Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Year. 5. I put the wrong things in the wrong bin again.

5. Half Man Half Biscuit – 90 Bisodol (Crimond) [UK]

It’s appealing to just quote things and hope that the quotations convey the simultaneous humour, withering disdain and dejected wisdom that have made Half Man Half Biscuit the kind of band who inspire fans to maintain a comprehensive list of the lyrical references other fans have slipped into headlines of the stories they write for their media jobs. There is also, it might be interesting to note, a comprehensive list of times their lives in general reminded people of Half Man Half Biscuit. It’s a lifestyle choice, to an extent. Quoting Half Man Half Biscuit just becomes, subconsciously and consciously, something that happens. You fill the student newspaper someone let you edit with references. You name your podcast after one of their songs.

And focusing on the songs as songs, as you might (and I do) with every other indie rock band in the world isn’t exactly that fruitful with Half Man Half Biscuit. There’s a lot of genre pastiche, like trad rock of RSVP, and otherwise it’s not that far from what you’d expect a band that was on C86 to be doing when they got old, most of the time. That doesn’t mean the songs aren’t great, but they’re great because of Nigel Blackwell’s lyrics. Which convey simultaneous humour, withering disdain and dejected wisdom that inspires fans to do fan shit.

Let’s get this out of the way, then. This is not a joke band. It is, however, an incredibly funny band. Several of the songs of 90 Bisodol (Crimond) are elaborate, single-barrel jokes. Fun Day In The Park is effectively an extended family comedian joke complete with an actual punchline. I’ll type out the lyrics so you can get the idea:

I saw posters all around town
Fun day in the park, bring the family down

Bric-a-brac, puppet show, fire engine, steam train, face painting, mask making, falconry, tombola, climbing wall, cake stall, hook-a-duck, candy floss, balloons, Punch and Judy, Shetland ponies, hot dog, beat the goalie, soft play area with free bananas, Iguana Andy and his iguanas, jousting, hoopla, ghost train, pedal cars, quad bikes, stunt kites, sundries and much, much more.

For further enquiries ring this number. I rang it and asked about the “much, much more.” I was greeted with awkward silence.

They had lied to me. They had lied to me on their posters.

You’d be surprised how much repeat listening that track bears. L’Enfer C’est Autres is another song that it’s fair to consider primarily ‘funny’ and secondarily everything else, but in a different way. It returns to the important subject of pedestrian etiquette, which you’d think had been comprehensively dealt with the last time they dealt with it. Not so. As is often the structural move, it’s in two parts. In the first one, a couple walks down a path, forcing Blackwell to walk in the road. In the second half, he declares (brilliantly, bitingly, hilariously, nail-on-the-head-like): “I feel I’ve just been cornered by a man who’s just discovered Johnny Cash/He’s pissed and he’s boring and he’s telling me all about The Man In Black.” An annoying type of driver, to a pedestrian, of course. Not so much a joke as a wry eye cast on aggressively normal stuff.

As many times as I try to stop myself, I can’t help thinking of Leaving Cert English and being told to write that Patrick Kavanagh finds the drama of Homer’s epics in the bullshit everyday events of Monaghan. The closing track, Rock And Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools, a sequel to the last album’s glorious National Shite Day in terms of threatening sound and gall at the mundane, consists of a dystopian reading of the events of a specific episode of what must be Soccer AM. The protagonist, a singer in a band, shows himself to be merely a casual football supporter and earns the ire of Blackwell and a headlock from Neil Ruddock. Heston Blumenthal is also mentioned by name.

In the second half of the song, Blackwell unleashes one of his most aesthetically pleasing lines to date as he switches tack completely: “In other news I went along to what I thought was Curry Night at what I’d hitherto perceived to be a pub that I could trust and it transpired/Curry Night were there to play Crowded House and David Gray.” The overall moral, I think, is that both lad-like indie rock bands and pub covers bands are shit. These are fairly well-worn topics for Half Man Half Biscuit songs, strangely enough, but if you were to go in for structural criticism, this one’s bigger in scale and scope and pulled off better than any of the previous ones. It’s a little fearsome.

