Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

What are you listening to this week?

Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Courtney Barnett, “Nameless, Faceless”

Last week when Courtney Barnett dropped “Nameless, Faceless,” the first track from her upcoming album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, it turned out to be exactly what I didn’t know I wanted to hear. The Aussie’s sardonic address to internet trolls is delivered in her signature chill, witty style but with an added bite that seems to be indicative of the album as a whole. Although the verses find Barnett feeling “sorry” for the wankers (“Must be lonely, being angry / Feeling overlooked”), the chorus is markedly heavier, with Barnett invoking a Margaret Atwood quote as she expresses an everyday terror for women: “I want to walk through the park in the dark / Men are scared that women will laugh at them / I want to walk through the park in the dark / Women are scared that men will kill them / I hold my keys between my fingers.” And as if those jagged guitar riffs weren’t badass enough, the song’s Breeders-esque backing vocals are performed by none other than Kim Deal herself. [Kelsey J. Waite]


The Ikettes, “I’m Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)”

The Ikettes were among the handful of girl groups who started as backup singers for famous acts before breaking off to record on their own. In this case, the “Ike” part refers to Ike Turner, who included the group as part of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Now, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that a drug-addled woman-beater like him had a hard time keeping the Ikettes’ lineup steady, leading him to handpick new singers when any left and send multiple groups of Ikettes out on the road at once. One of the earliest iterations got into the studio and cut the first and best Ikettes single, “I’m Blue,” a slow, soulful blues number built around a catchy “gong-gong-ga-ga-gong-gong” chorus and a stellar lead performance from Delores Johnson. (Critics speculate you can also hear an uncredited Tina Turner singing in the backup vocals.) You might better recognize the rocking cover by The’s that appeared in Kill Bill Vol. 1. (By the way, that “Woo-Hoo” song is also a cover. Here’s the original by rockabilly one-hit wonder The Rock-A-Teens.) [Matt Gerardi]


Death And Vanilla, “Dioz Delirium” (from The Tenant OST)


I find that “alternate scores”—where composers create new music to accompany someone’s film—are nearly always less interesting to listen to on their own, far less than the original film scores. A lot of this has to do with logistics. Since many of them are performed in a live setting at some special repertory screening, often improvised on the fly, there’s frequently a lack of strong motifs and an overall hesitancy to intrude. They’re typically heavy on atmosphere and ambience, less so on memorable melody. Of course, there are exceptions: Giorgio Moroder’s Metropolis comes to mind, and I once saw Demdike Stare do a live score to a 1922 silent called Häxan that was incredible. To that list I’d also add the reimagining of Roman Polanski’s The Tenant by Swedish trio Death And Vanilla, recently released on Fire Records. The group’s bio somewhat mockingly mentions that any write-up of its work is bound to reference Broadcast, Angelo Badalamenti, The Radiophonic Workshop, and/or Mazzy Star, but that’s to be expected when you make hazy, eerie, ’60s pop-noir awash in vintage mellotrons and Moogs. The Tenant, recorded live at a 2015 screening in Spain, matches Polanski’s psychological thriller with an appropriately haunted, hallucinatory tone that’s full of heavily reverbed rockabilly guitar, distorted organ washes, and desolately ringing vibraphone notes. But unlike most alternate scores, it’s thoroughly enjoyable as its own separate, uneasy beast. [Sean O’Neal]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter