• Top shelf, in and of itself

    30 Oct 2012, 23:13

    (Peter Gabriel - "Don't Give Up")

    Today, I teared up just reading about this song. It seems the more depressed I get, the harder it hits, the harder it is to take the flood-like vein of compassion running through Kate Bush's lines and performance. In a good way, I guess? It's not the only song on So to have a devastating effect on me, I love the record like no other, but it's the only one I'm defenseless against. I should try and listen to it some day in the future when I'm at my happiest (fingers crossed). Remind me of that, journal, and I'll try and take the closing words of the song to heart in the meantime.
  • The Cull #27: I hid this uncomfortable hunk of metal

    6 Feb 2011, 17:57

    If you can't beet 'em...

    I’m pretty sure this is the longest I’ve done this without stopping, and I’m really, really happy about that. Not that six straight weeks is all that much to brag about, but for me, it’s practically worthy of a gold watch.
    What “this” is? In brief: I have a playlist of 40 tracks, picked from various recommendations here and there, which I try to listen through every day of the week. Come Sunday, I remove and replace around a dozen songs from the list, and write about the casualties here. A song usually gets cut because it’s had a good run, but once in a while I simply don’t like something, and it has to go. For more info, plus archives, go here.
    If there are no further questions... no? Then here is The Cull!

    * The Flaming Lips - Convinced of the Hex
    She says ‘I believe in nothing, and you’re convinced of the hex’”, and right there, The Flaming Lips sum up (what I imagine to be) the divisive nature of this track. A sinister, monotonous melody - sung by Wayne Coyne in the middle register he doesn’t employ too often - spurred on by a two-faced rhythm section - minimalistic bass, wigged out drums - and coloured in by all sorts of plinky plonk guitar effects and off-mic shouting. You might object strenuously if your idea of the band is the ultra-melodism of The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, but I think the mood created by the subtle, insistent momentum and the desperate feeling of being shut out of a relationship conveyed by the lyrics, both compensate for the lack of hooks and serve to elevate what’s actually there. And “that’s the difference between us”.

    * Freelance Hellraiser - A Stroke of Genie-us (Christina Aguilera vs The Strokes)
    It doesn’t really take more than one listen to understand why this is consistently hailed as one of the best mash-ups ever; Freelance Hellraiser perfoming some inexplicable alchemy in turning two slightly melancholic - in Hard to Explain’s case, even elegiac - songs into something much more bold-faced and collargrabbing. This isn’t a case of “redeeming” Aguilera’s breakthrough single by juxtaposing it with something cooler; Genie in a Bottle holds up surprisingly well, even production wise; it’s putting two great things together and unearthing a feeling not readily apparent in either song separately. Nor can you accuse FH of resting on his laurels after performing the initial splice; some of the track’s best moments are his alone - the teased intro, the manipulated vocals towards the end (“and I-I-I’ll be with you”).

    * Avril Lavigne - Runaway
    I can’t say I’m enough of an audiophile to be that bothered by the loudness war, but this is the first time I’ve actually noticed the effect where the focus on loudness in the mastering seems to be physically hurtful (literally!); the snare drum here is pretty bad; especially when the chorus kicks in. The audio in this fan video isn’t of the highest fidelity, but you’ll hear what I’m talking about.

    * Ost & Kjex - Milano Model (A Thrilling Mungophony In Two Parts)
    What’s that you say? Eleven minutes?! Lyrics dissecting the humdrum lives of disillusioned (former?) fashion models, sung in a charming, not-really-trying-but-trying-anyway, middle aged balding Norwegian man cum disco diva sort of way? Human beatbox? Accordion? “Remember the night”? It morphs into a gatdern Thriller homage at the midway point?! Mungolian Jetset meets Ost & Kjex? I’ll take two!

    * Plastic Little - Crambodia (Pink Skull Remix)
    If expressions like “hot fire” weren’t about a trillion leagues beyond my actual level of coolness, this would be the perfect occasion to deploy a bunch of them. For a track featuring Amanda Blank, Spank Rock and Ghostface Killah, the original "Crambodia" was a bit on the pedestrian side. Never fear, though, for here comes PA psych housers Pink Skull to turn the whole thing into a beast worthy of the illustrious roll call. Speeding it up by a good few notches, replacing the original production with something more chopped up and percussion-centric, shuffling the verses to frontload Blank’s customarily lascivious contribution, reverse-engineering a hook from one line in Spank Rock’s verse, adding a few choice vocal effects here and there, and topping it up with some of the most ridiculously affecting beat drops I’ve ever heard and - phew - Robert is your mother’s brother. Front runner for best culled track of 2011 so far; go to Pink Skull’s myspace to listen.

    * Prick - I Apologise
    See, I don’t believe this at all. Not only does Kevin McMahon make his titular apologist sound like an unrepentant bastard hiding ulterior motives behind blithe, smirking sorries; in the back half of the song, he seems to lose all interest in even pretending to mean what he says, instead letting his apologies form just another sonic component of an industrial pop freak out. He might as well have been singing “sha na na” or “la di da”. I hope he got the door slammed in his face.

    * The Trodden Path - In This World I Need Love
    Right in my bass (the instrument, not the element) fetishism wheelhouse. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the delectable, sloppy fuzz bass is surrounded by an equally shambolic garage rock classic.

    * UUVVWWZ - Castle
    Speaking of fetishising instrumental performances, it’s something I’ve moved away from as I’ve grown older, mostly as a counter-reaction to the valuation on skill over pretty much everything else, which I encountered when I took music in Upper Secondary School. Reactions like that tend to be too dogmatic for their own good, though; you can’t discount the fact that transcendental performances often are fuelled as much by technical proficiency as they are by emotions. At best, it’s impossible (and unnecessary) to separate the two. So I don’t really know if my awestruck reaction to Teal Gardner’s marvellous melodic movements here comes from a place of me nerding out over her vocal performance, or simply reacting to the beauty of it. It doesn’t really matter, though?

    * X - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
    That’s it, I’m so getting a t-shirt with “B-E-E-T-S, NOT B-E-A-T-S” on it.

    * Thom Yorke - All For The Best
    If the circumstances behind this Mark Mulcahy (or more accurately, Miracle Legion) cover weren’t heartbreaking enough on their own, Yorke’s stunning work here would surely do the trick. The quiet, spoken-on-the-exhale resignation tied to the title phrase is hard to listen to, never mind the pleading final verse, repeating “say you love me” over and over, before ending with the final twist of the knife: “Let’s just say you love me”.
  • The Cull #26: There's no truck that I know

    30 Ene 2011, 13:33

    Damn you, the common rhinovirus! Damn you all to heck!

