@uspic¡ous Fish¿!
Delirious With Weird

Wednesday, March 31, 2004  
More Beta Band
On second listen the last track is absolutely every bit as beautiful as I thought it was.


3/31/2004 02:20:00 pm 0 comments

Cookd And Bombd
You know how much I love Chris Morris. Or you should.


3/31/2004 10:17:00 am 0 comments


I'm still not sure whether this is good or not, though. I had a brief comic fetish last year when I got League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (when's vol.2 out in softback?!). And has one of them left? Or turned into a robot? If the latter, he's in good company (see my giant mechanical body somewhere below, courtesy of Lynskey).


3/31/2004 10:00:00 am 0 comments

The Beta Band
Heroes To Zeroes

First thoughts = lovely. But then again I could listen to Steve Mason sing his shopping list and be happy (imagine "went down to the shops / to buy a bag of lemons / came back home again / made some lemonade" in that blissed-out, faraway Scottish burr; it'd be fantastic). They've made the modern, technologically aware, thoughtful record full of ideas that they- that everyone- has been promising for so long.


3/31/2004 09:09:00 am 0 comments

Tuesday, March 30, 2004  
Hunched over like a little old lady, at least for an hour or so. It always seems as if the sunniest days on campus occur when the fewest people are about. Why am I not working in advertising, earning loads of filthy lucre? We will never write for proper money, us. Vlao is the only one to have started making it. And good on him! I am 25 soon.


3/30/2004 04:21:00 pm 0 comments

I want to go to Leeds in two weeks. I want to take the train. It would cost me £95. £95. Ninety five pounds. Nein Tee Feyv Pownds. I think I'll drive.


3/30/2004 03:59:00 pm 0 comments

And of course...
RIP Peter Ustinov. I don't get upset when celebrities die, because I don't know them, and what's the point in getting upset over someone you don't know dying? (unless of course it's lots of innocent people being needlessly killed, but that's a different matter to rich old men and women passing away of gout or whatever)- but there was a definite touch of sadness when I saw the news last night that Ustinov had departed this world. A big man in every sense of the word, he was revered in Europe for his talent and intellect, and loved in the UK for being funny, which says a lot about us. If there's a heaven, and I doubt it, I like the idea of Ustinov quaffing cocktails with Niven and various others whilst regailing everyone with outlandish tales and insightful thoughts in equal measure.


3/30/2004 01:35:00 pm 0 comments

David Stubbs now has a blog. I seem to remember him not being a stupid idiot.


3/30/2004 01:22:00 pm 0 comments

Last Night's Television
As much as I hate the phrase, Passer By actually was a moral fable for our times. I missed the first part on Sunday night due to not giving a shit, and missed the first five or ten minutes of the concluding part last night due to being out watching Dawn Of The Dead. Even so, me being me, I saw enough to form an opinion, and it was not good.

Trailers and previews of Passer By painted it as a thoughtful rumination on guilt and responsibility in modern times. Had I not seen something in the paper this morning about it being a BBC drama I would have assumed it was ITV, possibly because of the presence of James Nesbitt (not that I have anything against him, but post Cold Feet or whatever it was called, he is indelibly linked with ITV in my mind), and possibly because it was utterly morally vaccuous, bordering on reprehensible.

The Story.
Nesbitt, tired from his job as a radiographer in an A&E department (emasculated masculinity! he's not even a doctor! he's barely above the status of a nurse! and all nurses are girls! however is a man to cope in these troubled times of strong women and uncomfortably re-aligned gender roles?! eh?! long hours and not even £40k a year to show for it OH NO!?!) and travelling home on the train, witnesses two youths harassing a women. Initially innoccuous, the situation slowly develops into something more sinister (presumably because the youths are drunk! but I don't know, because I didn't see the first part). The carriage is empty but for the youths, the women, and Nesbitt. Tired and believing that it's none of his business (urban alienation! we're packed so close together but are yet so far apart!), Nesbitt chooses to get off at his stop rather than stay on the train and hopefully, via his mere presence, prevent the incident with the youths becoming anything more than the harrassment it is. Of course he gets of, turns around to look back at the carriage he's just alighted from, and sees the youths raping the woman. OH NO! He's not a good samaritan. And what's worse, in court he freezes, sounds unconvincing, and fails to assert to the jury the guilt of the men. Add to this the fact that the woman remains calm when giving evidence, and the jury let the offenders off. But I saw none of this, as I didn't give a shit.

Wot Happened Next.
Nesbitt's character is wracked by guilt. This manifests itself as an emotional distance in his family (wife and two kids and a nice semi with a partially built extention), causing his insecure, adolescent (at about 12 - when I was young we waited until at least 14 to begin being narky little shits [or maybe not]) son to start dressing like Ice Cube and packing a flick-knife to school. His teenage daughter, who barely features, might have some 'hormones', but we're not quite sure. His wife feels pushed away by his growing emotional distance and preoccupation with letting down the woman not once but twice (on the train and in court). Blah blah blah. Nesbitt wanders around a lot, looks miserable, takes on extra shifts at work despite his management status meaning he doesn't have to, visits the woman and tries to atone for his sins, and then has an encounter at work with one of the offenders, who is brought in for an x-ray after (presumably) a drunken brawl leaves him with a nastily bloodied head. Nesbitt then takes it upon himself to get some kind of revenge, wanders around some rough estate (not like the nice, tree-lined avenue he lives on, oh no), finds a pub, sits in it, gets pissed, sees the other youth, and then shoves a glass in the side of his head before kicking the shit out of him. While the other patrons of the pub stand and watch. And don't intervene. In a moment of exceptionally profound insight, Nesbitt observes "You just stood and watched. You didn't stop me," as if it were the most sad and true and damning thing anyone has ever said about the state of society today and the way we live now. The thug threatens to press charges, Nesbitt is arrested, his job and family are both hanging by a thread over the threat of imprisonment for brutally and drunkenly assaulting someone in the street, Nesbitt turns to drink and sleeping in railway stations, blah blah blah, his wife shouts at him in the street in front of his neighbours (one is a man cleaning his car, thus showing how much of a man he is [cleaning the car basically being 'wanking', eh?]) thus emasculating his masculinity even bloody more ("You're just a radiographer!" she yells, marvellously, and with spite - I must remember that one). And then...

