Music

Various Artists: Kitsune Maison Compilation 8

The latest installment in the Kitsune Maison series appears to herald the decline of the French arbiters of cool.


Various Artists

Kitsune Maison Compilation 8

Label: Kitsune
US Release Date: 2009-12-08
UK Release Date: 2009-11-06
Amazon
iTunes

You can’t blame some members of the bloggerati for branding Kitsune Music a bringer of “Now That’s What I Call Music” for hipster playlists. Because that’s what the record label essentially does. Thanks to Daft Punk’s Homework and Discovery albums, French electro became cool again. Kitsune Music (a branch of a French-Japanese clothing company of the same name) was set up to capitalise on Daft Punk’s formidable fame by backing artists that mutated their debt to the robotic duo into something achingly up-to-the-minute and hybridised. Thus we got Digitalism’s scuzzy dance-punk, Simian Mobile Disco’s bleeping techno-minimalism, Crystal Castles’ arcade game noise-pop, and Autokratz’ techno-pop. Kitsune also realised it had an audience in indie rock kids. So it extended its velvet hand to post-punk revivalists with affectations for the four-to-the-floor metre, such as Bloc Party and Late of the Pier. The annual (or twice annual) release of the Kitsune Maison compilation gave us a reliable cross-section of the latest in clubland cool.

On the eighth and latest issue of Maison, Kitsune noticeably swings its emphasis on dance with pop tones to pop with dance tones. Just within the compilation’s first half, we have a string of indie-pop songs: the Empire of the Sun-like “Up All Night” by the French Horn Rebellion; the whistling, riffing CBGB-sounding “Let’s Go Surfing” by the Drums; and the Pippettes-esque “Friction Between the Lovers” by Amwe. Could this new development be the label’s admission that the underground is finally ready to cash out of the electro-dance-punk and the so-called French Touch bubbles that consumed most of the noughties? If so, then, like its American counterpart DFA, it might be in for a drastic rethink of its raison de etre. Unlike labels peddling straight-up drum ‘n’ bass, techno, and house -- genres so fundamental in the history of electronic music that they are unlikely to lose all relevance anytime soon -- Kitsune’s pet projects and artists were founded on what they thought fickle hipsters would listen and dance to. Kitsune was lucky the fad for indie-meets-dance lasted as long as it did.

This precariousness is reinforced by the fact that among the compilation’s more club-ready tracks, not much seems to herald the coming of the next Justice. Midnight Juggernauts, an act that rode to indie darling status during the peak of the synth-revival movement in 2007, show they still have plenty of that beguiling Aurora Borealis prog-disco shtick left with “This New Technology”. Delphic, meanwhile, have been touted as the freshest dance-pop act to come out of Manchester, and they make a fine entry here with “This Momentary”, an inspired blend of New Order industrial disco and First Wave rave. The blogosphere has also poured its praises on the so-called “chillwave” poster boy Memory Tapes. His song on this compilation, “Bicycle”, grafts an eerily washed-up aspect onto disco dreamscapes, and so is certainly a worthy proposition. But these moments of relish are overshadowed by an unwarranted amount of filler, such as the abysmally unlistenable “I Love London” by Crystal Fighters and Logo’s MOR '80s dance track “Junocide”.

But as with all declines, mooted or real, it is the anticipation of what follows that is most interesting. Will Kitsune continue to scrape at the bottom of the barrel for that last crumb of post-punk-electro in a hopeless attempt to justify its existence so far? Or will it grab hold of the next hipster-baiting niche, appearing disoriented and even irrelevant?

5

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image