two spooky beats to every halloween bar

in my itunes recently added folder right now is harry belafonte‘s greatest hits. it’s ACERS and perfect for halloween because…

i can’t help thinking that there’s something slightly sinister about calypso – whether it’s the lyrics, or it’s origins in the slavetrade. or maybe it has something to do with winona ryder (slightly spooky in a nice way) dancing to calypso/calypso-influenced music in films?

first she floats up the stair-rail to the tune of ‘jump in the line (shake senora)’ in beetlejuice (genius, tim burton). then a couple of years later she plays a slightly creepy teen with an obsession with nuns and does a kitchen dance-off with her mum (cher) and christina ricci in mermaids to ‘if you wanna be happy’. both a pure pleasure to watch, as well as listen to. but still – with a sinister vignette.

creepiness aside this got me thinking how good-for-disco all this syncopated rhythms and call-and-response stuff is. when the creeps played mr belafonte’s ‘jump in the line (shake senora)’ at one of our discos last year, we looked up and saw the dancefloor had turned into a mass conga. surreal, brilliant and a wee bit spooky.

so, in honour of the musical power of calypso and halloween on sunday, here are my favourite ten calypso/afrobeat/sounds like it could be calypso-influenced songs. in no particular order:

  • “if you wanna be happy” jimmy soul/roaring lion
  • “surprise hotel” fool’s gold
  • “feeling hot hot hot” arrow
  • “right by your side” eurythmics
  • “jump in the line (shake senora)” henry belafonte/lord kitchener
  • “white sky” vampire weekend
  • “banana boat song” henry belafonte
  • “on the wings of a dove” – madness
  • “graceland” – paul simon
  • “the lion sleeps tonight” – the tokens/solomon linda

i should add that the last song on this list was covered in 1982 by a band called tight fit, who in doing so somehow managed to bottle everything bad about the 80s in one small youtube clip. well done them:

srsly? leopard skin camel toes, jungle drums and safari helmets?

you can ride the pony

WOW. new video for MEN’s ‘off our backs’ is now on stereogum. love love love this band.

the song has been around for a wee while now and has featured in discos plural along with the delight that is ‘credit card babies’why don’t you adopt, borrow someone’s cock?

i actually can’t decide which song i like more so will go with the brilliance that is the new ‘off our backs’ vid. it’s acers, watch it NOW.

despite being very queasy about the amount of hair in this 3.5 min masterpiece i had to watch it three times in quick succession because it was so amaze. jd samson (le tigre) clearly wasn’t taking the piss when she called her other former band ‘hirsute’

i think what is most brilliant about ‘off our backs’ is that at a passing glance it could easily be coming in from the mouth of an x-factor contestant or taylor montana perry (or whatever their names are). same for the opening shot of the video which does the boyband-in-a-sunset thing perfectly. and slow motion trampolining, well. my newfavouriteband one direction are almost certainly having classes in the x-fac house to perfect that requisite boyband skill as we speak.

it’s only when the lyrics kick in (‘you can ride the pony’) and the slow-mo crotch shots (think american apparel without the weight loss) start sweating out of the screen that all is revealed. there’s hairy backs, hairy legs, hairy stomachs and hairy faces (i’m still blocking that hairy armpit image). there’s rippling, wobbling, gripping and pseudo-bumming through denim. it’s truly amazing what happens when you slow down a co-ed tug-of-war.

the chorus may sound wholesome like b*witched (ha – subconscious denim reference) but those innocent wee irish pixies would be blushing like nuns in a rash clinic if they read MEN’s lyrics.

this belting disco tune is released on 8 november. naturally it will be on the disco playlist for the following saturday. ooh, and appaz a full-length record called ‘talk about body’ is to be released next year. exciting. less exciting: the MEN ladyfest gig in LDN is on disco night so i can’t go.

one eye closed

i love cocknbullkid. love love love. so it was hard containing the lots of excitement i had upon discovering that she has unveiled a new single (and video). especially as the discovery was made at 2.30 in the afternoon on friday. that was three hours away from the freedom of the train home and unmonitored iphone viewing/listening bliss.

so there it is. ‘one eye closed’ is great BUT i think ‘cocknbullkid’ (yep, eponymous song) is way better. that’s the wee free track that appeared back in the summer month of july. and is still available by signing up to her mailing list.

