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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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I Win!

I have a little confession. I used to watch American Idol–and not just for the bad auditions. I didn’t watch it every season, but when I did, it was with a fair amount of loyalty. I’ve always wanted to be exposed to new music at every opportunity though, so I’m not sorry for it. After all, I never would have discovered Lilly Scott otherwise.

For those who don’t remember (or never watched), Lilly Scott was was a semi-finalist on season 9 of American Idol back in 2010. She was eliminated the night they announced the Top 12. I still remember the look on her face when it came down to her and another girl. They both looked like they were waiting for Lilly’s name to be announced. But they read the other girl’s name instead. Everyone was shocked, including the other girl herself. (Sorry I can’t remember the name, but if I remember correctly, she didn’t even make it to the top five, so I don’t care too much.)

I remember Lilly saying something like her fans weren’t watching the show, which was more of a slight against American Idol than her fans. I think that was the moment where she must have realized that her destiny was for her, not a random TV audience, to decide.

That was the season I stopped watching American Idol. I was outraged for all the right reasons. That season was one of many that would make up the “white guys with guitars” streak. (No, seriously: Google it.) And I’ve never looked back.

I kept checking up to see what became of Lilly Scott though. It turned out she had a band called VARLET. I snatched up their EP (ironically titled) I Win! as soon as I found out about it. I think it may have come out around the same time as when she appeared on American Idol, but considering some of the lyrics, it feels like it could have been written about her American Idol experience.

Consider these lyrics from “Jello Plate”:

Watch out for me

That’s what they say

But do you know who I am?

…No I can’t take these fuckin’ people, yeah

What a goddamn joke

My heart is here wide open

But I don’t wanna get choked

Anymore

I thought for the longest time it WAS about her American Idol experience, but like I said, a little research shows it might not have been, unless she was singing about her audition/Hollywood week. Even then, that would still be pretty punk of her, giving a big (and, soon enough, well-deserved) middle finger to the mainstream music and television industry.

I Win! is very low key and, admittedly, a little indulgent in an almost hipstery kind of way. It sounds like something that would be performed at your local fair trade anti-Starbucks co-op coffee shop. But the minimal instrumentation really allows Lilly Scott’s vocals to shine. She’s the kind of musician who really knows how to use her voice as an instrument, and that’s my favorite kind of musician.

I still think back to her first Idol performance, when she sang one of my favorite Beatles songs, “Fixing A Hole.” It remains one of my favorite Beatles covers ever to this day. Just take a listen and you’ll understand why she was robbed (though she was not eliminated on this song):

You know, now that I think about it, maybe it was better that she didn’t make it into the competition with the other finalists. Onward and upwards, Lilly Scott.

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