Snow in Mexico “Thirteen”

Suggesting the Pet Shop Boys at their most lost, and ineffably pretty, “Thirteen” is solely comprised of  synth and sadness, and unquestionably built for staring wistfully out train windows, and playing on repeat.

Album Review : The Bomber Jackets “Kudos to The Bomber Jackets”

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Ed Zed on the timeless, wry, & disappointed post-punk pop greyness of The Bomber Jackets

Imagine if an austere 80s / 90s British TV police drama made an album. Cracker or something like that. It’s tempting to think that Robbie Coltrane’s cynical title character might have created the album in question using various yard sale synths and a 4-track during his younger, marginally more optimistic days before becoming an overweight jaded detective, but I don’t mean that.
I mean if the show itself made an album. Its whole environment – the concrete skies, the whimpering tea machine, the energetically melancholy whine of the rusted playground swing and every one of the poor bastards who’s suffered through the monochrome mire of Cracker‘s world, week in, week out. That album might sound something like Kudos to The Bomber Jackets. I mean that as a sincere compliment. Buy it.

Glorious Plastic Love Rubbish: A Love Note

“My songs are like Bic razors, they’re for fun, for modern consumption. People can discard them like a used tissue afterwards. They can listen to it, like it, discard it, then turn onto the next. Disposable pop.” 

Freddie Mercury speaking in interview circa late 70’s.9af6df87fe2902b04376683f5379ebc4--s-punk-s-style

I love that quote. Can totally imagine Freddie delivering it, and adding a “do you understand Darling?” with a flourish after he says it. It describes the true core essence of pop music…buuuut of course some songs are more disposable than others. I mean, there are very few people on earth who would label the average Queen song as disposable (although, we could ostensibly nominate “Body Language”, and I’m pretty sure Freddie would agree). Fact is, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, and ” some girl’s mothers are bigger than other girl’s mothers”…which lands us here. One of the great things about the 80’s and early 90’s was that any crazy piece of whatever could end up in the chart. No matter how off the wall, cheesy, unapologetically ludicrous, drowned in lush earnestness, or buried in chocolate coated jellybeans and sprinkles something was, if it had a chorus, an eye-catching video, or a picture sleeve it had the potential to become a hit, especially in the UK. Throughout the 80’s especially, there ran a seemingly endless stream of shameless tunes in garish colors, that if they weren’t pop songs would have been action figures, anime characters or bowls of multi-colored, sugared cereal. There were twisted-tacky euro-tastic anthems ( the earnest WTF*ckedness of Falco’s “Sound of Musik”), frothy fat-synthed joys with anonymous female vocals literally built for the radio ( Maisonettes “Heartache Avenue”, Rah Band “Clouds Across the Moon”), and belligerent teenage girls, chanting homemade slogans, and giving you the finger ( Shampoo, Annabella of Bow Wow Wow). It was all cheese to the core, but like really, really good cheese.

Screenshot 2017-09-30 23.36.15“A bip bam-boogie and a booga-rooga, my cassette’s just like a bazooka”. HELL YES IT IS GIRL.

We no longer have to live in the vacuum of coolness. As a result of streaming, and YouTube, we now live in a musical world without context. There is no need to hide in the closet anymore. If you like trashy pop music, you can like it openly. You can love it out loud. You don’t ever have to start a sentence with ,”I know it’s cheesy/bad/lame but I really like (insert song you hate yourself for liking here)”. You can say, “know what, I f*cking love Mambo No.5″ …actually no, don’t say that, because in no universe is it okay to like that song, but anything else you got, OKAY. Take ownership, you are free.

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No, it will never be okay to like this song.

And with that here is a Spotify playlist featuring the aforementioned wonders plus a some other equally magnetic pop things from back in the day when the charts were truly the wild west. And hey, I’d love to hear what your favorite cheese tune is, and why the hell you like it. I promise I won’t tell anyone.

 

 

Superego “Indecision”

This song wants to hug you. The debut single from Superego is straight up melodic joy, joy, joy. It’s featured star is a massive, shiny guitar that’s let loose to run amuck in a green grassy field under, of course, the bluest of blue skies.

