Okay cokey, now it’s time to get nuts, as we grafdduate to the last and craziest track on this three-song stand. Meet Værket, from Copenhagen and this outrageous epic of a song (be warned, listener: this is over ten minutes long) that they have brought for our pleasure. Straight away, it’s fairly obvious that these guys don’t believe in doing things by halves, or indeed believe in doing anything less than 2037% at all times, which is to be generally applauded. There’s parts of this that sound like a Runrig song, there’s parts that sound like the Strawbs, there’s parts that sound like Metalica with trumpets, there’s parts that sound like space age freak-prog, it really is a bezerk mess. I absolutely adore it, and all of it takes place with an intensity that I usually reserve for the dramatic climax to a movie or a particularly chaotic and humorous fight. As you’ve presumamably gathered, there is so much to unpick here: I’m not a huge fan of the flute outside of a classical setting (I will concede, under duress, that it has some uses in a jazz setting) but I can’t get upset about it here because there is just far, far too much going on to get hung up about one aprticaulr aspect. The variety and intensity turns the whole package into a complete assault, from start to finish, and you’ve gotta batten down your mental hatches and ride the storm just to get through it. Information gathering on the band has proven difficult, because their web prescence is limited and I do not speak Danish, but I can tell for certain that Værket are young, fresh, and have a really bright future ahead of them if they carry on like this. They released a four song EP (more that than album, I guess) called Jealousy Hits last year, which I’ve already resolved to listen to tomorrow because even if the other songs on it are a quarter as good as this it will still be time well spent. Apparently there may be a self-titles debut album in the works as well? I’m confused about whether that’s true or not, which coincidentally will be pretty similar to how you feel the first time you listen to this song, along with a huge dollop of euphoria and amazement. If you think you can hack the bizarreness, it’s a must listen.
We’ve jumped to somewhere between psychadelia and math-rock now, but this remains remarkably concise for so themed a venture. The Physica House Band have a superb name, hail from Brighton, and are an experiemtal rock outfit operating since 2011. Did I put those items in order of importance? You decide! Working as a Drums-Bass-Guitar outfit in this day and age has it’s pitfalls; I feel like the pressure to wow or confuse with such a setup is slightly greater than if you have a bit more of an quirky instrumentation setup, but it’s worked great in the past, so’s there’s no reason that it can’t amaze again with the right group of individuals, personalities and talents. These guys perhaps don’t quite amaze, but they certainly impress. This track is hectic, manic, but also still impresssivly efficient. It stuck out to me straight away as a tune that bore investigation, and it’s proved on repeat listen to be a technically assembled, mechanically proficient piece of enjoyable rock music, which is higher praise than perhaps it sounds. The band is something of a critical darling, as much for their clever, understated ideas as for their idiosyncratic mesh of frantic activity and serene flow. The album, Mercury Fountain (21st April, 2017), is fluid, easing from one track to another to form a contuing musical narrative, so much so that if you reportedly play the record on repeat it loops back on itself seamlessly. I’ve not listened to it soup to nuts yet, but I’ll try to make the time at some point because it’s neat that this kind of math-rock is getting more mainstream attention again (I’m into my trio era King Crimson at the moment, and these guys have more than a bit of that in them). If you like unhurried, fluent experimental rock, you’ll like this.
Tow set of trios coming up, and they are a befuddling set, no doubt, so you’ve been warned. Let’s start out with the first of the initial tree, taken as songs from Stuart Maconie’s brilliant Freak zone show some months ago. This track is part of a series I’m running where I talk a lot about songs made that concern mundane household objects. The reason being: there probably has been a song about stamps before, but I’ll bet their haven’t been many. Anyhoo, R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner are both underground indie legends of a sort, although in somewhat different spheres, and now they’ve decided to form a team and release an album, know as Make it Be (10th March, 2017). I’ll be listening to it sometime when I have the time (probably in 2018, at this rate), because this tune combines bezerk behavior and banality in a fun way that I’m a huge backer of. On a day like today, when all around is realist based terror, a surreal song about a roll or book of stamps is just what I need. The urge to “go postal” when this track tells me to is overwhelming. I don’t know if I can fight it. I don’t know if I want to fight it. Genuinely though, for lovers of different, confusing rock, this is a delight, and I’d recommend it highly to all.
We started off pretty wild on this troika, but we’re only gonna get loopier from here on out.
Not done any Punk Rock in a while, so let us consider yet another poorly defined and ultimately useless genre. Why is specifically Punk Rock (as opposed to all those other useless genres) such an unhelpful term? Because of the wide extremes of artists prescribed to it, as well as the varied middle ground, both due to historical as well as convenience based reasons. The Clash were considered punk rock once, which is probably a bit limiting to the clash in a lot of ways, but I guess it’s just a label like any other (I think of them as post punk or reggae). Avril Lavigne was also considered Punk Rock once, in the early 2000’s when everything became a warped homogeneous bastardisation of the things we once knew and loved (I still like you Avril, I’m just making a point. RIP). I guess if we call it Pop-punk it’s a little more palatable to some people, but by this point, it’s much too late; Wire were apparently considered Punk Rock at one point, and that’s just confusing. But what is punk rock? Here is the answer (some credit must also go to Wikipedia): Punk rock is a group of people who don’t know how to play their instruments very well making usually fast, politicised songs with an emphasis on DIY production and distribution. Sometimes, (time for the shock twist!) it features people who actually do know how to play their instruments quite well, which can potentially detract from the whole spirit of punk rock somewhat, but is usually a pleasant surprise.
