Last Week’s Music

Here’s what I’ve been listening to lately.
Fidlar – Fidlar (2013)

I don’t know anything about this band. I followed a link from Pilot’s blog, which I always do because Pilot has much better taste in pretty much everything than I, but after spending a few days with this album I can definitively say that it is one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long time.

I’m not going to argue with myself about the definition of “punk music” because I have literally zero will to climb the dead and/or dying tree of genre specificity, but  for my personal purposes (and you are welcome to go fuck yourself if this brings me judgement in your heart or mind) I am calling this punk music and I’m removing the shame of that.

This is one of the best punk albums I’ve heard in a long time, save Local Business (of course).

This is a great golden age (IMO) style punk album with short, straightforward, screamy songs reminiscent of Jawbreaker, Bikini Kill (if BK were bored asshole skateboard post-teen boys), Black Flag (eerily so at times), etc., with a strong infusion of modern young/broke/bored/high apathy. On this album we have such lyrical scream-along gems as “I DRINK CHEAP BEER SO WHAT FUCK YOU” and “WAKE! BAKE! SKATE! AH!” and “AND I’M SO FUCKING CHEAP AND I’M SO FUCKING BROKE AND I DON’T HAVE A JOB AND I DON’T HAVE A HOME”. It comes replete with “AHHAHAAA”s and “WOOAHOH”s and even has a song about US soldiers and the middle east conflict (!!!).

The highlight here was “Gimmie Something”, which was the lyrically weakest but musically strongest song on the album. “5 To 9” is another hilarious/awesome song and oh my god I love this album.

Can I also just say that the hidden track at the end of “Cocaine” kind of killed me because “I don’t know what to do / it kinda sucks being twenty-two”.

Cœur de pirate – Blonde (2011)

I don’t know anything about this band. I followed a link from Kevin‘s blog, which I always do because Kevin has much better taste in pretty much everything than I.

I struggled with this music at first, not just because I don’t speak French, but because I didn’t find it all that compelling beyond the vague allure of a foreign language and the general objective beauty of the French/Québécois language.

As I spent time with it, however, I was able to begin picking out words and phrases from my very limited French vocabulary and make some sense of what I was hearing, even if I wasn’t able to string any of it together. The album grew on me. Nevertheless, the album did not become much more compelling. A lot of the music is simply affected with cuteness and the gimmicky commercialism that’s begun to creep into folk-pop. I can’t even resign it to good background music for homework/reading/making out, because it’s too compelling for simple atmosphere-setting—more so than someone like Tino Rossi, whose vocal performance is has less surface-level emotion than Cœur de pirate’s (though don’t get me wrong, if you concentrate on a Tino Rossi song you will feeeeeel it). It’s emotive and beautiful enough to be distracting, but not compelling enough for me to want concentrate on it. Say what you will about that assessment.

I particularly enjoyed “Adieu”, “Golden Baby” and “Ava”, and the clear standout song was “Place de la République” (which has a really nice music video). Also I’m very impressed with this video of her performing “Adieu” and “Place de a République” for Woods & Wires.



Girls’ Generation – GIRLS’ GENERATION II ~Girls & Peace~ (2012)

I consider myself a fan of Girl’s Generation (henceforth referred to as SNSD, the Korean abbreviation of their name). “Gee” is one of the better k-pop songs I’ve heard. The Gee EP was great, although I admit that’s the only Korean album I’ve heard by them. I do have honest intention to peruse their Korean work, but SNSD’s Japanese albums (this one, as well as their landmark 2011 Japan debut album Girl’s Generation, not to be confused with their 2007 Koren debut album Girl’s Generation).

Claiming ignorance, I’m not going to remark on the state of k/j-pop, and I’ll claim ignorance as well to avoid remarking on the blatant objectification of these ladies (by themselves?) and the general portrayal of gender in Korean and/or Japanese pop culture.

All of that said, this album was a pretty pathetic to their explosive 2011 j-pop debut. The girls try to go a little bigger, darker, and sexier on this album. Not like Justin Bieber a la Believe, but more like Michael Jackson in Bad or maybe, tenuously, Destiny’s Child in Survivor. The songs felt like contrived rejects from mid-00s pop-hop production houses, which…actually is probably not too far off from the truth (see “RunDevilRun” by SNSD and “Run Devil Run” by Ke$ha). “FLOWER POWER” is the clear standout song, a very SNSD-esque ensamble pop performance, although even this suffers from the scrapbook syndrome that afflicts medium-market pop producers that draw from american production studios—there are two songs here, pasted together rather lazily, but somehow it works and the song is catchy and the girls pull it off on pure talent.

That’s not enough to save “I’m a Diamond” which sounds like an eerie cross between “4 Minutes” by Madonna and high school fight song out of Drumline (like, the Nick Cannon movie). “Oh!” would make an excellent Dance Dance Revolution song, “Not Alone” is a pretty classic ballad, but the rest of the songs are rife with annoying pop music tropes that americans have been tired with since Jordin Sparks used them (guys guys guys GUYS GUYS Jordin Sparks was on American Idol SEVEN YEARS AGO?!?). Not to pile on the criticism but the constant switching between English and what I’m 60% sure is Japanese is sort of mentally strenuous and immediately takes it out of the realm of unobtrusive study music.

I don’t think this album is worth giving a listen to. Honestly, just bide your time until their TBA English-language album that should come out later this year, and perhaps give a listen to their new Korean-language album, though I heard it described as “urban” and ever since then I’ve been putting it off.

Here’s to the next one, ladies!!

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Freelance human being.

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