Stuck in my head this morning: “Pilf” by Cardiacs – who, I must once again stress, are the best band in the world – from their early cassette-only release The Obvious Identity. “Pilf” is an unusual song in a fathomlessly weird catalog, largely because it has a pitch-perfect late-70s power pop song – complete with a swaggering hard-rock guitar solo – dropped into the middle of another, much more typical (of Cardiacs, at least) prog-punk song that alternates between 4/4 verses and 7/8 bridges and sounds vaguely like the Buzzcocks. Cardiacs songs rarely finish anywhere near where they start, with the various bits strung together with a logic that owes more to dreams than traditional songwriting. I think that’s one of the keys to understanding the band’s hallucinatory intensity: they’re completely unafraid to violate traditional notions of structure in order to keep songs interesting, and they have the instrumental chops to make pretty much anything and everything work.
If downloading dodgy rips of even dodgier cassette-only releases from 28 years ago is not your thing, and you live in England, where there is some remote hope you might find Cardiacs records in stores, there is a flawless live version of this track, along with almost the entirety of the early Cardiacs catalog, on the two Special Garage Concerts CDs. There are maybe 3 not-so-great songs out of 32, and the rest are the sort of brilliant, convoluted pop genius that gets stuck in your head for weeks on end.
From my inbox, just because it’s funny. 20ML are just as witty, self-deprecating and clever in person.
Over 200 tickets have already been pre-sold for our Noise Pop show, so consider this an early heads-up for those of you who would like to see us perform with a British band more buzzy than a beehive.
In the spirit of this election year, we are happy to inform you that 20 Minute Loop has been VOTED into this year’s Noise Pop festival! That’s right. Instead of carefully cultivating our indie cred, or mixing with the right people (without seeming to care or be aware about it, in true indie fashion), or being signed by a really cool label like Absolutely Kosher or Barsuk, or just catching that unpredictable luck wave that has captured a few worthy acts over the years—instead of those possibilities, we have been selected by popular election to appear in this year’s biggest music festival. We have you, the voters—our music-loving constituents—to thank. Democracy in action. And let us tell you right now: we will not discredit the opportunity you have given us. We sense a desire on your part for CHANGE; not the empty promises of beltway hipsters, but real, positive change. More stimulus packages that actually work: individually-packaged breath mints in a Pyrex bowl placed between the monitors, more projectile vomiting into our sneakers, more goats slaughtered, more of the kinds of things that are meaningful to people like Emily Swansea in Alameda, a young woman who has been disappointed by the timid live performances of her favorite bands to the point that she now refuses to lavish any portion of her modest income on twenty-dollar performances that simply replicate recordings. Emily’s struggle is your struggle.