Like a gentleman traveller taking his pony on the 19:02 to Holyhead – after a swift pint in the pub and a check up at the local hospital, of course – the music industry never stops trying its hand. With June fast approaching we’re now offered the “definitive soundtrack to the summer” or, better still, the “definitive alternative soundtrack to the summer”. Never mind the fact that the best weather of 2011 has probably already been and gone.
But shy bairns get nowt, as they say, and there are as many potential summer scores as there are differing tastes: one man accompanies his sunshine with indie pop and sing-alongs, another plumps for frenetic Italo-disco with a side of college rock. Our wasp-swatting, forearm-burning, Special Brew-sipping days are played out against a background of experimental jazz-funk fusion, heavy on the scat. It’s horses for courses.
What we have for you this week, then, is the definitive clutch of singles to soundtrack the summer of 2011. For somebody. Somewhere. Possibly.
Cults – Abducted
As Cerys Matthews once sang, expectancy will always spoil a party, and don’t we just know it: we once attended a wedding where the evening’s entertainers – four hammered blokes in cut-out Gary, Mark, Jason and Howard masks – were given the big build up and introduced as Take That. Cue borderline pandemonium among the assembled guests… quickly followed by palpable disappointment.
Will New York film student duo Cults suffer the same ignominy? (No.) Will their brand of joyful, ’60s-tinted genre-mashing – released on Lily Allen‘s record label, apparently – catapult the band into the hearts of literally dozens of people? (Probably.) Will the likes of Vogue, The New York Times and Spin declare them “one of the bands of the summer”? (Yes, as will their Soundcloud comments.)
But there’s no smoke without fire. Have a listen and see what the fuss is about.
James Blake – Lindisfarne
Mr James Blake, whose closest encounter with mainstream recognition came with a cover of Feist‘s Limit To Your Love, has gone all-out in his quest for chart success: Lindisfarne is a funky re-imagining of the eponymous band’s timeless Fog On The Tyne, featuring Blue on backing vocals and a glitch-hop breakdown put together by a certain will.i.am.
No, not really. In fact, we’re not at all sure what’s going on here. People take turns to spit in a bowl before one girl drinks it; the same girl is dusted with cocoa powder; the same girl then has a hole cut in her jumper. There’s a bedsheet fort, manic outdoors dancing and a nosebleed. It’s basically the annual musicOMH country retreat weekend.
And the track itself? A thing of rare, undiminished beauty. If only we knew what it means.
The Coathangers Hurricane
If you type the word ‘grrl’ into an word processor of some description, it will mostly attempt to correct you to ‘grill’. Which either means that the entire software industry is staffed by misogynistic men attempting to keep women in the kitchen, or, we need to ask our landlady if she genuinely got rid of all of that lead paint.
But can you see Atlanta riot grrls The Coathangers caring about either of those things? No. Hurricane is careless in the absolute best sense of the word. It’s a whirling dervish that succeeds in a simplistic desire to be absolutely mental fun.
In fact, you’d go so far as to say it’s a lean, mean, riot grrling machine.
Riz MC All Of You
We’ll admit, All Of You isn’t particularly summery.
Unless, of course, this year you had made plans to spend June and July running through desolate urban landscapes listening the soundtrack from Blade Runner while someone films you without your consent. Although that does sound cheaper (and more fun) than Butlins.
But All Of You is impossible to ignore. A deceptively sweet vocal tone clashes wildly against a bassline which make speakers shudder with fear and lyrics which drip with a scarily sinister intent.
It’s sort of like a 21st Century update of Every Breath You Take. Only not shit. Stunning, in fact.
Chilly Gonzales – The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales Video Medley
We’ve already heard the new Chilly Gonzales LP ahead of its July release. No, seriously, we have. We get to do stuff like that pretty much all the time. We’re, like, ahead of the curve. Lonely, yes, but ahead of the curve.
What we can report so far is that it’s excellent, the sound of Gonzales flexing his muscles as both sharp-tongued lyricist and deft-handed arranger on what is seemingly the world’s first all-orchestral rap album: “Listen, it’s entertainment, but if you listen the genius is in the arrangements.”
So what more could you ask for than a medley video showcase? Nothing, that’s what.
Avril Lavigne – Smile
We thought we had old Avril pegged: slickly-marketed pop puppet with a string of bubblegum rock chart toppers to her credit. But then old Avril went and married Sum 41‘s Deryck Whibley (Deryck Whibley?!) and dropped a track or two with genuine emotional oomph. Why’d she have to go and make things so complicated?
Smile, though, is vintage Lavigne. Green hair? Check. Pseudo-punk visuals? Check. Vigorously produced guitar number in which angsty sentiments gradually reveal themselves to be all sweetness and light? Check, check and check.
Less expected is the stream of swears in the first few lines (a “bitch”, a “shit” and a “fucking”, if we’re counting). Edgy! If she keeps this up, she’ll be the world’s number one profanity pop purveyor – move over, Eminem.
Bachelorette Polarity Party
Eh, eh, there ain’t no party like a Polarity Party!
Oh. How disappointing. See, we actually thought that was going to open up a wealth of possibility went it came to polarity related gags involving attraction, repulsion and the like, but in reality, now we’re here, the landscape is barren and worthless.
Have to resort to some actual journalism then. Ho-hum. Here goes: Polarity Party sounds like Bjrk playing the the rare arcade game ‘John Carpenter Presents: Assault On Precinct Pacman’.