The American Dream?
The American Nightmare, more like. The decline of the pristine, white picket fence vision of Americana has led to a plural identity, one which focusses on the good alongside the bad, the beautiful alongside the ugly.
It's the latter which concerns Kiran Leonard. The youthful Mancunian songsmith has made waves of late, with his intense live show matched to material which is as dextrous as it is promising.
Agreeing to craft a guest mix for Clash, Kiran Leonard decided to focus on 'ugly American music made by beautiful Americans in the 80s and 90s...'
Introducing the mix, here's what he had to say:
"THE AMERICANS ARE AWFULLY GOOD AT MAKING UGLY MUSIC. I THINK THE FIRST UGLY AMERICAN BAND I HEARD WAS "THE LOCUST". MY BROTHER INTRODUCED ME TO THEM IN THE BACK OF A CAR ON A TRIP SOMEWHERE. HE PLAYED ME "THE HALF EATEN SAUSAGE WOULD LIKE TO SEE YOU IN HIS OFFICE" AND IT CHANGED MY LIFE. WAS IT RELEVANT THAT THEY WERE AMERICAN? I DON'T KNOW, BUT I'VE FOUND THAT FOR SOME REASON OR OTHER AMERICANS ARE EXCELLENT AT MAKING UGLY, BUT IMMENSELY EXPRESSIVE AND POTENT MUSIC. IN MY OPINION THEY WERE BEST AT IT IN THE 80S AND 90S. I DON'T REALLY KNOW WHY THAT IS EITHER. PROBABLY THE INTERNET THAT DONE RUINED IT, OR SOME SHIT. THAT'S WHAT THEY ALL SAY. TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, THAT'S THE ONLY CRITERIA FOR THIS MIX: THAT IT OCCURRED IN A VAST TIMESPAN IN A VAST COUNTRY, A SPECIFICATION ENCOMPASSING ENTIRE COASTS, SCENES, LABELS, GENRES, GENERATIONS. BUT AN APPRECIATION FOR AMERICA, AND THAT INCLUDES ITS MUSIC, IS ALL ABOUT CELEBRATING ITS DIVERSITY, AND THAT DIVERSITY THRIVES EVEN IN THE WALLOWS OF THE MURKIEST AND FOULEST FORMS OF SELF-EXPRESSION!
BASED ON THIS IDEA THAT I HAD, THE KIND PEOPLE AT CLASH MUSIC SUGGESTED CALLING IT AN "ANTI-AMERICAN DREAM MIX"... BUT IF IT'S UGLY THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT IT ISN'T DREAMY! THESE ARE YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN AT THE PEAK OF THEIR POWERS, PUSHING SELF-EXPRESSION BEYOND DIATONICISM, BEYOND CHROMATICISM! SOMETIMES THEY WERE EVEN EDUCATED! WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE DREAMIER?"
Listen to it now.
Sun City Girls - Horse Cock Phepner [Phoenix, AZ] (1987)
Harry Pussy - 'Chuck' [Miami, FL] (1993)
Polvo - 'Sure Shot' [Chapel Hill, NC] (1993)
Big Black - 'Passing Complexion' [Evanston, IL] (1986)
Deerhoof - 'Gold On Black' [San Francisco, CA] (1997)
Emil Beaulieau - Excerpt From 'America's Greatest Living Noise Artist' [Lowell, MA] (1990s)
Lync - 'Perfect Shot' [Olympia, WA] (1994)
Mars & DNA - 'Gavanti Samba' [New York City, NY] (1980)
Bikini Kill - 'Star Bellied Boy' [Olympia, WA] (1993)
Frederic Rzewski - 'Scratch Symphony: 2. Mit Dirigent' [Westfield, MA] (1997)
The Residents - 'Moisture' [Shreveport, LA] (1980)
DJ Paul - 'Sweet Robbery [Edit]' [Memphis, TN] (1994)
Negativland - 'Time Zones' [Concord, CA] (1987)
Swans - 'Yum Yab Killers' [New York City, NY] (1996)
Swing Kids - Blue Note [San Diego, CA] (1994)
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Dirty Blue Gene [Glendale, CA] (1980)
No Trend - Teen Love [Ashton, MD] (1983)
Interspersed w/ samples from the short films 'Entering Texas: The Bar-B-Que Movie' (1988) and 'the Bogus Man' (1980)