Metal bands also get it, on the album’s apex in terms of noticing things everyone notices but then actually expressing it in a surprising and humorous way, Left Lyrics In The Practice Room. Over a fast I-IV-V chord progression, Blackwell shouts an empirically perfect opening four lines, which I will have to block quote so I can put in the quotation marks.

“Demon fiend, leave your tomb,
Seek out the virgin womb”
Hey Chris from Future Doom,
You left your lyrics in the practice room.

It’s hard to really express how perfect this song is if you have no experience of the type of teenage metal bands that spawn in the dark corners of practice spaces. That sounds ridiculous and exclusionary, but that’s kind of Half Man Half Biscuit’s thing. I had to check the already-twice-linked Lyrics Project to develop a vague idea of what Joy In Leeuwarden is about (an international korfball tournament taking place in Holland) and Tommy Walsh’s Eco House probably loses a lot of its bite if you’re not familiar with soft hands English prime-time television. You have to roll with the punches.

I was worried before I started this that I would fail to say anything useful at all about Half Man Half Biscuit. Both better writers and more hardened fans than me have failed consistently to do anything more than just defend or cheerlead. I did fail, really. I did exactly what I said it would be appealing to do. I quoted lyrics. As a last ditch effort, I’m going to abandon all pretence of writing anything relevant and important and just go full bore with directly hectoring you.

Listen to this band. There is nothing else like a Half Man Half Biscuit album. Nigel Blackwell is a genius who, on the types of scales geniuses tend to work on, is being completely ignored. It’s not cleverness or glibness. It is genius. The songs might not sound like the kind of thing you like, but you need to sit with an album for a little while just to blood yourself into the slightly different mode of listening you’re going to have to adjust to. That might sound condescending. If so, I apologise, you were born with the facilities to immediately understand and appreciate all types of music. But you do need to listen to this band. Get the words into your interior monologue. This record is as good as any of the latter-day HMHB records and there’s no reason not to start here.

Half Man Half Biscuit – Left Lyrics In The Practice Room
Half Man Half Biscuit – Rock And Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools

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The Year. 6. I wanna make your bed.

6. Squarehead – Yeah Nothing [IRL]

List of things I attempted and failed to do instead of reviewing this album again:

  • Study of all the Irish reviews of the album for themes and crutches (nothing interesting emerged)
  • Word cloud of all the Irish reviews of the album (same level of nothing interesting emerged)
  • Word cloud of all the lyrics (hand-typed, gave up after four songs)
  • Transcribing full 52 minute interview from August (stretches are inaudible because of some sort of extractor fan)
  • Autobiographical sketch listing all the Squarehead-related things I can remember doing in 2011 (pointless, self-indulgent)
  • What I’m going to do, then, is just repost my review from AU when the album was initially released and talk a little bit about it:

    I like that review. It says everything I would end up saying at great length here. When I submitted it, I had a conversation with Chris Jones, the editor of AU, about the score I wanted to give the record. I hope he doesn’t mind me mentioning it, but I think it might be interesting and I don’t think it reflects badly on either of us. I was pushing for a 9 initially, but he reminded that me that giving it a 9 meant that AU would have to look to stick by that, at the end of the year for example. I was speaking for the magazine rather than myself, saying that it was genuinely a great record. I suspect, also, that having heard the record himself, he felt like I was overshooting a little. He didn’t push it, either, he just raised it with me.

    I got what he was saying. I’ve been aware of the general trend towards overrating Irish music in the native media for as long as I’ve been paying attention to the native media’s coverage of Irish music. And I didn’t come to the album blind. I have all the seven inches too. I’d seen these songs live over and over again. When I heard the songs on the record, they were instantly recognisable to me. Yeah Nothing wasn’t just an album in a critical vacuum to me as I reviewed it. It was the LP that a band I’d already come to really like ended up putting out. I thought about it, and I thought, yeah, you have a point. Maybe an 8.

