A great clue to assist in the decoding of Beck’s Morning Phase lies in the packaging of his last proper full-length, Modern Guilt. Released in 2008 with an unbearably au courant title, its paranoia was more in tune with the America of the Cold War, and its cover was inescapably an homage to Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited. Crisp Swiss typography and a shot-from-the-hip castoff photograph was an elegant visual counterpoint to the music within, produced by Danger Mouse and rich with rubbery synths and psych rock tropes. Continue reading
From the bowels of the BBC, Delia Derbyshire et al coaxed endearingly schlocky electronic sounds from rudimentary, homemade equipment. Twenty years after it started shuttering up for the final time, two bands are channelling a similar approach to very different conclusions. (more…)
There is a lost art form and it is the special disco version. Beloved of James Murphy, and neophytes like my friends and I, these are endlessly strung-out 12″ edits suitable for dancing to in people’s living rooms. Embarrassment doesn’t enter into the equation.
Hayden Thorpe is Antony Hegarty but beneath him, in place of Nico Muhly’s strings or a tender piano figure, are only chilly synths and caustic, brutal drums.
In 2013 I listened to but neglected to blog that much about:
Arcade Fire didn’t really used to sound like any other band. But 2010’s The Suburbs set them off on a journey of mainstreaming which Reflektor, their fourth album, refashions into a sprawling quest to pay homage to their influences whilst hinting at bigger truths. Like The Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin before it, Reflektor is a concept-album about not having a concept. Continue reading
“Everything that keeps them together is falling apart.” —Isaac Brock
On Hot Chip’s “Motion Sickness”, Alexis Taylor uses his gushing love affair with music as a cipher for the joys of lifelong companionship. It’s a song I mentally well up to virtually every time I hear it.
A few months ago, during the debate in the House of Commons to legislate for gay marriage, speaking in favour of the motion the MP Guy Opperman proclaimed, “I am not married. I have yet to find the woman who would want to marry someone such as me—but she is out there, Mr Speaker, I promise you.” Continue reading
It starts with the crowd showing their appreciation. Slowly, a rhythm settles in. Then, a gut-churning bass line and a central instrumental motif guaranteed to make bodies writhe. It’s The Rapture’s “House of Jealous Lovers”—the first DFA single, with James Murphy behind the boards.
And it’s pretty much David Bowie’s “Love Is Lost”, too, albeit spun out over a ten-minute remix masterminded by, yes, James Murphy. Continue reading
Over breakfast, reading Giles Coren and Matthew Parris in The Times, I was forced to conclude that schooling kills creativity, and economists’ predictions are not so much dismal science as abysmal science. I suppose I am doubly screwed, then. Continue reading
“He said, everything is messed up round here,
Everything is banal and jejune;
There’s a planetary conspiracy against the likes of you and me,
In this idiot constituency of the moon.”
—Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, “We Call Upon The Author”, 2008.
We are in an age where adults behave like children. This great unraveling is evinced by the music bludgeoned into the ears of thirtysomethings. Banal, mawkish, sub-literate pop that does a disservice to the genre’s great tradition. The gloss and sheen and sensuality of the 1980s and 1990s, when Prince, Sade and Whitney roamed (let alone Destiny’s Child and TLC), have been cast out of the temple, and false idols are worshipped. We must be at the nadir, with no brainy, chart-friendly pop to call upon. One Direction and their rudderless ilk seem to signal the eschaton. Continue reading