Sixty for 60: 9. Chai

To celebrate my 60th birthday, I asked my social media friends to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I am 60.

Today, it’s the turn of Collapse Board mainstay (and way talented musician and writer) Brigette Adair Herron to make a suggestion – ‘Donuts Mind If I Doby Chai. Now, I do wonder whether there may be a touch of an in-joke about her suggestion (‘Do Nuts’ being the song that Julie Burchill is most famous for singing on stage with Pearl Jam); and it’s a fantabulous offering, for sure. Like J-Pop and PC Music reimagined by a group of somnambulant Sonic Boom fans, all straining, soothing, higher-than-the-sun vocals and trippy hazy instrumentation that would have gone down a storm in Brisbane 2015. Just mind-blowing: all of a happenstance, my slump week has sunlight turned on it and the dust particles in the air are dancing, butterfly dancing. And I see that my pals from across the water, agree:

Since breaking out in 2018, CHAI have been associated with explosive joy. At their live shows, the Japanese four-piece of identical twins MANA (lead vocals and keys) and KANA (guitar), drummer YUNA, and bassist-lyricist YUUKI have become known for buoyant displays of eclectic and clever songwriting, impressive musicianship, matching outfits, delightful choreography, and sheer relief. At the core of their music, CHAI have upheld a stated mission to deconstruct the standards of beauty and cuteness that can be so oppressive in Japan. (Sub Pop press release, 2020)

However. My blog, my rules. All due respect to the totally awesome Brigette, but that is not the song I wish to share with you today. Nah nah nah. It’s this one: spooky and sampled and disorientating, and full of borderline psychosis. Recalls John Steel Singers and anyone else ever fallen in love with Krautrock they shouldn’t’ve. Reminds me of… what was their name again…Teen. (Sorry, can’t find what I wrote on them for ref. You know how difficult is it to Google ‘Teen’?)

God, this is great, St Vincent great.

As they sing:

You know how I feel about make-up?
I feel like make-up has the ability to allow you to be who you want to be.
It’s that super awesome, sparkling kind of magic!
Yes you can paint over with it, even recreate with it but… doesn’t that make it just like decorations?
The same as a cake no?
Because, I’m the original!
There’s no reason to become someone else right?
My color is only for me to decide! “what’s attractive to us?”, is something CHAI will MAKE♡ and of course eat as much CAKE as possible!
It’s this type of song! Take a listen〜

Makes me wanna go out and hang and dance and whirl round, lost in intoxication, lost in the music.

How NOT to write about music – 22. (reprinted from 2015)


I don’t know why I continue this blog.

No one reads it. It frustrates me no one reads it because I think the way I write it is both entertaining and sufficiently different to the majority of music criticism out there to be of note, and (more importantly) most of the music featured is SO DAMN GOOD. My motivation has remained constant throughout the years. I started writing about music because it just wasn’t enough for me to listen to it, to be a passive consumer. I wanted to be part of it, give something back. I did this initially through dancing down the front, whether anyone else danced or not. I continued dancing for decades… even now, I will shuffle to the left, shuffle to the right, send my arms wheeling in semi-circles, if a band moves me sufficiently. It’s more fun experiencing live music that way, and serves as a necessary release. Back then, a lot of my energy came through sexual frustration, doubtless. Plus ça change.

I wanted to give something back. So I started writing about music, trying to convert everyone to my cause. Even early on – especially early on – I knew that was a futile quest, but that made it all the more fun. If I didn’t think I could change the world through my writing I wouldn’t be doing it, even now. Especially now. I want to communicate the emotion, the rampant emotions that lead me to dance. I want to make everyone else dance. I barely go out to concerts these days – perhaps one every couple of months – but that’s still the case. I still want to make everyone dance. I still want to change the world.

These years, I’m whistling in a wind tunnel, pissing in the billowing ocean.

My own music is so magical, different, unique. Know the last time I released a record, an MP3? Over a decade ago, easy. Pissing in the wind.

It’s a constant source of annoyance to me that if I write about anything from the 1990s, more people will click through. If I write about something that everyone else is writing about, more people will click through. (Surely, the opposite should hold true.) It’s like I’m not allowed to grow or discover, to change as a person, to be enthused by new music.

My audience is decayed and dying so I should be. Maybe I am and I don’t realise it? Of course I am. Maybe that’s the problem.

Here’s the new Song of the Day. It’s from an album I just spent a very enjoyable hour reviewing for Mess+Noise (the review should appear next week), even in the context of thoroughly knowing who Blank Realm are. It gives me release. It tallies with the whole dance scene thing. It’s grungy (with a small ‘g’) and woozy and boozed-up and wonderful. I am loving this song.

And no one will ever know, will they?