    Because there’s nothing particularly new or awe-inspiring about Yeah Nothing. I have friends that listened to it once, thought ‘derivative’ and then shelved it on iTunes potentially forever. I wasn’t even sure I could expect a large percentage of people to listen to it and hear what I heard, even if that was something people did. For the purposes of AU, it was an 8/10, a genre album the reviewer thought was really good and catchy. It wasn’t going to change anyone’s world view.

    For me though, it was a 9/10. It was obviously better than other Irish indie pop albums put out in 2011, even though many of them were very good in their own right. The songwriting was more rounded and more confident, the hooks were better, the songs could play with emotions and it was fun, in a specific type of way that I can’t help but love in music. It was better than pretty much every non-Irish indie pop album for me too, for the same reasons. A lot of the best American and English indie pop is plagued by either a dead-eyed detachment or an earnestness that’s a little off-putting whether or not it’s affected with irony.

    Yeah Nothing has an inner personality that insulates it from that and makes it relatable straight away. And, like I said, I’d had those songs beaten into me already. I was just happy to have them all together. At some point since August, every single track on the album has been the one I’ve skipped to while walking around. If I was worried, in that conversation with Chris, that I’d end up revising my own opinion downwards as time went by, I needn’t have been. It was an 8 for AU purposes, it was and still is a 9 for mine, and it’s the sixth best album of the year.

    And that is the end of this insight into the machinations of the Irish music press and also the way I sort music in my mind and the boring and annoying level of seriousness to my thought processes. Yeah Nothing is great, listen to it.

    Squarehead and Patrick Kelleher’s fake VH1 special and the golf-heavy video for Midnight Enchilada.

    Squarehead – I Wanna Hold Your Handhttp://kiwi6.com/file/n5o6wmrwk3

    The Year. 7. White devils like it.

    7. Das Racist – Relax [US]

    White devils like it. You’re a rap crew educated at Wesleyan, exposed to the world by a joke dance song about fast food and you’re actually called Das Racist, and that’s the line you choose to open your debut album. There’s a lot in those first four words though. It might say ‘confrontation’, in the sense that white people are devils and they can fuck off. It might say ‘guilt’, in the sense that the natural fanbase for pop art raps about products and identity politics turned out to be the white people they were (only sometimes) attacking. It might say college. It might say humour. It might imply that they’re engaging in some uncomfortable cultural appropriation of their own. It possibly says all of that, but the point is it definitely connotes.

    It’s annoying to think of an album in a purely heady way, but the way Das Racist present themselves and the way they slid to prominence might demand it. When Relax came out, it wasn’t an album to listen to with fresh ears, it was the thing that Das Racist were finally willing to stand behind, supposedly free of the excuses that could save the often lazy-sounding, patchy mixtapes. Much as you might like to ignore them, they’re fascinating. Witness Heems go through his questions on Tumblr hammering the paste shortcut with the words ‘wet dog’ in all caps because everyone kept saying “I’m white and I think you are being rude to your fans”. Witness them venture a joke about John Boehner to a New York Times journalist who responds by saying she that that sort of thing is why she never asks rappers questions about politics as if they’d just uncovered the gay mafia that runs the entertainment industry. They are internet-era public figures who happen to rap. And if it’s worth hearing what they have to say about burgers and glasses of water, it’s worth at least checking out what they’re presenting as a debut album.

    It’s a minefield, really. The album, not the broader cultural presence. It’s rife with ill-fitting juxtapositions and even when they work, it’s never comfortable. In fact, it’s only good when it’s not comfortable. The beats, some contributed by members of bands like Vampire Weekend and Yeasayer, are broadly indie-sounding, even touching the reprehensible chillwave at times. They snap, sometimes, like when El-P or Danny Brown need something resembling an actual rap beat to go over. But mostly they don’t. Kool A.D.’s complex flow fits any beat simply by filling it with syllables, mostly dripping in irony and sometimes even delivered in a half-laugh. It’s indigestible to call it postmodern so, as lay music fans, maybe we should stick to “throwing shit at a wall”. Sometimes it sticks. Sometimes it slides off, but rarely in an offensively bad way. Heems on the other hand, with a huskier rap voice possibly developed especially for this record, either nails it or sounds lost. When he nails it, he’s a hundred times the rapper Kool A.D. is with half the word count.

