Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Holly and The Italians (in praise of)

The only track from Holly and the Italians that I remember from my youth is 1980's Miles Away:

Looking back, this should have been some sort of hit: it's a perfect power-pop song, and Holly Beth Vincent's voice has star-quality (w/ Florence Welch esp. in Dog Days perhaps being the closest comparison case), and she's flat out cool in the (gold-standard) Chrissie Hynde/PJ Harvey-ish/Karen O-ish way in the vid.. Mark Sidgwick and Steve Dalton (a.k.a. Steve Young) monster the bass and drums respectively on this one like they're McKagan and Adler respectively. (Were the latter guys listening?)

Other tracks seem specifically influential on others:

Youth Coup sounds like both Liz Phair's Exile (esp. 6'1") and PJ Harvey's Stories (esp. Good Fortune) to me.

Rock against Romance sounds a lot like G'n'R's Sweet Child o' Mine (only without Slash's great signature riff and Axel's special yowl over the top).

HATI evidently cut it live too: here are stonking versions of Youth Coup and Rock against Romance on OGWT (live in the tv studio w/o an audience). Holly's skinny sleek and is on her guitar (just rocking basically), injured leg notwithstanding:

Or consider Poster Boy:

I think it substantially anticipates both G'n'R's Rocket Queen and Green Day's When I Come Around.

And consider Means to a Den:

Surely that anticipates much of C86 pop (and Juliana Hatfield and...).

HATI also did quite a nice line in more traditional girl-pop, including esp. a cover of the Chiffons' Just for Tonight (for which the great Ellie Greenwich did some backing vox) as well as the single that got them a record deal in the first place, Tell That Girl to Shut Up.

In sum, HATI was a very good band with a magnetic singer and front-woman that never quite got its due, except indirectly/sincerely, by being diffusely influential and possibly being extensively strip-mined by others.

Exquisite Music from Azerbaijan

I'd never heard of Aziza Mustafa Zadeh until yesterday, but according to wikipedia she's sold 15 million records to somebody. If this exquisite, intriguing jazz/ambient/classical piece from 2004 is anything to go by, that success is richly deserved. In any case, Zadeh's a composer and performer to watch.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Class Actress album needs more work (2 songs)

The new single Weekend feels to me like a demo rather than a final version. It's at least a few bpm too slow in my view, some of the synth timbres need more development and to be mixed more dynamically, and the song's various bridges and transitions feel untidy and not at all inevitable. There's a great, catchy track struggling to get out here, but it needs work (one suspects that Robyn and her producers, who have that Berry Gordy quality control model down pat, would never have let this version pass).

Bienvenue seems to be one of the best (so far) non-single tracks on the album. But it could probably have done to be the album-opener: it's title means 'Welcome!' after all, and since it's pointless denying Bienvenue's 'Age of Consent' vibe, why not embrace that track's positioning? In my view too, Bienvenue needs a little AoC guitar (or I'm in Love with a German Film Star guitar or... something) in the mix somewhere.

In sum, both these songs have potential, but neither fulfils it as recorded which irritates whereas good pop (from Borderline to Hang With Me in the relevant tradition) exhilirates. Having heard most of the rest of Rapprocher, nothing seems up to the level of Keep You or to the title track of last year's Journal of Ardency e.p.. The album's overall feel is muted, languid, not trying hard enough (I've had the same problem with a lot of Ladytron), which is a bummer for indie dance-pop. Too bad.

P.S., I've lately been disappointed by Bjork's Biophilia (Vespertine refigured as a narrowly intellectual gesture - although I've come around a bit on Crystalline) and by M83's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (a double length Saturday = Youth with half the charm). What I've heard from Feist's Metals does nothing for me, and the much-hyped Dum Dum Girls seem to me to be wildly under-done (and I love '60s girl-groups). That's left Anna Calvi as my current album and discovery of the year. Calvi just rules. Even her (free/downloadable) classical mixtape is terrific. Beyond that, old Sonic Youth stuff (esp. Bad Moon Rising and Daydream Nation) and the last three National albums have rocked my world lately.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Israel Dagg eludes Quade Cooper

Obviously the All Blacks' jazz-dance training is paying dividends. And who's naming the players in this Rugby World Cup? Herman Melville?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

John Williams's NBC theme

Best youtube comment about it:
It sounds like ET on a horse being chased by Darth Vader... [DannyFox06 2 months ago]
Indeed, but that would, of course, completely rule! Anyhow, like Elmer Bernstein's National Geographic theme, I take this to be a very good porting out of populist movie classical idioms to the even more populist TV-transition form. Inspiring for generations of kids I'm sure.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Top Music Slams

The National are Nickelback with a Joy Division record.
Muse are Depeche Mode covering Queen.
[Just the examples that I can remember right now. Will try to add to and update the list periodically.]