These past few weeks have led me to The Trip and Saxondale, two comedramas starring Steve Coogan. As my viewings are still in the nascent stage, I must withhold any plot details. The Trip features the handiwork of Michael Winterbottom, who helmed my favorite movie of the past decade (either within the popular definition, or the Slow Learner-approved accurate incarnation), 24 Hour Party People. One of Winterbottom’s other films revolves around a night of live music, with the optimal “adult” situations (outside of negotiating a down-payment on your house, or calculating the travel-time between your respective families for Thanksgiving), entitled 9 Songs. While we get to hear Goldfrapp, Franz Ferdinand, Super Furry Animals, Primal Scream, the Dandy Warhols, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Second-Coming of Vocal Chris Squire (a.k.a. Guy Garvey of Elbow), the two titular characters engage in some serious calculation of mortgage payments and driving distances. It’s time to share the tunes that have aided my transition from brutal winter to awesome summer, so here goes. Shaving one from the Casey Kasem Colloquy sounds right to me. In no particular order:
tUnE-yArDs – “My Country” / “Gangsta”. As a live performer, Merrill Garbus is the embodiment of what the Jason Lee character from Almost Famous claims to be. “Do you know what she does – she connects.” “My Country” cleverly echoes the chord progression of “On Broadway” by the Drifters, a song that also carries a patriotic façade with a deeper message about how all that great ol’ American Exceptionalism seems to be restricted to the people with the right lineage. “Gangsta” has my favorite introduction of the year, with everything building to the drums dropping out, with nothing but Merrill harmonizing with her earlier-self in the greatest siren you’ll ever hear. Also worth a look is her charming song about the show Top Chef, featuring a cameo of C.J. from Season 3 (OK, that’s not true, but it would be damn cool).
Bugle – “Chuck Off” – As so eloquently stated by the faux-hipster dude in Ghost World, “Are you guys up for some reggae tonight?” Perfectly timed to follow Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service on BBC6 (get the Tune In ap(p) for your phone, and there’s the accompaniment to recovering from Saturday night), Rude Radio is one of the best legacy shows in Radio K history. A few weeks ago, the two cheery chaps behinds the boards decided that my decision to drive to the local bakery amidst buckets o’ rain should be rewarded. As soon as I pull down the umbrella and start the car, I hear the opening keyboard sounds of this sunny track, from Kingston’s Roy Thompson, a.k.a. Bugle (not to be confused with The Bugle, where John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman riff all cross-continental on one of the best podcasts around). By the time I got there, it was only one minute into the tune, yet I knew that the Official Song of Summer had a serious contender (at least until Kreayshawn assessed the size and population of the locale).
Nick Lowe – “I Don’t Want The Night To End”. While crop of releases in 2011 has been solid – as Skippy in Kicking and Screaming would say, easily the best since two years ago – my Album of the Year hit these shores in 1978. In the UK it’s known as Jesus of Cool, here in the far-less-in-favor-of-a-cool-Jesus States it’s called Pure Pop for Now People (either title is awesome). While “Nutted By Reality” contains the great line “I heard they castrated Castro”, and “Marie Provost” adds “She was a winner / who became a doggie’s dinner”, this song breaks through the broken glass and the diminutive dictators. Cheers to Mark Kermode for inquiring if the London Philharmonic could play anything from this record.
Toro Y Moi – “New Beat” – As Patton Oswalt said on Jonesy’s Jukebox in 2008, we…should…decide…this…summer…to…live…at…this…pace. Dig the keyboard homage to Madonna’s “Holiday”, which is angling with the Bee Gees as the Catalogue Artist/Song that Defined Indie Rock that Year (2010 had to be Fleetwood Mac).
The Weeknd – “Coming Down” – A better song for late-night bike trips around the lakes of Minneapolis, I’ve yet to find. Also the only track on the (legally) freely-downloadable album House of Balloons that is likely to be released as a single (barring some mid-90s style backward masking of the lyrics). After sending my Mix CD Club a collection of 1-minute snippets of super-fast songs, it’s time to slow the hell down. Never fear – Canadian Abel Tesfaye and The Weeknd are here for us.
James Blake – “CMYK” – “Wilhelm’s Scream” and Echoes is great, but like Hot Hot Heat’s Knock Knock Knock a decade ago, the EP is even better than the full-length. Is it Dubstep? Flubstep? While Hipster Runoff Online would call it “schoolboyhaircutwave”, The James Blakes would reply, “DAMN!”
Kreayshawn – “Gucci Gucci” – ONE BIG ROOM! FULL OF BAD BIITTCHHES! “I’m colder than the fridge, and the freezer, snatching all yr bittchhes at my leeisure….” Bugle’s leap for Song of the Summer just got eclipsed by the girl at your college with the baggie full of Adderall. Hurry up, she’s starving!
The Everly Brothers – “I’ve Been Wrong Before” – Instead of drifting off into the oldies circuit, Don and Phil were well aware of their influence across the pond, and how Ol’ Blighty was smart enough to appreciate the absolute greatness of “The Price of Love”, which was all but ignored by those considered Now People by Nick Lowe. Armed with several songs written by the Hollies, and a few originals, this tune has a mediocre chorus, but the EverHollys were smart enough to realize this, as it only happens once, with that bad-ass verse being repeated till it ends.