Piney Gir – Peakahokahoo

Following her brief cult success as half of Vic Twenty, singer Piney Gir reappeared with the delightfully lo-fi Peakahokahoo, released fifteen years ago this week. It’s a short album – so short, in fact, that it’s difficult to review, as each track disappears before you’re really able to start writing anything.

Vic Twenty had been a wonderful act, for the short time that they lasted. A couple of years earlier, they supported Erasure, wore Russian military outfits, and released delightful short electronic pop music. Sometimes verging on chiptune, at other times just dark, grimy, simplistic synthpop, their little-known album Electrostalinist is well worth a listen, if you ever find a copy.

This, though, was Piney Gir‘s first solo album. It opens with Boston, carrying on the theme of absurdly fast synth lines and choruses that started in Vic Twenty. Good, but not entirely convincing yet.

Next is Que Cera Cera, a hilariously bouncy Casio keyboard version of the first verse of the classic, which leads us into the dark but chirpy Girl. It’s clever – atmospheric but still very lo-fi. It’s also long enough to be able to write more than a sentence while it lasts. If there were any obvious singles on here, this is probably where I would begin.

Creature is good too, though – its slow, crunchy beats and processed vocals are evocative and intriguing. There’s an element of teenage angst here, which is captured beautifully. Other things aren’t quite as clear – the semi-shouty rendition of My Generation just about works, but seems a little misguided. Same for the short and somewhat sweet La La La.

A couple of years on, Piney Gir was asked to play country versions of the songs on here, and thus the follow-up album Hold Yer Horses became an alt-country version of this album. That might have been an odd choice at the time, but it was extremely successful, at least in underground circles, and seems to have gained her a cult following and cemented her career since then.

But there were already hints of this direction on Peakahokahoo, and Greetings, Salutations, Goodbye is probably the first of these. It would open Hold Yer Horses, and several of the other key tracks from here made it on there too. It’s quirky and clever, and while the guitar work comes as a bit of a surprise after all the 8-bit hits, it’s a good song.

K-I-S-S-I-N-G is another sweet song, although the rhymes are a bit odd. The instrumentation is what makes this work, honestly, but it’s an impressive reminder of just how varied this album is – we’ve come from fast, frantic, synthpop to this somewhat haunting piece.

It is a little impenetrable at times, though – there seems to be a bit of a journey going on through this album, and so probably by this stage we’re hanging out with an angsty teenage Piney Gir, who is wondering why everyone else seems to be kissing in trees except her. In that context, Sweet maybe makes sense, but it’s difficult to be sure – it seems to be a dreamy love song for someone that the singer doesn’t really know, but you probably had to be there to be certain.

Nightsong sees Simple Kid turn up for an oddly moonlit jazz piece, again unlike anything else that we’ve heard on here so far. This is definitely an album that’s full of surprises. But Piney Gir is also not afraid of bringing elements back when they’re needed, and so Ruth is Coming to America takes us back to those catchy Vic Twenty countermelodies with a full-on Casio rhythm. It’s bizarrely great, and yet at the same time a little bit unlistenable. Intriguing, though.

Jezebel sees things turn a bit dark. Maybe this isn’t an autobiographical album, after all. This is a grimy glam rock piece in a sense, but with an absurdly laid back vocal that really shouldn’t fit, but somehow works well. I don’t think anyone has ever recorded a glam track that was this gentle.

Finally, the closing track is Janet Schmanet – it’s actually the thirteenth track on here, although barely forty minutes have passed. It’s probably the cheesiest of all the tracks on here – the vast majority of sounds on here come from a portable keyboard, but that’s intentional. The lyrics are entirely daft, but hey, why not? The “get your adverbs here” line is weird, but inspired.

For good measure, we get a theremin version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow to close. Because of course we do.

So that’s Peakahokahoo. It’s every bit as eccentric as the title would suggest, but for all its oddities, it’s definitely never boring. You can see how the simplistic synthpop of Vic Twenty must have seemed a little boring to Piney Gir – she clearly doesn’t like being pigeonholed, and probably likes being in control too. So why not let her take control of your listening for a few minutes, and hear what she has to say for herself? Just accept that she might be a little bit strange at first.

