10 Least Read Entries on How NOT To Write About Music (February 2020)

Vira Talisa Dharmawan

These are all drawn from the last six months on this blog, five from the last two months.

Sigh.

1 (-) How NOT to write about music – 147. Vira Talisa Dharmawan
I have had cause to comment on my delight on the way YouTube algorithms can work in my favour, but man. This is a delight. Laid back Indonesian pop with a slight jazz inflection that goes for a walk on the beach and turns its shoulder just when you think you might say hello.

2 (-) How NOT to write about music – 105. Georgia
This is boss. This is banging. This is heavy metal. This is my frontal ear lobe, distorted out of shape by the sullen repetitive beats. This is Cristina. This is a (train) ride to nowhere. This is one too many late nights out spent shimmering in a dislocated spotlight, propped up by the bravado brought on by too much alcohol. This is knowledge. This is fantasy.

3 (-) How NOT to write about music – 115. Sarah Blasko
Gorgeous space. Gorgeous voice, too. Here, have a taste.

4 (-) How NOT to write about music – 117. Remember Sports
This makes me want to trace elephants, tumble down the aisle with a ring of commuters holding my hands, cartwheel across infinity and scream into the silence. This music makes me miss whole forbidden areas of Australia. This makes me to dance the street, chant the underground, race the fading taillights.

5 (-) How NOT to write about music – 154. Bloods
Just glorious rock’n’roll like I believed it should always be played… by females (and the occasional man). Just glorious, straight up.

6 (-) How NOT to write about music – 120. Victoria Monét
Everyone saying its a low budget video but their clothes probably cost more than my house

7 (-) How NOT to write about music – 136. Kim Petras
A good song is a good song; if you give me a couple minutes more I could nail the songs below remind me of; maybe it could be a capsule game for you instead – write in and join the community!; any problem I have with the idea of power ballads and soft rock long since evaporated and I feel all the happier for this

8 (-) How NOT to write about music – 148. Tom Waits
Not so much a blog entry, more a game of Spot the Connection.

9 (-) How NOT to write about music – 123. Låpsley & DJ Koze
Lifted out of my Great Pop Mixtape November 2019 for a little more emphasis, a little more oomph, a little less conversation a little more action on this cold wet miserable grey cold (have I mentioned the temperature yet?) Tuesday lunchtime.

10 (-) How NOT to write about music – 151. U.S. Girls
There is a sense of urgency, isolation, regret, no release, a late Seventies shuffle, honey-sweet vocals all the more disturbing for their honey-sweetness, a sax solo at the close.

How NOT to write about music – 151. U.S. Girls

U.S. Girls - Overtime

ADDENDA 02/03/20
This is the song I should have linked to. Tip of the ET fedora to Stephen Sweet.

Every time a friends alert me to the fact there is a new U.S. Girls track, I put a placeholder on my blog – a must write about the new U.S. Girls track reminder.

For example:

Acid-tinged 60s Motown female empowerment bedroom isolation

The Guardian has compared her to “classic 60s girl group and disco-era Blondie” but that is so simultaneously true and not-true it makes my head spin.

what she said ; 20 songs to deny Donald Trump (and Bob Dylan)

And so forth.

I do not know why I do this.

Increasingly, it occurs to me that I have nothing to add to the dialogue around Meg Remy except adoration… that is too strong a word… approval. Intoxication. Fascination. A desire not to move too close lest I dispel the magic. Every time I encounter a new song from the self-propelled U.S. Girls it occurs that where once I may have helped lead now I merely follow, repeat sentiments and moods that others have already, often more commandingly, expressed before me. I am no longer (rarely) a producer, but a produser. Maybe this is not a reflection on me so much as a reflection on the state of flux facing people using the channels and mediums around me. I can comment on the sound –  there is a sense of urgency, isolation, regret, no release, a late Seventies shuffle, honey-sweet vocals all the more disturbing for their honey-sweetness, a sax solo at the close – but where does that take me (and you)?

Nowhere.

As The Guardian puts it:

To listeners outside the Toronto indie underground, Meg Remy’s brilliant 2018 album, In a Poem Unlimited, came as a revelation. To be fair, its pointed glam strut, an upgrade of her DIY aesthetic, was probably a surprise to her OG fans too. She pulls a similar trick with the first single from her forthcoming record, this time literally reinventing a 2013 US Girls track – giving what was queasy and chaotic a vamping, hall-of-mirrors makeover fit for Jenny Lewis (with a bracing solo from E Street Band saxophonist Jake Clemons). Similar subject matter to Lewis’s 2019 album, too, as Remy discovers that a former partner was drinking themselves to death on the sly.

This tells you more, using less words. (The Pitchfork review tells you less, using more words.)

We all have our crosses.

Every time I see your grave
I can’t help but think
How I didn’t know
That you only drank
The overtime

How NOT to write about music – 39. U.S. Girls

us-girls-in-a-poem-unlimited

I cannot get a fix on the following, it has disorientated me.

The descending cadences, 2018’s fondness for squeaky-high voices, the proliferation of words and its latent underlying anger… if I wish to show my age, I could say it reminds me of this. You may care to disagree with me. You may decide the fluid elasticity and spiraling afterthoughts do not match, although you could hardly deny the left-leaning focus. We are all born in flames (not true) but some of us grow up screaming, some shouting, some dancing… and some just do not fit in. To this day I have no idea what Meghan Remy looks like, and to this day I have no desire to break the taboo. Her music is about rhythmical intricacy and the splendour of isolation and collaboration, and I see no reason to fuck with that. She is like a grown-up MGMT but I do not mean that in a negative way, quite the opposite.

One publication titled a profile on U.S. Girls as The Entire History of Female Pop Music in One Woman I consider that signposting reductionist and patronising (would anyone term a similar male profile that way?) and untrue, so much so that I cannot be bothered to provide a link. (She also gets called eccentric – wow! – and compared to David Lynch if he was Madonna, which is fucking stupid.) Her music is prog, ain’t it? I have never had the same problem with female prog as I did with male prog. Gender does matter.

I am late to the protest. The Guardian has compared her to “classic 60s girl group and disco-era Blondie” but that is so simultaneously true and not-true it makes my head spin.

For a start it makes U.S. Girls sound incredibly accessible. U.S Girls are so NOT incredibly accessible.

In the same way Animal Collective once sounded like the “skipping-CD Beach Boys” – like someone spilled some coffee on a CD of The Beach Boys’ greatest hits and so every time it was played it again it was doomed to repeat the one cracked and warped loop, so U.S. Girls are to the above-mentioned. Or something. Your call. I couldn’t give a fuck. As I say, I am late to this party. I like the way she sticks one finger up to authority, pisses on male uselessness.

YouTube recommends Billy Corgan, The Doors,  Garbage, The Temper Trap, Maroon 5 for me. I find this odd. YouTube does not recommend U.S. Girls for me. I find this odd, also.