Viewing Gum Listening Post #18

Here we go again, guys and gals! Viewing Gum Listening Post is now able to watch the naughtiest kind of movies at the cinema, as it hits number eighteen. It’s a bit more upbeat, poppy, fun and funky than the last entry (well, for the most part), but as eclectic as ever. You can stream below or click here to give yourself in to audio pleasure.

 

  1. Todd Terje – Oh Joy
  2. Architecture in Helsinki – When You Walk in the Room
  3. Buffalo Daughter with Keigo Oyamada – Great Five Lakes 20th
  4. Tune-Yards – Water Fountain
  5. Foster The People – Best Friend
  6. Sky Ferreira – 24 Hours
  7. DJ Snake & Lil Jon – Turn Down For What
  8. Cloud Nothings – Just See Fear
  9. GoGo Penguin – Murmuration
  10. David Lynch & Lykke Li – I’m Waiting Here
  11. Prince – THE BREAKDOWN

ALBUM REVIEW: David Lynch – Crazy Clown Time

David Lynch is a lot of things to a lot of people – director, writer, photographer, coffee maker, transcendental meditation espouser, nightclub designer – so his debut solo album release is not so much a case of coming out of leftfield as much as it is an inevitable culmination of his interest in music and sound that has played an important part in the texture of his work before it. Having sung vocals in his last feature film to date, 2006’s INLAND EMPIRE, as well as for the excellent Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse collaboration Dark Night of the Soul, a full-length musical voyage seemed a natural progression, and Crazy Clown Time is certainly dripping in Lynchian hopes and fears. But the leap to a purely audio medium is not without its faltering steps.

The confident opening number goes some way to allaying initial fears of this being a self-indulgent passion project, the driving drums and echoing guitar of ‘Pinky’s Dream’, coupled with the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O’s whoops and yelps, creating a tangible sense of doom and urgency. Following in to first single ‘Good Day Today’ maintains the quality, a sparkly strangely catchy tune which is probably the closest approximation to dance music we’re ever likely to see from Lynch. It’s just a shame then that the rest of the album does not continue in a similar vein, not that it would have necessarily resulted in a better album, but it would have been an interesting change of direction. Instead, Crazy Clown Time alternates between sleazy blues rock, fitting into Lynch’s ventures into the seedy underbelly of Americana, and basic electronic loops and beats with just enough scratchiness or fuzziness to mask its simplicity, whilst adding a veneer of moodiness by shorthand.

Sometimes it all comes together, as in ‘So Glad’ or ‘I Know’, with its industrial clangs and organ bubbling menacingly under the surface, but other times it falls apart, not in a spectacular fashion but merely crumbling into the unmemorable, leaving little to no impression. Whereas the title track rattles around in the head for days, having conjured up an air of a bad bedtime story designed to give you nightmares, in an album of 14 songs, few others stick with you beyond their running time. Still, consistently moody filler is perhaps preferable to the only real skippable dud, ‘Strange and Unproductive Thinking’, a seven-and-a-half minute stream of consciousness / life advice sermon a la Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)’, but unbelievably even more tedious.

Unexpectedly, where Lynch’s album actually excels is in his vocals. Though often modified or altered or vocoded, his distinctive high-pitched delivery is not what you would ever describe as a beautiful singing voice, but it has an ethereal quality which really lifts the lesser tracks. Treating this less as an album of songs and more as a collection of spoken word tales of darkness with minimal backing accompaniment is more rewarding. It still can’t quite make what is an overlong, harmless when it should be dangerous, piece of work anything more than a curio for fans, and there’s nothing here to touch ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ or ‘Star Eyes (I Can’t Catch It)’, but it serves the experience better.

A fair first stab at the uneasy listening market – and believe me, I’d be booking tickets if a live tour were suddenly announced – but hardly the advent of a hitherto undiscovered musical talent, and without the Lynch name attached, unlikely to have gotten a second look.

5/10

MUSIC SPECIAL: Top 10 Albums of 2009

Yes, it’s listy-time! It’s all redundant now, as I’m sure everyone’s already picked their favourite albums of 2010 already, or would rather do a little bit of noughties-navel-gazing, but so what? Here’s a selection of my favourites that you were no doubt all listening to way back in 2010-1AD, and if that weren’t the case, here’s your chance to rectify that pronto. So, without further ado…

01: Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Sounding both very much of its time yet beautifully antiquated at the same time, Veckatimest is an album worth getting wrapped up in over and over again, and remains rewarding on each listen.

02: Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse – Dark Night of the Soul
Okay, so technically not a 2009 release on account of it not being actually released (sort of), but if you know where to look, it is great collaboration with many a formidable special guest, particularly from David Lynch who provides vocals on two of the very best tracks.

03: The Flaming Lips – Embryonic
Like an alien distress signal captured by government scientists in the 60s and only just released into the public, it’s a distorted rambling affair but as utterly captivating as ever.

04: Franz Ferdinand – Tonight
Third time out for the Franz boys, and it’s another batch of fun, cool, catchy body-jittering toe-tappers. You groovy cats, you! Easy to take for granted, but really, I don’t think they’ve yet to put a (dancing) foot wrong.

05: Handsomeboy Technique – Terrestrial Tone Cluster
The only new Japanese album I think I listened to this year! Eek! But it’s a formidable follow-up to his excellent debut. Drifts off a little towards the end, but for the most part, exceptionally lovely.

06: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!
Ticks a lot of boxes with an emphatic YES in ways that are not immediately obvious, but instantly gripping. Kick-ass tuneage.

07: Hank Pine and Lily Fawn – North America
The long-awaited continuation of the titular characters’ quest through the American gothic fairytale (via Canada), it eschews much of the story-telling in favour of consistenly high quality ditties.

08: Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
The critical masterpiece of the year, there is much to savour on this album, and with every listen, it’s easy to sink even deeper into the marvellous sounds contained within.

09: Wild Beasts – Two Dancers
Two distinctive voices + a bunch of great tunes = stirring stuff.

10: Discovery – LP
Blippy and electronic, yet warm and sunny, it’s a joyous affair that sounds like pop from the not too distant future. And the future is now, kids!

Special mention as well for Compilation of the Year which was Dark Was The Night, a magnificent snapshot of contemporary North American folky-indie with a mix of new tracks, covers and traditional standards, and all for a good cause. And because I’m great, I’ve created a Spotify playlist sample of the above (substituting tracks from a few of my also-rans for those unavailable), something I’m thinking of doing more regularly (yay, playlists for all). Hear it yonder.

Any more recommendations or suggestions for ones I’ve missed more than welcome!