Saturday, February 4, 2023

I Know A Song That'll Get On Your Nerves (I Think That Might Be The Name Of The Feature Now...)

Before I checked my download folder just now, I was wondering if I'd have enough new songs for "What Have I Been Listening To This Week?"  but it turns out I've been listening to a lot. Twenty new numbers in there. Way too many for one post.

Where to begin, then? Let's see...

Okay, how about an obvious crowd-pleaser to start? One we can all sing along with. Everyone knows this one, right?

Video Killed The Radio Star - Teenage Dads

I've never heard of these guys before but a quick check tells me they've been around for seven years or so. They really were teenagers when they started although not, as far as my researches tell me, dads. They still look like kids, even now; bass and guitar sport the kind of mustaches you grow just to prove you can, vocals/keyboards reminds me of a very young Matthew Perry and the drummer looks like he's wandered in from another band altogether, most likely on the way to the beach.

It's not every day you see someone sing an entire song through a nineteen-eighties vintage rotary phone, either. There's a behind-the-scenes interview, where they talk about how they rigged the thing up as a microphone, which is really going above and beyond for a one-off cover. I followed up on a few of their other videos on YouTube but nothing really struck me, although the original tune they did for the same TripleJ session, Teddy, is pretty good fun.

Now we're all warmed up, let's keep the vibe going with another cover of a song we all know and, I assume, love...

Sk8er Boi - STAYC Yoon

I'm making a halfhearted attempt to come to terms with KPop although at my age and this far into the process it's a fairly forlorn hope. Still, you get nowhere if you don't try. At least I recognize a few of the names now and I'm beginning to get a glimmer of an idea how the machinery behind the whole cultural phenomenon works. I think. Maybe. Probably fooling myself, there.

This is Yoon from STAYC (Stands for "Star to a Young Culture" because all these names turn out to be unpredictable acronyms.) with her cover of the Avril Levigne pop-punk classic. All the members of STAYC are doing covers at the moment but this is the only one where I knew the original. Weirdly, even though I've heard Avril's version loads of times, it was only while watching this version, with the lyrics on screen and my attention drawn to them by Yoon's delicate, accented enunciation, that I finally realized exactly what the song's about. I mean, I knew but I didn't know, y'know?

Trust Yourself - Balming Tiger

Since we're in Korea... This is really catchy, isn't it? I love that fuzz bass boom. Like a jet warming up. And he's really enthusiastic. I like that a lot. The whole affair sounds very old school nineties rap. Reminds me of the kind of radio-friendly hip-hop that made the charts back then.

Speaking of old school, anyone else remember the schoolyard rumor you could get high by rubbing tiger balm on your forehead? I think I must have been twelve or thirteen when that one was going around. Tried it. Doesn't work. Although it does feel weird...

And for our final visit to South Korea for today...

아름다운 세상 (Beautiful World) - 파란노을 (Parannoul)

Now that's different. I mean, it's not different different in that it sounds like a lot of other things I've heard - Sigur Ros, Cranes, any number of post-rock/shoegaze crossover outfits - but it's very much not what I think of when I hear Korean music mentioned. Japanese or even Chinese, yes. Indonesian, certainly. Pretty blinkered of me not to realize South Korea would have its own hinterland, outside the obvious mainstream. You surf and you  learn.

I really like the video, too. I wish more bands would use stills of scenery instead of chucking food at each other.

Okay, I have to thank Syp for introducing me to this next one. It takes a while to get going, so give it time...

Penny Lane - the Fairmount Girls

Now, you'd expect that to be a cover, wouldn't you? Huge props to the band for not being scared to use the title they wanted even though someone else got there first. No-one says "props" any more, either, do they? Far from sounding like the Beatles, it sounds like the parts of the Velvet Underground people don't usually revisit. Specifically, it sounds like an outtake from Loaded

There's very little online by the Fairmount Girls but what there is is uniformly excellent. I love the lead singer's voice, the way it seems to crack with scarcely concealed heartbreak. The harmonies are stellar, too. If we had space I'd give you another but we're crammed. Let's press on.

I think that concludes our new-to-the-blog section for today. From here on in it's new stuff by old favorites. Like...

Nowhere - Patrick Wolf

Anyone jonesing for some B&W goth glam? Patrick's got you covered. Back after a years-long layoff following a near-fatal car accident, this is Wolf's second release in a decade, following last November's Enter the Day. He's one of rock's renaissance men, writing, producing and playing every instrument, but it's his voice that carries the weight; resonant, expressive, emotive, vulnerable and confident all at once. It's good to have him back.

Boy’s a liar Pt. 2 - Pink Pantheress, Ice Spice

While Patrick Wolf toils away in virtual obscurity, Pink Pantheress' star continues to rise and rise. As I write this, the video above sits at a spooky 666k views after less than twenty-four hours on YouTube. Patrick's comeback managed less than two percent of that attention in as many months.

I read somewhere that Pantheress's style is so easily copied she's in danger of being overwhelmed by those she's influenced but she sounds pretty distinctive still to me. So does Ice Spice, who I know I ought to like but who, until now, I just haven't been able to handle. Clearly an age/gender/culture thing on my part. Thankfully, this collab offers a way in. At my age, I can use all the help I can get.

Song About Love - English Teacher

I was introduced to the joys of English Teacher by way of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition I wrote about last year. They didn't win but they were one of the acts that got a chance to perform, where they apparently smashed it. I liked them well enough back then, but this is the best thing of theirs I've heard. I particularly like the breakdown into chaos towards the end.

Given the title, lyric and sentiment, maybe I should have saved it for Valentine's Day although perhaps that would have been too cynical. The call is already out for the Emerging class of 2023. I'll be reporting on that when the longlist is published, no doubt. Not like I'd miss an opportunity for a post where someone else has already done the hard work.

Blasé - Mary Shelley 

Yes, the sound quality on this is awful but compare this version, if you will, to another, clearer, better-recorded live take of the same song, here, performed in broad daylight on a street corner, seemingly to no-one.  Yep. No comparison. 

If ever a band was meant for low-ceilinged, beer-drenched basement clubs, whose management have no respect for fire regulations, it's this one. They feed off the energy of the audience in a particularly visceral way that marks them out as a great live band but they're about as comfortable in daylight as a nest of vampires. Judging by their lyrics, they're so dissociated from the world they move in, I suspect they're going nowhere much further than Brooklyn but I'm glad I at least got to see something of them before the inevitable burnout sends them back to whatever it is they do for a day job.

And finally, since we started in Australia...

Good Time - Alex Lahey

She never disappoints. A loping, swaying, swooping talking blues with the longest hiatus I think I've ever heard. It's a full twenty seconds! I wonder if it's like that on the "record", to use an archaic term, or only in the video, where you can at least look at her while there's no music playing.

I think that'll have to do for now. It's only about half of the tracks I had lined up but the likes of Nia Archives, Angel Electronics, Yaeji and Neggy Jemmy are just going to have to wait for next time. Of course, by next time I'll most likely have twenty more...

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