Teeth – Something Has Gone Wrong With My Brain

I wish I could hate this. They are all the things I hate. Men!!! Rock!!! Beards!!!! Fucking men!!! From WELLINGTON! I fucking hate Wellington. Wellington is twee-city. It’s smug-city. It’s the city where everyone builds their burgers too high, forgetting that the most important thing is to be able to eat the goddamn burger. Also — while I’m on the subject — local venue ‘Caroline’ has been in da news lately for requiring at least one band to have a female member. But hold on — what if you don’t present as femme, or if you’re nonbinary, or whatever? I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been called ‘dude’ or ‘man’ and fuck that. I can tell you now that quite often hippier-than-thou staff at so-called diverse venues do it — nay, are the worst at it, because if you don’t have bangs+vintage black sabbath t-shirt+urban decary lipstick you’re not worth knowing.

Are you still reading? I’ve abandoned capitals, for the most part. This is what you get when I’m sitting by the fire having my second coffee (shoutout to Craig Miller) with nothing better to do.

 

craig
NOW LET US PRAISE CRAIG MILLER, THE REASON I AM LUCID AND FULLY IN CONTROL OF MY WRITING PROWESS. 

 

Anyway Teeth has a pretty good single here. The guitar riff is the kind of power riff Randy Rhodes would kill for — it’s unhinged 1977 glory as per every high school band with a garage. It’s glorious. It’s Aaron Copland meets KISS. Holy shit I just listened to it for a 7th time and I think I’ve ascended to another astral plane, man. A

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Brentwood – Forever

When I was at school the library used to get copies of NZ Musician, which operates in an alternative universe seemingly parallel to the rest of uh, music in NZ. Everyone seems to play Yamaha guitars in the NZ Musician universe, and everyone wants to learn a ‘top ten riff of Billy Ray Cyrus’ or whatever. Sometimes when I buy guitar pedals I cross over into a similar parallel universe, mostly populated by Fall Out Boy covers bands reviewing their Klon and talking about “thick” tones, man. Yet the NZ Musician universe exists so diametrically opposite to anything else I can think of.

Even NZ Musician has its limits. It’s unfailingly positive reviews hit a snag reviewing the X-Factor duo ‘Brentwood’. It concedes that their self-titled ep is probably ‘one for the fans’.

‘Forever’ is not even one for the fans. ‘Forever’ is the equivalent of shoving the dildo thrown at Stephen Joyce’s face down your throat, followed by chugging down a kilo of artificial sweetener and then throwing the whole thing up and sticking some chords over the top. The piano plays a faux-Imagineers riff too quiet, as if sheer GLORY of BRENTWOOD’s voices takes precedence — as if the engineer can’t bear for the listener to miss out on the siblings oddly processed vocals, almost obscenely even, afraid of a bum note or even a strain.

Every instrument is treated the same way and perhaps this is where the true awfulness of the song lies. Yes, the video is a fucking travesty and makes Logan Paul look like a cinematic genius, but the truly bad aspect is every instrument is compressed and levelled out of existence. The drums are like a whimper to the mighty BRENTWOOD’s voices. The claps (again, Imagineers) are tentative, like a sarcastic slow clap. The guitars are as gutless as the duo’s singing ability. We’re not reviewing the video, but did you notice the bizarre “BW” logo in the corner of the video, as if Brentwood have their own TV station, like Oraph?

Ultimately Brentwood are at the gurgler end of talent shows. The talent show sink has been drained and there’s only the bits of chicken and carrot and mush from the last pan that was cleaned, as the water, dirty and grey and greasy, drains away. 3,300~ views is a dismal showing for a pop video. Now that it’s 2018 and Ed Sherans is the greatest singer-songwriter in the world, the bard of banal, what’s left to prove?

