Category Archives: The XX

New Music Monday

We’re still reeling from a story we’ve just read regarding a member of the Roll Deep crew suffering from ‘sleep weeing’, i.e. he wets the bed. Why on earth do we need to know this? Is it an elaborate cry for help, some kind of grime out reach program or simply a way of adding another layer to the 360 degree model of publicity? Either way, it’s not helping one bit with the fall-out from last week’s  fairly dismal edition of New Music Monday. La Roux‘s thing probably wasn’t even chart eligible, The xx live EP was out a while back (although their album has risen again to a new peak of 13 in the album charts) and the amazing Gorillaz single missed the top 40 completely. In slightly more heartening news, that Jedward album entered at number 17 and though that’s approximately 158 places too high, it does still show that not all humans under the age of ten are completely hopeless. For reasons we’ve yet to fully understand, we follow the Irish twins on Twitter and their ‘twats’ (that’s the word, right?) are a riot of malapropisms and strangely cult-ish orders directed at their fans. Anyways, eyes down for this week’s installment.

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Crazy For You by Best Coast

It feels like Best Coast have been around forever, not just because their brand of ’60s-influenced guitar-based singalongs have a timeless feel about them, but also because we remember reading about them about eighteen months ago. OK, so not ‘forever’ exactly, but still, it’s been a while. Their early singles – The Sun Was High (So Was I) and When I’m With You – were properly amazing and so it’s somewhat surprising that they don’t appear on this debut release, but it’s testament to the quality of the songs that do make it that they’re only marginally missed. Opener ‘Boyfriend’ is an instant classic,  whilst tracks such as ‘Summer Mood’ and ‘Our Deal’ showcase singer Beth Consentino’s ability to mix humour and heartbreak. Also, if you fancy buying another album with a cat on the cover, why not go for Wavves‘ King Of Beach (in fact, it’s the same cat on both covers as Beth’s boyfriend is Nathan Williams, the bloke from Wavves)?

BUY THIS IF YOU LIKE THIS SORT OF THING

The Suburbs by Arcade Fire

We’ve yet to make our minds up about this band. Yes, Funeral is good, but Neon Bible was like some preaching manual set to music and we have a problem with their sneery side and the fact that they seem to think that adding a harmonium to a song is in some way thought-provoking and, like, really IMPORTANT. Anyways, this isn’t the music’s fault, is it? No, the poor music just wants to be listened to on its own merits so we will give it a whirl and get back to you.

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‘Self Control’ by Sunday Girl

We’re big fans of maudlin electropop chanteuse Sunday Girl. Have we mentioned we interviewed her once? Have we? Yes? Oh, OK. Well, this is her second single and it’s a cover, but it’s a cover of a song that came out ages ago (well, in the ’80s) so only old fogies will remember it, so who really cares, right? This version is a little bit brooding, a little bit ‘down in the dumps’, but it’s also really catchy and memorable. She reminds us a bit of Siobhan Donaghy from Sugababes mk 1, and we all know how well her solo career panned out. The comparison is slightly clearer if you watch the video.

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New Music Monday

Blimey it’s muggy tonight isn’t it? Phew. Anyway, most of you followed our advice and steered well clear of Richard Ashcroft‘s latest ego massage, the woeful RPA & The United Nations of Wank. The album entered at no. 20, which is still far too high of course, but it’s still a lot lower than he’s used to so that’s something. Perhaps he’ll learn some humility now. Of course no one bothered with the Mount Kimbie album, but that’s cool, it’s your loss. The Panda Bear single also did nothing and we have to confess, we’ve not really played it since last week either, so that’s hardly a great endorsement. Anyway, this is a pretty barren week so please forgive us (to give you an idea of the options, let’s just say one thing…JEDWARD! For serious).

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iTunes Festival: London by The xx

This came out a few weeks ago but we thought it timely to mention now seeing as they’re favourites to walk off with the Mercury Prize for their astounding debut, xx. Off the back of the all this exposure, the album has climbed to a new peak of 16 and ‘Islands’ has been A-listed by Radio 1. HURRAH. This six-track live EP is properly great in and of itself, recasting some of the best album tracks in a whole new light, either by slowing them down (‘Islands’), extending them (‘Intro’) or dropping Ibiza anthem ‘9pm (Till I Come)’ into the middle of them (‘Shelter’). It’s well worth checking out and only costs, like, £3 or something totes ridic.

