@uspic¡ous Fish¿!
Delirious With Weird

Monday, May 31, 2004  
Don’t stand on me, I’m a parrot, you wanker

It started at 5pm when, according to my older, slimmer, less blind (but only just) brother (the footballer in the family) the sun was “brighter and hotter than [he had] ever seen it!” Delirious, almost; we were in a beer garden, where garden = white concrete reflecting light back at us and beer = well, beer. Guinness. Cider. “This isn’t Scrumpy, this is shit.” Two, and Ben departs, and on we move, to play pool (I am not skilled, but HOTDAMN I can pull off the spectacular and ridiculous from time to time; not often enough to win though much like football) and drink warm American lager (your fridge takes THREE hours to cool beer to the correct temperature, love, so TURN THE FUCKER ON SOONER). And then, after Vince and Matt arrive (camera in hand), we moved on again, primarily because the ferret was full of eejits. Whereas the Railway was full of parrots. (We did call somewhere else inbetween – stared at teenagers snogging on the Lawn, brother walked into banister, etcetera.) “Wanker” says the parrot. “That’s the funniest thing I’ve EVER seen” says my brother. “Wanker” says the parrot. “That’s the funniest thing I’ve EVER seen” says my brother. “Wanker” says the parrot. “That’s the funniest thing I’ve EVER seen” says my brother. “Wanker” says the parrot. “That’s the funniest thing I’ve EVER seen” says my brother. DO YOU GET IT, DO YOU DO YOU DO YOU? Tedius, but amusing, especially when the parrot said “cunt” and started French-kissing the landlord. (I’m sure this happened last year, too?) And then to the last pub, to sit beneath a heater on the patio and drink Jack Daniels until gone midnight, to be affronted (inbetween pubs) by a Muslim kebab salesman – “People think Muslims don’t drink yeah, but I love to drink yeah, I’d drink 24 hours a day if I could yeah, I had some drink at lunchtime yeah, I love to drink yeah, chicken sandwich and chips yeah”, yeah mate, yeah, remind me not to go drinking with you yeah - and there are no parrots here, but there is a late licence, and I buy the barmaid a drink at just past midnight because it’s only fair (every other fucker gone home) (landlord still knows my name even though I go in maybe only four times a year lately). And then we’re climbing a rock? A cliff? Sandstone all down my trousers. “I’m afraid of heights but I’m alright up here” says Jim, “I can’t come down though.” And then I get home (1am, maybe?) and prepare to go to bed (shoes & socks off) and fuck me but my foot is black, how did that happen? Refer to Thursday’s post (or was it Friday?) about John Plunkett’s knee, and also that gnarly, out-of-focus picture just underneath. And trust me, it looks worse in the flesh. But a jolly good time was had by all.


5/31/2004 10:35:00 pm 0 comments

Attention Mr Tim Hopkins
This is the reason I didn't make it to Exeter for a pint yesterday...


5/31/2004 09:30:00 pm 5 comments

wtf omg lol
karim says:
when people ask, i list my favourite writers as miller, angelou, hemingway and southall
Nick says:
who are the others?


5/31/2004 08:46:00 pm 0 comments

I'm bored of folktronica; this year I'm into spacerock and rave!
James T. Cotton
The Dancing Box

The mini acid revival that kicked off last year with Luke Vibert’s YosePH continues apace courtesy of James T Cotton’s The Dancing Box. Cotton here cultivates a strand of dirty, spooky house music, stitched together as much from ominous noise and the rumblings of things living under your stairs as a 303 and a computer. You could dance to this, but not in any venue your mother would approve of (“You can’t go out to that place!” she would protest, “People have sex and take drugs! There are… things… living there…”). Occasional passages of dark ambience do nothing to ameliorate the eat-you-alive functionalism of the beat-led material: if anything they make you even weaker to the lure of the groove by causing you to look even more rapidly behind you, inventing whole new dance crazes based on how scared you are. Voices crawl first from one direction then from another but the beat always comes from one place, straight ahead. “A Long Way Down” could be a distant cousin of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2, while “Buck!” harks back to the formative days of rave as someone blows a whistle, although this may be as much in warning as celebratory delirium. Disconcerting, vampiric, and intense.


It starts with mechanical rustle, a buzz on the verge of melody, a twitch, a glisten, something that might once have been an instrument. Anybody with a laptop can make an album. Kid Koala admitted recently that music software is so good that it almost doesn’t need a real live human being to be at the controls anymore; he reckoned he could make a release-worthy record in an evening, put it together in not much more time than it takes to listen to it. I don’t know if this is the apex of what punk was about all those years ago or if it’s the final victory of cybernetic systems over the humans they were supposed to help in the first place, but I guess if the music is good then we have nothing to complain about. Landau talk about “contingent permutation systems” and don’t fully reveal who they actually are; a “conglomerate” is all the admission of identity that we get. But no matter the names and faces and lives of whoever made this music, because Thepicompromise (see what they did with the title? It’s almost clever) has a musicality that surprises, a sense of delicate melody and tunefulness that, while not memorable enough to hum away from the act of listening, is enough to make you listen rather than distract, to make you remember to want to play it again, to make you pause and look outside to see if the mist has lifted, and not be upset if it hasn’t.


5/31/2004 08:24:00 pm 0 comments

What's this?
"Is it My Bloody Valentine?"
"No, it's an Austrian guy named Fennesz."
"Oh wow, I've heard of him, I think I have a track on a CD that came with Wire."


5/31/2004 03:50:00 pm 0 comments



5/31/2004 02:46:00 pm 0 comments



5/31/2004 02:42:00 pm 0 comments

And yes...
I know it looks fucking horrid! Suggestions in that nice box just underneath here, please.


5/31/2004 10:25:00 am 0 comments

Things are gonna change, I can feel it
As you can see, I've been buggering about with the html again.


5/31/2004 09:42:00 am 0 comments

Building Things
Engineers are four blokes from Manchester, but, aside from a (very) vague resemblance to the most blissed-out moments of Doves (and maybe Elbow), they don’t sound particularly Mancunian. They’ve certainly got nothing in common with the likes of Oasis. You could call Engineers oceanic if you liked, and you’d be right, but you’d also be missing something. The layers of shimmering keys, hazy, infinitely-reverbed guitar, heartbeat kick drums and dappled, slow-focus harmonies, timelessly decaying cymbals that typify their sound (from the three tracks I’ve heard so far) certainly add up to an enormous, dreamy balm of sound, but there is a level of the intimate here as well as the epic, which lends their music an emotional clout that, say, very early Verve simply didn’t have. Like a single droplet of water falling into a lake and sending concentric ripples across the entire surface, with Engineers one tiny momentum and detail affects all around it, both sonically and emotionally. Marking Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue and Talk Talk’s Spirit Of Eden as inspirations, there’s an obvious lineage with the likes of Bark Psychosis and Cocteau Twins, and an obvious fraternity with the likes of The Earlies, The Clientele and Delays (when the latter aren’t trading in AM-friendly La’s pop, that is). Their debut single “Home” was a limited CD released back in April, and is a wash of acoustic guitars, keys, lyrics about ghosts, water and laughter, and the kind of attitude towards tempo that suggests time is not a concern for this band. According to the website, they’ve nearly finished recording their debut album. I for one can’t wait. Well, I can, because I’ll have to; nothing moves quickly in Engineers’ world.


