Friday, August 21, 2015

The Wooden Finger Five – August 2015

5.Move On – David Bowie

I was reading an Uncut retrospective on David Bowie this week, and in the review for ‘Lodger’ the author claimed that Bowie’s song ‘Move On’ was his ‘All The Young Dudes’ backwards. Turns out that’s right.

(An aside from that Bowie retrospective, from reading through the interviews: for all of his intellectualism I am not sure that Bowie ever thought about a single thing he said. Words just seemed to pour out. I’m partly amazed he managed to ever write a rhyming verse.)

4.Gunga Din – The Libertines

The Libertines, in their video for re-union track ‘Gunga Din’ look about a decade older than when we last saw them because, well, they are – though Pete Doherty possibly looks two decades older. The lyrics read like Doherty and Carl Barat have been reading the tabloid articles about them – ‘Woke up again to my evil twin’ … ‘Got to find a vein, it’s always the same’ … ‘A little drink-y now and then to help me just to see the light’ … We get it boys, you drink and you cause havoc. Still, it’ll be good to get a third album together out of them.

3.Pretty Pimpin’ – Kurt Vile

Unlike the Libertines, Kurt Vile hasn’t woken up to his ‘evil twin’ in the mirror, but someone he doesn’t recognise. Also unlike the Libertines, Vile is able to realise that if you’ve woken up alone in a room then the guy in the mirror is probably you. Even with this realisation though, Vile feels like a stranger in his own body: ‘Who’s this stupid clown,’ he asks, ‘blocking the bathroom sink?’ Personally I wish I could blame all of my stupid things on another person who happens to be inhabiting my body – ‘Who on earth put a fork in with the knives?!’ ‘It was that other Troy … Stupid jerk.’

2.Spit It Out – The Maccabees

The Maccabees’ ‘Spit It Out’ seems like it takes well over a minute to do anything at all. I think each of the first few times my Spotify app started on that song I thought that I had inadvertently pressed pause because there seemed to be silence. Once it gets going though it’s the Maccabees at about their most energetic, with a widescreen feel. I mainly like the Maccabees when they achieve that widescreen feel, such as with ‘Ayla’ and ‘Forever I’ve Known’ off their last album. I’m not sure if the new album has enough of it. Though it grew on me a bit more last time I listened through it, so perhaps there is some other gold in there.

1.More – Wilco

I remember in David Byrne’s book ‘How Music Works’ Byrne laid out the cost structure of making an album, and at what point, depending on whether or not you can take out distribution costs and other costs that record companies impose, it becomes profitable. I’m pretty sure it was never profitable to make you album free though. Wilco have done so with their new album, ‘Star Wars’, and the economic rationale for doing so, according to frontman Jeff Tweedy: ‘it felt like it would be fun’. Actually the album was only free to download for 30 days, so Wilco still stands some chance of turning a profit on their latest release. (In this music streaming age it took me a while to think of downloading the album, whereas I would have jumped all over a free album even five years ago.)

The main sources of appeal to me in ‘More’, the second track but first ‘real’ track on Wilco’s album, are its cracking drums, Tweedy’s ‘Ha-ah-ah’ at the start of each line in the verses, and the extended ‘more’ pairs in the chorus, each first one in the pair lifting up, each second one opening out. Very classic rock, more than the alt-rock that Wilco is more associated with, though songs like ‘Monday’ in the now-distant past have shown there’s classic rock in them as well. And honestly, it does sound better because it’s free.

By the way, ‘Star Wars’ was apparently not named because Wilco love the film, though it was sort of named because of the film, if that makes sense.

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