11 Jun 2005

P, C & C have a party in their heads (IX): Junk Musik, Monkeystrikes and David Birde’s Guide to Great Lyrics

The record company of Christoffer Lundquist and his friends, Junk Musik, has had lots of activity these days. Jens Jansson is playing with the band Monkeystrikes, Jens and David Birde play in Germany with Florian Horwath and David has written an interesting guide to great lyrics that could be useful to Per Gessle's forthcoming album. Let's begin, LJdM's readers.

Monkeystrikes is the other band from Brainpool's drummer Jens Jansson. According to their website, http://www.monkeystrikes.com
Why the name Monkeystrikes? We were thinking hard for a long time to find a band name that would suite the energy of their music. One evening we came to think of our almighty English photographer friend, Monty Strikes. Since we wanted to hail him and liked the brutality of his name we decided to call ourselves Monkeystrikes!!!We have always felt like apes and our music actually is more direct than smart.
Monkeystrikes formed in August 2002, when Johan Nordlund (bass) and Cecilia Karlsson (vocals, guitar) met Stig Larsen (Stig, the Dane). After a couple of years of separation Johan and Cecilia decided to start a new band together since they realised that they couldn't make rock without each other.Cecilia and Johan used to play in the well known and respected rock band Souls, that released 2 albums on/with Telegram/Warner Music. Souls also got signed with Trauma records/Interscope, USA in 1997 and supported Bush (the band not the president) on their arena tour across USA, Canada and Europe. Since the break up of Souls (1997), both Johan and Cecilia have played with different creatures. Among others Johan has played with Courtney Love and Joakim Thåström. Stig has played with Danish rocker Allan Vegenfeldt.

However... one hot summers day, Johan and Stig took the train from Copenhagen over the bridge to Malmö where Cecilia lives and on their very first rehearsal they made the motorcycle fuck off song "Lost on The Lawn. As soon as they could Monkeystrikes left for London to record with their mighty old legendary friend, the producer Nille Perned (also member of "The Chinamen"). They needed a drummer and Jens Jansson (from Brainpool) joined in 2004. Andreas Danielsson Grevsten (guitar) also joined them. Monkeystrikes recorded in Tambourine studios, Malmö, with mighty producer and hockey player Herman Söderström and Nathan Larson. Their first album, You hate my beautiful love, was released in 2005. Junk Musik has published two digital singles outtaken from the album, You hate my beautiful love (April) and Let's go to Hawaii (June). They recall the force of another Malmö's band: The Cardigans.

Tonight, our artist Florian Horwath supports Beck at Tonhalle in München (Germany). Beck personally chose Florian for this gig, which of course is flattering. Florian called David Birde & Jens Jansson from Brainpool just two days ago, and told them that their presence was needed in Germany today. Luckily, they managed to find airline tickets a couple of hours ago… Good luck tonight, boys.

Don’t miss our release party next June, 14th at KB, Malmö: today, 18-01! Here are the new songs released by Junk Musik this week!

Number 1: The Projects – “If There Are More Of Us”
The Projects is a GREAT band from London. Their performance of “If There Are More Of Us” was described like this by NME: “…in which The Clash get about halfway through rocking the kasbah, only for Mark E Smith to stumble in drunk, spilling two pints of hot Stereolab onto the keyboards and causing the sound to warp into great curls of eeriness.”

Number 2: Monkeystrikes – “Let’s Go To Hawaii”.
Yes, Monkeystrikes are back! This is the follow-up to the praised song “You Hate My Beautiful Love”. Get their new single exclusively on here Junk.

Number 3: Fight Family – “Star-Eyed Dim”.
Previously known as Colubrids, this wonderful band from Malmö recently took a new name. Why? They can’t agree on anything. Except that they like each other. Well, never mind: this is truly beautiful music.
Anders Mildner (Junk Musik)
Anders Mildner


It all begins in a very strange way: As I sit down to think about great pop lyrics, the first line that enters my mind is this one: ”Peaches come from a can, they were put there by a man, in a factory downtown…” A line from a song by a band that I had totally forgotten about - I can’t even recall their name (but I remember that their singer was tall, bald and annoying). For some weird reason that particular line got stuck in my mind.

I shrug it off and try to focus. Great lyrics… great lyrics…. let’s see… What happens next almost scares me. I start to sing to myself: ”If you want to destroy my sweater – pull this thread as I walk away…” I do remember the bands’ name: Weezer – and the song must be ”The Sweater Song”. It really must be.

