Rebecca Black-Friday

We’ve been culturally starved this generation. Basically everything we’re told to like is awful. From identikit first person exercises in militaristic fetishism to the latest characterless cinematic event starring Shia Cera Eisenberg, we’ve never had it so bad. It extends as far as our music too.

Has there been an overwhelming cultural musical movement or song that defines us as a generation? I think not.

Every decade before has had a song that’s defined its age. For instance, the 2000s had Nookie by Limp Bizkit

The 90s had Watching Over You by Jim Davidson

And the 80s had Boys Boys Boys by Sabrina.

And what do we, the products of a more civilised affluent age have to call our own? I tell you what we have. NOTHING. Dubstep promised so much, but has delivered nothing thus far. As much as it pains me to say it, I believe it’ll slither off lowly and serpentine, having tempted us with not one bit of cultural fruit.

Long I pondered, mired in despair. Our children would look back on us and wouldn’t have a bloody clue what to say. We’ve had no wars to fight, no revolutions to win. Do you know the pressing issue of our generation? I’ll tell you what it is. It’s ‘how do I be Goro in Mortal Kombat?’

We’re a society drained. Drained of hope, drained of aspiration, drained of insight. We’ve nothing…

Or so I thought until yesterday.

I found it. This is the song of our generation. This will be the song that our children look back on and think, ‘that is what life in the 2010s was like. This is what I was conceived to. Mother and Father copulated to this.’

It’s basically the perfect distillation of our time. A pleasant looking tween called Rebecca Black, singing about her day. It’s lovely, and something we can all relate to.

Let us see some of her lyrics…

7am, waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal
Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’
Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends (My friends)

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

On the face of it, these are wholesome lyrics about living a wholesome happy life in the suburbs of America. Rebecca recalls with glee the regime of her day, looking forward to that first bowl of coco pops to vanquish the remnants of sleep from her person, before heading out to catch a bus to see her friends, as friends are what make life worth living. She then finds herself facing something of a quandary. What seat shall she take? It’s something we’ve all asked ourselves. It could also be a reference to the oppression of black people in the 1950s, as of course, they would only be able to take the back seat. It’s wonderful to see that the youth of today are mindful of humankind’s sometimes shameful history.

She then opines Hard Fi style about the glories of the weekend, because like Hard Fi, Rebecca lives for the weekend, where she doesn’t have to go to school and she can sit in her pants and play Pokemon and watch anime until the early hours of the morn.

On the surface it’s a happy song.

But what bubbles beneath that glossy, bubblegum sweet exterior?

A dark heart thumps with rage throughout it’s entirety. Note Black’s delivery. This is not the ebullient carefree singing of a teenage girl unphased by the cruelties of life. Her vocals are autotuned to the point that it’s impossible to imagine what the girl sounds like in the first place. She could sound like fucking Samuel L Jackson and we’ll never know. Anyway, autotune bastardises her voice to such a degree, that her initially innocent carefree description of her happy life is turned into a sinister, regimented list of compulsory tasks, administered by a faceless harsh automaton with hair that smells like berries.

GOTTA BE FRESH, GOTTA GO DOWNSTAIRS GOTTA HAVE CEREAL OR YOU WILL DIE.

Rebecca also lays waste to the whole ‘living for the weekend culture’, and she hasn’t even come up with tiresome Rage Against The Machine style rhetoric to do it. Listen to her tone of voice during the chorus… ‘FUN FUN FUN.’ There’s an ennui stricken, dogmatic approach to her delivery of that line, as if she’s telling her tale with an absolute maximum of destitute irony. She is not looking forward to the weekend. She is not having fun, and like so many middle management types, sinking lager after lager, she’s lying to herself because she knows no other way to live.

Friday is our song. A sugar coated ode to teenage joy on the surface, but a harrowing realisation of just how meaningless life is underneath. It’s impossible to enjoy any facet of modern life and Rebecca realises it. Instead we must use our time to dull the pain, render ourselves mindless and inert through means of absinthe, opiates, and Petit Filous.

