Weekend Listening: Melodie Nelson, Adele, Beck

JODY MACGREGOR picks out the best bits of music this week – from Melodie Nelson’s murder ballad to Beck’s 20-minute Philip Glass odyssey.

Martha, Martha, Martha

Melodie Nelson is Sydney’s Lia Tsamoglou – the name’s a reference to the teenager from Serge Gainsbourg’s concept album Histoire de Melody Nelson. ‘Martha’ is a classically spooky pop song, a murder ballad from the point of view of the victim, with the kind of sleepy sedateness that seems appropriate for the undead, who can wait forever, saying things like, “Through trees I whisper to him, softly / I’ll haunt you even if you’re sorry.” It’s from her second album, To the Dollhouse, due on November 2.

Reports of the sky falling greatly exaggerated

If you were hoping that Adele doing a James Bond theme would turn out terrible so you could make fun of her being a glorified pub singer whose songs are full of ridiculous affectations then ‘Skyfall’ is going to disappoint you. It’s huge and showy and dramatic and she unapologetically belts the title of the movie about a hundred times. It’s exactly what a Bond theme should be. Obviously it’s not as great as ‘Goldfinger’, but what is?

Joe’ll fix it

Sometimes a remix just tinkers with the tempo of a song, adds a new beat and some samples, collects its cheque and knocks off for a smoko. Not this one, though. Joe Goddard (of Hot Chip and 2 Bears) takes an honestly pretty bland Jessie Ware song and 1990s the hell out of it. At the start it’s almost like an upbeat Portishead track and you might think he’s barely going to use her vocals at all except as a distant texture, but then he slaps them in front and centre and maybe she’s all right after all.

Killer Mike is killing it

Killer Mike is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it any more. ‘Reagan’ is the latest release from his R.A.P. Music album of earlier this year, produced by El-P, who makes it sound appropriately doomy and stompy. The Atlanta MC goes back to the Reagan era to find the roots of modern America’s problems, although he gets a bit paranoid towards the end and you might start wondering if he’s mad as hell or just mad. When he’s criticising hip-hop itself though, he’s on solid ground, blasting his compatriots for “selling children death and pretending it’s exciting.”

Philip Glass, Beck-ified

If hearing about minimalist New York composer Philip Glass immediately makes you think of that episode of South Park where he rewrites the Mr Hanky song, don’t worry – this is nothing like that. It’s Beck playing Dr Frankenstein with a collection of different Glass compositions, cutting them up and stitching them together again, which nicely avoids the fact that taken on their own they can be pretty monotonous. If you have 20 minutes to kill, this is a hypnotic trip through the man’s work. (Actually, if you stick with it long enough, there is one pretty Mr Hanky bit in there.)