Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Karen O shares her demos

There's a book coming out in October called "The Greatest Albums You'll Never Hear" - all about the records your favourite artists have abandoned and consigned to the rock and roll graveyard. Of course, being written by a "serious music journalist" it concentrates on Bowie and The Stones, rather than the Scissor Sisters or Madonna - but it's an intriguing concept nonetheless.

Unreleased material is the holy grail of rock music. When record shops were still a thing, I'd always be drawn magnetically to the Prince section, where I'd rifle through the racks in the hope of discovering a new record I'd somehow missed despite an almost forensic knowledge of the moustachioed midget's back catalogue.

When The Black Album was announced, then scrapped, Prince fans went loopy. Bootlegs changed hands for hundreds of pounds. Everyone talked about how this was the "ultimate Prince record" - darker, dirtier, funkier than anything preceding it. Too dangerous for public consumption. And one of the songs was about an erection.

Of course, when you finally heard it, it was a largely a let down. Even the erection song had brewer's droop.

And I think that's true of most unreleased material. Freed from the requirement of hearing the songs, your brain is free to dream up the best music of all time. Harder, sexier, better and sexier (again) in every way imaginable.

So it's brave of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O to open up her songwriting notebook and show us a collection of songs she wrote nine years ago. Her debut solo record consists of tracks she sketched out during a period of uncertainty and weirdness in her love life when she was just 27 years old.

Appropriately enough, it's called Crush Songs, and it's due out in September. The first single, a scratchy, raw ballad called Rapt is playable below. For once, it looks like the unreleased material might actually be worth hearing.

Karen O - Rapt

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