You can still find Peakahokahoo at all major retailers.

Retro chart for stowaways – 9 September 2006

Here are the top albums from twelve years ago this week:

  1. Tiga – Sexor
  2. Hot Chip – The Warning
  3. Massive Attack – Collected
  4. Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental
  5. Röyksopp – The Understanding
  6. I Monster – Neveroddoreven
  7. Laurie Mayer – Black Lining
  8. Fatboy Slim – Why Try Harder: The Greatest Hits
  9. Vic Twenty – Electrostalinist
  10. Madonna – Confessions on a Dance Floor

Music for the Masses 40 – 14 May 2005

This was the last ever Music for the Masses, just a little over a decade ago, and it would go out with nothing but a sombre wave on the webcam, ten minutes before the end. Over the preceding five years, I had immensely enjoyed doing the show, and would spend another eight years or so wondering how to recapture those times. Eventually, it was reincarnated in the shape of the blog you’re reading today.

The last track had to be, of course, the fantastic Sweet Harmony by The Beloved.

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Show 40: Sat 14 May 2005, from 6:00pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: Everything But The Girl.

  • Portishead – Glory Box
  • Basement Jaxx – Where’s Your Head At
  • Kings Have Long Arms feat. Phil Oakey – Rock & Roll is Dead
  • Sohodolls – Prince Harry
  • Everything But The Girl – Missing (CL McSpadden Powerhouse Mix)
  • Underworld – Pearl’s Girl
  • Client – Don’t Call Me Baby
  • Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart
  • Garbage – The World is Not Enough
  • Everything But The Girl – Walking Wounded
  • Wolfsheim – Kein Zurück (Live) [The Live Bit]
  • Vic Twenty – Wrong
  • Moby – Raining Again
  • Luke Slater – I Can Complete You
  • Röyksopp – Poor Leno
  • Everything But The Girl – Blame
  • Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygène (Part 2)
  • Goldfrapp – Tiptoe [Electromix]
  • Jolly Music – Radio Jolly (ADULT Remix) [Electromix]
  • Massive Attack – Butterfly Caught (Paul Daley Remix) [Electromix]
  • Alpinestars – Green Raven Blonde
  • The Beloved – Sweet Harmony (Live the Dream Remix)

The Electromix feature from this show still exists, and will be included on a future Playlist for stowaways.

Music for the Masses 36 – 16 March 2005

Show 36 was the last before the three week Easter break, and would see Music for the Masses in its springtime Wednesday slot for the last time. Actually, it could have even been the last outing of the show, as the post-holiday scheduling shakeup always meant a few shows dropped out. Fortunately – or unfortunately – it lived on to die another day, this week with New Order as the Artist of the Week.

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Show 36: Wed 16 Mar 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: New Order.

  • Chicane – No Ordinary Morning
  • Veto Silver – Neon Lites
  • Mory Kante – Yeke Yeke (Hardfloor Mix)
  • Sylver – Who Am I?
  • Andy Pickford – Zweifarbig Bomber (Part 2)
  • Télépopmusik – Don’t Look Back
  • New Order – Blue Monday
  • Alizée – Moi… Lolita
  • Ladytron – Seventeen
  • Daft Punk – Robot Rock
  • Vic Twenty – I Sold Your Heart on eBay
  • Black Box Recorder – The Facts of Life
  • Annie – Always Too Late
  • New Order – True Faith
  • Depeche Mode – Only When I Lose Myself
  • Dusted – Always Remember to Honour and Respect Your Mother (Part 2)
  • Basement Jaxx – Good Luck
  • Komputer – Looking Down on London
  • Marvin the Paranoid Android – Marvin
  • New Order – Krafty
  • Lemon Jelly – Come Down on Me
  • Lionrock – Rude Boy Rock

Music for the Masses 32 – 16 February 2005

Always keen to try new features on the show, the Spring term had seen my try out the Unsigned Act feature, where I would try to give a new or unsigned artist a bit of free airtime, with no strings attached (well, except they had to be good). In the end, it was a bit of a failure, as pretty much everyone who showed an interest failed to submit anything on time. One of the few exceptions was Blue Swan, whom we also covered here on the blog.

