First Quarter 2008 Music-related Ponderings (1/5 featuring Crystal Castles)

Cow Tipping

The first fourth of the year is done and so ends the season of trying to squeeze as many new bands onto the overpopulated music map as humanly possible. Tipping season is officially over, if you’re a new band, try again with a new name next year…

Adele, whose voice blew my socks off at the Great Escape last year, had her moment of sheepish media hype, most of which came before anyone had heard the full album and is now, without a great album to keep her afloat, struggling to see the year through. Despite their very Bloc Party twist on math-rock, Foals with their party-friendly twiddly futurism have proved they’re more than toilet venue hype and look set to be a genuinely significant international band, representing a tip of the iceberg of what’s going on in ‘our world’.

What’s odd is there is, again, no certifiable next ‘big’ thing, in a proper biiiiig Coldplay or Franz Ferdinand way, which is particularly telling, showing further symptoms that technology has allowed average people to be far too equipped with knowledge far too early, many bands written off far too early, with essentially a few hundred people driving media taste and agendas, whilst the gatekeepers/tastemakers are now just trying to keep up with far too many slithers of buzz. It’s a sad state of affairs and one which ultimately isn’t good for any music which requires vision and understanding, as well as development, as well as introduction and translation to make sense of it. We’ve attempted to start this blog to change this and give a clear, reputable and trust worthy place to get recommendations. But I digress…

With this modern ‘buzz’ – which was once just the domain of coke-mule A&R men and New Bands Editors, rather than the ‘loids and mobile phone instore showcases – it does not matter how inhumanely awful bands like The Courteeners (note: not pronounced Cour-ten-ears) and the incredibly punchable Joe Lean and the Jing Jang are, as long as there’s a healthy bit of scruffy melody and major label funded marketing buzz. These are what’s being sold to Anglophilic Americans as “the best of British” but the only thing quintessentially English about either act is their pale downtrodden demeanors and wonky made-for-mobile-phone-ads guitars’n’clatter which sound, as british rock acts always sound, like a reinterpretation of something American i.e. The Strokes or Television/Patti Smith via Razorlight. It was bad enough when Bush ripped off Grunge and sold it back to them but this is just a joke.

Times are hard for mainstream things to be excited about or to think anything genuinely amazing will break through from tipping season again. I say this because despite Leona Lewis topping the US charts and every journo in the world wanking along to Radiohead’s weekly ‘innovative’ stunt, it’s hardly a Blur versus Oasis renaissance period for British Music – although these new bands with marketing plans on their blackberries are probably too nicey-nice to have any beef – these previously mentioned cocksure cabals add little to the post-Libertines noughties spittoon, save for maybe conducting some of the acidic bile away from Johnny Borrell and Kasabian for a while, whilst giving t4 and Top Shop something to desperately cling to with some safe semblance of sixties’n’seventies rock. You may sit in an indie slum and hiss at these inauthentic rock regurgitations (and you can laugh and throw things at the overhyped Black Kids and their inability to find a right note, let alone a tune), reeling that these bright new hopes are as karaoke as the latest Duffy but you’re better off ignoring them, accepting that despite the blurring of underground and mainstream that the mainstream will always be crap, most of the time, and focussing on what has been good so far this year.

Here’s the first installment of my favourite five…

Crystal Castles from


They’re far too easy to write-off as style over substance abuse, what with featuring on Skins, sounding a bit like Justice playing underwater and being in favour with the hipster/nerdier-than-thou blog crowd for 18months or more. However, ignore these rave-punks at your peril as their lyrically obtuse, digi-sprawl of GameBoy 8-bit pips and throbbing Nine Inch Nailed New Order, is quite possibly the most enthralling, myth-muddled and progressive indie-dance albums of the year. It has a futurism that makes Foals feel derivative of every math-rock band they care to mention and an arty-heart with a slight fluoro glow beneath a little Sonic Youth tattoo. Truly special.

Parts 2-5 coming soon….

Published in: on April 9, 2008 at 5:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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