    This introduction should really be a postscript, since it’s the last thing I write this week, but who cares about chronology? If this seems even more verbose and pretentious than usual, it might (or, more probably, might not) have something do with this nifty little cold that had my heart beating out of my chest last night. Not the most conducive thing for sound sleeping, that.
    All right, you don’t know the drill, so here it is: I have a list of 40 songs that I listen to every day for a week. After a certain amount of plays, or ear fatigue, or other arbitrary criteria are met, a given number of tracks are replaced every Sunday, and written about in my customarily purple manner right here. For further, outdated explanation, and archives, click here.
    Welcome back, then, sirs and sirettes, to The Cull!

    * Baddies - Battleships
    Who’s going to carry the torch of that particular brand of catchy, poppy (and unfortunately, slightly uncool) britrock from the turn of the century? Baddies are, that’s who! Just pull the wool over your avant-gardist eyes, wake up your inner Kerrang! reader, and limber up your neck for the inevitable head banging. Whoo-hoo, hoo-hoo, ooo.

    * Cymbals Eat Guitars - Tunguska
    Normally, when a song more or less is a crescendo, the build-up is very noticeable; you get the feeling of all involved having their hearts fixed on that wave they’re planning to crest. Here, though, the constant ramping up of intensity+instrumentation+tempo+emotion seems to happen like an afterthought, a byproduct of the narrator being caught up in the residual memories of a tumultuous “dream in which I loved you”.

    * Duck Sauce - aNYway
    If I ever heard this in a public place, I don’t doubt I would embarrass myself, first by dancing like a loon, and then by being faked out by that (desperately happy and sexually permissive) chorus not once, not twice, but three times in a row.

    * Evil Cowards - Soldiers Of Satan
    24-odd times I’ve listened to this now, and the experience never seems to change. By the end of the track, I’m punching the air, ready to declare my lasting allegiance to the Soldiers of Satan, proclaiming Tyler Spencer (aka Dick Valentine, of the glorious Electric Six) to be the Greatest Human.
    And yet it never fails; when the track comes around again in my playlist shuffle, my affections are lukewarm. “Is this it?”, I think to myself, usually fanning my hand in front of my mouth to suppress a yawn, silently condemning my own fickle, easy-to-please nature. “It’s just some crap rock-disco hybrid, and like every hidebound rockist knows, THE TWAIN SHALL NEVER MEET”, I sniff, but just as I’m about to skip to the next track, I hear it.
    they have drum machines at the ready to do all of your drumming...
    Whereupon Spencer’s God-given falsetto appears like a ray of sunshine laser beam through grey skies, and all is right with the world again.

    * Cee Lo Green - Fuck You
    Initially, I was bothered by Cee Lo’s use of the second-person personal pronoun in this song. At times, “you” refers to the man who stole his greedy girlfriend, at other times, it refers to that selfsame avaricious ex. Normally, that kind of reckless and unspecified pronoun usage would deduct points, but in this case, we’re dealing with a hurting man, unstbale and unsure about who it is that he’s most angry and/or disappointed with. In such a state, can you really blame him for throwing around “you”s willy-nilly? I think not. Here, “fuck" is the operative word.

    * June Panic - Fruitful Weekend
    I can't make sense out of this, yet I feel there is sense to be made - just not the kind of sense I can easily grasp. “When on the road, wait for no reason”; “nonsensible kindness heals the blindness”; “watch hearts skip beats in those mean streets, a show of hands beats the pants of their defense”; “follow the leader, fa la la”. That last one, I might get what that's about, and, come to think of it maybe it’s a skeleton key too: The rest of the lyrics made up of elusive home (road?) truths and aphorisms, communal, non-conformist wisdom, bucking up against the preposterous, overblown sentiment of "following the leader".

    * Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - A Bottle of Buckie
    At first, I recognise hardly any of the signifiers Ted Leo fills this song with. I know where the Clyde is, from that, I can deduce when the Marching Days are, but what’s a bottle of Buckie? Where’s Govanhill? Are the Neds with their Burberry scarves just a bunch of common yobs, or something more significant? I don’t think I’ll be able to grasp the whole mise-en-scène without complete annotations, but that pervading feeling of guilt at having left where you came from behind, left the people who made you you behind? That sentiment comes through loud and clear.

    * Sparklehorse - Happy Pig (Live)
    “Happy as a pig in shit”, goes the old simile. (Sonic) dirt as a remedy for happiness might be what Mark Linkous is going for on this obscure live track, but he just seems to create his own, more fatalistic saying/poem: “angry man wants to be happy, covers himself in shit, still an angry man”.

    * Uncle Tupelo - If That’s Alright
    Again, it’s about trying to make sense of something, but this time, it isn’t me trying, it’s Jeff Tweedy. Looking back at his life through a prism of what he says seems like a slideshow, but to me sounds more like drunkenness, or - more charitably, perhaps - early morning, overtired eyes. He can’t make heads or tails of what he sees, and he wants to know if I think that’s alright? That’s where the drunkenness comes in, I guess, because he’s “gotta hear [me] say it”, with a kind of belligerent insistence that only comes from the frustration you find at the bottom of a bottle, at the end of the night.

    * Velocity Girl - Warm/Crawl
    Distorted guitars, drawn out, screeching back and forth and acting like a string section; bass and drums propelling everything forward; melisma-overdosing vocals draped on top. The fact that the sound was named after its performers not engaging their audiences made it stick in my theatrically inclined craw, but I’ve gradually warmed up to shoegazing. Certainly, I’ve come to respect what surely must be the genre’s be-all and end-all: those moments where the monotonous wash of the music briefly part, allowing breathtaking beauty to peek through. “Monotonous wash” is perhaps too harsh a description for something as dynamic and well-defined as Velocity Girl’s shoegaze off-shoot, but this two-parter still seems to service that one moment, where “Warm” winds down and “Crawl” begins. A sustained guitar chord, a drum break, and then That Groove kicks in.“One day I made a boy crawl one DAY”. Bliss.

    * We Are Scientists - Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt
    Well, uh...hm. I don’t really have anything to say about this... here you go, the mighty Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod, people!) directed the video. It’s got a man in a bear suit and everything!

