Sixty for 60: 29. The Nature Centre

First, we’re going to start with a Joni Mitchell song that – unexpectedly (see posts passim) – I like.

I think it’s the tonality of the background noise, and the way those drums remind me of ‘Flowers of Romance’ (PiL). Anyway, bear with me. Please. Clearly, I am not what I used to be. Right now, I want to listen to the whole damn song and this is impeding my business of getting on with writing about the name on the card in front of me. Damn it. So fine. This song would have merited a Plan B Magazine cover in and of itself. Yep.

OK. It’s stopped now. Next, we’re going to give ourselves (who am I kidding? There is only one of me here in my world)… myself a pat on the back. We… sorry, I played Wet Leg to Isaac last night and he agreed he was falling for its laconic charm. Mind you, he might have been humouring his ancient dad, or just impressed that I was referencing something post-1982.

OK. Calm down. I’m not used to this writing business. Can you tell? I am ridding myself of the flotsam and detritus before I get onto the name on the card and… if you aspiring young music critics want a single piece of advice here (who am I kidding? There is no one reading this blog entry except for the band themselves and me, for the fifth time) THEN IT IS THIS. Do not include the background context at the start of your review/article/blog entry/ reheated Microwave dinner. It detracts, slows everything down, makes the remainder a slug.

I mean, slog.

I mean, shrug.

Here is what a member of the Nature Centre wrote to me the other day: I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the Sarah Brand song. Hate to generalise, but I would bet a lung that many of those who are angry that she sounds ‘bad’ and doesn’t fit neat genre boundaries are the same people who proudly proclaim their love of ‘proper’ and ‘authentic’ music. I think she has an incredible voice, like a young Kate Bush turning cartwheels or, yeah, Joni on The Jungle Line.

You see now? How it all links?

Yeah, me neither.

I am a supporter of “unusual and non-alpha-male music” apparently, which to The Nature Centre is a juicy T-bone. The sun is now shining on my computer screen at that particular angle which means I cannot see past the numerous particles of dust residing on my screen and certainly cannot see a single wotrkgfng thatsw tfjt/

They’ve sent me an EPK, but frankly I have had it up to here with acronyms. Please don’t sack me from my day job.

My good pal and mentor Crayola Lectern says this: “The Nature Centre are the latest wonders to back up my theory of there being something special in the water over there in Birmingham, from whose taps the likes of E.L.O., Black Sabbath, Broadcast and Pram also drank.” He mentions Pram, which means I must mention Neil Kulkarni in turn. Damn sun, can;’t sewefsdfsaffdgbfgbd

Chris, for Gosh’s sake can we not mention fellow Brummies the psychedelic eight-piece splendour of Misty’s Big Adventure here?

More from the dust particles: “I would jump out of planes for you,” sings Hopkins, as her character stares wistfully at incoming airport traffic. Then, as chimes and clarinet signal the song’s second act, we witness the magical outcome of her obsession – Betty herself has transformed into a plane.”

Did any of that make sense? I still have no way of knowing.

This song ‘Parachute’ (oh, I am so glad the one solitary band-member and Chris have had the patience to stick with me thus far and thus encounter the denouement) (do I mean denouement?) (I really am not what I once wasfdgsfsadfasas))… seems to have turned into The Rolling Stones. Oops. Wait. Sorry.

This song ‘Parachute’ is better than three of your myriad ninja turtles boiled together in a soup tureen of purple psychedelic gloop and a fuck of a lot catchier too. No, wait. Surely I can do better than that? WHERE IS THE QUOTE FOR THE BATTLEMENTS? i CANNOT COMMENT on the video because I cannot see the fucking video so let’s just leave the video out for it but right now The Native Centre mix elements of Jane And Barton, one of those weird female English pastoral groups Mike Alway loved to indulge, Miranda Sex Garden, a pinch of something oblique and unsettling (The Red Army Choir singing ‘Sex Bomb’) and whole oodles of strangeness, otherness, togetherness, mischief, fun, moments in sound, oscillating otters, feral ferrets and likewise, bit of the under-garments from Vivan Stanshall and…

Yeah, pre-1982 only. Correct, Isaac.

CAN SOMEONE EDIT THIS? PLEASE? I like this a whole load more than I like the smug expression on your fucking face, that’s for sure. Some of us are still trying.

Sixty for 60: 26. Wet Leg

The more refined among you may remember I started this series back in April, with the very noble intention of creating a birthday present for myself – 60 musical recommendations from online friends to mark the fact I had just turned 60 years of age. It come as no surprise to me that I find myself unable to stick to the brief – me, who used to turn around four album reviews in an hour for Melody Maker, and who once ran a series called “the one-minute review” on my Brisbane-based website Collapse Board, asking “Why spend longer writing than someone will spend reading your words?” Why indeed? (That series lost me at least one good friend. She objected to my dismissive language.)

So now we are several months on and not even halfway through. My 16-year-old son Isaac has a pro Spotify subscription; through it, he listens to the music of his choice (strange dark East European gothwave that to folk my age sounds uncannily like suburban UK music from the early 80s, and a smattering of Riot Grrrl) and music that is recommended to him by the algorithms. This is not weird to him; indeed, it is part of what he pays (or rather, I pay) his subscription for – recommendations. This was a function previously filled by music critics, of course – but when the gates are automated, there is no need for gatekeepers. When I was younger, a sure fire way to make me dislike a song was to recommend it with the following words, “I think you’ll really like this…” so heaven forbid I should go with those fucking algorithms but the past is a foreign country (as LP Hartley once wrote), they do things differently there.

Heaven forbid.

So this morning, trying to force myself to engage with the outside world and not just listen to a solid day of me singing at the piano (which is my standard musical fare), I finally succumbed. Every time I switch to YouTube to research another potential cover version or discover what Neil Kulkarni has been listening to, the video for Wet Leg’s ‘Chaise Lounge’ shows up at the top of my feed. I know nothing, NOTHING about Wet Leg except that the same fucking video keeps showing up in my repetitive Facebook feed… you know the one, the one where, no matter how many times you refresh the screen, the same impassioned diatribe from David Stubbs about some right-wing journalist you’ve never heard of shows up at the top of your feed. Yep, ‘Chaise Lounge’.

Not interested. Fuck off, corporate slave-bots.

Fuck off.

But I succumbed. I thought I’d give it a 10-second listen. Bugger it. Fuck it all to hell. I’ve played it three times already before breakfast, and want to discover more. No (he says, wrestling fiercely with his own sense of self-worth) I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR MORE. Bugger it all to hell. This is great. Deadpan and repetitive and obscure and smart and ticks all the boxes I love to have ticked in music: it builds and fades, it makes a big deal out of insignificant details, it reminds me of late 70s Ze Records, it has poise and fuck-you grace… goddamn it all.

Heaven forbid I should fall for this.

*Oh wait. I just did some 10-second research and have discovered that far from being some corporate-funded suck-ass rick kid duo from the Midwest of America, Wet Leg are from the Isle of Wight and are signed to Domino and this is their first and only video so far. Ah…. well, fucking cool! Great. I love the Isle of Wight – want to go there this summer with my kids again, see our great friend Bianca Kiddo Wheeler; and I have a real soft spot for Domino Recordings because of past shared history. They, the good guys.

Stella? Stella who?