23.6.07

ice cream

Time to actually live up to this blog's name for once and tap into the zeitgeist. For if there was any more pervasive topic that seems to have overtaken the cultural consciousness of not only Australia, but the globe, it's one thing: ice cream. I'm not joking. I fail to remember the last time when something was so prevalent in music in such a short period. The thought first occurred to me when I noticed Melbourne bands Muscles and Eddy Current Suppression Ring both had songs on the topic; but of course two songs was a bit of a stretch to start announcing a new cultural icon, nay, archetype.

Then I remembered the seductive yet nonetheless insipid indie-disco track Ice Cream from New Young Pony Club - in which the lead singer droid-sings about various manoeuvres via kitchen imagery; post-feminist posh, sexual servitude dressed up as sexy sass and assertiveness (let's avoid it from here on). Now, two new releases, from US acts, have truly cemented what I guessed but would never have admitted -
spanning genres and continents, ice cream is the new cultural glue.

First up, let's look at Eddy Current Suppression Ring, possibly Melbourne's best live act (gracious and unpretentious enough NOT to play a shitful set at a university gig, unlike Midnight Juggernauts) with their paean to that fattiest of desserts, Cool Ice Cream:

I ate all my veggies
I ate all my soup
Now can I have just one scoop of that
Cool ice cream?

This one's pretty obvious: ice cream is a tasty fucking food, way better than beef and broccoli. Eddy Current's track sets up the impetus behind this mass adoption of ice cream - it tastes great - but doesn't go fully into why we're so hooked on it.

Noise rockers Pissed Jeans not only prove that ice cream can soothe abrasive punks, but also offer more personal reasons for why its so comforting in I've Still Got You (Ice Cream). After yowling about a desperate rejection, with band crunching out rolling, loose hardcore riffs behind him, singer Matt Korvette nails it: "Just a taste and all my troubles fall behind / Sweet bowl of sugar is there to ease my mind" - it really is the ultimate comfort food.

Also from the US, a just released album from Michael Hearst (also of notable nobodies One Ring Zero) mines the otherwise unrecognised musical nexus that is the Mr Whippy van for some minimalist, avant-garde, heavy on the glockenspiel ditties in Songs for Ice Cream Trucks. If Pissed Jeans speak to personal consolation, Hearst's songs - Tones for Cones, Ice Cream Yo, etc. - ruminate on the truly utopian atmosphere conjured up by the ice cream van, driving through neighbourhoods and perched at waterfronts throughout summer, bringing together adults and children alike for a sweet treat. Unfortunately, being thirteen tracks long, ingesting too much of this one is also likely to give you a "it's like I'm there!" sugar headache too.

Perhaps the track with the most ambitions for frozen fat and sugar, though, is that by Melbourne one-man whirlwind Muscles, the banging crowd-favourite Ice Cream:

There are people pushing me on the train
Screaming from the top of the their lips
(You're gonna get what's coming)
And I don't know how to react or if i should fight back

(wooo ahhh)
Ice cream is gonna save the day
Again!

Not only will the treat cure urban congestion but even threatened violence ("He could have knife, stab me in the back...")! Repeatedly ("again!")!

[Ludicrous, tenuous political commentary follows] Considering all these various deployments of the confection, is there little wonder why ice cream is the symbol for these dark, troubled times? In a post-11 world, in which the politics of fear pervade our everyday, its the simple things - like ice cream - that we cling to, either to avoid confronting problems, or maybe just to regain some innocence. "Things are fucked, but at least there's ice cream", would seem to be the general import here.

The problem is, when I think ice cream I'm reminded of overpriced Mr Whippy vans and the generally shitty people running them, Streets' eerily make-up'd children beaming with a CGI/eye twinkle at me from the side of licensed-out freezers in service stations, Trampoline's faddish transformation of the ice cream into a sceney status symbol, and so on.

If ice cream is going to be the global panacea the music community is touting it to be – uniting parents and children (Hearst), curing violence (Muscles), curing broken hearts (Pissed Jeans), and repairing cultural rifts in general - then I think we should aim for the simple, homely ‘bowl of cool ice cream’ that Eddy Current advocate. Available to all, as devoid as possible of corporate gloss or shitty vendors, and really yummy – then ice cream truly might save not only the day, but the world.

[If anyone thinks of extras, hit us up in the comments; too much ice cream isn't enough!]


Stream: Pissed Jeans - I've Still Got You (Ice Cream)

Download: Muscles - Ice Cream

1 riffs:

emmy hennings said...

Don't forget excellent new Sydney band Soft Tigers and their song 'Mr Ice Cream'! It's getting a flogging on the radio up here.