    * Working for a Nuclear Free City - Troubled Son
    In an earlier installment of The Cull, I dismissed this with a shrug. Somehow, it escaped deletion to appear on my playlist one more time, and once again, despite my best efforts to connect, I was ready to repeat my previous judgment. A sneaking suspicion that my indifference might be due to the murky quality of the mp3 I’d purchased from eMusic1 finally led me to a better source, instantly confirming my fears. So, I’m sorry, Working For A Nuclear Free City, of course your pulsing motorik beats and atmospheric vocals deserve audio fidelity of the finest stripe. I owe you one, okay?

    1. I’m generally happy with the service, but the varying bitrate of their files sometimes leads to some shockingly bad-sounding tracks)
  • The Cull #25: When he heard about the burning

    23 Ene 2011, 16:39

    Yeah, I'm chuffed about this being the fourth one of these in a row too.

    This week’s piece originally started with a long meta-ramble concerning my uncannily uninteresting thoughts on the process of writing this thing. I’m not saying I won’t write another one of those in the future, but it can wait for now; this column isn’t exactly wanting for words.
    If you've no idea what this is all about, or you’re so impressed (or incredulous) you want to see more, go here for archives and an explanation. Furthermore, clicking on the song titles below will take you to that track’s Last.fm page, where more often than not you can either listen or watch a video. If you want to comment, but can’t be bothered to register or log in, you can shoot me an email by typing karlruben squiggly gmail dott com into your device of choice.
    Now, ladies and gentlemen, here is your weekly dose of The Cull!

    * 2000 and One - Spanish Fly
    Except for the fact that the synth stabs at the center of the beat remind me of the Macarena, there’s nothing to distract from the ordinariness of this. I guess vanilla house tracks like this might be a good tool to have for a DJ, to pad out a set between the more euphoric moments. On its own, though, it’s about as rewarding as listening to a white sheet hanging on a clothesline.

    * Abi Bah - Dolly Street (feat Makode)
    This, on the other hand, is attention-grabbing to a fault, which is why I’m cutting it, perhaps a bit before its time. Well, “to a fault” is a poor choice of words, since Abi Bah and Makode definitely succeed in getting my attention, and in creeping me out. It’s just difficult to listen to Makode relentlessly taunting his subject (or his subject’s lover?) in his warped disco diva falsetto for seven minutes, effective though it may be. Goading, haranguing, sneering at someone who’s already distraught, who’s wondering why their “doll isn’t here no more”, answering with a garish hidden rhyme: “she started working as a...
    It’s compelling, but too hard and ugly.

    * Bush - Glycerine
    Gavin Rossdale’s Cobain-y, mouth-stuffed-with-potatoes delivery works all right on several other Bush numbers, but here those distracting mannerisms get in the way of what at heart is a decent enough power ballad... if you’re willing to accept that such a thing even exists. Hear how much it improves - relatively - when he removes just a few of those potatoes (and his shirt! Woof, phwoar, etc).

    * Future of the Left - i am the least of your problems (demo)
    Run, don’t walk over here and bask in the glory of this and two other news songs featuring Future of the Left’s new line up, now with more guitar. Rejoice in the fact that even after shake-ups in personnel, and reportedly dismal album sales, both the left-field pop sensibility and the ineffably transcendent nature of Andy Falkous’ bilious presence is intact and arguably, better than ever.

    * Guru, Kai:Bee & Lil’ Dap - The Way It Iz
    This world is full of thugs, hustlers, big willy mobsters
    I kill rappers on the reg cause it's my job to
    Separate the real from the fake
    So I reveal the truth and
    Break it down on a wax plate
    I don’t think I’ve ever heard an MC’s lot articulated quite like this, though that just might be because this is what Guru sees as his own particular mission, not some general “rapper’s raison d’être”. Anyway, the idea of the rapper-as-filter for the filthy world at large is intriguing mythologising of the craft; maybe this could be seen as a more down to earth version of the ronin metaphor; the lone figure railing against untruths. A human shield between you and the people out to get you, hustle you, rob you - except that judging from the rest of the track, these guys (or their characters) are so entrenched on the wrong side of the law that they might be the ones doing the crime to you, as well as speaking the truth about it.

    * Immaculate Machine - Dear Confessor
    Listening exercise. Compare the studio version with this live take - ostensibly from after the album in question was released - and listen to the way the vocals have gone from dancing relaxedly on top, to desperately clutching the backbeat (the second and fourth beats of the bar when playing in 4/4). I hesitate to call it degeneration, because it might be a very conscious choice on Immaculate Machine’s part, but to me it sounds baffling. That live version is the way I imagine the song would’ve sounded before it clicked in the studio, the decision to abandon the staccato rhythm the very thing that finally made it work. Before you ask, this doesn’t seem a one time thing, the weird emphasis is there in this live clip from a later date too.

    * Kylie Minogue - Wow
    Nifty, those “wow”s. Feinting you out, seeming to grind proceedings to halt, and then instead just propelling you further, further, further.
    An apt echo of the lyrics, really: Kylie admiring someone across the dance floor, blown away by their moves, their beauty, their cool. Maybe those wows are her getting too entranced, stumbling midway through a step, saving herself at the last second, and dancing on, like nothing happened, flushed by the embarrassment, but mostly just buoyed by that feeling of possible connection, of being there just out of reach, watching, dancing.

    * Of Montreal - Disconnect the Dots
    If you still believe that authenticity and being real is the be-all and end-all of music, there will be nothing for you here. There’s not a thing about "Disconnect the Dots" that doesn’t sound borrowed, begged or stolen, plastic, synthetic or ersatz, but, unless you’re hung up on “real”, you won’t mind one bit. Mr. Kevin Barnes and company say it best themselves: “it’s so beautiful/our lunacy/ so beautiful/ aaaaaahh

    * Rahim - Forever Love
    While “Wow” is another brilliant variation on what seems like a favourite topic of Kylie’s (cf Love at First Sight), Rahim’s entry on the same subject ain’t too shabby neither, even if the concept is a tricky one. How is it possible to know when you first meet someone - hey, never mind meeting, how can you know when you first SEE someone, that you want to spend rest of your life with them? What is possible, though, is to imagine spending your life with someone in that moment when you first see them. That's how the mind works, that's how the imagination works; it doesn’t need much of an excuse to run riot with hypotheticals and faint possibilities, mapping out an entire lived life from just a shared glance, creating fictional familiarity from thin air.
    Rahim put this across without sounding too starry eyed, staying on the right side of wistful, avoiding seeming like rabid stalkers; instead just cherishing that feeling of infinite possibility, just enjoying the place their imagination has brought them to.

