[14] De Lux, ‘Oh Man The Future’

de-lux-15

Speaking – a bit – of Talking Heads, here’s LA’s De Lux being all David Byrne and itchy disco. Junior reckons it’s a “bit annoying when he says ‘oh man the future’ again and again… It seems to go on forever. He’s a chatterbox.”

Sean Guerin does rabbit on, shoehorning as many words as possible into each ranting verse, but then he’s got a lot to tell us. The future’s a big place and plenty of stuff is going to happen. Oh man. It’s happening now.

Advertisements

[16] Love Ssega, ‘Minds’

love-ssega-15

Love Ssega wins the battle of the former Clean Bandit vocalists with this chunk of new-wave dance, a bit Talking Heads, a bit LCD Soundsystem who are a bit Talking Heads. It’s a good song that feels a little underwhelming here, and Junior likes it at first but then says, “It gets boring.” Pop careers flash by in a moment these days, don’t they?

Talking Heads, ‘Life During Wartime’

David Byrne and Brian Eno

For all Talking Heads’ – and Brian Eno’s – clean lines, ‘Life During Wartime’ has a touch of the melodramatic. Equating living in Manhattan with enduring life in a city under siege is extending a metaphor until it’s stretched enough to believe in itself, but David Byrne is a panic-eyed master of the paranoid, and here he and the rest of the ‘Heads scratch and jerk until they’re a twitching bug of insecurity.

Maybe New York felt like that in 1979 if you were strung out enough. After all, they were CHANGING THE FACE OF POPULAR MUSIC. “You oughta know not to stand by the window,” not while the style mag snipers are perched on the rooftops.

But how does it feel, coming to Talking Heads cold in 2012? “My head is talking right now,” is Junior’s literal response. More abstractly she and her sisters dissolve into a mess of muso faces and electroshock shimmies – a reasonable reaction to ‘Life During Wartime”s troublefunk.

After it fades there’s a moment of reflection before Junior decides the track is “in the middle”. But they were at the vanguard! They were pushing rock forward! “It sounds like a song from the olden days.”

[1] LCD Soundsystem, ‘All My Friends’

All My Friends

Junior says: “I used to give this one [thumbs-up], but now I give it two,” which is the point, really. ‘All My Friends’ improves with age, as do LCD Soundsystem, as does James Murphy, as do we all, even if it feels as if all that youthful vigour is slipping away along with our cool and our relevance in this cultural tumult. None of that periphery matters in the end, none of those mistakes, none of those false friends, and nor does it amount to a hill of beans if a plan comes apart or you’ve worn away your edge. Because in the end you’ve made it, and you can celebrate that with the other survivors.

‘All My Friends’ is brushed with regret, but its pace and build is thoroughly rousing. From the stabbed pianos – which immediately launch Junior into a pencil-straight staccato dance – to the warm, coaxing bass to the headlong, delirious clatter as it hits full stride, this is an anthem for pelting towards 40 at full speed. Bring it on. For once Murphy escapes his influences, sublime as they are (“Heroes”, ‘Once In A Lifetime’, yeah, ‘Love Vigilantes), because this is absolutely natural, no slavish imitation. As a piece of music it shares qualities as insubstantial as mood. As a piece of poetry it has its own heart.

Best bit: At each peak, another layer is added. Just when you think you’ve got it, it moves on and you’re left holding the first 10 years.

[21] The Strokes, ‘The Modern Age EP’

The Modern Age

This is what we wrote in 2008 [I’ve not come up with any new Strokes thoughts since, unsurprisingly]:

There was such a quaint furore about The Strokes those long seven years ago, loud voices on either side. Were they singlehandedly saving rawk? Were they arch-copyists, not an original note in their scuffy Converse? Did any of it really matter? Well, yes and no. A bit of debate keeps pop lively, but would the naysayers have been so quick to swipe if they’d known the day would come when every band and its wife would be ripping off The Libertines, and not the rather more plunderable Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, Blondie, you-name-a-cool-NYC-trailblazer? The answer’s no.

Anyway, what Julian Casablancas and rich kid friends had in bags were tunes. On first listen, I thought ‘The Modern Age’ was The Velvet Underground – that’ll be Casablancas’ Lou Reed drawl – still it was a catchy little effort from the off. Studiedly cool, yep, but nevertheless, er, cool. ‘Last Nite’ was a white boy’s Motown pastiche even more authentic than Phil Collins’ flail at ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’.

But we don’t want them to get too chipper. Junior and I did the arm-pumping ‘Tiger Feet’ dance, one ‘70s influence The Strokes possibly wouldn’t want to snatch. Saying that, let’s see what the fourth album brings.

Back to 2010:

Junior says: Well, not a lot. She doesn’t have any fresh observations either. But she does teach her little sister how to play air guitar and together they fight an Aircaster duel.

Best bit: When Casablancas turns on the loudhailer.

[1] Talking Heads, ‘Once In A Lifetime’

Talking Heads

Rarely less than astonishing anyway, this is Talking Heads’ entrant for the pantheon – a dizzying, harebrained time-travel through our psyches from David Byrne, set to the finest groove ever laid down by our Tom Tom Club friends at No.20. Hell, it’s just the finest groove ever laid down. Period, I think they say. From the eternally exciting bass-pull at the beginning through to the howling, treated guitars spinning us around “Same as it ever was…”, this is music from the future we all wanted.