C-

Quint Baker – ECM

I discovered this a week or so ago — maybe I wasn’t in the right headspace. Maybe the only thing I was listening to was Girlpool, on loop. Hints of Alan Vega here — the unrelenting drums, but also the vulnerable vocals with minimal processing. It’s like someone whispering into your ear with all the confidence of drunk singing Purple Rain. This kind of crude intensity brings to mind Matt Middleton’s (aka CRUDE, get it?) recent work. Or in another sense, it reminds me of Curtis Plum‘s visionary work. Plum is hella funny and so is Baker — ‘you watched Robert Smith on video/while you were supposed to be working…I made love to the manageress/at ECM’. A

 

Astro Children – Beneath the Visible Surface

Morrissey was never this good. One summer I downloaded all The Smiths discography because I never paid them any mind and floated around the house all gloomy and did the dishes and put ‘Meat is Murder’ on the playlist at work, so when customers cut into their steaks there was the slight chance they’d be eating it to ‘Meat is Murder’ and between that and playing Ron Gallipoli’s ‘Fonterra’ I managed to stay at least a little entertained. Sometimes, though, The Smiths have glimmery, watery melodies that seem to pour out of Morrissey’s stupid face. Sometimes Cocteau Twins have similar melodies.

And this is all very lovely — it’s not so much dreampop (has a worse term been invented?) as the slightly unnerved feeling you experience when you’re in a dream, you wake up, and the dream is still with you. Perhaps in the dream you needed to do something: go and buy cat biscuits maybe. It’s that feeling — on the edge — that makes ‘beneath the visible surface’ slightly unsettling as it is beautiful. If you listen on big fuck off speakers the bass kills, like the bass in Kanye’s ‘808s and Heartbreak’. The melody worms its way through your head and into your very SOULLLLLL~

The novel Nightwood is the clear spirit animal/influence here — ‘beneath the visible surface’ is a reference to Barnes’ work when it introduces Robin, the propellant of the novel. Deborah Parsons writes, in ‘Women in the Circus of Modernity’ of Robin’s actions as ‘propelled like those of a sleepwalker’. Similar qualities are echoed here, musically — the chorus loops and recurs and has its own interior logic in the same way Barnes’ prose embraces the beauty of the interior (eg. the passage that song’s title is taken from, which includes the glorious line ‘…making her seem as if she had invaded a sleep cautious and entire’). The result is the song surpasses its structure and becomes something where time seems suspended — its spatial form is wholly more fragmented. The drums punctuate, a bit like Jim White’s on Nina Nastasia’s seminal ‘You Follow Me’ — so many drummers are preoccupied with keeping time. They slam their snares forcefully, insisting on time. They subdivide endlessly. Here the drums perform something quite interesting, in that they don’t give a sense of finality — the track floats – ethereal yet on edge. A

 

 

The English Muffins – Haunted Castle

I’m getting a cold, which is why I’m so productive. Bandcamp has a terrible tag feature and often shows albums from 2016/17/15 as ‘new’ which doesn’t make sense but it DOES mean I find things I’d never otherwise find. The English Muffins are from Portland, Maine. ‘Haunted Castle’ has the wide open fourths and fifths so characteristic of Kraus.

Medieval-progressions, or modal if you’re a music nerd. It’s disconcerting and imbues the track with a kind of magical realism, which is remarkable given the brevity of the whole thing. The vocals are perhaps a little bit reminiscent of The Raincoats, but less pristine, most insistent. It’s gleefully short. It’s the exact perfect song for the exact haunted castle. I’m going to have some more hot lemon-honey tea now. A

XOXO

GOSSIP GIRL

Lawrence Arabia – Solitary Guys

Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews. Let it me known I write positive reviews.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you still reading?

 

Lawrence Arabia sounds like the taste of an aspirin if you chew on it. He attempts to echo the dreamlike qualities of say, Jonathan Bree, yet it’s aesthetically hollow. It’s too long. It goes on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on. And on and on.

