How NOT to write about music – 62. Deadbeat & Camara

Deadbeat & Camera

It was This Mortal Coil who reinvented Alex Chilton for a new generation.

OK, that’s all I have to say. No, wait…

Making the connection to this new album from Deadbeat & Camara is like doing one of those dot-to-dot drawings where all the dots have been placed so closely together you can already work out the picture. Intensely complicated, ultra rewarding.

Deadbeat & Camara are on Canadian label Constellation (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, Tindersticks) and… I think you can sense what I’m going to type here. The dots have already been joined.

No, wait…

So, frankly, when the press release details the forthcoming album Trinity Thirty along the lines of, “Initially imagining they would run a fair amount of electronic treatments during the mix, Deadbeat and Camara instead found themselves absorbed by the spaces and silences, guided by a spirit of preservation and restraint, in homage to the original. The result is ‘a less electronic album than we imagined making’: a gorgeous somnambulant collection of ‘covers of covers’, where the reference point is always the Cowboy Junkies original approach, stretched to new and beguiling limits of deceleration and narcotized spaciousness – a sensibility further reinforced by the mastering treatment of minimalist dub-techno legend Stefan Betke (~scape, Pole). Trinity Thirty is a wonderfully languid, subtly avant-garde, conceptually reverent acoustic-meets-electronic interpretation of this classic album”, I cannot deny that

  1. I am hooked
  2. already imaging exactly what such an album would sound like (in my dreams, in my dreams), even if
  3. I cannot deny that I downloaded a copy because I initially thought I was getting a newly-remastered half-speed version of the actual The Trinity Session.

Um. No matter

They also say, “Deadbeat & Camara are thrilled to share ‘Working On A Building’ ahead of the album’s release next month. The Berlin-based Canadian duo reshape the original Cowboy Junkies arrangement into a tense, slow burn. A languid yet insistent bass line anchors hushed, spectral vocals from Monteith, Camara, and guest singer Caoimhe McAlister, while accents of plucked acoustic strings and snippets of mechanical sound harken back to its origins as a traditional work song. Listen to it now in advance of Trinity Thirty‘s release on 26 April”, but let me unpick that for you.

This dub techno version of Cowboy Junkies is quite something.

Here’s the pull quote for the barricades:

“Berlin-based Canadian duo Deadbeat & Camara do for Cowboy Junkies what This Mortal Coil did for Big Star, a sparkling, magical reinvention” (UK music critic Everett True, 2019)

Pow.

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How NOT to write about music – 61. Peaness

peaness

Cherry-sweet, razor-sharp melodies. Nothing complicated, nothing fancy just cherry-sweet, razor-sharp melodies. A lineage that certainly takes in Buzzcocks, Pastels, all those wonderful female Seattle groups turn of the new millennia and wonderful female Continental groups some time in the late 1970s, occasionally showing off their chops when the melodies surge but never showy, just cherry-sweet, razor-sharp melodies. Like waves washing up and racing away again on Brighton beach, with all its cherry-sweet, razor-sharp pebbles. Losing yourself to the groove, the cherry-sweet, razor-sharp groove. Lost in music, the cherry-sweet music. Converse sneakers. Heavenly. Caught in a trance, the razor-sharp trance. Play it once and lose yourself within the cherry-sharp rock pools of Chester. Play it twice, and go swinging on the razor-sweet playgrounds of Chester. I had this particular song listed among my favourite songs of 2016 but I never got round to explaining its cherry-sweet, razor-sharp allure. No eruptions but plenty of euphoria.

Peaness look like they would be a whole heap of fun to watch live. Just watch out for the cherry stones, and the razor blades.

How NOT to write about music – 60. Dave

Dave - Black

Apologies. This should have gone up a few weeks ago. My only excuse is that I was too gobsmacked at hearing this played on the… pause for emphasis… Radio One Breakfast Show. What can I say? Just listen to the man.

This is as great as The Last Poets. Serious. Can’t believe it has attracted criticism.

Right now, in the wake of the horrible news from Christchurch, it seems more relevant than ever.

As Neil Kulkarni puts it:

The horrible news from NZ almost makes me think there must be some kind of mainstream narrative going on about silent majority ‘native’ populations rising up and ‘taking back control’, coupled with a similarly omnipresent narrative about hostility to ‘outsiders’ and Muslims in general perpetuated by the media and stars like Trump, Farage and Robinson – the kind of incessant dehumanising hostility to ‘auslanders’ that might be seen as the perfect breeding-fodder for bedroom-borne warriors and deluded murderous fascists.

But then I remember, reassuringly , how often I’ve been told, mainly by lapsed lefties about how ‘Islamaphobia’ doesn’t actually exist. Silly me.

Look, black ain’t just a single fuckin’ colour, man there’s shades to it
Her hair’s straight and thick but mine’s got waves in it
Black is not divisive, they been lyin’ and I hate the shit
Black has never been a competition, we don’t make this shit
Black is deadly
Black is when you’re freezin’ in your home and you can’t get sleep but never feelin’ empty
‘Cause you got 20 cousins in your country living stress-free
Walkin’ for their water, daughter wrapped inside a bed sheet

This next track is so chilling, especially if you know a little of its context:

I’m sorry. I have no more words. Not today. There is a really good piece on the Dave album over here, if you want to discover more.

My heart so goes out to the Muslim community and their families and their friends, and to Christchurch, and New Zealand. And I’m filled with nothing but hatred and disgust for the right-wing extremists at platforms such as The Sun and The Daily Mail masquerading as ‘the mainstream’, radicalising an entire generation of pathetic cowards, and the money-hungry scum who help enable them, wielding almost unimaginable influence and power at social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter without a single moral or scruple between them. Donald Trump has been cited as a direct inspiration by the turd who carried out these latest murders. If that is the case then surely, surely Hate Speech should be a crime across the world, applicable to both the powerful and powerless.

Neil again:

There’s no putting the white-supremacist genie back in the bottle y’know. It’s further out than perhaps it’s ever been in our lifetimes, it’s enabled both passively & actively, and it’s only going to grow.

radicalise

And what makes me saddest right now is that not one person who reads this post will have changed their mind for doing so.

How NOT to write about music – 59. Nilüfer Yanya

Nilufer Yanya

Fuck Brexit. We have a new pop star to fall in love with.

The stakes feel higher now. Society is collapsing around us. I hope to never live to see the results but I have a nasty feeling I will. And soon. It’s all noise, all hubbub, all screaming, all detritus. Yanya sings like she’s stuck inside an end-loop of Black Mirror. Everything is closed, circular yet unpredictable. Guitars chip away at the edges of your consciousness. paranoia seeps through.

I watched three episodes of Black Mirror recently, and thought, “Wow. Charlie Brooker is going to kill himself one day soon”. I really hope he doesn’t, though.

I find it uncomfortable enough living with my own lack of understanding, let alone yours. Several years back, a friend wrote this and it has stuck with me:

“Not sure if this was the third or fourth time I’ve seen The Legend! live but am sure I’ve never seen ET less mannered, more unhinged & free. For some reason it felt like the stakes were higher. I’m fairly sure this wasn’t just a figment of my imagination or a product of the beer he downed before the third set. (Ringo P Stacey)

No one understands my past.

You want approximations, descriptions? OK.

  • Anxious
  • Embryonic
  • British
  • Honeyed
  • Grungy
  • Satirical
  • Female
  • Grated
  • Grating
  • Great
  • Left-field
  • Wired
  • Nervy
  • Bleak
  • Reassuring
  • Familiar
  • Abandonment
  • Abdominal
  • Abstruse

Remind me to send you my patented cut-out-and-keep guide to reviewing music.

“Dang she’s pretty,” comments one Guardian reader picking up on one of the undeniably least interesting aspects of both the music and video.

  • Why the fuck does YouTube keep trying to force me to listen to Sharon Van Etten?

You want comparisons, reference points? OK.

  • ANY FEMALE ARTIST WHO IS CONSIDERED VAGUELY LEFT-FIELD AND PLAYS GUITAR BECAUSE GOD KNOWS THERE ARE ONLY TWO OF THEM

————————

I remember encountering this song a few years ago, and it scaring the shit out of me.