Nesbitt gets off. The police persuade the thug/youth/rapist/victim of a brutal assault not to press charges by "appealing to his ego" (he, as another emasculated [by economic and social circumstances, presumably - after all he lives on a council estate and rapes women on trains] man, does not wish to be seen as 'a victim' - "I really hurt him, you know," says Nesbitt, evidently proud of the fact that he knows he's a man because he glassed some twat's head). "Some things aren't in the public interest" and "some things are in the opublic interest", you see.

Wot I Fink.
It's a cop-out. A complete cop-out. Morally immature and socially irresponsible. Justice is not served on any level. The viewer is given some kind of hollow, happy-ending pay-off for sitting through it, the thugs are seen to be bloodied by various forces (thus not escaping 'punishment' even if they do escape prison), Nesbitt's son gets picked for the football team because his schoolfriends are in awe that his dad is a psycho who glasses young men in pubs, his wife welcomes him back into the family fold with loving arms, Nesbitt doesn't lose his job and he gets the sense that he somehow made amends for not stepping in and preventing the woman being raped in the first place. As for the woman herself, in an encounter with Nesbitt's wife, she says "the way you want him; one day I'll want someone like that too," the inference being that time heals all wounds and one day she'll be OK to trust men again and have sex and raise a family and all's well that ends well blah blah blah cop-out cop-out cop-out. The two rapists are still free, the woman still has to live with that, Nesbitt still pussied out of his social responsibility not to let other men go around assaulting and raping women on trains, he was still a shit father and husband, he still did the wrong thing, even if he now has the strength of character to intervene with an arguing couple on a trainstation when it looks as if it might turn nasty, as we see in the final scene. It's OK to commit horrendous acts of vengent violence as long as it's a rapist who made you look like a wimp that you beat into unconsciousness.

"It's no wonder the women never come forward." It's no wonder BBC1 is rubbish.

Perhaps more later when I've read this through and thought some more.


3/30/2004 11:40:00 am 0 comments

Oh Yeah
American political spammers, please STOP SENDING ME MAIL TELLING ME HOW NASTY GWB IS. a; I know how nasty he is, and b; I'm English and cannot vote in your election. You're wasting precious time adding me to mailing lists.


3/30/2004 10:18:00 am 0 comments

Last Night's Film
So I finally gave in to the urge and paid money to see this excessively violent film, which is essentially a remake in a tradition of films of which I have seen many examples before and yet still feel a desire to see despite knowing that it will have none of the intellectual vigour or moral subtlety of its forebears, none of the innovation or surprise value, none of the essential wit and humanity that make this most ancient and retold of tales worth telling again. And again. And again. And what's more I went to see it in the worst of Exeter's two cinemas (the Odeon), accompanied (aside from my own lovely companion) by teenage girls summoned by the hype and history rather than quality and tradition, by three of Exeter's most obviously gay fashionistas (who are approx. 18 months behind London's gay fashionistas in terms of how they dress and coiffure), by a couple of middle-aged men and a rag-tag of young couples taking in some 'culture'. Whenever I visit the Picturehouse I invariably see a gaggle of film studies students and staff from the university, there is a bar, reasonably (for a cinema) priced drinks and snacks, better seats, better screens, better parking, nicer environs. And I'm convinced the tickets are cheaper too. Anyway, last night, as I said, I gave in to the urge and went to see this morally questionable, violent film.

And I for one am glad the zombie movie is back! Dawn Of The Dead has none of the consumerist commentary of the original, and little of the "people (men! soldiers!) are our real enemies, not flesh-eating zombies" moral imperative and empty-London apocalypse-catharsis of Danny Boyle's still wonderful 28 Days Later, but it did have a frenetic pace, brief semi-nudity and shagging, characters who (almost) avoided their god-given stereotypes (the young, streetwise black family man married to a Russian woman who was expecting their baby [until she turned into a ZOMBIE and got SHOT IN THE FACE by the little old lady trucker WHILST GIVING BIRTH {which in turn caused the young black streetwise family man to shoot the little old lady trucker, who shot him back, and they both died, and then caused Sarah Polley's "thou shalt not kill" nurse to sanction the shotting-in-the-head of the zombie-baby}], the macho, threat-to-the-group security guard who sacrificed himself, the guy who looks as if he was in Ellen who got bitten and stayed behind because he knew he'd turn into a zombie, blah blah blah... actually, those last two conformed to their clichés admirably, 'bad boy done good' and 'mild mannered martyr' respectively being their roles), and, most importantly, it made me jump out of my seat on at least four occasions, even the really obvious ones, like when the pretty blonde girl with the huge chunk missing from her face disrupts Sarah Polley's utopic domestic bliss (which lasts all of 90 seconds [including showersex!]) by biting the neck out of her faintly recognisable partner and causing him to squirt blood from his jugular like a gushing Dutch cum-fiend in a Chris Morris nightmare does from his tumescent cock.

