How NOT to write about music – 162. Slum Of Legs vs Porridge Radio

Brighton_Pier_at_dusk

Two bands have dominated my musical existence (community? taste? listening?) since my return from Brisbane five years ago. Both are from Brighton. Both have/are releasing albums (one their second, the other their debut) right now. One is going slightly above the parapet and is being written about in effusive fashion in a variety of places – Pitchfork, NME, The Quietus, the regulars. One isn’t – or not so much. Both should be everywhere, all the time. I do not love both bands equally because that would be insane, see patronising. Equal but differently.

I want to use this moment to record that my brain is currently imploding from the sheer musical wonderment of it all, especially as I got sent both albums the week I discovered the debut Roxy Music album 45 years on. I simply cannot process all this magik all at once. Give me space! Give me space. It is enough for me to know that others are taking note, others are feeling as enthused and confused and wired and charged as I have been by this splurge of music and awkwardness and humanity and passion over the last five years. This is music that is not just my heartland but that which defines me. I cannot imagine life without either, and it makes no sense to engage with…

When you’re sad, you’re invisible
A flicker at the edge of an eyeball
When you’re sad, you’re invisible
A flicker at the edge of the disco
At least we are not a painted
Macabre French
Sensation
Benetint & Malevolence 06:49

Collectively, I have written about the two bands on at least 20 occasions… and NONE of those for the mainstream (or even alternative mainstream) press… and yet I am not listening to either album from either band, just revelling in the knowledge they exist and they exist and they exist… this behaviour is similar to the way I way I reacted in the early 1980s when I never actually listened to the first two Birthday Party albums or UT on vinyl because I DID NOT NEED TO, I had the wonderful unpredictable charged unfocused focused live experiences to buoy me, to charge me, even (with Slum of Legs) if it’s been several years now.

My musical memories have never been at fault.
It’s just everything else.

GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY

My mum says that I look like a nervous wreck
Because I bite my nails right down to the flesh
And sometimes, I am just a child, writing letters to myself
Wishing out loud you were dead, and then taking it back
And I used to be ashamed until I learned I love the game
And I slowly move away from everything I knew about you
And my mum gave me this pen, she said it lights up when you press it
And you are still so depressed, and I like that you need me
You will like me when you meet me
You will like me when you meet me
You will like me when you meet me
You might even fall in love
Sweet 03:44

Members of both bands have given me support at crucial moments: and I want to thank them now because I know I ain’t always so good at communicating away from my Other Self.

GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY

Someone commented recently, “do you know how hard it is to keep the same group of six people together for five years?”

GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY

Now, I am cross with myself. How dare I devalue one band by mentioning the other? There are links: some obvious, some not: but that is not the point. Listen to this. Listen to this. I just want to say this to you.

I was thinking of a compromise
When I saw the beauty in your eyes
It heightened something in me so I’ll say so

Now I just want to say this to you
Listen to this, listen to this,
I want to say this to you
You never know, oh oh
(Here we go)
I love you, I love you
I love you, and it’s true and it’s true and it’s true

Listen to This – Dexys Midnight Runners

With its looming ferris wheel and wooden pier, Margolin notes that Coney Island loosely resembles Brighton, the college town on England’s south coast where she met her bandmates and formed Porridge Radio in 2015. What began as Margolin’s lo-fi solo project has evolved into a fierce wrecking crew fueled by unvarnished angst. On the group’s lurching new album, Every Bad—their first release for esteemed indie imprint Secretly Canadian—Margolin is a snarling antisocial who’s constantly at war with her body and mind.
(Pitchfork)

Since emerging with a three-song tape in 2013, Brighton’s Slum Of Legs have maintained the same six-strong lineup, and do you have any idea how hard that is? (In this specific instance, neither do I, but statistically speaking one expects a limb or two to drop off now and then.) Their self-titled debut album, on Nottingham/Bristol label Spurge, is their first release since 2015, but Slum Of Legs’ component parts circa singles ‘Doll Like’ and ‘Begin To Dissolve’ – Krauty/proggy discord, post punk jags, indie pop froth, feminist rhetoric equally exaltatory and condemnatory – remain in place on these ten numbers.
(The Quietus)

Somewhere, I think this fits. Awkwardly. Don’t force it.

They’re loud, they’re smart and they want us to be better people. Porridge Radio are about to conquer the planet with their breakthrough album ‘Every Bad’, a record of art-rock mantras that betrays their towering ambition and cocksure spirit. Matthew Neale talks to singer Dana Margolin about being hailed by Nirvana’s best mate, the dread of being branded a political band and why it’s important to make a difference.
(NME)

 

How NOT to write about music – 28. Noah Cyrus, MØ

Noah Cyrus

An anthem for our times. Thank you to Ringo for sharing.

I posted:

So, to summarise:

Brexit is fucked.
The government’s fucked.
We’re all fucked.

And he posted:

Damn straight.

That’s it. Show over. Nothing else to see here. Yes, she’s Miley’s sister. Yes, she is in the English version of one of the coolest kids’ movies of the last 10 years (Ponyo). Get over it. Just listen to the damn music.

As she told the NME:

Was there a particular event, or moment in your life, that triggered you to write this song?

