Virginia Omnivore

The first video of the first track from the first great album of 2012. It even says so right here.

25 years ago, this song was unleashed on the world when They Might Be Giants released their self-titled “pink” album. 20 years ago at the ripe old age of 13, I bought my cassette copy with money I had saved mowing lawns and washing cars (I think) after completely absorbing Lincoln and Flood. I know they hate being described as “quirky” artists, but there’s no denying this is pure “quirky”, independent, 1980’s college radio, early days of MTV fare.

I mean no slight to Laetitia Sadier, but this song makes me think of what Stereolab could have been if Mary Hansen had been the lead singer. With Soita Mulle’s moments of keyboard drones and singer-lyricist Ilsa Pykäri’s vocals, the album feels like the offspring of Transient Random-Noise Bursts and Space Age Bachelor Pad Music.

There’s no finer example than on the first track off of the album, “Unessa”. Those digitized (?) sighs get me every time. The guitars give the track a slight Motorik feel, though Pykäri’s vocals lead me to believe she’s singing about falling in love, not overthrowing a corrupt society. (Sadly, MP3’s don’t come with lyrics…or a translator.) This track has gained repeated listens and it stands a good chance of being one of the best songs I’ve heard this year. 

A tribute to two legends: one widely-recognized as one of the greatest talents in the music industry, the other almost obscure, though just as important. Poly Styrene wrote “Ghoulish” in honor of Michael Jackson as a way to say, “What is it about this talented man that we’re all afraid of? Why do we stand at arm’s length from him while we demonize him?” 

Poly Styrene recorded one of the greatest punk rock albums, Germ-Free Adolescents,with the X-Ray Spex. Poly broke into the punk scene at a time when it was still thought to be a “men’s only” club. The band disbanded shortly thereafter, and she left the music industry to become a Hare Krishna. She lived as a convert from 1983 to 1988, returning to music to record several EPs of New-Age inspired music. In 2008, she played a live show with the reunited X-Ray Spex and headed into the studio with Martin Glover (AKA “Youth” of Killing Joke to record the album that would become Generation Indigo.

Sadly, on the same day her new album, Generation Indigo, was released, Poly passed away after fighting breast and spine cancer.

I think I’m going to make a lot of people tired of hearing the name “Kyle Andrews” between now and the night of his show at the Norfolk Taphouse (Sept. 5, for the uninformed). Let’s start here; at the the same place I first heard Kyle’s music, with “Sushi” from his Real Blasty album.

Except, unlike myself, you get the added bonus of his fully-interactive video for the song. Composed almost entirely out of pixelated versions of YouTube clips, with each click the viewer is lead to memes, George Carlin routines, and who knows what else? Somehow, if you’re still unfamiliar with videos like “Leave Britney Alone”, “History of Dance”, “Chocolate Rain”, etc., this is the best way to get acquainted.

And be sure to look for Kyle’s new album, Robot Learn Love, on Elephant Lady Records next Tuesday.

On this, the same day that Jarvis Cocker, Erol Alkan, and Boyz Noize unleash a Leonard Cohen cover/dance remix, Jesse Lortz takes us back to the cabin in the woods with his video for the track, “Daggers” from The World Is Just A Shape To Fill The Night. Jesse and his group of female background singers easily bring back memories of the first time I heard Songs of Leonard Cohen, especially “So Long, Marianne”.

While it’s safe to say The Dutchess and The Duke are no more, it seems as though Jesse’s not quite ready to shake the California folk sound they so easily made their own. This won’t fit the bill for the summer jam I’m still seeking, but you can bet I’ll be playing this one very often when it arrives on August 16.

Hear more of the album at MTV Hive, or download two tracks at Stereogum and My Old Kentucky Blog.