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Show 32: Wed 16 Feb 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: Faithless.

  • BT – Love, Peace and Grease
  • Conjure One – Centre of the Sun (29 Palms Remix)
  • Dave Gahan – I Need You
  • Mirwais – Naïve Song
  • Leftfield – Afro-Left
  • Faithless – Don’t Leave
  • Bomb the Bass – Winter in July
  • Echoboy – Lately Lonely
  • Groove Armada – At the River (Live)
  • Blue Swan – Black Widow [Unsigned Act]
  • Jollymusic feat. Erlend Øye – Talco Uno
  • Faithless feat. Dido – One Step Too Far
  • Electribe 101 – Talkin’ with Myself 98 (Beloved Mix)
  • Vic Twenty – Sugar Me
  • Moby – Left Me Up
  • Étienne de Crécy – Am I Wrong?
  • Yazoo – Don’t Go
  • Faithless – Mass Destruction
  • Deep Dish – Stranded
  • Goldfrapp – Utopia

Music for the Masses 27 – 22 November 2004

Show 27 was, judging from the pictures and playlist, a blistering affair, involving lots of waving hands around in the air like I just didn’t care, and finally seeing Kraftwerk as the artist of the week.

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Show 27: Mon 22 Nov 2004, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: Kraftwerk.

  • Gorillaz – Clint Eastwood
  • Tears for Fears – Shout
  • Röyksopp – Poor Leno
  • Utah Saints – Lost Vagueness
  • Télépopmusik – Genetic World
  • Sugababes – Too Lost in You
  • Kraftwerk – Radioactivity
  • Alpinestars – Green Raven Blonde
  • Vic Twenty – Kiss You
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Electricity
  • Heaven 17 – Dive
  • Wolfsheim – Kein Zurück
  • Dubstar – It’s Over
  • Kraftwerk – Computer Love (The Mix Version)
  • Ladytron – Blue Jeans
  • Komputer – Looking Down on London
  • Paul van Dyk feat. Vega 4 – Time of Our Lives
  • Yello – Get On
  • Wes – Alane
  • Kings of Convenience – Know-How
  • Tiga & Zyntherius – Sunglasses at Night
  • Audioweb – Into My World
  • Kraftwerk – Tour de France

Some recommendations (from 2004)

Another post from my personal archives, published on my old website on 24th March 2004. A decade on, I still haven’t seen The Beach, only I no longer have a video player, which is quite a good excuse.

Firstly, films. I’ve been catching up on some of the things I recorded over Christmas, so I can now officially recommend Galaxy Quest, which I’d heard absolutely nothing about before I saw it, but it’s highly enjoyable. Plunkett & Macleane is quite good too, mixing 90s gansta films with the old highwayman legends. And among others, I’ve still got The Beach to watch, which I recorded last summer some time…

I’m currently in the middle of two books: George Orwell‘s The Road to Wigan Pier, which is good and highly recommended, and a book about global warming by someone called Paul Brown (the book’s called Global Warming, rather imaginitively [sic]). How very studious…

Finally, music. The latest Air album, Talkie Walkie is wonderful, and I saw them live in February, where they were very good, even in spite of having to play in Birmingham. Also, I came across a wonderful compilation from last autumn lurking in a bargain bin, called Robopop Vol. 1, which features tracks by White TownKomputer, Client, Vic Twenty and Spray (formerly the Cuban Boys), among many others. Additionally, the last Sparks album Lil’ Beethoven is out again with extra tracks on it, and it’s really rather good.

There’s not been a lot of decent TV recently, except an interesting docu-drama on the Stephen Downing case, from which I learnt that Bakewell is a hotbed of criminal activity, where everyone talks with a Yorkshire accent. Interesting.