    It’s easy to pick out the songs where the stars align and both just rap good verses without disappearing into either failed shit-at-a-wall collage or hectoring. I have no idea if it’s bad critical practice for me to just list them, but here they are: Relax, Michael Jackson, Middle Of The Cake and Rainbow In The Dark. Kool A.D. goes in especially on the first two, in slightly different ways. On the first one (or ‘the eponymous opener’), he presents Das Racist, as alluded to earlier, in scrapbook form. White devils, coffee, fire and brimstone, bringing light to the kids, the word ‘negro’, being an idiot, maybe getting more popular, Abramovic, Lady Gaga, the word ‘fag’, the Wesleyan, a poetry slam. With various levels of mockery. Aimed at himself and the listener. In an undiscernable ratio. On Michael Jackson it seems slightly less deft, just a string of cool-sounding bullshit, but then what was the verse on Relax? It is hard to find the line, especially when it’s probably not there to be found at all. When it works it, it’s self-evident.

    Heems’ highlights are as the moments where he sounds like he feels it, in an immediate sense and not just a general one. On Relax, it goes from background story/identity politics to an aggressive present/identity politics as he growls “I ain’t backin’ out till I own a bank to brag about” and from then on he murders it. The moments aren’t all necessarily political righteousness though, they’re just the parts where he spits the line you remember. The parody brag “known to rock the flyest shit and eat the best pizza,” on Rainbow In The Dark, semi-disowned as meaningless joke music recently (although again, where the fuck is the line?), is cool. Outside of the violent self-definition on Relax, his verse on Middle Of The Cake hits the nail on the head. It’s direct, it’s never clumsy, he fits identity shit in without it sounding forced and he says good shit, like using Fran Drescher as a metaphor for money.

    Middle Of The Cake just about evades being annoying for being agenda rap, but other songs don’t, not because agenda rap’s a problem per se, but just because they’re not as good. Brand New Dance is secondary school-level sarcasm (“it’s a brand new dance, give us all your money/everybody, love everybody”). Power feels aimless before Danny Brown comes in and provides an actual, normal rap verse about spending money and getting his dick sucked. Other songs have their own problems. They all have high points – quotables especially – but they have problems too. I am going to strategically ignore the songs that are either genre parody or self-indulgence. They’re alright, but they’re profoundly out of place, and they can fuck off.

    But Relax is, above all else, engaging. It’s pleasant to listen to, even if ‘pleasant’ doesn’t sound like a compliment. It is definitely flawed. Pitchfork had a point in bringing up the “incomplete framework of a record meant to be aesthetically unified and audience-dividing”. But that’s partly why it’s so engaging. A uniform success in artistic terms would seem almost crude coming from Das Racist at this point. Yes, you could easily pare off a couple of tracks and there’s a recurring urge to take the red pen to certain lines and ideas, correcting and improving, but it’s the gamble that makes it exciting when it works. The arrogant disinterest they try to project actually ends up creating a sort of vulnerability, especially for Heems, who can suck really badly when he doesn’t get it exactly right. The confusion created by the sometimes meaningless flows and the ideas that don’t quite come off is the atmosphere that defines the album, and it’s that that makes the high points seem really, really high. It’s a reassuring sign that there’s no autopilot. That is enough, somehow, to compensate for everything that’s wrong.

    Das Racist – Relax

    The Year. 10-8.