    * The Rumble Strips - Girls and Boys in Love (David E Sugar’s Shameless Mix)
    Between this and the original, you basically have two mates telling you the same thing, from different stances. The Rumble Strips lean back as far on your sofa as possible without sliding onto the floor, and laconically assure you your heartsickness is nothing special, there are oodles with the same problems, and if you just ride this out without bringing yourself down too much, you’ll be okay. David E Sugar’s Shameless Mix, meanwhile, jumps up and down on your coffee table, euphorically stating “Don’t you see! There are plenty of boys and girls in love! Which means the world is a happy place, people are in love, it’s only a matter of time before you are too! Yay!”
    Perhaps not be the best strategy for bringing a heartbroken person back from the brink, but it sounds plenty exhilarating.
  • The Cull #24: Traces of the old one can still be found

    16 Ene 2011, 15:58

    Isn't he the cutest? The one and only H.P. Lovecraft, everybody!

    It’s Sunday! And you know what that means... no, it doesn’t mean that there’s still one whole day until I belatedly post my rundown of the songs I’ve removed from my playlist this week. No, it means that it’s the first Sunday this year on which I post that rundown on schedule, is what it means. This week’s eleven tracks are down from the previous two weeks’ twelve, and the slimming trend might continue as I find my feet with this thing again, or it might not.
    As always, links to previous instalments are here, along with an outdated explanation of the concept. If you want to comment, but can’t be bothered to register or log in to Last.fm, you can send me an email at (karlruben squiggly gmail fullstop com). If you want to listen, clicking on any of the track titles sends you to the corresponding l.fm page, which usually contains either a YouTube embed or a link to listen at Hype Machine.
    With that out of the way, here’s The Cull!

    * Enon - In This City (Remix By Deadverse)
    There’s something to be said for completism, at least the kind you’re driven to when one of your all-time favourite bands doesn’t release anything for FOUR WHOLE YEARS. To wit, this remix from one of the singles from High Society:
    At first I thought Toko Yasuda’s vocals sounded uncomfortable and out-of-place without the original’s skittish snare and bass lines to bounce off of, but closer listening revealed this to be more strength than weakness. Even if Yasuda’s phrasings mirrors the rhythm section’s rapid fire, her laidback delivery originally embodied the lyric’s pivotal line - “we found ourselves numb in this city” - slouching against the music’s more insistent portrayal of urban hustle and bustle. In the remix, this is turned on its head; the drowsy, half-tempo instrumental do-over retaining none of the previous mania, so now, those very same phrasings are the only reminder of the original’s breathless metropolis.
    (Note: I assume that this piece of dubby greatness originates from dälek’s Jersey studio facilities, not the Swiss hardcore band.)

    * The Explorers Club - Last Kiss
    Endearing throwback or faux-naive and futile exercise in nostalgia? The music's pleasant enough; energetic performances and spot-on production capturing a bygone era of surfing and sunshine (or at least the surfing and sunshine on the covers of old records). Start paying attention to the lyrics, though, and the teenager-in-love thing starts to stick in the craw. The song's odious narrator demands to have his cake and eat it too, breaking it off with his paramour at the start of the song, stating that their "love's become a bring-down", but then proceeding to spend the rest of the time fetishising the relationship and the sight of it in his rear-view mirror. Now, this might be a scathing commentary on nostalgia - and therefore a frighteningly astute one, packaged in pastiche as it is, but to me it just sounds like bunch of twenty-somethings playing at being fourteen. In 1964.

    * Housemeister - Panzer!
    While listening, I consistently misremembered the title as “Psycho!”, thinking it very fitting; the stop-start, never-gelling nature of the track bringing to mind some weird fever dream, maybe even psychosis. The actual title doesn't really fit into that - if anything it seems malapropos, the song more brittle than hard, more meandering than unstoppable - though it does have a crushing effect, kind of, never letting its foot off that weirdness-and-calamity pedal.

    * Laakso - Worst Case Scenario
    The song explodes. It has to explode, because it can’t possibly contain this heartbreak. A special kind of heartbreak (like anyone’s heartbreak), seen through a kaleidoscopic magnifying glass, heard while curled up inside the guitars, keys, microphones, drums. That heartbreak reverberating everything; drums and guitars even sounding like they've been recorded in the cavern inside where the broken heart used to be before The Special Someone plucked it out and stomped on it. Or maybe, maybe he did that himself? I can’t really tell from the lyrics, Markus Krunegård’s voice bursting with the heartbreak, mangling his Swenglish beyond recognition. No matter, though, it’s supposed to be that way, because he “can't control his hope, can't control his dreams, can't eat can't sleep can't do anything”, so should he really be expected to enunciate? The heartbreak says no.

    * Mystery Jets - Half In Love With Elizabeth (Electric Version)
    It’s not often you hear a (mostly) straight forward rock song dominated by zany effects to this degree. It’s a catchy and fine tune in its own right, so I'm not saying that it would have been worse off without those production touches... hm, wait a minute, I actually am, since the studio take from Twenty One two years on is definitely lacking in comparison. The guitar and organ bubble, zing and sputter, functioning like the sonic equivalent of the buffers in a pinball game, bouncing the shining ball of melody between them, buffeting it along to an unbeatable high score.
    The later version still retains shades of oddness (and it does work lovely in the context of the album), but both the effects and performances are reined in, losing much of the free-wheeling momentum.

    * Panda Bear - Bros (album version)
    To me, listening to this isn't like listening to a song, it's like listening to someone telling me of a song they love. Completely failing to get their enthusiasm across, failing to relate the greatness of the song, outlining every detail but leaving out its heart and soul. I've listened to this almost twenty times, and there was this ONE time when I felt the faintest flutter, like something about it touched me, but it was brief, it was gone, and it hasn't been felt since. By any rights, at least the lyrics should hit me like a ton of bricks (it’s one of those eerie cases when you feel like they could’ve been written specifically for you), but "Bros" fails to push any of my buttons. It just does nothing for me at all.

    * Sunny Day Sets Fire - Wilderness (CSS Remix)
    I can't quite grasp the lyrics, but don't necessarily feel the need to either, it’s enough just to feel that menace, the sense of foreboding created. It’s there in the melody as well, isolated moments when the vocal seems to be struggling against the chords placed beneath it, building on the exquisite, unresolved tension in the lyrics. They seemingly seesaw between contempt and fear, trying to deliver some choice insults to a person who has done something to put you in terrible danger, but the barbs flail and miss, the very same danger sapping your attention. It’s like hearing one of H.P. Lovecraft’s narrators breaking into song; "what did you expect to see when you came into the wilderness" - the question mark followed by exclamation mark implicit. We’re hearing a person who has proven a theory; that a mortal mind can't handle what lies beyond our limited understanding; but that gloating is tempered by the fact that no-one can handle the wilderness. It has driven him to the brink of madness, for his is but a mortal mind too...
    Both in this remix and the original, the vocals exist some degrees to the side of the rest of the music, giving credence to my just-now-formulated theory that the song might be a piece of found sound from the aether, pulled down and orchestrated by Sunny Day Sets Fire and CSS.

