@uspic¡ous Fish¿!
Delirious With Weird

Sunday, February 29, 2004  
Look At All That Cash
Q Magazine have voted Johnny Cash's "Hurt" the bestest ever music video ever, ever, innit. And whilst this is a much braver pick than, say, "Sledgehammer" (number 21) or "Thriller" (number 2), it still reeks of Q Magazine; that desperate attempt to bring rockism up-to-date, into currency, into the now by voting last year's best most authentic piece of whatever as the best most authentic piece of whatever ever, like in 1998 when OK Computer was declared Best Album Ever after five months. Having received the Gondry (child-like genius playing with a paintset) and Cunningham (child-of-all-evil, but actual, real life, bona fide genius genius [yes, there's less on his disc but who the fuck cares?- what is there is absolutely magnificent) DVDs recently, I can't help but feel as if... oh, you know. Something. All angsty and disenfranchised. Or whatever.


2/29/2004 09:39:00 pm 0 comments

How does such crap accumulate in one room in such a small time? I can't even stand to try sorting out the music room any further, but I've at least cleared space on the sofa in the bedroom/office, and displaced the piles of detritus from the shelves.

Things thrown away / sent for recycling:

* six empty red wine bottles (five riojas and one south-east australian shiraz-cabernet)
* six empty beer bottles (grolsch)
* (at least) a dozen assorted CDRs made by myself before the arrival of the iPod
* every friday Guardian from this calendar year thus far
* the box my new football boots came in
* one empty CDR spindle-thing
* half-a-hundredweight of torn-up jiffy bags
* two empty deoderant cans
* assorted plastic bags
* assorted receipts for petrol / booze / records (are these the only things I ever buy? what does this say about me?!)
* 2003 calendar
* assorted cable-ties and bits of packaging crap that came with the iPod

In other news... I'm acting editor at Stylus this week, as Todd is moving to NYC. Monday's stuff is ready and raring to go, as are some features for Tuesday and Wednesday too. I've already written one review myself (it didn't take long - you'll realise why when you see it tomorrow) and am planning on two more (E.S.T. and Patrick Woolf) to do later tonight / tomorrow. I have tomorrow off work to edit and format the rest of the week's articles, and also because I can't stand a full week at the moment. Yes yes, slides, yes yes. Maybe, as well as running Stylus (in cahoots with Ed Howard, the image master), I'll tidy the music room a touch.

One of the students who regularly uses Audiovisual was seriously taken aback at ten to five on Thursday when I announced I was leaving early to go and play football with the Modern Languages people. (Note to L.F. – I always skip a break on Thursday afternoon [and often Friday morning too], so I’m not scrimping worktime!) “But I thought you were the ‘cool music guy’ – what are you doing playing football?” I don't play any other sports, and haven't even ridden the bike for over a year (I must give it an overhaul come proper spring and weeking riding weather), though I do walk a lot when I get the chance, but even so this reaction kind of puzzled me. That sport/music divide was a; never in place in my house (two older brothers, one a footballer, one a cross-country runner, both big music fans), b; never in place in my circle of friends (after we were knackered from playing we'd sit on the bank and talk about The Beatles or whoever when we were 14), and c; seems like such an adolescent Paradigm anyway. You can't be X and Y; the two don't go together. On Wednesday & Thursday my occasional Mr Benn-syndrome dictated that I was "being a photographer". (I may steal some bandwidth off a dating site and upload some of them later - the snow and light on those two days was beautiful) I can't put into words how much I love playing football (although admittedly, with the snow and my recovering knee on Thursday it wasn't the best game ever). I was thinking about parallels between football and sex the other week; are orgasms to sex what goals are to football - but in sex no one is trying to stop you scoring a goal (unless you're into that), which kind of scuppers that theory.

Ahhh. My back aches. I'm off to eat a Creme Egg.


2/29/2004 08:39:00 pm 0 comments

Saturday, February 28, 2004  
I'd be quite happy to go for a drink with Robin. And Dom isn't a bad chap at all.


2/28/2004 02:56:00 pm 0 comments

Friday, February 27, 2004  
Oh, just bugger off, C@rmody; you don't know me from Adam and I don't want you to.