28 Days Later gave us about 5 minutes of vaguelly-scientific-realist exposition as to why and how the zombiefication occured - animal rights campaigners break into the Cambridge research base, free monkeys infected with 'rage', get bitten, start craving blood - i.e. zombie-as-blood-virus, a kind of cannibalistic AIDS for the postScream, out-with-irony schlock-horror generation. The remake of Dawn Of The Dead gives us about 2 seconds of very oblique referrence to a patient in a hospital who's been "moved upstairs [to X department] because of a bite?" Which is all we get. No how, no why, no rhyme or reason, no cause. Only effect. Brutal, nasty, bloody, high-octane effect. Zombie's being creamed by high-speed ambulances a la the bus-death in Final Destination only without the just-stepped-off-the-pavement shock value of either that film or Meet Joe Black; the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold accidentally chainsawed in half in the A Team-alike bus when it crashes; the guy across the street on the roof of the gun shop picking off zombies who resemble celebrities by request from the principals trapped in the mall ("Rosie O'Donnell!" they holler, like the kindergarten class in South Park given carte blanche with an M16 [Jay Leno and Burt Reynolds lookalikes are first to be capped in the skull by Andy's sniping]). And then, after the brave escape and violent death of the morally unworthy, the survivors literally, Frodo-like, sail off into the sunset in hope of finding an island where there are no zombies, where the young lovers can rebuild the human race by shagging happily ever after, where Sarah Polley and Ving Rhames can be nurse and policeman again, where... well, actually, we don't know, because there is no exposition of this at all. It just ends. 28 Days Later let us know there was hope, that Cillian Murphy and company would be saved, that the zombies would die out in time and that they would be returned to England's green and pleasant pastures, which would in fact be improved immeasurably by not being full of wankers anymore, but Dawn Of The Dead just ENDS. And rightly so. The very essence of a no-brainer. I loved it.


3/30/2004 10:05:00 am 0 comments

Monday, March 29, 2004  
Monday Monday
Fucking bad back. Fucking trains. Fucking Monday fucking morning.


3/29/2004 10:30:00 am 0 comments

Friday, March 26, 2004  
Crosstown Traffic
The traffic report on Radio 2 at about ten to nine this morning confused my near delirious self, as the plumy female reeled off in monotone received pronunciation a string of bizarre traffic observations from listeners.

“Rocky Roadhog in North Diddleswip reports a gaggle of golightly geese obfuscating the movement of Pete’s Pedicure Patrol on the A911 just past the crossroads between Lower Plunket and East Slaughter.”

“Mo the motorcycle courier is in Little Framplebottom, and tells us there’s a spillage of spillable spilt things causing much morning mayhem on the B1234 just outside Biggleton.”

“And another report via ESPmail from Wicky the Witch about the fromage frais incident on the B666; apparently a crab-apple of cows is now lactating generously in the area, adding to the cheesy chaos. The RNASWR suggest avoiding the area heartily, and having a fuck-off shower instead.”


3/26/2004 03:18:00 pm 0 comments

Drop The Shoulder
Didn’t work last night.

On Tuesday Or…Zico (I believe that’s something approaching the rather idiosyncratic spelling of the team’s name) won 9-3 in the FA Pitch Invasion 5-a-side league, although to be honest I’m sure we scored more like 12. It was only the second time I’d played for Or…Zico, called up at short notice by Alastair the Russian film lecturer, and I’m definitely not used to the kind of non-stop pinball football that five-a-side of that ilk encourages (long pitch, outdoors, wham-bam thank you ma’am). Plus I’m not fully recovered, psychologically as much as anything else, from my dodgy knee of the other month. I’ve only just started playing without strapping, and I’m definitely not pushing myself quite as hard as I otherwise might. Nonetheless we won convincingly on Tuesday, and I scored a nice left-footer, dropped my shoulder and skipped past the defender before drilling it low and hard past the near post. Vivek came on just before I went off (rolling subs), and scored about four or five as the other team, demoralised, started really lagging. I like to think if I’d stayed on I would’ve scored a few more as well… of course… Or…Zico are now top of the league on goal difference (+4), ahead of Hotel Barcelona.

Didn’t work last night.

We played 11-a-side, 35-minutes each way, against a load of postgraduates. And lost 5-1. Which was unrepresentative. Alastair, who’s a great five-a-side player, and, I get the impression, a very good 11-a-side player, was carrying a nasty thigh injury, and thus spent the game in goal, where his impaired mobility (and the fact that he’s not a goalkeeper by nature) meant he was vulnerable to low shots from distance. Which made up at least three of their goals. One of the others was a freak 35-yard lob. In the closing few minutes we had one header over and several other crosses that were just too high or too fast for people to get onto, a flying volley that the keeper somehow managed to save, and a couple of other shots that failed to find the mark. Unrepresentative.

The game was lost in midfield, essentially, where we left great big holes in the first half. I’m gutted, but I’m already plotting what needs to be done for the rematch, whenever that is. It had better be soon.

And goalkeepers, strapping centre-halves or shit-kicking midfielders in the Exeter area, get in touch!


3/26/2004 10:38:00 am 0 comments

Wednesday, March 24, 2004  
Cheers, Lynskey...


3/24/2004 04:50:00 pm 0 comments

The Cat
Apparently the vet forgot to tell her she was 'dying', which is why she's now eating like a horse (where the fuck did that saying come from? she's not eating grass or hay, she's eating fish, and horses don't eat fish) and behaving like a kitten. Albeit a semi-blind, hard-of-hearing kitten.