    * UGK - Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)
    I’m unsure of how intentional it is, but it’s telling how much Pimp C, Bun B and Big Boi sound like cartoons next to Andre 3000’s warm and love-fuzzy opening verse. The song becomes a study of masculine archetypes in microcosm, rolling out the family man, the sex-crazed maniac, the unsentimental entrepreneur and the bitter divorcee in quick succession. You might decide to overlook some of the more dubious sentiments contained within, and just focus on the way everyone involved bring so much warmth and/or fire that they threaten to outshine even that glorious Willie Hutch sample. Come to think of it, I’ll do just that. (Hat-tip to the ever-great Tom Breihan for helping me parse my own conflicted feelings about this track.)

    * Vampire Weekend - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
    Interesting how you can appropriate a sound from somewhere else, and simply by being present in the music, alter all its connotations. A few deftly chosen, evocative phrases, a telling title, sweaters draped around necks, and it takes on an unmistakable feeling of an entirely different feeling - from the Cape of Good Hope to the Cape of Cod.
    Bonus: Richard frickin’ Ayoade directed the video for this! I did not know that!

    * Waldorf - Erlkönig
    So you manage to successfully adapt a classic poem into a stonking postpunkfunk/disco/(whisperit)prog Frankenstein's monster, retaining the feeling of desperate midnight's ride to hell any "Erlkönig" adap worth its salt should. You commit to it, with admirably straight faces and able voices call-and-responsing the back and forth between the worried father, his sick child and the elfin temptors, and then you bottle it on the final stretch? Huh.
    It's not that the disco rev-up/freak-out at the end here doesn't work, but as a capper, it seems forced, a way to get out of the poem's dire, abrupt ending by replacing it with an instrumental part which more or less seems like the equivalent of letting that horse just ride on into the fog instead, to be continued.
    For how it’s really done, go here, mosey over to the list of tracks on the right, click on “flere spor” and then play the one called (natch) Erlkönig.

    * YACHT - I Believe In You
    If you have to know, it's because of self esteem and body image issues, okay? And if you're going to go on about it like that, at least own it, don't start going off on metaphysical tangents. "Is it finite", my arse.
  • The Cull #23: So much jollier

    11 Ene 2011, 0:40

    How them playas do it in the Shire, possibly (image from alleycatscratch.com)

    Never mind the preamble, here’s The Cull!
    As always, for more info and previous editions, click here.

    * DJ Max Entropy - Short Skirt London Bridge (Fergie vs Cake)
    Aside from an ending where DJ MaX Entropy stumbles when he decides to splice together some of the two songs’ more tonally disparate elements, “Short Skirt London Bridge” makes a stellar example for how exhilarating a mashup can be. Originally syrupy, the sped-up Fergie vocals sound amazing over Cake’s backing track. It’s one of those occasions where it’s hard to imagine that this wasn’t the way it was supposed to be all along. The juxtaposition of John McCrea’s lonely hearts ad for an incredibly stylish and classy girl with Stacey Ferguson’s debauched tale of how her man coming around makes her want to engage in a controversial sort of intercourse is just a(n admittedly hilarious) bonus.

    * Fans of Kate - I Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands
    It sounds ersatz, true; very five years ago, very much that nu-Big Music sound everyone and their brother was trying to ride to the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. The fact that Fans of Kate imploded without achieving much bears out their sounding a bit also-ranny, but that lack of success is also key to why this song still works so well.
    "Just give me the weekend/ give me a mic stand/ give me solutions/ you know what I need", go some of the more legible lyrics, singer Jez Dixon swallowing every syllable but still making each note of cold desperation hit home.
    "Give me a light show/ give me an encore/ give me devotion/ you know what I need/ just give me the world/ give me the world" he sings, backed up by that huge, pummeling sound. It could be the worst kind of self-aggrandising wannabe rock star tripe, but this isn’t some megalomaniac with his hand on his crotch, this is a nobody who sounds like he’s already failed, just stretching for that minuscule taste of something more than his Monday-to-Friday routine. This isn't the biggest band in the world, this isn't Coldplay, this isn’t even Snow Patrol. These are never-weres, and this makeshift solution, that barely-there devotion, they're not gonna last, if they were ever there at all. And the way he sings it, the way they play it, they probably know.

    * Macy Gray - Treat Me Like Your Money
    Nice core concept of a girl seeking love only to (not?) find it with a boy who's only interested in his money. The basic elements of the song and production are very all right, too, though I can't decide whether I like Macy Gray's own rather nonchalant performance here or not. I don't have any problem with her voice normally, but here, she pales next to her back-up singers and their solid-gold hook. Incredibly engaging in the way it begs this Croesus to treat her with the same care he does his cash, it causes a disconnect, because Gray certainly doesn’t put as much of herself in the song as these sidewomen do. Unfortunately, the greatness of the hook also makes some of will.i.am’s poorer production choices look even worse; first the out-of-nowhere bridge based around Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)", and then his thoroughly pointless rapped verse referencing Run-D.M.C.'s “It’s Like That”. The verse is supposed to be a counterpoint to the rest of the song, but the one reference right after the other (not to mention the groan-worthy words) makes it too distracting. And then, the hook comes in again, just to confirm that it deserves a better song.

    * IDC - Stomp
    Does what it says on the tin, and not in that stage-show-you-may-or-may-not-have-ambivalent-feelings-towards way. It simply puts its foot down, repeatedly, and how. Relentless beats, distorted sirens blaring the central motif; rinse, manipulate a bit, repeat again, and there's your blinder of a tune. Many who were exposed to this sort of thing more often than I was a couple of years back apparently tired of the whole dirty electro/bloghouse/whatever thing, but it still works perfectly fine for me, thanks.

    * Nas - Amongst Kings
    I haven’t heard enough of Nasir Jones’ music to know if he always comes across as this serious - and if he always manages to come off as well as he does here. Like with Fans of Kate’s track, it feels to me like "Amongst Kings" should be more ridiculous than it actually is, but even if Nas’ vulnerability is nowhere near as close to the surface, some sort of hidden alchemy makes his scatter-shot treatise on death and his own importance inexplicably poignant. I know he’s supposed to be a contender for the best rapper alive, but it’s not technical flair that makes this posturing palatable; to me, it's more his ability to commit to the mood, to successfully sell even the most preposterous lyrics (“I am Nastradamus” etc).