2/27/2004 10:33:00 am 0 comments

Tuesday, February 24, 2004  
iPod Answers
The infernal thing has 3,411 songs (or 11 days @ 24 hours a day) on it, and room for about 15 more minutes at 160kbps (i.e. 18megabytes left out of 18.5gigs). I'm constantly altering the contents slightly as I think of songs I want on it - initially I just loaded loads of albums and stuff I'd downloaded onto it, but now I'm being a bit more specific (i.e. a dozen Pulp songs, four Prodigy tunes, 150 Plaid/Black Dog tunes!), pruning album tracks I'm not bothered by and just leaving stuff I really dig / need to listen to for whatever reason but haven't time to sit down with at home.

You can't 'change' the battery - it's an internal rechargeable one. The manual says it'll last between 300-500 charges, after which it can be replaced (at a cost) by sending it to Apple. Charging once every couple of days (8 hours playback fully charged) suggests the battery will fade after a couple of years, but this 300-500 charges thing is only a guestimate. I've read stuff by people who're still running iPods fine after 3 years.


2/24/2004 05:02:00 pm 0 comments

Sunday, February 22, 2004  
That Old Cockney Wankah, Northern Scum Thing
Finally settled by a brief examination of the contents of the iPod; Blur = 28 songs, Oasis = 10 songs.


2/22/2004 09:30:00 am 0 comments

Saturday, February 21, 2004  


2/21/2004 05:22:00 pm 0 comments

Fall asleep, pissed, with the iPod on your belly, to wake up a few hours later with it having slid down the side of the bed and onto the floor thus making your half-asleep self panic that it's broken.

It's not, obviously. It rocks.


2/21/2004 03:56:00 pm 0 comments

A tree...


2/21/2004 12:37:00 am 0 comments

Quite pissed too...


2/21/2004 12:14:00 am 0 comments

Quite good with a camera...

This one is of an obelisk.

This one is of the moon.


2/21/2004 12:13:00 am 0 comments

Friday, February 20, 2004  
Yes, the iPod is taking up all my time. Apart from the time when I'm shitbusy at work / injuring myself playing football / thinking about/writing for Stylus.


2/20/2004 10:52:00 pm 0 comments

Choose A Genius
Terence Malick

The shot of the train crossing the viaduct near the beginning of Days Of Heaven alone is enough to cement his reputation. Never mind the rest of the film, or Badlands or The Thin Red Line.


2/20/2004 10:52:00 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, February 18, 2004  
Cool Your Boots
You are chill!
You are chill!

What kind of techno music are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


2/18/2004 10:26:00 am 0 comments

Thursday, February 12, 2004  
iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod iPod

It's here.


2/12/2004 01:27:00 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, February 11, 2004  
I'm aware that I owe lots of people emails; I can only apologise, as I'm fucking shit busy at the moment and simply don't have time to get round to it. Olly, Dan, James, etcetera, I'll get round to you as soon as I can.

In the meantime here's a link to some guy's art.


2/11/2004 11:59:00 am 0 comments

Tuesday, February 10, 2004  
I've had this linked in the sidebar for months, but I've never actually mentioned what it is or why. Infiltration is about finding your way into places where you're not supposed to be - call it 'illegitimate urban exploration', if you're that way inclined. Essentially, yes, this means tresspassing. So why've I linked to it? You can take your music blogosphere, your Simon Reynolds and Woebot and Penman and whoever else; this is the blog I read most, enjoy most, am most thrilled by (apart from maybe James' and Olly's, but that's cos I know and love them on a deeper level than anyone else who's blog I read). So yeah; go to Infiltration. Now.


2/10/2004 10:44:00 am 0 comments

Short denim skirts with slouchy suede boots and tights (when it's cold) is the new uniform for undergraduate girls at Exeter University. Not that I object on an aesthetic level but why the fuck are they all suddenly wearing the same thing?! Is this an observable phenomenon at other universities?


2/10/2004 09:43:00 am 0 comments

Monday, February 09, 2004  
More iTunes Punctum
"Classic Example Of A Date Rape" into "Eden". Speechless. One minute tapping along and the next minute stricken. That was fucking intense. I've never heard a track from either Spirit Of Eden or Laughing Stock pulled out of context before - if I'm making a compilation I always put "John Cope" on to represent Talk Talk's latter years; it goes some way towards expressing the aesthetic and yet doesn't rely on context for effect/affect, whereas the album tracks all need their bedfellows. Awesome. Rage on omnipotent.


