Sunday, 4 August 2013

Stuff I like Sunday: Of Monsters and Men, Metric

Gosh is it that time of day already? I've spent almost all day putting together flatpack furniture and moving things around my room to make it look more like a twenty-something's bedroom and less like a closing down sale in a next-millennium antiques shop. I have still not figured out where my extensive collection of Doctor Who figures is going to live, but perhaps I should wait until I find out whether I will need room for expansion after today's announcement.

As anybody who knows me in real life has probably guessed, I definitely have some Things to Say about said announcement, but honestly today I am tired of that sort of nonsense. And Sunday is a day for unapologetic fangirling! So, combining the themes of "I spent all day putting up a flatpack wardrobe" and "things I really really like", here are gushing reviews of the two things I have been listening to a lot to get me through the day. Both are female-fronted! And in more than just a figureheady "we would like to sell albums to teenage girls, here is a song I wrote for a woman now sing it" way.

First is "Of Monsters and Men", who, like Kerry Katona, come all the way from Iceland!

Apologies to my international audience for this completely impenetrable joke.
Nah not the supermarket really, they're from the country Iceland, the one with the volcanoes and the population smaller than Luxembourg.

So they have more excuse than most bands to take posey nature pictures...
So I am unapologetically not a music journalist. In fact, having spent many of my high school years being a Girlfriend to a Boy in a Band, I have found myself with a mild allergy to the entire scene of Supercool Musical People. Needless to say being a Girlfriend and not a person in my own right did not really suit me, but being a person in your own right in Boy in a Band World involved more effort and talent and inherent coolness than I could muster. The combination of not liking things I am not automatically good at and accepted into, and the mildly traumatising nature of anything that happens at high school, means that knowing things about music all just feels a bit inherently depressing for some reason. But anyway, now I am a single accordion-playing feminist so perhaps it is time to move on! I'll start by reading the Wikipedia page of this band I like.

Of Monsters and Men! Their lead singer is that epic woman on the right and she is called Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir because people from Iceland have epic names with gendered surnames that I am not inherently enamoured about but because it's feminine and Viking I am wholeheartedly behind that name in general. She plays the guitar, and another one of them (the one called Raggi, probably but not definitely the one in the leather jacket, not looking it up because men, pah) plays the guitar and sings also so they can sing awesome duets like Little Talks. They are quite new and therefore only have one album, My Head is an Animal (that's a Spotify link Eff Why Eye) but it is brilliant slightly-but-not-overly twee folky guitar stuff. Also they have an accordion which is like plus a million points and the only way it could possibly be better is if Nanna Hilmarsdottir played the accordion. Unfortunately, their accordion player left the band to go to university instead, but they have a session playing accordion for when they go on adventures tour.

The song that got me into them that you should all listen to is King and Lionheart, which was one of the most important tracks on my unofficial "leaving Beijing" soundtrack. Turns out it has this super weird video to go with it too!

The other thing I have been listening to ‒ and only a year late! ‒ is Synthetica, the 2012 album by Metric. I've loved Metric unintentionally ever since watching the Scott Pilgrim movie in 2010, where they provided "Black Sheep", the song the Clash at Demonhead perform at their gig. Good movie, great comics, epic song. 

That's the Brie Larson version, which is not as good at the original, but has the added bonus of invoking Scott Pilgrim feels and we all need more Scott Pilgrim feels in our life. It took another six months for one of my friends from the Staircase of Feminine Awesomeness to introduce me to the band behind Evil Ex Number Three, in the form of Fantasies, Metric's 2009 album. This was a turning point in my life. Seriously, I'm not somebody to say something like this lightly, because telling people what to like even as a joke always rubs me up the wrong way, but here's the thing. If you are the kind of person who has an unofficial (or official!) list of songs that would be in the biopic of your life, and you haven't got a single song from Fantasies on said list? I'm not sure you're living your life right. I'm sorry, I know Differences In Musical Taste is a thing, and not everybody's life is an epic feminine indie drama, but... seriously. This album is literally all our lives, no exceptions.

If you're not sure which Fantasies song would be on your soundtrack, it's probably Gimme Sympathy:

(Also if you really don't want a thing from Fantasies, I will also accept "Monster Hospital" as an acceptable substitute. Video is a bit violent, you have been warned.)

The woman doing the singing (and the drumming, guitaring and synthing in the above video, and also actual keyboards and composing for the band) is Emily Haines, and she and her man-band are all Canadian and she's friends with Lou Reed which is basically an enormous stamp of approval right there.

Despite thinking this album is the best thing since "The Second Sex", new music comes to me slowly (a byproduct of actively wanting to be disconnected from any sort of Scene), so I... only just discovered there was a "new" album a couple of days ago. I do not have quite the same visceral attachment to Synthetica but it is pretty darn great. "Wanderlust" has Lou Reed doing vocals, which is strangely jarring but in the best possible way. I am already a very big fan of "Speed the Collapse."

So that is my very very short roundup of women in bands! Women. Who knew they had things to sing about, and that they can even compel men to help them sing those songs by playing fun instruments in the background? And they can wear nice clothes and take fun photoshoots in nature, just like the men. Wish somebody had told me this when I was fourteen...