5/31/2004 08:39:00 am 0 comments

Saturday, May 29, 2004  
And if you like that, you'll love...
Engineers. Where 'that' = The Earlies.


5/29/2004 11:55:00 am 0 comments

A brief MSN conversation about The Earlies
J says:
hmm this is OK
Nick says:
Nick says:
J says:
i'm not sure what to think
Nick says:
ignore the voices
J says:
which means it's a grower, usually, for me
Nick says:
has it got to the big electronic climax yet
J says:
no 3 minutes in
Nick says:
Nick says:
i like it when it goes burbly whoosh
Nick says:
that there is proper msuic journalism
J says:
i'll listen out for that bit then
J says:
Nick says:
J says:
oh right here we go
Nick says:
Nick says:
J says:
hmm yeah
Nick says:
good good
Nick says:
my work here is done
Nick says:
J says:
J says:


5/29/2004 11:53:00 am 0 comments

Let me put you in the picture
Nick says:
i remember going to see embrace at brixton, and leaving before they came onstage because karim and j coudln't make it and i was pissed and bored
Nick says:
i got lost in brixton and had to aska big black guy for directions
Nick says:
didn't cross my mind once to be scared
Nick says:
got the train back to northampton and had to walk through town at 10pm ish
Nick says:
it was obviosuly some sixth form ball evening
Nick says:
lots of pissed teenagers in cummerbunds and lavish dresses
Nick says:
crying in shop doorways, puking in fountains and fighting outside the post office
Nick says:
i was petrified


5/29/2004 10:35:00 am 1 comments

Friday, May 28, 2004  
Someone named after a character from LoTR is downloading Britney off me
So Rufus Wainwright is re-releasing Want One because he feels it got lost during the merger between Dreamworks and Universal; fair play, say I. What’s the point in investing time, blood, sweat, tears and effort in making a record (and a very good record at that) if it doesn’t then get promoted properly, and ends up sinking to a point well below that which it deserved? “Cult classic” status may be enough for some, but Rufus is a showman and he both deserves and desires more.

And what’s more Want One should be heard by more people, because it’s a great, great record. Even by Wainwright’s standards it’s a pompous, overblown and histrionic affair but by God he does pompous, overblown and histrionic better than anybody else. It’s like Moulin Rouge properly realised, the glitz and glamour of a baroque Broadway bordello channelled through decades of rock music, show tunes, shameless classical lifts (the opening tune steals liberally from Ravel’s “Bolero”; how audacious is that?!) and Rufus’ personal struggles of the last few years, struggles with boys, drugs, parents and heaven only knows what else. He probably described it best himself when he called it a “triumphant collapse”.

Wainwright has a gift for melody and delivery thereof that makes him sound like a jar of molasses smoking a fag, perched on a velvet cushion, as if he’s making it all up as he goes along. It's ludicrous but it's incredible. He sounds like he can't be arsed and yet he's got all of Broadway exploding behind him. It's like Buckley and Sinatra- no, someone better than Sinatra, more fulsome, more given to bathos because bathos is much more affecting than pathos when it's done right, completely through overblown and mawkish and pompous and out of the other side of ridiculousness into some beautiful other country that most other people are too embarrassed to even try and get to. “Oh What A World” ends like a proper show tune, afraid to stop while the applause is still continuing, images of Rufus descending a staircase in a gold lamé suit with a tear in his eye, half from the adulation and half from being addled. “Beautiful Child” is expensive rock with fanfares and silly, enormous choruses. “Vibrate” is two minutes of beautiful fluff about a mobile phone, about Electroclash, about being too old to dance to Britney. “Go Or Go Ahead” is humble-into-boastful-quiet-into-loud-whisper-into-anthem. “I Don’t Know What It Is” and “Vicious World” (wherein the chorus sounds as if he’s sinking about posh cold soup!) are impossible melodies, as if they’d come from Sondheim and Bacharach and Lloyd-Webber all working together. Supposedly at the same time he recorded Want One, Rufus also recorded another album’s worth of material (Want Two!) that consisted of the really long, dark and overblown stuff. Good heavens. I can’t wait to hear it…


5/28/2004 10:14:00 pm 0 comments

Want One More (Shelf)
I've just spent the last half an hour putting up a new shelf (and consequently reorganising the CD collection to fit with space for more growth) whilst listening to Rufus Wainwright and drinking red wine. Possibly, this makes me the campest bloke in Dawlish.


5/28/2004 09:39:00 pm 2 comments

Searching for Suicide ("Endorfun" >back to> "Yeah" >back to> "Losing My Edge" >finally submitted to> Suicide) on SLSK is a dangerous business because of the clear and present danger of INDIE PORN omg wtf lol emf.


5/28/2004 07:14:00 pm 0 comments

There is a lump on my right shin that is the approximate size and shape of one J0hn Plunk3tt’s knee. This is a reason to wear shinpads, kids. Not caused by a dodgy tackle, btw, (and if it had been it would have been mine, eh Mark/Danny/Dan/etcetera?) but rather by my own follow-through from a shot which Plunk3tt was attempting to stop me taking. I kissed Astroturf as I rolled over in pain. (Plus I was playing in skins, fucking hell, I’m twenty-five, what’s that about? It’s about the fact that James sprained his wrist inside two minutes which meant I had to switch from blue to white; no white tops to spare = Nick gets his kit off. [Steady, girls.])

I need to get my goal touch back. The cold I was on the verge of having for the whole of April knocked me back a touch; I scored one on Wednesday and only one or two last night. This is not good. Back in March (was it March?) and January they were flying in with ease. Last night I did hit the woodwork (well, metalwork) a good three times, and sent vicious shots fizzing close past it another half dozen. On the plus side, last night I must have managed about a dozen nutmegs of various different kinds; through balls through the legs, back-heeled flicks through the legs, shots through the legs, deft sideways touches through the legs, unplanned rebounds through the legs (they ALL count!). Always immensely satisfying. And, as I said during the game, when I was younger I’d have been able to catch up with the ball on the other side, too.

Oh well.