Rebecca, in the space of 3 minutes and 45 seconds, has summed up modern living better than any zeitgeist dunderhead ever could. She’s absolutely nailed just how corrosive modern society is to one’s sanity. She is our Elvis. Our Kurt. Our Adolf. ARE DAVEY.

10/10

Mamiffer – Mare Decendrii

Hydrahead Records

Slightly worryingly it’s been so long since I last posted here that my little netbook forgot all my login details, and then the backup copy I keep inside my brain also seemed to have been checked out and never returned.

But I saw we have regular updates and whatnot these days, and I have a metaphorical ‘pile’ of albums which have come out over the last few months which have all caused me to say ‘hey I should review that for DP’ and so today I thought, shucks, I should do that. So here I am again. Demon Pigeon needs my renegade approach to punctuation and self serving style to balance out all the being mean to girls we do these days.

Anyway, Mamiffer. I got this about a month ago and unlike most of the promo links I get I clicked on it, primarily because I saw from their press release that they have one Mr Aaron Turner from ISIS in them, and since I am an old man who fears things that are new, I downloaded it. I have been struggling to work out how to review it ever since. The problem I have with this album though, is not that it sounds nothing like ISIS (which it doesn’t) nor indeed that it is bad in any way (which it most certainly is not) but that it is essentially impossible to review.

Everything is reviewable, of course. Take a bunch of words, sling them together, make a point, job done. But I like to listen to an album a few times, come to a conclusion about it, then listen to it as I am writing a review. I am old-fucking-school me. The problem is not in summing up how I feel about this album, my problem lies in the fact that by listening to it, as I am right now, I am fighting the urge to crawl under a duvet in a darkened room, and smother myself with a pillow.

Mare Decendrii is a collaboration between Turner and avant garde pianist Faith Coloccia and a bunch of other people, but none of that really matters. What it is is five tracks of bewildering instrumental journeys that last sometimes up to 18 minutes, which range from sparse piano interludes that would sit nicely in the soundtrack to an Alejandro González Iñárritu film to dense Native American themes, to sprawling post rock landscapes and yes I am well aware that I am coming of like some wanky Pitchfork writer but I can’t help it, it’s all just so crushingly epic in scale.

It’s not perfect. Over its running time (which could be anything really, I’ve had it on repeat all day and have somewhat lost any grip on the concept of time as a result, but it’s bloody long) there are bits and pieces which threaten to disappear entirely up their own collective sphincters, but they never last for long and are usually followed by something so dazzlingly depressing and gargantuan in scope that you end up forgetting its faults as you slide mercilessly into a pool of your own ennui.

There are moments on this album, like the opening five minutes of second track We Speak In The Dark for instance, where the atmosphere is so utterly abrasive and cold that you half expect to hear Nic Cage screaming about bees over the top of it, or to find that it was the last thing played by a Tory MP as he aspyxi-wanked himself into an early grave.

There are bits that are rather uplifting, there are bits that could haunt you for days, there are bits where it feels as though you might sneeze your frontal lobe out, and there are bits where you think, hey, that’s pretty. Easy listening it isn’t but it is an experimental journey that still remembers you need to have some hooks, and it is an epic musical journey that actually manages to be emotionally engaging, something the new Radiohead album forgot to be.

Unless you only came to this site because Dan reviewed Emmure and you like to wear wifebeaters and have a haircut to cut glass with, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet there’s something in this album for you. If only all the rest of my to-review pile were this interesting.

9/10

The Gaslamp Killer – Gaslamp Killers

The Gaslamp Killer first came to my attention via his entry in the We Make It Good mix series. Head-nodding beats, dark atmosphere, unlikely rock tracks – to my delight, here was a rare example of a DJ with technical prowess, broad and excellent taste, and clearly a sense of humour.  Since then I’ve become an admirer of the Low End Theory podcast, to which he regularly contributes (having residency at the infamous club which notably hosted a recent secret DJ set from the ubiquitous Thom Yorke). Even the laziest googling unearths a good number of other mixes, and I’ve yet to come across a dud.

His standout work dates back several years, though you wouldn’t know it. The mix I have had on high rotation for the past few months turns out to be his very first mix CD – Gaslamp Killers.