BUY THIS IF YOU WANT TO

Sidetracked by La Roux

This is a compilation album with songs picked by Elly Jackson and unsurprisingly there’s a lot of ’80s dance on there (Japan, Heaven 17, Tears For Fears, etc, etc). There’s also a brand new La Roux recording, a cover of The Rolling Stones ‘Under My Thumb’ and you can listen to two minutes of it here. Seriously, such a slow week.

DOWNLOAD THIS SINGLE PLEASE

‘Melancholy Hill’ by Gorillaz

This is the sort of song Damon does so well these days; lilting, melancholic (obviously, it’s in the title), strangely lovely and very hummable. It’s also one of the better songs on Plastic Beach, an album we very much enjoy listening to, but there are times when we want everyone to just calm down and stop shouting. This song let’s us have a breather and therefore we like it a lot.

New Music, er, Tuesday

So, for the first time ever in Musick/3mins30secs history, we missed an edition of New Music Monday. Forgive us. What happened, yeah, was that we went to a festival, slept for about ten hours in total and then promptly fell asleep yesterday at 3pm and woke up at 8:30pm so hungry it hurt. Basically, we let you down. As did you though, let’s be honest. Janelle Monae was NOWHERE in the charts, which is basically a crime. So, you guys are now criminals, how do you feel about that? Elsewhere, M.I.A entered just outside the top 20, which, given the hype and all that press is mildly disappointing, whilst Mark Ronson crashed in at no. 6, which is actually pretty respectable. Well done Mark Ronson. Here are some more suggestions for you all to ignore.

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Crooks & Lovers by Mount Kimbie

We went to see The xx the other day and this faceless duo were supporting them. Now, we love a good chorus as much as the next blog, but sometimes there’s something about fractured, minimal dance music that makes us go a bit weak at the knees. Crooks & Lovers is chock full of tiny beats, crystalline synth lines and odd flutters. It’s basically the perfect starter for a main course of The xx is what we’re saying.

DO NOT BUY THIS

United Nations of Sound by RPA & The United Nations of Sound

Seriously, this is one of the worst albums of all time. It’s overblown, pretentious, cynical, cloying, trying, ridiculous and, worst of all, criminally dull. We reviewed it for The Guardian and gave it 1 star. This was the response from a fan, who, like Richard Ashcroft himself, has a strange ability to tread the line between serious and satire:

Thank God for Richard Ashcroft and his great musical gifts in this world –

at a time when we really do need to wake up from our old world-mind ways and start acknowledging a presence of truly gifted authenticity.

Some cliques just fit – ‘It takes one to know one’. How else can we begin to recognise anything?
Unfortunately, career media critics are never paid to be perceptually accurate (even if they were willing and/or able).

Mr. Ashcroft’s global chart topping talent and longevity is what REALLY speaks the TRUTH here – he’s an awakening, clearly conscious human being and enlightening musical artist of immense creativity, heart and integrity.

And no, an enlightened state of being is not meaning delusions of messianic ego.
I’m not referring to old religious dogmas or any other matrix induced and conditioned habitual unconscious misperceptions, limiting beliefs, philosophies or psychologies ~:)

But hey, ponder a moment how christed conscious awareness in general gets historically perceived by the deluded masses around here.
If only mass ‘balance’ of perception wasn’t so, well, ‘off’ as a baseline reality…

Old classic story really – the unenlightened judging those wayshowers clearly leading their time – ho hum. Can’t we all get tired of that already and move on?

RPA is always relevant and talented beyond any common belief – his
newest music endeavour w UNofS is creatively fresh and alive in melody and momentum – apparently to a fault, if you read the stock level reviews on his newest RPA & UNoS album.

I invite you all to begin clearing out the old and welcome anew – stepping out of the cookie-cutter matrix has always been the hallmark of creative perceptivity and courage. Take a chance. Quit your day job – it sounds awful anyway.

