I’ve got a playlist on my iPod named “Feelin’ Good” that I turn to when I need a little pep in my step or when I’m already hopped up and want it to keep going. Every Friday I’ll be posting a song from that playlist to help get the weekend started. This inaugural Feelin’ Good Friday post is in honor of recent world events.
The staccato drum roll that kicks off “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” is one of those sonic signatures that was burned into my brain and allows me to confidently identify this song within half a second of hearing it. Peter Buck’s loose-limbed guitar jangle and Mike Mills’ bopping bass has been putting a smile on my face for 3 decades. The inscrutable yet catchy lyrics sung by Michael Stipe with focused abandon are icing on this spastic cake. Really, it just feels good to pogo around the room with this blasting and yell, “Leonard Bernstein!” If this song is any indication, I for one welcome the End Times with open arms. #IFeelFine
Body Exit Mind is one of my top 10 albums in general, but it’s also one of only a handful of albums that when I listen to it I prefer to listen to it as an actual album: sequentially and in its entirety. Body Exit Mind is in turns contemplative, energetic, hopeful, and nihilistic. It is a 57 minute, 15 song meditation on consumerism, the global spread of American corporatism, and the emotional detachment that dogs modern life circa 1992.
That all sounds pretty fucking heavy for some second wave ‘Madchester’ Britpop, but this is not a collection of ham-fisted screeds. No, it feels like a late night, mid-twenties conversation where everyone is a little drunk and a little high and every word means something, man. These songs are heavy with the fruit of knowledge. Of course, there are no answers. There never are in pop music, but we always think there might be, don’t we? So we hit repeat and keep listening.
Two decades on I keep listening to Body Exit Mind because I know someday I will find answers buried in here. Until then, at the very least, it never fails to put me in a better, slightly less pessimistic mood. For me part of the emotional lift garnered by Body Exit Mind is down to the lush production. It manages to not sound overproduced or too slick. It’s a sonic cocoon that wraps around your head waiting for your mind to transform.
The third track “Stockholm” best encompasses the feel of Body Exit Mind. The song alternates between quasi-spoken verses and soaring vocal choruses. Its lyrics randomly drift into my head more than any other on the album. “You’ll soon be dust, your deeds already are/You saw no orb no fiery bushes either/I must be drunk I feel unsteady, ah ha/No monster me, sadly, no saint either.” [See what I mean about inscrutable truth?] Give “Stockholm” a quick listen and you will be a convert.
Addendum: Wherein I wax Matt Pinfield-esque even more so about the album… Read More
The single “Trees” from Greek electro group Glass Rebel is a slice of dreamy electro pop that is perfect for summertime mixes. “Trees” is awash in delicate 80’s synth cascades sprinkled with the breathy vocals of guest duo Marsheaux. I’ve always been a sucker for diaphanous female vocals over head-nodding beats and as soon as I heard this song my mind drifted to daydreams of golden-rayed relaxation and warm nights aglow with fireflies. I highly recommend picking up “Trees” and dropping it into your summer playlist.
Vinyl fetishists take note: this is available as a 7″ with a glossy die-cut cover. The B-side “Suntan” is an instrumental that wouldn’t be out of place playing at the end of a movie as the camera zooms out from a laughing couple in a convertible and credits roll over a sunset dissolve.
Bandcamp [Buy the vinyl here!] iTunes
Great Big Meaningless, a repackaging of Helicopter Helicopter’s first two albums –Squids and Other Fishes (1998) and Analog & Electrical Fields (1999), is 60 minutes of woozy rock’n’roll bliss. It’s rare enough to find an entire album that is good from beginning to end, but getting two for the price of one fills you with that warm fuzzy feeling that usually results from two or three tall boys.
Helicopter Helicopter’s songs are built on the steady heartbeat of drums and pulsing bass lines that carry the listener through a trippy tumult. Guitars pinball from undulating drones to jagged attacks to poppy chord strumming and back again. Lead singers Christopher Zerby and Julie Chadwick make great use of the guy/girl vocal dichotomy by harmonizing choruses, dueling on verses, and creating chaos singing lines over top one another. At points everything converges into a sludgy whirlpool, but then surfaces out the other side with razor sharp clarity; a single drum snap or the ringing slice of a guitar brings things back to order. The lyrical scenes are complementary to the music’s sense warping tendencies. It’s a dark and seedy world of drugs, booze, sex, insects, sea life, street life, and violence. The bizarre yet somehow familiar scenes are like something out of a William S. Burroughs novel. The band makes you feel like both their confessor and co-conspirator as you stumble around their world disoriented, but enjoying the ride.
Don’t miss tracks:
Great Big Meaningless
Please Please Tito
Ever Since The Buzzards Moaned
(Author’s note: The original version of this review ran in The Northeast Performer back in 2002 or 2003. They don’t archive their reviews online so I took the liberty of reclaiming my own work from an old hard drive and giving it an overhaul because I really dig this album.)
Checkout my vintage review of Helicopter Helicopter’s album Wild Dogs with X-Ray Eyes in the Boston Phoenix because somehow the Phoenix website is still live even though they’re not.
This trio of power poppers from Northampton, MA serves up smart, solid, and ever so sarcastic indie rock. They cash in on the winter motif with “In The Snow,” a poppy little tune full of one liners and wordplay aimed at the Yuletide. Sure it’s an easy target, but nonetheless the song will keep you chuckling and acquaint you with the band’s tongue-in-cheek nature. The second track, “Double Nothing,” is the highlight of these half dozen songs. A lovesick indie rock song, it’s full of contemplative angst over the oft-lost gamble that is love. The rhythm section keeps the track punching along on cruise control as guitar drifts through like a breeze. This track is perfect for that mix tape made especially for those long, post break-up drives to clear the head. The last of the new songs is “Monks Don’t Tell Lies,” a slightly dubbish ditty relating a moment of Zen clarity come upon during the chaos of a broken down tour van. The remainder of the promo EP is made up of tracks originally released on their debut full length Basement Make-Out Party. “BMX Song,” “Scarecrow Waltz,” and “The Saviour Made Me Do It” continue to exemplify No-Shadow Kick’s pension for bouncing from sound to sound. Stylistic A.D.D. aside, this EP helps to showcase No-Shadow Kick as a band that strikes a balance between talent and humor.