At this moment I’m starting to feel a little uncomfortable. Maybe I’m not the right person to write about great lyrics after all. Maybe I’m just a little to shallow for a task like that. But then I slowly start to realize that these two lines have something in common; they are absolute nonsense, but still they make perfect sense. They are totally naive and at the same time (or maybe just because of that) intelligent in some bizarre way. And isn’t that exactly what a piece of great pop poetry should be?

Neither Weezer nor the band whose name still eludes me will be listed here. But that’s just because they’re already mentioned. Lines like the ones above are, in my world, reason enough for a place in the lyricists’ hall of fame.

This list will be very personal, so don’t be surprised if you don’t find Bob Dylan here (you won’t actually). It’s just that so far he hasn’t come up with anything that says anything to me about my life (to paraphrase another beloved lyricist who won’t be mentioned here). But Dylan and that other guy have recieved so much credit for their songs already, so I’m sure they won’t mind.

Having said all this, you might think that my selection of great lyrics will be shallow and ironic and that I’m trying to make a point of excluding the obvious ones. Not at all, I will simply pick a few songs that for some reason make me cry, laugh, shiver or itch – et cetera. And I’m sure that your own list would be completely different from mine. Which is good!

Song: No Regrets
Artist: The Walker Brothers
Music/Lyrics: Tom Rush
Album: No Regrets
Recorded: 1975
Genre: Mature Love

I don’t know anything about Tom Rush. Should I? A little research tells me that ”No Regrets” was written by Mr Rush in 1968 and that it has been covered by artists as disparate as Emmylou Harris, Shirley Bassey, Midge Ure and Olivia Newton-John. I didn’t know that. The only version I have heard is the Walker Brothers’ and that’s the one I’m writing about.

I read somewhere that Scott Walker was a rather serious drinker in the 70’s. If nothing else, that explains why he is holding a can of beer on the cover of The Walker Brothers’ reunion album ”No Regrets” from 1975. Maybe his drinking habit is also - at least partly - the reason why he sings ”No Regrets” in such a heartbreaking way; indolent and dejected but still with complete presence all the way through. This is truly the voice of a man who had it all and then lost it. With a crisp seventies production, complete with pedal steel, female backing vocals and a pompuos, almost lecturing string arrangment as a backdrop, Scott croons his way through this sad tale of impossible love. Not once does he raise his voice, which only adds to the feeling of hopelessness.

The key lines to me (or actually the ones that always make me cry) are these: ”I woke last night and spoke to you - not thinking you were gone. And it felt so strange - to lie awake alone….” Oh, the beauty of understatements! ”It felt so strange - to lie awake alone…” He isn’t crying, screaming, destroying stuff and shooting heroin. No, he just feels strange, lying awake alone.

A thing with ”No Regrets” that separates it from other songs in the same vein is that it doesn’t have a ”twist”. There is no: ”Please come back” or ”I know we can make it if we try” or ”I’ll always remember to close the toilet lid from now on”. No, the decision is final: ”There’s no regrets, no tears goodbye - I don’t want you back, we’d only cry again - Say goodbye again.”

He still loves her, that’s for sure. But he realizes that they can’t go on, so he keeps telling himself that the break up was the right solution.

Even though it feels so strange to lie awake alone.

Song: Common People
Artist: Pulp
Music: Pulp
Lyrics: Jarvis Cocker
Album: A Different Class
Recorded: 1995
Genre: Class war

She comes from Greece with a thirst for knowledge which she satisfies through sculpture studies at St. Martins College. This is where Jarvis Cocker, the singer from Pulp, catches her eye.
She tells him that her father is rich and Jarvis’ snotty reply is: ”In that case I’ll have rum and Coca Cola”. She gladly accepts and half a minute later she lets him in on her secret wish: To try the life of the ”common” people. She even goes as far as to express a wish to sleep with someone common - him for example.
Jarvis is rather shocked by her suggestion and stutters: ”I… I’ll se what I can do…”

”I took her to a supermarket - I don’t know why but I had to start it somewhere. So it started - there.
I said: Pretend you’ve got no money. She just laughed and said: Ha - you’re so funny! I said: Yeah…?
I can’t see anyone else smiling in here… (Whispered): Are you sure…?