5/28/2004 08:52:00 am 1 comments

Thursday, May 27, 2004  
Hut-1, Hut-2, Hut-3 Hut, Ol' Dirty Bastard Live & Uncut
Dangerous Dave Pierce (or Pearce, I forget), previously a purveyor of those finest Dance Anthems and currently the voice of 2% of the Nation's journey home from work (this is one of the 89% of statistics made up on the spot), may be losing his mind. Last night as I drove to football he played the most extraordinary sequence of music. It went something like;

Sean Paul (possibly "Like Glue" but I can't remember [another Sean Paul song had been on my iPod during the train ride home, and I can't remember which is which or if they were even the same {Sizzla's "Black Woman & Child" was on too (I was randoming through the 'dancehall' genre, all TWENTY FIVE TRACKS, check how urban I am); how beautiful is that song?}])

followed by

Keane ("Everyone's Changing" [is this a 'we fear change' anti-modernism {modernism as in 'the state of what is current and now' rather than the 'literary' (etc.) movement typified as running in the first fifty years of the last century} anthem? are Keane afraid of the 'now' on a spiritual level? It's obviously not a fear manifested on the practical level; just listen to the filtersweeps! WHOOOOSH! "WE ARE NOW!"])

followed by

Slipknott (fuck only knows what it was called, but the chorus was about pushing your fingers into your own eyes?! omg wtf?!)

followed by

Eamonn (this man needs to be shot - more later)

followed by

Kanye West (this was the last tune I heard when I got out of the car; the first tune I heard when I got back into the car just over an hour later was by... Kanye West! Now I quite like Kanye, in a very vague way, but PLEASE GOD RADIO 1 PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU'RE PLAYING FROM ONE MINUTE TO THE NEXT)

This bizarre sequence, while commendable in it's schizophrenic eclecticism (that phrase will please at least some readers - the public gets what the public wants), has lead me to wonder about the state of Dangerous Dave's mental health. Now that Radio 1 is in the process of becoming Radio Zane (specialist shows less specialist a speciality!), is Dangerous Dave losing his mind? Is he ignoring the playlist?

Also, and this is the key question, wtf is Radio 1 actually for? Extend that to the whole of the BBC Radio services, if you like.

Answers in a comment box to this blog.


5/27/2004 09:27:00 am 0 comments

Wednesday, May 26, 2004  
Up In Smoke
Fire at Charles Saatchi's Leyton warehouse has destroyed his art collection. I can't help but feel that it serves him right; not because I have any malice towards Saatchi, I just think it's quite beautiful that all this art which he was treating as a pension plan, an investment, a bond, financial capitol rather than cultural documentation, has been destroyed by an airily tossed cigarette or a gas leak or whatever it was that caused the fire. I like the idea of art being temporal anyway (sculptures should be touched, paintings exposed to light + air - how things react and change and decay over time is as much what the art is about as the actual things themselves; decay is as much a part of an object as it's colour or molecules or whatever), and this art, preserved, hidden, banked upon, is now the most temporal of all.

Plus a lot of it (HELLO TRACEY EMIN) was shite anyway.


5/26/2004 02:11:00 pm 8 comments

Materials Unrequested
It’s a struggle to keep up with what lands on my doormat a lot of the time; between the stuff I download (sorry mister) and hassle PR people for I’ve more than enough music to review, and thus unsolicited promos often get a raw deal, pushed to the back of a shelf and left until winter when I can burn them for fuel. Half the time (probably more) this is the best way to deal with what comes in the mail; there’s only so much Scandinavian drone or Swedish trip hop I can stand to listen to. But occasionally there is some music worth lending time to in amongst the unasked for CDs that wing their way from LA or Norway or Brighton. And so, in an effort to clear my conscience (and my shelf) I present here a lightning-quick tour through the good, the bad and the average of the music that lands on my doormat.

Various Artists

The bizarrely terrifying and yet still quite cute cover art is a pretty good indication of the electronic oddness housed within the Switches compilation; there’s enough glitch, drone, pulse, beat, melody and digital disarray to send you delirious with weird, should you wish. The artists brought together here span the Atlantic from Portland to Sheffield via Toronto, LA and Wisconsin before stretching further afield to Europe and Rennes, but they all have one thing in common: a degree of cybernetic humanism that elevates Switches way above most of the ‘experimental’ electronic dross that tumbles through my letterbox. Absent, present, eerie and charming all, this is very, very good.

Jen Gloeckner
Miles Away
Spinning Head Records

Jen looks like a more exotic Norah Jones as raised in the middle of a strange desert, and the opening title track of Miles Away (plus the accompanying press release) would suggest that she sounds not unlike Ravi’s daughter either. However, a little more time and attention to detail reveal a less palatably MOR faux-jazz melodicism than Miss Jones, and a slightly more foreboding and unsettling take on stripped-down country/pop/folk acoustics. Eerie and unstraightforward strings complement Gloeckner’s angled voice and easy guitar playing, and while it never really goes anywhere the place it starts off in is nice enough.

The Old Fox Of ‘45

Calamateur is the reclusive (well, I guess I’ve never heard of him) Andrew Howie, a Scottish man with a guitar and a sampler and some other stuff to bang or program or press buttons on in order to make music. Clattering and layered, The Old Fox Of ‘45 presents a kind of emo-techno-folk-rock that occasionally wanders into almost-great noise-pop territory (“Automobile Noise”) but which generally meanders through harmless and forgetful pastures of emotional distortion. Howie’s weak voice and characterless melodies let down his accomplished production; when he eats his own songs in banks of ominous and cloudy electronics things are compelling, but the spacey acoustic balladry I could do without.

Various Artists

Despite the cringeworthy title (puns are never a good idea, people) this is a great little release from Elusive, nicely demonstrating the Irish label’s ethos and breadth across 20 tracks of varied and melodic electronic landscaping. Starting with hazy poptronica, the styles move over you in waves; the sweetly melancholic and tuneful ambience & beats give way after half-a-dozen tracks to more epic electronic explorations that happily play around with form and rhythm. Pipes, pads, synths and occasional distorted guitars and voices wash easily. The second half works through Prefuse-style abstract hip hop cut-ups and beats before ending with proper, blissful hippie IDM. I don’t know whether most of the artists here are using the same software or not, but there’s a definite sense of unity and cohesion. At 20 tracks and nearly 80 minutes long Eklectra is likely to push your concentration span should you try and engage with it all at once, but as the Artificial Intelligence compilations proved ten years ago, sometimes it’s OK to just leave the music pleasantly in the background and get on with whatever you have to do.


Calling your record Eleven when that’s how many songs are on it smacks of both arrogance and lack of imagination; “these are our songs and we shall be judged on them alone”. If that’s the case then Hayes are in trouble, because this shiny plastic disc is the most banal of post-Coldplay/post-The Calling anthemic mild-misery rock that I’ve yet to come across. Vaguely epic guitar breaks (occasionally with some distortion, gee whiz) and desperately (un)emotive vocals hammer utterly unmemorable melodies and the kind of pointless-- oh, fuck it. This is rubbish.

Alphane Moon / Our Glassie Azoth
Experimenting With An Amen / The Magician’s Heavenly Chaos

Despite several listens and a prolonged grapple with the sleeve notes and press release, I’m still not entirely sure what this abstract Welsh noise is or who it’s by. Veering from minimal, acoustic guitar based Welsh-language folk to Fennesz-like sheets of white noise, drone and oscillation, you could describe this as stoner music for the 21sy century or else as Wire-friendly experimental nonsense. Either way, it moves from piercing to plangent with unsettling ease, and this indecision (coupled with the fact that Fennesz invests his music with so much more emotional clout) is its downfall.

