Amid the continuing barrage of new releases, here’s two more that I’ve been slightly obsessed with over the past few days: one of which has pulled off the unthinkable (joining my early ’90s life in Brixton, with the south London of the here and now), the other, arriving from a place that I’ve been to, but barely know.
The Isle Of Wight is a strange, foreign, yet familiar land. It’s as if someone cut off a piece of Hampshire in the 1960s and then dropped it in the channel, just to see what might happen. It is not, from my experience, a hotbed of youth culture. And yet, its this very fact which may possibly be at the core of WET LEG (we can argue about the name later).
If WL had formed in east London, they would probably have been all over and done with by now. But like some of the more interesting or eccentric or idiosyncratic music of the ‘90s which often emerged from overlooked backwaters, you get the feeling that WL’s unaffected, unspoilt pop sound is the result of a kind of trend-dodging isolation.
There’s no peer group to infect them; no chameleonic need to fit in.
Of course, this might be bollocks (we writers do love to lay our blueprint theories over a band we like), but I’m putting my trust here once again into the hands of Domino Records boss Laurence Bell (Wet Leg are the label’s first signing in ages)
Bell sent us this track in an email which merely said: “I thought you might enjoy the debut single by Wet Leg, out tomorrow! They are from the Isle of Wight and a bit special, I think.”
Always the hard sell (NOT!). Bell just knows.
Said (special) single is bloody marvellous. It’s playful and punchy; lyrically restless and subtly funny, while being just a bit knowing at the same time (some of the lines actually wink at you as they pass by).
Another of this year’s singles of the year, already.
Meanwhile, literally closer to home (seven minutes on the 133 bus), a collision of Brixton rascals: SHAME’s remix of the new ALABAMA 3 single.
When I arrived in London, I lived in Brixton from 1989 to ’95 and the paucity of alternative music was bitterly obvious. With the exception of Carter USM, whose spiritual home was just down the road, south London was very much Camden’s poor relation. Little changed for much of the decade, except for the emergence of Alabama 3, the acid-gospel dance-punk outfit who seemed to encapsulate Brixton’s slightly trashed underground (and who would inadvertently find fame when their single ‘Woke Up This Morning’ was adopted as the theme tune to The Sopranos).
I really thought they could have been maverick contenders. What have become though, over 20-odd years of whiskey soaked, blues-rave records, is the godfathers of a scene which would finally come to life many years later – and which features a collection of bands who share their non-conformist south London agit-pop stance (see Fat White Family for evidence).
Enter fellow south Londoners Shame and this bolshy remix of the A3’s current single ‘Whacked’. Given the sort of driving beat redolent of Jason Nevins’ remix of ‘It’s Like That’ by RUN DMC, Shame’s Charlie Steen adds a rolling tribute, like an enthusiastic narrator of a film which lurks and hovers around a sort of hedonistic counter-culture.
It is both pumped AND pumping.