When people hear someone mention experimental pop music, they oftentimes groan like a root canal is in order, if they even know what the phrase means. To many, “experimental pop” is about taking music that is catchy and fun and making it less catchy and less fun. You can guess those people have been listening to the wrong experimental pop music and that they are years away from high school. Remember chemistry class where your magnesium flared up when you dropped it in a liquid which looked like water and smelled like water but, miraculously, was not water? Experiments can be awesome. And experiments, regardless of their goal, are trying to accomplish something, to tell you something. Same thing with experimental pop music. For example, experimental pop music, for the rest of this post, is trying to tell you that its house is burning down.
Some strains would get across the fire and the emergency. They would even get across the panic and the lost master tapes and love letters and non-fire-proof safety deposit box. But they would do it with an accent, maybe one that feels a bit put on. ‘Ey guv’nor. Looks like some cheeky arsehole set my flat on fire. Quit being shirty and help me out. It’ll be easy peasy.” If you weren’t prone to helping them before, the accent, their commitment to it, the way even their eyes seem tired from all the cockney phrasing, would make you do it. Maps & Atlases are from Chicago, and every one of their members secretly wishes he was the drummer.
Some strains would get across the fire but in a way where you weren’t sure you wanted to help them. They would come running up to you with a singed sheet wrapped around them and something you can’t place tied to one leg. You can tell they hadn’t showered for a week or two before the fire even started. They start screaming “Fire! Over there! Fire! Over there!” There’s a point getting made, the communication is there, but it’s not the kind that connects in the desired way. Maybe you help them, maybe you toss them the change in your pocket, maybe you cross to the other side of the street. Evangelicals are a band from Oklahoma who are lying through their teeth when they tell you they’re doing alright these days.
Some strains would get across that there is a message and there is urgency, but the message and the medium would both be obscured. Their house would be burning down and they would run up to you and deck you in the face. As you grabbed at your jaw and felt the searing pain, you’d look at the aggressor and see a look of panicked shock on their face; somehow the message hadn’t gotten across. So they would punch you again. I’m not even sure if I like the new Micachu and the Shapes album. I’m not even sure whether “like” is the point as much as “listen to and try not to run away from.” I’m not sure I can listen to Never without wanting to run away from it. Remember that sentence I started with about people hating experimental music? This is closer to what they’re hating. When people praise songs like these they do it in abstract words like “admirable” and “uncompromising,” but I’d suggest as my praise that this is a song that would punch you in the face.
PS- summer jamz, part whatever
“Gone all Summer” is from the Cheap Girls album Bright Orange (BTW- Can we talk about how end-to-end good the new Cheap Girls album is? The new Cheap Girls album is really, really good, end-to-end. I have more to say than that, so I will at a later date.)
Fashion yourself a fan of New Jersey and Indie Rock and perhaps their wonderful junction?Well, Yo La Tengo’s got a new one coming out early next year.
And, one more, because I’m leaving Chicago on Sunday. And moving across the country. To San Diego. Here’s a beautiful song about leaving.