Thursday, April 3, 2014

Song #501 of 9999 - Default by Django Django

Paul Costello holds the distinction of being the first guy I mean when I say "my English friend". (I like him so much I'm going to let that period I just typed sit outside of the quotation marks just for his benefit.) I suspect he is able to tolerate me only after years of working with spoiled American kids at the British American Drama Academy. He records songs and plays shows under the moniker Johnny Cashpoint and writes a daily webcomic called 1000 Days of Paul. He has impeccable taste in music, notwithstanding a soft spot for Supertramp.

Song #501 of 9999

Title: Default
Artist: Django Django
Year: 2011
Album: Default

I don't about round *your* way, but 2011 was a bad year for music in the UK. Lester Bangs was still dead, Florence and her Coffee Making Machine were covering Buddy Holly, and Mumford was raising his Sons on meaningless folk whimsy ... The spirit of punk (whatever you think that means) couldn't have felt further away. A year of butter-faced dimwit Cameron and it felt like things, sadly, could only get *worse*.

And then - through a complicated series of events, I ended up in a box at the Royal Albert Hall to see Spiritualized - Not a huge fan, exhausted from work, not entirely sure that the RAH was a place to see an Indie band, blah blah blah, - but this "who now?" support band blew them off the stage and me away. Embracing those elements of the past they loved - surf guitar, sour Beach Boys harmonies, big 80s reverb drum sounds, squiggles of krautrock electronica, dominant dub basslines - they melded them together into a sound that was simultaneously as old as Neil Young, and immediately new. They made me want to dance, and not care what people thought of me dancing - music at is best. 

The recordings I hunted down the very next day lacked their visceral live rush but showed four intelligent musicians who understand it was smart to be dumb when it mattered, and vice versa. They scavenged the past and found something new in the spread. Recycling as an art-form, if you will (and you probably won't). Released properly in January 2012, "Default" was a massive surprise hit, which warmed my angry heart. It's an easy default for people to think no good music has been made since we were teenagers - but the truth is people continue to want to hear good music - and, surprisingly, are willing to be patient for it. Sing it (in a silly robot voice) "Diddy diddy default"!

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