The sun finally came out for a solid showering of golden haze across the country, this week. The summer’s inauguration marked by hot weather always brings a welcome distraction from the norm, whether you’re chained to your desk studying for state exams (often credited for encouraging the good weather), acting as though every night is Friday with friends and drinks, or sifting through the new music video releases only to realise that it has been a relatively quiet few days for artist’s sharing the visual enhancements to the songs that they want to promote. That is not to say that it was an entirely boring week for new music. The Strokes announced, and then promptly unleashed, their EP, Future Present Past, four songs incurring a mixture of emotions that have been festering for staunch fans since 2006, the last time they released anything of momentary worth. There was another time warp moment this week courtesy of The Avalanches. They get a special, if not strange, mention in the round up of what was new, interesting and obscure, much like Ireland being consistently tropical.
PJ Harvey – ‘The Orange Monkey’ (Island Records)
Filmed in Afghanistan, the scenery that has inspired the lyrics and music of Harvey’s latest album, The Hope Six Demolition Project, ‘The Orange Monkey’, depicts the “happy chaos” of the country and its people. Harvey travelled around Afghanistan with filmmaker Seamus Murphy, documenting the various geopolitical injustices happening across the world. ‘The Orange Monkey’, allows Harvey to delve into a sort of journalism through her music, reporting stories effecting communities and families, the people being excavated from their regions and homes. It’s a powerful video for a song that instills the importance of PJ Harvey’s music.
Andy Shauf – ‘Worst In You’ (Anti-)
Andy Shauf released The Party this week to unanimously positive and adoring reviews. Without hesitation, the video for ‘Worst in You’, may be my favourite featured in any of the columns. It is one of the first times where I have loved every single aspect and second of the union of sound and vision. The intricate simplicity of the collage style animation, the collection of marvellous vintage imagery mirrors the same unassuming depth to Shauf’s alluring and upbeat songs, compositions that shall remain timeless.
The Strokes – ‘Drag Queen’ (Lyric Video) (Cult Records)
Thank god this lyric video was released because Julian Casablancas’ vocals have become harder to decipher as time progresses, and also, that 1980s beat paired with the neon bright animation (think of a move version of Angles’ cover artwork) is so distracting that at times you forget that there are lyrics.The majority of this song and to some extent video, is a poor homage to Gary Numan. It’s a shame that ‘Drag Queen’, was the song they chose as a first impression.
Beck – ‘Wow’ (Lyric Video) (Fonograf Records / Capitol Records)
Beck added to the lyric video milieu with a wildly colourful display directed by Jimmy Turrell. I watched this and, similar to how I felt about The Strokes, a wave of nostalgia drowned me. Beck’s fearless experimentation with his music made him an interesting musician at the beginning of his career, however his latest release indicates that a mid-life crisis has struck. Listening to ‘Wow’, I thought of how much I loved hearing Midnite Vultures permeate the hallway, my older brother’s bedroom being the source of what I thought was the coolest music I would ever hear. Seventeen years later and well, Beck says it himself, “Wow!”
Strangely Notable Mention….
The Avalanches – ‘Frankie Sinatra’
It has been sixteen years since The Avalanches have released new material. Their return is nothing short of obscure, offensively lacklustre and baffling, even with a cameo from Danny Brown and MF Doom in the current, ‘Frankie Sinatra.’ The video is like a warning of what can happen to you if you consume a radioactive-hued beverage, or maybe if you listen to this song more than once. It will end in tears, you have been warned.