This is an incredibly slick, funky, warm and dirty mix that features tracks from the glory days of Warp and Mo Wax, that blends Company Flow effortlessly with Radiohead. If that sparks any interest at all you’re best off just listening to the damn thing.

Does that come off as abrupt? Lazy? I’m sorry, but the truth is that after multiple forays into music journalism over the years, I never intended to re-enter the ring. When it was first decided I’d start writing here at Demon Pigeon, I happily entertained the notion of writing about pretty much anything BUT music. Then, as I flipped through the site archives, something leapt out at me. Someone called Nina Saeidi had posted less than a year ago about the Gaslamp Killer! Or, er, Gaslamp Killers. Perhaps a review of the aforementioned, classic mix?

Apparently not. Nina doesn’t seem to know the proper name of the act, despite including a YouTube video which gets it right in the title. “Gaslamp Killers appears to be a dude”, she notes, only to muddy the issue further by linking to “their myspace” (username? thegaslampkiller, naturally).

All that would amount to nitpicking if it wasn’t for the fact that the rest of the text is the worst kind of garbage. PROTIP: Namechecking in music reviews should be minimal, and limited only to related or similar artists. Josef Fritzl does not fall into this category. Similarly, flowery language and simile is only acceptable where it helps illustrate the nature of the work. Literally never has music sounded “like seeing the life of an old lady who is about to be run over flash before her eyes before being transported into the raving mind of a murderous truck driver, who has found out that said old lady was sleeping with his wife, as he brutally reverses over aforementioned octogenarian’s twitching body”.

Nina further brutalises the spirit of both music and the written word in another piece which kicks off with the stated intention of “pissing over the drug addled journalistic genius of everyone’s favourite gun obsessed drunk that is Hunter S Thompson and attempting to write something that vaguely mirrors his writing”.

NO.

 

Just as referring to an infamous sadistic sex criminal does not serve to paint your subject as more ‘ardcore, explicitly drawing an unneeded comparison between your writing and that of a cult author will not have the favourable outcome you’re aiming for.

Sadly, there will be no more odes to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome on this site, as Ms. Saeidi has moved on to other pastures. For all I know, she will continue to churn out her unique blend of nonsense, hyperbole and cliche for as long as free concert tickets are sufficient incentive. Her Demon Pigeon legacy will stand as an object lesson for anyone else tempted to get into the music writing game: this is what you’ll look like if you think you can bluff knowledge of music or, for that matter, wordcraft.

Which is not to say you can’t achieve success persisting with this strategy.

Burial, Four Tet and Thom Yorke- Ego/Mirror

(Text Records)

I was once told that discovering Burial is akin to finding a gold piece in a pile of steaming dog shit (no I wasn’t). Now, I’m rather fond of dubstep. But I’m trying to keep the diehard Radiohead fans reading after spotting the name ‘Thom Yorke‘, before they all roll their eyes and pop back to listening to King of Limbs on their iPods and dawdle off to buy wool. Or take antihistamines. Or something else that Radiohead fans like to do.

Still, I understand the sentiment. Burial’s work is often bemoaned even by the ‘brostep’ crowds, who complain that its repetitive nature and lack of ability to give the face a WOBWOBWOB BASS yoga work out make for uninteresting listening. I do not concur, however. I find that the success in Burial’s music comes from the atmosphere. It’s a distinctly London sound. It’s powerful, it’s beautiful. Tracks such as Archangel sound a little like what I imagine Brian Eno would create during a mescaline binge.

I guess you could say I really ‘dig’ Burial. Wink.

So when I heard the words “Burial and Four Tet and Thom Yorke,” I had to wobble off to the ladies before I wet myself in excitement (and also because I’d had like six cups of coffee to stay up during the day). Thom “don’t-look-at-the-fucking-eye” Yorke, with his distinctive warble and perfectionist lyricism, Four Tet’s melty Bonobo-esque clicky music (which I also adore) and Burial? In the same track? All there together in a little saucy ambient threesome?

Let me just reach for the proverbial masturbatory aid.

