Okay. This is mindless, in the best possible way. This is 1998 to the core. This is the sound of Blink 182 holding hands with Sugar in form, and function. This has one of those chorus’s that just won’t, go, away. This is to play whenever you feel like bouncing off the walls, and it is ridiculously swell.
One thing is clear from the outset with this one: the guitar is driving the car. The melody is slippery, and evasive, perpetually changing direction, running into walls, and backing out again. The overall sound is not a million miles away from 90’s gazers, Curve, and it’s a truly memorable thing.
This is the debut single from OTG, producer, and DJ for the incredible in her own right, Little Simz, who herself provides the vocal here. This beats with a mournful, and world weary pulse: it’s just lonely. And all of those qualities are accentuated by lyrical turns like “I’ve seen more than you know, I’m the bible”. Little Simz’s high notes are as delicate, and fragile as glass, and it’s all too beautiful. This will feature on OTG’s soon to be released EP, “Garden of Osiris”.
Ed Zed, one half of apocalyptic, futuristic, brilliant, junk punk duo the Casual Sexists would follow Jlin anywhere. Here’s why…
It’s only July, and I know it already – this is going to be my number 1 album of 2017. The bone-rattling charge of Jlin’s Daedalean opus shakes me to the very core, and remains undiminished the more I listen to it – in fact it grows even stronger each time.
Black Origami – what a perfect name for this collection of raw materials sculpted by Jlin with such dexterity into fresh, elaborate forms, that seem both ancient and impossibly futuristic. Her footwork roots are now but a ghost, shimmering beneath the multi-tentacled rhythms and vocal fragments that bind the album so tightly together, reminding us of how far Jlin has travelled, sonically, in such a short space of time.
Listen here :
This is one really handsome bit of shoegaze/dreampop. It’s extremely melodic, with some sweet, and oddly sixties style harmonizing of all things. And everything lives happily together inside a pretty fabulous arrangement. It’s a beauty.
The gentle, knowing vocal on this brought to mind David Johansen’s sweet turn, on the New York Dolls classic “Lonely Planet Boy”: both are understated, and weirdly romantic, and perfectly embraced by the louder, equally pretty guitars swirling around them. This is a lovely thing…
Rush. Progressive rock legends. Worshipped by millions. 40 plus albums in their discography, a multitude of which have gone gold and platinum. Esteemed members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…but alas, for me their appeal’s been elusive. I’m not happy to say this. After seeing the admittedly excellent documentary and career retrospective, “Beyond the Lighted Stage” a few years ago, I absolutely wanted to like them, the whole story had been so compelling, and cool, I thought yeah, I’m finally getting this….but minus the tale, and the visuals, just listening to them on the headphones, I felt nothing. Was not transported. Had no epiphany.
This hopefulness was nothing new, this attempt to love, feel, and understand Rush. Several years prior to the documentary, I’d been similarly swayed to give them another chance, after witnessing the unbridled Rush passion of Nick Andopolis on “Freaks and Geeks” ( best TV show ever). His complete, and utter worship of them, playing along on his 29 piece drum kit , passionately, and horrifically to “Spirit of the Radio”, and later defending their genius to his ex-girlfriend’s Lindsay’s Dad, made me think, yes, there’s something to all this, I want to feel like this too…and with that, I hopefully cued up their mega “Moving Pictures”album…but again, nothing.
“Neil Peart is the greatest drummer alive !”…say no more Nick, turn that shit up…
Why continually try when these attempts have never worked ? Well, it’s all because of one song ,”Subdivisions”, from 1983. I kind of love it. For real. That song alone is what’s fueled this eternal optimism. It’s fat, melodic synthesizer line, and darkly, perceptive lyrics about suburban teen alienation spoke to my young, angst-ridden ass, as deeply as my most beloved band at the time, the Smiths did. It was my “Manchester, so much to answer for”, except of course my Manchester, was the considerably less historic, austere, damaged, and romantic patch of unbridled suburbia known as, uh,…Long Island. Anyway, this song understood my feelings. It got me. I lived it.
In the High School Halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
Yes, Rush, yes, I geekily nodded, and thought. “Subdivisions” release in 1983, coincided with MTV’s growing prominence, and, as a result, the video was on constantly, with it’s overt, and completely literal suggestions of alienation, and bullying, both of which are dealt with by our outcast representative watching Rush sing the song on TV, and playing a video game at the mall. Here it is, in all it’s glory:
You know when you’re so into a song that you have a playlist solely devoted to it, featuring every ( decent) cover version of said song imaginable ? Bueller ?…anyway… while you might be spoiled for choice as far as versions of say, Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”, or, lord help us, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, when it comes to “Subdivisions”, there is struggle. There’s a real dearth of decent cover versions …still, the best one is exceptionally good, and that’s Anita Athavale’s 2007 version. It’s not available on any of the usual music streaming homes, or on YouTube in a conventional way…as in the only way to hear it, is by watching a grim, un-ironic, lost love letter to a deceased shopping mall in Cleveland, complete with a “1976-2009” graphic at the end, that it soundtracks. It’s earnest with a big E. Seriously though, Anita strips it down to it’s bones, and it’s pretty great. Here it is :
…there’s one more joyful thing to share regarding this band. In the aforementioned “Beyond the Lighted Stage” doc, the elephant in the room is addressed candidly, and awesomely…that being that the Rush audience is obviously, and overwhelmingly male. It’s become kind of a running joke, and is best encapsulated in this scene from, wait for it, “I Love You Man”. Watch Rashida Jones, as Paul Rudd’s beleaguered girlfriend experience the Rush effect in real time. It’s perfect.
Can I tell you something, after writing all this I’m seriously considering giving Rush another try, I mean, maybe it’ll stick this time….
p.s. I did try one more time. No, it didn’t take. I’ve made peace with it though. “Subdivisions” is clearly all I’ll ever need… and that’s truly enough.
This begins with an unmissable nod to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, and is basically a pretty swell piece of old school, 90’s style alt-rock, complete with the timestamp of a line, “we’ve really got it going on”.
And it brought to mind this pretty fabulous thing below, by Leona Naess, from 1999, which is absolutely worth revisiting.
Want a fat, cynical, perfect pop song, filled with bits of Weezer, Gwen Stefani, and vintage Madonna that will immediately take up residence in your head for the rest of the day, and maybe longer ? Yeah you do…
Belfast singer/songwriter Aislinn Logan has a transcendently stunning voice, and this track, off her debut EP “Lost or Gone”, showcases it to perfect effect. A simple circular melody, bookended with the hollow, faceless sounds of a train station, the mood is weary and sad, and the whole thing is pretty damn beautiful.