Bloxx “Coke”

Bloxx are described in their bio as a “4-piece indie band from London”. True enough but what they really are is a f*cking great “4-piece indie band from London”. The situation “Coke” relates is full of frustration, regret, and resignation, but it’s all enveloped in a swirling, sticky, swampy guitar line ( which reminded me for a second of the ravishing “Slide Away” by Oasis), and blessed with a singalong chorus, and as such, is nearly impossible to evict from your head once you’ve heard it.

And there’s more where that came from featured below. Make sure to check out the snarling and kicking “Curtains”, the stuttering, airborne pop of “You”, and the he’s an arse, you should be with me anthem “Your Boyfriend”. All are exceptionally fine.

Lastly, here’s a little “Coke” live, and yeah, it’s really, really good :

 

Mulch Aikens “Baby Blue” & “Sand Dunes”

I’m a sucker for “Right On’s” in a pop song. The best ones in history ever, live within the intro to Marvin Gaye’s classic “What’s Going On” and they are love. Which brings us here to Mulch’s “Baby Blue”, which has a generous helping of them, and exudes earnest warmth, love, and confusion about family and the universe in the most tuneful way possible. In addition, it also possesses the most bitchin’ guitar break.

“Sand Dunes” (the other track above) is a lo-fi amalgamation of Prince, Shuggie Otis, and Brian Wilson. It’s a little demented, a little romantic, and has more hooks than a tackle box ( Okay, I sincerely apologize for that last bit but it’s true). To summarize, like “Baby Blue”, it’s pretty damn good.

Momus “What Will Death Be Like”(1987)

Please enjoy this seven minute acoustic ballad by eccentric musical genius Momus from 1987, featuring an endless stream of death references from history, myth, literature, film, and real life (circa 1987 that is, shout out to then potential nihilists Reagan and Gorbachev). How he’s managed to make this laundry list of darkness, and fatalism sound wistful, romantic, and melodic continues to boggle my mind to this day. It’s disconcerting… and utterly beautiful.

The Dream Eaters “Dead On The Inside”

Oh yeah. This is some fine and glossy pop, festooned with a bit of boogie guitar, and a heavenly vocal that I swear sounds like Judee Sill, semi-mysterious, revered 70’s singer/songwriter of all people. Anyway, all of this together makes for a pretty heavenly sound, and a welcome new entry into the pop church hymn book.

And here’s the aforementioned Judee Sill to have a listen to if you haven’t before. She remains forever unbelievable, and otherworldly.

 

11h Jeanne “Space Out”

While this is officially designated as a “work in progress” by the band, it’s just so damn pretty in it’s current state that I didn’t want to wait until a fuller version appeared to post it. Just some real beauty here, sparse, and tuneful, with an especially warm and wondrous vocal.

Fire to the Stars “Wholesale Slaughter”

Okay so, a bit late to this party, but this is too pretty not to spread the word about. This track appeared on Fire to the Stars “Keep You Safe” EP back in 2014, and was then included on the band’s 2016 “Made of Fire” album, so it’s been lurking around for a bit…but we digress. All that needs to be said is that it’s a beauty, somehow managing to be both funereal and pop, starting as a slow dirge dressed in black, with a keening vocal, then suddenly turning the corner onto a sunlit street, courtesy of a beautiful guitar led hook. And while it brings to mind both Patti Smith, and Marianne Faithfull in parts , the glorious spectre of Stevie Nicks hangs over the whole thing, like the dark, dancing around the fire Stevie, the one that consumes all of us earthly beings during the last minute of “Gold Dust Woman”.

Thinking about the construction of “Wholesale Slaughter” led me on a typically geeky tangent. Specifically, I began contemplating the ascent of the 1982 song “Ghosts” by Japan. It was a morose, skeletal dirge that was about as far from a pop song as you could get, yet somehow, beyond all reason or logic, it managed to reach the top 5 in the UK charts that year ( have a listen below, and you’ll see what I mean).
Japan, starring singer/ songwriter, and still legend David Sylvian, were the thinking fangirl’s band of choice back then, but still, would it even be possible for pop this dark, weird, and slippery to rise to those kind of heights again ? Hmmm, I wonder. I’m thinking our collective lack of patience, introspection, and empathy makes it pretty unlikely that an oddball like “Ghosts” will ever be a “hit” at that scale again ( though I remain hopeful because hey, you gotta).  Still, love the idea that it was so mega, and it remains a properly lovely weirdo tune.