Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rage Roundup, 15 Feb '8

Being some thoughts on a few of the new(ish) music videos played on 'Rage' this week.

I listened to about 45 seconds out of their first single, "Let's Dance To Joy Division", and thought it sounded okay: decent pop riffage, nothing ecstatic. Then I started to pay more attention, and I listened to it a few more times, and gradually the singer's voice became so hideously annoying that I completely deleted it. Maybe it was just the vapid lyrics which pissed me off, though, because this new single of theirs is much less infuriating. In fact, it's possibly quite good, or if not 'good' then at least slightly melancholy (& a sliver of genuine feeling suffices for a lack of the deeper musicalities, right?).
On the other hand, it's still somewhat annoying. So, ask me again in a few weeks.

Pleasantly creepy video which uses unusual computer animation to mess around with "birds & the bees" imagery (literally, which is a neat idea). I vaguely remember another single by these guys which struck me as meandery and meh (I think – like I said, the memory is vague), but this song is anything but. An inventively kitchen-sink arrangement, too; the sound is almost like trip-hop or something, except there's lots of non-synth keys & real drums, and they thrown in everything from acoustic piano block-chords to blarty baritone sax. Clearly I'll need to pay more attention to these folks in the future.

The lyrical content of this track is the kind of thing which would usually annoy me – "humans treat animals terribly, just imagine it from their point of view" okay yeah basical true but I'm aware of this already please stop beating me over the head thanks please btw cough*anthropomorphism*cough – but the first rapper has some interesting Eminem-like rhythmic phrasing (you'll know what I mean when you hear it), and, dude! MUPPETS! The video has a bunch of kick-arse muppets in it. That's what sold it to me, really.

 This band are apparently from Cincinnati, but gosh they sure look & sound like The Inches from Melbourne, Australia. Their song is written and performed in a similar style to that of the Inches; even their frontmen share a similar sense of attitude, similar moves. Also, both bands share disturbingly similar tastes in mildly ridiculous facial hair (they know who they are). Synchronicity wtf, etc.
Either way: is the song good? Eh... no comment.

Not an actual orchestra. Decent song, though. Interesting sound – average modern guitar indie in general, but guitar sounds & chord changes through the middle of the song make it feel like there's a real "new grunge" thing going on somewhere, too. Even the organ manages to fit with that feel, weirdly enough. New Grunge, that'll be the big new indie flavour of 2008 or 2009 (or 2010), mark my words... maybe...

This was released weeks and weeks and weeks ago, but it's still making it into the "new releases" playlist. Why? Because it's fucking excellent, that's why. And unlike some other Calvin Harris songs, it's not even slightly annoying. Also: the word "merrymaking". Excellent.
"make you smoke outside of my house"–ha!

Are the singer's vocal stylings whiny and twee, or is his style actually kind of clever and effective? Maybe a little of both? The music has a percussive, casual, clipped feel to its guitarslinging, quite similar in sound to current controversy darlings Vampire Weekend (except without the same kind of shortsighted "noo they be reappropriating traditional African musical styles for rich NY yuppies wtf" issues surrounding their media presence, obvs). Unlike Vampire Weekend, Born Ruffians are still basically unknown (& also: from Canada). The video looks like they just got their friends to dress up in silly costumes and dance around their living room, but their friends look silly enough that it all manages to be quite nice & genuinely charming, I think. Like Vampire Weekend, it's catchy and interesting stuff; worth keeping an eye on, I reckon.

Jiminy Crickets, is Mark Ronson the coolest motherfucker ever in a checked suit & brylcreem, or what? Hair parted on the side, even – how on earth is that supposed to work? But it does, and somehow he looks like David Tennant's Doctor Who, if Doctor Who were a Sam Cooke rhythm-&-blues sex god. I'm envious as hell. The song's a nice 1962-ish soul pastiche, too (& it's nice to see a bit of that going around these days – the recent 'Mercy' single by Duffy plows a similar field, tho in a less blatantly derivative manner). So more power to him, sure, why not. Bastard.

Another single which has been around for quite some time now. Like their previous single, though ('Keep Walking'), it has an absolutely brilliant video paired to a simple but deceptively clever wedge of hard, bluesy rock. The video is a simple idea: timed choreography of a bunch of skipping-rope-skippers (or, uh, whatever that noun is supposed to be) matching the beat of the song, and a camera which stays dead still watching them. Until it's finally time for a menacing horizontal pan. (With this music, yes, a horizontal pan can be menacing). And then, for the song's climactic peak, the camera lurches off at wild and shocking speed, a total non-steadicam freakout that – matching the music it accompanies – consummates the perfect action of audiovisual tension-and-release. As the sound winds down to the coda fadeout we finally slow down to look back at the the hills where the jump-rope-skippers were, out of focus but clearly now on fire...
It's a superb match of sound to vision. Description doesn't do it justice. See it wherever you can, I say, it's great. Or if not, it really, really makes me want to buy their album already... so I guess it's doing what it's supposed to do, huh?

Okay, this clip of British India playing live makes me understand their appeal, finally. I thought the production on the previous singles (single_?) was unflattering to the songwriting and made the singer sound like a whiny emo tool... which disappointed me, because I liked their name, and that's usually a good start to things. Live, though, the vocals are less whiny and more charismatic; the guitar work is heavier (maybe a hint of that 'new grunge' deal going on, again..?); and this is a punchier piece of songwriting overall. This performance doesn't make me a "fan" per se, but it leaves me willing to keep an open mind for the future. So that's, uh, good for me, I guess...

Here's a riddle: why do Australian country music singers sing in Texan accents?
No, I don't know either. But it sure is jarring when the opening lyrics reference "Tennant Creek" in an unmistakably American drawl. I just don't get it – Smoky Dawson and Slim Dusty sang in Aussie accents, didn't they?
Ah, who am I kidding, I don't care about contemporary Australian country music.
(sorry, mister brand)

Also: The Eagles have a new single, now? Like, the 'Hotel California' The Eagles? And it's called "Busy Being Fabulous"?

Usually I don't pay much attention to the 'modern urban rnb pop' segment of things (so, who is Kelly Rowland?), but this song proved an exception. Why? Because it's been remixed by the FREEMASONS. International conspiracies based on ancient Egyptian architecture know few bounds, apparently. (They also covered up the Jack the Ripper murders, so I guess pop music isn't too much of a stretch). Turns out modern Freemasonry also includes a Degree in canny pop single remixes, coz this song is actually quite fine, ludricrous lyrics & all. I haven't heard the 'original' mix, but this is some real caramel right here. (ie: sweet, chewy)
EDIT: I just saw the original version on youtube. It's not terrible, but it is kind of dull and repetitive. Freemason superiority: undeniable.

And that, folks, is all the music that I feel like typing about for the moment. Coming up next post, dancing about architecture ha ha lolz **!

-the Musical Thoapsl

ps: inconsistencies in the use of single & double quotation marks? it's expressionistic, ok

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