Try the rarified air of a more universally perceptive truth – it’s clearly revitalising.
And you just might enjoy the new view (and be able to write a new true review).

Doesn’t that music sound great to your ears?

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‘Tomboy’ by Panda Bear

We saw Animal Collective‘s Panda Bear a few months ago and he may well have played this song, but to be honest it was all such a bore blur, that we can’t remember. Anyways, this studio recording of the first single from his forthcoming second album is very lovely indeed, all distorted guitar riffs, spacey vocals and, whisper it, a melody! We certainly didn’t hear one of those a few months back.

jjoin the jjoyride

Swedish duo jj were shrouded in the kind of mystery that can only be perpetuated by music blogs, so it’s telling that by the time we get round to doing something on them the mystery has vanished (you can see them below) and Pitchfork are calling their new album “not very good” (or something a bit more wordy).

It’s hard to describe the music jj make – balearic beat or dream pop seem the most appropriate – and there’s an air of dissaffection and general inertia that’s quite appealing, as if it’s not really terribly important what you think of the music, it’s just there. To emphasis the point, all three of their releases so far have just been ascending numbers, so their new ‘full-length’ (it’s 26 minutes long) is called, simply, jj n° 3. The follow-up to the breathtaking, jj n° 2 (obviously), it’s not the musical shit heap that Pitchfork makes out, but rather a slightly more formless and downbeat affair. As with recent tour campanions (and fellow fans of letters), The xx, jj’s music is simultaneously vaporous and compelling, loaded with emotion but barely breaking a sweat. They also share a love of hip-hop, with jj choosing to seak inspiration from current jailbird Lil Wayne on the opening track, ‘My Life’.

Below is the first single from jj n° 3, ‘Let Go’, and it features a nice dog, the two band members and a recurring visual theme, blood.

jj n° 3 isn’t officially out until May but you can buy it from Rough Trade as part of an exclusive deal that also means you get jj n° 2 included. It goes without saying that you should buy these two albums right now!

Over & Over

We’re pretty big fans of Canadian hip-hop rookie Drake‘s debut mini-album, So Far Gone, especially the single, ‘Best I Ever Had’. Given his huge success in America, expectations are high for his debut long player, Thank Me Later. As with most young rappers, Drake’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder about how he can’t trust anyone anymore because all his friends just want his money and all dem hoes are just trying to knock his swagga, etc. Thankfully, as with Kanye and Lil Wayne, he seems to have that ability to turn a cliche into something exciting and ‘Over’, complete with urgent strings and off-kilter drum beats, is pretty spectacular.

Rumour has it that Jamie from The xx has also contributed beats to the album. Those pesky kids are everywhere at the moment.

You can download ‘Over’ from Drake’s blog

Musick’s Top 20 Albums: 3

The xx – xx

With a musical palette as minimal as the artwork and a live presence that bordered on the comatose, these four (as they were then – Baria Qureshi has since left) ridiculously young Londoners took hold of the latter quarter of 2009 with their beautiful, drip-feed pop. Centred around the loving glances cast between lead singers Romy Croft and Oliver Sim, there’s a strange atmosphere that runs throughout the album, the listener feeling as if he or she is intruding on a private conversation. Musically, it’s a skeletal mix of spindly guitar lines, atmospheric drum patterns and little else. In fact, it’s so minimal and patient that when it does reach a relative crescendo or a shift in pace it can feel like the biggest rush. ‘Islands’ is as pacey as it gets, Croft and Sim exchanging coy lines over a pattering drum sound, whilst the album drifts into beautiful stillness with the closing ‘Stars’. Taking its cue from acts like Aaliyah as much as the more obvious influences such as The Cure (at least in terms of their favourite colour; black), xx was the sound of youthful exuberance tinged by dark nights and lack of sleep.