2/09/2004 11:01:00 pm 0 comments

I don't normally watch much television, as you've probably noticed, but tonight I've seen two things that I've actually enjoyed, for totally different reasons. Firstly there was BBC 2's new 'quiz' show, Traitor, in which nine conestants (7 truth tellers and two liars [traitors]) endeavour to win £5,000 by uncovering who is lying (or not being uncovered, depending). More reality TV shmuck peddling? I dunno. It's probably too early to tell, but it was compelling nonetheless. Assuming I get home from work early enough I'll watch it tomorrow and Wednesday too and let you know.

Second, and most enjoyable, was watching Kerry McFadden win I'm A Celebrity..., which I haven't been watching but which I've been keeping tabs on. From being reduced to tears because she misses her kids and husband to eating bugs last night, she's done herself a great service all the way through. Tonight's most wonderful moment though was when Bryan emerged from around the corner, mobile in hand, pretending to be unable to attend because of "work obligations". Kerry's eyes lit up like Blackpool. And when she finally managed to say something! Oh! "Why are how are how did you why did you get here?!" she splurges all over him, and Bryan, big hunka Irish softie that he is, says, quite simply and with perfect honesty, "Cuz I love yer!", very nearly appending it with "yer daft idiot", which would in all probability have lead to me bursting into tears had he actually said it. Magic. His band's still shite, mind.


2/09/2004 10:47:00 pm 0 comments

Coming Soon...?
"Never Mind The Words - That Lass Has Got Her Ass Out!" - Towards A Transgressive Hermenuetics Of Tim Westwood & The Rise Of Dancefloor Hip Hop In The UK From 1998-2002.

Because Westwood actually probably is the second most important DJ in the country now. After Parkinson.


2/09/2004 09:56:00 pm 0 comments

More On The Breast That Broke America
From The Turntable.

I’m waiting for Justin to apologise for Outkast’s nipples. It’s got to come along sooner or later; after all, Janet Jackson only has one tit that America’s been exposed to, whereas I counted at least 7 tits in the “Hey Ya” video, all wearing green. Never mind the real nipples they actually exposed at the Grammies; male chests have never been enough to incite riots. Are the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ sock-encased cocks more or less offensive than Janet Jackson’s steel-wrapped nipple? (Where the hell did she get that thing that was clamped to her teat anyway?- from an advert on the back page of Metal Hammer?)

A breast isn’t offensive. There are more breasts in the world than there are people (and that’s not counting Meatloaf’s). A breast isn’t pornography. But I guess that a government/establishment/country/culture (delete as appropriate) that pumps millions of dollars into programs like “The Ring Thing” isn’t going to be overly hot when it comes to developing positive attitudes to the body and self-worth and so on and so forth, especially not when encouraging a generation of kids to grow up afraid of sex and believing in some kind of unholy duality between body and soul is much more lucrative in terms of cold hard economics, or something.

But the morality/pornography thing isn’t the only issue with Janet’s breast baring. I’ve read spurts of outrage in various places about her wardrobe malfunction being a publicity-seeking tactic, mammary-based marketing for a new single, shameless self-promotion, proof positive that ‘pop tarts’ are willing to do anything to help them shift another thousand units. But this attitude fails to realise that Janet Jackson's exploits during the Superbowl are no different to the promotional duties and spurious ideological posturing undertaken by any number of rock bands or alternative ‘artists’ in order to sell more records; Janet’s just got a different target-market, dear. If anything the pop audience is less taken in by this kind of stunt because they have no pretensions of the music they like being authentic or real or 'of value'; they just like it. JJ exposes her breast / Britney dresses up in a red leather catsuit / Xtina dyes her hair and pouts her cleavage while Oasis trash hotel rooms and beat up photographers, Coldplay name check John Kerry and witter on about Fair Trade again. The Stone Roses manager during the first period of their existence, Gareth Evans, used to deliberately lie about their drug-intake and carry around a suitcase full of used tenners to increase press interest; never mind the band’s own self-mythologising, sabotaging TV appearances, graffiti-ing their name across the facades of Manchester city centre before they even had a record out, proclaiming they wanted to play a gig on the moon, beating-up members of Kajagoogoo in pub toilets and vandalising the cars of record company executives who dared to cross them. Indie singers wearing their hearts on their sleeves in interviews is another example of exactly the same thing - product-specific advertising. (“If you like reading about me complaining about my dodgy love life you're sure as hell gonna LOVE listening to me sing about it!”) Johnny Rotten saying “fuck” like a naughty schoolboy on The Bill Grundy show in 76 or 77 (I forget – I wasn’t born) is the same thing yet again; likewise Lennon and Yoko getting bed sores for ‘peace’. It's all marketing, it's all prostitution, whether you dress it up in good intentions, anarchy or a nipple-ring. Dismissing one form of marketing and accepting the other, and what's more suggesting that it's not actually marketing AT ALL but rather REAL people being REALLY REAL, demonstrates a lack of awareness of how the modern world works, shows that you've got no grasp of critical thought and are thus at risk of being an unwitting slave to ideology (the whole point of which is that people don't even realise it's there, people). Rock kids love myth-making and pop kids love a bit of tit. Me? I like a mythical tit.