    * NOFX - You’re Wrong
    A sad song, whether or not you believe Fat Mike is preaching to the choir or tilting at windmills. Saving it from pointlessness: the pithy and harsh rhetoric - which might be galvanising to leftists of flagging faith - and the fact that it is a pretty good song, the spare arrangement and pretty melody suggesting all sorts of opulent arrangement possibilities, but resisting the temptations to beautiful effect.

    * Odawas - Alleluia
    The beautiful music suggests a profundity the aimlessly oblique lyrics can’t live up to, but since parsing Michael Tapscott’s distant enunciation was difficult enough to send me scurrying to filthy internet lyrics sites, I’m guessing clarity isn’t one of the main concerns here anyway. Which is okay, ‘cause, you know, pretty.

    * R. Kelly - I’m a flirt (remix) (feat. T.I. & T-Pain)
    What R. actually sings:
    "Believe me man this is how them players do it in the Chi" (“Chi” as in Chicago).
    What I thought he was singing:
    "Believe me man this is how them players do it in the Shire".
    Which is merely one of the myriad awesome things about the man; the idea that he might write something likening his flirtatious behaviour to that of hobbits isn't even that far fetched.

    * Sally Shapiro - He Keeps Me Alive
    I can’t tell if Sally Shapiro is funny or heartbreaking here - you can read her character as hilariously clueless or crushingly delusional - she might even know exactly what is happening, and not care one bit. The object of her love seems like a real bastard, letting her hold his hand even when taken aback with her (sudden?) declaration of love, "he says I can hold it but ‘remember we're just friends’", her resignation at that point what makes you think she knows and doesn't care.
    "And I try and I try and I try to be satisfied/ after all he keeps me alive"
    The unrequited lover (tragi)comically swallowed up by her unrequited love and her glorification of his smile, his face, his hands, his presence. Is this the way love works? Is this the way it works for her - the second hand effects of love so strong the demeaning nature of their non-relationship doesn't matter: Just being in love, being near him, seeing him is enough to keep her alive. Chilling, funny, intriguing - and then there's that somnolent delivery. Does she sound cold, distant because she knows how silly she's being, because she doesn't care, or is she so hellbent on this that she closes her eyes to everything but the love? Either way, it's hugely affecting.

    * Dani Siciliano - Repeats
    I love Björk's “The Anchor Song”.
    Now, “Repeats” is nothing like “The Anchor Song”, Dani Siciliano sounds nothing like Björk Gudmundsdottir, and the song itself doesn’t connect with me in any significant way. But there’s still one thing about it that makes me thrill just a little bit, negating the indifference; the brass and reeds on here really sound like the saxophones that are all over “The Anchor Song”.
    I’m reminded of something I love, and a little of that love rubs off on something I otherwise might just shrug at.

    * Säkert! + Anna Järvinen - varje hjärtslag
    What makes this such a good cover is the subtle changing of the song’s core sentiment; the open-hearted pleading opening the the original is nowhere to be heard, nor the more defiant stance Robyn locks on to further into her version. Anna Järvinen and Annika Norlin (aka Säkert! aka Hello Saferide) present something more lived-in - the “no-make-up-at-the-breakfast-table edition”, if you will. They’re both essentially singing the same song at the same time, transforming it into a true blue duet by letting the differences in their performances double as the differences in the broken relationship they’re portraying. It’s so painfully clear that neither one of them believes that "vi kanske skulle klara det älskling" (“maybe we could make it happen baby”), but they don't don’t believe it in quite the same way; their delusions are different, even if the words are the same.
    No knock on Robyn (and Kleerup), “With Every Heartbeat” is a stone-cold classic in its own right, but it's marvelous how Norlin and Järvinen makes the same song paint such a different picture. The difference between "no, wait!" and "no, wait.", perhaps.

    * T2 feat. Jodie Aysha - Heartbroken (Radio Edit)
    Yes, T2 has done a fine job popping up Jodie Aysha’s glacier-paced original and draping it over some splendid garage/grime beats, but I have some difficulty taking him seriously after watching this tepid video, also featuring, randomly, Premier League footballers Micah Richards and Anton Ferdinand.

    That’s all, folks. If you’ve come here from search-engine land, want to comment, but can’t be bothered to register or log on to Last.fm, you can fire away an e-mail to karlruben alphacurl gmail point com.
    See you in a week!
  • I have found the paradox

    3 Ene 2011, 21:10

    Ford Transit, glory of the world. (Photo by Sven Storbeck, wikimedia commons)

    Standing at the bottom of this hill staring upwards, it’s all a bit daunting, so I guess I’d better start climbing before I lose my nerve. If you wonder what it’s all about, go here.

    * ? and the Mysterians - 96 Tears
    Too-creepy revenge fantasy at first: "we're gonna be together for just a little while and then I'm gonna put you way down here and you'll start crying", the band egging him on with its monotonous, almost eerie chugging. A chord change, and he’s basking in that perfect moment of comeuppance: “when the sun comes up/I’ll be on top/you’ll be right down there/looking up”. The band is still vamping on that one chord, growing more sinister beat by beat, but finally he seems to realise the futile nature of his reverie, the band abandoning the darkness, accompanying the more likely outcome of his situation: “I know now/ I’ll just cry/ cry/ I’ll just cry”. He tries to find his way back to that initial cool, but it’s clear he’s just posing now.
    A gutsy song, never trying to be pretty or nice, just mercilessly echoing the recurring, obsessive thoughts of a hurting heart.
    Repeat and repeat and repeat until he's over you, you're not going to care one bit but he's going to anyway, because this delusion is the only thing keeping him alive right now.

    * Beyoncé - Suga Mama (Live)
    The gritty, sample-based backing track and the staccato, disjointed chorus pass through an ultra-competent touring band and comes out the other side sounding smooth and imperious. Aside from the disappointingly anodyne horns, it works rather well. High-point: the way the chorus (sung either by very Beyoncé-sounding back-ups, or her own self on tape) melts into the background, becoming just another piece of stage for Knowles to strut her stuff on, but somehow turning into something even more irresistible than on the record.

