Beans on Toast | Grimes feat. HANA | CloZee | Rob Araujo | The1975
Welcome back, friends. As you read this, I will be celebrating my daughter’s second birthday and, therefore, in some senses, the two-year anniversary of my becoming a Dad. And so, it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on what one has learned.
Very little, I’m afraid.
No pearls of wisdom here. Girls, especially very young ones, are still complicated beings to me. If anything, they’re even more of a mystery than once they were as the specimen I’m currently in primary care of is a sprawling mass of contradictions from day-to-day, hour-to-hour. In fact, the only thing she appears decisive on is that what she wants most for her birthday is… cake.
But, then, that’s the beauty of it all, isn’t it? The things that make the world worth living in are those things that surprise us, challenge us and make us smile.
Obvs I’m not comparing the sheer magic of a human being to a handful of songs – one of which actually compares the smell of one woman’s hair to another’s feet – but I do hope you can find something a little challenging and/or surprising in the selection below. Perhaps there may even be one or two tracks that make you smile.
1. The ‘Charm Offensive’ | Beans on Toast: Alexa
It’s not a new trick for comedians to embed “Alexa”commands into their art purely to play havoc with their public’s Echo-branded devices, as anyone who’s ever found scrotum bags or titty chips added to their shopping list thanks to Matt Stone and Trey Parker will attest.
But here, Beans on Toast (aka Jay McAllister) has followed exactly this joke with a thick slice of his trademark caustic wit, in order to not only poke fun at modern technology but also make some pretty timely and slightly uncomfortable observations about the world in which we live.
“It’s a dream come true for the advertisers” he warns, talking about Amazon’s near ubiquitous AI device, shortly after sardonically musing that “it’s not really spying, it’s just collecting data.”
And if that sounds a bit dystopian; believe me, I work in advertising and it’s just as bad – if not worse – than you think it is. Isn’t that right, Facebook?
And if you think that’s a bummer, wait til you hear McAllister sing; “How long will it be until the Amazon warehouse is bigger than the Amazon jungle?”
Oh dear, this all got a bit heavy for a ‘comedy track’, didn’t it?
2. The ‘Military Coup’ | Grimes feat. HANA: We Appreciate Power
She’s back! At last, the multi-armed whirlwind of creativity that birthed 2015’s unrivalled Album of the Year, Art Angels, Grimes has returned. This time it’s with the industrial metal-inspired We Appreciate Power; a dissonant, twisted anthem for the end times which she’s claimed is inspired by a North Korean military band, used to spread Kim Jong-un’s propaganda. She’s also been coercing us to listen to this track for fear of having our offspring “deleted” by “future General AI overlords”.
However, none of what I have mentioned thus far counts as the scariest thing about this track.
Of course, Claire Boucher (which is how Grimes is known to her Mum) never really went away. Last week, Pitchfork wrote an excellent article detailing everything she’s been doing since ‘…Angels’ and, while it highlighted tome what a dangerously obsessive superfan I am of her (yes, I even liked her K-Pop colab with LOONA yyxy) it also revealed that where Ms. G is at her best is when she’s unleashing her inner beast and shredding the pop music rule book with a smile on her face and a fizzing grenade hiding behind her back.
We Appreciate Power is undoubtedly worth the, um, wait.
3. The ‘Peaceful Protest’ | CloZee: Desert
Which UK Bass producer wore Givenchy better; Zomby or Hudson Mohawke? It’s one of life’s great mysteries we’ll sadly never know the answer to.
Another such mystery to me – at least until this week – was the wonderful world of, um, World Bass. I mean, I’d heard hints of it in the work of Bonobo and Gold Panda, but I’d never actually thought someone would be ambitious enough to forge the power of raw EDM beats with a sustained assault of kotos, Indian flutes and marimbas.
But that’s exactly what CloZee – real name, Chloé Herry – has done on her new album Evasion. From start to finish, it is a richly-textured and artfully-curated tapestry of global influences; one that quietly promotes unity and cohesion in a way that almost makes you feel embarrassed about Brexit… oh, wait.
To be honest, I could have chosen any of its 10 tracks to feature this week but I’ve opted for Desert as my favourite example of her perfect marriage between glitchy western electronica and traditional world instrumentation.
Eat your heart out, Hudmo. This girl’s the real Bass boss… no fancy designer label adornments required.
4. ‘Guerilla Warfare’ | Rob Araujo: Nineteen
It’d be easy to see Rob Araujo’s compositions as a bit esoteric. After all, much of his strongly arpeggiated piano-playing style is so unrelenting and so based in the trad-jazz and classical genres that, on first listen, it could feel a bit cold and distant.
But where his music consistently surprises and delights is in his use of hip-hop soundscapes. The truth is, Nineteen is just a bit, well, bouncy… and that’s certainly not a word they ever used to describe JS Bach’s ditties back in the day.
His scattergun stylings and off-kilter noodlings area calling card that makes Araujo’s style fresh and almost unique (the only comparisons that easily come to my mind are some of the zanier moments on Thundercat’s Drunk; perhaps Uh Uh, for example). This is not from an album as yet but if you’re after more, check out his Instagram where ‘@RobArousal’ is sure to get you hot under the collar.
5. The ‘Quiet Riot’ | The 1975: Be My Mistake
Nobody writes a confessional quite like the 1975’s lead singer, Matt Healey. On 2016 über-hit Somebody Else he freely admitted to a heady cocktail of jealousy and vanity that would rival Narcissus, while on 2012 break-through single, Sex he openly tried to coerce a good friend’s missus into a right old session of bumping uglies. Nice. On Be MyMistake he’s at it again, confessing to getting lonely on the road and giving someone who clearly isn’t his girlfriend ‘the sign’ to come back to his hotel room.
However, as is always the case with Healey, he does it with enough rakish charm and good humour to just about bring you on side. “I shouldn’t have called / ‘Cause we shouldn’t speak / You do make me hard / But she makes me weak” he teases. “I don’t want to hug / I just want to sleep / The smell of your hair / Reminds me of her feet” he, erm, flirts?
As always, context is key and, placed on an album entitled A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, alongside songs in which men marry the Internet, Healey’s adulterous affairs seem somewhat prosaic; dare I say it, even oddly humane. And, in that, there is a beautiful honesty and simplicity that provides a crazily comforting counterpoint to the increasingly isolated world in which we live.
More context. This song sounds as undeniably Christmassy as your Nana’s brussel-sprout farts. And that’s reason enough for you to want to listen to it at this time of year, surely?
And so we reach a cease-fire for this week. You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.
If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. I can’t listen to every new track released each week so all recommendations from like-minded readers are most welcome too.
The silence is broken again next week when I’ll return with five more selections for your consideration. Until then, thank you for reading and go in peace.
– SV –