it leapt out of one of my (typically long) playlists a few months ago, with all the drama of an auditioning luvvie who’s been on the dole for a couple of years and has just eaten her last baked bean (minus the cringe). whatasong.

i think i was expecting ‘one eye closed’ to have a bit more of that, which is why after the first listen, i was a bit deflated: i was waiting for the punchy chorus and it didn’t come. BUT i have a lot of time for cocknbull so i listened to it again: opening bars – great; 80s style guitar riffs that wouldn’t look out of place on a girls aloud track and every indication that something good is about to happen…key change, yes, but chorus…? oh, not quite.

i’m not obsessive, but i did listen one more time: “let me shoot straight from the hipbone” i think the lyrics said… ok the slightly naff 80s falsetto chorus is growing on me a bit and there’s a belting bit of synth at around 3mins that was probably donated by kelly marie (if she was still alive and feeling like she was in love, she’d have updated herself to make that noise).

i’m prepared to hope that it’s one of those record company things where they get an artist to put out an inferior song prior to the earthmoving jcb of a song that is destined to go POP a few months later, showering the world with cock. and bull. and kid. if that’s the case, then i don’t mind waiting.

FYI: i didn’t listen a fourth time. i put this on instead:

wow. still. totes going to xoyo in december to see her.

a thing called grime

strangely I found myself listening to tinie tempah this morning. this is
curious because until now i’ve been ignoring the enigma that is grime music
(more because i couldn’t quite get my head around what it actually is, than
because of any proactive effort to avoid it). despite the number one hit
single that i somehow missed…

surprisingly i found myself enjoying the skitty little treat that is ‘pass
out’ and debating whether the song might make it onto november’s disco
playlist. still debating, don’t worry, joce.

this song goes against every ounce of musical judgement i own. the little
noise that sounds a bit like the opening bar of SL2’s on a ragga tip should
have been enough to put me off. that asides, the fact that tinie’s sound is
part (if not all) of that hallowed east-london-loved music genre called
GRIME should have been enough to switch me off.

but it didn’t. not only did i listen to ‘pass out’ TWICE. I clicked on a
couple of his other youtube vids afterwards and gave them at least a
minute-and-a-half of my attention. not bad, tinie. not bad.

i read somewhere that he describes himself as well brought-up and
well-spoken, which surely discredits both him and grime from the
prickly-edged urban persona to which it pertains…but hey. still quite like
that song.

maybe I’m dropping my guard or craving a little spikiness after, let’s face
it, a summer of pure tweeness. allo darlin’ anyone? or, it could be that I
have too much thinking time, what with my new routine of 2.2 hour
there-and-back commutes to work everyday. SRSLY, aldershot – what was I
thinking?

bands up trees

this could almost be as good as cats in sinks. it’s just as funny and probably more common.

while stalking for music on the internet i stumbled upon a classic example of the ‘group in a tree’ blend of band photography, precursor to the equally classic ‘group in a tree’ record sleeve. look:

melodica melody and me up a tree

the band: melodica, melody + me. from brixton with a two-tone tang (i think one of them plays one of those mouthpiece keyboards that you blow. a melodica, in fact) and an easy-on-the-ear cover of paul simon’s godly ‘diamonds on the soles of her shoes’. one way to lose these walking blues. downloadable HERE gratis, innit.

‘piece me back together’ is my favourite of the songs on their myspace page. notsomuch disco, more the sunday after.

(hope they don’t mind me borrowing the photo. it was taken by someone called robin j turner. i hope he/she doesn’t mind either.)

doing a quick search for other examples, i tried what i thought would be dead-certs for ‘group in a tree’ shots, noah and the whale and mumford and sons (disappointing – ‘group in front of a tree or few, and ‘group in a pose next to a tree’, respectively).

Noah and the Whale at Cambridge Folk Festival. 3rd August 2008.mumford and sons in front of a tree

so i went retro and looked up some old faithfuls: travis and the holloways (again, not quite there – just a tree, and ‘band in front of an urban tree’, respectively):

TRAVIS treeholloways in front of tree

by which point i was feeling tree’d out and bored of music with fiddles and wholesome country undertones. and possibly wrong about bands in trees.