3/24/2004 10:48:00 am 0 comments

The Streets - "Fit But You Know It"
Guitars, for a start, which quite confused me for a second until I remembered the whole thing about Original Pirate Material being about the death of dance culture, which made it logical that Mike Skinner would crack out the guitars for his new record. The rhythm of the play put me in mind of The Specials, but the chug is far less ska than post-grunge US alt-punk. It's doubtless ripped off something else, making it ironic that the versions flying around P2P networks consist of 5-minutes of the same 20-second snippet of chorus looped, because Skinner himself (or his record company) don't want him being ripped off (smoking dope is as illegal as copyright infringement, Mike), taking the incongruously posh-sounding "my gosh" in the chorus seem like some kind of anti-profanity mantra and causing me to wonder if he's ever actually sworn on record - he must have, surely?

Of course, for the first thirty seconds, his faux-mockney (is it faux? is it mockney?) uber-Anglo-drawl makes me want to punch him in the face, but then he pauses for a split-second before the phrase "white-shirted man", making it clear that he hates Ben Sherman as much as anyone else, and the chorus rolls around again and this time you finally catch onto the phrasing and delivery - "I'm not trying to pull you / even though I would like to / I think you are really fit / you're fit but my gosh don't you know it" - and it becomes the greatest thing to sing along with ever. Or at least since you were last in a school playground legally. His trick, or schtick, or gimmick, or thing is still the fact that he voices all the petty, jealous, pathetic, adolescent desires, frustrations and idiotic epiphanies that everyone of a certain age finds themselves afflicted with as they enter the stage of suspended adultescence that is the early-20s, however much they try to behave like a real grown-up. By the time the chorus is chopped-up into two (and a bit) words for the finale ("you're fit! you're fit! you're fit! you're fit!"), the song is a proper playground chant. Little boys never grow up.


3/24/2004 10:46:00 am 0 comments

Wilco - "At Least That's What You Said"
Where the fuck did this come from?! It starts with absolutely nothing, less than nothing, a feeble strum that's hardly audible, a distant roll of piano and Tweedy being miserable and quiet ("I thought it was cute / for you to kiss / my purple blackeye"), and then, on 1:59, what the fuck is that?! Guitar? Loud? And drums and bass too, and after thirty seconds or so of warming up whoever it is (certainly not Jeff, no fucking way) starts playing, properly playing, fuzzed and rude and tuneful too, scouring into distortion, straight into the red, but carrying you along. And it keeps going, and going and going and it's great; it's the kidn of thrill I used to get from guitars, way back when. This is what I wanted John Squire solo to sound like. And it keeps going. And keeps going, until five minutes in, when it stops, and the tune winds down, and that's it. A Ghost Is Born. Well I never.


3/24/2004 10:44:00 am 0 comments

The Beta Band - "Assessment"
Way to change direction. Or is it? It’s been three years since Hot Shots II; who’s to say there hasn’t been a slow evolution in sound since then, a series of trends rather than a definite fulcrum leading them here?

Hot Shots II, of course, is the album they made to apologise for their eponymous debut, which reneged on the promise of those infamous, glorious early EPs by being largely shit. Lazy journalists did the “wow, these guys have got so many crazy ideas; the must be on drugs” routine and were met with spite from Steve Mason. Rightly so: how would you like to have your honest day’s work viewed as the ramblings of a stoned idiot? If you work fucking hard you want the credit you deserve.

So after the futurist r&b rock of HSII (an album they wanted The Neptunes to produce, and which did that psychedelic technologically friendly wide-eyed wonder thing much better than Yoshimi could even dream of), they’ve gone post-punk, sort of. Thump-thump-thump-snap go the drums, dead metronome style, and some jaggedy guitar motif gets reverbed across the speakers. Mason, as ever, sounds a million miles away, stretches harmonies with himself into interstellar space at the end of each line. “Sometimes / I feel / [something] / [something]” and even though the words are indecipherable the yearning is tangible. Post-punk? Spacey? Yearning? Noise? Is this Disco Inferno? No. It’s The Stone Roses, sort of. Or The Beta Band. “From the sea / to the beach / to the land…” On three minutes there’s a drum roll that Manitoba nicked before its conception, some more guitar, some space noise, the tune moves to a thousand miles away from the microphone, and then… the trumpets! Oh my! Chaotic fanfares. Brilliant? Brilliant. From zeroes to heroes. Again.


3/24/2004 10:43:00 am 0 comments

Something I started Writing About Second Coming But Which May Never Be Finished...
There are two ways to approach The Stone Roses: as a starting point, or as a finishing point. The latter attitude suggests that there is nothing else to accomplish and nothing else to explore, encourages the kind of guitars-are-best retro-fetishisation and reductivism that keeps people on a narrow musical path. It sees The Stone Roses as part of a lineage of ‘classic’ bands that starts with The Beatles and progresses through Led Zeppelin and The Clash to Oasis, taking in The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols, The Smiths and- well, you know the rest. The canon of English rock music. It’s an attitude that encourages people to see the Roses as great songwriters, and more than that, as the Platonic essence of the Great English Four Piece Guitar Band. And why not? If that’s your approach, that they’re the finishing point, then why not? They are the greatest and there is nothing else.

