Suzi Wu “Teenage Witch”

This is not a song, it’s a living, breathing, sneering, sarcastic babe wandering confusedly yet confidently through the night. It’s punk ( Slits), it’s pop ( Lily Allen kinda), and just bitchin’.

 

Sonic “I Can Be Lonely”

Ooh, this is no joke, it’s just a beauteous, earnest, and 90’s all over R & B ballad, with a couple of watery, shaky vocal moments, that’ll completely stick to your heart. The vocal brings to mind the sensuous crooning of diva Chante Moore, while the song itself is reminiscent of Marsha ( Floetry) Ambrosius’s finest stuff. And so tonight we’re gonna cry like it’s 1993.

Weekly New Wonders Playlist !

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Yes, this duckling is being used as a shameless device to get your attention so you’ll maybe read this post…anyway, here are some wonderful things, gathered neatly in playlists, all together in one place, that we’ve featured, or just discovered, to bend an ear to. This is going to be a regular thing, and we promise to compile it every month on both Spotify, and Soundcloud, just because, well, we want you to hear, and are trying to make it really easy ( and not every track is in both places dammit) ! Hope you dig…

Listen here ! :

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/esperanza19/playlist/7aNhnt0SvZy1pWEfotYvCQ

Or here ! :

Early Humans “Verge”

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.

Big Hush “Soft Eyes”

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.

OTG featuring Little Simz “The Book”

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”.

Album Review : Jlin “Black Origami”

Ed Zed, one half of apocalyptic, futuristic, brilliant, junk punk duo the Casual Sexists would follow Jlin anywhere. Here’s why…

a4190542042_10It’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.

I wonder if it’ll soon become too much for my weathered frame (and the weathered emotions it houses) to bear? Let it.
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. Seamlessly blending polyrhythmic African beats with rapid-fire, clipped electronics and occasionally unsettling samples that reflect the turmoil of our times, Black Origami plunges deep into history to make its very modern statement. It’s hard to know where the inimitable Jlin will go from here, but wherever it is I’m going right along with her. I can’t bloody wait…

Listen here:

Moon Loves Honey “Before I Crash”

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.

Johnny Diamonds “Touch Me ( In a Hospital)”

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’s “Subdivisions”: One band. One song.

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Rush were, are and will always be loved. They’ve sold millions of records, are regarded as one of the finest live bands in musical history and in 2013 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They can also lay claim to having one of the greatest drummers of all-time, the late Neil Peart, in their ranks. The plus column is stuffed with powerful affirmations of their goodness yet I just, plain, can’t get into them. But lord oh lord, how I’ve tried.

I’d been particularly charmed by their 2010 bio documentary and career retrospective, Beyond the Lighted Stage, had found myself completely won over by the trio’s camaraderie, humor and self-awareness. I was so invested in maintaining these good feelings that I decided to read not one but two of Neil Peart’s acclaimed travel memoirs in quick succession. I actively tried make Rush happen in my heart.

Of course I recognized that the film and books were mere ephemera and a diversion from what really mattered. Yup, I knew that to truly understand and experience Rush in a meaningful way, I had to spend time listening to the actual music. And so I did, the whole discography. It didn’t work. Which is to say as I was listening, I felt nothing. Was not transported. Had no epiphany.

Wishful attempts like this to love, feel and understand Rush were actually nothing new to me. My approach to appreciating Rush was disturbingly similar to having a drivers license or passport renewed. Every few years like clockwork I would check in, usually after witnessing some extreme display of fandom and/or worship, then trawl through the discography. And the result was always the same. 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 ( a TV show so painfully, chronologically on point for me that I officially categorize it as a 19-part documentary). Seeing Nick’s complete and utter worship of the band, watching him clumsily, passionately thrash along to “Spirit of the Radio” on his 29 piece drum kit and later defend drummer Neil Peart’s genius to his ex-girlfriend’s Lindsay’s Dad, was downright inspiring. And with that I hopefully cued up their mega Moving Pictures album…and felt nothing as it played.

Nick-neil peart

“Neil Peart is the greatest drummer alive !”…say no more Nick, turn that shit up…

And so why continually try when these attempts have never worked ? Well, it’s all because of one song, 1983’s fatly synthesized anthem of teen alienation and ennui, “Subdivisions”. I loved it. That song was the singular source of this blind and apparently eternal optimism. Back in the day, it’d spoken to my young, angst-ridden ass as deeply as any of the songs my most beloved band at the time The Smiths had kicked out. It was my “Manchester, so much to answer for”. But my “Manchester” was the considerably less historic, austere, damaged and romantic patch of unbridled suburbia known as, uh, Long Island. And so The Smiths were only gonna get so far in terms of helping make sense of the world in which I lived out my teen-dom. “Subdivisions” on the other hand understood. It got me.

In the High School Halls

In the shopping malls

Conform or be cast out

Yes, Rush, yes, I would geekily think anytime I heard it. “Subdivisions” was released just as MTV was beginning to grow in popularity and the song’s video was on constantly. And since I watched MTV roughly 4-5 hours a day every day (sick), it was only a matter of time before it planted its flag into my oh so impressionable psyche. Of course, as was the trend in music videos of the time, the visuals were painfully literal. Faceless suburban streets, check. Lonely bespectacled nerd ignored by oblivious, happy popular kids, check. Rush themselves, check, check, check. Here it is, in all its glory:

Nowhere is the dreamer
Or the misfit so alone

If I’m being honest, as far as my teenage musical touchstones go, I’ve spent more time listening to “Subdivisions” over the past several decades than I have the entire Smiths discography. I know that sounds sacrilege but that’s the mysterious and insidious power of “Subdivisions”. Rush said everything I needed to hear to feel understood and seen in one song. That’s all it took. Just the one song. And as it turned out that’s all I needed from Rush. And maybe after all this longterm effort that’s the real epiphany I was meant to have. And I couldn’t have asked for more.

P.S. In 2007, singer-pianist Anita Athavale released an absolutely kick ass cover of “Subdivisions” which as of this writing is not available on any of the streaming services…but it is on YouTube albeit in the weirdest and most on the nose way imaginable. Anita’s version provides the poignant soundtrack for a resolutely grim, un-ironic video tribute to a deceased shopping mall in Cleveland (complete with a “1976-2009” graphic at the end). Seriously though, Anita strips it down to its bones and it’s ridiculously good. Here it is :

P.P.S. The Rush fanbase is overwhelmingly male. While this “boys love Rush” phenomenon is discussed with sweet and hilarious candor in the aforementioned Beyond the Lighted Stage, nothing beats the depiction offered in the 2009 buddy comedy I Love You Man. Come cringe along with Rashida Jones, playing Paul Rudd’s beleaguered girlfriend, as she experiences the effect Rush has on grown men in real time. It’s perfect.