Black Bordello – Leeches
I’ve always been fascinated about how much mileage DJs are able to get from records that nobody ever really cared about, usually for a good reason. Sure, there was a time when this wasn’t the case, but sampling licks from Queen or Rick James just can’t happen now with all the lawyers knocking about.
Whether through sampling directly or lazily quoting music through their instruments, the trip-hop and modern jazz-pop of 1990s Britain was absolutely frightening. Sure, Massive Attack and Portishead were all the rage for a while, but to me, their best work always seemed to express something deeply unsettling and entirely British. Those, too, were for the most part, art students with an unhealthy obsession for old, dusty records.
Armed with a similar darkly stylish aesthetic, production values that bring to mind the glory days of trip-hop, and a worldview that seems exclusive to ol’ Limey shores, Black Bordello’s Leeches is the art-school dance number that you can use to soundtrack your existentialist play.
Pagan Holiday – Make It That Far
Folk-punk was really a revolutionary style given all too little attention in mainstream media. Personally, I blame the dubious fashion choices on it. Like it or not, the Sex Pistols wore clothes created by professional designers while chanting about anarchy and wanting to ax the queen.
Some of the things that make folk-punk this important are the disregard to the quality with which instruments are played (in fact, many instruments are improvised), the fact that the lyrics aren’t poetry but monologues, and the fact that, cheesy or not, these folks seem to not be able to fake it.
Make It That Far is one of those songs. It may make the man behind Pagan Holiday cringe in a few years’ time, but just like a perfectly awkward childhood photo, the world is better off for it existing. Everyone puts on a mask while making pop music. Folk-punks try to put several on at the same time but can’t quite cover who they really are. James Rice is someone we can believe.