New Alpine Track Will Probably Be Used In Gym Classes Everywhere

4 February 2016 | 3:25 pm | Ross Clelland

'Crunches' is another example of coolly electronic and electronically cool danceable music.'

“You’ve come a long way, baby…” Obscure love song lyric? No. Title of Fatboy Slim’s second album? Well yes, but that’s not really the point here. It’s actually an advertising line from around the early 1970s, for a cigarette specifically designed for women. Feeling special now, ladies? Cancer darts tailored especially for your dainty, tobacco-stained fingers.

The same line - and sometimes the same patronising tone – can relate to the pop music as well. Of course there are women as the heart and brain of the creativity, but there’s still an element in some marketing plans where youse chicks are there merely as object of desire, muse, decoration, or trophy. And worse, some are content to be so. 

However, let’s start with the positive. How good are Alpine? Rhetorical question. Phoebe and Lou are the sound and visual of the band – although the blokes play their parts as well. And Crunches (Ivy League) is another example of coolly electronic and electronically cool danceable music. OK, some days they’re I’m Talking, some others The Human League. There’s a fair bit of substance and some effortless style to this – with the perhaps ironic point that the song will probably be used to soundtrack gym classes on the name alone. 

Conversely, Sky Ferreira shits me. Possibly starting with her self-description as ‘actress/model/singer’, while probably not being much of either end of the phrase. However, her washed-out stoner glamour allows her to be Miley Cyrus’ support act, or play various parts on other people’s records. Bobby Gillsepie always has an eye on the zeitgeist and self-promotion, although Primal Scream’s hit rate is now obviously based more on what went before than what’s happening now. Where The Light Gets In (Ignition) has them duetting in a suitably jaded way, and the chance for her to wear a glittery mini-skirt. Yup, Bob’s made one in the glam style, and we all get to play dress-ups. Me, I’m going to find the clip of Rocks on Youtube and play that a few times.

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Naturally, Sky also has the ‘troubled rock star boyfriend’ – wait, is she deliberately trying to be the Kate Moss of this decade? – going so far as her and Zachary Cole-Smith even getting matching drug possession charges. How cute. So, the Sid & Nancy or Kurt & Courtney for the new generation? Naturally, she also gets to appear on his new DIIV record, with potential dangerously apt-titled Blue Boredom (Captured Tracks) even getting the (Sky’s Song) bracketed sub-title. But more accurately, that bit should probably read ‘(Kim’s Song)’, as the debt owed to Sonic Youth’s murky racket and Ms Gordon’s breathy tones is much in evidence. Chances of Sky having anything like the standing of woman who walked away from Thurston Moore because he turned out to be a bit of a dick? Unlikely.

At least The Horrors’ Faris Badwan gives Rachel Zeffira equal billing in Cat’s Eyes, and while Chameleon Queen (RAF) may have some of her multi-instrumental skills in it, it’s his voice at front with her (nb: default cliché word) ‘ethereal’ soprano warbling being the mostly wordless heavenly choir going on what might be an stalking an apartment where she – or even another ‘she’ – used to live. It shimmers curiously at times, and drifts away on some Purcell brass exhaling. It’s a long way from Sheena Is A Parasite, certainly. 

Even if their own relationship has variously been fraught, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker as Low make a beautifully minimal noise that has most always been compelling. Into You (Sub Pop) comes as they announce an Australian tour, with the visuals evidencing they sometimes uneasy peace and quiet they can conjure. Even in the challenging surrounds of Glasgow, where the crowds are not exactly famous for their restrained attentiveness. The fuzzy pulsing lights in the distance are the near-perfect complement to the odd but affecting human clockwork they make. 

The undercutting female element of Leon BridgesRiver (Columbia) gives this old soul’s old soul music the smidge of gospel traditionalism to complete the feeling of it, without the injection of an oppressive level of God. The streets of Baltimore out the window of their cheap hotel owe less to Gram Parsons, and more to The Wire’s no-go zones but there is a timelessness to the music he makes and proof that often a human voice, an acoustic guitar, and little else are pretty much all you need to make something of worth and sincerity.

Here in these modern times it can come down to the way you spell your name. AViVA makes bubbling electro pop of an utterly contemporary nature. As Electric Venom (Mammal Sounds) unfolds layer upon layer, it can even get a bit busy but the pop sense in it remains. So maybe that idiosyncratic use of the keyboard’s ‘Shift’ key might be the point of difference to make more people notice. Which is both a bit of a shame, but perhaps a necessary novelty. 

Back from conquering the world, or at least small chunks of it, High Highs also make indie pop of the current model, albeit with a bit more old-style acoustic wistfulness that makes Cascades (Spunk) well-wrought and ideal fodder for listeners of those radio stations of various inner-city communities - who will probably get to know the new American rhythm section of the band by first name when they tour round these parts in the near future.