———————–
This is the music I used to watch, age 20.

How NOT to write about music – 58. Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson Billie Jean

So I wouldn’t say I’m a fan right but you can’t really imagine modern day pop without him right, and you can’t just wipe out the music from millions of people’s lives just because a couple of people make outrageous claims can you, I mean they’re obviously in it for the money anyway aren’t they, and they’ve already been proven to be lying, and I wouldn’t say I condone sexual abuse but didn’t Michael suffer some pretty horrific abuse himself in the past not that that condones it of course, no way, but I’m just saying, cos that would help explain some of it if it was true which it isn’t, and anyway haven’t all his relatives and female friends come out and said they still support him, and his real fans true, not the ones who never really cared all along, and it’s low isn’t it, bringing all this stuff up when he’s dead when he can’t defend himself, and I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of pedophiles either but really you just have to look at the facts don’t you, cos facts don’t lie, people do and I’m a fan of facts, and the facts state that there’s no way Michael is guilty of any of the stuff he’s been accused of cos basically all it comes down to in the end is whether you believe a couple of discredited lying fans or not, a bit like the way Donald Trump keeps getting accused of stuff but obviously he hasn’t done any of it because if he had he wouldn’t still be President would he, and going back to the argument facts don’t lie people do, that’s a really strong argument isn’t it, and we all know Michael was a little strange, that was part of his genius wasn’t it, but he had already told us he shared beds with young boys and we accepted it then so why would we change our minds now especially when it’s not based on facts just testimony and personal experience and years of painstaking research and trauma, er, and anyway you can’t just not listen to someone just cos he’s had groundless unproven accusations made about him, that’s not fair or right, and if it was true don’t you think it would all have been said years ago, and there’s no way we would be calling him the King of Pop even now, and I wouldn’t say I’m a fan but you can’t deny his talent, that’s a FACT and FACTS don’t lie, and no of course I didn’t watch that documentary why would I have watched the documentary I already knew it wasn’t true, and as Michael once said “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, then make that change”, that’s what we should all do, so I wouldn’t say I’m a fan right but you can’t really imagine modern day pop without him right, and you can’t just wipe out the music from millions of people’s lives just because a couple of people make outrageous claims can you, I mean they’re obviously in it for the money anyway aren’t they, and they’ve already been proven to be lying, and I wouldn’t say I condone sexual abuse but didn’t Michael suffer some pretty horrific abuse himself in the past not that that condones it of course, no way, but I’m just saying, cos that would help explain some of it if it was true which it isn’t, and anyway haven’t all his relatives and female friends come out and said they still support him, and his real fans true, not the ones who never really cared all along, and it’s low isn’t it, bringing all this stuff up when he’s dead when he can’t defend himself, and I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of pedophiles either but really you just have to look at the facts don’t you, cos facts don’t lie, people do and I’m a fan of facts, and the facts state that there’s no way Michael is guilty of any of the stuff he’s been accused of cos basically all it comes down to in the end is whether you believe a couple of discredited lying fans or not, a bit like the way Donald Trump keeps getting accused of stuff but obviously he hasn’t done any of it because if he had he wouldn’t still be President would he, and going back to the argument facts don’t lie people do, that’s a really strong argument isn’t it, and we all know Michael was a little strange, that was part of his genius wasn’t it, but he had already told us he shared beds with young boys and we accepted it then so why would we change our minds now especially when it’s not based on facts just testimony and personal experience and years of painstaking research and trauma, er, and anyway you can’t just not listen to someone just cos he’s had groundless unproven accusations made about him, that’s not fair or right, and if it was true don’t you think it would all have been said years ago, and there’s no way we would be calling him the King of Pop even now, and I wouldn’t say I’m a fan but you can’t deny his talent, that’s a FACT and FACTS don’t lie, and no of course I didn’t watch that documentary why would I have watched the documentary I already knew it wasn’t true, and as Michael once said “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, then make that change”, that’s what we should all do.