    * Daft Punk - Digital Love (Red Foxx’s Bmore Surprise Mix)
    A few subtle/unnoticeable tweaks to the first half, everything but the beats gone from the second (a few perfunctory vocal samples replacing actual structure), and then the whole thing meanders impotently to a stop. I guess this must have been cut out of a larger DJ set or mix - Red Foxx excising elements in order to make the song fit better into a larger whole - if not, it’s one of the most ineffectual reworkings I’ve ever heard.

    * Gameboy/Gamegirl - Sweaty Wet/Dirty Damp
    My first notes on this: “fun fun fun but [is there] something more?”
    Listening closely, trying to find that "something more", to my surprise even the fun fun fun evaporated, leaving nothing but a flat, oddly antiseptic, damp-and-sweat free squib. Erm, what? Wasn't this supposed to be some kind of unassailable party monster? Baffled, I looked up the music video, pressed play, and just like that, the fun was back. Likewise, washing the dishes a bit later, it was impossible not to groove along to the beat, and chuckle at the Cartman samples or the sedate vocals. Conclusion: fun definitely to be had, just be sure not to pay too much attention to the song itself.

    * James Rabbit - George Gerschwin
    Sometimes you're just so richly, richly rewarded for engaging with a piece of music.
    Usually skating on top of something is enough for me, listening a couple dozen times, nipping at details here and there, gathering a superficial notion of the song. Having listened to it twenty-odd times, I knew I liked “George Gerschwin” quite a bit; I appreciated James Taylor Martin’s musings on the everyday, I enjoyed the whimsy and unhinged joy of the music. And then I really put myself into the song, and it blew up in my face. I realised the grand ecstasy (yes, really) to be found in James Rabbit's little suite about being out in the day-to-day, feeding and denying the creative impulses it gives you. Just being out there, looking, thinking, listening, and finally, maybe, just maybe, the smile of a passer-by will lift you into the air! I don’t think I’ve ever heard the promise of the world articulated so well in a pop song.

    * The Lady Tigra - Pinkberry
    Yeah, it’s a commercial, but the chain in question doesn’t exist in Norway, so it might as well be fictional for all I care. Over a cheesily enjoyable backing track, Tigra seesaws between light and airy and frustratingly lightweight, but you can’t say her song doesn’t fulfill its goal as an appealing aural representation of frozen yoghurt (or whatever they sell at P**kberry). Still, the instrumental and Tigra’s performance over it are interesting enough to make me think that a “real” song with the same components could be very tasty indeed.

    * Palomar - Bury Me Closer
    A bubbling, insistent groove, beautiful, confident close harmonies, supporting Palomar’s depiction of secular certainty in the face of death. “We won't be saved/ we won't meet up again/ we won't be found/ we'll be lost under ground”. It could be bleak, but isn’t, instead focusing on the freedom and comfort you can find through that certainty, and also on the pride and agency you can feel in saying to the person you love “you’re the last thing in the world I want to see/ when I close my eyes and cease to be/ bury me closer”. We don’t believe in anything after this, but it doesn’t make our belief in what we have with the people we love any less important.
    Even so, the way the song ends, with the band repeating the phrase “where will you go” over and over, betrays the doubt and uncertainty on the flipside of the coin. In our weaker moments, we can’t accept that world will go on without us - and for all we know, it won’t.

    * Justin Timberlake - Rock Your Body (Video version)
    The Neptunes might seem a bit past it nowadays, but their light-footed disco production here hasn’t lost much in the seven (!) years since this came out. On top of it, Timberlake at times sounds a little too suave and assured, but the desperation that creeps into his voice during the chorus - intentional or not - makes you believe that he’s in real danger of striking out here. “Don’t be so quick to walk away” he whimpers, and you can just hear his disappointment, drowning out the voice of another girl wanting him to just talk to her.

    * Tragedy Khadafi - Funk Mode (Large Pro Remix)
    Another remix that doesn’t do much for me, but in this case, it’s more because of my tastes than any (perceived) shortcomings of the work. Dialing down the aggression of the original, Large Professor solicits (mostly) new contributions from Mobb Deep’s Havoc and Tragedy himself, and bookends the track with copious shout-outs. The production takes a more eastern-tinged approach, but even if the Professor keeps insisting that this is the funk, the result seems decidedly less funky than the original. Again, there's no doubt this is a solid piece of work, but like with a lot of old school hip hop, that emotional thrill/visceral impact/ecstatic tingle isn't there for me.

    * Typhoon - So Passes Away The Glory Of The World
    Funereal strings, echoing percussion, increasingly distorted guitars, vocals repeatedly chanting the Latin phrase translated in the song’s title; slowly building towards nothing. Typhoon's dour ditty could easily have collapsed under the weight of its ominous pretension, but instead comes off as an equally affecting, dark and necessary counterpart to Palomar’s above entry. Looking into the abyss isn’t so bad when it sounds this beautiful.

    * Kanye West - Can’t Tell Me Nothing
    How can a millionaire fretting that he still isn’t rich enough be so achingly universal? Of course, Can’t Tell Me Nothing isn’t really about that, it’s about that crucial little “right?” tacked onto the end of the hook - "wait till I get my money right/ then you can't tell me nothing/ right?". Snotty defiance turns to devastatingly human uncertainty in just one word; and that dichotomy, echoing through every other detail in the song, is why this man isn’t just some whining rich boy, but, you know, Kanye West.

    * Z-Ro - The Mule (DJ Obscene Remix)
    After acquainting myself with the bootleg Ratatat remix of this some years back - and enjoying it immensely - I decided to buy the original just to throw someone some money for the pleasure. Turns out it wasn't the original, but a remix by Dj Obscene done for a Chamillionaire mixtape. Which is okay, because it still sounds better than the original; the dark and dirty beats turning up the slightly misogynistic menace by a few notches. It's by no means the worst example of the whole women-are-just-worthless-sex-objects idiom I’ve heard, but even so, the (undeniably fabulous) raps here more or less boil down to “my genitals are awesome” and “I can’t help it if married women crave my awesome genitals”.

    That’s it for now, check back this Sunday evening, when - fingers crossed - there will be less words! But more than none, for sure.
  • The best song I heard today, #7: Let's Blow This Thing And Go Home Edition

    28 Abr 2010, 14:02

    To start your song with a sample of a TIE Fighter swooping down from space to wreak havoc in the trenches of the Death Star builds a certain expectation for the destructive qualities of the tune in question. A sample like that could easily be a mere signifier of nerdiness - like, say, printing up t-shirts with the name of your band in the Star Wars font - but the way Ash uses it here is much more significant. "In case you're coming up short when trying to describe the awesomeness of our song with a simile, we've prepared one for you.", they seem to be saying. You might not want to take a tragically lapsed Star Wars fan's word for it, but even so, I think Lose Control sounds even more awesome than a TIE Fighter swooping down from space to wreak havoc in the trenches of the Death Star.