From A Western Box

Yoshi comes from a world where Sergio Leone, the RZA, anti-establishment politics, Middle Eastern strife, ambient Hip Hop, Akira Kurosawa and potent skunk exist in harmony. Either that or Tel Aviv via Brighton, I forget. From A Western Box works best on the instrumental tracks, primarily because rapping with an English accent still sounds largely ridiculous unless you do it purposefully badly (Mike Skinner) or else as if you’re insane (Dizzee). Managing to sound both ominous and chilled at the same time, this is obviously a deeply personal record about skewed perspectives, about looking at the UK from it’s marginal areas and wondering whether you’re a part of it.

This Is A Process Of A Still Life
This Is A Process Of A Still Life
Firefly Sessions

There’s no doubt as to what TIAPOASL do; if the length of the acronym wasn’t enough to give the game away then song titles such as “oh god, the lights are going dim” and “no memory of the airshow” will. TIAPOASL have heard Godspeed and Explosions In The Sky and they liked it enough to make music that sounds almost exactly like them, only more mellow. Thus there are many lovely passages of slowly meandering guitar and rhodes, plus occasional touches of viola and melodica, with nary a Mogwai-esque crescendo in sight. No alarms and no surprises.

Petri Kuljuntausta

Finnish ambient/soundart from a man whose most recent soundscape project was based on the sounds of the Aurora Borealis. Last night I watched in wonder as the International Space Station arced its way across the clear blue Devon sky and vanished just before the horizon; this would have been a perfect soundtrack. Maybe Aphex Twin perfected this type of drifting, unreal ambience ten years ago and perhaps there’s no need for people to still be making records composed entirely of absent sounds, but I suspect that for a lot of people who’ve sipped deeply from the well of ambient over the years that Kuljuntausta’s Momentum will be a much admired and enjoyed addition.

Road Songs EP
Just Music

The singer/songwriter no longer needs to sound like pre-electric revolution Bob Dylan, strumming away and whining about running out of petrol, or whatever the fuck it was Dylan sang about. The music of Loner (AKA Geoff Smith, barman by day, 21st century troubadour by night) is reminiscent of the sadly deceased Matthew Jay, or a less AM radio friendly (read “more interesting”) David Gray; reflective piano melodies, strummed guitars and modernist arrangements guide songs that are to the likes of Keane what Francois Truffault is to James Cameron. That is to say; much less obvious, much more thoughtful, much more delicate, and occasionally just as boring.

Susurrus / Sonorous

Double-disc concept electronica that takes in world music, dub, folk, pop, breakbeat techno, hip hop, blues, angels, ‘microdancehall’ and ‘acapellatronica’, all put together by a Canadian visual artist with ProTools and a “cut & paste brain”. The two discs are split into ‘downtempo’ (Susurrus) and ‘uptempo’ (Sonorous). Both have their plus points, but which one is best depends on how you feel. One thing’s for sure; the overarching need to be ostentatiously eclectic (each track plays conspicuously with a different genre) means that K.I.A. ends up coming across as a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. If you like your dance music schizo…

Ad Noiseam

Minimal, Autechre-esque techno abstraction from the German Ad Noiseam label who seem to specialise in this stuff. Vaguely scientific titles + snippets of melody + beats you most assuredly cannot dance to + drawn-out structures = well, I’m not sure whether it’s exactly correct to refer to this stuff as “experimental” anymore because electronica/IDM is now well over a decade old and most of it still sounds exactly the same as it ever did. This particular record is very pleasant, in a nothing-to-write-home-about sort of way. If you eat IDM for breakfast, lunch and dinner then you’ll lap it up, otherwise this isn’t memorable/melodic enough to stir the casual listener.

The Red Stripes
One Nation Army EP
Red Stripes
1 / 10

The Red Stripes are, you guessed it, a “punky reggae tribute to The White Stripes”. This is either the best or worst idea in the world, depending on whether or not you’ve smoked enough skunk to give your cataracts cataracts. I love reggae but I hate Jack & Meg. I’ll leave you to make your own minds up. Suffice to say that the “Hotel Yorba” cover is only eclipsed by the “Rat In The Kitchen/No Fun” UB40/Stooges medley to finish. OH MY FUCKING GOD MY BRANE JUST MELTED. Catch them live on 29th May at London Oxford Street’s Metro.


5/26/2004 09:34:00 am 6 comments

Tuesday, May 25, 2004  
Should I buy a lovely blue silicone iSkin?


5/25/2004 09:09:00 pm 6 comments

On Stylus Today
Felix Da Housecat
Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever

High-concept is the only way to go in dance music these days; perhaps filesharing/downloading has eaten our concentration spans to such an extent that we can’t take 45 minutes of one genre at a time. Or maybe it was the drugs… Plus who actually goes to clubs these days? Last I heard they’d all been replaced by school discos. It’s all house parties and poncey bars round here. Either way it’s a good job that enough people are producing schizo-eclectic hyper-concept retro-futurist beat-fuckery that it’s becoming a genre all of it’s own; think Basement Jaxxx, “Galang”, LCD Soundsystem, A Grand Don’t Come For Free (even if you can’t dance to it), Missy Elliott, !!!, “Toxic”, JC Chasez, even Junior Boys. Hell, think bloomin’ Outkast if you must (but you’d be wrong). Dance music is the new dance music, as long as it’s spannered apart into tiny bits and stuck together again seemingly at random. And played at the wrong speed. With guest vocals by someone from The Sisters Of Mercy (the bassist will do, at a push).

Felix Da Housecat has been painting House grooves since 1987, when he was only a wee nipper of 15, and he’s been rocking this high-concept shit for years too; his albums always seem to play as if he’s soundtracking comedy-techno-thriller sequels to Sweet Sweetback’s Badassss Song or Cleopatra Jones, putting glide in peoples stride. Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever is no different, the Dazzle character supposedly representing Felix’s spiritual side or something, a cool cat addicted to nightclubs, and The Neon Fever being either some kind of crazy dancetastic illness or else another character who may or may not be a ghost or something or possibly five women who Devin/Felix may or may not be sleeping with in a bordello above a Turkish restaurant in Detroit. Or something.

Hyper-concept pseudo-narratives aside, Devin Dazzle is, in a word, shocking, where shocking = rocking and rocking = danceable and danceable = nuts and nuts = 80s kitsch-sex-funk-house-new-wave-punk-disco. And so, across fifteen tracks over 48 minutes (meaning they are fast and short and rocking), Felix Da Housecat leads us by the hand (or crotch, perhaps) through rubbery LCD Soundsystem-esque disco-punk (“What She Wants”) and Italo-house tunes about being a robot who wants to be a human (“Neon Human”) and sweaty electroclash about having rocket boots (is there any other kind? – “Rocket Ride”) and weird 80s sex-funk-synth jams with scary lyrics like “lips are shaking / zip up your fly” (“Hunting Season”), and it’s all, frankly, far too much to deal with but spectacular all the same. Bonkers, where bonkers = great.


5/25/2004 07:23:00 am 0 comments

Monday, May 24, 2004  
25! Don’t Recall A Time I Felt This Weird Pain In My Ankle…
Sundays just have a totally different atmosphere to any other days. How is this? I am doing the same today as I did yesterday, the weather is the same, and yet it feels utterly unlike yesterday.

