Sixty for 60: 1. Yard Act

I like receiving presents. Who doesn’t? To celebrate my 60th birthday, I thought I would ask my Facebook clan to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I now qualify for a free bus pass to be used anywhere within West Sussex (and possibly further abroad, although this hypothesis has yet to be tested). Enough folk came forward for this to make a reasonable idea for a blog series. One proviso: I am not going to be discussing or sharing music that does not connect with me on some level.

First up, we have a recommendation from Christopher Bartley: ‘Dark Days’ by Yard Act.

Clearly, I am out of practice with this music criticism/music curation stuff – I forgot to ask everyone to supply a sentence or two detailing the reasons for their choice, which I could then have lifted and used here, to riff off and make myself seem far more in tune than I am. Oh well.

My extensive research throws up one fact: Yard Act are a band from Leeds. Nice. I like bands from Leeds, indeed I used to be in a band myself with the singer from one such notable act (The Mekons). Feels like Yard Act may have been influenced by the success of recent groups such as Fontaines DC, Idles, Sleaford Mods – also, of course, hip-hop, grime and so forth. I have long contended that spoken word – shouted, with a wash of noise in the background – is the most direct way to communicate: obliterates the need for fluency or musical literacy, for one. Not that I’m saying Yard Act aren’t literate (they clearly are). Anyway, it feels like we’re off to a great start with this Sixty for 60 series, because I love the acerbic, spiteful, politically charged No Wave chug of Yard Act. A real sense of The Velvet Underground, too. Can totally picture myself yelling this in my sleep as I inexorably head towards Prince Phillip territory. Anyone else notice how he looked like the inside of Rupert Murdoch in those final photographs before his death?

Catchy as all fuck.

Here are some sample lyrics.

But if looks could kill, 
My vacant gaze wouldn’t even pierce the skin
I’m not lazy, ambition is just something I have no interest in
At least when I meet my maker, I’ll embrace my mistakes
As I descend to the bowels of hell with a shit eating grin on my face

How NOT to write about music in the time of Coronavirus – 3. Idles

idles mr motivator

This is brilliant.

I have no words, no energy left to explain this. It takes two hours to type out two sentences of music criticism these days, in between the student trauma and the home schooling and the walks to nowhere and the unforgiving Zoom meetings. I leave my video camera and mic on constantly now, might as well document this decay. I leave  the porchlight shining, the music muted, the intolerance of tolerance at an all-time low.

This is brilliant. It reminds me of way underrated lower-case Welsh band mclusky, and some fucking righteous shit I’d have been sweating out my sexual frustration to during the early 1980s – The Cravats or Membranes, say. I don’t know. Give me your own examples. It makes me wish I wasn’t reduced to this quivering mass of overheated blubber every hot spring evening. It makes me wish I too had grabbed the mic and made the floorboards shake with the sound of stamping feet. I had no idea Idles sounded like this, no idea whatsoever. Do they? Do they really? I mean, WHAT THE FUCK?

This is brilliant. The lyrics are as smart as the video as are smart as the music is as smart as the repetition is as smart as the sardonic vocals is as smart as the call-to-arms. I too want to dance round my suburban blue rinse hours like a twat for hours on end to IDLES to IDLEs to IDLES to IDLES. How d’you like them clichés? Reality is, of course: I can manage about two minutes before I collapse in a blubbered heap of indifference and fatigue, fatigue that begins and ends nowhere. My god, this is brilliant. Please. Don’t even get me started on the video. Too much personal ecstasy to bear. So many moments.

God damn, this is brilliant. This is Tropical Fuck Storm great.

Like Kathleen Hannah with bear claws grabbing Trump by the pussy
Like Delia Smith after ten Chardonnays baking me a nice cookie
How d’you like them clichés?

Let’s seize the day
All hold hands
Chase the pricks away