I always took The Stone Roses as a starting point, as the jumping off moment that lead me on a long, strange road to where I am now which is, in turn, only a staging post on the way to somewhere else. Somewhere I’ll hopefully never arrive at. Of course, back in England in 1990 or so, this was the case for a lot of people, lead by the hand by “Fools Gold” (still no apostrophe) into the nightclubs and onto the dancefloors. That was never the case for me, I was too young and too far away from where it was happening to step into the world that way. Instead I had the interviews, the references, the quotes, the links made by journalists to the places the Roses had come from (figuratively, musically, not literally and geographically – Brown himself said once that “it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at” that matters). Why take the easy route of the guitar-lineage when there was so much else that was so much more colourful and interesting and strange going on? Where did “Fools Gold” come from? How ever did they create “Don’t Stop”, the sound of their own music turned in on itself, refracted and dissolved and inverted? How did they know to do this? What inspired the groove in “Something’s Burning”? Where did those words come from and what did they mean? They would talk about reggae and funk and hip hop and house music and how Reni learnt to play drums in his parents’ pub with local jazz bands, how Ian and Mani met in Manchester during a scrap with a racist who’d been beating a black guy and they stepped in because that was wrong, how John had worked as an animator and painted all their fascinating, beautiful sleeves himself. About how one day they scrawled the band’s name across the faces of underpasses in the city centre, because the myth and perception of the band was as important as the music and image. Because you need to make people believe in magic. In one interview with Melody Maker they talked about politics and how the monarchy was wrong and about how they took ideas for lyrics from the Paris student riots (the end of history?), from situationism, from religious texts, from experiences they had had travelling around Europe (trips financed by applying for government grants for cookers, because experiencing the world was more important than a cooker, because it was right that in a country run by Thatcher you could rip money back from government and use it to expand yourself and increase your tolerance, wisdom and understanding of the world and life and art). The Stone Roses were a gateway.

But anyway, enough of all this fanboy shit. Let’s be having Second Coming, eh?

Second Coming did not take five years to make. You cannot make an album while you’re in court and legally prevented from recording new material. You cannot make an album when you have no money to pay for studio time. You cannot make an album while you’re mountain biking round the Cheshire countryside, or spending your eventual advance from your new record company (once extricated from the old record company) on a trip around the world visiting religious monuments and getting high in Jamaica. You cannot make an album while you’re sitting in a pub in Wales. Like the hyperbole their manager Gareth Evans (known for carrying around a suitcase full of cash in order to freak out journalists backstage at gigs) spouted about their drug habits (they recorded the first album pretty much teetotal, let alone stoned or fried on LSD and ecstasy) and like the incidents when the band themselves threw paint over the car of the boss of one of their numerous ex record labels, the stories about Second Coming’s monstrous delay may have a grain of truth in them, but their essential purpose was myth making.

Second Coming is one of the biggest let downs in the history of music. Second Coming is a cop-out. Second Coming is overwrought, guitar-hero nonsense. Second Coming has none of the magic or songs of the debut album.

These are all lies. Well, pretty much. Had it arrived in 1991 or 1992, Second Coming (as well as having a less apocalyptically ludicrous and arrogant title) would have been seen as a strong and surprising follow-up to The Stone Roses.

(It tails of somewhat here... ehehehehehe...)


3/24/2004 10:41:00 am 0 comments

A Brief Analysis Of Some Stone Roses Lyrics
Hopefully part of a continuing series (written for Karim, who asked me to do this about three years ago).

“Bye Bye Badman”

“These stones I throw / Oh these French kisses”

“Badman” may be one of the weaker tracks on The Stone Roses’ eponymous debut, the start of the mid-album dip, but its lyrics are amongst the best and most intriguing on the record. There was lots of talk in interviews at the time from the band about how the album wasn’t necessarily one-on-one love songs, and “Badman” reveals itself to be about the Paris student riots of May 1968. “Choke me / Smoke the air / In this citrus-sucking sunshine / I don’t care”; choking and smoking referring to the police’s use of tear gas against the students, while citrus-sucking is what the students did to counteract the effects, lemon juice being, supposedly, an antidote of sorts to tear gas. But it’s the “French kisses” metaphor I like best, the idea of romance’s most passionate expression being subverted in the name of Situationist youth uprising, the romance of the justified riot, of youth, of France, of the 60s, of sex and death and insurrection.

“This Is The One”

“ I'd like to leave the country / For a month of Sundays / Burn the town where I was born”

No one did wanderlust like Ian Brown. To me this says who cares about the past, who cares about where you’re from, don’t let it hold you back, be who you can be and go where you wish to go. It’s empowerment and freedom. And, like so many Roses songs, it illustrates the band’s strange approach to women, which swings from romanticist to misogynist; the subject of the song is a “girl consumed by fire”, and it is her struggle to escape that is documented.

“She Bangs The Drums”

“Passion fruit and holy bread / Fill my guts and ease my head”

Just a very simple and lyrical expression of what it might feel like to be in love; for many years I thought it was “fills my guts, my knees, my head”, which I interpreted as a reference to being so in love that you feel sick, weak at the knees and light headed all at once, but the idea of a lover soothing your troubled mind and satisfying your belly appeals much more as I get older.

“Standing Here”

“I could park a juggernaut in your mouth / And I can feel a hurricane when you shout / I should be safe forever in your arms”

The flipside of the Roses’ approach to women, and the flipside of the song it comes from. “Standing Here” deals with unrequited love that borders on the obsessive, but again it’s a disarmingly sweet tune. This is the kiss-off line from the fadeout, Ian turning the song in on itself and finding fault with the object of desire because she cannot live up to the pedestal he’s placed her upon. He should be safe with her, he should be happy, but he isn’t.

