route. The same but different.
Listen to this if you like the bands I've mentioned. Listen to it even if you don't. You'll understand immediately where I'm coming from. You'll hear Pavement, but also Loaded suss and strum, the guitar solo in Boredom, echoes of Blue Boy, Anything Could Happen and any number of wonderful bits from other alternative universe pop hits. But it's not stealing. It's all used and utilised with the best possible intentions. And most importantly it works...
Everyone gets to be young at least once. Kiwi Jr. are grabbing this particular chance in life by the collar and squeezing every inch of joy out of their opportunity. This is a wonderful, joyous record and I love it to bits. Same as it ever was. If a thing ain't broken, there's no need to fix it. Just understand its essence, what makes it tick, and do it for yourself.
It makes sense that the members of Sleepmarks are Washington D.C. scene veterans. The music from their recently released debut EP Evaporating Haze has all the characteristics you might expect. Commitment, urgency, activism, Punk energy. Unexpected chord changes.
Fans of Mission of Burma, Husker Du and Minutemen might also find plenty to enjoy here. American Post Punk seemed instilled with a work ethic which was never really quite so evident in the refusenik British equivalent. Sleepmarks demonstrate why the effort was often worth it.
Saturday, January 23, 2021
I've written about Yung before. Way back in 2015. They're a guitar band from Aarhus, Denmark. Maybe not as Yung as they once were, but they still seem quite young to me. These things are relative I suppose. Their guitars clash and chime as they always did. Their vocals ,delivered by frontman Mikkel Holm Sikjaer, consistently urgent, intense, but most importantly, commited.
On latest album Ongoing Dispute, they add another chapter to their story and it's a worthy, (in the positive sense), entry. The guitars, bass and drums, brew up quiet storms in which Sikjaer intones, struggles, and makes his case tellingly.
It's a record which will probably remind you of others. Strangely, I was minded often of Grant McLennan and early Go Betweens and that band's strained, pained but poetic presence. More obviously, Yung's sound echoes any number of great Nineties European alternative guitar bands, Darryl-Anne, Deus, Bettie Serviert.
There are other reminders. There's a definite suggestion of Radiohead's initial rage and intent. Also, earlier travellers down existential roads, Magazine, Television. Yung dance to Joy Division's radio. You get the sense oflines of thumbed paperbacks on their bookshelves.This is well read, independent rock music.
Yung are good enough to deserve to be considered on their own terms. And Ongoing Dispute is a record worth coming back to. I will.
Fear of Music - The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk & Disco # 165 Madonna - The Immaculate Collection
Friday, January 22, 2021
Fear of Music - The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk & Disco # 165 Happy Mondays - Pills, Thrills & Bellyaches
'(they) made a debut single ... that was brave enough to make social comment will pastiching the wigga mores of the new white boy funk.'
Thursday, January 21, 2021
On the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st Century, rememberance of beauty past and present and promise for the future. Cassandra Jenkins, who is certainly the latter has a debut album coming soon which should certainly be worth a listen. Here's a taster.
Wednesday, January 20, 2021