Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rage Roundup @ 28 March '09

Bit of a quiet Rage this past week, and I've been busy and away from home (and hence late with this post), but here we are anyhow. Music videos of some description, described somewhat:

I anticipated this one in my last post, so I didn't want to leave it out, but now I find I've nothing much to say. I'm not sure if there's anything too substantial here? But I think I'm still looking forward to the new album? Hmm. Judgment: deferred.

With the cats & flannel, it's almost like they're ripping off Ladyhawke's aesthetic. Or is that just a bit of cultural synergy? Very '00s, either way.

There are a lot of interesting elements here. The video and the music both employ a kind of '80s-referentialism that seems to evade nostalgia, in some strange way. It reminds me of Freaks and Geeks, maybe: there are notes toward a sort of 1980s underground antipop, cues to things that weren't actually emblematic or memorable or even distinctively 1980s at all in the first place. But there's something there. And for all the '80s-like synths & drums, I guess the music also evades any obvious emotional cues: it's not nostalgic, but it's also not explicitly sad or sexy or romantic or funny. It's alluding to another kind of mental state, something more subtle: "so what, so what? so fine, so fine / so what, so what? be mine, be mine." (I love the way the chorus does that – the vocal delivery is superbly appropriate, on the edge of laconic but not. It's a great fit for the lyrics.)

So what, so what? I'm paying attention and I'm thinking about it. I like it. It's good.

Good stuff. There's nothing really new or awesome about this, but there's something wonderfully bloody-minded & punk about the vocal delivery that I really like. The singer has a great baritone drawl: he sounds like he could croon in perfect key if he really wanted, but instead he's being expressive and twisted for the sake of the lyrics. Especially with the distortion over the chorus, it works really well.

The music is solid, raw but not too raw; some of the guitar parts are actually almost funky or dance-like, but the whole arrangement feels resolutely underground and dark blue. If their songs are varied and compelling enough over a whole album, these guys could be really interesting.

I really didn't like this group's breakout hit, Young Folks – it felt horrible to me, like the musical equivalent of something I'd forgotten to do but can't do, as if something's wrong but I can't get away from it, a feeling subtle but utterly nightmarish in the most terribly actual way. But if not the mournful whistling, maybe that was just the Concretes guest vocal? I found her vocal melody quite off-putting, for some reason...

Anyhow. PB&J have clearly become something very different since 2006. (Apparently no guest vocalists, for one thing.) Here, from their new album, a tuneful hook that's not annoying at all: it's great. The interlocking rhythms of melody-vs-bass-vs-percussion are excellent. And the way the song choruses around what sounds like an unusually tuneful schoolkid chant? There's something incredibly fun & punchy about the whole thing. I like this a lot, and if it isn't a big hit I'll be surprised.

The video is pretty neat, too – a bunch of Tokyo rockabillys with awesome hair and awesome dance moves hanging around Yoyogi-koen (looks like, I think). So yeah, this is yet another video set in / fetishising / exoticising / possibly-making-fun-of-in-a-mildly-patronising-racism-lite-kind-of-way Tokyo, but it's still entertaining enough that I want to assume its heart is in the right place. I hope. See what you think.

Is anyone else just annoyed when a sample-based song doesn't exactly sample, it actually rips off an entire other song wholesale (and yet, it's not a cover version)? And it's not like this is sampling from something obscure here, this is that Cure song that everybody knows because it's been consistently all over the place, for years. So that at every moment, I'm so distracted by annoyed recognition that I don't even want to evaluate the song on its own merits. Come on, Lady! Compared to what you've done here, Ice Ice Baby owes nothing to Under Pressure.

Actually, okay, let's say I can be bothered evaluating: it's not that interesting, and it's not that good.
(Sorry, Lady. I reckon you can do better than this.)

The Woman Next Door — The Midnight Dailies
Where "The Midnight Dailies" are Gareth Hudson & Matt Aubrey, a duo so new they're apparently without a unique myspace (although songs are up on Hudson's site, at least) and they're also too slack to post the video on youtube. Poor effort, fellows! And that's a real shame, because this is decent stuff.

The standout here is the aggressive acoustic guitar. It's a playing style that's used very rarely, for some reason (maybe "aggressive" players usually just go electric, instead?), but I really like it here. The music delivers some nicely interesting & uncommon textures, overall; there's some lovely cello with a great rhythmic bite. Also, this is one of those incredibly rare songs that incorporates a didgeridoo without being astoundingly awful. It takes some real craft to make acoustic guitar, vocals, cello & didgeridoo – and, what else? was that an occasional castanet, or something? – sound as punchy and as interesting and as together as this. Clearly, more musical talent is at play than usual. Here's hoping they can get organised enough to do something substantial. (And, um, actually post their videos somewhere on the web, for a start.)

This time was this time, so next time is now next time. Thanks!
Until next time –

--the Musical Thoapsl




  2. ps if you hadn't seen it i get full props for spreading the virals.
    You don't have to phrase it exactly like that though..

  3. Holy Cow, just watched it now

    I might think it was an April Fool, but the timing is wrong. The graphics & sound design are incredibly cheap & bad, but that's not impossible for a genuine indie film... actually the music is also cheap & bad, and the camerawork & framing & lighting & set designs look very cheap and bad too... hmm... could it be a student film from 1997 that someone has rediscovered and is putting out there for a joke? No, it can't be, it's got some real (contemporary) actors in it...

    There are some bloggers paying attention to it I found, who seem to be mostly convinced that it's real. But yeah, internet appears uncertain...

    Shit! What an awesome fucking trailer! Just... you'd have to be a professional to make it look that amateurish, wouldn't you?

  4. Not only that, but there was an "interview" with the director where he claimed it was real & COST $5 MILLION! most money was spent on computer effects No Foolin

    Yeah, the April Fool's thing came up a lot, one of the cast kind of suggested it in a blog, but then a follow-up post contradicted it (unless trying to get the cat back in the bag Schroedinger-style)

    But it's also on the Apple Trailers site, listed as a comedy but (according to the director) that was a mistake - and imdb has it as a mystery/thriller or something similar

    i am intrigued
    & quite excited it looks mindblowing

    (thanks for the props)