Friday, March 6, 2020

Foxes And Tigers And Lions - Oh Yeah.

It's throwdown time! Foxes and Wolves vs Lions and Tigers! I said I'd do it so I'm doing it! And no-one can stop me! Bring it on!

Our opening bout features a new contender I just discovered last night. Technically that's breaking the rules. This was supposed to be a grudge match between songs already lodged in my Music folder but hey, it's there now, alright?

I ran into Baterya Fox on a link trail that started with 90s one hit wonder White Town, last seen lurking somewhere in a bedroom in the North of England, and ended in Farroupilha, a small town in  Brazil's Serra Gaúcha. I love the Internet.

I was caught by the enigmatic title, Tracy's Blue Cigarettes, which embodies three of my favorite song title tropes - a girl's name, a color and a drug. It's wonderfully ramshackle, the wavering vocal, the reckless time changes, the opaque second-language lyrics. I just love it - and that guitar player!

It's youth versus experience as France's well-regarded and highly accomplished retro-punks Sugar and Tiger bring their gallic inflection to this Ramonesesque seasonal chugger. Everything I've heard by them sounds pretty much exactly like this. If it ain't broke...

And the winner is... Baterya Fox! It means Fox Battery, by the way. I think it's a brand name, not some brutal Brazilian blood sport. At least I hope so...

Next up and while we're on the subject of youth versus experience, here's a song that's called just that. Youth, I mean. And you can't get more Fox then Foxes. This alfresco acoustic take from a wintery Brooklyn rooftop beats the studio version all hands up for my money, let alone the 26m view Adventure Club remix, although I like both of those well enough, too.

Stepping up as the voice of experience we have the professionally jaded Tiger - and you can't get more tiger than that, either, unless you go for the plural like Foxes did. There was a band called The Tigers who were big in Japan in the sixties, not all that surprising since they were Japanese. YouTube is oddly unforthcoming with footage of them and what there is I don't like much so we won't be having them today.

Tiger felt like Britpop also-rans back in the mid-90s but they sound a lot better than that now. They've aged extremely well.  I bought a couple of CD singles by them at the time but I never saw them live . I bet they were a handful.

And the winner is... Tiger! One apiece. Bring on the Lions. And the Wolves.

Finding rock bands and songs with some version of wolf in them is like finding seashells on a beach. There's just something about wolves that fits the rockstar self image. Sidestepping the obvious, here comes The Real Tuesday Weld with Me & Mr. Wolf. I think this is electro swing but don't quote me.

Lions seem far less popular with rockers than wolves. I guess all that lying around and letting the women do all the work cuts a bit too close to home. I'm not sure whatever it is that Eugene McGuiness is doing counts as "rock" anyway. Art rock, possibly. This one is called, very simply, Lion.

I found Mr McGuinness via his reverb-heavy cover of Lana del Rey's Blue Jeans. He's a moody so-and-so, that's for sure.

And the winner is... Eugene! He shades it for the dressing-up box superheroines and managing to play the wolf card in his lion song in whose lyric he makes the unconvincing claim that he was "raised by wild wolves". As opposed to being raised by those forlorn, caged wolves in the final, heartbreaking scene from Withnail and I, presumably. Oops, spoiler. Soz.

Felines take the lead. Here's the decider. Only, at this point the Lions options are starting to look a little thin. I have seven lion-related items in my folder but five of them are by Fee Lion. Since one of the others is a very embarassing piece of 1980s Italian electrodisco by P. Lion and the other's a bland, Beatlesesque piece of noughties whimsy by Paper Lions that I mostly downloaded because you don't often see a band on pogo sticks, I guess Fee Lion it has to be.

Team Wolf still have some heavy hitters on the bench. There's a cover of Charlie XCX's Boys by Wolf Alice which would wipe the floor with pretty much anything if only for that understated motif from The Cure's Boys Don't Cry the keyboard player has going on... until they kind of spoil it by blowing the whole thing wide open with a full chorus.

I could have gone with the extreme guitar pop of Wolf Girl or the legendary James King and the Lone Wolves, who recorded what was once regarded by certain people of my acquaintance as one of the best rock singles of all time, The Angels Know, but who can resist the sorely underrated Patrick Wolf, here performing possibly his best-known number, The Magic Position.

Okay, that wasn't really fair, was it? Come on, seriously, what chance did poor Fee Lion have? But the decision stands. Patrick wins and it's a tie! We'll have to go for a decider.

Here come the tigers, back with a swagger. They know they still have plenty in the locker. FFS, they haven't even brought out Tiger Trap yet. And they're not going to. Instead of the sweetest post-Shop Assistants lo-fi guitar mayhem ever recorded we're going somewhere very different: Emily Jane White's bleak, scattered Wild Tigers I Have Known.

And up against Emily it's Nottingham's You Want Fox, described by their hometown paper as "a female Royal Blood" but don't let that put you off. At first glance their overcharged, glam-inflected stomp might not seem a fit match for Emily Jane White's doom-laden piano but if there's anything bleaker than their "he's not worth it"/northern fun fair in the rain video I don't want to see it.

And the winner? Tough call. Y'know what? I can't choose. Let's call it a draw.

And I really enjoyed putting that together. I like the format and it's fun to write. There might be more of these. There will be more of these. (And the picture at the top is from Foxy Feline by The Pink Slips, who had to be removed from competition for not knowing which side they were on).


  1. Post doesn't feel complete without these foxes.

    1. Heh! I guessed it would be Fleet Foxes. I don't believe I have ever actually listened to them although I must have heard them in passing. That link works but the video is "unavailable" - possibly blocked in the UK although it usually says that. Try this instead from a weirdly desynced Letterman show performance.

      And if I was going to be completist I would, of course, have led with the helium-voiced Noosha Fox from... Fox !

    2. Youtube's regional copyright is really strange, I often run into blocked stuff someone else shared.
      Also I forgot the ultimate song for this theme:

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