This whisper is surely the single most chilling moment in the history of britpop (not much competition I know, but anyway…) He manages to squeeze in a number of emotions in these three whispered words: They’re flirty - he is attracted to her and the possibility to have sex with this beatutiful lady is still rather tempting.
At the same time the whisper ooze of despise. He is disgusted by her because she thinks that ”poor is cool” and he is even more disgusted by himself for actually playing along with her.
This is is the turning point of the song. Jarvis has made up his mind, there won’t be no more romance.
Gone is the smoothe voice, the drinking and the joking. The remaining four minutes diplays an affected Jarvis, lecturing this poor little rich girl about the real world, a place that she will never be able to experience.
And what a lecture it is:

”Rent a flat above a shop - cut your hair and get a job - smoke some fags and play some pool - pretend you never went to school - but still you’ll never get it right - ’cause when you’re laid in bed at night - watching roaches climb the wall - if you called your dad he could stop it all yeah…”

There is no information available about the greek sculpture student’s reaction to this tsunami of loathing but I guess the only reasonable reply would be something like: ”Yeah, well ok, guess I’ll see you in the cafeteria some time…”

Song: Perfect Day
Artist: Lou Reed
Music / Lyrics: Lou Reed
Album: Transformer
Recorded: 1972
Genre: Angst

Lou Reed’s ”Perfect Day” is surprisingly often mistaken for a so called ”feel good-song”, just a playful run-trough of activities that, when combined, makes a day - ehrm - perfect. This is a misconception, very far from the truth. In fact, I think ”Perfect Day” is one of the scariest songs ever written. It starts out with two people, presumably lovers, consuming sangria in a park until nightfall, when they decide that it is time to go home. That’s all fine, but next we learn that the couple feed animals in the zoo and then watch a movie before they go home. Hmmm… This is confusing. No mentioning of the sangria or the park at all. Is the song perhaps describing two different days? Or are the couple going through the variety of options they have, to make the most of their day together? Or is it all happening in the narrator’s head?

I realize of course that my reasoning is unnecessarily analytical and that the questions that I pose are quite irelevant. It might or it might not be the same day, that doesn’t really matter. We can easily put it on the ”artistic freedom-account”. What does matter, though, is that Reed already after a few lines has sown a little seed of uneasiness, at least in my mind, before the anthem-like chorus kicks off, with Lou just a little bit too affected to make me relax completely.

On now, to the second verse, which starts with a few general remarks about the perfect day and how much fun it is. Then, without warning, the ground opens before your feet: ”Just a perfect day - you made me forget myself - I thought I was someone else - someone good…” Hey, wait a minute here… The day and the company is apparently perfect to the degree that the narrator for a while manages to forget about his true nature and instead fools himself that he is ”someone good”. Thus we can - without risking too much - deduct that he usually is bad. Someone bad - the opposite of ”someone good”. (There is another - more far-fetched - way of interpreting these lines: The narrator has always thought himself to be a good person, but now - in the company of his lover - he realizes that this is not the case: He is actually bad. However you decide to think about it, I would say that either of the options are rather horrible.)

The song ends with a deadpan Reed, repeating the biblical-sounding prediction: ”You’re going to reap just what you sow…” … over and over again and horrified, you slowly understand that the crack in the ground that you’ve been facing since the end of verse two, is nothing less than the gateway to hell. We are all doomed and in the end we’re going to have to pay for our sins. We can temporarily forget about our destiny, distracted by a perfect day (or two!), but it is unavoidable and surely nothing to look forward to.

OK, maybe I got a bit carried away here. There are probably ”lighter” ways to interpret this song, but that’s not up to me. Let’s just agree that ”Perfect Day” is very far from your average feel good-song. Nevertheless, I have heard of people who actually had it played at their weddings. In a sense, it is easy to understand their argumentation: ”A wedding day is supposed to be perfect, so why not kick it in the right direction with this little jolly tune, huh?”

(As a matter of fact; by making a prediction about something, you dramatically increase the possibility that it will come true. In a way you unconsciously strive to fulfill any prediction, be they good or bad. But this is - as the alert reader already might have observed - a parenthesis.)

The argumentation quoted above, of course presupposes that the person who chooses to play ”Perfect Day” at his or her wedding, merely has skimmed through the lyrics, if even that. I mean - just imagine to have the line: ”You’re going to reap just what you sow”, echoing in your head on the night of your wedding. Scary shit indeed, especially considering what we now know about predictions.

David Birde (Junk Musik)
David Birde

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