How NOT to write about music – 85. Asea Sool

Asea Sool

I know full well that NO ONE is going to click onto this blog entry – if it ain’t Bruce Springsteen or Joy Division, it ain’t worth a damn – so I thought I would take the opportunity to reprint a thoroughly under-researched article I wrote a few months ago for a French print fanzine.

Oh, wait. First, the music. I do not deny I do not know even the first thing about Asea Sool, even who recommended the band to me. I just know what I love, and I fucking love  this. “British rock’n’roll, US delta blues, French chansons and Georgian folk,” they reckon – and that sounds about right. This music has got this otherness that is so hard to fake (very nice scream, too) – sure, I can hear elements of British and American rock and pop music in this duo’s other songs, but to me that is the least interesting aspect of their sometimes unhinged, often contrary sound. And that is why this next song is my favourite. That, and its untrammeled infectious energy…

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Five songs sung in French that I like, by Everett True

I do not claim these songs to be the greatest.

I do not claim these songs to be representative of my favourite songs sung in French (surely, I would bring in more music from the 1950s and 1960s for that?).

I do not claim these songs to be representative of my taste, in general.

I do not think these songs fill a void.

These songs are simply representative of a desire to turn around some written copy for a friend and knowing that I could never properly research a request like “name my favourite five songs sung in French” (the field is too vast, and my knowledge too limited) I figured it might be better to play to the galleries once more and name a handful of songs that are no so well-known. Except, perhaps they are in this context? Who knows.

THE LIST

  • Michel Polnareff – Love Me Please Love Me
    There is so much that exists within the canon of pop music that I cannot even begin to dream of. There is so much to dream of.
  • Elli et Jacno – Main Dans La Main
    I’m sure it says reams about my age and the year this particular video and song were made, but I find both the song and the way the woman dances oddly alluring. And when I say alluring I mean sexy. Clearly, this is how sex – back when I was a 19-year-old virgin – was defined for me: a tight shiny skirt and a disinterested woman dancing in a way that may or may not be construed as provocative, but she doesn’t care either way, and haircuts that belonged to Moonlighting or somewhere. Noah Taylor shades on the dude. And a clear Serge Gainsbourg influence (not that I would have known that at the time). I guess that’s what happens when you spend your late teens reading superhero comic books. Sigh. As the comment beneath the video on YouTube states, “Every fine woman should also have a rectangular sheet of paper to dance on”.
  • Alizée – J’en Ai Marre (Tubes D’un Jour)
    When the French do pop music, the French really do pop music. Ravishing, in a way the Pet Shop Boys often were. I was infatuated with this song in a way not seen since the heady days of ‘Bonnie And Clyde’ (which is not sung in French, hence disqualified). P.S. the first comment underneath the YouTube video made me giggle uncontrollably for 20 seconds.

Short aside here, but did Nina Simone ever sing anything in French? I know she did. I’d have Karaocake in this list except she sings in English. And I’d have Ruth in here except this list has been limited to a ridiculously short number. Can we include Pascal Comelade’s ukulele-and-balloon instrumental version of ‘I Can’t Control Myself’? Not sung in French but not sung in English either. At the very least, please can we mention his early band, the Young Marble Giants-influenced Fall Of Saigon?
Please?

  • The Wendy Darlings – Elucubrations
    The Wendy Darlings understand – probably not by design, certainly not by committee – what once made Ramones, Comet Gain, Heavenly, Lesley Gore, Shonen Knife, Prolapse, Ramones, Pastels, Skeeter Davis, Buy Off The Bar, Pounding Serfs, Camera Obscura, Concretes, School, Loves, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Huggy Bear, Lulu, Pee Chees, Orange Juice, Ramones, Michel Polnareff, Kenickie, Undertones, Les Calamities, Television Personalities… so great. That petulant glee. That grandstanding twenty-something (thirty-something, forty-something…) refusal to face up to the facts and get on with life, the bounce behind the casually thrown away yeah yeah yeah’s, the laconic grace behind hitting the drums stand-up, the irresistible slide into bratty nostalgia, that schoolyard stomp and schoolyard blam, the ringing jangling guitars, the Phil Spector drums, the boy-girl boy call siren, the laughter, the ennui that exists behind every kid-less Sunday, the late rising, the turbulence, the joy of discovery and rediscovery and discovery, eyes still wide open even though the world keeps telling you to close them, close them tight shut, the voice of adulthood vainly trying to admonish but totally ignored, Brighton beach in the early hours of the morning, racing around Olympia throwing snowballs at fire hydrants, the falling apart and laughing…
  • Sugar & Tiger – Henri /Noël Christmas
    I’m a sucker for a certain type of continental power pop. Full throttle. A little bit Chin Chin, a little bit Die Toten Hosen, a little bit Elli et Jacno. Rama lama. Solid. A beating heart. Songs start, continue, end. Listener left with MASSIVE GRIN on his face. Typing CAPITAL LETTERS.

