The recent debate between David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors and Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes, on the state of indie rock, brought to the public’s eye an issue I’ve been grappling with for a little while. In an age of such discontent, even a radical moderate such as myself can find some solace in the sometimes-disproportionate anger of politically-conscious hip hop. Continue reading Beats, rhymes, and the radical centre
The seminal German outfit had arguably been following their own advice for much of their career: “I programme my home computer, Beam myself into the future”. On two rather prescient albums, they considered what effect technology and innovation would have on society, with conclusions that are relevant today.
Anohni (f.k.a. Antony Hegarty) and Hayden Thorpe are owners of unforgettable voices. In the past, their respective œuvres were musically distinctive too. As Antony and the Johnsons, there were four albums of East Village baroque pop, ripe with violin, cello and hollow-bodied electric guitar. Thorpe, with his band Wild Beasts, released an imperial brace of manicured art rock, heavy on carnality, sensuality, and bongos. Continue reading There she goes, my ugly world
It’s no secret that I love Field Music, through their fits and starts and hiatuses and occasional missteps (2012’s Plumb being a bit morose, in this author’s opinion, though it won the Brewis brothers an overdue Mercury Prize nomination). The four-song stint stretching from “Effortlessly” through to “All You’d Ever Need To Say” on Field Music (Measure) is one of the great art rock suites of our age—though on vinyl it is inexplicably torn between two sides—and I told the band as much when I met them in Canonbury’s Myddleton Arms, over several G&Ts, back in March. Continue reading The Commontime gents
A few years back, I had a wretched dream in which Spoon recorded an album of tinkly lounge piano music, in debt to the worst indulgences of Steely Dan’s milieu. The album was titled Raw Repetition, and I’m glad it never came to pass (though They Want Your Soul features a blue-note-tastic cover of “I Just Don’t Understand”).
I mention this because of Factory Floor‘s monomaniacal comeback single, “Dial Me In”, which rides a three-note acid bassline for all its 6.5 minute duration. Continue reading Raw repetition
I’ve written previously about sprezzatura—the hard labour undertaken in order to appear carelessly stylish—in relation to Spoon’s underappreciated 2020 LP, Transference. But Brooklyn immigrants Parquet Courts achieve what might be considered sprezzatura‘s opposite on their latest work, Human Performance: casually executed precision. The end-product resembles a cocktail of rock canon greats—Velvet Underground, The Clash, and The Kinks, primarily—but with a somewhat nihilistic worldview that’s cleverly updated for this millennials’ age. As Brooklyn transplants, and subterranean romantics, they bring an outsider’s perspective to the most happening scene in the most happening city on the most happening planet in the galaxy. Their surface scruffiness is shot through with a surprising amount of melodrama and trickery. And their facility with non sequiturs and Dadaist slogans lends their work a cheerily surreal swerve. Continue reading The Antislacktivists
Tuning into Beats 1 one Sunday, a little early for a rerun of a Time Crisis episode (thanks for the memories, Ezra), I caught the frontman of Panic At The Disco on “Gratitude”, closing out the show with Weezer’s one undisputed—if atypical—masterpiece, “Only In Dreams”. I listen to very little music resembling Weezer’s œuvre. But that song always gets me, with its hellhole-outsider perspective on modern romance. Continue reading Emergency!
Call it a weakness, but I rarely find myself apologising. We have a culture of deference that sometimes manifests itself in needless apology; I veer from it. But on occasion, when one really screws up, one has to go beyond the call of duty in saying one is sorry. This mixtape captures that mood. Continue reading Compunction: a mixtape
It’s time to talk about Hot Chip‘s perpetually classy live show. Continue reading Still chipper
Popular culture is overwhelmed with humourless, oversaturated electronic music that sounds like sucking a lemon, or perhaps eating bitter gourd. Extreme darkness can be combined with surprising good humour—a little like the tone in Alfonso Cuarón’s Children Of Men—and ugliness doesn’t have to sound sloppy. Continue reading Tuff nuts