Tag Archives: Male Bonding

The Year. 25-21.

25. Panda Bear – Tomboy [US]

It is difficult to explain in words why I like Panda Bear when I know I’m dismissive of similar music. It could be brand loyalty, though I’d like to think it’s not. The other times I’ve written about him specifically here, I came up with the ideas that a) “you can sleep to it” but it’s not boring and b) his melodies are “the melodies children sing to themselves in playgrounds, the purest, most beautiful music“. One of those is underselling and the other is, in all likelihood, overselling. Both still feel, to some extent, true. Tomboy is hypnagogic music, one long psychedelic lope at a varying pace with varying melodic or semi-obscured lyrical hooks to provide the changes in pattern amongst the repetition. It’s at its best when you lose focus and it feels for a second like you’re hearing a nursery rhyme for adults, as if that’s a normal thing. It doesn’t have the lofty moments Person Pitch had, but they were just highlights, not the whole reason it was good. That’s still the same, I just can’t really express what it is.

Panda Bear questions existence and thinks about ▲.

Panda Bear – Slow Motion


24. Fair Ohs – Everything Is Dancing [UK]

For some reason, the ‘tropical’ arm of lo-fi music seems easy to dismiss now. It’s not as if there’s anything less earnest about having syncopated drums and afrobeat guitars than there is about “updating” 60s garage rock or anything else. Fair Ohs, or at least in their most easily defined manifestation, are bloodline successors of Vampire Weekend, Abe Vigoda and maybe even Surfer Blood in terms of messing around with African styles in a conventional indie rock set-up. It’s been done, I know, it’s not a unique selling point any more. But what if the band is good? There is a distinct element of something nebulous like ‘heart’ about Fair Ohs that makes the negative connotations of still doing tropical pop go away, and besides, their sloganeering choruses are infectious enough to negate any quasi-critical discussion. Baldessari, the opener, effectively has two choruses and nothing else. It’s simple, pseudo-naïve and impossible not to find fun.

BBC Maida Vale session and their website that encourages you to blog about them.

Fair Ohs – Baldessari


23. Z-Ro – Meth [US]

You get the impression that, this far into his career, Z-Ro genuinely doesn’t care about the impression he gives off. There’s a disconcerting sense that he actually believes what he says, even when it’s well-trod territory for most rappers. He is very clear in his hatred of women, especially the mothers of his children, but he has no issue with stealing your girl, ostensibly just to flex alpha credentials. He is on his “fuck the world for no reason shit” on the song dedicated to proving that (No Reason) and everywhere else too. Everyone is getting slapped, and some people are getting shot. It’s actually unpleasant to listen to at times, but there’s something undeniable about how confident and unassailable he sounds when he rolls out the OG croon. The laid back Southern necksnap beats set you up and then Z-Ro sings on his tracks in exactly the opposite way that Drake (one of two people in the world given a dispensation to wear skinny jeans, coincidentally) does. There’s soul to it, real feeling. Even when he’s talking about being “an asshole – by nature”, that makes it ultimately relatable.

Z-Ro endorsing a barber shop and explaining that he doesn’t have bodyguards and a freestyle he dropped on Twitter.

Z-Ro – Never Had Love


22. Male Bonding – Endless Now [UK]

There are two approaches presenting themselves here. The first, well-worn and not particularly interesting any more, is the fact that Male Bonding made a lo-fi record and then followed it up with this one, which is less lo-fi. Like Girls. And Pains of Being Pure At Heart. And Smith Westerns. And a million other bands. Bands aren’t beholden to something as superficial as an amount of vocal reverb, even if that was, embarrassingly, what drew you in in the first place. The second approach is to talk about how Male Bonding, a London band already dangerously close to pastiche of American music, went even further in that direction. Slower and less reckless, this is J. Mascis territory definitely, but if you’re a fan of anything approaching this style of guitar pop, you’ve necessarily gotten over the term “derivative” and you acknowledge that these records have to live and die by their songs, their contributions to the great power pop compilation in the sky. Endless Now is a good record by those standards, and songs like Bones also fulfill the secondary purpose of backing up the idea that it’s time to welcome Blink 182 back into the guitar pop canon.

Review from AU and a cover of Aneurysm from an EMA split.

Male Bonding – Carrying


21. Fucked Up – David Comes To Life [CAN]

I suppose it’s important to acknowledge the fact that this is a rock opera. Fucked Up are, after all, vestigially a hardcore band, and lyrics are all-important in hardcore. It’s something to do with a love triangle and a lightbulb factory. But even though the 78 minute consistent concept has dazzled reviewers and dominated the narrative surrounding the record, that’s not really anything to do with what makes David Comes To Life good. It’s good because it’s the perfect modern power pop record, not separating melody and aggression but wedding them. Pink Eyes’ singing is, of course, melody-free, but that just adds to the impact. Rather than being a record of excess and laudable but ultimately inaccessible ambition, it’s better to think of it as a distillation of the immediacy of hardcore (Pink Eyes spitting out the words “running on nothing” in a way that makes you feel like there’s a lot of phlegm coming out and he’s going to need to sit down afterwards) and the prettiness of pop rock (the Poptopia-sounding high guitar riffs that drive almost every song). At an hour and twenty minutes, sure, it’s difficult to stay open to melodies presented with that much drive, but if you can avoid simply letting it hit you in the face, it’s really a triumph of fun, feelings and an unexpected level of quality control.