Anyway, after that nonsensical rant, let’s talk about Idles, who hail from Bristol, are very definitely Punk Rock, and showcase a lot of fantastic facial hair. Like a rougher, grainier Cabbage, Idles appear to be here to make a point, and that point is, “effing sod you and your stupid traditional expectations, Jack”. It’s a great point, and it’s well made. I’m absolutely gutted, because I found out that they played the New Adelphi in Hull recently and I missed them. I imagine they killed it, and I hope they come back and play again soon because I’d love to see that vile energy in the flesh, I think it would have been a good time. In any case, this song grows on me the more I hear it, so I’ll be going and checking otu the rest of their stuff when I have a spare moment. After all, I’m all about “cutting off nose to spite face”, especially when it provides as much impactful, noisy, emotional but ultimately futile power as it does here. Well done, lads.
The lyrics to this song stirred memory in me straight away (my musical memory is the only memory I still possess), but it really did take me a while to work out where exactly it was from. For those who aren’t aware, it’s a Strokes cover, and it’s a fairly decent one at that. I could pretty much take or leave the Strokes, apart from ‘Reptilia’, ’12:51′, and maybe a couple other songs from Room on Fire (28 October, 2003). Other than that meh. I tell you this so you understand my starting position when I declare this cover to be vastly superior to the original song. It’s just a much nicer, slower, more appropriate take on the lyrics, in my humble opinion, and I credit the boldness of the idea of doing it in a folky manner. I don’t know very much about Julia Jacklin other than that she’s a hit new young thing coming out of Australia and she’s released a debut album called Don’t Let the Kids Win (7 October, 2016). I heard some of her live set for a festival she did recently (perhaps the radio 6 festival? I don’t recall) and it was solid-to-good, but this was the track that made me go “oh, that’s clever” the most, I guess because I’m a sucker for different genres in my covers. I’m going to go back and check out Julia Jacklin’s album at some point, because I’ve heard enough to be intrigued.
It’s classic rock time. I’d not really ever listened to this song until I heard it on the radio the other day, but I’m absolutely a convert. It’s a short single featured on the Yardbirds second album, Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds (15 November, 1965 US release), or sometimes just Having a Rave Up, which is a strong contender for absolute best album title ever. What exactly is a “rave-up”, and where can I purchase one? Anyway, as you are probably already aware, the Yarbirds went through a number of consensus top ten ever guitarists in their heyday, perhaps too many. At this time, they were featuring the powers of Jeff Beck on guitar: Clapton was in the process of leaving while Page was in the throes of arriving on the scene. The Yardbirds, as you may have gathered, were a freaking ridiculous band. To further highlight the ridiculous wealth of talent available here, this song was written by Graham Gouldman (the same guy who wrote ‘For Your Love’), later basically the only consistent member of 10cc from it’s inception to present day. Anyway, the song itself is a joy from a musical history perspective, as well as being a pretty decent tune – like a lot of Yardbirds tracks, it’s so prescient about what was to follow, in this instance, alternative rock. Okay, it gets a bit off message (or perhaps back on the classic blues rock message) at the one minute mark, and there’s more than a bit of psychadelia about that guitar solo, but I’m going to chalk that up to their work being part of the origin story for multiple different stylistic musics. It’s an enjoyable retro romp regardless.
The Moonlandingz have shock value, that’s for certain. This value is provided by: (including but limited to) Lias Saoudi and Saul Adamczewski of the Fat White Family, ECR’s Dean Honer, an imagined up backstory and a whole lot of wildness. They feature Fat White Family’s brand of anarchic, surrealist staging and showmanship, combined with some spooky gothed up disco-esque noisiness, and it all makes for an enticing package. I went through all of the debut album Interplanetary Class Classics (24 March, 2017) last month on a trip, because I’d seen and heard enough to make a point of doing so. With all the hype and the songs that I’d heard so far, I was getting close to expecting a year end top five album (for me), which I don’t think it quite lived up to, but oh well, that’s the burden of high expectations, sometimes. Regardless, this was one of the songs I’d heard before that album listen, and it’s downbeat moodiness speaks to my soul. It’s more than a little bit Velvet Underground, that’s for sure, but if it’s a tribute at least it’s a high quality modernised one. Like the album, it is both crazy (although a more subdued kind of crazy) and also features the kind of clever songwriting that you would expect given the sources, and hooks that get with you and stick with you (even if this one isn’t quite as unhinged). Exhilarating, vivid, and unique, even if the album didn’t meet my perhaps over-hyped expectations, this is still a really good listen.