Records from this year that are worth splashing cash on…
Or downloading, innit
In my humble opinion, m’lud

In no particular order…

Felix Da Housecat - Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever
Expect a review of this on Stylus later this week; suffice to say it is mad and I prefer it to the last Jaxxx.

!!! - Louden Up Now
The record The Rapture should have made? Don’t be daft. Much busier and sillier than the debut.

JC Chasez - Schizophrenic
Better than Justin? Maybe. He’s a filthy little bugger, is JC.

Various Artists - Switches
Spacey and odd transnational ambient techno/glitchtronica compilation from Audiobulb; much better than the usual.

The Beta Band - Heroes To Zeroes
What were you expecting? This IS wonderful and they ARE great. Only cynics and asshats are finding fault.

Lambchop - Aw C’Mon / No You C’Mon
Two separate albums or a double? Reach exceeds grasp, voice is disappearing, but they’re still wonderful.

The Streets - A Grand Don’t Come For Free
Not as good as OPM, but this is a completely different thing. Time won’t be so favourable to this, I suspect, but right now it’s great.

M.I.A. – “Galang”
Some bhangra/dancehall/hip hop/post-Jaxxx, “London calling / speak da slang now / girls say wot wot / boys say wot wot” or something. Inspired and wired.

LCD Soundsystem – “Yeah”
I choose ‘Crass’ over ‘Pretentious’ because it’s a lot snottier. If they actually manage to drop an album by the end of the year it should be megamega.

The Necks - Drive By
60-minute illbient post-jazz; still brilliant.

Adem - Homesongs
Fridge member in ‘better solo’ shocker. This is post-folk with real singing, and barely a laptop in sight.

Orbital - Blue Album
Could have been better (“What Happens Next”, people!), could also have been a lot worse. I love them; what can I say?

Bark Psychosis - Codename:Dustsucker
Still waiting, still drowning, ten years coming and not getting any quicker. Awesome, in a late way.

The Earlies – “Morning Wonder”, “Bring It Back Again”, “Long Road Again”
Just random songs for now (there are snippets of other stuff, fading out too quickly). Must email the PR people about a copy of the album for Stylus; I think it might be good.

Delays - Faded Seaside Glamour
Download the first three tracks and the last track, leave the rest. Immaculate production.

Wilco - A Ghost Is Born
Not out for another month and already this has been ‘around’ for ages. Tweedy is a conservative uncle desperate to try new things, and credit to him. Call me weak but I love his voice and melodies.

Embrace - ???
This is pure anticipation, so stop asking me about it! I don’t know yet!

Mountain Goats - We Shall All Be Healed
A gentleman and a scholar. With a pervertalist sense of humour! Still makes beautiful records.

Selfish Cunt – “Britain Is Shit”
Download it just to see what happens.

Junior Boys – Last Exit
Don’t believe the hype, but this is still very nice.

Fennesz - Venice
This is just great, great great great. If you’re trepidatious then “Circassian” should lure you in.

There are, of course, loads of others I’ve forgotten or else not bothered with yet (Wiley), and loads of others that are just rubbish (Kanye).


5/24/2004 11:54:00 am 6 comments

Some Words (Dance With Wicked)
S/FJ is the only music journalist who makes me feel totally inadequate. Everyone else is either rubbish or else does something so completely different to what I want to do (do do? – you tell me) that comparing myself is pointless; Marcello, Finney, Morley (hahahaha, I don’t even know who the fuck he is, never mind want to), Reynolds, Jess, etcetera etcetera – there’s a degree of respect, admiration even (contempt for some, haha), but whatever it is that Sasha does makes me feel sick with jealousy; his recent blog-deconstruction of Nick Hornby’s craptacular treatise of cultural conservatism and nasty, bitter old mannerisms (in The New York Times) was awesome (Hornby is evil and is damaging people; he is not a music critic because he a; knows piss-all about music and b; has fuck-all critical faculties and c; IF THIS IS NOT OBVIOUS YOU SHOULD CUT YOUR OWN EYES OUT and d; High Fidelity is fucking well NOT about me, you idiot – anyone who knows me properly who’s read it knows this; it’s not a book about music, it’s a book about being an emotional retard and collecting things). Plus I just don’t care enough about this game as anything more than a reason to keep up, if you will. I certainly don’t value these words as words as words for words in words with words. I’ve opened a bottle of rioja. It’s quarter past eleven. Jus’ 1 glass, will make it better. Which is apt because I’m listening to JC Chasez. “Build My World” is soppy as fuck but that piano that falls in the chorus makes it work, plus it’s about buildings falling down, perhaps. He mentions ‘gravity’ and ‘concrete’ so it must be. That piano totally reminds me of something else but I can’t put my finger on it. Better than Justin? I think it might be actually, as a whole piece; the jump cuts from Timbaland to Neptunes made Justified start to jar once you were aware of the pattern. JC’s stepped away from those two superman-makers and wisely so; “Something Special” is like George Michael covering Guns N Roses’ “Patience” in the style of Hanson doing “Hey Jude”. “Shake It” actually is Basement Jaxxx only bite-size and thus better. I get the idea that JC had a lot more to do with N Sync’s dirrrty pop than Justin ever did.

I should move to New York and change the world with Todd, maybe.

Sunburned arms of Nick
Must’ve covered half a dozen miles today, in deceptively hot sunshine. First east to Dawlish Warren, then back west to Teignmouth, stopping at home for a sandwich on the way (and to top up the iPod with more new tunes, SLSK burbling away in the background all day, acquiring dancehall, Madvillain, Superpitcher, Prodigy Experience; God bless wireless broadband). 80 tunes and a million grains of sand in my shoes (I must get some sandals; OK there I said it) later I realised my arms and neck were burnt to shit. Plus I slipped on a seaweed-covered slope, cracked my head on the weathered concrete, soaked my ass, covered myself in lime-green slime, knocked my headphones and watch off (both still work, thank fuck) and generally could have brained myself. I was being double careful to take extra sensible, small steps too, such was the precariousness of the slope. Five years ago that part of the slope wouldn’t have been exposed anyway; I’m sure tidal drift has shifted sand so that a good two-feet more of seawall is exposed than was when I was a kid. Teignmouth beach was packed, much busier than either Dawlish or the Warren. Groups of schoolkids beaching it together on a Sunday, early teenage hormones fizzing so much in the atmosphere that you could practically see them; I felt old. And also untattooed. (Not that the schoolkids were tattooed.) Right out to the Point at Teignmouth, around the beach huts and along the back-beach, the tables outside the Ship Inn crowded (half-a-dozen faces recognisable, Adam something [Maude?] and some girls from the year below us - year below us?! we finished school 7/9 years ago [delete as appropriate depending where you did A Levels - years so do not count anymore]), and then back through town to the train station. Train back to Dawlish; I used to do it every day, I haven’t done it for years. Five tunnels, all still there. A considerably shorter journey than the one I make every day now.


5/24/2004 12:00:00 am 3 comments

Sunday, May 23, 2004  
This may or may not...


