Archive for 2000s

Vicissitudes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 24 January 2010 by eT

Vicissitudes: plural noun changes of circumstances or fortune — ORIGIN Latin vicissitudo, from vicissim ‘by turns’.

When our tellies are six hours away
Please call to say that you miss me, feel me, or whatever
Vicissitudes are boxing our heads
Like they just want to emaciate them forever
Forever
Forever

– Of Montreal, ‘Suffer For Fashion’, 2007

‘Suffer For Fashion’ is the opening track from Athens, Georgia indie band Of Montreal‘s splendidly-named eighth album, Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? Setting the scene for its glammed-out album stablemates, ‘Suffer For Fashion’ echoes the artful stylings of Roxy Music and the inventive pop synth hooks of Devo at their best, although it must be admitted that the lyrics are a tad obtuse.  Sigrid Astrup‘s quirky stop-motion video is linked below, or you can take in a fan video from the front row of a San Antonio, Texas, gig in January 2007, assuming you can cope with a bit of raucous noise.

Realisation

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 4 September 2009 by eT

Realisation: noun The act of realising; an act of figuring out or becoming aware.

There’s a preacher out there warned me about Satan
Could be that he knows him
Cause’ he acts like he’s possessed
I said ‘Hey man let’s hear about God realisation for a change’
He said ‘We ain’t got time for that,
First you must hear the evils of fornication’

George Harrison, ‘Horse To The Water’

‘Horse To The Water’ was written by George Harrison and his son Dhani Harrison, and its recording in November 2001 with Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra was Harrison senior’s last recorded performance, because he died on the 29th of that month.  It’s quite fitting that Harrison’s last performance was on a quintessential ‘god song’ – it wouldn’t be a Harrison performance without a bit of spirituality thrown into the mix.

sam brown concert for george

Sam Brown - Concert for George

You can see Dhani strumming an acoustic guitar in the performance of the song in the Concert For George held at the Albert Hall in London on the first anniversary of his death, 29 November 2002.  Lead vocals were taken by Sam Brown, who sold millions of her debut album Stop! in 1988.  Her performance was a welcome burst of female exuberance in a rock setlist otherwise dominated by aging male contemporaries of George’s, even if they were often rock superstars such as McCartney, Starr and Clapton.  The saxophone solo is also particularly noteworthy for its dexterity and panache; I think it was by tenor saxophonist Tom Scott.

MySpace video: Sam Brown – Horse To The Water

Anomaly

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 30 June 2009 by eT

Anomaly: noun something that deviates from what is standard or normal.

She got to know his mind (x2)

Intimately

She was surprised to find (x2)

Something of an anomaly

(The Pipettes, ‘Dirty Mind’)

The Brighton girl-group The Pipettes, formed to tap into a modern fascination for Phil Spector-style pop, have had a core membership with about as many changes as the serially revolving door-style Sugababes.  But their debut album, 2006’s We Are The Pipettes, contains a batch of singles of particular interest to listeners with a penchant for quality pop.  On Dirty Mind, the girls lament a liaison with a fellow with a pretty face, but whose behaviour left a lot to be desired: ‘You see this perfect boy wasn’t quite so pristine / He had ideas that would make the devil scream’.  Carried off with the band’s characteristic whimsical humour, and benefitting from deftly interwoven female harmonies, Dirty Mind only reached number 63 in the UK charts when it was released in 2005, but it paved the way for two stronger performances in 2006, when Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me and Pull Shapes both entered the top 40.  Here they are in the official video, singing a bit and messing about with some balloons.

Talisman

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 25 June 2009 by eT

Talisman: noun an object thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck — ORIGIN Arabic, apparently from Greek telesma ‘completion, religious rite’.

You know this time’s for real
It helps the heart to heal
You know it breaks the seal of the talisman that harms
And so you look at me and need
The space that means as much to me

(Richard Hawley, ‘The Ocean’)

Sheffield singer Richard Hawley, formerly of Longpigs and Pulp, came to prominence in 2006 when his breakthrough album Coles Corner was nominated for the Mercury Prize.  His laconic and thoughtful songs display a rare maturity and gravity in a music market overcrowded with hype.  And it’s most likely he’s the coolest Sheffield Wednesday supporter in existence.

