It’s all gone a bit art-something


If I ever bothered tagging mp3s I think I would probably reach for ‘art-something’ more often than not. I’m not sure exactly what it means but it seems to cover much of what I listen to. Maybe it stands for ‘j*zz’ (sometimes it’s the finest of lines), but it’s usually just something a little different. Though when it comes to art school bands you can keep your Blur (though I wouldn’t do without Jarvis, Art Brut, etc etc etc). So here’s a round-up of some bits of the <cough> genre as I understand it, though if they have anything in common it might be the rhythms. Maybe it’s just that this sort of thing tends to be a bit bouncy – because these certainly are.

Starting with the mighty Minutemen and One Reporter’s Opinion, from Double Nickels on the Dime, you get 1984-vintage post-punk, autodidact no-me-neither lyrics, and punk-funk bounce.

It’s not far from there to this year’s pastel-sweatered art-something sensation, Battles, and bouncy bouncy smurf-along Atlas. This song makes me feel old because it’s irresistibly catchy and highly irritating and I can’t fight it. Even seeing it described as ‘robot rock’ and knowing there are definite j*zz and math rock things going on in this band can’t kill it off. The sweaters might though.

What Robert Lloyd, Brum’s finest lyricist, would make of Battles is anyone’s guess – but let’s face it, it would be funny. The Nightingale’s 2004 reformation and 2006 album Out Of True is enough to warm the hearts of misanthropic fans of Beefheartian rumbling and endlessly quotable wit. From an album brimming with invention I give you a song which contains the disparaging comment “if you invested in graveyards people would stop dying” and something about cheap wraps of coke in Nuneaton… Born Again In Birmingham

Finally, and I really don’t know whether we can stretch this any further, here’s the most fun you can have with the drums and the bass without it being drum and bass: Lightning Bolt. This pair tick all the boxes – they went to art school, are undeniably bouncy, and make their life and art as difficult as possible by doing things like ‘singing’ through a microphone removed from a phone handset and attached to a wrestler’s mask. You know, like you do. And yet they sound like good metal, like Extreme Noise Terror without the stop-start stuff or Metallica without the orc factor. Have a jig about to 2 Morro Morro Land

See? Bouncy bouncy. Something. Start shopping here.


About jkneale

BothBarsOn's London correspondent.

Posted on June 8, 2007, in General Stuff. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I shall listen and get back, but thought I should acknowledge the post to save tumbleweed…..

  2. Ok listened now and all top tracks. The Battles stands out for me and I think I’m becoming a math-rocker.

    Anything with Art in the tag line is something that I would normally avoid and I don’t think we’ll ever agree on Art Brut – silly band with stupid songs.

  3. a silly band with stupid songs!? there’s not much point in us doing this blog, is there? shall we pull the plug on it?

  4. I love 99% of the music you discuss/blog on. Maybe Art Brut comment was a little strong, so I take it back. Had some good feedback about the blog since I’ve been publishing it more widely…still no comments though :-[

  5. Bugger – got Art Brut mixed up with someone else in my head. So I take back the comment doubly and humbly apologise and hope you’re still on board.

  6. Don’t worry, stll here… I can imagine many people describing them as both silly and stupid, so maybe you had the right band all along. I’ll hold off on the Art Brut retrospective i was planning though 🙂

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