E07 | 2 March 2018

Ernest K | Dessa (pictured) | Vancouver Sleep Clinic | Sameer Gupta | nothing, nowhere

If a couple of weeks ago, we had the Glee tribute episode, this week’s offering is a bit of a Ben Gibbard appreciation convention…

1. The ‘Charm Offensive’ – Ernest K: “Cuss, Fight, F*ck”

What do I know?
Listening to this track, you definitely wouldn’t predict that he grew up in Nashville, learning to play banjo. Listening to the smooth jazz of the verses, you probably wouldn’t immediately identify his love of rap and hip-hop. But, then, reading his lyrics, you probably wouldn’t expect him to have Jason Mraz-rivaling hooks. Yet it all features in spades on his self-titled debut EP, released – perhaps provocatively – on Valentine’s Day this year.

What do I like?
Well, it’s certainly not his potty mouth! Like your Mum always told you, it’s not big and it’s not clever. Slightly annoyingly, however, Mr. K does seem to think it is. But if you look past all of that, I think ‘Cuss, Fight, F*ck’ is actually a great pop tune with some charismatic breakdowns and some genuine ambition. If I was writing his school report, I’d probably be saying, ‘lots of potential… if he could just stop giving his classmates wedgies”.

***

2. The ‘Military Coup’ – Dessa: “Fire Drills”

What do I know?
Rapper, poet and writer, Dessa is a member of the Minnesota rap supergroup Doomtree (whose 2015 album, All Hands is well-worth checking out). She’s also composed for a 100-voice choir, been published by The New York Times and has a philosophy degree. Listening through her album I kept thinking, ‘this girl could be the new SZA’ which seems kinda harsh, given that SZA is only just taking off herself but the similarities are there… and my humble opinion is that, though I’m a fan of 2017’s rap sweetheart, this track is better than anything SZA’s yet produced, with or without Kendrick’s help!

What do I like?
Well, the earworm was obviously the instrumentation. I think it’s a kora that is looping in the background during the verses, but then it’s that middle-eastern string section that kicks in during the breakdown, becoming positively Kashmir-sized by the time Dessa’s rant has finished.

And what about that rant?! As the father of a daughter, my feminist persuasions have definitely become more pronounced in the last year, but even so. During the aforementioned breakdown, Dessa sings ’We don’t say, “Go out and be brave”. Nah, we say “Be careful, stay safe”… I think a woman deserves a better line of work than motherfucking vigilance. By definition you can’t make a difference if the big ambition is simply standing sentry to your innocence.” And when someone’s as passionate and persuasive as that, how can you not be moved?

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3. The ‘Peaceful Protest’ – Vancouver Sleep Clinic: “Ayahuasca”

What do I know?
Contrary to what the name might suggest, the ‘Clinic is not a collective… nor is Tim Bettinson (as VSC is known to his Mum) from south-west Canada. He’s from Australia. Go figure.

He’s supported Daughter and London Grammar, which all makes sense when you listen to last year’s debut album Revival. However, with new tracks (not off the album) ‘Ayahuasca’ and ‘Closure’ I think VSC has taken his sound on a little bit.

In case you’re wondering, ayahuasca is a tea-style brew used as a traditional spiritual medicine by the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin. But I’m buggered if I know what that’s got to do with this song.

What do I like?
It takes a little while to take off, this one. For the first three minutes, it kinda drifts along like a sweet, if slightly unremarkable, Benjamin Francis Leftwich number with Bettinson’s voice in the chorus the obvious stand-out moment. But then it takes an unexpected turn. We have the introduction of some brass and I’m reminded of Bjork on the quieter moments of Volta (think ‘Pneumonia’, for example). And then the drum-machine, reminiscent of The Postal Service and more classical instrumentation. Finally, the track dissolves away like the ‘kind mirage’ he references earlier in the track, providing; ‘everything I wanted [before it] became nothing real at all”. If you can find a quiet eight-and-a-half minutes for it in your life, I think you’ll find it time well-spent.

***

4. ‘Guerilla Warfare’ – Sameer Gupta: “Innocence in Harlem”

About the artist:
Well, he ticks all my boxes. He’s a jazz drummer from New York, while also being a tabla master of Indian origin.

Oh, and he also founded something called the Brooklyn Raga Massive, which conjures up images in my mind of massive Bob Marley lookalikes sitting on piles of guns, strippers and gold bars. I’m probably completely wrong but, either way, I want to be a part of it.

About the track:
What don’t I like? From that kinetic, shivering kit-work to the violins and flutes that put eastern scales to syncopated time signatures, this is just the coolest thing I’ve heard (apart from Cuss, Fight, F*ck… only kidding!)

Sure, I can’t hum along to a single second but who listens to music for stuff like melodies anyway?

**

5. The ‘Quiet Riot’ – nothing, nowhere: “Ruiner”

About the artist:
nothing, nowhere is the pseudonym of Joe Mulherin, who writes and records everything you hear on his records, which leads you to wonder what his CD collection must be like with so many rap, rock (dare I say it, ‘emo’) and ambient influences all in one.

I read somewhere that he’s completely straight-edge (never even drunk alcohol) and a vegan at that, which should be a disastrous combination for a musician or artist of any kind but I quite like this lad… not least of all because his stuff is so bloody miserable-sounding, it sounds like he’d best steer clear of the booze for fear of how he’d cope with the hangovers!

About the track:
It’s an unusual choice for a Quiet Riot – probably the first rap track that’s ever made this spot. But I think it earns the title. In part, because of the melancholic guitar line that sounds like everything Death Cab for Cutie have ever done. But I also like the lyrics, which reference disenchantment with your home town and loss of love as being the loss of a best friend. These things are all things I think we can relate to. Next week I’ll go back to some singer-songwriter from Ireland with ginger hair no doubt but, for this week, this is the song that ‘got me’ the most and that’s why it gets in.

***

The Outro:
And so we reach a cease-fire for this week. Click here to listen to the 45 RPM Spotify Playlist in full.

If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), feel free to engage in dialogue with me @45rpmPodcasts on Twitter.

The silence is broken again next week when I’ll return with five more selections for your consideration. Until then, thank you and go in peace.

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