The purest encapsulation of everything I LOVE about pop music RIGHT HERE. God, I want to see all these artists and performers play live SO MUCH.

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Here is some Asea Sool again. I was going to throw in a compendium of comments left on my ‘Ed Sheeran Is Shit’ YouTube video but then realised no one would see them.

And here. Have a little bonus Crayola Lectern as well.

This post has something for everyone, except Bruce Springsteen fans. It’s a right fucking shame no one is going to click on it.

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How NOT to write about music – 78. Bruce Springsteen

Western Stars

I decided to review the new Bruce Springsteen album in the style of a white male mainstream music critic reviewing the new Madonna album.

REVIEW STARTS
We all get old, but never at the same age. Unless you are talking physical condition, but let’s pretend we’re not for the sake of some dreary argument. Some of us are old when we start writing about music, always harking back to a past when there was no confusion over gender because only one gender was allowed, back to the days when good music was popular and popular music was good and there was none of this annoying pop shit, others leave uni with the thrill that they need never pretend to like anything released after 1981 again, others are female so they automatically qualify as old soon as they hit 40 – 45, tops. Most of us think we’re doing pretty well, then we find ourselves nodding appreciatively at something in the Coldplay catalogue and suddenly death is real.

For years, Springsteen outpaced all of this. In 1980, The River looked like ushering in his middle age, but he did a surprise about turn, delivering blue collar rock on Tunnel of Love (1987). Wrecking Ball (2012) was even better, its Abba samples and smooth deep house [Are you sure about this? – Ed] a way for him to stay out past midnight with dignity, rather than trying to score gin and juice off twenty-something rock bands at after-show parties, musically speaking.

But he couldn’t run forever, despite his claims otherwise. Perhaps it began pre-The River when he nicked John Steinbeck’s entire oeuvre so he could parasitically extract his youth and stay young forever. Not to go on about his age, you understand. Certainly by 2008, Springsteen was playing catch-up with the new breed of blue collar rockers (Mumford & Sons, Timbaland), spurring Foo Fighters on to some of their weakest work ever, a good 50 years after their pomp.

Springsteen doesn’t try to sell himself as a sex symbol by gyrating on stage in skimpy clothes, tongue flapping around the place like a Vegas stripper, while trying to sing songs that clearly imitate the latest trends in shite pop music. Not like some people we know. Oh no. That’s not for Springsteen (let’s call him Bruce). Bruce sells himself as a sex symbol by gasping into tight jeans and sweat-patched white T–shirts, flexing his biceps, guitar flapping all over the place like Donald Trump faced with a bevy of Royal asses to lick, while trying to sing songs that imitate the latest trends in shit rock music.

To his credit, Bruce has not done what many in his position would do: lick his wounds and continue touring the world endlessly. [Some mistake surely – Ed] With Western Stars, Bruce Springsteen instead licks his wounds, grits his teeth, flexes his biceps – which surely belong to a man of 50 rather than the 70 he actually is – finds a brand new tight white T to wear, breaks open a fresh six-pack and goes out riding with the lads down to the liquor store. He’s 70, and boy, I would. Wouldn’t you?

He looks in the mirror with some seriously reduced eyesight (I mean, he’s 70, right: so no disrespect) and says: “Bitch, I’m Bruce Springsteen.” And by drawing on the blue collar influence of his fake upbringing he has once again produced his most natural-feeling, progressive and original record since whenever the last one was.

Buck up Bronco, the cover seems to be saying. Ride ’em home cowboy. Yee-hah.

Seventy years old and he doesn’t look a day over 65.

Note for the tourists: the title of this blog IS How NOT to write about music. Do not write about music this way. You will never get paid work again.

Related posts: Run, Bruce, Run!