(via The Fader) While everyone, including me, seems to be raving about Frank Ocean‘s Channel Orange, Afghan Whigs released a studio version of their Lovecrimes’ cover a couple of days ago, a song from Frank Ocean’s first masterpiece nostalgia, ULTRA.
I’d be lying if I said that I know anything about Afghan Whigs, since it wouldn’t normally be my sort of music, yet this track could become my guilty pleasure. It’s cheesy, it includes strings and a guitar solo in the background but I simply can’t resist.
Needless to say, K-Pop seems to have drained me of any capacity to write about music, and I know not when any shall return.
I can, however ask you a question: have you heard Cupp Cave’s RetinalWaves? It’s an instrumental hip-hop albums whose planes of relevance and opacity meet at an extremely rewarding angle. It’s available on Ramp Records. It includes this song:
Can you hear what I mean?
This is the first song of the new album by Berlin-based experimental artist Schneider TM’s which is made entirely out of field recording of the renovation of his old Prenzlauer Berg apartment and the surrounding houses. The Quietus named it the “sound of Gentrification”, so it might give you an idea how the area sounded a few years ago. It could sound similar again when people decide to have garages build on top of their places in order to hide their newly bought Ferraris from jealous suburban people.
I’ve spent the last two weeks yet again torn between my inability to muster any substantial commentary on a piece of music and my desire to use the tiny platform of O(h)rtlos to make sure that at least a few more people come to hear it.
Continuing from my earlier stated belief that 2012 is a year in which Canada will save indie rock, the music in question is by Boxer the Horse, from the delightfully left-field location of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Apparently they’ve received some awards from the CBC.
Do they bear the influence of a number of beloved groups of the 1990’s, Pavement foremost among them? Yes.
Is their song and lyric writing as good as that of Pavement in their prime? QUITE POSSIBLY.
Should that make you quiveringly excited? YES.
After listening to French Residency in full, and maybe even shoveling over ten virtual loonies, you should also check out their 2010 release Would you Please, which is also of an excellent quality, as you can plainly hear:
So far as I can tell, the emerging theme of 2012 is one of Canadian bands proving that indie rock can still be an active, exciting concern. Montréal’s Homeshake shows the way, melting down six decades of R&B-derived guitar music in a high-pressure, high-temperature environment to produce two tracks of pure transchronic ear candy.
Suddenly finding yourself making significant revisions to your personal conception of the pop music canon can be simultaneously exhilarating, embarrassing and humbling, at once a delightful reminder that there remains ever more wonderful music to discover, and a reason to chide yourself (if you’re the right sort of obsessive) for not encountering something earlier.
Ash Cooke, alias Pulco, once with defunct Welsh band Derrero can quite reasonably be canonized next to a number of established UK pop music figures I’ve long been particularly attached to, Guff Rhys, Alasdair MacLean and Steve Mason among them. To use his most recent work, the five track Sketchbook Season from November last, as an example, “Whistle Frog Finds A Way” opening with an amiable spoken-word introduction, leads to a hypnotic guitar and bass figure ornamented with tape effects and lo-fi bells and (literal) whistles that would feel at home on The Beta Band’s earliest records. “Don’t Stand Down” is every bit as dreamy as a song by The Clientele, but its mood runs more towards the reassuring than the melancholy, and it replaces well-turned out pop-classicist arrangements with a synth choral voice, acoustic guitar, and a bit of gently tapping percussion. “Party Started,” would, if it were from the Super Furry Animals, qualify as their most relaxed groove in history. “Hair,” as an insistently catchy (its aesthetic could be described as “cheerful alarm clock”) mediation on the hirsute condition, serves as an exemplar for the whimsical strain that runs through Cooke’s material, the last decade of which is all easily accessible via bandcamp.
Perhaps that hearthstone warmth and intimacy, as well as being so charming, is some of the reason that Pulco isn’t so well-known outside of the UK (if that’s not just my ignorance at work.) Cooke’s first-class pop craft is up to the standards of his above-mentioned, but doesn’t bring with it the spacey mystery of the Beta Band, the all-enveloping emotional sweep of The Clientele, or the Paul McCartney-eating-a-carrot quality of Rhys’ time spent being a Big Deal. The lo-fi quality, ramshackle instrumentation, exuberant doodlings, free experimentation and lyrical friendliness displayed in a decade of home recording bespeak a holistic hominess that proves extremely inviting, yet isn’t so conducive to filling arenas or doing record store magic tricks.
Fortunately, we can all make up for late introductions by spending some quality time enveloped in the Pulco sound. Away you go!
So good I dropped my embargo on using triangles as characters.
Skweee is an odd, lovable beast, with a distinctly goofy allure. Emerging only slightly after Dubstep, it often seems like a forgotten cousin; snuggled away in Scandanavia and the Baltics, never having much of a transatlantic cross-over (except, of course, in Portland Oregon) Skweee made many of the same moves, but instead of drawing from a gene-pool of UK Garage House, 90’s American R&B and Dub, it started from an unabashed love for 80’s synth-funk and then threw in odd-ball elements, epitomized by the shockingly appropriate Indo-Arabic instrumentation of Oslo-based duo Easy & Center of the Universe. There’s some of the latter in KOΔƎK’s music (and in his Omar Souleyman cover art) but the main differential is just how hard it is compared to the usual smooth squiggly nature of the genre; the bit-reduced slam of the tracks make “Swkugg” to Skweee what Grime is to Dubstep (without, so far, the MC’s, a development that would be truly mind-bending.) The giggly sonic aggression fits perfectly with KOΔƎK’s visual aesthetic, a pink and teal overload of Internet kawaii-psych insanity that makes Seapunk look straight-laced.