Monthly Archives: December 2014

Business Pleasure

I can’t believe I’ve never talked about Little Boots on here before! She’s easily in my top 10 favorite artists list. I’ve seen her perform twice! She’s just darling and fantastic.

Little Boots (Victoria Hesketh) is a singer-songwriter and DJ hailing from Blackpool, Lancashire, England. She gets her name from her apparently tiny feet. I’m not sure what her shoe size is, but I was front stage at one of her shows and I can verify she’s quite a petite person!

I feel Little Boots is terribly underrated as an artist. She plays the piano, keyboards, synthesizer, Tenori-on, and all these other electronic instruments I’ve never heard of, and she plays them like a master. I mean, seriously, just watch this video of her basically playing three instruments while singing and making her own harmony along with the melody at the same time.

That song is from her first studio album, Hands, by the way. But I’m going to talk about her latest EP Business Pleasure! I like to think of it as an after after hours type of record. It sounds like it would be played in the dead of night, long after the clock has rolled back over to three digits but long before the sun will rise. It’s different from her usual sound. Hands was very electropop inspired. It sounded like early evening music. Her second album, Nocturnes, had a sort of house/dance sound to it. It was very late night to me. Business Pleasure has a very low-key, cool house sound. It reminds me a lot of the single “Superstitious Heart” she released nearly two years before this EP, along with “Whatever Sets You Free.” I think these tracks were probably a warm-up for Business Pleasure!

This EP is a pretty quick listen. Its four tracks total just about a quarter of an hour. So let’s start with the opener, “Taste It!” I’ll warn you up front, the video is a little graphic. It mixes body horror and food porn into some kind of new genre. Food horror? Yeah, I’ll call it that. It’s not excessively graphic (there isn’t really much, if any, blood and guts) but it’s still a bit disturbing and not at all for the squeamish. (Watching it over again, I still squirm at parts – and I’m NOT squeamish!) And, just because, there are also drugs/allusions to drugs. This video actually got banned somewhere, though I’m not sure where. All I know is Victoria made a very disgruntled Facebook post about it with a screenshot of the ban message. (I still don’t think it’s THAT bad.)

I really, really dig the beat here. So hypnotic. She sounds like a siren drawing you to your doom, but in a club on the stage, instead of in the ocean on the rocks. Which makes the video quite fitting now that I think about it. It lures you with very pretty ladies doing very disturbing things to themselves. This is that after after hours sound I was talking about, by the way. She sounds so confident, so above everything. It’s a nice quiet ease into this EP.

“Heroine” is much more upbeat, while still being cool and hypnotic. The sound reminds me a lot of the techno/electronic music I used to listen to in high school. Very house and trance-y. It takes me back to Dirty Vegas (and their album of the name) as well as Télépopmusik and Genetic World, but mostly the former. A lot of this album has a familiar, older sound to it, while still being the fresh new music of Little Boots circa 2014.

Let’s take the next track “Business Pleasure,” for example. It’s even faster and more upbeat than “Heroine” and the sound goes back even further to the 80s. I just picture Victoria in a pantsuit with the big puffy shoulder pads. Hey, she almost went there with the album cover! It matches this song pretty well. Pinstripes suit, big fat wristwatch, and hair that looks like it’s got quite a bit of hairspray in there. Perfect blend of modern and retro.

little-boots-businespleasure

Last but not least, we’ve got “Pretty Tough,” almost dialing it back to the cool, smooth, mellow sound we started with. Again, she sounds bold and confident, the way she sings “If I was so innocent, would I be your prisoner?” and “You think I’m pretty, oh, well I can be pretty tough.” I’m wondering if this is about her label, Atlantic, at the time she recorded and released Hands. They were basically trying to mold her into being the next Kylie Minogue, something she was never meant to be. (She was meant to be Little Boots, of course!)

I will say, though, if you like Kylie Minogue, you will probably like Little Boots! This album is not Kylie at all, though. I think this is more the sound Victoria prefers. Yes, it’s different from her previous work, but there was a progression to get here. SO if you are a Kylie fan, start with Hands. If you like house music, then start here and work your way backwards. In any case, I think you’ll enjoy yourself!

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shadowshow

One thing I want to mention before I get to the actual main part of this week’s post: In last week’s post, I had “I Saw Her Standing There” on my top 5 Beatles “underdog” song list – It should have been “Fixing a Hole”! Because that one is definitely in my top 5 and I think just edges out the former. I thought of it as I was taking a shower after the post had gone live. Too late! Oh, well.

