Thursday, 14 January 2021

Guest Post Thursday #13: Millennial Hipster Politico Songs

Guest Post Thursday is back! For one week, at least. 

You may remember my millennial hipster politico friend, Ben, who began contributing (against his best wishes) to our Name That Tune feature last year (it will be back, once I have the energy). 

You may think that Ben doesn't actually exist, and that I've just made him up for comedy value.

If so, here's a post I made up pretending to be a millennial hipster politico. Or maybe Ben is a real person. It's hard to say. I'm starting to wonder if he's just someone my mind invented to get me through the lockdown... kind of like Tyler Durden in Fight Club, without the fighting, shagging and blowing up buildings.

Bear in mind that whether he exists or not, Ben is far too hip to actually read this blog, so you can be as rude as you like about him if you choose to leave a comment...

Top Ten  21st century songs by bands that Rol sees as quintessential Hipster Ben 

(in no particular order)

(Except I put them in order, because that's what we do around here, fool.)

10. Aesop Rock - ZZZ Top

Hip-hop’s equivalent to the OED provides a narrative exploring the frustration of youth through three different kids graffitiing their musical preference on paraphernalia in the 1970s. Covering Led -Zeppelin, The African hip-hop movement that began to gather pace at the end of the decade, and punk, Aesop Rock highlights the boredom of school life over a backing track that somehow manages to resemble all three music styles. Just don’t mix him up with Aesop Rocky – very different rappers.

I got really excited for a second there because I thought he was kicking off with a little Frank Beard and co.

9. Samuel Jackson Five – If You Show off the Milk, Who’s Gonna Buy the Cow?

I listen to a lot of instrumental music. That annoys Rol. I wanted an instrumental that I know would annoy Rol. I see him getting more wound up at this than Mogwai.

Great band name. Almost as good as Kathleen Turner Overdrive. Pity they forgot the lyric sheet. (I just discovered there is an actual band going by the name now. I hope they get sued by Jack Black, or Nick Hornby.)

8. Les Savy Fav – Lips N’ Stuff

NY art pop that takes a sideways look at flirting. Watch some liveshows on youtube and marvel at the frontman, Tim Harrington’s clothes and presence.

Better than Fat Les, that's for sure.

7. Slaughter Beach Dog – 104 Degrees

From the ashes of loved band Modern Baseball who took a break due to mental health reasons, came Slaughter Beach Dog from one of the frontmen and drummer of MB. There’s not much to say like many of the others, other than 104 Degrees gives a good idea to the fun had with lyrics and narrative of songs that Slaughter Beach Dog became known for.

(Hush. Don't tell him, but I just added that to my library. Although it does remind me of Mallwalkers by Fred Thomas. Only not quite as good.)

6. Tony Molina – Nowhere to Go

What if Weezer songs were only 1 minute long and only contained the chorus which is often the only bit that isn’t filler on Weezer albums? Tony Molina knows what you want.

Didn't Steve Coogan once play him?

 5. Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math

Oh, Andy Hull! Another era defining songwriter. If A Black Mile To The Surface wasn’t on your favourite critic’s top albums of 2017, it’s time to leave them behind. Simple Math, the title track from the album of the same name is the first time MO show their ability to be cinematic and intelligent in their song-writing. As a songwriter, Hull is honest to a fault, exposing his flaws and demons in love and religion. The album covers the topics of him becoming too controlling with his own band and his shame at him leaving his wife after communication breaks down following the mental and emotional trauma of them having a still-born child and their reunification. It’s necessary to hear the song in the context of the album, but it sees Hull working through what neither he nor his wife can bear to say to one another during this period, both good and bad; brought together through the metaphor of infidelity.

They're not even from Manchester.

4. Kevin Devine – I Could Be With Anyone

A power-pop figure that, honestly, should be far more popular and possibly one of the nicest people to ever exist. With over 10 studio albums under his belt, Devine speaks with authority and honesty on addiction, loss and love (as do all the greats). He makes time for fans after and before shows as well as holding genuine conversations in the middle of gigs and seems to remember anyone who’s spoken to him more than once.