“Where Angels Play”

“OK let's fly she says this carpet's made for two / This ugly little box no place for me and you / Our carpet falls on a dew-fresh dappled plain / Take a look around there's something happening / All the colours fade / I don't want you now / Bang bang bang gone”

Possibly their most beatific tune, this b-side starts out describing a picnic for two escapist lovers, and ends with the woman being killed by her suitor, a synaesthetic psychopath misogynist with a gun. Whaddaya mean you don’t get it? It’s there! It’s explicit! They go for a picnic and he shoots her!


“The wind it just whips her away / And fills up her brigantine sails”

Like “This Is The One”, “Waterfall” is about a girl fleeing from something, and the imagery is incredible. I single out this line simply because it’s the only time I’ve come across the word ‘brigantine’ used in a pop song, and that’s a wonderful word to use.

“Something’s Burning”

“It doesn't pay to disorientate me / It doesn't cost to be someone / I am the vine / And you are the branches”

What this means I don’t know, but I love it nonetheless. “Something’s Burning” is the Roses’ most compellingly mystical tune; a slow, liquid groove played for subtlety and veiled threat. Supposedly this lyric is taken from The Bible, but never having read it I wouldn’t know. For a time I thought it was “I am divine / And you are wretched”, which would be the most mystifyingly arrogant line of a song ever. As it is, I’m not sure that “I am the vine / And you are the branches” is much better.

“Fools Gold”

“These boots were made for walking / The Marquis de Sadé don't wear no boots like these”

“Fools Gold” could be read as being anti-materialism, the protagonist observing prospectors being sucked into quicksand because they’re too busy admiring their nuggets to notice, while he travels onwards, ever the picaresque wanderer. If this is so you have to wonder how the Marquis de Sadé gets in there; on top of the “pack on my back is aching / The strap seams cut me like a knife” line it could read as a sadomasochistic impulse on behalf of Ian Brown, who knows? Whatever, it’s a hell of a name check.

”Going Down”

“Penny's place her crummy room / Her dansette crackles to Jimi's tune / I don't care I taste Ambre Solaire / Her neck her thighs her lips her hair”

A paean to the joys of oral sex in council flats disguised as a pretty little love song, if Jarvis Cocker had pretensions towards Keats then he’d be proud of this vignette. With a dansette being a radio, Jimi being Hendrix, and Ambre Solaire being cheap suntan lotion, presumably applied around the girl in question’s bathing suit area, the picture is painted for us in explicit detail if only we can listen past the first impression, which is so often misleading with Roses lyrics. Ian out-boasts various Wu-Tang members with talk of his sexual prowess as he elicits “all thoughts of sleep desert me / There is no time / Thirty minutes brings me round to her number nine”, which one can only read as being about his ability to orally induce multiple orgasms in his partner (and also hold his breath / circular breathe). But things aren’t as happy as they seem, Ian twisting barbed compliments and references to Squire’s artwork into the tale, as he claims “Yeah she looks like a painting / Jackson Pollock's Number Five”, which is, of course, one of the legendary artist’s most splattered and chaotic works of monochromatic indignity, making the inversion of the “she’s as pretty as a picture” meme a fantastically backhanded compliment. To finish, Ian undoes his sexual boasts, and adds a dimension to the Roses that goes against talk of selling souls and being resurrected, by stating simply “to look down on the clouds / You don't need to fly / I've never flown in a plane / I'll live until I die”. Modesty becomes them.

“Sally Cinnamon”

“I pop pop pop blow blow bubble gum / You taste of Cherryade”

I don’t need to explain this; it’s just wonderful.


3/24/2004 10:38:00 am 0 comments

A Record Review

With Endless Summer Christian Fennesz amply demonstrated that the Beach Boys’ influence can be taken in directions radically different to the usual harmonic pilfering and put-on wide-eyed wonder that most followers of Brian Wilson seem to feel does justice to America’s finest and maddest pop artist. I never understood the fuss about Pet Sounds, but the way Fennesz dissolved its essence in layers of stereoscopic interference and interplanetary noise was more compelling than a dozen indie bands with big drums and weak singers.

After the relative success of Endless Summer, as much to do, perhaps, with its cover and presentation as its sonics, Fennesz retreated back to the world of field recordings and complete abstraction. Venice sees him wandering back towards the real world once again, but never too close. As ever, Fennesz makes music that sounds as if he’s dropped his laptop into the ocean and recorded the resultant sound of its electronic struggle against drowning, or as if he’s set fire to a piece of vinyl that was playing at the wrong speed anyway; it is noise, but it is beautiful noise. If Endless Summer’s lineage in the Beach Boys was a conceptual way in for listeners not used to his particular brand of Austrian experimentation, then those same listeners could be pulled in again by leaning towards the idea that Venice is a love song to Europe’s most romantic city, an abstract psalm where carefully placed noise can be as beautiful and poetic as carefully placed words.

The album is mostly constructed from unidentifiable electrical noise, but occasionally Fennesz leaves his guitar recognisable, such as on “Laguna” which is as if someone had dissolved “Runeii” from Laughing Stock in acid, while “City Of Light” is little more than the hum of static but it rises and drifts in such a manner that it gives swell to your heart, makes you hold the back of your neck and gaze out of your window. “The Stone Of Impermanence” begins with a violent thrash and then quietly dies over the course of the next five minutes, and “Circassian” is unassailable constructivism, rising and rising and rising, building towers atop mountains (fucking astonishing) using only sand and leaves and powdered, eroded cement dust, static vistas stricken by electrical storms far off, beautiful to look at, better to touch, but intangible. Love is not the fulfilment of yearning.

