Is modern life too real? Or too artificial? What does it mean to be human? Is it Christmas yet? Getintothis’ Roy Bayfield gets the answers from Seatbelts, Grimes, Cousin Kula, Fontaines D.C. and more…
Seatbelts: Content Crush – Single of the Week
Seatbelts have made a shimmering, swooning single that slides us sideways out of world jammed up with instant media and life-sapping technology. Content Crush is a plangent dream of counter cultural (g)laze, a sweet drink that you have to keep sipping till the whole 32oz has gone down. Like memories of summer it has a sad undertow – judging by this beautiful drift Seatbelts as a band are set on exploring further depths of pop in luscious new ways.
Grimes featuring HANA: We Appreciate Power
Rather than escaping a technology-run world Grimes advocates embracing it, tunefully asking ‘What will it take to make you capitulate‘ to the unstoppable power of world-ruling AI. Exuberantly posthuman, We Appreciate Power is insanely melodic industrial-inflected sci-fi pop – its manifesto of surrender to a higher intelligence (‘Elevate the human race, putting makeup on my face‘) scary and hilarious at the same time.
Tap-In: Almost Done
Meanwhile in the still-human world the stuff that happens in life can make a compelling tune, as in Tap-In‘s new track ‘featuring a fire pit and friends in an old house.’ Some found-sound collage launches a bass-driven loopy piece that keeps on building and opening out to new spaces. Tap-In is Sam Jones, not the actor from Flash Gordon (though that would be awesome) but the bass player from Patchwork Guilt. Toothsome.
Holiday Ghosts: Booksmart
Spaghetti western guitars pull us into Booksmart, surf-flecked bittersweet garage pop from the southwest. Recorded in a playroom in Cornwall, Booksmart is part of Holiday Ghosts forthcoming second album West Bay Playroom – the playroom in question being both the recording location and inspiration for the music.
Interesting to think where a ‘playroom’ fits in a mental map of recording locations – somewhere above a bedroom but more homemade than an actual recording studio, with a hint of extra fun? Like the 1969 end of the Velvet Underground spectrum there’s a sort of deceptive, charming innocence to the sound wrapped around lyrical incisiveness. Whoever the song is aimed at at needs to stop reading, come out of ‘someone else’s world’ and pay attention to reality…
Fontaines D.C. Too Real/The Cuckoo is A’Callin
…and there’s plenty of reality in Dublin band Fontaines D.C.‘s double A-side on Partisan Records; reality filtered through an uncompromisingly surreal sensibility. Too Real is destabilising, compelling, gritty and wildly lyrical. On the flipside The Cuckoo Is A-Callin’ is offhandedy passionate, poetic insight declaimed over grimy, swooping postpunkabilly in a perfect 2-minutes-and-11-seconds.
Bonus points for Too Real video featuring a man falling a canal.
The Shipbuilders: Stranger’s Lament
Talking of water, The Shipbuilders don’t just construct maritime vessels, they sail away from their homeland in them, leaving behind the memory of ‘pretty girls who wait for me’. A collision of East European ballad-crafting with twangy surf-rock, Stranger’s Lament evokes the dislocation of movement, travel, migration. Totally now and at the same time like a folk song you’ve known forever.
Housewives: Speak to Me
Another water-based band, experimental London five-piece Housewives actually live on boats, venturing on to land to access electrical supply sufficient to create tunes like this nervy dystopian ditty. Claustrophobic, dead-toned, with a gut-pulling sub-bass and neuron-scratching electronic squiggles this is a disconcerting yet persuasive dig into modern isolation.
Obongjayar: Never Change
The beautiful haunted jump-cut soul of Never Change is a ‘a reflection on growing older and seeing the world through a different lens, witnessing the corruptions and negativity that often surrounds us – and an attempt to maintain the innocence of childhood’. An intensely resonant, deeply affecting human document – with a superb video by Duncan Loudon.
Telekinesis: Set a Course
Will we ever tire of male introspection set to music? Well, maybe. This particular serving of that kind of thing has a walloping power-pop centrepiece amidst the wispy philosophising, making a melancholy battering ram to deploy when things have all gone horribly wrong.
Cousin Kula: Jelly Love
Deliriously swirling psych pop from a Bristol-bases six-piece. Cousin Kula are a band with progressive jazz origins and a playful, multi-genre approach to making music. Chilled and positive. Apparently Jelly Love had its origin is a jam session – jelly from jam – sweet.
(Appreciative nod to the accompanying PR for providing handy evocative details such as ‘Walking into the Cousin Kula household you’re met by bundles of bicycles in the hallway’ – this is the stuff we need to know! Has Grimes got bicycles in her hallway? If so are they configured in ‘bundles’ or some other arrangement? Her people are unhelpfully silent on the subject.)
Wuzi: Big Noose
The word ‘psych’ gets attached to lots of things these days, almost becoming a code-word for ‘slightly underground flavoured indie’, sometimes a virtually meaningless term. When Wuzi do psychedelic rock it isn’t your ‘microdosing at a vicarage tea-party’ kind, more like ‘reality breaking open in a rainstorm on the M621’. In Big Noose the Leeds-based outfit have lashed together a massive lurching fuzz monster. Chews you up, spits you out, leaves you wondering what happened.
Confidence Man: Santa’s Comin’ Down The Chimney
Attention, citizens of December! A decent Christmas single has dropped. Install immediately on every device and carry with you at all times. It’s the perfect antidote to having too many festive standards in your ears – repeated listening even removes traces of Last Christmas. Slinky and irresistible, this dirty piece of compelling dance-pop will trip out any festive moment into a messier and altogether more gratifying space. All hail the Aussie party-starters Confidence Man for rescuing the sonic side of Christmas.