But what is authenticity anyway? It’s still hanging over us no matter how many times we try and kill the bastard thing. Chris Ott can hit Caps Lock and type “WHERE’S YOUR CRED AT??!!” all he likes, but the kind of romanticist-career-aiding lies spouted about Beethoven (“he wrote all his symphonies in one sitting, you know, visualised them completely in his mind and then just sat down and wrote them straight off; he must be a genius” – analogues of such claims as made by people like Heinrich Schenker, who are supposedly respected and knowledgeable, but which encourage the idea that great artists don’t ‘create’ or ‘work on’ art but rather ‘channel it’ from some kind of undefined spiritual plane) only help to perpetuate the kind of culturally accepted lies that cause the artist to be separated from the audience and reasoned discourse about music as a cultural/academic topic to be dismissed as untenable and pointless, reducing everything to the awe-filled gawks of small-minded relativists and subjectivists who can’t fathom how people can actually gone done make ‘em some art stuff, son. As for all those old blues men who got ripped-off in the fifties and sixties when white artists were given their songs in order to get hits and Keef used their riffs to get laid; isn’t it a bit late to be feeling apologetic for that? And even if it isn’t a bit late to apologise it’s certainly a bit rude to pretend you’ve achieved the same level of emotional pain and spiritual hardship in order to feel good about all those copies of your CD in all those Mondeos.

Plus, you know, I think Janet's breast was rather nice. Or maybe not.


2/09/2004 09:45:00 pm 0 comments

iTunes goes from Boredoms into Jeff Buckley doing “Lilac Wine” and from there into “Five Piece Chicken Dinner” from Paul’s Boutique and from there into Marvin hollering about inner city blues (best intro ever?- maybe); what madness is this? Imagine if I’d been in public!


2/09/2004 08:00:00 pm 0 comments

Apple Sauce (That's a reference to 'pork chops' which are like lamb chops but different, innit.)
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to review the new album(s) by Lambchop without mentioning either Speakerboxxx/The Love Below or Use Your Illusion 1 & 2. This blog post will self-destruct in approximately 200 words.

I managed it, but it was tempting. Bloody tempting, in fact, given the similarities to both / all four. Outkast wanted people to see their last release as two sides of one album despite the evidence to the contrary (did they?- at the least they wanted people to not see it as a testament to them splitting; Dre now talks about Outkast exclusively in the past tense) *; the B(r)and name of 'Outkast' being guaranteed to sell more units than either 'Andre 3000' or 'Big Boi' alone, as has been pointed out extensively elsewhere. Guns N Roses on the other hand were so keen not to have their 1991 records taken as being a double album that they released them entirely seperately, even if on the same day and with near enough the same sleeve (one orange, one blue), and with one track feauturing on both records in slightly altered forms. Whereas Sandinista! was never anything but a triple-album, The White Album never anything less than a double, Wu Tang Forever never anything less than a mess (or so consensus tells me - I never really bothered finding out to tell the truth), and Bitches Brew never less than a glorious mess spread across two fat wax discs. But what's Lambchop's new release? Their seventh album or their seventh and eighth albums? They come bound together in a card outer-sleeve (destined for the drawer alongside all the other card outer-sleeves) but in two jewel cases within. But the artwork is (almost) the same, allbeit cut in half, so each album is half in white relief, so the two would fit together if you got a craftknife out and had the inclination.

