Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Final Interlude: Because 2008 was not born in isolation

((Okay, last interlude, sorry this is taking so long. In this episode, Daniel Gray of Underground Wires, Analogue, Totally Dublin and Lorem Ipsum talks about the album that defined his 2008. If I had to pick one of these, it would be... well it would be the top album on the list, but you'll have to wait for that, or guess it (it's not that hard). But of the past music that dominated my stereo and headphones in 2008, I would say Blood Visions by Jay Reatard, Kala by M.I.A. and perhaps Slanted + Enchanted fill that gap. Feel free to leave yours, if you're still paying attention.))

Being but a young hopper still in the trial and error stages of his trade on the tough street corners of alternative and indie music 2008 taught me one particularly harsh lesson: As soon as you strongly define your music taste it changes instanteneously. I could rightly be accused of dilletantism given the amount of genre-hopping my pallete did this year- From Julian Cope-recommended Krautrock for breakfast to a Lydia Lunch of no-wave noise rock, a three-course dinner of funk, soul and hip-hop, before ending the day with a nightcap of DC hardcore punk.

Perusing most end of year lists leaves me feeling awfully inobservant. I can't see the charms in Fleet Foxes, the brilliance of Bon Iver, consistency enough in TV on the Radio to warrant a lofty position in the top of most charts. Am I missing something? When I went to form my own list I could find very few releases from 2008 that actually left me feeling the gurgling of excitement deep down in my ribcage sparked off by contact with pure brilliance (though Hair Police, Marnie Stern, Mahjongg, and Indian Jewelry all made my ears perk up). The album that truly left an indelible imprint on my musical consciousness, that made me want to delve into back catalogues, order in special editions to Road Records, hunt out every iota of biographical information, and explore every incendiary note of every explosive song was a less recent release.

23 Skidoo- Seven Songs (Reissue)

If I had the privelege of writing this particular entry this time last year !!! progenitors Outhud and their spontaneous and combustible album 'S.T.R.E.E.T.D.A.D.' would be tip top of my 2007 (But Not 2007) list. To my less educated earbuds the NYC outfit were the first of their kind- alchemists of punk, funk, ambient, industrial noise rock, and ethnic polyrhythm, and hypnotists extraordinaire. It was akin to a soap plotline then when I discovered Outhud were not the fathers of the recent NYC punk-funk movement they'd been telling me they were- A revelation from Uncle Simon Reynolds and a subsequent DNA test revealed that the babydaddy was, in fact, British post-punk band 23 Skidoo. Sounding something like Cabaret Voltaire beating the shit out of Fela Kuti down a Sheffield backstreet with a gamelan, Skidoo will sound instantly recognizable to anybody who's heard !!!'s “Must Be The Moon” dropped in an indie disco- It's the same template minus the twerpy vocals and trippy lyrics. In fact, if those protruding lumps at the side of your head are functioning correctly you'll have directly heard 23 Skidoo: The Chemical Brothers cloned their song “Coup” to create ubiquitous big beat gangbang “Block-Rocking Beats”. More relevantly to the music released this year I found cropping up on my 'to find on Rapidshare' list their far-reaching influence radiates through bands like Mahjongg, Yeasayer, Gang Gang Dance, Not Squares; any band of white boys incorporating “black” music into their patchwork.

However, while there's a readily-available list of bands that sound like Skidoo today, those bands bravely staking out new territory and chalking up new chemical equations on the blackboard of the musical landscape while still creating something distinctly pop-orientated are as rare as kedang drums. In this aspect they share most in common with the toast of 2007: Battles. Experimental in the least alienating and masturbatory sense, populist, mindful of craft, and blending together a full platter of familiar ingredients to create an entirely new dish. No band, for me, cooked up such a storm in 2008.

28 comments:

Gardenhead said...

I never heard skidoo and now a 19 year old is giving me lessons in British post-punk history. Smashing.

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