Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now, Youngster (released February 26th, 2008; Wichita/Arts&Crafts Records)
You know, sometimes... sometimes I just wanna dance. Like "get crazy, flailing about the room, ninja kicking, knocking shit over, contorted face, where'd my t-shirt go?" type of dancing.
There. Whew, I admitted it.
Now I can freely review this record and not feel the least bit ashamed about not having to be a serious music writer, at least not all the time. Thank god for Los Campesinos! injecting some fun into the world of indie rock. It gets kind of boring keeping up with the Interpols and the Arcade Fires of this world, and as much as I love those bands they can bring me to my knees, because self-examination is fucking exhausting.
So, with that being said, are you ready for a fun music review? Let's go across the sea to the United Kingdom. Wales, in fact; to the lovely little city of Cardiff for an imaginary interview, since that seems to be the mode I've been in lately...
Jimmy Mac: So, all your last names are Campesinos!?
Los Campesinos! (all together): It's You! It's Me! And we're Dancing!
JM: Okay. That's a great song, by the way. Can you introduce yourselves to our readers?
LC! (one at a time now): Aleksandra! Ellen! Gareth! Harriet! Neil! Ollie! Tom!
JM: Thank you very much, that's some serious excitement you have going on, and it's nice to see that it made its way onto the album. Gareth and Aleksandra, you two seem to be the loudest, is that because you share lead singing duties?
Alek & Gareth: Oi!
JM: Now I can completely understand why there's an exclamation point in your band's name. Moving on to your style of music, tell me about the "international tweecore underground". Would you say you stand alone as the leaders in the art of tweecore?
Gareth: What's all this palaver about us bein' wanky loners in twee? We're not sayin' we invented it, we're just representatives of a certain sound. We isn't tryin' to naff off our mums now.
JM: So who do you take musical direction from? Your main influences?
Neil: We quite likes the Pavement, Broken Social Scene, Yo La Tengo...
Ollie: ...oh, and Deerhoof, Sleater-Kinney, Arab Strap...
Harriet: ...what about The Fiery Furnaces, Architecture In Helsinki...
Ellen: ...Beat Happening, Destroyer, The Unicorns and Islands...
Tom: ...um, my mate Thurston Moore, Wolf Parade, Beulah...
JM: That's a pretty wide area of influences and they can be seen all over the record. Was it hard to record Hold On Now, Youngster with all the hype surrounding last year's stellar EP, Sticking Fingers Into Sockets?
Gareth: Well 2007, The Year Punk Broke (My Heart), we had to turf it out ourselves, being "the second most punk-rock band in Britain". It was me, in your back garden/ with my Walkman tucked inside my forearm/ and I'm waiting, waiting for C90. In the summer of 2007/ the summer that punk rock broke my heart...
JM: Do you feel as though it's been a time of change in the world, or in the United Kingdom in particular?
Gareth: Oh, everywhere, because this is how you spell "Ha Ha Ha, I've destroyed the hopes and the dreams of a generation of faux-romantics, and I'm pleased. I'm pleased". And you know, everyone is against us all the time, shouting Death To Los Campesinos!
JM: I was wondering how you arrived at the titles of your songs, are they engineered slogans or do they just grow from the excitement of writing songs?
Ellen: It's a mish-mash of ideas, like watching Soccer Saturday on the telly, hanging in pubs, playing shows, inside jokes, sorting out life.
JM: So Ellen, you and Alek are the two main writers of the blog on your website. Tell me about touring with Broken Social Scene, please.
Aleks: Aye, they were great! And all these new memories from touring the US, like in San Francisco, that seemed to be where the crazies liked to hang out and generally talk to themselves. While we were having cocktails I witnessed a man continuously lifting a plastic
bag up and down for an hour at what we thought was a bus stop. It turned out to a lamp post. He wasn’t waiting for a bus, he was just slightly eccentric.
JM: Oh yes, we have a lot of them out here. What was it like mixing the album in Canada?
Ellen: We got to mix the album in a very interesting area of Toronto which was a hang out for drivers with a penchant for loud bass-heavy music. Each evening they would crank up the volume and stand stationary around their cars just kinda looking at each other, it seemed fun and often I wanted to join in. This was balanced out by charity workers who would do team building exercises each morning which involved group singing, clapping and generally dancing around like idiots. One of them enquired as to whether Alek and myself wanted a job. It was tempting.
JM: Sounds like a lot of fun. Can I join your band?
Gareth: Pluses, mate. But We Are All Accelerated Readers... so, if you can manage to give your life to literature, we'd 'ave a go with ya. Just don't read Jane Eyre!
Neil: Aye, but we're trying to up our estrogen levels... (laughter from band)
JM: Are you gentlemen in the band protective of the ladies?
Tom: Oh, it's quite the opposite...
JM: Harriet, you've been quiet during the interview. Any memorable experiences during the recording or last year's tour?
Harriet: Oi, I celebrated my birthday in a lovely little place in the outskirts of Toronto, and Tom made a lovely little tiramisu which somehow ended up on Gareth's face. (band laughs)
JM: And how old are we now?
Harriet: (blushing) Twenty-two!
JM: So what does the future hold for Los Campesinos!?
Gareth: It would be well good to remind those of you that 'aven't 'eard our tunes that we're bent upon unleashing a massive attack on your eardrums. (band exhales deeply and rolls eyes in unison...)
JM: Well, you've been absolutely lovely to interview, I wish I could take you home with me. Ollie, you've also been a bit quiet, any parting shots you wish to bestow on us here at The Musicologists?
Ollie: Los Campesinos! are the sound of musical excess; of too many glorious melodies at once; of harmonious gluttony; of a mellifluous cacophony... Not really! We just threw a few chords together... (band laughs)
Why the red text?
"There's red stains all over the place..."
Oh, yeah. The album cover?
And there you have it...