Running On Nothing live in their home town and a Pink Eyes interview from the AV Club.

Fucked Up – Queen Of Hearts


The Year. 25-21

25. Salem – King Night [US]

At times it feels like Salem exist solely to create disdain. Witch house is a stupid name for a genre, especially one that doesn’t sound like house, rapegaze is even stupider, and its happier older cousin chillwave was pretty much ruined integrity-wise by being named by HRO in the first place. But this is obviously emotionally affecting stuff, textured and – though this has been used as a criticism – eerily dispassionate. You can look at it as deracinated hip hop, and the weird dude rapping occasionally can make that happen, or you can take it alongside the anhedonia of someone like Grouper, pumped with a little more drama and underpinned with basic drum machine beats. Sometimes it whispers, sometimes it roars, but it always does it with a set of dead eyes that do strange things to your stomach. Like a witch, in your house. Or something like that.
The actual Witch House in Salem that I walked past once, and Chris Weingarten’s angry anti-Salem hip hop mixtape.

Salem – King Night


24. Pantha du Prince – Black Noise [D]

This is techno music that seems to move with your mood, to say different things. Or maybe it just alters your mood. But still, it feels mapped to the day, sitting, lying down or walking, it shades in the space behind fleeting thoughts. Techno is something I never got past the hall with, but in this theory, that’s because not all techno’s for everybody. Find the beats that are fit to you, and play them to death. The careful chimes of Abglanz and the busy stasis of Es Schneit are nothing less than hypnotic. And Panda Bear’s appearance on Stick To My Sides? Pretty good too.
Interview with The Quietus and a Pitchfork Guest List

Pantha du Prince – Abglanz


23. Tinchy Stryder – Third Strike [UK]

Hah, only joking.

23. Tinchy Stryer – Third Strike [UK]

Oh no wait, no, I wasn’t joking. Even though Tinchy Stryder is consummate bus-back phone-speaker fodder, there’s an argument to be made for huge-sounding, commercial rap music when it’s good, even if it’s British. And here it is. There’s cautious, considered-sounding music, introspective stuff. And then there’s the other thing. If you’re going to do it, you may as well do it on a grand scale. Third Strike is full of cheesy session vocalist hooks, but it’s also full of a guy with a flow that’s as polished as salad days Jay-Z, over beats that, at their best, snap enough to break necks (Gangsta?), pop with immediacy like the best club tracks (Never Know) or drive worms out of the ground in terror for miles around with their disgusting, distorted sub bass (Game Over). Not grime, but grimy.
The video to Game Over with a billion guests, and his Twitter.

Tinchy Stryder – Gangsta?


22. Domo Genesis – Rolling Papers [US]

Domo Genesis is Odd Future’s weed guy. It’s pretty much as straightforward as that. Tyler and Earl might rap about fucking Goldilocks and masturbating to Asher Roth (for some reason), but this is Domo and his album is called Rolling Papers, because he likes smoking weed. But, contrary to the discourse, OF’s not just about saying weird shit. It’s, and forgive this, a certain swagger. The beats shuffle along reluctantly, dragged out and slow with signature change ups, and Domo just rides that, expressing himself. That’s all he needs to do. On Kickin It, he’s so laid back, the beat’s backwards. On Drunk, he steps out a little and shows something. And when Tyler shows up – first as Wolf Haley on the title track and then as Ace Creator on the ridiculous and brilliant stoner-vs-non-stoner-in-a-shop-queue track Super Market – even better. If it’s not obvious by now, you gotta smoke a bean on this one.
Download literally everything available here and then read Domo talk about cereal.

Domo Genesis feat. Ace Creator – Super Market


21. Male Bonding – Nothing Hurts

The reverb thing is a good way to make overtly poppy punk music seem less cloying, to let obvious melodies have to come up and find you. There are no songs over 2.41 on this, and that’s how it should be. Noise fights with what could sometimes (say Nothing Used To Hurt) could be a Blink 182 album track, but it’s the sense of abandon that makes it so attractive, the slight bump in tempo when any song resolves back to the main riff and the drums go back to smashing cymbals. And then there are the bits that are more obviously indebted to the proto-indie rock canon, back when it was still mail order, zines and taping shit off people who have it. I wasn’t there, but Male Bonding is what I want it to have sounded like in my head.
Interview from The Line of Best Fit and them on p4ktv

Male Bonding – All Things This Way