Music News

The Brunettes: Paper Dolls, in "Nothing Not New"

Welcome to "Nothing Not New," a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

Artist: The Brunettes
Title: Paper Dolls
Release date: Feburary 2, 2010
Label: Lil' Chief

Welcome to February. They said it couldn't be done, but this "Nothing Not New" experiment is still kicking after getting past its first month. And, no, I haven't listened to any music released before 2010. Sure, I've heard pre-2010 music in several incidental situations (at a bar, on TV, at a party), but the record and CD collection at my home has gone unmolested for the past 32 days. The most recent entry of the "last played" column on my home computer's iTunes reads 12/30/09.

So, I listened to 21 new records last month -- and then wrote about each of them. It's been more difficult than I thought it would be, but it's been rewarding too. During the past 10 years, my zeal for hearing new music and reading about new music and buying records disappeared, more or less. But 21 new records in 31 days month has somewhat resurrected that zeal. It's too early to declare this experiment a success, but we're off to a good start. Thanks for going along on the ride.

The first "NNN" entrant of the project's second month is a New Zealand act called The Brunettes, a lighter-than-air, sometimes-too-cute-for-its-own-good electro-pop male-female duo. If Paper Dolls is indicative of all The Brunettes' output, this band would have to be the Hello Kitty of indie music -- simple, colorful, utterly non-threatening, and maddeningly adorable. 

The record's first song, "In Colours," is like cotton candy, a perfectly catchy 2-minute, 40-second piece of pop -- bouncy drum-machine beats, bouncy synths, and bouncily girly vocals. And out of left field come some dirty guitar licks to counteract all the sugar and it becomes nearly impossible to resist.

Nothing else on Paper Dolls approaches "In Colours" for pure catchiness. Some darker lyrical and musical themes emerge as the album progresses, but it never fails to maintain a level of twee-pop cutness. If you wear pigtails, you will like The Brunettes. 

Best song: The aforementioned "In Colours" and "If I," a great Lee Hazlewood-Nancy Sinatra-esque duet.
Rotation: Medium.
Deja Vu: Playing on a swing set.
I'd rather listen to: Beat Happening.
Grade: B-

At the beginning of each month, I'll make a 10-song best-of compilation that comprises my favorite songs from the previous month. Here's January's . . .

1. Los Campesinos! -- "Romance Is Boring"
2. Spoon -- "Got Nuffin"
3. Charlotte Gainsbourg -- "Le Chat du Café Des Artistes"
4. Surfer Blood -- "Fast Jabroni"
5. Laura Veirs -- "I Can See Your Tracks"
6. Magnetic Fields -- "You Must Be Going Out of Your Mind"
7. Scanners -- "Salvation"
8. Eels -- "End Times"
9. The Hot Rats -- "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)"
10. Cold War Kids -- "Sermons"

The "Nothing Not New" Archives

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Jay Bennett
Contact: Jay Bennett