So on to the main post: The final chapter of BLUE, “shadowshow”! Apparently, this song has been floating around since the days of kin being played in concert. But I resisted the urge to listen to cell phone recordings of it until it was released on the album itself! So proud of myself.

Right off the bat I’ll say that, visually, it reminds me a lot of the final chapter of kin, which was “goods.” Which is to say it was mostly shot with minimal lighting and smoke/fog effects. And, you know, it’s the final chapter. At the same time, there’s a lot more going on here in “shadowshow” – and it’s not just that there are a LOT more shots. The broken mirror from last week is featured here. The ever-present shadow figures are, well, present. Though most of what we see of them is…their shadows! At least in the first half of the video.

Now that Jonna is done with BLUE, it seems she’s ready to return to land, while, in the second half of the video, she sends her shadow fans into the waters from whence she herself came, pied piper style. They’ve switched places. Now it’s time for the fans to immerse themselves in this completed project, while iam contemplates their next move. Or something. This is iamamiwhoami, who can say!?

As an aside, how awesome is that disco ball-inspired outfit?? I like it, anyway!

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Top 5 – Beatles

I finally got a new laptop recently and have since been obsessively reorganizing and cleaning up my music collection of 7000+ songs (over 19 days worth). WHEW. As I was going through the Beatles, I began to wonder which ones I would list as my top favorite songs. No easy task… There are so many great ones. “Hey Jude,” “A Day In The Life,” “Let It Be,” “All You Need Is Love,”  … These are all too easy! So I decided to pick my favorite “underdog” songs. The ones you might not hear as often or may not guess as anyone’s favorites. So here they are!

1) Lady Madonna

Oh my gosh, this was one of my favorites from very early on! There’s a sort-of remixed version on the Cirque du Soleil soundtrack for Love that’s just fantastic. Great job on the drums there, Ringo. Love the beat! And the piano, and the saxophone, and the guitar. I love it all! I think the lyrics are my favorite part though. The idea of turning the sacred Virgin Mary into a modern woman with real problems is just so cool. “Did you think that money was heaven-sent?” Aaaah! This is maybe the best song about a single mother? Because over 50 years later, it’s still pretty amazing for being a song about a single mother at a time when that sort of thing is still looked down upon or seen as odd or pitiful. I feel like the Lady Madonna in this song gives zero fucks what anyone thinks about her.

2) I Am The Walrus

The song that means nothing! Lennon purportedly wrote this song as pure nonsense on purpose since people were trying to decipher the meanings of Beatles songs at the time. (Some people still are!) And hey, you know what? It’s still a brilliant song! It may mean nothing, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel like nothing. To me it’s angry, bitter, mocking, and a little bit sinister. Getting a little personal here, but I think of this time in college when some friends were treating me shitty. I was coming down the dorm hall and one of them, seeing me coming, immediately ducked into the room she had been standing outside of before she saw me. I immediately thought of the line “See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly/I’m crying” and somehow that made me feel better. Woof, I’m sorry if that was angsty. Blech. I still love this song!

3) Helter Skelter

Perhaps the distant grand-daddy of modern-day heavy metal music? Perhaps! This song is so un-Beatles-like. In fact, I’d say the most “Beatles” this song gets is in the backing vocals (that almost calm and steady “Aaaaaaa…”). Like, how did they DO this??? How did their studio not burn to the ground when they recorded this?! This song is LOUD and out of control and it makes my brain want to burst out of my skull. It makes me want to drive crazy. It makes me want to destroy a hotel room. It’s like Rat Fink translated into music. And the (TWO) false endings? Brilliant! The song just plunges into chaos each time it comes back and yet not a single second is wasted. Those drums just don’t quit! I believe Ringo when he screams “I got blisters on my fingers!” at the end. FANTASTIC.

4) Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)

Okay, I’ll admit this is a weird one! Not even the main version of the song, but an outro track leading to an even better final track? I know! Weird! But gosh, if there’s one thing I’ve come to realize as I write this, it’s that I really, REALLY love Ringo’s drum work. I just want to stand up and applaud him. I also just really enjoy the funky intro to this song. One of my other favorite things is how much they play around with singing the phrase “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Especially when it’s “Sgt. Pepper’s one and only Lonely Hearts Club Band!” Again, there’s another fantastic version of this song on Love, even though it’s barely any different. Such a simple and unassuming song. Listen to it and really appreciate Ringo in this one. There’s a reason he’s one of the greats, and it’s not just because he was a Beatle.