I’ve experienced cyberbullying my entire life, due to just having a last name that people knew. I think it had to do with me mainly. I would have been 12 when I started on Instagram, and then people were just so terrible and there was just so much cyberbullying going on. The words that they thought were OK to say to a twelve-year-old girl made me think ‘OK, this is alarming’.

At the time, I thought that all my validation comes from social media. As a twelve-year-old girl, I thought that I was only pretty if the people on social media told me that I was pretty – and they weren’t telling me I was pretty. So I didn’t think I was pretty and I was really down on myself and I really was sad with myself. But social media doesn’t give you validation or make you pretty. You make you pretty. You can look like you and be pretty and you can dress like you and be pretty. If you have the same style as the girls on Instagram, cool! But as long as you know in your heart that you are you and that you don’t have to look like anybody else.

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ADDENDA: Not sure why, but it reminds me of this:

How NOT to write about music – 18. Let’s Eat Grandma

Let's Eat Grandma

The name is a punctuation joke.

Immediately I find myself drawn towards this pair of transgressive teenagers. Their name is a punctuation joke: I don’t know why, but this one simple reveal tells me more about their potential of their music than any number of flowery lines detailing how novel and stand alone their kaleidoscopic pop is. And there sure have been plenty of flowery lines detailing how novel and unique the Norwich pair’s second album is.

“[Their] bold, tender music at once captures teenage girlhood and transcends it entirely. I can’t imagine what they’ll do next.” (Pitchfork)

“Still deliciously bratty of voice, LEG writhe from pouty indignation to rapturous fantasy as they reclaim pink and power in the most visceral four minutes of pop this year.” (The Guardian)

I wonder how many of these writers are the same age as Let’s Eat Grandma? (Yes, I do believe it to be relevant.) At least many of them are the same gender.

Unique? Novel? Really?

Within seconds of listening to the luscious ‘Hot Pink’, I’m reminded of Gothic Americana popsters, the sisters CocoRosie, with a much more immersive understanding of EDM. I am not trying to pull Let’s Eat Grandma down by making this observation (also, this is superficial, based around a certain Helium trill in the intertwined voices and love for esoteric slightly jarring sound) – just pointing out the danger of calling something like “nothing else in pop right now” (thank you Pitchfork) when a statement like that is more revealing of the writer’s own lack of immersion than the music itself. Indeed, the description Pitchfork applied to Let’s Eat Grandma’s debut album could so easily be applied to Cocorosie’s early work, “If anything, I, Gemini’s everything-at-once psychedelia spoke directly to the feeling of being a young teenager—a kaleidoscope of unknowns, as terrifying as it is cool.”

That’s not to say it’s not a great line. It is. It’s a great line, especially the phrase “a kaleidoscope of unknowns”. It makes me want to listen, for sure. (And isn’t that one of the primary functions of music criticism?) Better than the NME’s “This is a thrilling, fascinating album that continually startles: it’s a bold step forward and one that feels like a glimpse into the future” – a line which frankly could have (and probably has) been written about any one of 10, 000 other albums, from Paul McCartney’s Back To The Egg to Britney Spears’ latest to the debut from Coldplay.

Also, comparisons. So the fuck what?

I will forgive The Quietus their header of “Walton and Hollingworth’s second album is a richly chaotic collection of warped weirdo pop” but only because it is a header (notoriously difficult to get right), and skip straight to the part where the writer talks about how “‘Falling Into Me’ unpicks pop’s lining perfectly, with its broken, neon disco beat racing into a savage techno high that’s pierced by a recorder.” And everywhere, every review extant, there is the obligatory description of the 11-minute long ‘Donnie Darko’ as an “epic”. What else could it be? It is 11 minutes long.

Great song, though.

The Drowned In Sound review fails (mostly) by trying too hard to be Pitchfork, and it is difficult to get past the clanger of a misjudged opening line, I’m All Ears opens with ‘Whitewater’, a thunking great ice-bucket challenge of an instrumental that answers that age-old question: ‘what if the soundtrack to Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive had been written by Godspeed You! Black Emperor?'”

Yeah, right.

Stereogum go on and on so much about how the discussion around Let’s Eat Grandma was framed almost entirely around the phrase “but they’re kids!” it makes the reader wonder whether the writer is resentful that these “kids” have moved on. (Damn, do Stereogum need a decent editor.) Also, the comparison to Lorde (as another high profile former “kid”, presumably?) is surface-level to say the least.

Rolling Stone call Let’s Eat Grandma’s second album “a balancing act of modern bubblegum synth-pop with rangy indie-rock restlessness” but you would expect them to say that, wouldn’t you? Speaking of which, much of I’m All Ears (e.g. ‘I Will be Waiting’) is not any more musically adventurous than Wolf Alice (say) – not an insult per se (I really could not give a crap about perceived innovation), just an observation.

Man alive though, that closing line! “The future, after all, belongs to the young.” Oh my fucking God.

There is a Needle Drop review, but I can’t be arsed with that.

Two nights ago, Q Magazine awarded I’m All Ears the heady title of Album Of The Year, and good on them for that. So pleased to see the magazine stepping away from countless years of Paul Weller Lifetime Achievement Awards and Gallagher brothers covers.

weller

Oops.