Posts Tagged Indie
Cartoon Network present The Hives. No, they really do.
I’m not sure there’s anything massively original or unique about The Hives, whether it’s their cartoonish character names, their heavily stylised looks, or the lead singer’s Mick Jagger mannerisms.
But instead of being a loose collection of dull clichés, they pitch their monochrome image, their furious, thrashy sound, and their tongue-in.cheek/so-serious-it-hurts anti-establishment lyrics in just the right way to create something loud, funny, and brilliantly, strangely joyful.
The songs are both throwaway and long-lasting, the titles alone – Die, All Right!; A.K.A I-D-I-O-T; The Hives Are Law, You Are Crime; Dead Quote Olympics – demanding attention.
They also have an interestingly contrived back story; namely that a recluse, Randy Fitzsimmons, summoned all five of them individually by letter to form the band, subsequently writing their songs for them and remaining behind the scenes. The inconvenient fact that ‘Randy Fitzsimmons’ is an officially-registered pseudonym of Nicholaus Arson’s is (a) just a means for Arson to collect Fitzsimmons’ royalty cheques on his behalf (of course), and/or (b) ignoring the fact that Arson probably isn’t his family name in the first place, and/or (c) taking all this far too seriously.
And so Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist screams his way through a range of generally disenfranchised, occasionally unintelligible lyrics (mangling their delivery as required: “This time you really got something, it’s such a clever idea / But it doesn’t mean it’s good because you found it at the liba-ra-ria“), almost unfailingly backed by machine gun percussion and jackhammer guitars.
Other songs to lock yourself in a small room with and listen loudly to are Diabolic Scheme (with its jarring, discordant strings), Antidote (“You want antidote / I got the poison” seeming to sum them up pretty well), Tick Tick Boom, and Abra Cadaver: I initially mis-heard the lyrics as “They tried to stick-a Dave Bowie inside-a me”, which I thought was taking the Jagger thing a bit too far.
Every now and then I indulge myself with a trip back into the music of the mid-1990s. Revealingly, I rarely listen to the stuff I listened to contemporaneously. Gene are one such example: heralded as The New Smiths they never really cut the mustard. At the time I was aware of Olympian and Fighting Fit (this video is a treat for that niche market of fans of both Gene and Star Trek), but have since fallen in love with their first single, For The Dead.
Frankly, they needn’t have made another song after this, they squeezed it all into this one – a healthy dose of misanthropy, Mozzerian growls in the chorus, allusions to suicide shot through with a lack of conviction disguised as gallows humour (“give me a rope, I’ll take it gladly / find me a tree and make it snappy”), and a wonderful sense of kitchen sink melodrama (“goodbye ma! It’s my time to go”).
Yes, it’s my inevitable review of the Young Knives’ new LP, Ornaments From The Silver Arcade (they were seeking a mysterious, fairy tale-sounding title, and ended up getting inspiration from a Leicester shopping centre).
This is quite a departure from their previous albums, both of which (as I have contemplated before) feature cheeky angst, misanthropy, and spiky indie guitars by the shed-load. This time round, they have taken a conscious decision to be more accessible, poppier, and a touch more optimistic: it was at first disconcerting to find myself mentally referencing bands such as Space, Supergrass, The Killers, Duran Duran, and Kaiser Chiefs while listening to this.
The addition of elements of funk, hand-claps, keyboards, female backing vocals, a bit of brass, and 80s pop-eque production does occasionally veer worryingly close to white-boys-do-jazz/funk-lite. But it certainly achieves that ease of access they say they were looking for – I can see something off this album being a relatively big mainstream hit: pushed, I’d go for Everything Falls Into Place (an infectiously, defiantly upbeat take on life’s mundane worries – just hinting, of course, at their early works’ bleaker outlook on life).
By contrast, on Woman (an ode to transvestism. Or maybe transgenderism. Anyway, it’s deeply sexual), and Vision In Rags, they seem to go too far musically and end up sounding, well, poppily normal (which is the last thing this band should ever try to be).
Similarly, the lack of any explicit rage or contempt at society in general leaves the lyrics feeling uncomfortably watery at times (such as Running From A Standing Start: “There’s a new dance called the sway low / You can do it how you please / Lunchtime Lucy likes to watch me / Do the coochie on my knees”). Sister Frideswide, on the other hand, sees us back on more familiar territory, contemplating a sexually-tempted nun (not a sentence I’ve ever written before).
As always, though, these things are about balance. And with the back-to-back Go To Ground, Silver Tongue, and Storm Clouds, they get it just about right, striking a happy medium between light and dark. The first of these is pained and heartfelt; the next mixes self-deprecation, self-loathing and self-awareness; the last is a brooding affair with menacing, apocalyptic guitars.
Overall, the album doesn’t fully represent Young Knives’ work to date. But I suspect that’s half their point; in breaking out of their norm, they may be heading down a new path. Hopefully one which continues to tread the line between pop and Wicker Man.
Yes, it’s the Young Knives’ new single, ‘Love My Name’. The first time I listened to it, I didn’t like it, and this feeling made me scared and worried. Second time, I thought it might have something about it. Third time, I got it. There’s no sign of the alleged Rn’B feel they claimed would feature on their imminent third album (but they are cheeky monkeys so could have been having everyone on), it’s more choppy guitars but with a few doses of electronic wibblings thrown in.
What is not to love?
As part of my ongoing attempts to manage my music through iTunes, rather than have iTunes derange me to the point of murderous intent (so far it’s winning comfortably), I recently stumbled across a home-made music compilation I’d nearly forgotten about. Harking back to the very late 90s/very early 2000s, this compilation is something of a personal time-stamp for me, reflecting as it does what I thought of as the definitive soundtrack to a night out back then. It was inspired by a long-standing weekly Saturday night out in a club called Le Bateau in Liverpool. The full track listing is below, but before we get there, a few (self-)reflections:
…could I be/have been any more of an ‘indie kid’? Two Charlatans tracks? Two?? Jesus Christ… Loaded by Primal Scream now sounds like just about the dullest thing I’ve ever heard. Clearly I was becoming obsessed by The Hives. The inclusion of Skeleton Key reminds me how the club played The Coral’s debut album in its entireity on the night of its release, them being local rising stars and all (the Wirral being part of Liverpool when it suits, of course)…
|Side A||Side B|
|Sexy Boy||Air||Brown Sugar||The Rolling Stones|
|Not if You Were the Last Junkie on Earth||The Dandy Warhols||Do You Remember The First Time?||Pulp|
|Trash||Suede||21st Century Rip Off||The Soundtrack Of Our Lives|
|Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over||The Charlatans||Hate to Say I Told You So||The Hives|
|This Is Love||PJ Harvey||Fools Gold||The Stone Roses|
|Town Called Malice||The Jam||Last Nite||The Strokes|
|Loaded||Primal Scream||Main Offender||The Hives|
|There She Goes||The La’s||Love Will Tear Us Apart||Joy Division|
|Kung Fu||Ash||Animal Nitrate||Suede|
|Panic||The Smiths||Bigmouth Strikes Again||The Smiths|
|The Only One I Know||The Charlatans||Laid||James|
|Waterfall||The Stone Roses||Once Around the Block||Badly Drawn Boy|
|Skeleton Key||The Coral||I Am the Resurrection||The Stone Roses|
|Doledrum||The La’s||Die, All Right!||The Hives|
|There Is a Light That Never Goes Out||The Smiths|