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The Black Black/Kissed By An Animal release split single about how "Songs About New York" are bringing them down





The Black Black/Kissed By An Animal release split single about how "Songs About New York" are bringing them down

From the golden age of Tin Pan Alley about a century ago to the golden showers age of Meet Me in the Bathroom-era indie sleaze and beyond, songwriters do seem to love writing songs about New York City or at least many of them do and while one could easily make a case for there being more memorable and outright iconic songs about NYC than pretty much anywhere else in the world it’s equally true tho’ not as widely noted that there’s lots and lots of crappy songs about NYC too…

…one example being Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s “Island Girl,” a song largely forgotten today despite topping the charts back in 1975 and for good reason too seeing as it’s a cringe-worthy condescending ode to a six-foot-three “Jamaican honey so sweet / down where Lexington cross 47th Street […] turning tricks for the dudes in the big city” with lyrics that reinforce at least one hoary racist or whorey trope for every bump of coke Elton and Bernie must’ve done when they were writing the thing (allegedly!) not to mention some faux West Indian articulations and a bizarre kazoo/keyboard/marimba solo section I sh*t you not…

…and then jumping ahead 40 years you got Taylor Swift and Ryan Tedder’s “Welcome to New York City,” a song lambasted for being “the worst ode to NYC ever” and for being a “gentrification anthem...[written] for its transient oligarch class” with T-Swizz pimping her new hometown via a string of tourism brochure platitudes and bland “poptimist“ electro-pop uplift although at least it includes a couple pro-LGBTQ+ lines fit for mass consumption that even if perfunctory (or not!) who cares in the end cuz who can know what mysteries lie deep within Miss Tay Tay’s heart…

…and when it comes to songs about NYC it’s a matter not only of quality but also of quantity cuz there’s soooo many songs about NYC already in existence which has gotta make it pretty tough to come up with a non-hackneyed angle on the city and really how many ways are there to say “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” or to praise “streets [that] make you feel brand new [with] big lights to inspire you”…

…and even if you're looking to write more of an outlier song with NYC-related lyrical content it’s a safe bet almost every random piece of NYC marginalia you can imagine has been addressed at least once or twice before in song like how back in the ‘70s there were not just one but two songs by major artists named for the notorious “Coney Island Whitefish” which I would not recommend ordering from your local fish market even if you are running low on tartar sauce…

…which is all a moot point to the likes of Hiro, Dima, Johnny and John seeing as the musical foursome “fucking hate songs about New York”—and isn’t this the most “New York” take one could take on songs about New York possible—as explored further on “Songs About New York” which is the title track twice iterated appearing on both sides of the split seven-inch recently released by The Black Black and Kissed By An Animal (EWEL Records) two bands with an overlapping keep-it-in-the-family membership while remaining almost entirely non-incentuous in sonic terms seeing as how “KBAA move through tight, clean punk into melodic power pop, while TBB bring their unique brand of bass-driven post punk groove” according to the EWEL’s official press release

…and it’s a clever conceit to be sure having both bands record their own versions of the title song (alongside one bonus cut each) because not only do they cleverly bypass the whole “another stupid song about New York” quandary with a song about stupid songs about New York sharing a set of lyrics and a main vocal hook between them but otherwise we’re talking two totally different bags of apples...

…a conceit that (arguably) acts as a critique of the Big Apple’s oft-vainglorious sense of self-regard because as usual the mirror has two faces—the one shown to the outside world and the one more hidden away which is not to imply those two sides are always clearly distinguishable—and whether we’re talking about a split-single or a split-personality the two sides reflect and refract one another while standing along in their own right too like a double-helix strand of DNA where neither side is considered the “A Side” or the “B Side” it’s far more dialectical than that…

…or to put it more in layman’s terms the new KBAA/TBB split-single totally rips while simultaneously ripping a new one for all those clichéd songs about New York and ripping at the very fabric of ontological/representational self-certainty ideal for fans of bands like The Hives, The Vines, The Seeds, Oh Sees, Parquet Courts, Television, Radiohead, TV On The Radio, TVOD, Cinemax After Dark, Red Shoe Diaries, Midnight Blue, New Wave Theater, The Corey Hotline and Freddie Freaker and the single comes in numerous hues and shades such as periwinkle putrid pink, grape Shasta, and ‘70s shag avocado but the color is chosen at random so order at least 10 copies (out of a limited run of 200!) to increase your chances of getting a cool one… (Jason Lee)

Published: November 27, 2022 |

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