My conclusion? You'll have to wait. The review is written, but it doens't hit the shops in the US till next week, so you'll have to wait until then for it to go up on Stylus.

*I must say I probably do agree with Jess now that yes, a lot of the synergy that made Outkast so thrilling in the past has evaporated as they've divided themselves into two; but this does not mean I see either Speakerboxxx or The Love Below as a poor record. For the sake of reference, I'll note that I prefer Speakerboxxx of the two, due in no small part to "Ghettomusick" being the (only) track that best pits the two together again.


2/09/2004 08:00:00 pm 0 comments

Sunday, February 08, 2004  
We were eating Italian (we had to, the Murder Party pack specified it). It's safe to say Laura was pissed. The spaghetti (which was very good, even though Matt cooked it...) had been finished. The cork for the bottle of white wine is resting on Matt's sideplate. Cue Laura picking up the sideplate and offering it to Matt - "Are you gonna eat this springroll?" wtf?! Cue me and Matt losing our shit.

Then Matt, Terry and I stayed up till 5am playing ISS. We lost in the final. Fuckers.


2/08/2004 12:18:00 pm 0 comments

Saturday, February 07, 2004  
Blogger appears to be pissing around. if the bottom half of the page is missing, then this link ought to get it back for you. Of course, by posting this message and publishing again I'm probably solving the bug anyway.


2/07/2004 10:46:00 am 0 comments

Friday, February 06, 2004  
Scratching Post


2/06/2004 11:08:00 pm 0 comments

The Lounge Revival Cometh

It’s telling that Jamie Cullum’s debut album was entitled Pointless Nostalgic, because this young Englishman is currently riding a wave of mass nostalgia for a time that many people don’t even remember. Call it ‘easy listening’, call it ‘vocal jazz’, call it whatever you like; what we’re dealing with here is a full-blown lounge revival, men and women barely out of college (and some too young to even go to college) who are revisiting the music not of their parents, but of their grandparents. Last year Norah Jones pointed towards the emergence of this new trend with the ubiquitous success of Come Away With Me, but Jamie Cullum and Canada’s Michael Bublé look destined to sky-rocket the burgeoning phenomenon into the popular cultural stratosphere throughout 2004. I’m not particularly looking forward to it.

Lounge, like hip hop, is a music that relies a great deal on the personality of the artist. The onstage banter of the Rat Pack isn’t a million miles away from the Wu Tang Clan’s live shenanigans. Pop and rock offer blank canvases to be projected onto, either via desirously empty personalities or vacuous posturing masquerading as everyman profundity. But lounge is dependant on a strong, even narcissistic charisma; if everybody already knows the songs then it’s the performer who is being judged rather than the material. One need only consider Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin to realise that arrogance, ego, and a mean streak the size of the Grand Canyon are beneficial qualities in the world of the lounge singer. The same goes for hip hop. Andy Williams or Dean Martin? Common or Ludacris? Jamie Cullum or… Eminem? The magnetic bad boy wins every time. But there’s the rub, because the likes of Cullum are very much posited within the milieu of pop music, where being squeaky clean is a bonus.

The names involved in one way or another with this trend for youthful musical retrogression are many, and cover bases beyond just lounge. Joss Stone is the great white teenage soul hope, Katie Melua another harmless jazz chanteuse, while Catherine Porter is a neo-folk waif. All are young, talented (Stone in particular is gifted [or cursed] with a truly exceptional voice), and resolutely middle of the road. The reasons behind this burgeoning ‘scene’ are various. The noughties’ obsession with reality pop has exposed the raw and ugly centre of the music business and has been met by many at whom it was aimed with distaste; it was fun for a while, but the populace can only take so much blatantly hollow spectacle before it starts to crave at least some degree of substance, even if that itself is by and large illusory. Michelle winning Pop Idol is the first example of the worm turning, the voters using the medium against the creators, proving once again that democratic power is an unpredictable thing and that the average man loves to prove that those in ‘charge’ don’t like it up ‘em.