The Ocean is a sweeping ballad that’s probably best listened to in the context of the whole album rather than as a stand-alone snippet.  While the official video for the song can be found here, I think it portrays Hawley a bit out of context: rather cliched helicopter shots whilst standing atop rocky coastlines in the tradition of MOR ballads.  I actually prefer a much more basic clip taken in Barcelona on someone’s personal video camera, which works because it’s so simple – just five minutes of video taken late at night as a group of friends drive homewards after a night on the town.  It’s more genuine and succeeds because Hawley’s songs are in their element in the wee small hours, not in the bright glare of midday sunshine.

Kismet

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 17 June 2009 by eT

Kismet: noun destiny; fate  — ORIGIN Arabic, ‘division, portion, lot’.

B.A.B.Y. I love to call you baby

When we’re in the spaceship

I know it must be kismet

(The Brunettes, ‘Brunettes Against Bubblegum Youth (B.A.B.Y.)’)

Sure, the best-known use of the word ‘kismet’ in a pop song is Blondie’s ‘(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear‘ from their 1977 album Plastic Letters.  But when you’ve got a band like The Brunettes to highlight, why wouldn’t you?  This popular beat combo from New Zealand have been making dreamy, 60s-inflected tunes since 1998, and the video for ‘Brunettes Against Bubblegum Youth (B.A.B.Y.)’ shows off both their signature retro stylings and their command of a quality pop hook.  I’ve only seen them perform once, at the 2006 Big Day Out in Auckland, and while their set there was marred by sound problems, they still get my vote for the smartest pop act around.  This track is from their 2007 album Structure & Cosmetics, and according to Wikipedia it was used in the UK in a Channel 4 advert for the soap Hollyoaks.  (I’m not sure that’s a particularly cool-enhancing recommendation, but it is nice to see them get some recognition).

Anachronism

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 16 June 2009 by eT

Anachronism: noun, 1. A chronological mistake; the erroneous dating of an event, circumstance, or object  2.  A person or thing which seems to belong to a different time or period of time.

I am not so serious
This passion is a plagiarism
I might join your century
But only on a rare occasion
I was taken out
Before the labour pains set in and now
Behold the world’s worst accident
I am the girl anachronism

(Dresden Dolls, ‘Girl Anachronism’)

This effortlessly inventive and insidiously catchy track from the 2003 debut album of the self-styled ‘Brechtian punk cabaret’ duo Dresden Dolls is the perfect example of how a pop song, albeit a particularly clever one, can expand the vocabulary of average listeners.  Witness the comment by one viewer on the Youtube clip below, who says: ‘I know what almost every member of the audience is thinking – “what the hell does anachronism mean?”‘  Hopefully at least a few of them knew the meaning beforehand, but maybe I’m being optimistic!  (Extra marks for using ‘plagiarism’ in there too).

The live footage below is a great example of a well-honed band really enjoying their performance, and the Weimar chic get-up doesn’t hurt.  I love how singer Amanda Palmer squirms like Tori Amos when playing the piano, as if she’d much rather be a lead guitarist dominating the stage rather than being cooped up behind the keyboard.  Palmer, these days a solo artist, was recently the subject of a pleasingly large groundswell of fan support when a foolish music company exec told her she was too flabby (i.e. not emaciated enough) to appear in a music video.  Charmingly, the support lives on at the website Rebellyon.

Unleavened

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 15 June 2009 by eT

Unleavened: adjective, without any yeast or other raising agent.

Did I see you in a limousine
Flinging out the fish and the unleavened
Turn the rich into wine as you walk on the mean?

(Franz Ferdinand, ‘The Fallen’)

How literate can you get in pop lyrics?  After all, Franz Ferdinand are so art-school that they’ve even guest-edited the Guardian.  In ‘The Fallen’, the first track from their second album, 2005’s You Could Have It So Much Better, they set out a religious allegory (throwing bread and fish to the masses), debating the nature of the second coming in a contemporary socio-economic context.  Pretentious?  Well, luckily it’s got a catchy tune and I’ve got an Arts degree, so it’s right up my alley.