Simplification - These days
Brazilli-chillout merchants Simplification dish out a careful dose of drum and/or bass, even your nan can enjoy.
Poly Styrene - Black Christmas
The final Lick of the year is awarded to former X-Ray Spex front-chick Poly Styrene. In this off-beat number, she teams up with her daughter, Celeste.
Celeste-Styrene? I don't get it either.
The song itself is inspired by the killing spree in Los Angeles by a man dressed as Santa Claus. Too much musical Christmas-cheese could drive even Bing Crosby such a crime, luckily Styrene strays well away from convention with a quirky ska sound.
Spectrals - Chip a tooth (Spoil a smile.)
Touring with Best Coast, Spectrals are destined for big* things.
Recently signed to small but prolific indie label Moshi Moshi, these lads prove that a pasty-faced ginger can have a touch of soul without feeling the need to glue a ruby onto his tooth.
*By big, i mean playing in front of tens of people, in rooms with the suffix '2' or 'junior.
Two Wounded Birds - My lonesome.
It has been announced that Tarantino has recalled all copies of Pulp fiction, as he has missed a song off the soundtrack... here's a peek at it.
Crystal Castles - Baptism.
Beep-junkies Crystal Castles are known for their pretty lively live shows, once knocking over a drum kit, which if my sources are correct... has never been done before.
The duo seem to have struck a more interesting balance with their 2nd album, with the softer bits softer, and the harder bits harder.
Summer Camp - Round the moon.
There's a fine line between the 'bed-head' look and having head-lice; I am of course alluding to Summer Camp's style of organised chaos, as round the moon sounds like it's gonna self-destruct at any minute. It never does, so feel free to enjoy, and spot the line from 16 candles. (the film)
The Chemical Brothers - Swoon.
Up-and-coming duo The Chemical Brothers are destined for big things after releasing this dreamy number. I'd be lying if I said the video didn't influence this wik's lick; some videos seem to over-shadow the song, some don't do it justice, but it is safe to say that this one follows the Goldilocks Principle of music videos.
Jenny and Johnny - Big wave.
Renaissance-chick Jenny Lewis, has finally teamed up with her boyfriend, after years of making sweet music behind his back. Unless my metaphor-ometer has broken, the song tells of the global financial crisis, disappointing for those expecting 'Puppy love II.'
The Vaccines - Wreckin' bar (Ra Ra Ra) (live)
A 1-minute twenty-something attack is brought up to the legal minimum limit thanks to an intro from Jools. Obviously El Grabbo discovered The Vaccines before Holland, even though this wik's lick seems to disprove this empty boast.
Edwyn Collins & The Drums - In your eyes.
Most people think that teaming up the manliest and girliest voices available would result in a sort of Tom Waits ft/ Maria Callas type deal. Sadly this was not possible, but here is the next best thing. The track is taken from Collins' latest 'top 54 album,' which features many a collaboration. I could've picked any song from it... and did.
Crocodiles - Groove is in the heart / California girls.
As-if filthing up one bright and breezy classic wasn't enough, Crocodiles are intent on noising up two of 'em. With an end result that's both vicious and malicious.
Zola Jesus - Sea talk.
In a parallel universe, when Ian Curtis chose to leave Joy Division; the remaining band members, rather than looking internally for a lead singer, enlisted Kate Bush to front the new band. Zola Jesus is that band. They (she) takes part of her name from one of the most influential figures of the past 2000 years, the other part being that lad from the middle-east.
Ms. Jesus seems to buck the trend of the 'quirky-chick' at the moment, with more effort put into a dark haunting sound, rather than a ‘weird’ look with radio-friendly hits. She transmits a moody atmosphere, altering the substance of lazy writers' digital prose for decades to come.
Rumour has it she'll be releasing a cover of the cover of the cover of ‘you got the love’ in the near future.
Wayne Smith - Under me sleng teng.
Songs glamorising drugs are rarely big and rarely clever, songs which are overtly anti-drugs are often seen as a joke, even preachy... see: Grandmaster Melle Mel / Zammo McGuire.
In 1985, Under me sleng ting brought a welcome change, Wayne Smith has a much more level-headed approach to the subject. He warns of certain drugs, while speaking fondly of others, even giving instructions on storage: "take di seed an me make di 'ash oil an me put inna di barrel where me know it no spoil." As I've always said, it's nice to learn something while you’re skankin'.
Wayne Smith found a preset sound on Noel Davey’s Casio MT-40 home keyboard, together they arranged the riddim, slowed it down, matched it to Smith’s key, before taking it to producer King Jammy’s studio. It’s rumored that super-producer Jammy, a student of King Tubby, simply added a clap on top of the track during production, but because of this track, it was he who evolved reggae from the analogue sound of his mentor, to the digital sound that ruled the 1980s.
Sleng Teng is among the most covered / sampled / thieved pieces of Jamaican music of all time, versions are still being recorded to this day.
*Note, he is saying "way in.." not "wayne.." this trend of repeating your own name on your record came in around a decade later.
Best Coast - Boyfriend.
'Sun-drenched' is not a compound that should be used lightly, but when a band's name gives you a clue into their style of music, you know what you're in for.
This sentimental duo dish out plenty of reverb, and more oohs and aahs than the backing singers from Little Shop of Horrors could handle. So much so, I'm even considering coining the term: Nuu-wop, Yeah I will.
It's fair to say that when you hear an artist described as lo-fi / surf / garage etc. - then it's implied that the lyrics are a bit repetitive, and maybe naïve; Best Coast fit nicely into that category, but, they do it nicely. With a combination of simple yet honest lyrics and catchy melodies, they are clearly influenced by sixties girl-groups, or more recently Phil Spector's work with The Ramones.
Some bands consist of best friends, spouses* etc. - but these lot have an unusual line-up, consisting of ex-babysitter and ex-baby.
*they always end up in tears / prison.
MGMT - Congratulations.
This title track shows a brave change of direction for MGMT, or as they used to be known: Methylated-DNA-protein-cysteine methyltransferase.
It seems they’ve moved away from the catchy hooks of the 1st album, opting for a more traditional record, using the interesting electronic parts sparingly. And yes, for a band known for and expected to produce psychedelic sounds, to be making a traditional record, have taken a brave change of direction.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the irony and bitterness of the lyrics. ‘Time to Pretend’ talks sarcastically about rock-star stereotypes, dying young, etc. Now they have actually achieved success, they have a view from the inside: “But I've got someone to make reports, That tell me how my money's spent, To book my stays and draw my blinds, So I can't see what's really there.”
The lyrics speak of how uncomfortable they are with fame, and the difficulty of maintaining creditability: “I save my grace with half-assed guilt."
Whilst recognising the problems associated with making music that’s that’s experemental: “But all is lost if it's never heard."
To top it all off, the song ends with the sound of about 5 people clapping.