David Sylvian returns a favour on “Transit” after Fennesz guested on the stark Blemish, talking of saving cigarettes and leaving Europe, drinking alone and encouraging doomed romanticism amongst those who admire doomed romanticism, but his sonorous and languorous voice intrudes perhaps too far into the otherwise suspiciously beatific abstraction. A series of pulses like waves racing around a pier in a manner that resembles enormous, sodden angel’s wings buoy Sylvian’s precarious voice, impinging the instrumental (if one can summon these sounds from mere instruments) tenure and interrupting the otherwise understandable wordless flow.

Fennesz makes Boards Of Canada sound like Daft Punk and My Bloody Valentine sound like Oasis. He does with sound what Stan Brakhage did with film, altering its very fabric and texture, employing disorder and error as forms of communication and expression. He forces you to alter your understanding of the world around you by challenging you to see things differently, to learn a different method of perception and interpretation, to look beneath the chaos that seems to govern the movements of life and find the patterns beneath, to understand that every variable cannot be measured, every analogue cannot be known. Venice is a fine continuation of his peculiar and unique aesthetic.


3/24/2004 10:36:00 am 0 comments

Time In (or out of) The Sun
My tenure as managing editor at Stylus is over, as Todd, fresh from his move to NYC, has resumed the hotseat. It's been a busy month when combined with the busiest weeks of the year at the university too, and at times I've totally lost my rag with people (sorry), suffered vague ill-health due to lack of sleep (back back, bad skin, general knackeredness), and experienced the frustrations (again) of writer's block, so I'm all too glad to have Todd onboard again. Saying that, though, there is a touch of sadness too; once I'd got into the swing of it, and especially these last few days since term broke up at the university, I found myself almost enjoying it... Almost.

My 'job' at Stylus has fluctuated a lot lately, at least in terms of the title. In the last six weeks I've been UK Deputy Editor, Deputy Editor, Managing Editor, and now Contributing Editor. Which I think means I can take a break for a few days... At least until I get cracking on reviews of El-P (both his new ones, possibly), The Streets, Wilco, The Beta Band, an article/interview about and review of the new album by Bark Psychosis, plus anything else that crops up over the coming weeks and months.

In the meantime, I'll shameless plagiarise the stuff I've written for Stylus over the last three weeks in order to amke it appear as if this (somewhat tardy, of late) blog has some actual content. And then, later today, I'll write about playing football and walking around with my iPod some more!


3/24/2004 10:22:00 am 0 comments

Monday, March 22, 2004  
So tonight I watched the Brakhage DVD and listened to Fennesz at the same time. Pretentious? Shoot me.


3/22/2004 11:11:00 pm 0 comments

Read this.


3/22/2004 09:49:00 am 0 comments

Monday, March 15, 2004  
Porn Spam
I receive a lot of spam, as you can imagine, most of it trying to sell me "jenerik veeagrah" or something. But I just got the best spam email subject line EVAH. It read, poetically, "fwd. fwd. re: she wants you to deepthrote that donkee". Magnificent.


3/15/2004 11:40:00 pm 0 comments

"You know what you are, Tony? I know what you are, but you don't know what you are; you're a cunt."
No, not Anthony Blair; Anthony Wilson.

Interesting (and probably deliberate) punkk/anti-punk juxtaposition from 24 Hour Party People (why they didn't call it Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out) I don't know, the sell-outs) Part 1; Tony Wilson, his friend who's name I carnt remember and his wife who is played by Shirley Henderson, return to Tony's house/flat after witnessing The Sex Pistols live in manchester at some point in 1976, and decide to make it punk-friendly by tearing down some posters. About to rip a Bowie poster from the wall, Tony asks "David?", to which Lindsey (his wife) replies "No, not David." Tony (Steve Coogan) rips down said poster anyway. Later on in the film there is a montage of footage of 'exciting' and 'vibrant' 'punk' 'artists', including Iggy Pop performing "The Passenger". A tune produced by David Bowie.


3/15/2004 10:39:00 am 0 comments

Thursday, March 11, 2004  
Telling Me Something

You Should Wear
Your Girlfriend's Panties!

She won't know what to think about this, but it will be worth it. Tip: if you can't keep the goods tucked away, try chilling them with ice first.

Find out which No Pants Day outfit YOU should wear!

No Pants Day is May 7th, 2004. To find out more about No Pants Day, visit



3/11/2004 12:01:00 am 0 comments

Monday, March 08, 2004  
Gee, Thanks

You're Love in the Time of Cholera!

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Like Odysseus in a work of Homer, you demonstrate undying loyalty by
sleeping with as many people as you possibly can. But in your heart you never give
consent! This creates a strange quandary of what love really means to you. On the
one hand, you've loved the same person your whole life, but on the other, your actions
barely speak to this fact. Whatever you do, stick to bottled water. The other stuff
could get you killed.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.


3/08/2004 07:32:00 pm 0 comments

Worn Out
My cat is dying. She's twenty years old and, according to the vet today, "worn out". Her heart, lungs and kidneys are knackered. She might have days, she might have months. However long she's got, she's eating nothing but real salmon and tuna from now on, and none of that crap from sachets.


3/08/2004 07:09:00 pm 0 comments

From Stylus, With Love
The iPod battery, source of such controversy, announced to me its emptiness as I left the house this afternoon, the thinnest line possible etched in liquid crystal promising a silent return journey at the least, and a silent outward stroll too if I was unlucky. Halfway through the first song, Lambchop’s “This Corrosion”, the line had vanished altogether, but the sound continued to run on seemingly nothing for fully an hour and a quarter as I circuited the town, through a forest, across a hill, along a stream, down the main street and out past the shops and cafes and amusement arcades and railway station, to the beach, a destination that takes five minutes to reach if you walk it directly, and a lifetime to reach if you walk it well.