Key track: ‘Crystalised’

New Musick Monday

Mmm, so we’re going through a bit of a barren spell. Not only did the amazing ‘Islands’ by The xx not dent that charts, but the band have had to cancel a number of shows due to exhaustion. So, they’re putting in all this work, schlepping about the planet to play their music in tiny clubs and what do you do to thank them? You conspire to dump them in the black hole that is ‘not inside the top 40’. As for the others, Devendra missed out altogether as did Hudson Mohawke, who should console himself with the fact that he’s not Mr Hudson, who a friend of Musick had him confused with. Every cloud…

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Phrazes For The Young by Julian Casablancas

What a very odd record. Taking in everything from ’80s synth-pop to country melancholia, Phrazes For The Young finds Casablancas at a bit of a crossroads. With The Strokes on hiatus (although a new album is in the works), the guy that writes all their songs has decided to take eight new compositions and bolt on some new instrumentation, mess around with song length (nearly all of them are over five minutes) and generally try and confuse us. THIS IS A GOOD THING. Single 11th Dimension is the obvious highlight, but the giddy rush of River of Brakelights and the closing Tourist – complete with horn blasts – run it close.

DON’T PLAY GUITAR HERO, JUST LISTEN TO THIS

Bleach (Deluxe Edition) by Nirvana

Back in 1989, before ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, and before ‘grunge’ became the new fashion, Nirvana’s Bleach was just another album on Sub Pop’s roster. Slowly, it sold 30,000 copies, enough to warrant a follow-up, and the rest is history. Twenty years later (twenty years!?) Sub Pop are releasing this deluxe version, complete with rare live recordings and new artwork. The original album is a template for what Nirvana were about to become, featuring caustic shards of rage and frustration mixed with melodic moments such as the sublime ‘About A Girl’.

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‘Mowgli’s Road’ by Marina & The Diamonds

EDIT: This isn’t out until 16 November…we can only apologise. Not to pass the buck, but it was all NME’s fault.

Cuckoo! When exam results are released there are usually headlines screaming things like, “Boys results decline as girls catch them up” or some such. The implication being that girls are only doing better because boys are doing worse. This trend seems to be moving to music, where certain parts of the media seem to be under the impression that the recent glut of talented female singers is only happening because the boys have either been off chasing spaceships (Robbie) or venturing into films (Justin). What’s really happening is that these women are just making better music at the moment, and ‘Mowgli’s Road’ – all jaunty piano and skyscraping chorus – is leagues above anything made by someone with a penis this week.

New Musick Monday

Now then, we want words with ya. Yeah, that’s right, all of ya. Look ‘ere, right, we weren’t messin’ last week when we told ya what to buy with your hard-earned wonga. SIT DAHN. Who said you could get up, you sniveling excuse for a music-buying public. Not one iota of what we said last week has gone into your empty ‘eads. Annie, gawd bless ‘er, missed the top 75 altogether, as did that gangly bloke from Deerhunter. Those two fairies from Kings of whatstheirnames just about scraped in, and they’re not ‘appy, let me tell ya. IT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Don’t turn on the water works, it don’t work with me. Just do as we say or we’ll ‘ave to kill ya. Thanks ever so.

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What Will We Be by Devendra Banhart

Beautiful, bohemian folk Overlord Devendra Banhart lost us with his last album, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. All the promise of those first few albums seemed to have gone up in smoke, upon a fire of his own ego. There were the odd flashes of that latent genius of course – ‘I Remember’, ‘Carmensita’ – but in the main it was drowned in wilful experimentation (i.e. drawn out ‘jams’ and will-this-do time signature changes). So, it was with trepidation that we approached his seventh album, his first for a major label. But fear not dear friends for it is a triumph. Co-produced by some bloke from The Bees, What Will We Be is a more focused but no less eccentric collection of songs that take in everything from delicate acoustic lament (‘Angelika’), to piano-lead ballad (‘First Song For B’) to, er, one that starts a bit like the Gossip (’16th & Valencia Roxy Music’).

