[15] David Bowie, ”Tis A Pity She Was A Whore’

david-bowie-2014

Well, it appears that Bowie put out a feeler last year, a sonic reconnaissance mission to check whether anyone still gave a flying. The Next Day’s a splendid, vital (for a guy in his late 60s, come on) piece of work on its own terms – and most others – but bravura experimental Dave wasn’t really coming out to play. We had muscular, occasionally a bit damaged Dave. And he’s a good guy.

This year he’s not doing an album, just plumping up a new best of, and he’s doing that with more gnarly excursions this time around. ‘Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)’ was avant-jazz Dave, the kind of thing you find yourself protesting “but I really do like it! I’m not just saying it” about. (I really do like it! I’m not just saying it.) But ”Tis A Pity She Was A Whore’ is a nagging, hurtling, panicked, hovering thrill that – let’s face it – could’ve turned up on an album by our old pals TV On The Radio. They’ve got a mutual love-in thing going on anyway, and that’s fine with me because I’d like to be slap-bang in the middle of that sandwich. Figuratively. Sometimes not so figuratively.

So, I’m happy here. The Juniors? Absolutely not. “It wasn’t really loud or one of those rocky ones,” says Junior, as if that’s a good thing, “but it wasn’t that interesting.” Her younger sisters are even harder on it. “It hasn’t got much talking and it’s very boring,” points out Junior 2. “It’s a zero.” I think Bowie would quite like being called “a zero”. Junior 3 is more succinct: “I do not like it so thumbs-down.” He might not be so happy about that, but of course all reactions to art are equally valid.

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[16] TV On The Radio, ‘Careful You’

tv-on-the-radio-2014

How Brooklyn math-rock scuzz-punks TV On The Radio have smartened up their act. New album Seeds is clean, sharp and somewhat sentimental – but no worse than Desperate Youth or Return To Cookie Mountain. The signs have been there since Dear Science – where beats became more sequenced, edges were rasped away – but even when they’re metronomic, TVOTR land a punch. Particularly live, as I’ll find out again next February.

Junior 2 wants to come along as well, but her plan is to sneak into the boot of the car and spy from a distance. She says the stately, pitching and rising ‘Careful You’ is “a thumbs up from me, and it’s a 10.” Junior herself points out it’s “between middle and good,” which I guess is the kind of thing that gets you to No.16 on a good week, if not for the entire year. Eventually it grows, which is why it’s here.

[7] TV On The Radio, ‘Second Song’

TV On The Radio

And it’s the FIRST song on the album! That’s what I call avant-garde.

This wordy addition to the TVOTR Princey-funk-rock almanac plays excellent games with layers, building up to a groovy lurch that makes you feel proud for no obvious reason. It’s charismatic that way. Like singer Tunde Adebimpe. They didn’t play this song at Glastonbury, but it was my favourite set of the weekend – a pick-me-up on a lagging, suffering Sunday afternoon – and I came away with a big swooning man-crush on Tunde.

Get too close to TVOTR and you start to think their name is normal. Well, thank goodness Junior’s around then. She raps: “Watch TV, yeah, watch TV – oh we’ll watch telly on the radio.” Junior 2 joins in, they punch the air madly to the chorus and then round it all off with a few slaps to their own heads. What did they think? “It’s OK.”

TV On The Radio, ‘Crying’

TV On The Radio

A month-long gap is inexcusable of course. Anyway, my excuses are holiday, seasonal lack of exciting releases and a nagging sense I should be searching for a new job. I have your sympathy now, don’t I?

This is a single from a couple of months back, from an album about 10 months back. Topical. It’s the only obviously Princey song from TV On The Radio’s reputedly very Princey Dear Science, funking along with a guitar riff that could cut your hair. Still, while the album might not be massively Minneapolitan, it’s completely bloody amazing and the global critical consensus says, “Here, here.” Everyone’s jumped on board now, possibly because it’s the most accessible thing TVOTR have done; there’s a sense of relief they’ve shipped out challenging for tuneful, but even though the sound was murkier on Return To Cookie Mountain, it was really no less melodic. You just had to try a little harder. Maybe no one wants to try a little harder.

We didn’t try all that hard here, mind. No chance Junior could keep still in the car seat as TVOTR hit their groove, but we reserved our critical faculties for Kyp Malone’s name. Surely no one’s called Kyp? “Harvey at nursery’s middle name is Kyp.” I’ll take her at her word.

Smoke me a Kyp:

2009 Top 20 Singles?

We did this about this time last year, so why change a vaguely popular feature? These are the Top 20 Most Played 2009 Singles on the ever-honest iPod:

[1] Yeah Yeah Yeahs, ‘Zero’
[2] Dananananaykroyd, ‘Black Wax’
[3] The Horrors, ‘Sea Within A Sea’
[4] Passion Pit, ‘The Reeling’
[5] Animal Collective, ‘My Girls’
[6] James Yuill, ‘No Surprise’
[7] Sunny Day Sets Fire, ‘Adrenaline’
[8] TV On The Radio, ‘Dancing Choose’
[9] Frankmusik, ‘Better Off As Two’
[10] Röyksopp featuring Robyn, ‘Girl And The Robot’
[11] Jamie T, ‘Sticks ‘n’ Stones’
[12] Coldplay, ‘Life In Technicolor ii’
[13] U2, ‘Magnificent’
[14] The Phantom Band, ‘The Howling’
[15] Eg, ‘Broken’
[16] Junior Boys, ‘Hazel’
[17] Lily Allen, ‘The Fear’
[18] Fischerspooner, ‘Supply & Demand’
[19] Saint Etienne, ‘Method Of Modern Love’
[20] Red Light Company, ‘Arts & Crafts’

But will it bear any resemblance to the year-end chart? Be sure to check in 18 or 19 weeks.

[1] MGMT, ‘Time To Pretend’

MGMT

Like LCD Soundsystem’s ‘All My Friends’ last year, this is so far ahead of the pack it isn’t funny. Except it is. Andrew Van Wyngarden and Ben Goldwasser dream of their rock’n’roll future to come, and it’s all drugs and supermodels – are they as knee-deep in them now as they anticipated? Hell, probably.

‘Time To Pretend’ has an irresistible, kinetic energy. It’s a rolling stone, but it gathers moss, drums (the drums, the drums), synths, pure glee and giddy excitement. I suppose it has an ‘80s bent in its shiny, pumped-up production yet the excess is unfiltered ‘70s. They look like a pair of prog/hippie casualties to boot. The second half is one long spine-tingle and the hanging chords of the final bridge/chorus sound almost heroic – assuming there’s heroism in “The models will have children/We’ll get a divorce/Find some more models/Everything must run its course”. Naturally there is.

The album Oracular Spectacular is a bit Blue Oyster Cult for me; let’s just revel in a perfect single’s anticipation of living fast and dying young. The album prize can go to Vampire Weekend, with honours to TV On The Radio, Lykke Li and Coldplay (yes, Coldplay – I couldn’t believe it either).

As for Junior, she’s loved this from the moment she first heard the chirupping bleeps of the intro. Today she dances, rolls around the floor and bounds about in front of her sister – and her sister’s clapping. Bravo.