Friday, August 8, 2008

Rock El Welsh

I couldn’t think of a better way to begin our trip than with the signature track from one of the most criminally neglected (and sadly, now defunct) pop bands of all time, the great Gorkys Zygotic Mynci. Those who know Gorkys love ‘em – while those who’ve never heard of ‘em lead shallow empty lives filled with frequent visits to Urban Outfitters and breathless anticipation over what Taylor Swift will come out with next. If you’re curious, check out “Sweet Sweet Johnny,” the way these Welsh kids should be remembered, a veritable mini-opera of psychedelic moodswings wrapped up in 4 and a half sweet minutes, a “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the Elephant 6 crowd. Listen how a lovely folk ballad with fiddle and piano turns abruptly into some freakish fuzzed-out Jerry Lee Lewis rave-up on the chorus, with Euros Child’s demented squeals battling a big hairy MC5 riff as the whole song implodes in on itself at just past the 2-minute mark, culminating in what sounds like the destruction of a piano and a drum kit and the psyche of every little Indigo Girls fan who wandered into the crowd by mistake. If you’ve seen ‘em live, and God bless you if you have, you’ll know that this Jerry Lee Lewis-like piano disembowlment can continue for up to 10 solid minutes onstage, as Euros ramps himself up into a frenzy, 110 pounds of flying flesh and fingers and demonic shrieks that somehow make Damo Suzuki sound grounded. “I think I’ve got a blister on me finger,” he said after one such outburst, inadvertently becoming the first Welsh indie pop singer to quote Ringo Starr since Gruff Rhys once muttered “I get high with a little help from my friends” after another 46-minute electro-dub version of “The Man Don’t Give A Fuck.” Best of all, when this Category 5 hurricane finally passes, one of the most beautiful little fragile melodies comes crawling out from under the debris, anchored by only Megan Childs’ weepy violin and Euros’s haunting piano. As he sings “I’m feeling so alone tonight” (it’s tough to get a date when you have such violent moodswings), you can’t help but feel a lump in your throat, even if you have a hunch he’s getting buckets of cute but frail indie girls after every single show. But to quote the Knack, the little girls understand, and it’s easy to hear why. Because right after Euros sings “What a way to spend a Saturday night,” the rest of the band comes right back in, creating the most beautiful, sad, fucking brilliant codas in indie pop history, lifting you straight out of your beanbag chair and into the upper reaches of Welsh pop heaven, which probably has some unpronounceable name like Ylllwwaangfrogwynwynmwyng. The first 4 minutes of “Sweet Johnny” is an epic buildup of Page/Plant proportions, a “Stairway to Heaven” on speed. But those last 55 seconds – this is the sweetest music you’ve ever heard in your life. And then, like the crazy Welsh kids they are, they go and end the song on an unsettling little minor key. Sheer fucking pop brilliance is what this is, with a twisted black heart. Okay, Taylor Swift. Let’s see you top that.

THE SQUID POP METER SEZ: Ten Tentacles (out of Ten)

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