THE BEGINNING

New 7″ releases from Kreayshawn, INC., Plant Plant, Theophilus London, Howler and Casiotone For The Painfully Alone.

plantplants

KREAYSHAWN
Bumpin Bumpin

(House Anxiety)

Kreayshawn is so cool she makes you want to kill yourself. She’s 21, from California, directs music videos of Lil B, hangs out with Odd Future, says “swag” without sounding like Peaches Geldof and wears peppered forearm tattoos like a skate-park hero, not Amy Winehouse. Even her oversized, completely needless specs don’t look shit, and her real name (Natassia Zolot) is pretty good too. As for the music, ‘Bumpin Bumpin’ is her first UK release – a three-minute slather of down-tempo white-girl brat-rap that features all of pop’s most recent tricks, from a Gaga-esque “Can I spend the night at your house?” spoken intro down a telephone wire, to a love affair with autotune. When she’s chirping her raps, she sounds like a cross between CSS’ Lovefoxxx and Uffie, and they were definitely cool in their day. It’s the kind of stuttering, chopped-up, electronic hip hop that you just know is going to sound terrible when put on a stage, but here, on a limited 12-inch record, there’s little denying how hip Kreayshawn and ‘Bumpin Bumpin’ is, and like so many things that are hip, it’s best to not deconstruct what’s going on too much. This is fun, fashionable pop music that won’t be around for long, so just enjoy its vibrant youthfulness while you can.

Casiotone for the painfully alone / why? / future islands / nullifier
Split series Vol. 5

(One inch badge)

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone’s swan-song, ‘Goodbye Parthenon’, begins with the line, Lift the scissors from the pharmacist’s/With the want to take them to my wrists. It seems that even as Owen Ashworth bolts town on a train for good he’s full of a despair that keeps us guessing. To a euro-dance sequencer he lists his goodbyes, although we can’t be sure that he’s going to reach his final destination at all… or whether we should dance or cry about it, just that this moniker might have saved his best track for last. Why? then grace OIB’s fifth split release with a minimal cover of The Cure’s ‘Close To Me’ that’ll probably be on a super-emotive TV commercial before you’ve finished reading this… most likely telling you how ‘Some things in life are priceless; for everything else there’s Mastercard’, while Future Islands’ ‘New Face’ was originally recorded for the idiot box – commissioned to appear in kid’s TV show Yo Gabba Gabba. Unsurprisingly, it’s less harrowing than the Baltimore trio usually are, and it’s probably the best children’s TV song ever written; certainly streaks ahead of ‘Tellytubbies Say Eh-Oh’. Brighton’s Nullifier – sounding more like The Cure than Why? – then round off what is the year’s most emotional split release, and also its best.

INC.
3

(4ad)

When it comes to world tours and mega shows, huge popstars are only as good as the band behind them. Brothers Andrew and Daniel Aged have had the backs of 50 Cent, Elton John, Cee-Lo Green and Pharrell Williams in the past, sometimes in the studio as well as on stage, and you’d be forgiven for assuming that that list is topped by Prince, as ‘3’ (and especially the hushed 90s RnB tone of ‘Swear’) is a smooth soul 12” of baby-making music, worthy of being mistaken for TAFKAP himself. The most seductive of these sex jams is the opening ‘Swear’, which is sang with such a whisper that you can barely make out the “cross your heart and hope to die” lyrics, which is probably for the best. Over sparse piano and a beat so naked it makes The xx seem like a speed garage trio, ‘Heart Crimes’’s flourishes of slap bass give you an idea of just how musically accomplished Inc. are, while ‘Millionairess’ is sexier than MJ’s ‘Liberian Girl’. One steamy release.

HOWLER
I told you once

(Rough Trade)

Howler’s debut single for Rough Trade sounds like it’s being performed by a cross between Adam Green and Napoleon Dynamite. And what-d-ya-know, when you take a look at ‘I Told You Once’’s video, it most definitely is. Fronted by the gawky, super-trim Dash Graves – who’s all lips, teeth and Lousie Wener hair – the Minneapolis quartet shimmy their way through this anti-love-song that insists “there is nothing in this world I would sacrifice”. To surf guitars gone twee, it’s hardly fuming this sentiment of dissatisfaction with any kind of aggression, and in many ways you should find yourself writing Howler off as a band that people will soon be saying are really cool because, clearly, they’re not cool at all. And yet ‘I Told You Once’ nags you into liking it. The ‘Hey Mickey’ handclaps and the knowingly slurred lead vocals are a bit much, but like Green and Dynamite, Howler are likely to be a cult obsession for more than just the dweebs.

PLANT PLANTS
Plant Plant EP

(LESS MUSIC)

It’s not the Jas Shaw production credit that elevates Plant Plants’ debut EP above their bedroom-electro contemporaries. It’s not even that they cram math-rock guitars, Gold Panda crackles, slow jam beats, warped vocals, indie riffs and chillwave whimsy all into one four-track release. (If anything, the duo’s reluctance to stand still is annoying, especially on the forgettable ‘Dandelion’, which sees Plant Plants take a turn for lo-fi American folk). No. What makes Plant Plants more interesting than a majority of the glitch-tinkering crowd is that they can’t sing and don’t care, much like Klaxons could never sing but did little to mask the fact. ‘Hands That Sleep’ (the mathy track) illustrates this best and has Plant Plants at their most personable, as they moronically drone cosmic nonsense, y’know, much like Klaxons would. A more self-conscious band would pour on the reverb, but Plant Plants human touch makes them far more memorable.

THEOPHILUS LONDON
Flying Overseas

(THIS IS MUSIC)

The most disappointing thing about Theophilus London’s debut single, ‘Humdrum Town’, was how the Brooklyn rapper’s verses were constantly bugged by the kind of silly Casio tones that have made Example a mainstream, summer-gigging name. ‘Flying Overseas’ doesn’t do that. It was co-written and produced by Devonte Hynes and features Beyonce Knowles’ sister Solange, and where ‘Humdrum Town’ was hip hop meets Teenagers-esque, simple pop, ‘Flying Overseas’ sees London rap over flourishes of chillwave guitar. It’s a huge improvement, and yet hardly a track that truly excites. It’s like Summer Camp in that respect – easy on the ear, if your ear can be bothered to listen to it again. The main issue is that London doesn’t rap enough on it. It’s more of a Hynes/Knowles duet in many ways, and their blissed out, cherub vocals would struggle to be less inspiring. Theophilus London is getting there, just extremely slowly.

Originally published in issue 30 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. July 2011.

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