BlackBook Tracks #13: High School Called, It Wants Its Music Back

Maxïmo Park played in New York last night? The Killers are putting out an album next week? It’s time to reflect on the recent past. It seems like just yesterday that Brandon Flowers was perfecting his glossy pout, but that was 2005, or 16 blog years ago! Here are some other memories from my time as an entry-level alt teen, putting posters from imported copies of the NME on my bedroom wall.

Maxïmo Park – “Graffiti”

Back in the day, Maxïmo Park’s Paul Smith was probably the smartest guy in British rock music. He might still be!

Hot Chip – “Over and Over”

Hot Chip had already released debut album Coming On Strong in 2004, but “Over And Over” was their breakout single in 2006, and for good reason. It’s got all the wit and tension that has led to their success since then.

The Lovemakers – “Prepare For The Fight”

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, the sexed-up Oakland duo was always on heavy rotation on the alt-rock station LIVE 105. To this day, I’m not really sure how far outside the region they made it, but they had a good run while they lasted.

The Kills – “Love Is A Deserter”

The Kills have been going strong for ten years now, and “Love Is A Deserter” was the first song I remember hearing from them. They’ve mellowed out a little with age, but this cut from 2004’s No Wow shoots to kill.

Arctic Monkeys – “Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?”

Remember the halcyon days of Myspace, when bands like Arctic Monkeys could suddenly rise to international stardom? Well, now it’s 2012, and high school girls are cyberbullying each other on Tumblr instead.

The Rakes – “22 Grand Job”

The now-defunct favorites of Hedi Slimane were angular and anxious, loaded with sharp everyman observations.

Beck – “Girl”

Do you want to feel old? Guero was the Beck album that came out when I was the right age to get into his work.

The Killers – “Mr. Brightside”

Remember when Brandon Flowers wanted to be Morrissey instead of Bruce Springsteen?

The Futureheads – “Hounds Of Love”

When the Kate Bush classic got this barbershop-inspired treatment, it was a big deal, or so I read on the internet.

Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out”

I’d be amiss if I didn’t include the song that completely changed my ideas about what music could be. While it hasn’t quite been canonized the way, say, Modest Mouse’s “Float On” has, there’s still plenty to look back on and love.

Sneak Peek: Marion Cotillard in ‘Lady Grey’

In the fourth installment of the Lady Dior movie saga, Marion Cotillard takes on London in Lady Grey. Director John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) brings Lady Dior, the character played by Marion, to life as she steals the hearts of two men in this epic finale to her four-city adventure. Also be sure to watch the other films in the series: Lady Noire, Lady Rouge with Franz Ferdinand, and Lady Blue, directed by David Lynch. See a sneak peek after the jump, and unveil the mystery of Lady Grey in full on December 8.

Franz Ferdinand’s Paul Thomson Takes Us Off the Beaten Path

Up until a few days ago, I didn’t know where London’s Walthamstow district was – or what it was. I didn’t really care, either. I had too much to do in the capital city in too short a time. Turns out this underrated Northeast London haunt might be worth the extra tube fare, especially if you’re a Brit pop fan: it’s the unassuming stomping ground of a slew of rock stars and musicians. Franz Ferdinand’s drummer Paul Thomson lived there for some time with his wife, Esther, and happily reported back to me that it produced the pop group East 17. There’s some Blur history to boot. Must be cool, I thought – and it kind of was. For those who want to see a side of hipster London beyond Hackney and Mile End, Paul gives us his unofficial guide to Walthamstow.

Walthamstow Market “It purports to be the longest market in Europe, taking up the whole of Walthamstow High Street bar the last few blocks. As Wikipedia rather condescendingly puts it, ‘The overall tone is downmarket but with many interesting and enjoyable aspects.’ One December night, a cobbled-together facsimile of Boney M came, sang along to a skipping CD, and turned on the Xmas lights, which they have kept on ever since, all year long.”

Georgian Village, 100 Wood Street, Walthamstow “A small arcade of shops/stalls selling collectibles (junk), records, books, and instruments. I lived round the corner and would pop by daily. I will forever beat myself up for not buying that copy of the 1st Tonto’s Expanding Head Band LP that they had in the window for years.”

L. Rodi, Blackhorse Lane, E17 “A cafe within spitting distance of Blackhorse Lane tube station. The interior has been pretty much untouched since 1925: all green crackle glazed tiles and old marble tables. Coffee’s pretty good too.”

Walthamstow Dogs “E17 was probably most renowned in indie folklore for the Greyhound racing stadium, which sadly has now closed. The cover for Parklife was shot here. Blur even launched the album at Charlie Chan’s nightclub, which provided various members of the music industry an opportunity to indulge in a spot of voyeuristic class tourism.”

The Plough Inn, Wood Street, E17 “One of a few pubs in Walthamstow where you don’t feel like you’re trespassing in someone’s living room. They have gigs upstairs, and all the hotly tipped new bands play here, like Tenpole Tudor, The Vibrators, and Chas n Dave, to name a few.”

