Les Cox (Sportifs) Killing Rock n’ Roll.

Les Cox (Sportifs) don’t sound like they just released an album last week. They sound like they could have been born in the late 70’s post punk scene. Their dissident noise accented by choppy rhythms, minimal crunchy guitar and Christopher Rollen’s heavy accent makes me believe that they are the rightful heirs to the stolen chalice of arty lo-fi art school pop that Yummy Fur snagged from the Fall, Fire Engines and the first Modern Lovers record.

Scheiß Mit Reis is the first full length album from the Newcastle, UK band.  It follows an eight song ep that came out two years ago on Stop Looking and a 7″ single last year on Clunk Click.  Each release has seen the band progress.  Last year’s Total Straightness single was ace, especially the A-side The Hand and the Heep and Scheiß Mit Reis sees the band continuing with a full head of steam.  The Cox (can I say that?) can get downright silly with songs like God Vor Domma and the title track.  The former sees them employ Adam Sandler accents to somewhat amusing effect while the latter ends with the punch line: But I don’t like rice!.  Then there is the song C.O.A.S.T.A.L.M.O.T.H.E.R.F.U.C.K.E.R which in some alternate reality is the hit of the summer with kids blasting it out of their parent’s minivans as they wait for the red light to change as Les Cox spell it out.

It isn’t all shits and giggles with these smarmy art school boys.  John E Millais is a story song about the English painter reminiscent of Johnny Horton and Dead Beat Formula deconstructs, dismantles, and kills rock n’ roll and then realizes that all that isn’t quite necessary as Bo Diddley shows them the light.  Mixing Up the Cordite is an anti-war and anti-establisment song commenting on the current and past geopolitical ignorance of the masses that enable governments to wage wars in far off places to general apathy with lines like Well I hear there’s a war on in a country I don’t know, and  Well, I couldn’t care less who wins the war. The songs are played in a rudimentary minimalistic way and if you don’t pay close attention you could easily assume that it’s one goofy art school joke after the next, but scratch the surface and it becomes much more.  It’s only the middle of the year, but I can safely say Scheiß Mit Reis will be in my year end top ten.

mp3: Les Cox (Sportifs) – Dead Beat Formula (order up a hard copy of Scheiß Mit Reis from Sea Records or go digital)

mp3: Les Cox (Sportifs) – John E Millais

A little background:

mp3: Johnny Horton – Jim Bridger (from Greatest Hits)

mp3: The Fall – Rollin’ Dany (from This Nation’s Saving Grace)

mp3: Minutemen – The Big Stick (from 3-way Tie for Last)

mp3: Fire Engines – Meat Whiplash (from Hungry Beat)

mp3: Modern Lovers – Government Center (from The Modern Lovers)

mp3: Yummy Fur – 801 (from Sexy World)

School on Saturday

Central Services Board of Education at Town Hall, Seattle | 15 November 2008

Board of Education at Town Hall

For some reason, these days there seem to be a lot children’s albums by alternative bands. When I was a kid I had a few favorite kids records which I still remember to this day, none of them could be considered remotely cool. One was Marvin the Magnificent which was about a clown that wasn’t funny anymore. I don’t remember much about being six, but I can still sing the Marvin the Maginificent song! I also remember really being into Johnny Horton when I was seven or eight. I used to march around the coffee table to songs like the The Battle of New Orleans, Jim Bridger and Sink the Bismark.  I actually still like Johnny Horton, so maybe I shouldn’t say I was totally uncool at six (this probably depends on your opinion of Johnny Horton though).
These days children’s albums are a little different, some of them are actually pretty cool. I hadn’t really payed much attention to these kinds of records since childhood, that is of course until I had kids of my own.  Bands like They Might Be Giants have reinvented themselves as a kid’s band and Kimya Dawson has just released one herself, not to mention compilations like See You on the Moon a couple years ago that included songs by Hot Chip and Broken Social Scene.  Now I kind of keep an eye out for ones that seem like they might be a little different from the norm.

Saturday morning at Town Hall, Cenral Services’ Board of Education played a couple shows to celebrate the release of their very own children’s album. This Town Hall Concert series is a great thing, with ample space for the kids to run around, dance and just be kids. I went to one a while back that was a total blast and this one was just as fun. The Board of Education is the brainchild of Kevin Emerson fronts Central Services which have a few ‘adult’ records as well.  Emerson also plays drums in Math and physics Club and writes children’s books. The Board of Education was a full band complete with three piece horn section, two guitars and backing vocals. Their songs cover such important kid topics like Volcanos, Elbows, Tomatos, Ice Ages and numbers. With the attention span of the 8 and under crowd being a little be longer than that of a moth, Emerson and the band kept the pace brisk. My kids hung out to watch the first couple songs and then were off running and playing in the huge space of Town Hall’s basement. They would run in front of the stage, dance, hop and flap their arms like birds for bit and then run off again giggling and rolling around. This was billed as being a kids show, with no adults being admitted without a kid in hand, but I think that the parents enjoyed it just as much if not more. And why not, with songs like the funky Many Uses, and Dangers of Commas, or the grade school filmstrip remincing of Volcanones and You or the infectious pop of Iceages are Fun complete with guitar solo! how could we not?

Emerson and the band even hung out afterwords to sign cd’s for the kids, which I thought was a nice touch. My son certainly was impressed and wanted his signed by the band. Since this was a kids show, all the photos were taken by Ian who is six, you can tell how much he was paying attention to the band. His little sister had fun too, her favorite parts were when the songs were over she could clap. She likes clapping.

Volcanoes and You was Ian’s favorite song, so that’s what I’m posting.

mp3: Central Services Board of Education – Volcanoes and You (buy the album whether you’ve got kids or not)

And since I’m in kid mode, here’s one of my favorites from way back.
mp3: Johnny Horton – The Battle of New Orleans (from Johnny Horton’s Greatest Hits)

Last but not least, the rest of the photo’s from the show…
Board of Education

Board of Education

Board of Education

Board of Education

Board of Education