Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Wooden Finger Five - May 2016

Drake’s new album came out a few weeks back, which has been enough time for me to listen through it twice, forgoing all food and sleep to do so. ‘One Dance’ is exactly the type of track you can imagine being played at high school dances, sports events, parties, weddings, etc. for the next decade. Not for old people like me to dance to of course, because that would just be awkward …

Cate Le Bon – French, right? No, Welsh actually. Which still seems a bit surprising because she has the type of voice and music that you could picture fitting in well to a café in Paris, or elsewhere in Europe (continental Europe I mean – obviously Wales is European). The title ‘Love is Not Love’ reminds me of the ‘love is not a victory march’ line from Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallejuah’. Le Bon’s lyrics don’t quite have the same level of poeticism, but she sings a lot better than Cohen ever did. Indeed the whole album is music to drink your weekend morning coffees too, and I like my weekend morning coffees.

Radiohead’s self-heralded new song is seemingly the band at its most Radioheady, with a Radioheady song title, and a Radioheady video clip. Still the opening minute marks the track out as a significant and distinct addition to the band’s catalogue, similar to how ‘There There’ did ten years back. It starts off with an angry set of strings (who apparently are playing by striking their strings with the stick of the bow), something we haven’t heard much of in Radiohead’s music before, and which makes it kind of like the darker cousin to Coldplay’s ubiquitous ‘Viva La Vida’ track.
From there you get the usual Thom Yorke doom and gloom: ‘Burn the witch / Burn the witch / We know where you live’, though it’s a bit reductive to dump all Thom Yorke doom and gloom in the same box. I haven’t yet heard the new album, because it’s not on Spotify, nor in the record store (which I travelled to particularly to buy … grrrr), but I’m hopeful of a return to form based on what I’ve heard from it.

2.Cut And Paste: album – Oscar
Oscar’s album, his first, is bloody brilliant. It recalls many great British artists – Blur and Damon Albarn, Joy Division, Pulp, the Smiths, the Stranglers – but it still sounds like his own distinct work. Blur is to me the closest comparison, as each track has a nice little pop hook that has me playing the album over and over as I walk down the street. What also makes it work is that Oscar, for all of his evident talent, sounds like an understated, normal guy. But he doesn’t seem like he’s much into the football: ‘Tell me who I should support / Red team, green team’, he says on ‘Sometimes’. Well, it can be like that.

I went too early on my pick from Yeasayer’s new album, with my choice of ‘I Am Chemistry’ last month. The true standout for me now is the last track ‘Cold Night’. It’s a relatively simple song as far as Yeasayer songs go, with a relatively direct chorus ‘Was there something I
could have told you / To carry you through the cold night / Would you hang on my every word?’ On repeated listens though it revealed itself as the story of a possibly quite intense experience. It seems that the person the narrator is talking about left him in a huff some night five years ago, and the narrator isn’t particularly forgiving of it. He tosses out barbs even as he wonders, probably to himself, what he could have done to make things turn out differently.

One of those barbs particularly stands out for me: ‘To my daughter you’ll be an ancient memory/ If we even mention you at all’. I actually initially thought it was ‘to my father’. But the effect is the same: the person was someone who was family, but perhaps was always a bit on the outer, and is definitely so now. It’s a gorgeous ending to a song that stands alongside ‘2080’ and ‘Madder Red’ as one of my favourite Yeasayer tracks.

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