5/23/2004 02:00:00 pm 0 comments

Tatoo on calf, bicycle path (used to be dust) so hot it melts.


5/23/2004 12:59:00 pm 0 comments

Friday, May 21, 2004  
Dry Your Eyes
The Penguin Cafe Orchestra make me want to cry more than just about any other band ever, I think. And in a lovely "this is so beautiful" way rather than in a "you ripped my heart out" way. I'm not sure I have a heart to rip.


5/21/2004 05:44:00 pm 0 comments

Thursday, May 20, 2004  
I remember Police dogs and broken windows and a girl in a fountain who claimed she was blind
History is not written by the winners, it's won by the writers.

Because no other fucker can remember what actually happened.


5/20/2004 11:40:00 pm 4 comments

Men Reading Fashion Magazines
I think I’m suffering from newness fatigue, or possibly novelty entropy. I remember Ned Raggett talking about such a similar feeling last year, and I don’t believe it’s abated for him yet. Mind you, Ned is a few years older than I am.

Maybe it’s the heat (man, the sunset out of this window right now is incredible, pebble-dashed clouds turning copper-umber-red) but I can’t be arsed looking for ‘new’ things right now. Maybe it’s also the fact that a load of old favourites are on the cusp of releasing new material (that does not include you, Steven Patrick Morrissey) and that’s enough to deal with at the moment. I think I’ve always had something of the curmudgeon about me anyway; I’m far too happy at the moment to go walking along the coast with my iPod and listen to Orbital or Forever Changes or Bark Psychosis (be it new material or old from either BP or Orbital), and spending valuable sun/enjoyment time ‘dealing with’ new records by new artists seems like a waste. Like… I got hold of the new Bees album the other day, and I’m only just listening to it now, and what’s more I’m listening to it because I’m writing about newness fatigue, and a; I can’t be arsed to pay them much mind and b; I’m actually quite fucking pissed off that they’ve now turned into The Rolling Who as recorded in a dustbin by a man with a Hammond organ. What’s with all these scratchy guitar solos? Is this NME’s New Wave Of Old Psychedelia? What happened to the blissful reggae lilt, the Portuguese folk songs, the summery jazz interludes? Sure Free The Bees is more like Royal Trux’s school of retro (if they were into dope and Pimms rather than smack and bourbon) than, say, Ocean Colour Scene’s. Likewise Louden Up Now which I like and will even rush out and buy a real copy of – I have bugger-all desire to deal with it now. On the flipside that M.I.A. single is fucking top and big hugs go to Alex and Jess for mentioning it on ILM. (hahaha, if Jess reads this he will curse and kick himself and inwardly bemoan my backwards country beach bumpkin status!)

(The Bees – “Chicken Payback” and “The Russian” are cool and weird [thank heaven] and “I Love You” sounds like The Clientele.)

Maybe it’s something to do with writing about music. Or, more specifically, with reviewing the fucking stuff. This thread on ILM was interesting reading, but skirted around the issue without ever fucking hell this Bees record is so 60s it hurts really nailing it. I don’t get (properly) paid for writing about music, I work a full-time job as well, I play football twice a week (and god don’t my joints and muscles know it tonight – two days in a row, tonight in sweltering heat, oh my achy breaky cart[ilage]), I have a girlfriend, I like to go walking, I like to watch films – there’s not much time left for synthesising and regurgitating thoughts about new records. I could write about old ones that I know and/or love all day, almost. But if I’m gonna write about something new right now I feel like I need a LOOOOOONG time to get to know it before I can even start, and to do that means investing effort and I can’t be arsed unless I know it’s gonna pay off; i.e. I’m gonna really enjoy and/or get something interesting out of the record.

Of course, this could all be subject to change tomorrow.

Ah the stench…

It’s difficult to believe that it was only ten days ago that I made the deluge post down there yes Nic Offer’s lyrics are fucking shite but YOU CAN’T HEAR THEM so like who cares anyway, Batman because the weather since then has been outrageously sunny and hot, especially for May. My birthday last Saturday was gorgeous – we ate raspberries and cheesecake on a hillside, and a deer watched me take a pee behind a bush. Exeter in the summer is amazing, and not just because of the proliferation of white linen skirts and dark thongs; the wall, the parks, the cathedral and the university campus are all beautiful. The surrounding area beats it hands down though – the bike ride from Dawlish to Exeter via the canal is wonderful; the canal acts like some kind of heat basin and sunlight mirror, meaning that on a hot day it’s almost unbearable, even for someone like me, who laughs in the face of people who clamour to get in out of the sun and crave cool breezes. However…

For three weeks every summer the place where we play football on a Tuesday (Wednesday now) is closed, and we reconvene to the football pitches at Marsh Barton. Which are next to the incinerator. On hot days… the… stench of burning, rotting, boiling chicken fat and rat bones and human shit and godknowswhatthefuckelse they choose to burn in there because itsnotfittobeburriedorevenfuckingblastedintoouterspace is… unbearable. I’ve had to stop playing to retch into the river before, and at the height of summer this evil, noxious, putriddeadanimalfat stench crawls its way along the river and then upwards, across Topsham road and towards the city centre. It is, in a word, foul.

Also, last night when driving back from football, ther’d been an accident outside the college where we play, and an old (Mark II?) Ford Escort was on its roof, the front windscreen and most of the top of it caved in nastily. There were absorbent mats on the road. I didn’t like to look. Plus I saw another dead badger a couple of miles outside of Teignmouth.


5/20/2004 10:18:00 pm 4 comments

I'll talk about the rancid stench again soon
On the train home I could see some people on the other bank of the Exe doing that surfing-with-a-kite-instead-of-a-sail thing, possibly as many as a dozen-and-a-half. Only they were so far away, and there are so many boats moored in the Exe, that I couldn’t actually make out the surfers on their boards. Hence it looked as if fifteen or so U-shaped kites were performing an elaborate square-dance above the river.


5/20/2004 07:47:00 pm 0 comments

New Supergrass single sounds like U2 playing a tune off Achtung Baby after being locked in a basement with only a copy of Midnite Vultures for company. WHY IS THIS?


5/20/2004 01:29:00 pm 1 comments

How the hell is it four years since the Wolverhampton gig? Since DFM and Blackpool and London and waking up on the floors of strangers and falling over in heavy metal pubs (or was it Irish pubs?) and (allegedly) drinking fifteen pints of Guinness in five hours and demanding to be let into a nightclub because of who I am (and being turned down! "Not with those trainers, mate" - "these are the fucking coolest trainers you'll ever see; I was in a posh London hotel drinking port with popstars till 1am last night, go and EAT A BAG OF DICKS"*) and videos with Danny burried up to his neck in sand by a little girl and and and and? How am I TWENTY FIVE? It all went to pot in 2001, maybe.

* N.B. I may not have said the 'bag of dicks thing'. I may not have said any of it.

Thanks to Muzzy for inspiring the email that this is adapted from. GO GO GLASTO; make sure you see Orbital for me!