    10. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra [NZ]

    Unknown Mortal Orchestra is one mysterious dude from New Zealand. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about all the squelches and improbable chords changes and hooks that make this an excellent album. Ffunny Friends, right at the start, is basically just one long glorious guitar hook over bopping drums, broken up by some wobbles, the kind of thing you’d whistle if you were just a happy-go-lucky guy about to get eaten by the monster in a monster movie. How Can U Luv Me (right at the start of what you’d have to presume is Side 2) has another one of those glorious hooks broken up by whatever you put into songs to space out hooks, except this time it’s on top of Sly Stone burp bass and sounds like it’s being played through a shoebox. It’s also vaguely exciting for some reason that someone has rediscovered almost-lost ability to make good songs that sound like the Beatles. It nearly feels like Nelson, rather than simply listening to a lot of psychedelic music and replicating it, has succeeded in the Borgesian task of discovering mind-altering drugs and applying them to rock music in a vacuum with identical results. That’s kind of a meaningless thing to say, but the thrust is basically that it’s difficult to sound like Unknown Mortal Orchestra does without coming off glib or directionless. The record is never glib or directionless, and that’s a feat.
    Not unexpectedly trippy music video and the dude not being mysterious at all.

    Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Ffunny Ffriends

    9. Milk Maid – Yucca [UK]

    It was a weird feeling when, after months and months of listening to this record, I discovered about thirty seconds ago that Milk Maid is a “home recording side-project” of one of the dudes from Nine Black Alps. I have no idea whether or not that would have had an effect on how I absorbed it. After all, I did discover Milk Maid through clicking the last ten or so emails I got from the various PR companies who got my email either from this blog or something magazine-related. I liked it then. I was actually a little shocked and it made me reconsider whether or not I should really be ignoring 98% of the emails I get. Because this is a good band. Yucca is absolutely embedded in the “home recording” aesthetic, certainly, in what might be logical given that the ‘auteur’ has plenty of access to real studios in his day job if he needs it. It’s lo-fi in a conceptual sense as well as just a quality sense, everything sounding a little limp and turned up to a mild fuzz to compensate for that. That’s a good thing. It makes it sound not only personable but personal, lazily underwritten for the most part but with all the focus on the parts of the songs that are supposed to stand out, like a collection of demos for a power pop band. Dead Wrong and Not Me are what should (and might, I have no idea) be the seven inches, the things you keep on regular rotation by themselves, and they’re split artfully by Girl, a sort of disingenuous-sounding Velvet Underground via REM b-side fingerpicked song about an American girl. It all sounds a little disingenuous really, but the convenient thing about this sort of aesthetic is that you can basically get away with anything on the basis that it’s just bedroom bullshit. It’s just a dude imagining himself playing the types of songs he listens to, and the only reason it made it this far is that the songs in his head are good ones. It also, contrary to all of that, has the emotional shifts of a real major label college rock classic, which makes it feel somehow more serious and less throwaway than it might.
    Not unexpectedly poor quality music video and all the Milk Maid interviews are boring so fuck that.

    Milk Maid – Not Me

    8. Hunx And His Punx – Too Young To Be In Love [US]

    This is basically just a collection of fake early 60s singles by indie rock’s gayest man. The first record, in fact, was literally a collection of fake early 60s singles called Gay Singles, but this one, being an actual LP, is still wrought from the same unashamed flaying of the Be My Baby drum beat with the attendant oohs and sloganeering lyrics about boy troubles. But, strangely for what seems on the surface like the most repulsively ironic idea for a band since being from New Jersey and liking Bruce Springsteen somehow swung into being Pitchfork cool, it feels honest. There’s a respect for melody to the extent that anything that doesn’t add to a song is left out of the song, and anything that wouldn’t get jukebox plays in 1962 is left off the record in the first place. Yes, certainly, Hunx can’t actually sing that well, and yes, he occasionally writes songs that aren’t even in his range, like Keep Away From Johnny. But where Cassie and Kickball Katy feel like they’re playing at this level of naivety, Hunx seems to own it. It’s not a world he’s creating for fun and nostalgia so much as a refusal to admit that it’s weird or unusual to pretend that the sort of music that now sells Time-Life collections is no longer transgressive in the way it was when your local evangelical pastor was first against it. The lyrical concerns are so simplistic it’s ridiculous: “why won’t you do it with me, I want to do it with you” or “I just wanna be the one who gets to hug and kiss ya tonight”. He’s Coming Back is the closest thing in terms of immediacy and brilliance to Hunx’s flagship anthem, You Don’t Like Rock And Roll. It’s essentially a threat that his boyfriend is about to arrive and beat you up for hitting on him, trading lines (“you better watch your back”) with his female backing singers (“yeah, my boyfriend’s coming back”) until you get the point, and then repeating them again until you can’t forget it. Like any great collection of fake early 60s singles, the record doesn’t stop being catchy for long enough to get boring or annoying. It’s stupid amounts of fun.
    My original review for AU and a short email transcript from an interview I did for a short AU introductory piece.