Links: Haiti Telethon Fails Haiti, Bristol Palin Fears Sex Addiction, Robert Pattinson’s Scruff

• LOL! Despite that crazy Haiti telethon, the Haitian government’s called off the search for those who went missing after the earthquake. Well done, everyone! [WaPo] • Rock band Franz Ferdinand are none too pleased that McDonald’s has licensed one of their tunes. Tweets lead singer Alex Kapranos, “Dirty bastards. Stupid arrogant motherf***ing pig-brained arseholes. I’d rather eat a cowpat on a bun than a bloody McDonalds.” Who ever said there was a difference? [Consumerist] • With stories about maybe-gay Robert Pattinson and beard Kristen Stewart circulating furiously, it’s fitting that he finally start showing off a literal beard too. If only as an homage to Jon Hamm. [DListed] • Meanwhile, Joaquin Phoenix is decidedly without beard. And getting lessons on how not to kill himself by Miley Cyrus. [MTV]

(‘DiggThis’) • Apparently Moscow’s adversarial relationship with stray dogs mirrors New York’s relationship with subway rats. [The Financial Times] • Bristol Palins fears getting bitten with the nastiest bedbug of them all: Sex addiction. So unwilling to let it bring her down like it did Tiger Woods, she’s vowing not to be terribly loose ’til someone puts a ring on it. [People] • And finally, trippy club act Yes Giantess has remixed Cyrus’ “Party In the USA” and despite it being about four months too late, it’s still kind of amazing. [Neon Gold Beat]

Music Reviews: From Andrew Bird to Lily Allen

Andrew Bird, Noble Beast (Fat Possum) – On his eighth long-player, this acclaimed Chicago-based eccentric virtuoso fully transforms into the glorious anachronism he’s always verged upon, balancing astonishing performance with consummately literary singer-songwriter craft. In his new material, Bird restrains his violin mastery and one-man-band sleight of hand to concentrate on making the complex architecture of his songs seem effortless. Bird’s chamber-pop comes off as intelligently manicured, to a fault at times. When preciousness threatens to overcome the proceedings, however, he introduces an artful new musical gambit, jolting listeners back to square one with witty, unexpected dissonance. —Matt Diehl

Franz Ferdinand, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (Epic) – As Dostoyevsky’s Kirilov observed in The Possessed, “If you shoot yourself, you’ll become God.” Of course, it’s hanging around and remaining cool that’s the hard part. Just ask the members of Franz Ferdinand, who plummeted from the highest of hipster pedestals to the creative skids in a blinding flash. But cagey gents they are, and on their third studio album they’ve decisively relocated their mojo. Balancing moments that are suavely literate with charming rants about how much boys and girls don’t understand each other (they really don’t), the Glaswegian quartet whip up some of the wickedest, most artfully angular grooves this side of a Gang of Four convention, peppered with dub and Teutonic synths. Heaven can wait, then. — Ken Scrudato

Lily Allen, It’s Not Me, It’s You (Capitol) – Unlike her doppelgänger who likes kissing girls, Lily Allen comes off as thoughtful and free from the tedium of irony on her sophomore effort. It all begins quite morosely with “Everyone’s At It,” a bleak overview of a society strung out to the rafters on meds; and it’s followed by the aching, existential despair of “The Fear.” (Been hanging about with Jarvis, have we?) The oft-piercing lyrics don’t get much cheerier from there, but in one distinctly amusing moment, chirpy piano play becomes a sneering anti-bigotry rant (titled, brilliantly, “Fuck You”). It’s Not Me… distinctly recalls Britpop-era Blur, effortlessly shifting styles while holding on to the melancholy synonymous with Englishness. — Ken Scrudato

Matt & Kim, Grand (Fader) – In 2006, Chicago-based deejays Flosstradamus remixed “Yea Yeah,” the infectious single by Brooklyn synth-pop duo Matt & Kim, giving birth to the best blog banger ever. So good was the remix, in fact, that the original track was rendered blah. So, with their second album, Grand, some advice for the best musical couple since Sonny and Cher: Don’t let Floss touch this! Your tracks are bouncy and synth-ridden enough as is! Matt, your cowabunga vocals begin to grate around track five, but the two of you seem so damn happy and fun-filled that it can’t help but rub off. And don’t ever break up, okay? — Ben Barna

M. Ward, Hold Time (Merge) – In our digital age, Ward remains an analog talent. On his latest album — the follow-up to his 2006 breakthrough masterwork Post-War — this iconic indie bard steadfastly maintains a human pulse, always anchored by his grizzled, otherworldly moan. Resonating with the sound of plucked strings and wide-open spaces, Ward’s latest effort evokes olde-tyme country radio broadcasting hazily from a distant universe. But just when his penchant for expressive Americana borders on Dust Bowl classicism, he throws in a Krautrock texture, say, or some other sonic eccentricity that signals he belongs to no age but his own. — Matt Diehl

Obi Best, Capades (Social Science Recordings) – On her debut solo album as Obi Best, Alex Lilly stumbles into the spotlight as the Miranda July of postmodern quirk-pop. Best known for her soaring and stinging back-up vocals with The Bird and the Bee, the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter forgos irony in favor of painfully earnest saccharine fare that recalls influences as diverse as Metric’s Emily Haines and ’70s helium addict Melanie. Clinking piano chords echo like silver spears tapping champagne glasses on “Nothing Can Come between Us,” while towering falsettos create walls of sound as whimsical as they are melodic on “What It’s Not” and the relatively dark “It’s Because of People Like You.” — Nick Haramis

Mr. Oizo, Lambs Anger (Ed Banger) – On Lambs Anger, he of the Banging Eds peppers his third full-length with references to Flat Eric, the puppet character that Mssr. Oizo bestowed upon the world via a series of offbeat Levi’s commercials back in the 1990s. But this latest collection of songs is a dance-track galaxy away from his early pop beginnings. The French electronica wunderkind — née Quentin Dupieux — ebbs and flows through heavy techno-laden tracks (“Hun”), trance-like funk (“Cut Dick”) and bubbly female vocals (“Steroids,” featuring Uffie) to produce a stocked bar of fist-pumpers with heart. Plus, how could anyone deprive himself the jouissance of a song called “Bruce Willis is Dead”? — Eiseley Tauginas
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