5/20/2004 08:53:00 am 3 comments

Wednesday, May 19, 2004  
Too Much Kissing
There were a great deal of people fishing along the seawall last night as I went for my walk; far more than I have ever seen out fishing before. It’s a hobby that appeals to me. The idea of sitting by the riverside all day in the sun, slowly waiting for a bite, with a flask of tea and a green umbrella-thing seems like some kind of bliss. Even the idea of just doing what people were doing last night, casting, reeling, casting again, strolling slowly along the wall, casting, reeling, casting again, never catching anything, is appealing. And the light! Oh man, the light at eight o’clock was incredible, the sea vanilla silver pink, a reflected amalgam of the fading, stretching sunlight, the rouged clouds and the dimming blue of the sky.

I only saw one person catch anything, and he was an ugly old weather-beaten man, probably out to get his supper more than to “go fishing”. For the rest of them it’s a search for peace, I suppose. A return to a simpler lifestyle, rendered even more simple by it’s lack of necessity; no one with an expensive rod needs to catch a fish. It’s merely the act of fishing that is important, symbolic even. The act of casting, reeling, casting again. And when the light catches the arc of line as it bends and stretches across the water, a flick of the wrist sending it coursing out ten, twenty, fifty yards, its weighted end lending a sense of purposeful grace where otherwise it would coil and knot and fray… brilliant.


5/19/2004 08:55:00 am 4 comments

Tuesday, May 18, 2004  
John Williams I Kiss You

I'd kiss Lynskey too, but he scares me.


5/18/2004 11:02:00 pm 0 comments

APPLE bunny
Also, we have had the hall/stairs/landing painted. I chose the colour. It is all yellow. Bright yellow. It looks wicked.


5/18/2004 10:49:00 pm 3 comments

PANIC on the streets of Dawlish
So I went for a long walk tonight with the iPod as usual, covered a few miles, enjoyed the balmy late spring evening and unusual warmth. A couple of times while playing Embrace the iPod stopped itself. This is not too unusual (not while playing Embrace specifically, mind), and whilst it always makes me nervous I figure that with such high-technology occasional problems are par for the course. Then I got home, stuck the newly arrived Radiccio CD in the PC, uploaded the tracks to iTunes, deleted the old, downloaded versions, sorted an affected playlist, and attached iPod. NOTHING. Nada. Zip. iTunes crashed. Tried euPOD. Couldn't find iPod. Shit shit shit. Do Not Disconnect. Shit shit shit. Disconnect it. Buttons clicking but not responding. Attach. Detach. Shit shit shit. PANIC. Thoughts of little iPod transport coffins and replacement models come terrifyingly to mind. I LIKE my iPod, I LIKE the scratch down the screen, I LIKE the scuffs, I LIKE the engraving. Read the manual. Plug it in to the power but not the PC. Toggle 'hold'. Press and hold 'play/pause'. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Shit shit shit. Phone Emma.
"iPod broken."
"Shit shit shit."
"I've read the manual. Downloading new iTunes. May contact Apple."
"Good luck."
Read manual again. Press and hold 'play/pause' AND 'menu'. Do so. LIFE! I AM SAVED! Heartrate approaches normal. All the playlists still there. Charging as normal. iTunes 4.5 downloaded and installed. Rejigs playlists music files blah blah blah. Attach iPod. Updates iPod. euPOD updates volume tags. SORTED.

I kiss you, iPod.


5/18/2004 10:29:00 pm 2 comments

Monday, May 17, 2004  
Frank Lampard
If Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind were a band it would be The Flaming Lips.


5/17/2004 10:59:00 pm 7 comments


From: "****** ******" <***************@*********.***> Add to Address Book
To: nick_southall@stylusmagazine.com
Date: Sun, 16 May 2004 23:16:44 -0500

Hey Weirdo, your reviews SUCK! Do you just try to find the worst music possible to love because everybody else thinks that it sucks? Go get a real job. You are BAD at this one. REALLY.


This was written in blue.


5/17/2004 07:51:00 am 9 comments

Sunday, May 16, 2004  
Oak in, oak out.

That's a 1982. I'd like a 1979 (the year I was born).


5/16/2004 09:56:00 pm 0 comments

I'm Never Gonna Meet Her...
Caroline Sullivan wrote some guff in The Guardian.

Then I wrote the following on ILX.

I don't think it's as good as OPM and I don't think it will sustain as well (for me), either as a whole or as seperate songs.
I do think it's great / exceptional / marvellous etcetera in it's own right though.

I think the beat and the two different piano tracks make "Empty Cans" for me, and stop me having the same reservations about it as N does; the first part being foreboding and unavoidability, the second being a slowly unfurling sense of hope.

I think that maybe three or four tracks are, out of the context of the storyline, poor, or even very poor - "It Was Supposed To Be So Easy", "What Is He Thinking", "Such A Twat".

I think there are potentially quite a few singles though - "Not Addicted", "Dry Your Eyes", "Could Well Be In", "Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way". I think "Blinded By The Lights" is amazing, but not a single, likewise "Empty Cans".

I think his lyrics are good in the way that Mike Leigh scripts are good, which is a very different kind of good to the lyrics on OPM - fwiw I think i prefer the OPM take all in all, but there are certain bits of AGDCFF that are just astounding.

I think the more stripped production works very well in the context of what the album is, but I'm gutted that there's nothing really lush or banging or full. I listened to "Fit..." back to back with "Don't Mug Yourself" and "Fit..." sounded really weedy by comparison, likewise "Blinded By The Lights" and "Weak Become Heroes".

I hope this isn't the start of a narrative-album bandwagon.

I really want to hear what he's going to do next, and am slightly pissed that it's probably going to be two years until I do; the novelty of this almost makes it seem like a side-project. I hope he turns his gaze outwards slightly next, and also hits the dancefloor again.

I was waiting for someone (Caroline Sullivan is a perfect culprit) to decry Skinner for either being a class-tourist or else a misogynist. (I also think she's wrong re; it being the sound of vinyl spun backwards in "Empty Cans"; it sounds like a reel-to-reel tape to me, and the assertion that it must be vinyl posits it as a very masculine sound, all the connotations of audiophilia, collectorism, that anal 'record collector boy'/'comic store man' impotent, emotionally immature masculinity being a very cynical stick to shake at him - "silly little boys prefer records to women" etcetera etcetera).

I'm not sure it'll be a shoe-in for the Mercury - they can't have three ostensibly garage acts winning in a row, surely? Maybe Ivor Novello, given the narrative arc!

I don't live the lifestyle Skinner portrays at all, but there have been times when I almost have, and I've known plenty of other people who do.


5/16/2004 09:02:00 am 0 comments

As you can now see, comments are up and working again. The interface perhaps isn't as nice as Haloscan, especially the way it takes you back to the blog (i.e. it doesn't, omg wtf?!), but it's Blogger, what do you expect?

Also, for my birthday, I received a Bionicle, which is a bit like this but not. I don't quite understand what it is or does, but I might buy another so I can stick them together?!

Expect some guff about Orbital later.


5/16/2004 08:46:00 am 0 comments

Friday, May 14, 2004  
Infinite Cat


5/14/2004 02:33:00 pm 7 comments

Thursday, May 13, 2004  
Spanner me, Blogger, you are shite.
Utter crap. I'm going to have to get someone who knows what they're doing to fuck you up.