    I mean, where the hell do those guitars come from? Just listen to the intro, or every time that opening brace repeats throughout the song. Or listen to the closing crescendo - I'll accept it if you don't find it fresh and/or new, but at least admit that it's frickin' exhilarating. Fascinating thing about music, isn't it, that something can sound like a force of nature and a buzzing mess of bastard machines at the same time? Organic while still artificial, schematic while still instinctive. Note that this isn't some dead-eyed and laser-focused noise band, though. Ash is pop, Ash is fun. Which - if the Star Wars sample wasn't enough of a clue - is proved by those faintly ridiculous little licks at the end of the aforementioned guitar barrages. In a way, touches like that make the awe-inspiring qualities of the song (the drumming definitely deserves a mention) more impressive. Even coupled with tongue-in-cheek tomfoolery, the facemelting parts still melt your face off.

    At its heart, though, is another one of those perfect love songs Ash can't seem to help but churn out again and again. Tim Wheeler is asking or begging or beseeching you, a lover he's losing or has already lost to a third party; trying to get you into his bed tonight, to make you forget about how complete your other someone makes you feel. "Just give in to me instead", he says. "Lose control". Would you? I think you would. Just listen to those guitars.

    Bonus: In concert, with added Charlotte Hatherley.

  • The best song I heard yesterday, #6 - Shiny Hair Is My Life's Ambition Edition

    23 Abr 2010, 3:49

    If you're feeling like excrement, staying up all night and then going to get your hair cut in the morning probably isn't going to make you feel any less like excrement - regardless of the quality of the coiffure. Okay, maybe a little better, if the coiffure is quality. Any way, I'm sitting there in the barber's chair, being a right self-pitying bastard, when the hairdressers' ipod decides to cut me a four-and-a-half-minute break. Not that the selection up to that point had been worthy of complaint - Ratatat, Daft Punk, Gorillaz - but when I'm that far up my self, the escape button is well hidden.
    And then...

    God, I'm down at the bottom
    No-one's singing songs for me

    There's nothing better or (more right, at least) for despair than more despair - listening to pathetic sadsack music is a time-honoured remedy for pathetic sadsacks everywhere. A song that makes despair sound uplifting, though - now that is something you usually don't find when you're thumbing through your records, clicking through your files, trying to hit upon that perfect piece of panacea for the lonely/broken/ingrate heart. You might find lyrics like these, from the perspective of some neglected soul damning a workaholic significant other; generic imagery, generic feelings. The MTV namedrop (tapping into the zeitgeist here and now, in 1995!) could even have pointed to the whole thing being tongue-in-cheek, but this ain't no poem, it's a pop song. Any doubts about the sincerity of this heartbreak fade away completely the first time Robyn fights her way through that devastating "call me back I'm so alone" line.

    Popular music generally feels ambivalent about sincerity and emotion - for a performer, the easiest path to derision (and for some, regrettably, to success) lies via the co-opting of someone else's way of expressing themselves. To wit, the unholy mixture of Eddie Vedder, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley and Chris Cornell's singing styles which in the 90's and early aughts became an easy way for male singers to make it sound like they were expressing some deep emotion without actually doing so. It's not easy, finding a way to feel sincerely through song without stumbling onto some other singer's voice in the process.

    That's why Robyn is so fantastic. She manages to be this amazingly kick-ass pop star diva superhero - probably one of the most pretentious things to be in the world (and I'm using "pretentious" in the most neutral sense of the word) - while simultaneously sounding emotionally honest, unbearably raw and naked. When she teams up with Röyksopp - who in their own right produce some of the most affecting electronic music in the world - and sings about being sad and alone, the result is much more than merely an echo of the listener's misery.

    "The world melting away" is a cliche often used to talk about those moments where something special happens, influencing the way we perceive what's around us. I was about to use it to describe how I felt, sitting in that barber's chair, listening to The Girl and the Robot, but I realised that it wasn't accurate at all. The inside of my head was the same as before the song started, but Robyn and Röyksopp provided some sort of overlay that made my feelings glorious and ecstatic rather than tired and petulant. It created a feedback loop between me and the song, and I felt soothed, relieved, and... proud, proud that I could recognise this part of myself in a piece of music, a performance that magnificent.
    Yeah, that probably sounds utterly preposterous, but don't try and tell me you don't get all skewed out of shape when you've been up 27 hours straight.

    Bonus "observation" #1: Wandering into my parent's living room one Friday night last year and catching this completely by chance is one of my dearest musical memories ever.
    My mom: "Röyksopp are playing soon, you know."
    Me: "Oh yeah? Cool."
    Mom: "And they're supposed to be bringing a special guest on or something."
    Me: (failing completely to make the obvious conclusion of who the special guest was going to be) "Oh, okay."
    I can't remember if I actually squealed like a little girl when the performance started and Robyn joined them on stage, but it's not impossible. I did grin like a goon all the way through.

    Bonus observation #2: (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT FOR SLOW PEOPLE) My brain is full of molasses, but the impact of this song being a duet hadn't struck me before just now. Hits like a sledgehammer, that "robot" verse, no?
  • The best song I heard today, #5

    19 Abr 2010, 18:12

    (Photo by Espen Sjølingstad Hoen/Aftenposten)

    Mike Skinner recounts the build-up to three perfectly ordinary violent episodes, punctuating them with a dry summary-chorus, so scary and matter-of-fact it deserves to be quoted in full:
    Geezers need excitement
    if their lives don't provide them this they incite violence
    common sense
    simple common sense
    There's no judgment to be found here, save for a passing admonishment to leave things well enough alone - even though a person who'd listen to that kind of reason isn't likely to belong in this song. It does speak to the basic humanity running through Skinner's work; his belief in the right choice, even if it isn't made too often. "Geezers Need Excitement" is also a fine showcase for his flow, always on the right, just-expressive-enough side of deadpan. Like any The Streets track, there are verbal gymnastics and funny lines a-plenty, but Skinner doesn't let anything get in the way of his vividly dreary/drearily vivid sketches of kebab shops, pubs and night clubs ten seconds before someone's head hits the sticky floor. A frightening tune for a wimp like me, who dreads finding himself at the wrong end of "Oh yeah? Then what the f**k are you going to do about it?!"