Emily St. John Mandel follows up her electric debut, Last Night in Montreal, with a spellbinding novel of international crime, false identities, the depths and limits of family ties, and the often confusing bonds of love. Taut with suspense, beautifully imagined, full of unexpected corners, desperate choices, betrayals and half truths with deadly consequences, The Singer’s Gun explores the dangerous territory between one’s moral compass and the heart’s desire.
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Between the Hold Steady namechecking Heavenly and the fact that every other new indie band seems to have some trace of C86 DNA, it’s the right time for Amelia Fletcher to make a triumphant return. And that exactly what’s happening with Tender Trap’s upcoming album, Dansette Dansette, due to be released, appropriately enough, by Slumberland on June 22. The very DIY video for “Girls with Guns” sounds like Fletcher and co. are returning to the cute-but-tough formula that made Heavenly one of the most endearing—if underappreciated—bands in the indie underground during the 1990s.
The Talking Heads song “This Must Be The Place” has always been a favorite for fans. It has a catchy beat that you can dance to and great moments of inflection that you can sing along with. The lyrics have a kind of weird intensity to them, “I guess that this must be the place” is not the typical gushing praise you’d expect in a pop love song. By the second verse, “If someone asks this is where I’ll be” and “You’ll love me till my heart stops” are shouted to emphasize how much time develops a situation. The slow acceptance of a relationship that feels awkward but grows familiar and loving is something that resonates with all of us.
Which is what makes Miles Fisher’s debut music video a particularly stand-out effort. Fisher is an amazing stand-in for Christian Bale and if you follow the Vimeo link you can see some other spoofs showing his talent at capturing the Hollywood ‘White Guy’ character. The song itself is a solid cover of “This Must Be the Place”, minimalizing certain areas and fleshing out others to make it into a more modern dance tune. But the video itself, which parodies various scenes from the cult classic American Psycho, takes the sense of discomfort and longing in the song’s lyrics in disturbing directions. The opening lyrics of loneliness are sung by Fisher as he dances around the apartment alone with his axe standing for air guitar. A limo pulls up and he extends a folded bill to a prostitute while mouthing, “never for money, always for love”. In the window’s reflection she mouths, “I love the passage of time.” Little moments like this are scattered throughout the video, poking at the song’s conception of love when embraced by a modern day Jack the Ripper. As the film pointed out and the music video continues to examine, even monsters enjoy pop music.
Swedish pop-rebel Robyn is releasing three(!) albums in 2010, and the single “Dancing on My Own” comes from the first of those, Body Talk PT. 1. The track, which uses a glimmering-techno backdrop to propel Robyn’s sad tale about watching the dude she has a crush on dancing with another chick, is apparently a result of “her love of inherently sad, gay disco anthems such as Ultravox’s ‘Dancing With Tears in My Eyes’, Sylvester and Donna Summer.” The video follows that theme pretty closely, as we watch Robyn pull off some super-aerobic dance moves while looking like she’s just about to cry.
Fedora-loving, Def Jam crooner Ne-Yo has returned with the first single off his upcoming album, Libra Scale. With “Beautiful Monster”, Ne-Yo, like so many of his current pop cohorts, seems to be making the move from electronic-influenced R&B to full on Ibiza-style dance music. While earlier hits like “Ms. Independent” mixed gleamy synths with his trademark harps and acoustic guitars, “Beautiful Monster” is a full-on slice of Euro-pop, built by Ne-Yo and his production friends, Stargate, entirely out of trance-y keyboard lines and a throbbing drumbeat. Ne-Yo’s Michael Jackson-esque wails and screams are still in full effect, however, so expect to hear this one blasting out of the speakers at pretty much every club for the rest of the summer.