Junior may’ve found herself sitting on the backseat, wearing a tiger mask.

My God! What have I done?

[20] Tom Tom Club, ‘Genius Of Love’

Tom Tom Club

This is a hindsight Top 20, taking place a year before I started buying my own records and making my own tapes and obsessing over Duran Duran and the Top 40. 1981 was the year my sister began to record the chart rundown, introducing me to the wild sounds of Landscape and, erm, Alvin Stardust. Up to this point, all I knew were Beatles and Boney Ms, ABBAs and Brotherhoods Of Man. Now we had a dead Beatle and a declining, rended ABBA.

Partners in rhythm Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz were no longer satisfied with merely pushing the very corners of rock’s envelopes in Talking Heads’ engine room – or perhaps David Byrne and Brian Eno left no elbow room – and Tom Tom Club was the joyous diversion. Mixing funk, bags of funk, with pop, rap and world music, they revealed a sunnier side nowhere brighter than on the glorious ‘Genius Of Love’. It’s a tribute to a spiffing boyfriend wrapped up in loyal dedication to their funky forebears, and in a nice piece of symmetry has become one of the most sampled records – seized upon by trailblazers from Grandmaster Flash to, yes, Mariah Carey.

‘Genius Of Love’ locks into a groove, but Junior ain’t for dancin’. Apparently her baby sister “doesn’t want me to,” which is an impressive bit of inter-sibling communication – and we thought all they did was laugh at each other. But what does she think of the song? “I don’t like it; it makes me sad.” I’ve got it all wrong.

[3] The Strokes, ‘The Modern Age EP’

There was such a quaint furore about The Strokes those long seven years ago, loud voices on either side. Were they singlehandedly saving rawk? Were they arch-copyists, not an original note in their scuffy Converse? Did any of it really matter? Well, yes and no. A bit of debate keeps pop lively, but would the naysayers have been so quick to swipe if they’d known the day would come when every band and its wife would be ripping off The Libertines, and not the rather more plunderable Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, Blondie, you-name-a-cool-NYC-trailblazer? The answer’s no.

Anyway, what Julian Casablancas and rich kid friends had in bags were tunes. On first listen, I thought ‘The Modern Age’ was The Velvet Underground – that’ll be Casablancas’ Lou Reed drawl – still it was a catchy little effort from the off. Studiedly cool, yep, but nevertheless, er, cool. ‘Last Nite’ was a white boy’s Motown pastiche even more authentic than Phil Collins’ flail at ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’.

But we don’t want them to get too chipper. Junior and I did the arm-pumping ‘Tiger Feet’ dance, one ‘70s influence The Strokes possibly wouldn’t want to snatch. Saying that, let’s see what the fourth album brings.

[1] LCD Soundsystem, ‘All My Friends’

LCD Soundsystem, ‘All My Friends’

The single of the millennium – sorry, Scissor Sisters, you had a good innings – is a fantastic achievement from a man at the very peak of his game. I’ve already mentioned this year’s Sound Of Silver, which snaffles the album rosette, but this is the dizzy high point of the set. A sensitive appraisal of a life in motion, ‘All My Friends’ is unsentimental but touching and universal.
 
It’s difficult to pinpoint. To these ears it’s a glorious amalgam of New Order’s ‘Love Vigilantes’ and ‘Run’, Talking Heads’ ‘Once in A Lifetime’ and David Bowie’s ‘Young Americans’ – and as wonderful as that suggests, but it’s no copy. It’s a stunning original, a would-be seminal track if it was possible to follow it.
 
To unending layers of piano, bass, guitar and bags of atmosphere, James Murphy sings of running with the pack, but always coming back to what counts – your friends. Aww. But, as I say, it’s not sentimental. It’s resigned, but happy. Wistful and celebratory.
 
You’d think loving this track was the sole preserve of the thirtysomething, but Junior has adored it all year. As ever, she mimes along with the woodpecker piano of the intro, more frenzied as it works itself up, and sings the last word of each line like one of those people who always finish your sentences. Only she does it in a cute way. That’s a deft move.

[11] Gomez, ‘Rhythm & Blues Alibi’

Gomez

Does anyone listen to minidiscs anymore? My Sony player is about eight years old now, and the clearest and sharpest-sounding walkman I’ve ever owned, but it’s still been booted into touch by the inferior mp3 player. Now I can carry 40 gig of music around in my metrosexual manbag; who can resist that?

We shared great days, the MZ-R50 and I. There was that time I recorded The Avalanches’ album onto a minidisc, and listened to it. And the time I wrote “Remain In Light” in pretty letters on another disc, and listened to that too. And the time the record function broke, and I tried to replace it with one of those swanky Net MD players. It was rubbish, so I returned to the old faithful. Ah, I’m welling up.

I’m sure there’s a withering insight into our attention-deficit society here – something about one album not being enough for a 35-minute commute nowadays – but I’ll leave that to the style mags.

Oh, Gomez. Bring It On is the only album I bought on minidisc. This single’s from their second album, it’s a beauty and very big with Junior.  In fact it appeals to all girls. No, I can’t back this up with anything so prissy as proof.