B/W: XTC – “This is Pop?”

I wrote earlier that XTC embodied a certain strain of Discomfit Pop; this song could very well be its manifesto. I have also written that Chalkhills.org will be, throughout this series, an invaluable resource. Indeed, in this case, it’s provided an incomparable cipher to the origins of “This is Pop?” It came to pass that Partridge—Swindon lad, New York Dolls aficionado—heard the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the U.K.” (“It just sounds like a slower version of The Ramones,” he confessed to Todd Bernhardt) and decided he wanted none of it, the compartmentalization, the hemming in. He relates to Bernhardt: I … Read More

B/W: XTC – “Statue of Liberty”

There’s a rather vivid scene in Günter Grass’ (at times unbearably) phantasmagoric novel The Tin Drum where a museum guard named Herbert Truczinski (an associate of the narrator, Oskar Matzerath) falls in love with a statue, “Niobe” or “the green maiden.” Although, it is more accurate to say that Herbert is possessed to ravish the statue: I had to laugh when I saw Herbert. He was hanging from the front of Niobe, he had tried to mount the wooden statue. His head covered hers. His arms clung to her raised, crossed arms. He had no shirt on. It was later … Read More

B/W: XTC – “Science Friction”

Discomfit Pop Any piece of music that conforms to your expectations of pop music (i.e. that said pop music be indelibly catchy, regardless of its content and/or trappings; expectations that overlap, but do not denote, Market Pop, which is a whole other kettle of fish) that—simultaneously—works to bring you out of your comfort zone (to “discomfit” someone is to make them uneasy, which can be done in myriad manners) and draws you into the purview of thought, however trivial or asinine or insipid or profound or deep or wondrous the thought may be. Use In A Sentence: XTC, Swindon’s finest, … Read More

Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Australian songwriter Courtney Barnett blew up out of nowhere with her first major statement, a double EP called A Sea of Split Peas. She took boisterous garage rock and used it as a platform to express the myriad thoughts that hover around millennials, expressing fully and articulately the ideas that usually get watered down into one-off twitter messages. For me, songs like “Avant Gardener” and “Out of the Woodwork” illicit that strange sensation of having what you believe is a personal and unique thought expressed (better) by someone else. Through the whole album, Barnett takes traits that often evoke artifice ... Read More

The Go! Team – The Scene Between

I can think of a lot of shows I used to watch (or catch snippets of) on Saturday mornings, whether it was on Kids’ WB, Fox Kids or some other channel: Digimon, Pokémon, Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs; Kirby: Right Back at Ya!; Power Rangers, several iterations of Transformers (including the underrated[?] Beast Wars) and a whole lot of repackaged Japanese weirdness—some show about a cavekid whose dad was a hammer(?) and something that was essentially Yu-Gi-Oh except cooking themed. If I ever went back to these shows, I imagine I’d consider most of them crap. As adult, I’ve more or ... Read More