For the people who are fed up with the machinations of Cowell, Waterman & co., Cullum and Bublé offer a marginally more acceptable and ‘authentic’ version of the unchallenging kitchen-sink-soundtrack purveyed by the likes of Will Young, Gareth Gates and David Sneddon. That Gates is rumoured to be in danger of being dropped by his label, and that Sneddon jumped before he was pushed, adds yet more fuel to the fire that is burning down the reality pop house of straw. The fear of acceleration is a reaction to postmodernism and is another contributing factor, as people seek stability and comfort in an ever more fluctuating culture. Cover versions have always been popular, familiarity breeding a level of affection that many feel uncomfortable or unwilling to try and nurture in relation to new songs. Plus it’s so much easier to hum along to a melody if you (and/or the collective conscious) already know it. Decreasing social and financial solidity, spiralling political events, the ever constant threat of global terrorism, simply not being able to keep up anymore; all these factors lead people to grasp hold of what is familiar with both hands. And if it’s a new, easily digestible simulacrum of something familiar then that’s even better.

Jamie Cullum himself is short, young (23! TWENTY-THREE! Twenty-three!) and a little bit hoarse, whereas Michael Bublé is as smooth as a warm latte. Cullum has the added advantage of writing some of his own material, a signpost for those obsessed with authenticity. Which is, of course, the only possible criterion for judging whether music is worth listening to or not… That he sounds as if he may have once smoked a Marlboro and drained a shot glass doesn’t necessarily add up to a noticeable degree of personality though. Competent singing is no guarantee of long-term success in the pop world; it doesn’t matter if you can hold a note perfectly and jump two octaves inside half a bar, because most of the people listening can’t tell what you’re doing with your larynx anyway. The public have long had a fascination with singers who simply cannot sing, from Cliff Richard to Britney Spears, via Bob Dylan, Madonna, The Beatles, Robbie Williams, Johnny Rotten, etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum.

Cullum, unlike Bublé, isn’t just an admin assistant with delusions of grandeur, photocopying other people’s work and passing it off as his own, but one still has to wonder just what the point of all this is on the behalf of the actual performers (obviously the record companies’ point is financial), whether it is pastiche, homage, hero-worship or something else. Lounge as performed by Vegas-era Elvis was an exciting, powerful music, visceral and sexual. In the hands of Ella Fitzgerald it was sophisticated and deeply emotional, for Dean Martin it was a stylish, suave experience and for Sinatra himself it was cool, glamorous and, given his occasionally dubious associates, a touch dangerous. What Bublé and Cullum do have in common is that they’re both incredibly safe and comfortable. The standards on show on Cullum and Bublé’s albums are signifiers of romance with the tantalising snatches of sexual frisson and emotional risk taken out completely. When juxtaposed with Rufus Wainwright’s ostentatious hi-camp New York crooning, for example, the likes of Cullum appear ever more bland and safe, like a medicinal spoonful of honey compared to bitingly dark chocolate. I know all too well from experience that a too-soft bed will play havoc with your back.

This column was first published on Stylus yesterday.


2/06/2004 01:58:00 pm 0 comments

Janet Jackson's Tit
How is this different to The Stone Roses' manager lying about their drug intake in order to build up the mythology around them, or Oasis trashing hotel rooms, or Johnny Rotten saying "fucker" like a naughty schoolboy on television in 76 (or was it 77? - ask Bill Grundy)? Rock fans love mythology, pop fans love a bit of tit = all is marketing.

And where the hell did she get that nipple shield from? An advert on the back page of Metal Hammer?


2/06/2004 10:32:00 am 0 comments

Thursday, February 05, 2004  
Rennaisence Fair?
Is Luke Sutherland (black, Scottish, singer, guitarist, flutist, trumpeter, songwriter, wearer of good glasses and marvellous hair, quietly acclaimed novelist, formerly of Long Fin Killie and now of Bows) actually gay? All his 'love' songs appear to be about men but I've found no explicit reference to his sexuality anywhere.


