Event #13: "A European Union" 25 Jul 2017 • Host: Abdul Cabdullahi

The Whitest Boy Alive – Rules (2009)

For July’s meetup we were hosted by Off The Record regular Abdul Cabdullahi, a Norwegian who’s lived in the UK for about 10 years. Abdul is an architect and in addition to music, enjoy watching sports (mainly football and handball). After teasing members last week by claiming he’d keep the album secret, Abdul chose “Rules” by The Whitest Boy Alive, released in 2009.

The band are a Norwegian/German group (hence our European Union theme) and feature singer Erlend Øye of Kings of Convenience fame. It’s been described as electro-pop, indie pop and minimalism, and the band have since broken up.

Abdul introduced the album by first talking about his “appreciation of the single market Europe has as well as the ease to travel in between”. He talked about the simplicity of the album and its danceability – the music doesn’t try to be too clever or complex. Most of the room hadn’t heard the record before, so we sat back and listened to the 40 minutes of so of “Rules”.

The album flowed well – none of it was hugely varied, sticking to a similar sound and atmosphere throughout, but this seemed to work in its favour, helping the album’s progression and storyline work together consistently. Musically it was tight with strong basslines and programmed drums creating slick loops and drops. Guitars were used sparingly but effectively and vocalist Øye has a deep, rich voice with a couple of interesting lyrical asides.

Discussion was focused around the simplicity that Abdul flagged up, with a few people mentioning the repetitiveness the album has been accused of. Abdul was curious to see how people rated the album, acknowledging himself that it’s a flawed record. Several people agreed it was an album about the progress of a relationship which—spoilers—doesn’t end well.

A few of us commented on “1517”’s similarity to Daft Punk’s “Harder Better Faster Stronger” which we decided must’ve been a deliberate homage. After gathering ratings the room gave “Rules” a 7.5 / 10 average – a high score for Off The Record.

Then it was over to the room to nominate songs that fit our “A European Union” theme. Here’s the music that got shared:

  • David R: Phronesis – “Manioc Maniac”
  • William M: White Owl – “Cunla”
  • Becky L: All We Are – “Utmost Good”
  • Matt A: Jaga Jazzist – “Day”
  • Andrea B: Ladytron – “Cracked LCD”
  • Simon: dEUS – “Little Arithmetics”
  • Mathieu: Okta Logue – “Transit”
  • Peter: Moustache of Insanity – “Aaaargh! Nooooo!”
  • Andrea: Stereolab – “Wow And Flutter”
  • Rob: David Bowie (+ Mogol) – Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola
  • Bright B: ACH13NG – “Bartender” *

* This song isn’t on Spotify!

Tonight’s event also coincided with Harkive 2017, which is a Birmingham-based pHd project which does the following:

“Harkive is an annual online popular music research project that invites people to tell the tale of How, Where and Why they listen to music on a single day each year. The aim of the project is to capture for posterity a snapshot of the way in which we interact with the sounds and technology of today.”

Attendees were encouraged to share their day’s listening on the #harkive hashtag. After this, it was the end of the night – we also had one of our highest turnouts with 26 attendees – a great event hosted by Abdul.

Spotify playlist of songs

See above to see who nominated each song which matched our theme, "A European Union".