And yet the three of them together is almost as much a problem as it is a bloody glorious benefit. See there’s only so much track space to go about, and the overall effect is that the listener almost has to struggle to hear the track as a stand alone bit. The brain is constantly darting from chunk to chunk of the track slab, wrestling itself to hoot at you “OH CHRIST, LISTEN TO THAT” and “WOULD YOU JUST LISTEN TO THAT?!”

But really. Whilst ‘Ego’ puts out a boot-march beat and warm (absolutely delicious) wiggling bass, Thom Yorke’s vocals breathe a lovely Jack Frost coolness over it all. Four Tet bobs in later with a drizzle of percussion; a garnish that would be sure to make even Gregg Wallace visibly excited. ‘Mirror’ makes you feel a little tingle in the end bit when Yorke purrs treacle gently over that oozing sound. Yum yum yum.

In short, both tracks are fucking splendid. It’s great that this collab has also popped out in time for the beginning of summer, because it sounds like exactly what we need after watching various governments and dictatorships gunning down their people (RIP people),  the coalition proposing to smash up the NHS and education into little bits (RIP society) and Japan getting swathed in an earthquake, nuclear alerts and also water and then more earthquakes (RIP more people, and anime).

Yeah. Go have a listen to this melty-moany mix-up music and at least try to pretend that the world we’re launching ourselves into isn’t a complete mess.

http://www.myspace.com/burialuk

Amplifier- The Octopus

(Ampcorp)

There’s a heck of a lot to go at here, and I’m not going to have time to do my usual self-satisfied trick of deconstructing what I’m writing as I write it, like some sort of Asda Smartprice Jacques Derrida (apart from in this sentence, of course), so let’s just crack on, shall we?

To make  a long review short, this album is pretty astonishing.

The immediate concern about Amplifier’s The Octopus is it’s a double album, and double albums almost never, ever work. There’s not a piece of art on the planet that won’t benefit from a severe evisceration of filler prior to publication, and rare indeed is the record that can get away with even an hour’s length. So to plop a two hour slab of proper prog with a capital P in front of a critic and demand they trust in your vision is a big, ballsy old ask. I’ve got a wank pencilled into today’s diary that’ll eat more than two hours; some bell-end’s interminable sonic dissertation about swords is going to have to go some to beat that.

And that’s the thing that makes this album astonishing rather than just dead chuffing good. They’ve somehow jammed two full hours of belting music into one single record with barely a sag in sight. Listening to it is definitely a commitment, but it’s bloody well worth it. Also, it’s not about swords. But this is:

The closest comparison I’ve got for Amplifier is Porcupine Tree, but that’s really only because they’re both complicated as heck, and the singing man sounds a bit like Little Stevie Wilson, or perhaps like a prog-flavoured Gavin from Feeder. Beyond that, however, this record sounds like fucking everything else you’ve ever heard at once, having a fight, and a fuck, in a blender, on acid.

It’s deeply unfashionable, of course, as all the best stuff is. It sounds like it emerged from about 1993, and there’s not a fucking djent in sight, but I will tell you what. You can call shitty, tedious TeSsERacT ‘prog’ all fucking day, but Amplifier have seen the cut of their gib, smashed it into powder with a gargantuan chord change and then snorted it for a bit of a pick-me-up. In the process, they’ve incorporated every idea teSserACt have ever had and sailed effortlessly past them at a substantial proportion of c.

Overall, the most striking thing about The Octopus is how gleefully, tunefully enormous it is. Witness the short-leg syndrome riff on Interstellar, thick with reverb and flange, and coupled to a blue-shift chorus full of gorgeous harmony, all of which grew organically out of a plinky-plonk toy piano intro, and it finishes up with a bada-bop-bop coda that sounds like it came directly off a Jellyfish record.  Or what about the handclaps that pop up in the middle of the otherwise slightly Tool-esque The Wave, and slap a big stupid smile onto your face before doing a waggle-dance?

The Emperor combines a ragged urchin of a beat with a climbing space elevator guitar lead that takes the Kármán line and slowly eases it into your ears and fucks them using nothing but its own buttery sound for lubricant. Then there’s the achingly beautiful Minion’s Song, that just goes completely fucking fissile after about three and a half minutes, and sounds like nothing so much as Polyphonic Spree doing that mammoth cover version of Lithium. And album closer Forever and More is just gorgeous and brilliant and gorgeous. I could go on gushing, but here is where I will arbitrarily decide to give it a rest.

