One of our faves: Annie Clarke, aka St Vincent
And now in an entirely, inexcusably self-indulgent excursion into the sonic realm, here’s some music The Bemolution listened to and liked in 2014.
Customarily, when you come across these ‘best-of-the-year’-type collections in music publications and the Guardian they only concern themselves with records put out in the last twelve months, as you’d expect. To turn the solipsism dial up to eleven, we’re just going to bang on about stuff that happened to cross the Bemolutionary turntable between the 1st of January 2014 and now, regardless of when they were made.
And off we go.
We’d long-since pronounced quality pop music dead as a door-nail, but this year we stumbled across quite a bit of it – hooked after catching their beguiling, excellently-humoured turn at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival earlier this year, The Bemolution whiled away a fair slice of Autumn listening the lead single from Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott’s What Have We Become on repeat. Wry and spiky, “Moulding Of A Fool” is a three minute gallop through blink-and-you’ll-miss-them vignettes about dumb consumerism, youthful indoctrination and life’s fleeting insignificance. Subtract one gnashing guitar break – misplaced, in our meaningless opinion at least – and you’ve got a perfect pop single.
London and the Shard
Only right that these should be read listening to mid-’80s Style Council tracks – mingling poppy lounge jazz with blatantly socialist lyrics – on repeat, because it’s what we had stuck in our head while it was being written.
A ramblingly political travelogue taking in the capital at its richest, poorest, and most rampantly neoliberal
The Bemolution recently went to London – big, posh, plutocratic London – which is always morally troubling. It’s quite an easy place to dislike if you don’t happen to live there. Hugely, unaccountably powerful, the capital determines so much about the way the rest of us live – and, funnily enough, seems to wield that power in a way that serves the city and its richest denizens first, everyone else second.
Of course, more than a smidgen of anti-London sentiment can be put down to good old fashioned provincial bigotry. It’s stupid, for example, to blame the largely powerless majority of the city’s eight million citizens for the self-serving political and economic agenda pursued by a tiny minority. Then again, said super-elite wouldn’t have such an easy ride if a sizeable wedge of the capital’s rich-but-not-quite-super-rich didn’t go along with it – especially the conga-line of graduates from wealthy backgrounds that pour into the City year after year, trampling over the poorest Londoners by shunting house prices and living costs up and up and up. Continue reading
Another stand-out from Nick Cave’s bludgeoning Sunday night spot at this year’s Glastonbury. ‘Tupelo’ takes the birth of one Elvis Aaron Presley and turns it into an apocalyptic, rain-lashed, pseudo-Biblical event. It shows Cave the lyricist at both his most poetic and his most direct: take, for example, the simple but infinitely pleasing ‘in a clapboard shack with a roof of tin/the rain came down and it leaked within’. Ominous and rumbling, it shook the Pyramid Stage with a unholy fury that put Mick n’ Keef the previous night to shame.
For some annoying reason, if you want to actually watch the video bit of a WordPress-embedded YouTube video rather just hear the audio, you have to either watch it fullscreen or click to watch it on YouTube itself.
Ken Livingstone’s GLC, reminding Thatcher of the people whose lives she was ruining
Ken Livingstone is very far from perfect, but, the Bemolution believes, a kind, principled, decent human being miles apart from Westminster’s current line in nest-feathering sociopaths and soulless drones. He also stands out as one of distressingly few British left-wingers to have actually got something done in power. In the ‘80s, he turned London’s Greater London Council from a gentleman’s club for civic dignitaries into a socialist beacon, weathering tsunami-grade backlash from an insidiously right-wing press, Mrs Thatcher’s government and a gentrified GLC old guard who hated him for opening up their private canteen to the public and letting groups meet for free in County Hall committee rooms. As GLC leader, he was pioneering in his approach to race, gender and sexual orientation, battling to get public recognition for marginalised groups and fight racism, sexism and homophobia. What’s more, his administration strove to protect the poorest, trying to cap rent and cut public transport fares. He must’ve been doing something right, because Thatcher had the Council abolished in 1986, part of a broader move to crush local democracy and make Britain the most centralised country in Europe. Continue reading
‘Social’ and ‘satire’ aren’t the first words you’d associate with crotch-thrusting George Michael-vehicle Wham!, but in addition to stuffing shuttlecocks down their shorts and belting out vacuously sunny ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’-style numbers, the duo would occasionally display a spikier side. ‘Club Tropicana’, for example, was mainstream-infiltrating invective at its most irresistibly funky, taking a sardonic look at the kind of emptily hedonistic Club 18-30 package holidays that were becoming increasingly popular in ‘80s. Doesn’t quite make up for ‘I’m Your Man’.