    Hunx And His Punx – He’s Coming Back

    The Year. Interlude – Top 12 New Beano Characters for 2012

    This guest post is by cartoonist and comedian Mark Baldwin of Silly Beggar. It features new Beano characters. If you are American and don’t know what the Beano is, it’s a comic. You could’ve figured that out. Anyway, visual content! Poetry about CERN and, for balance, cartoons about things called Simon Growl. Click one and proceed.

    The Year. 15-11

    15. Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde [US]

    “Fuzz band goes clean on second record” is the new “female celebrity gains/loses weight”, but I can’t stop mentioning it. It’s especially fun with Smith Westerns because they’re not surfy or garagey. With the curtains thrown open, they are essentially Mott the Hoople, which has strange connotations for their indie rock critical Venn Diagram. Glam rock is not really something that people attempt successfully in an indie rock milieu. And to do it without the glamour? With just the Mick Ronson riffs? It’s weirder than it gets credit for, weirder at this point than the willful sonic messing in the genre that ‘experimental’ is turning into. Fuck, like, Smith Westerns like Oasis. How do they manage to stay good, and avoid being the most annoying thing since… Oasis? If you’ve read anything written on this blog about indie pop since about 2009, you’ll know the justification about to be dropped here. SONGS. Still New is like a version of All The Young Dudes for 2011, except it’s not even for 2011. Dye The World is one of those TOTP 1970 compilation anthems where the lyrics are about what ‘we’ should do to ‘the world’ to make it cool for the teenagers as opposed to lame parents who went to war and want you to finish your dinner. Weekend is just riffs. We like that type of thing around here, songs you just already like and then have to describe in stupid-sounding terms.
    A short interview transcript from this blog, where I ask dude if he genuinely, seriously likes Oasis and the HRO post with a (taken down) video by a girl who stalks Smith Westerns, where I got my only ever first comment.

    Smith Westerns – Dye The World

    14. Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Belong [US]

    When I originally reviewed this for Totally Dublin in March, I ended the 75 word piece with the following sentence: “There’s no doubt that they lay the emotion on thick, but they’re good enough at it to make a certain type of person cry.” The problem with that, if you’re into the rough approximation of theory that exists for music criticism, is obviously that it’s an uncomfortably subjective way of appraising a record. Still, I knew I liked the record, and I knew that if I didn’t admit that sort of subjectivity into the review, I’d end up tearing it apart. Belong is like the injured faun of albums, from a critical perspective. There’s a huge list of things you could complain about. Homage to the point of pastiche or even plagiarism. Americans doing Sarah Records-type twee emotion, with all the problems that entails. An extremely conscious ditching of the 80s pastiche lo-fi sound that took some defending in the first place for an 80s pastiche hi-fi sound. But if you want to like this (and it is an excellent record), you need to just accept all that. Allow yourself to be sad alongside some of the best things to be sad with. New Order drums, reverberating guitars, high, glassy synths and simple boy-girl lyrics delivered with the utmost whispery sincerity. If tambourines and big slow guitar strum swells sicken you rather than fill you with feelings or whatever, you’re probably safe sticking to Untrue. But Belong has an aesthetic, and within that aesthetic, it has some great music. The title track could be used in schools as an example of a perfect soft rock song. Anne With An E is Galaxie 500 level hopelessness-of-all-your-endeavours mournful love music. Belong is a good record.
    A video of dogs hanging out of cars, Pains doing a live thing in my friends’ apartment courtyard and my interview with Kip.

    Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Belong

    13. Vivian Girls – Share The Joy [US]

    Hey, it’s those three girls that are bad at playing their instruments in an endearing way. It seems to be getting less endearing to a lot of people. Share The Joy’s not exactly a critically acclaimed record, and one of the things I found interesting from reviews is that Pitchfork mentioned a song that “never really builds toward much of anything”. That’s surely a flawed understanding of the point of a Vivian Girls song, like complaining that a Daniel Johnston song is too naïve or a Dragonforce song is emotionally heavy-handed. Build and release isn’t the only way to make rock music and, strangely, the song in question, The Other Girls, does actually go somewhere. But still, the perceived ‘loss of immediacy’ from previous records is symptomatic of focusing on the wrong thing to like. Share The Joy is, as far as I can tell from my scientific experiments, based on a construction of a false past. They’re the kind of simple melodies, both the sung ones and the one-string guitar ones, you pluck out in a teenage bedroom, except the teenage bedroom Vivian Girls built isn’t real, and it’s not even a real simulation of a 50s or 60s one the way some garage bands’ garages are simulations. It’s a selective remembering, and the whole point is the projected innocence, the not-knowing. Teenage feelings with all of the missing context that implies. Dance if you wanna. Don’t be like the other girls. Stop freaking out over that dude or whatever.
    Doing oohs down the phone. Also, r u fallin in ❤ with Kickball Katy? (A: Yes)

    Vivian Girls – Dance (If You Wanna)

    12. Rustie – Glass Swords [UK]

    “Having a good night, man?”
    “Yeah, it’s good craic, yeah.”
    “This tune’s a fucking ripper isn’t it?”
    “Yeah it’s fucking class, man.”
    “Just on the drink yourself is it?”
    “Nah, nah.”
    “Oh you dropped did you?”
    “Yeah, I did yeah.”
    “Long ago?”
    “Yeah a while ago now, yeah.”
    “Are you feeling it yet, no?”
    “Fucking flying, man.”
    “Ahhhhh, good man! Not bad are they?”
    “Yeah they’re deadly, man.”
    “Gonna stall it in and have a bit of a dance are you?”
    “Yeah fuck it yeah, let’s stall it.”
    “This is a fucking RIPPER.”
    A summer mix by Rustie for NPR and a real old Jamie Lidell remix that’s still deadly.

    Rustie – Ultra Thizz

    11. Tune-Yards – Whokill [US]

    Whokill is effectively a recasting of the forms of past music, which is what everyone does these days. In this case, it’s in the form of taking the shape of a jazz rhythm and replacing the parts until it’s still in the shape of a jazz song but isn’t a jazz song any more. To dismiss it as knowingly clever, glib genre tourism (or “Guardian music section bullshit” as one of the critical discourses I regularly engage with calls it) is appealing but pointlessly reductive. There’s nothing functionally different about Tune-yards using a reggae or jazz rhythm than a wonky song being built around one, and it’s about what you build with the plans anyway, not the plans themselves. There’s also an appealing indifference towards sanding down the edges, but in what sounds like a deliberate and studied way, like a version of Dave Longstreth that is willing to countenance the idea that it might be enough for music to just be fun. It might be cynical to ascribe all the talk of “politics” to the fact that Merrill Garbus is a woman with a moustache, so I’m not going to do that. Thinking about this as a political record is about as useful for your own sanity and enjoyment as thinking about E-40 as a Christian Rap artist though. What’s good about Whokill comes from the interlocking melodies, the scrapbook borrowings, the parts where things intentionally don’t fit so that you can’t switch off mentally while you listen. The way it’s built, the little weirdnesses, are the makings of real immediacy, a Deerhoof-type ability to use things that are most definitely not the stuff of pop music to create something that is as straightforwardly pleasing to listen to as pop music.
    Mark Richardson interview at Pitchfork and a song live, looking like fun festival music.

    Tune-Yards – Es-So