I have not featured for much new music recently because, of course, the new music is not as good as the…only joking…or am I ? It is that singular time in the year that I find myself not only familiar with the #1 record in the UK but also tapping a toe along with it. Daft Punk have always made music which is good for the soul, good to throw shapes to & still sells in quantities. Sounds simple doesn’t it ? Then how come Will I Am & his acolytes continue to foist such lowest common denominator nonsense onto the world? This new music…bah !
Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” is a modern take on disco, vocals by Pharrell Williams, a man once so ubiquitous that we were convinced that he must have, at least, a twin but probably a clone. Pharrell has calmed the heck down recently & produced Frank Ocean’s Album of the Year “Channel Orange” which, I am informed, is pretty, pretty good. However, the French band’s piece of resistance is to collaborate with the fliest of the fly, the most chic Nile Rodgers. A new fluid. infectious Rodgers’ guitar riff…I love “Get Lucky” now where’s that Sheila B Devotion 12 ” ?
So, if the 1980s are back & hot then Neon Neon’s new LP “Praxis Makes Perfect” (Oh yes !) could be the very thing. The Transatlantic duo, Boom Bip & Gruff Rhyss, cranked that handle they have in the front of bandwagons to start them in 2008 with their crackerjack concept album “Stainless Style”. Gruff is off of the Super Furry Animals, a band who’s 9 LPs have always been listenable with a sneaking suspicion that they were clever enough but maybe a little too much so to have ridden that Britpop tsunami of the late 20th century. Boom Bip ?…ah, you got me. “Stainless Style” relates the remarkable, ridiculous story of John DeLorean, the American car designer who’s DMC-12 model (made with stainless steel) featured in the best movie franchise there is because it convinced as a likely time machine. DeLorean’s demise involved the British Government, the IRA, the FBI, cocaine trafficking, money (of course) & a verdict of “not guilty”. You do not have to make this shit up !
A great story matched by a re-creation of 1980s synth-rock which is witty & creative without condescension. “Stainless” is a belter &, from what I have heard of “Praxis”, Neon Neon’s return has been worth the wait. Music with imagination always hits the spot. The short & very sweet “Mid Century Modern Nightmare” is one of only 2 tracks I have heard but the guys seemed to have stretched the music while keeping to the synths & made some more sharp pop music. Be prepared to learn more about another contradictory individual, the Italian communist publisher Giangacamo Feltrinelli. But this is no stern history lesson. I can’t wait to hear “Hoops with Fidel” about playing basketball with a Cuban dictator. Smart stuff…out this week.
Another duo, debut LP out on May 6th. Public Service Broadcast cut up & sample old movies, archives, propaganda adding their own soundtrack. This track “Signal 30” re-cycles a 1959 US public safety warning, “Spitfire” uses a World War II film starring the wonderful Leslie Howard. It’s a good idea done well & the music reminds listeners of some good bands. I hear a little Neu ! in the repetitive insistency but, more than anything, I hear echoes of Colourbox, a favourite from the 1980s, & that is never a bad thing.
While US DJ/producers were concerning themselves with the breaks & the beats Colourbox were throwing film & TV samples into their tunes with a humour & an intelligence which those who followed were lucky to emulate. In 1987 they proved that where there’s a hit there’s a writ when the sample heavy “Pump Up The Volume” hit big. That was the end of Colourbox but Leftfield, Dreadzone, Underworld were listening & learning. It was not easy to get right, There are hip hop re-mixes by the likes of Coldcut & Junior Boys Own which are just clumsy & embarrassing. PSB sound as if they get it. They don’t try to throw too much into the mix &, after all, it is about the tune. Check for Public Service Broadcasting before they change that rubbish name.
A bit late on this one as Johnny Marr’s LP “The Messenger” has been around for a couple of months but I have not. My good friend Carl Holmes, bass player in Walsall’s foremost punk group the Crimefighters, likes to live an uncomplicated life & has managed to reduce the need to make a decision to around 3 times a year.Carl is a man of impeccable taste so when he does make one you pay attention, He used one of 2013’s to give this a big thumbs up. Of course Johnny Marr is a bona fide British guitar hero. The Smiths were a fitting addition to the great Manchester bands & only fellow Mancs New Order give them a run for the outstanding British band of the 1980s title belt. The run of singles still thrills while the LPs feel like a bunch of songs which could have been hits.
There are books written about the Smiths so all I need to say is that Johnny Marr had listened to a lot of guitar music & he had it so down. He was Dave Davies to Morrissey’s brother Ray. Their combination, the frisson between their different ideas on perfect pop, made for some exciting records. If you think that the Smiths are just northern miserablists dominated by a self-indulgent singer/lyricist then you are wrong. Get off the Interwebs & get your ears sorted mate ! “Upstarts” is a fine start to a proper rock record. It isn’t “Shoplifters Of The World Unite” but then this new music, it isn’t….oh, as the young people text…STFU !