2/05/2004 02:10:00 pm 0 comments

Pop Playground

The audacity, not to mention ludicrous improbability, of “Your Woman” is astounding in retrospect; a self-confessed “fat Asian guy” with a dubious past playing keyboards in no-hope indie bands and supporting the pre-dance Primal Scream, role-playing the part of a wronged girlfriend in a Karl Marx-name-checking electro-pop vignette inspired by a teenage crush on a lesbian friend and based around samples of a 1932 jazz hit by Lou Stone and the static that opens Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star”, that somehow found its way to number one across the globe during 1997, officially The Year That Rock Died (rock being killed in a car crash involving a fast German car in a Paris underpass, obviously, because all those people faux-weeping in Hyde Park for some crazy woman they never knew fully established the ultimate goal of postmodernism which is that nothing is ever allowed to mean anything ever again ever, obviously).

The ontology of the song is as preposterous as the tune itself is compelling. Which is to say that it really, really shouldn’t work but it undeniably does. Those crappy, weedy little horns or strings or whatever they are (the sample being so knackered and thin that it’s hard to tell) and that tiny, tinny electro-bass played on something made by Casio and designed to be worn rather than played, no doubt. And then there’s the lazy, hazy, silly-simple beat, working up a touch of jaunt when coupled (fumbling, inexperienced, behind a bike shed maybe) with a plinky-plink piano. And Jyoti’s voice! It’s not a voice. You can barely hear it, and with good reason, “well I guess what they say is true / I could never be the right kind of girl for you / I could never be your woman” being limply intoned by some asthmatic loser who’d much rather be programming or eating toast than singing. There is only one word for it, and that word is not ‘crap’. It is ‘inspired’.

The genius is in the timelessness of it. “Your Woman” went to number one in 1997, but could just as easily have been a hit in the early 80s, or right now for that matter. Insouciant odd-pop is always a winner, especially when it’s riding a tune as good as this, hummable by music snobs and soccer mums alike. Actually, the real genius of it is in the way it deals with ‘the body’ (you know, that thing you dance with). Anything that gets to number one, especially in England, is going to find itself being sung by rowdy rugby lads in bad student nightclubs at some stage, especially if it’s got a beat and a halfway decent hook, and the mental image of 15 beered-up scrum-halves and prop-forwards and whatnot hollering along (only it’s not ‘hollering along’, is it, it’s ‘hollering over’ because Jyoti can barely manage a whimper himself) with a fat Asian guy pretending to be a woman is too astounding for words. This is what great pop does; it transports. Whether it’s to a cocktail bar where you were working as a waitress, or to Club Tropicana, or to the night you lost your virginity. Or to being a spurned lesbian. But of course the song’s key lyric refutes the testosterone-fuelled lesbian fantasies by describing the object explicitly as a “charming handsome man”, meaning that a; “Your Woman” is the biggest gay number one since Right Said Fred, and b; it’s much more ideologically subversive than t.A.T.u., who seem like a clumsy Razzle spread by comparison, targeted for titillation and little else. “Your Woman” is almost completely bereft of dramatics and overt sexuality, it’s the opposite of Britney & Madonna’s Sapphic snog for the cameras. The fact that few people know (and fewer care) who White Town or Jyoti Mishra are adds to the decentred allure of the tune; it exists on its own terms, totally unencumbered by image or context.

Sadly Jyoti failed to properly clear the samples that made up parts of “You Woman”, hence 30% of the royalties from this (pretty massive) hit still go direct to the original publishing companies rather than Mishra himself. Meaning, of course, that its success reaped him neither fame, fornication nor finance.

This column was originally published on Stylus earlier today.

Thanks to Todd for the lovely graphic!


2/05/2004 01:47:00 pm 0 comments

Apple have emailed me a voucher code for £15 (as long as I spend £150+!); is this a regular thing or is it to apologise for TNT fucking up? Also, I've had a written apology from TNT assuring me that my complaint is being investigated and they hope to resolve it to "[my] satisfaction". What's satisfactory? Getting my iPod eventually will be (at TNT's [insuror's] expense for the replacement), but I've been royally messed about for several days, taking up work time, causing me stress and aggravation. You can't pay someone back for wasted time.

TNT, if you read this a really nice bottle of rioja would go a long way towards making me hate your company much less actively. I'm talking a 1995 vintage. A case of six bottles would possibly make me forget the whole shambles altogether.

It's weird how you hear about this shit happening all the time, things being lost in the post, and it never, ever seems real until it happens to you?