5) I Saw Her Standing There

I have two versions of this song: One that’s on Please Please Me and another that’s on Anthology 1 – and somehow I like the latter more! Maybe because the latter was played live and goes slightly faster. It sounds wilder, like it could be played in a club where the singer is actually seeing the girl standing across the room, waiting for him. I definitely want to dance to this song! It’s a rather simple and innocent song when you consider that this was early on in the Beatles’ career and they were basically a boy band. At the end of the Anthology 1 version, you can even hear screaming girls at the end. It’s funny how dancing gets equated with love, especially in early pop songs. And yet, in this song, the subject draws him it just by…standing there. Though her dancing certainly helps things along later! So much fun.

Disappointed by my picks? Well, I’d love to hear yours! Really! Nothing too easy. These are “underdog” songs (so to speak) after all! Let’s hear ’em!

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the last dancer

Another day, another iamamiwhoami track! Oh yeeeeah! And this one’s a real downer. Oh nooooooo.

One of the awesome things iam has done for members of the Island is that they finally released the lyrics from their entire discography. Which is only 3 albums, but it’s still a sweet, sweet treat because previous lyrics were just fans’ best guesses. Anyway, reading through the lyrics for “the last dancer” is a real downer, as I mentioned before. It starts with “the life has gone from this room/there is no future for me.” The chorus includes the line “what a beautiful day to die.” Of course, I don’t think she means a literal death. I’m certain it’s some sort of artistic death (and maybe rebirth?).

The music perfectly reflects the melancholy. There’s a tone of resignation in the lyrics and the sound. It’s sad, but you can sense Jonna has accepted her fate. She’s not going to fight it. This may be the calmest track on this album. It draws you in to the sadness. I can’t help but feel a little light-headed when she sings “what a beautiful day to die.” That’s super strange, I know, haha. But it’s just the way she sings it.

The scenery is reminiscent of what we saw in “fountain”. I think those might be some of the same shots – Well, not exactly, but they’re some of the same scenes. The shadow figures watch from the trees, but they do not approach. Some even turn away from her. The lighting is pretty dim throughout the video. I’m sure this waning light has something to do with the themes of death and resignation in the song. I can’t figure out the chair and the mirror though. These images were present in the map of the Island, specifically where this track was located. So I knew they were coming, but I don’t quite get the meaning. Still, they feel so powerful. iam has that effect on mundane, ordinary objects. I mean, just look at Jonna rocking that saran-wrap dress!

This was a puzzling video, but I have a feeling it’s meant to be the transition for the final track “shadowshow,” which I can tell you EVERYONE (meaning every iam fan, that is) is looking forward to. How will it all end? You’ll just have to stay tuned!

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ripple

Okay, so I’m finally getting around to reviewing the latest track from iamamiwhoami to be released to the general public (as in anyone who is not part of the Island or who just hasn’t bought the album yet) – “ripple.” Wow! This is the most danceable track! I feel like I say that every few track releases, but I really mean it on this one. It’s got a definite beat to it – well, in parts. It has a moment of relatively sweet calmness a little over halfway into the track. But it’s danceable otherwise.

It’s been pretty well established through various interviews and fan chatter that the black-clad figures are the fans – which makes sense now considering they are all behaving differently. Every fan reacts to and interacts with iam differently. Sometimes they’re demanding, sometimes patient, sometimes confused, and in this case, sometimes just enthralled. They dance to the music – sometimes synchronized, sometimes freestyle. Because everyone has their own unique way of enjoying iam, as they do with any other artist or style of music! (Okay, I have to admit I laughed at some of the sillier dances.)

Another thing that’s been established is that the ocean (or any images of water) represent the digital world that is the environment in which iam exists. (I still think it’s a Scandinavian thing though. Just a little bit.) It kind of makes sense because the ocean is the source of life, and for iam fans, iam music is life! And so they celebrate and embrace it. It took a little coaxing to get there for some, but they’ve learned to adapt. (I still bought a limited edition physical copy of the CD though. Limited edition! Book with pretty pictures! Thank you card! How could I not? That last one was a surprise though.)

Too many parenthetical sentences in that last paragraph. Did it even exist? Anyway, this music video is pretty straightforward, I think. Jonna watches her fans proudly and even rallies them on with claps. Suddenly the whole boat metaphor makes sense too. This whole project has been chronicling her travels! Maybe around the world? I’m now doubting if this signals a tour that will include the US. Though that doesn’t mean they WON’T be coming to the US! I hope they still will. Soon.

Well, I guess that’s enough of my yammering. I’ve got a half hour plus interview to watch (!) and a 58 page thesis to read (!!!). Goodness.

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