His catalogue can be widely separated into songs about life and songs about politics. This song finds itself on a highly political album (Brother’s Blood) but is a rallying cry against all the saccharine love songs that seem to think manifest destiny is the only way that true love exists (the video is a parody of Bright Eyes’ “The First Day of My Life”).

To appreciate the skill of KD it’s important to see him live, both with a band and a solo tour which he does quite often.

I translate "all the saccharine love songs that seem to think manifest destiny is the only way that true love exists" as "most of my record collection", by the way.

3. PUP – DVP

Canadian punks who are finally gaining the recognition they deserve outside of their native land. Prolific in their touring and commitment to providing one of the best live shows going. Some fame has been garnered from their use of a certain Finn Wolfhard in several music videos dating from before his Stranger Things debut, they remain one of the few bands whose every music video is worth a watch. Punk often gets called ‘frenetic’ but never has this been more true than for DVP and if you ever played video games in the late 80s/early 90s this video is definitely one to watch.

Bear in mind that Ben wasn't even born in the late 80s. I once made the mistake of asking him why he'd never seen The X-Files when it was on TV, and his answer was, "because I was 3."

2. Jeff Rosenstock – Festival Song

I’ve pestered Rol with JR enough that I’m sure some of it must have made it onto here. (It has.) As bands are forced to enter into commercial methods of distribution more due to the ever widening platform, it’s rare to see anyone ‘punk’ enough to stick to their laurels. Jeff does. All his music is available free from his websites on a pay what you want basis and his live shows are the only ones I’ve ever been to that look exactly like those music videos that used to be on MTV where everyone is having the best time.

Rosenstock sums up his feelings towards the consumer nature of music, and punk in general, in this song. Written after appearing at a well known American “punk rock” festival, he laments the fashion and saleability of a movement as a brand as well as taking on the privatisation of housing and the expansion of rented properties that can’t support people. As usual, he achieves all this with some of the catchiest melodies today.

This is the kind of extremism politico bumfluffery I get text messages about at 11.25pm. And you think you've got it bad.

1. Brand New – Limousine (MS Rebridge)

Got the Brand New Cadillac jokes out the way? Good. Difficult band to select just one song due to the changing nature of each album. The first album originating during the pop-punk era, they quickly grew into a unique band obsessed with privacy and sporadic and enigmatic releases. A band that during a nine year period of no releases, still saw themselves cemented as a cult band with a loyal following until officially drawing the band to a close in 2018 after the release of the critically acclaimed Science Fiction.  Limousine sees them embracing darkness on the album “The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me”. Informed by large bouts of mental illness, the deaths of over seven family members and having to rewrite a whole album due to the leak of demos (which would later be officially released on cassette), the album saw a significantly darker turn. No more so than on this song that documents a local newspaper story of a young flower-girl at a wedding who was killed by a drunk limousine driver.

Blimey, leave us with something cheerful, won't you?

Thank you, my possibly imaginary friend. Thank you for being there. 

It's worth pointing out that Ben does at time profess a liking for some of the commoner muck that gets played around these parts. Just don't invite him to do your wedding disco.

Still I liked more of those than I disliked.

Tomorrow I will post some Dean Friedman to redress the balance.

(The door is still ajar for Guest Post Thursday. If anyone else fancies a go.)


  1. I'm a bit fragile this morning so playing the ZZZ Top first was probably a bad idea. Pausing only to note that the Samuel Jackson Five track is what I'd call musical noodling, I'll leave the rest til later.

    By the by, in my young day "hipster" had a todally different meaning.

  2. Hello to Ben - He is as real as we make him and it brings down the average age of your visitors around here by a fair whack. As for his music, not so sure, but then I am a fan of Dean Freidman!

  3. I learned today I'm a very gullible person. Or am I?

  4. I seem to have convinced you all that Ben is made up.

    Which is hilarious... but also makes me even lonelier than I actually am.


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