Friday, March 10, 2023

There's One In Every Week

Thank God it's Friday! Yeah, except not really. My working week is kind of inside-out these days; every other week, Friday is my Monday and every week Monday is my Saturday. Or something. Anyway, Friday is not the guaranteed pick-me-up it's meant to be and especially not this Friday, when I'm finishing up two-and-a-half weeks off work to go back tomorrow (For a whole two days - it's great being semi-retired!)

Anyway, I won't be posting over the weekend unless something momentous happens that I just can't leave alone. I don't have a lot in the pending folder to work with (Or a pending folder, come to think of it...) so I guess I'm just going to have to wing it. Again.

I do have some music saved up, I'm happy to say. All stuff I came across since the last "What I've Been Listening To" post, which doesn't necessarily mean it's new in the sense of not having been around for a while, just new to me. And, I hope, you. There's a lot of music out there. I don't imagine anyone's keeping up with it all in real time.

One thing I might mention is that, when I post music I've been listening to, it's increasingly the case that I've been listening to it mostly as I write the post and then later because I've written the post. I tend to find the songs, listen to them once then stash them away and it's only when I come to go through the folder that I listen to them again, often several times, as I decide which to use and where to put them.

And then, when I've published the post, I'll usually revisit it a few more times and watch the videos again just to enjoy them. It's turned into a chicken eating its own tail affair, where I search out songs so I have material so I can say in the post that I've been listening to it and the act of doing so makes it true. On the other hand, I've been doing all of that bar the actual post part for a decade and more, so I guess it's just how I listen to music now.

Enough curtain-lifting. Let's rock!

I Hate Driving In The City - GeeTee

There's a higher-than-average percentage of punk in this post. No idea why. Just what came up, I guess. I certainly didn't go looking for it. 

Even though I was a punk back when it was the new thing, I very much fell out with the sound, if not the ethos, after a while. By the nineties I couldn't really listen to much of the old stuff without cringeing. Over time, thankfully, balance re-asserted itself and now I like to imagine I appreciate each band and track on its individual merits. Imagination is a wonderful thing.

What does very much surprise me is how persistent that core mid-70s punk sound has become. I keep reading about how guitar bands are dead and no-one under fifty listens to this stuff any more and yet all my feeds keep filling up with teens and twenty-somethings making the same old racket. I mean, this specific sound is around forty-five years old, now. It would be like me, when I was in a band in my late teens, playing swing. Of course, to play jazz you actually have to be able to play. To play punk... well, that was kind of the point. I guess that still carries.

Help Me, I'm Gay - Lambrini Girls

Then again, being able to play never hurt anyone. The bass on this is fantastic. I love the dropout (Starts at around 2.03.) when the rhythm sections vamps as the singer prowls through the crowd. Sounds almost like the bass line is doing the drum intro from New Rose, doesn't it? Tip of the beret to Rat and the Captain.


Basket Case - Maisie Peters (Green Day cover) 

Sounding like time's standing still is fine but moving forward is better although it does depend where you move on to. I like pop punk more and more as I grow older, which is probably the opposite of how that ought to go. We're in the middle of such a powerful revival right now, though, it's becoming a little annoying, just like the post-punk thing did a few years back. 

That makes it especially good to hear the chunking guitars dropped in favor of violin and keys and the whiny teenage angst replaced by wistful self-evaluation. Has Kelly Clarkson covered Green Day? Nope, but it's only a matter of time.

Gay Space Cadets - Lande Hekt

Punk turned into pop-punk turned into indie or so it went in one timeline, at least. I confess I clicked on this one because of the title but I stayed for the tune, the lyrics and especially the voice, which once again reminds of Tracyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura. They really are massively influential or their sound is.

Why Do I? - Fresh

Eventually indie looped back round into Britpop and by then the threads were so tangled no-one was ever going to straighten them out, as if anyone would want to try. For the last quarter of a century it's been anyone's guess. If you heard this one coming out of the open windows of a passing car, would you be able to place it, even in a decade?

It was, in fact, recorded just over six months ago although Fresh themselves were formed in 2015 by singer/guitarist Katharine Woods because "I was a teenage girl who was bored of only seeing men playing in bands."I guess no-one told any of them guitar music was over. 

I also guess she'd been going to see the wrong bands. Mrs Bhagpuss and I sometimes talk about how very much things have changed in terms of gender representation in popular music. We've been around long enough to see the status quo shift from four or five guys to three or four guys and a girl to some guys and some girls to four or five girls and a guy. (I use the word guy in its gendered sense there although generally I think of it as ungendered, as in "You guys! or even "You guys suck!")

It seems like most of the bands I run across nowadays have either no particular gender balance to speak of or lean towards female/non-binary lineups with maybe a token male, often on on drums. I think the first band I ever knew with that format was the wonderful Kenickie but I've seen a lot since they split up. Of course, my perception may have something to do with my personal tastes. Maybe things aren't as rosy as my playlists like to picture them.

Anthem - babybaby-explores

I was about to say it's probably time we moved into the present day and played something that sounds like it couldn''t have been made at any other time in pop history... and then I listened to this again and realised it sounds like Devo crossed with MX80 Sound. Or as the Pitchfork review of their new album   has it "somewhere between the subversive, no-wave skronk of Bush Tetras and the talky, lo-fi minimalism of Sneaks." Is there really nothing new under the sun any more?

Dunno. Don't care. I listened to more babybaby-explores than anything this week so whatever they're channeling it works for me. Just in case you're thinking they've lumbered themselves with a name they might regret, I ought to point out they're ahead of you. They've already cut it down from Baby; Baby: Explores the Reasons Why that Gum is Still on the Sidewalk. I imagine they'll end up as babybaby. Or maybe just baby.

I would posit a theory that the reason bands are happy to have such odd, strange, hard to remember and even harder to pronounce names these days is because no-one has to go into a record shop and ask the bored, sarcastic, cooler-than-you'll-ever-be goth behind the counter if they've got "Why You Should Read Books That Don't Exist by Congratulations On Your Decision To Become A Pilot" but then I remember Pink Military Stands Alone and Jane From Occupied Europe or  - even further back - the Strawberry Alarm Clock or the Peanut Butter Conspiracy. I'm not actually old enough to have gone into a record store and asked for anything by the last two, I feel I should make that clear.

Duck Song - babybaby-explores

I could give you more babybaby-explores but I'm not your personal shopper. Go find them for yourselves. I should have put this one first, though. It's super good. Oh well, let it be a real treat for anyone with the stamina to get this far. 

Comparisons are odious, I know, but just one more. Doesn't it remind you of Janitor by Suburban Lawns? There can be no higher praise for an experimental pop band.

All This Art - Teenage Sequence

And finally, to sum up everything we've been talking about today, here comes Teenage Sequence. A couple of apposite quotes from the extensive lyrics:

"I’d like to take a moment to point out there is nothing original about this or any other song that has been released, ever— that I’m not the first person to project over arpeggiators and I won’t be the last"

"Stop having fun immediately and think about what you’ve done"

There's nothing I can add to that. 

Peace out. 

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