November 2010

What with all the bitching and moaning about the digital age, it’s easy to forget why people use iTunes – it opens a whole new realm of easy to find musical connections and combinations that you would never have considered in the past. For instance, by sheer coincedence of their alphabetical similarities, I discovered that The Animals’ ‘House of the Rising Sun’ and Anna Calvi’s ‘First We Kiss’ sound amazing back-to-back. See, the death of recorded music isn’t so bad now, is it?

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (YSI)
Anna Calvi – First We Kiss (YSI)

I feel enough has been seen of my breezy enthusiasm around here recently. What this Green Window needs is some grey clouds, and it’s coming in the form of new single/2nd album disappointment, courtesy of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Smith Westerns. Both bands are young, impetuous and optimistic in their outlook but have simply overdone it on their newest tracks, ‘Heart In Your Heartbreak’ and ‘Weekend’ respectively.

‘Heart In Your Heartbreak’ begins like a Magic Numbers song, becomes something recognisably similar to their original tracks, then descends into almost power-pop territory before fading into synthy nothingness. ‘Weekend’ on the other hand dispenses with almost everything that made this group of ridiculously prodigious fuzz-merchants interesting in the first place. A whimsical little indie number it might be, but the shambling, barely audible charm of their self-titled debut seems to have been lost in the transition. Both tracks suffer from a desire to be discernibly poppy, but both forget that what made them originally popular was not the traditionally poppy route, but how they wove that into a more interesting framework. Take a comparative listen and see if I’m right (I am).

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Heart In Your Heartbreak (YSI)
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – This Love Is Fucking Right (YSI)
Smith Westerns – Weekend (YSI)
Smith Westerns – Boys Are Fine (YSI)

Telekinesis, or Michael Benjamin Lerner as he is less interestingly called, is good at two things. In no particular order, they are:

1) Fantastic album artwork (see below and ignore the rubbish UK release cover for the first album)

2) Fantastic indie rock in the vein of all the classic ’90s bands (Weezer et al)

After a car crash, losing all his equipment and the whole first set of recordings for his second album, 12 Desperate Straight Lines is finally ready for release, and the aptly-named ‘Car Crash’ is our first taster. Don’t expect anything more than what you got from the first album, and don’t feel sorry about that. This is still brilliantly engaging rock music, scientifically designed to put a smile on your face.

Telekinesis – Car Crash (YSI)

Sometimes I take a bit of persuading. I first heard Hot Panda’s ‘Mindlessnesslessness’ on episode 146 (I think) of the Toadcast and, with some reason, thought “What the fuck is this?” and paid it little more heed. But after a recommendation from the excellent and all-too-infrquent 100b I downloaded it (not remembering what it was) and proceeded to think “I remember this. What the fuck is this? It’s brilliant!”

Equal parts deliriously fun and really quite creepy, this song is the soundtrack to a nightmare carnival – indecipherable whooping, rushing organ, distant ‘Ghost Town’ trumpets and tumbling guitar plucks run headlong into one another for two minutes before changing into an altogether different song, pick up pace again and then get literally shushed away. Ridiulous(ly good).

Hot Panda – Mindlessnesslessness (YSI)

Also, the band apparently sell their own brand of hot sauce as merch. I like them.

One listen can change everything. I just never understood Deerhunter before I heard Halcyon Digest. Their ideas seemed to disparate, never quite melodic enough to hook me, not experimental enough to be artistically interesting – that binary ruled my thinking of them. But once I’d heard a whole album, really got a feeling for what they try to do consistently, it all came together.

‘Nothing Ever Happened’ from Microcastle just never got under my skin before, but once I saw the scope of the band’s desire and relistened to it today, it made perfect sense. The almost imperceptible mutations from the bass-heavy British post punk sound of the intro to the Pavement-indebted indie rock of the middle into the not-quite-experiment but not-quite-refrain of the finale bowled me over, and I’ve been listening to it all evening, trying and failing to work out just how they’ve done it. It just needed time.

Deerhunter – Nothing Ever Happened (YSI)