The Rubber Room column is a weekly look at recent and notable releases that don’t fall into the rubric of traditional reviews or reviewed material—namely 7”’s, 12”’s, 3” CDs, EPs, cassette-only, DVDs and MP3-only releases.
LDN / Knock ‘Em Out 7”
Here’s the pat descriptions for Lily Allen—Mike Skinner with boobs; Lady Sovereign with boobs; M.I.A. who doesn’t need help to make a mixtape; Martina Topley-Bird who met Edison Lighthouse walking down the lane instead of Tricky; proof that Keith Allen isn’t a biblical punishment. And maybe someone that we’ll be filing next to Corrine Bailey Rae and Jem in six months time. “LDN” finds her riding her bike through the city streets to looped ska, sounding as summery as a warm breeze. The details of what she’s seeing—“A feller looking dapper and he’s sitting with a slapper, but then I see it’s a pimp and his crack whore”—should be a contrast but it’s all so good-natured that it’s as ghetto goofy as Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story.” On the flip, dodgy geezers try their best game on Lily only to get knocked out the box over pub piano and door-knock snare patterns. Neither track is as woozily heart-piercing as some of her songs, but this is still my single of the year so far.
“Tarrent Set” (040506), “Crave” (170406)
During 2006 the V/VM label is giving away (via free mp3 downloads), at least a track a day. Some of these you need to have, some you need to hear, and some you should probably get off your lazy behind and remix yourself. Staying on top of this and writing about it would be a full time job in itself, so here’s another sampling of noteworthy tracks. Try the label link above for access to the whole shebang.
How many more curveballs can V/VM throw? Is there anyone else who could even think of remixing an incidental theme from shit UK boating sitcom Howard’s Way, never mind making it sound as pretty as “Tarrent Set”? Thickly sweet strings reverb around the track, coughing over the thin sentimentality of the original. The shaky piano and some sort of wind instrument (it’s difficult to tell how much, and in what way, the sound has been shagged) are blown around like that truly awful scene in American Beauty. The high wire act of making this work is one that only V/VM could pull off.
The loud hum of an acid-style crunk beat is instantly overwhelming—even before it goes onto a loud snort of percussion dashes. Once the rush has worn off, there’s an instant need for things to pick up the pace again. “Crave” speeds up and slows down with the express intent of making you look stupid as you attempt to nod or tap along to it. This is energetic, uptight, and as nasty as coke—thankfully it’s a damn sight cheaper.
Equines Cadaver Junkyard CD-R
[Haunted Tape, 2006]
This CD-R has definitely been sourced from somewhere along the evolutionary line between metal and noise. This vital clue may well have been pulled together after the fact, but it still fits perfectly as a retrogressive missing link. There are recognisable but rotted riffs flitting in-between the treble swept scapes that heave it back to reality every so often. Vocals (roaring and screaming mostly) are wrenched in and out of hell’s top circle, dunked back into the boiling excrement. The whole thing comes to a ragged close with scalding calls to prayer groping for handholds.
Milky Quilt CD-R
[Alcoholic Narcolepsy, 2006]
While Steven Warwick’s debut as Heatsick was a streamlined affair with clear frequencies, his primitively packaged Milky Quilt CD-R is an earthier piece. The dull grind of blunt spinning metal boring through soft metal features, as well as a similarly metallic grubby clang that worms its way throughout. The title may give off a sickly moist vibe, but this is made of harsher stuff.
Smog for people who don’t like Smog. He hasn’t been the easiest artist to get into lately, what with that relentless monotone and stripped instrumentation coming to the fore; it has taken exceptional songs to shine out from under his bushel. Lyrically, this is almost perfect. As a story of generations of broken people, one after the other slipping in the mess of the last, it’s powerfully simple. Take the last line and put it up against your favourite songsmith: “When he came up from the river of methadone he took his last breath on the bowery.”
The Dirty Projectors
New Attitude EP
Instead of the majestic wail at the end of The Getty Address—femme, meditated, scythed, multitracked—Dave Longstreth picks up the pace and opens this record with a single caterwaul, a clarity further expanded by (surprise!) a fluid backing band. Admittedly, Longstreth stills meddles with the collage shit that makes Scott Herren want to call it quits, but it’s compounded with singer-songwriter zen. So we've got drums with momentum and a near-corporeal guitar twang that’s way more than a motif on tracks like “I Will Truck.” The audience approves—claps and yells right back—when Longstreth yells “precious reciprocity!” on live track “Two Young Sheeps,” his eight-minute take on Graceland. All of which is funny, of course, because even though dirty projectors show us obscured images, this batch is pretty clear.
Be Your Own Pet
Summer Sensation EP
School's almost over, so the teens of Be Your Own Pet are giving us tips for a sensational summer. It helps to be frantic, so pound on your drums and rip through that guitar like mom just shut down your garage. You should also mock stupid stuff, like girls on TV (who, for the record, aren't real). On second thought, just tell everyone who doesn't rock to get lost. Or make them listen to your music until they do. And don't forget the group's most important piece of advice: "Have fun / Be safe with it / Just kidding / Fuck shit up!"
Big City Dreams
Big City Dreams are doing everything right to get to move out of the burbs. The disc opens with a clichéd bump-bump-bap drum beat (but it's mixed down and put in a chamber so you know it's only signifying mediocre teen band). Eight words in, the vocalist pronounces "book" in such a way that it irritates me. Since I'm an old crank, the kids are loving this. Then the five tracks continue almost interminably on their gutted emo route, which is perfect for radio play. MTV needs this EP in their after-school slot. Oh, that's right. The group already had music on Parental Control. All is right with the world.
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-05-11