BUY THIS IF YOU LIKE THIS SORT OF THING

Butter by Hudson Mohawke

Hudson Mohawke is a terrible name. The artwork for his album Butter is pretty appalling. So far, so disappointing. But, it’s not about that is it? No, it’s all about the music. Luckily, the music is the sort that allows us to write these kinds of things: Imagine if Prince had grown up in Glasgow and not Minneapolis and instead of going on to be a successful pop star he’d actually made friends with a bloke called Richard D. James, aka Aphex Twin, and they’d hit it off so well that they shared a bed once and a small medical miracle occurred and they were able to conceive and Prince – for he would be the woman of this relationship…although, if we’re able to determine that, and it’s all fiction, perhaps he should have just been a woman in the first place – gave birth to a little boy called Hudson Mohawke. (Interesting fact: Rihanna‘s people called Hudson Mohawke’s people to see if he’d like to work with her. We demand a remix of ‘Russian Roulette’ now. Thanks).

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‘Islands’ by The xx

(This isn’t the actual artwork. Just imagine a greenish hue behind the X)

By far the catchiest thing on their debut, ‘Islands’ is almost annoyingly perfect. Over a typically skeletal backing of beats and a simple guitar melody, it seems to expand and contract, adding elements and then taking them away to leave those two voices cooing at one another. “I am yours now/ So, now I don’t ever have to leave”, sounds a bit wet written down, but on record it’s the sweetest thing. Plus, the last thirty seconds add up to one of those unique moments in music when you get a strange feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Jack + xx + Theo = Jackxxtheo

This blog post has it all. You want a musically rehabilitated posh bloke? We got one. You want young people remixing things and calling it stuff like dubstep? We got ’em. You want achingly hip rappers remixing the remix by the young people who call things dubstep? Er, what? We got that too.

This is a pretty amazing remix of Jack Peñate’s ‘Pull Your Heart Away’ by Jamie Smith from The xx:

Fine as it is we think you’ll agree. But how about when the remix is remixed by Musick’s favourite rapper Theophilus London?

Click here to listen and download it at will.

Whilst on the subject of Mr London, he’s also got a pretty impressive myspace page (damning with faint praise? Perhaps) and on it you can download two of his amazing mixtapes (one of which includes this), as well as any new stuff he might have made since writing this post (he’s pretty prolific). Here’s his latest, ‘Enjoy The Sun’:

Theophilus London will be touring with Jack Peñate this month.

New Musick Monday

Last week we gave you three, yes three, album options. Given the current economic climate, factoring in the weather and the fact that we’ve no doubt you had a lot of presents to buy this month, we understand that sales weren’t exactly brisk. We’re happy to report though, that The xx outsold both Jay Reatard (he was nowhere, frankly) and Simian Mobile Disco, who snuck in at no. 39. So, where did these cherubic young scamps enter? No. 36. That’s not bad given the state of radio these days. We went to see them play a gig in a shop the other week and one of Musick’s closest friend said they reminded them of Faithless. That, dear reader, is what alcohol can do.

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Humbug by Arctic Monkeys

The Arctic Monkey’s have clearly decided they don’t want to share fans with Oasis. This is all well and good, but that doesn’t mean you have to grow your hair long, dress like Led Zeppelin and use a frankly abysmal picture as your album cover. BUT, everything else about this third album is very good indeed, from the innuendo of ‘My Propeller’ to the deceptively catchy ‘Crying Lightning’ to the career-high of ‘Cornerstone’. Josh Homme doesn’t mess with the sound too much, just gives them some muscle and and that sense of foreboding that QOTSA are so good at.

BORROW THIS AND ENJOY IT BRIEFLY

I’m Going Away by The Fiery Furnaces

We always get excited about a new Fiery Furnaces album coming out. Then we get it, listen to it once, maybe twice, then leave it to gather dust in a pile sandwiched between the first Arcade Fire album and a mix CD entitled ‘Songs everyone says they love but don’t actually listen to’. So it is with I’m Going Away, which despite being their best in a long while, is still too twitchy and frustrating to be really pleasurable.

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‘I’ll Be With You’ by Lumina

This is a cover of a Black Lips song that appears on the b-side to another Black Lips song. It’s by Lumina who are Faris Badwan from The Horrors and Cherish Kaye who used to be in Ipso Facto. Unsurprisingly, it’s an atmospheric, drip-feed dirge with Badwan taking the lead vocal and Kaye offering some haunting backing. Do not listen to this in a darkened room or at work. If, however, you’re feeling quite chipper and are sure that nothing can dampen your spirits then click here.