Monthly Archives: August 2009

YACHT – Psychic City (Voodoo City)

Jona Bechtolt is an intriguing proposition – part electronic artist, part PowerPoint-wielding humorist. His musical entity, YACHT, recently became a DFA-based duo, with the assistance of the dazzling Claire L. Evans, and their new album, See Mystery Lights, is a release that I am eagerly waiting (Amazon UK’s shipping estimate is three weeks; no joy on Spotify as yet). I’ve been tipping them for glory in much the same way as I did Hercules And Love Affair two years ago, having heard earlier incarnations of “Summer Song” floating around cyberspace.

In any case, that’s not why I’m writing all this. I listened to new single “Psychic City (Voodoo City)” this afternoon for the first time in a while, and ever since, its catchy and endearing vocal chant/hook has been ingrained in my head, bugging me constantly. I’m pretty certain it’s been borrowed/lifted from somewhere else, but I really can’t think where. My guess would be a Talking Heads song, but I could be wrong.

If anyone can solve this mystery, please provide your answer in comment-based form, and you will receive my profound thanks and gratefulness.

I need your help, Dearest Internet!

The Big Pink – Dominos [FGHOTS 2]

The second of my Feel Good Hits Of The Summer bears, according to Pitchfork, an uncanny resemblance to MGMT’s “Time To Pretend”, which is in my mind an inferior creature. Much-vaunted duo The Big Pink release their debut, entitled A Brief History Of Love, next month, but in the meantime they are treating us to a free single, “Dominos”, which should be blitzing through summer playlists like a falling block of ice. Over the top of a crisp, pumping beat blasts through romping, fuzzy synths, and a ludicrously catchy vocal hook, delivered in a voice that is equal parts whiny as it is memorable.

There’s no video, and there isn’t likely to be one anytime soon, but grab the free download while it lasts, because this song is a scorcher. It manages the previously unimaginable, channelling the spirit of shoegaze through the raw energy of great pop music. Let’s hope they’re onto a winner.

The Big Pink – Dominos

Friendly Fires – Kiss Of Life [FGHOTS 1]

This evening I have two official Feel Good Hits Of The Summer about which to briefly extoll.

The first comes from the finest dancers in St. Alban’s, Friendly Fires, who I have already heaped praise upon on previous occasions. They release new single “Kiss Of Life” on 31st August, which if anything is a bit too late to win the hearts of summer festival-goers, who will already have been grooving away to the song’s feel-good samba rhythms all season. The video, filmed in Ibiza, ties in perfectly with the song, which pits a flowering romance against the impermanence of lines drawn in the sand, waiting to be washed away by the tide. The music is unflinchingly euphoric and dancefloor-friendly, a fact impressed upon us by Ed MacFarlane’s inimitable beach-front jiving. My my, he has rhythm.

If this song isn’t a hit, I will despair. It is fully ready for the radio, and yet it doesn’t miss a beat in providing sophisticated, shimmering pop music for music connoisseurs. Expect Friendly Fires to be officially elected as rulers of summer by 2011 at the latest.

Muse – Uprising

After last month’s protracted treasure hunt and resulting download-only ‘treat’, “United States Of Eurasia”, today’s radio waves were dominated by exclusive first plays of Muse’s official lead single for The Resistance, entitled “Uprising”. That this new song is the album opener suggests that it is a definitive introduction to the prevailing themes on the album; judging by what Matt Bellamy has said in a video interview with Zane Lowe, we can definitely think of The Resistance as a set of songs that are carefully structured to tell a story. From Mr. Bellamy’s intimations, this unifying conceptual story is one of a conflict-defying romance taking place amidst the geo-political strife of the 21st century, replete with corrupt governments and shady transgressions of democratic ideals.

You may have read just how much of a hammering “United States Of Eurasia” received from music writers, myself included. This criticism was completely justified – it’s a messy, thoughtless, overblown piece of work that does nothing to play to the strengths of the band. “Uprising”, then, has been dealt an easy hand, for to trump the only previous sneak preview fans have had of the band’s latest creation requires no great effort.

The song begins with a neat sonic trick, with the bass emerging from the sound of a record accelerating up to speed. From there on, we are plunged head-first into a glam-rock schaffel, where an octave-skipping, gurgling bass line dovetails with a Doctor Who-aping synth melody. It’s catchy, enjoyable and instantly more edifying than “United States…”, with periodic hand claps leading into a solitary, tasteful squeal of guitar that is much more in keeping with Matt Bellamy’s style, and certainly does not digress into Brian May-style stupidity.

The vocals, when they appear, fifty seconds in, are nonetheless surprising and out of character, with Bellamy singing in a substantially lower register than he is famous for. Perhaps more alarmingly, his pronunciation and intonation is all over the shop, with many of the lines slurring into the kind of gloopy drawl I last detested on Green Day’s “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” – a song that ingrained in me a deep-seated hatred of Billie Joe Armstrong. Lyrically, we’ve got all the traditional Bellamy-isms: shady government propaganda; drugs being pumped into the water supply; the unspecified “truth” being kept from the public. It’s all there, and it’s all unintentionally rather amusing in its na├»vety. For me, there’s always been a substantial gap between Matt Bellamy’s undoubted curiosity and intelligence (look at the books he reads, and the stuff he quotes in interviews) and his ability to write sophisticated lyrics that mirror these concerns, and “Uprising”, sadly, is going to do little to dispel this notion.

Musically, the song is definitely a good egg, in a perfectly harmless manner. Perhaps the Devon three-piece really do believe they are pushing the boundaries of rock music with their tasteful synth arpeggios and crisply distorted bass tones. If so, they’re sadly mistaken, because “Uprising” breaks fewer genre conventions than a non-stick frying pan. Nevertheless, the song is solidly written (complete with entertaining interplay between guitar solo and synth backing) and efficiently executed, with minimal flab, and a well-constructed structure that builds effectively, and leads to a satisfying conclusion. Just don’t expect too many surprises.