How NOT to write about music – 57. Sleaford Mods

Sleaford ModsDon’t need to describe this, surely. Fucken blast of fucken fresh air on a delayed 7.15 back home from Guildford, shit cycle ride home.

The YouTube comments have it:

  • The accumulation of torment for those that refuse to capitalise solely through mediocre channels and as a result are ejected back onto the concrete.
  • “You’ve had a record deal for nearly 30 years what do you know about, agencies, looking for jobs, shit wages” This has to be the best line in the song!
  • It’s like Underworld and John Cooper Clarke has a kid
  • It was a pleasure taking part, and to top it off it’s one of the best from the mods to date. You should be able to spot me, I’m the 50 + bald bloke………….oh wait, I didn’t think that through
  • Mixed with a solid beat it just fucking works.
  • To quote some unknown guy, hearing a new Sleaford Mods song is like having your first beer after lobotomy
  • “Kebab Spider” debuted at #27 on the New Alternative 40 Chart this week!
  • This is just like the Dr Martin’s boots song from the young one
  • Why are they chanting Steven Moss at the very end?
  • “You’re just saying it all to look good” That reverberates on so many levels these days…
  • Reminds me of Mondays wfl video class
  • The new year can finally get underway.
  • Не думал, что их в России слушают-) Привет Сибири из Лондона, от рожденного на Урале-)
  • Excellent anyway but magnificent for the Belle Stars reference

How NOT to write about music – 56. MXMJoY

mxmjoy

You may know them better as Maximum Joy, cult funk/post-punk band from Bristol from the early 1980s – peers and equals of Rip, Rig And Panic and Pigbag, born from the ashes of two extraordinarily powerful Bristol collectives, The Pop Group and The Gl*xo Babies, and to my way of hearing the equals of even the mighty post-Slits collective New Age Steppers.

Bam! There is a whole raft of references, a whole slew of treasure trails for you to up and follow if so minded. It’s only you yourself who will be missing out if you don’t, you fuck-witted incipient lapdog, so really it’s down to you.

God, I so loved all this fluid, elastic, edgy, funktastic, dub-wise, attitude-laden, inherently political, jazz-flecked, disco-pulsing music back then – and I still do now. We can trace paths from it, through the work of (early collaborator) Neneh Cherry and the nascent On-U Sound, through other Bristol collectives in the early 1990s, Soul II Soul, Bjork, Pylon etc, to much wider afield and back again, and still only touch the tip of a bewildering assortment of exotica, fluid dance movements, ever-changing patterns in the sand but… you know. Whatever. As I indicate, I AM A FAN of this sort of music – and none more so then the elusive Maximum Joy, who released one incredible 12″ – ‘Stretch’, LISTEN NOW – plus several other wonderful singles, one killer album (1982’s Station MXJY, on Slits label Y) and then in 1983 seemingly vanished, just when they were on the verge of totally overloading, if not the mainstream, then certainly every fucking white male boy-boy indie chart extant. Word.

So there is a reason for that. You need to read Charlotte Richardson Andrews’ fine words over at The Guardian to discover the next part of this story. 

I am not going to say any more. Not because I don’t want to, but because I really want you to read Charlotte’s article. Excellent writing, but also clearly a difficult piece to write – and full respect to both Charlotte and Maximum Joy/MXMJoY singer Janine Rainforth for making it happen.

Make your own mind up.

I love this shit, I adore it, revel and linger and lounge in it, the fluidity, the elastic pulsing disco base, the fragility and friendliness, the beauty, the beauty, the elongated stretching of vowels, the off-beat noises, the dub effects, the hope and hatred, the easy flow, the pacing, the way it reminds me of a time when I was furious and unskilled on the dance-floor but still inspirational trust me, the way it reminds of a time – perhaps tomorrow? – when I was hopeful and not too distrusting of the future, of broken promises and shattered dreams, of trauma and silence, reclaiming and moving forward; and the beauty, the beauty, the mellow incandescent beauty of it all. But fuck it. I ain’t going to say anything. Make your own mind up. Ignore me. I’m a tepid maelstrom. Make your own mistakes. Make your own allies.

Let’s not hesitate. Let’s always hesitate.