I have to say, it’s been a while since I felt enthusiastic enough about a record to actually want to bother spunking a bunch of rubbish about why I like it, all onto the internet. Ultimately, Amplifier are making sprawling music, entirely on their own terms, that draws elements from all over the place. I feel no conflict in saying it is heavy as heck despite its pop sensibility, and that has got nothing to do with bellowing over shit-boring, chugging 20-string riffs. It’s all about the fat fucking sound, and the dynamics that can take you from singularity to supernova in the mere thud of a heartbeat.

Lovely stuff.

http://www.amplifiertheband.com/

Emmure- Speaker Of The Dead

Mention Emmure to any neckbearded failure in a BO sodden Metallica T shirt, whose idea of forward thinking is watching Terminator 2 on betamax, and you’ll likely get a snort of derision followed by an ungodly smoker’s cough and a piquant bellow of ‘FUCK.’ Purists hate Emmure for many reasons. Emmure songs don’t have solos. Emmure songs don’t blether on about war or Chthulhu or any other tired metal trope. Frankie Palmeri has a rapping shouting style too, and as King Gumby Lemmy duly proved the other week, purists can’t get their head around rap or owt (can’t spell rap without crap lol). There are other reasons too. Emmure have better dress sense, and are doubtless tripping up in scene bint, and who’s pissed off? The arsehole down the music shop in the Whitesnake shirt, mercilessly wanking out countless blues riffs and licks to the chagrin of the owner who just wishes he’d bugger off so he could read some Dan Brown in peace.

So yes, people hate Emmure, and Emmure don’t care because they’re touring the world, wearing mosh shorts to their black little heart’s content and rapping about Reptilians and videogame characters.

I am firmly pro-Emmure, and this isn’t me being deliberately contrarian.Their latest opus Speaker Of The Dead proves their (hehe) mettle. Emmure genuinely encompass all I like about heavy music. First things first, they’re batshit heavy. So many chunky detuned riffs and bends. It’s a Sargasso sea of bludgeoning. They’re also direct. They’ve never done an album over 40 minutes, and in an age where shitty Djent bands are making albums that go on for twice as long as the director’s cut of Heaven’s Gate this is a blessing. Our world’s about to shit itself and die man. You think I’m going to have time to listen to an 80 minute Sylosis album? Fuck that. I want a 2 and a half minute Emmure song when I go out.

Emmure’s real top trump though is the aforementioned Frankie Palmeri.

Frankie you see, is an anomaly. He’s a violent bastardisation of Shinji Mikami, David Icke, and Fred Durst, a new man for a new age. He is Schwarzanegger in Commando. He is Vin Diesel in the Pacifier. He is Dawn French in the Vicar of Dibley. He’s the lynchpin, and the reason Emmure stand out like a sore thumb, wearing a tiny little backwards baseball cap. Frankie writes lyrics about Street Fighter and conspiracy theories and shitty women. I can relate to that shit a lot more than whatever it is Periphery sing the bloody fuck about. He’s also an engaging vocalist, with a compulsive half rapped, half roared style that sometimes recalls Chino Moreno at his slurring, angry best. And he says fuck a lot which is great, because swearing is cool, let no one tell you different.

Speaker Of The Dead is the best Emmure album yet, but surely that’s a pretty obvious tautology. It’s a potent, venomous distillation of everything that makes the band so vibrant and unique in the first place. Huge grooves, big riffs, and Frankie cussing about Ryu. If you don’t like it you’re… well you’re perfectly entitled to your own opinion. But you’re a dick.

This will be up there with Radiohead’s King Of Limbs in my top 10. In fact I’m cataloguing it now and putting my thoughts into a database and getting my secretary to take notes, so come the time, I’ll be ready to formulate my top albums of the year, and not just piddle something out like I did last year. Lists are important man. Just like my opinions. Praise Xenu.

Speaker of the Dead is out now on Victory Records.

http://www.myspace.com/emmure