Sunday, 14 February 2016

Hits From The Box #123 - Birthday Valentine

I cannot remember celebrating Valentine's Day in my life. I know that I have - but I cannot really remember what I did. My high school girlfriend I probably bought flowers and a teddy bear or some shit. My university relationship, probably dinner and a lot of booze. All other relationships haven't gone on long enough to reach this commercial dive of a day. And now I am engaged to a wonderful woman whose birthday is on Valentine's Day - which she hates because her friends never want to do anything because Valentines, and everywhere is expensive because Valentines. So, blanket ban on Valentines. Sometimes, things just pan out... Here are some bands that we both agree on this week - a much, MUCH harder proposition than it sounds - so happy birthday Valentine's...or not.

It might seem an incongruous choice to start a Valentine's post, and a girlfriend's birthday post, with a song called 'You're Not Gonna Love Me Anymore' - but stick with me. Beat Awfuls is a Kentucky-based band who seem loathe to craft anything that is plus 3 minutes long (only the last two tracks, 'Shitty City' and 'The One They Love', from their recently released record Nothing Happens, out now on Jurassic Pop, steps over this invisible limit). Their brand of jangly, distant lo-fi pop is incredibly potent, a combination of ramshackle rambunctiousness infused with a loquacious charm. But it's the wistful beauty of 'You're Not Gonna Love Me Anymore' slays me. Such a great song, album, band.

Blue Movies is a slowly percolating ambient somnambulist dreamscape conjured by out of East London. Not really the kind of music you associate with this self-perpetuation touchstone of the London zeitgeist (AKA hipster haven). Kuroi Karasu is a serene sojourn through the gloaming, clear star-flecked skies above, campfires in the wilderness with sparks living trails across the retina, sunrise/sunset over environments that can never be tamed, the human condition internalized then spat out, a contemplation of all this infinitesimal and infinite.

Here is a song that has blown me away on a couple levels. First of all, these guys are all school aged. Secondly, they are from Toowoomba - a Queensland, Australia town that has had a few bands break out of its volcanic bowl, but not many. And thirdly, Tinted Sun's 'Only One' is an incredibly mature, ultimately ebullient track that screams mid 2000s indie rock. The kind of rousing, gently coalescing track that is heartfelt, overcoming angst with a wash of cacophonous euphoria. In short, very impressive - let's see where these kids take this.

Down and across the Great Dividing Range into Brisbane to say Cheers G'Day, which is also the name of this new dreampop outfit. 'Dream Girl' is a pretty apt title - it floats along and away with hardly any weight to it at all - making some of The Ocean Party's more ruminative numbers feel positively bulked up. Mixing tremolo with yacht rock, louche pop and a delicate chime, the song seems like a precursor to further sun-drenched dreamscapes.

Still in Australia, we have a new label in the form of Our Golden Friend. The first release is a 7" from 808s & Greatest Hits, a pseudonym for Skube Burnell. It's wonky, surreal pop, the kind of lounged easy listening you would hear when submerged under the ocean, approaching a case of the bends, life flashing before the eyes, the pain of bursting lungs superseded by ethereal glimpses of shimmering mermaids, and velvet-curtained gin clubs frequented by comatose bachelors and dapper dwarves. OK so this isn't about a on-death's-door purgatory in Twin Peaks territory, just some of the images I think of when I hear it. Don't trust me - just dive in, the water's fine.

All small acts, but now we head to Indianapolis for a bigger concern. Lily & Madeleine are a sisterly duo who are releasing Keep It Together later this month. Their film clips for 'For The Weak' and 'Hotel Pool' are infatuated with the wash of water superimposed over the girls - again, the music flows over your, disappearing inside their sonorous world. It's the kind of psych-tinged alt folk territory that bands like The Besnard Lakes or The Cave Singers inhabit (both of which also have new albums on the way) - albeit more lilting and upbeat. Looking forward to seeing how this album pans out.

Alison always gets angry when she thinks I think she only likes light whimsical stuff. Now I am not saying that anything we have listened to already this morning is that, but there is a propensity for me to find things that aren't guitar-heavy when sitting down on a Sunday morning with her. Plus she is an 80s fanatic - our joined fanaticism of Roxy Music speaks volumes. But there are notable exceptions - we have been digging The War On Drugs, The Go, Courtney Barnett and Triptides in the past months, and Mikal Cronin of late. Worn-Tin, the thinly-veiled moniker for slacker extraordinaire Warner Hiatt, has taken over this mantle. Thanatophobia is an album filled with ragged charm, a rusted garage recording that touches on everything from psych-pop rock, pastoral rock breakdowns, haunted ballads, honky-tonk reveries and Midwest instrumental meanderings. All on his own, Worn-Tin has crafted a rough yet sparkling gem to be bloody proud of.

Let's finish with The Multiple Cat, a musical outlet for Daytrotter co-founder Patrick Stolley. 'Maps' is a solid laidback sun-drunk blast, but I have chosen to finish off on this track because of the Outrun film clip. Alison and I spent some of the day in a bar in Peckham feeding quarters into arcade games of Asteroids, Sega Rally, Pac Man and Street Fighter 2 (mostly Street Fighter 2) - yet I would have killed to have played this. Well played, Multiple Cat - well played.

Happy Sunday Valentine's everyone!

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