Sat 26 Nov

Alex­is Tay­lor (Hot Chip)

Presented by Faith In Strangers

About this event

Alex­is of Hot Chip will be be mak­ing the trip down to Mar­gate with sup­port from local record spin­ner, Itchy Rich. Grab your tick­ets before its too late.

As the front man of leg­endary UK group, Hot Chip, you might recog­nise Alex­is from hit records Over & Over’, Ready For The Floor’ or from any num­ber of their sem­i­nal indie bangers. The man him­self has released sev­er­al great albums as a solo artist. Expect a wide-rang­ing, eclec­tic set of sol­id par­ty grooves, indie dis­co anthems and maybe a few Hot Chip bangers — both old and new…

There’s some­thing odd about Hot Chip. Some frac­ture between con­cep­tion and actu­al­i­ty that makes them all the more intrigu­ing. Osten­si­bly Hot Chip sign up to the HipHop dream as espoused by MTV Cribs and pre­sum­ably as lived by, ooh, Phar­rell Williams? They just seem to have some prob­lems trans­lat­ing it to Wandsworth, SE Lon­don, is all.

In fact they seem to have trou­ble squar­ing it with the equal, but to some extent oppo­site, influ­ence of, say, Bill Calla­han from Smog. Or Lam­b­chop. Or Crys­tal Gayle. So, instead of doing the obvi­ous thing and work­ing out what sort of band they are going to be, they con­clude that they will be all of them at once. And then they’ll make it all in a room small­er than the box room at your Mum’s house. With what­ev­er’s lying around. That is, what­ev­er’s lying around — toy trum­pets, kazoos, blah. This to con­form to a cher­ished idea of Bri­an Wilson’s that, in the stu­dio, any­thing goes.

Where­as a band like Pri­mal Scream sim­ply want to BE The Rolling Stones for one album, then King Tub­by on the next, and Roy­al Trux on anoth­er, we pre­fer to make ref­er­ences in minia­ture to the spir­it of the records and per­for­mances we love and admire,” says vocalist/​keyboard play­er Alex­is Taylor.

We might apply an inter­est­ing approach to record­ing that we have learnt from an artist, but with a dif­fer­ent set of aes­thet­ic prin­ci­ples. So traces of RTX, Anti-Pop Con­sor­tium, I’m Your Man’ era-Leonard Cohen, Ste­vie Won­der, Tom Pet­ty, MadLib and Will Old­ham, for exam­ple, may all be some­where in one song, rather than becom­ing the blue­print for an entire album.”

The crux of all this, though, is the dynam­ic ten­sion between the sheer respect for the pro­duc­tion tech­niques of, say, Dark­child on Brandy’s What About Us?’, and a very Eng­lish (and, some might say, white) need to tell it a lit­tle more like how it is. So, on the Nep­tunes inspired Play­boy’, you get the aspi­ra­tional ghet­to stylings of a Hype Williams as re-shot by Mike Leigh, with Hot Chip­per Joe singing about blaz­ing Yo La Ten­go from his Peu­geot as he tools round Put­ney with the top down. Pathos’ is a word that springs to mind not for the first or last time while lis­ten­ing to Com­ing On Strong’. But Hot Chip are noth­ing if not fun­ny, although it’s safe to say they are pret­ty dead­pan in their humour.

This is per­haps best exem­pli­fied by Keep Fallin”, a song which con­tains Alex­is Chip’s some­what provoca­tive boast that he is like Ste­vie Won­der” but can see things”. This in a song that man­ages to shoe­horn in musi­cal nods to Ween, Wom­ack & Wom­ack, the Spencer Davies Group, plus the great Ste­vie him­self, while lyri­cal­ly ref­er­enc­ing the myth of Sisy­phus and crack­ing crap jokes. Phew!

It should sound packed and be brim­ming with ideas, like Pet Sounds’ or Paul’s Bou­tique’,” says Alex­is before trac­ing the roots of Hot Chip’s sound to the inter­play between his naivety and Joe’s knowl­edge. And this is the way it seems to go. Hot Chip say they have between 10 and 15 songs on the go con­stant­ly, record­ing every­thing they play togeth­er and then painstak­ing­ly piec­ing togeth­er the best ele­ments into a new whole, which often bears lit­tle rela­tion to the source mate­r­i­al. Like Pub­lic Ene­my,” they say by way of example.

Unlike most of their heroes and role mod­els, how­ev­er, Hot Chip pre­fer things to be slight­ly off or too loud or in some way odd, and set great store in the acci­den­tal nature of record­ing. Per­haps it is this that gives them the slight­ly home­made feel that per­me­ates the whole Com­ing On Strong’, and makes it an album so high on charm.

The par­ty sounds that inter­sperse the Tom Tom Club-by Beach Par­ty’ are more back-gar­den bar­beque than the prime­time Prince which inspired them, and are delib­er­ate­ly designed to evoke inno­cence rather than more Bac­cha­na­lian plea­sures. Else­where, home itself is nev­er far from cen­tre stage, whether it be the bereft rooms and emp­ty refrig­er­a­tor of Crap Kraft Din­ner’, or the qui­et domes­tic tragedy of Baby Said’. Baby said she want­ed adven­ture / I said, baby, the out­side world’s not safe / We should sit down”.

And, out­side the home you get… the car. Yes, the afore­men­tioned hymn to the Peu­geot is but one of three tunes on the joys of dri­ving to be found on Com­ing On Strong’. You Ride, We Ride, In My Ride’ is Will Old­ham cruis­ing with his crew after a night on the piss, with what Joe calls UK garage polyrhythms and Alex­is insists is actu­al­ly a dis­co bassline. Shin­ing Escalade’ mean­while is an auto-erot­ic phan­ta­sy about the SUV of the same name, with Alex­is play­ing straight man to Joe’s daft flights of fancy.

This is a sit­u­a­tion found through­out the record; Alex­is high reedy vocal and often dead­ly sin­cere words, jux­ta­posed with Joe’s brown­er, slight­ly ludi­crous bari­tone, point­ing us towards the more play­ful ele­ments of Hot Chip. And, in truth, they are both mean­ing­ful and mean­ing­less. At the same time. They like to sing sweet­ly about aggres­sive sit­u­a­tions, and make jokes about things you real­ly should cry about.

Com­ing On Strong’ is, like the man says, chock­full of more ideas than you could sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly iden­ti­fy, many of them pure­ly signs and ciphers for the par­tic­i­pants’ own delight. Thank­ful­ly, it func­tions first and fore­most as a pop record, albeit the decid­ed­ly odd one hint­ed at in the first sentence.

Hot Chip are: Alex­is Tay­lor (vocals / keboard) / Joe God­dard (beat mas­ter / vocals) / Owen Clarke (Key­boards ? gui­tar) / Felix Mar­tin (drums / MPC) / Al Do It (gui­tar).

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6:00 PM


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