C-

Courtney Barnett – Nameless, Faceless

It’s probably ironic or worth a snicker that MUSIC’S NUMBER ONE MENACE/TROLL, yours truly, likes a song so pointed at trolls. If you peruse this fine page’s facebook you will see some woman called Nathalie calling me MEAN SPIRITED because golly gosh! Music critics in 2018 need to be cocksucking sycophantic asslickers who like nothing more than to eat the ass of whoever is musician d’jour right now. Well, I’m real sorry, Nathalie, but this is not Pitchfork. This is the blog of some mean spirited asshole who updates infrequently but with VERVE. With PASSION and a shaky grasp on the use of DASHES.

I didn’t care much for Courtney Barnett’s last solo album. The lyrics were cutting and precise as always, but her backing band played with indifference, dad rock. Here Barnett embraces some parallel MTV aspect — ‘I wanna walk through a park in the dark/woman are scared/the men will kill them/I hold my keys/between my fingers’ plays with that old Margret Atwood quote – the sort that appears in every feminism 101 essay – and subverts it because what woman hasn’t walked through a park with their keys between their fingers? I’ve done it in Christchurch, in Melbourne, in my small town full of misogynistic pricks. You do it to feel safe, even though keys aren’t going to do a lot against a man with a knife or whatever. Subverts: ‘men are scared/women will laugh at them’ but the lyrics are matched with a song in the pop tradition of Liz Phair or good Smashing Pumpkins songs. It’s unashamedly melodic, joyous as it cuts down, even more manically joyous when Barnett sings ‘the men will kill them’. It’s ‘message’ if you wanna call it that is matched by irreverence, not self-seriousness.

Often we feel intensely connected to musicians: Kanye West’s musical world dwells on the interior, the exterior turns inwards. Barnett often does the opposite, the exterior world turns outwards. It’s commentary, news. This often falls flat — (see: the 60s) and is hard to do. Yet Barnett does this with ease and room to spare.  It’s the sort of song you hum to yourself at work, sing to yourself in the shower (after ‘Like a Virgin’ and ‘Beez in the Trap’. It’s that kind of song. A

Marlon Williams – Come to Me

Dull as soap rubbed against a window.  The wider work has been lauded as a ‘classic break up album’. Breakup albums are fucked up at their core, they feed on our darkest instincts, the pieces of anxiety that eat you from your stomach out. Roy Orbison, who Williams sometimes resembles vocally, has an edge — his voice breaks, warbles — ‘In The Real World’, notes don’t always hit. Williams sings with mechanical precision. The effect is furniture music. It’s almost as bad as Conan Mockmcmockface or whatever his name is. It’d be fine in a mall. Or your dentist’s office, while you’re contemplating your teeth being cleaned.

Have you ever had your teeth cleaned? It’s very painful. They use a small mechanical scraper, which whirrs around precipitously close to your gums. The dentist smiles. You attempt to smile back, or you arch your back in pain. This is not that.

Have you ever had your eyebrows waxed? It’s not as painful, but there’s a certain area — just under your eyebrows, above your eyelid, that sometimes hurts like a motherfucker. This is not that.

There are flute and strings and reverb dolloped on like foie gras over toast, yet to what end? In the lexicon of country music (whatever country music is in 2018, rich guys driving Range Rovers) instrumentation serves a purpose: Lee Hazelwood’s ‘No Train to Stockholm’ drifts, serves, yet the bassline lands with devastating clarity: it cuts you. Or another breakup album of sorts –  Leonard Cohen’s ‘Death of a Ladies Man’ – is covered to excess in strings and reverb: trucks of reverb. It’s so excessive that it works, it’s funny, it’s sad: it’s like too much icing on a cake. I mean: Last night I heard you making love to him /The struggle mouth to mouth and limb to limb/The grunt of unity when he came in/ is voyeuristic and perverted and not mucking around.

The whole concept of a breakup album is reductive and stupid. It’s marketing malarky. It speaks to us on an emotional level: we put on ‘Idiot Wind’ when we’re sad, when we want something that speaks to us (man), that soundtracks our life. Ultimately songs are songs. They stand on their own. Here’s rote country, sung well. It’s not enough. It never is.   C