Thursday, June 26, 2008

CSS and their Donkey

Having been accused too often of only liking bands because I want to be down with the kids (dahn wiv der kidz!) I can only point to CSS and say “Fuck You, I was there first”. I love this band. They are everything most British bands aren’t. That is influenced by things other than other bands, like art, life, literature and…er…other bands; at least interesting bands that don’t exist anymore like Death From Above 1979.

This gang of arty girls, and one guy, from São Paulo don’t really do the standard game of pop. Shoot me down in flames but when CSS appeared on our shores they were the catalyst that kick started the musical jolt of 2006. Their constant touring, their gigs were unfocused party time blow outs that were as much of a good time for the audience as they so obviously were for the band. Cool is dead, long live cool!

As far as I’m concerned the likes of Klaxons (who I also like lots) wouldn’t have happened. I mean, for fuck’s sake, look at the list of favourite bands of 2006 as voted on Jo Whiley’s show. It reads like a list compiled by some lower ranking civil servant of the most mundane things of the year. Sort of explains why popular taste should never be allowed to govern artistic choice; it’s just sooooooo safe. Anyone with any great interest in music, those of us who remember various golden ages as being the very apogee of music, should go back and see who the most popular bands of their particular era were. It’s quite a wake up and doesn’t explain history as we know it, Jim.

So from Music Goulash’s point of view CSS were the saviours of British music in 2006 and anyone who says otherwise should be locked in a room with their shitty Razorlight albums. Suddenly there was some colour in the sound, not that they ever got played on the radio, well not much anyway. And now they have a new album out and it’s great.

Donkey is a good title. It’s stubborn and doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. Sensibly the band went back to São Paulo to record their new opus. It was produced by the token bloke in the band, Adriano Cintra, and then mixed by Spike Stent, who has become mixer of choice for so many. In this particular situation Stent was a good choice as his clear eyed crisp sound gives the album a pop punch that it deserves but he has a big enough love of music to retain the foibles and eccentricities that CSS are famous for.

From the kick off, with Jager Yoga, and into Rat Is Dead (a personal fave) that was given away as a free download the album announces it arrival with some force and focus. On their own, and in the ears of some humourless twats, some of the songs may be construed as naïve or simplistic, but this is an intrinsic part of this band’s charm. Lyrically songs like Left Behind are streets ahead of their musical, British born, contemporaries, like the Kooks or Fratellis, where the lyrics seem both lazy and inarticulate. Maybe it’s the Abba syndrome, where writing in a foreign language can appear simplistic on the surface but in the track the words are just so and seem to carry more weight than native born lyricists (The Day Before You Came).

So they are back and ripping up the summer months. I really hope that their planned relocations don’t have an adverse affect on who they are and what they do. They are global culture; they are the sense of humour in a corporate music world. Maybe they are the last gasp of the real art school band, which would be a disaster, but as Pete Brown once said The Art School Dance Goes On Forever. As Lovefoxxx sets up home with Simon Klaxon in London and three of the others also make the move, two of whom look like being my neighbours in Kensal Rise, which makes sense given the Little Brazil area of Harrow Road – one of the coolest places to go for a night out.

Tired of Being Sexy; I really hope not.

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