The main breakwater reaches 50 yards out into the sea from the viaduct, the oldest thing in town, one of four in the three miles from western cliff to eastern rock, manmade but old enough to be so dressed in barnacles and worn by the sea that it appears natural, as if hewn from rock by the water and the fish rather than human hands. At the end stands an iron basket atop an iron pole, painted red. Stood. Wherefore? To warn boats of the presence of the ancient brickwork at high tide when the final fifteen or so yards of the breakwater is submerged, perhaps. Stood. The sea has torn the iron basket and iron pole, and a tonne of stone from beneath it, out of the breakwater. It lies beside the jutting walkway like an absent tooth, leaving a bloody, painful gap in the gum where it used to be. In forty minutes the gap and the places surrounding where the gap should not be will be below sea level, as the tide slips in surely as nightfall, but for now the absent tooth is exposed, its root, drenched in concrete and stone, rippling above the surface, its tip buried in the submerged sand some eight feet down. Tiny whorls of water breach the rough edges of the breakwater’s gap, a pile of stone which only a week ago were a foot or more higher than it is now, swirl through violently torn crevices of stone, finding exposed flesh which has none the touch of nothing but cold and silent stone for hundreds of years.

A dozen miles off Portland a cloud falls into the sea like a ghost, pulled down by gravity, pushed out of shape by a moderate easterly wheeze of wind, the weight of water at its heart and the low pressure band moving in becoming too much for it to maintain itself against. Half a dozen miles further west a rainbow vainly forms and fades against the low sky, sunlight refracted for a second through drops of rain painting the sky with unnaturally natural hues. This ageless movement of the world, of the sea, is accompanied by a slow, reverbed guitar, a hesitant thump of a bass drum, an almost accidental double-snare hit and the indistinct melancholy of a melodica. “It all just seems so differently…” What I hear most is space, silence, time. “You know it’s the biggest joke of all”, piercing bass that shifts down and points of light punctured by guitar, moving upwards and inwards within the same space, slowly finding a concentric route, threads of piano and guitar interwoven so the colours merge… And as the tide slowly rises, laps towards my feet, fifty yards into nothingness, water on all sides, rhythm falls away but ripples of melody remain, five minutes and thirty seconds, piano and keys and guitar circling each other as if in a dance, each occasionally stepping outside the pattern to open up a new area of possibility, an endless cycle… Vibes… A bell? Not endless… I know how long it lasts. Three minutes… Tears touch my eyes. The battery finally gives up. It’s the most beautiful afternoon.


3/08/2004 01:29:00 pm 0 comments

I Pronounce Thee Wanker
Another Nick S, but PFM's this time, rather than yours truly. And he's seemingly undoing Ryan's hardwork to try and alter the perception of PFM from snide indier-than-thou wanker-haven to open-minded, reasonable and non-cringe worthy music portal par excellence. How so? By being a fucking idiot. Mr. Sylvester, those indie bands want your money, too. And they're shit.


3/08/2004 01:27:00 pm 0 comments

Thursday, March 04, 2004  
Not Entirely Accurate
You're a Glass of Wine!

What Type of Alcoholic Beverage Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


3/04/2004 02:32:00 pm 0 comments

Singles Time

"and you, you can be mean, and i, i'll drink all the time"

quiz created by neondisease

Which David Bowie single are you?


3/04/2004 02:21:00 pm 0 comments

Sell Out!
Or maybe not.


3/04/2004 01:52:00 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, March 03, 2004  
Avant-garde Indie? Moi? Quelle surprisé!
Except I don't drink coffee at all.
You're Avante Garde Indie. You listen to abstract
music like free-jazz and Krautrock. You drink
too much coffee and you scare the fuck out of
the rest of us. We're afraid to call you
pretentious because we know that we all just
don't get it. There are few of you out there,
and most of you will probably die soon.

You Know Yer Indie. Let's Sub-Categorize.
brought to you by Quizilla


3/03/2004 10:47:00 am 0 comments

Monday, March 01, 2004  
This morning when I woke up and looked in the mirror I thought I'd grown a beard overnight, but then I remembered I hadn't shaved since Thursday, so it was OK.

iTunes just segued Talk Talk's "Stump" into "Stepping Stone" by The Monkees. It can't be good for my mental health.


3/01/2004 07:40:00 pm 0 comments



Stylus Grooves Measure ILX SFJ James in Italy James in Japan Freaky Trigger Marcello Happy and Lost Oli Office Dom Passantino Assistant Colin Cooper Geeta Dave Queen Jess Harvell Gareth Silver Dollar Woebotnik Septum Flux Not Today, Thank You Gutterbreakz De Young Nate Patrin Matos Andy K Haiku War Against Silence I Feel Love Rob K-Punk Nto Vlao Laputa Woebot Tim Finney Ben Robin Carmody TMFTML AK13 B Boy Blues Cha Cha Cha Clem Ian Mathers Meta Critic Blissblog Luka Freelance Mentalists Some Disco DJ Martian Pink Moose Leon Nayfakh Crumbling Loaf Enthusiastic But Mediocre iSpod Auspiciousfish news feed Nickipedia

AusPishFish Arch¡ves
<< current

Nothing Here Is True

Powered by Blogger Site Meter

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

All material © Nick Southall, 2003/2004/2005