2/05/2004 01:41:00 pm 0 comments

The replacement iPod has shipped! Which means 3-6 days! Please Fed-Ex it this time...


2/05/2004 09:50:00 am 0 comments

Wednesday, February 04, 2004  
You Stink
Scent as commodity – if it could be transmitted in binary code would it be more desirable and pervasive than music or video? Mutated olfactory faculty – Perfume by Patrick Suskind. In Huxley’s Brave New World scent is piped into people’s rooms – one can literally turn on a tap and have patchouli or rose-oil assail one’s nose. Scent ‘taps’ (excuse the pun) into our primordial memory centres and has a stronger and more direct emotional impact on us than almost any other sense. Also like music you can’t just ‘not touch’ or ‘look away’ from a scent – if you’re exposed to it you have to experience it in some way. Is there an analogous ‘listen’ >> ‘hear’ binary with scent as there is with music? In that you can hear something without consciously listening? With scent we only have the word ‘smell’ – does that mean our experience of ‘scent’ is limited to the one-dimensional? If language creates consciousness then this must necessarily be the case. How many ways can you experience something if you can only express the experience one way?


2/04/2004 06:41:00 pm 0 comments

A Beautiful Game
I tried running (or jogging, whatever you want to call it) but found it insanely tedious, difficult and insular. I tried swimming but found it wet (plus the last time I went swimming I was just getting changed and leaving as a load of 18 year olds on some swimming 'team' [how can you have a swimming 'team'; it's not a game, you can't help each other? wtf?!] who were all incredibly beefy and probably had huge bollocks arrived with their washboard stomachs and calves like bags of satsumas and made 20lbs overweight me who'd just got out of the pool and was looking a mite dishevelled [and shrivelled] feel somewhat inadequate). I tried cycling and found it incredibly pleasant (especially when undertaken alongside a canal on a hot July day with a camera and a waterbottle, but the upkeep of the bike is rather a bore and what's more expensive, plus, you know, rain. I tried cricket but, philosophical affections aside (any sport that encourages 22 grown men to stand around in a field for three days rubbing leather against their crotches and hitting balls with willow sticks is necessarily a good thing in these hyperaccelerated times), found it fucking dull (my dad played cricket for Yorkshire schoolboys or something so it should be in my blood). I haven't tried golf because it's for cunts and idiots. Rugby? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

But football, football is a beautiful game.

I am slightly pissed off because Arsenal (who I should hate but who I do not) failed to trounce Middlesborough last night when they should have, but this feeling is overweighed by the fact that last night we played eight-a-side against Three Fat Fish (which used to be The Exchange, should Tim Hopkins be reading) and stuffed them 8-4. I scored four, made one, and it was rebounds off a corner that I took which made another. The first goal was a bullet; two touches to steady and then a snap shot through a crowd, unsighted keeper, bottom corner. Second goal a poach; midfielder made a run, past two, losing balance, poked the ball in my direction at a diagonal, out-stretched leftfoot, first time, hapless keeper on his backside. The third a pair of one-twos between me and my brother, that almost telepathic link we have sometimes (lob it over the defender's head as my brother runs past to hit it on the volley? - it's worked before!), an ugly, bundled finish but the build-up was sublime. The fourth was selfish; I stole the ball off the foot of the guy coming through - he was losing balance and momentum anyway - greedily, yes, but I've got a savage rightfoot and an eye for goal. And the keeper never saw it.


2/04/2004 03:25:00 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, February 03, 2004  
Huzzah! And Double Huzzah!
Apple have emailed to confirm the replacement for the iPod which TNT 'lost', and my USB 2.0 cable has arrived! It's almost as if I might actually get my iPod at some stage in the future.


2/03/2004 04:58:00 pm 0 comments

Sunday, February 01, 2004  
Best Man
Mat's finally bitten the bullet and officially asked me to be his Best Man in August, rather than just dropping hints once a month about speeches and suits and such. I'm no stranger to public speaking or dirty jokes, so it should be fun...


2/01/2004 12:02:00 am 0 comments



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Nick Southall is Contributing Editor at Stylus Magazine and occasionally writes for various other places on and offline. You can contact him by emailing auspiciousfishNO@SPAMgmail.com

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