5/13/2004 02:52:00 pm 0 comments

Blogger I hate you.


5/13/2004 02:17:00 pm 0 comments

Suck A Fuck
I'm going back to Haloscan, at least they fucking worked.


5/13/2004 02:02:00 pm 0 comments

A Sky Without A God Is A Clear Clear Sky
Tinkering tinkering tinkering...

The train broke this morning, causing me to be 40 minutes late, and I nearly broke my right little finger last night when the goalie trod on me. Scored a hattrick though...


5/13/2004 01:51:00 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, May 12, 2004  
Oh well.
I'm buggered if I can figure it out.


5/12/2004 09:56:00 am 0 comments

Comments are... go?


5/12/2004 09:41:00 am 0 comments

Hopes & Fears
Up on Stylus already; thanks to SLSK for allowing me to rip the shit out of it off the internet without ever having to sully my hands by actually touching a real copy.

Keane are The Next Big Thing, at least in the UK. There’s too much money banking on them for this not to be the case. Have a quick scout round ebay and see how much their early vinyl singles are going for. And if that doesn’t convince you then just listen to them shimmer and soar; they’re destined for greatness, insofar as greatness means stadiums. If you stripped the heavy metal away from The Bends, completely removed the guitars and (occasional) sense of urgent dynamics from Coldplay, took away Travis’ harmonies and Scottish pop sensibility… then you might end up with Keane. Welcome to the wounded world of the spurned choirboy.

Retro used to be a dirty word but it’s not one that can be levelled at today’s teeming school of MOR stockbroker rockers. Keane’s record company have made sure that Hopes & Fears sounds utterly contemporary, laden as it is with keyboard swoops, preening strings, plenty of reverb on the drums and vocals from time to time, and not a trace of character or history; we can blame David Gray, perhaps, for making skittering programmed beats and computers sound as bland as vintage mixing desks and Sunburst Les Pauls. No, Keane are not retro. They are so utterly, desperately modern, so thoroughly now, that over the course of the next few months their momentum and presence will become irresistible. Unavoidable.

Piano, drums, vocals and lavish production flourishes are Keane’s stock in trade, and they seem to have nothing in common whatsoever with their namesake, Manchester United’s hardman midfield general Roy. The irony is almost delicious; Keane are the kind of public school prawn sandwichers taking up oxygen at Old Trafford that Roy so objects to. Seemingly all three of them are called Tom. The nearest thing to controversy surrounding Keane is the rumour that they’ve been manufactured in the same way as Westlife or Girls Aloud, assembled via a lengthy process of auditions and then pushed in definite creative directions by sinister svengalis in expensive Italian suits. The truth is even more disheartening; Keane formed as naturally as any other band (even *gasp* Busted, who rose from an ad in NME or Melody Maker, lest we forget—a fact that would doubtless terrify the Busted-haters on Keane’s messageboard, who consider the band the antithesis of their own heroes). They’re not manipulated or manufactured or target marketed any more than anyone else; they just want to be BIG, MASSIVE even, and that kind of humongous success doesn’t come from trawling toilet circuits—it comes from radio saturation, expensive videos and half-familiar melodies about the kind of vague heartbreak that anybody and (almost) everybody can relate to. And so guitar and bass are eschewed, David Sneddon was supported, meetings were had and directions were decided upon. Singing Tom (big lad, baby face) was encouraged to move away from his full-throated vocals towards a more falsetto-focused delivery. Current single “Everybody’s Changing” (best melody on the album; I know this because at first I thought it must be a cover version, it seemed so familiar) sits at number 4 in the charts. If Hopes & Fears doesn’t make number one a lot of people will be disappointed.

The songs are pretty much all identikit. “Somewhere Only We Know”, the second single, is the weakest and sappiest “me and you against the world babe” song in a long time. Cymbals are tapped, pianos are played, melodies rise and fall. “Can’t Stop Now” starts with a bang and becomes a forgettable show tune (“I’m loneeeeeeeeeeeeely and I’m too tired to talk”). “Untitled 1” is almost dance. The title of “Bedshaped” would suggest something lustful and psychotic, dallying with sexual obsession, but it is, in fact, another piano-led ballad about being alone and lonely too; the climax sees expensive-sounding electronics replacing guitar solos, but these nice production flourishes are just that; flourishes. Never is there any sense that ‘the studio’ was considered as an instrument during the composition or arrangement of these songs (for a band who do that with aplomb check out The Earlies). Neither do they ever rock or betray any sense of the unpalatable or dangerous. The continual sense of aesthetic, structural and emotional conservatism constantly makes the listener feel short-changed, Singing Tom persistently pleading his own honesty and kindness and suitability and weakness. Early demos were laden with enough overblown guitar and pompous dramatics to make Rufus Wainwright blush, but these potentially unsightly edges have been smoothed away. The result is quite nice to tap your fingers and hum along too.

Eternal cymbal decay to fade.


5/12/2004 09:15:00 am 0 comments

Tuesday, May 11, 2004  
Put The Money Back In The Envelope
Commets are on hold / gone until I figure out how to get the new Blogger-powered system working.


5/11/2004 08:33:00 pm 0 comments

On Saturdays I Shop
Fucking hell - The Stone Roses is fifteen years old. Possibly yesterday, certainly this month though.



5/11/2004 08:05:00 pm 0 comments

You're Thick But You Don't Know It
wtf is Blender and why are they letting Dorian Lynskey handle The Streets?

I mean, this bit from the end nearly made me fall off my chair;

Either way, your iPod’s random-play function will not be required.

DOWNLOAD THESE “Blinded by the Light,” “Fit but You Know It,” “Dry Your Eyes”

Are there no copy editors at Blender? Are they all retards? DO THEY NOT UNDERSTAND? Surely it wasn't intentional? Please no!


5/11/2004 09:43:00 am 0 comments

I've been censored; Metacritic have seen fit to omit the word 'fucking' from the last line of that link back to Stylus. Which is fair enough, I guess.

Also, Petridish YOU ARE WRONG; there are lots of records that have a cohesive narrative running through them, from Serge Gainsbourg to Neil Young (and probably loads more besides that I don't know about), ergo it is NOT unprecedented you fule.

Also, Mojo people YOU ARE WEIRD; the thing about A Grand Don't Come For Free that struck me was how powerful it was on first listen. In fact I was worried that this initial emotional clout wouldn't stand a chance of sustaining over multiple listens, if anything.


5/11/2004 09:19:00 am 0 comments

Back Door MAN
Came in early this morning; everyone at the station who expects me at 8.30 said they thought they'd overslept (if they expect me at 8.30 how did they know to be surprised when i was there at 7.46? - long story).

Also, THIS madness must be stopped.


5/11/2004 08:58:00 am 0 comments

Monday, May 10, 2004  
Right Down The Hatch Without A Scratch
I'd also like people to use the comments function to guess what the title of each post is in reference to.

This means YOU.


5/10/2004 07:48:00 pm 1 comments

Everywhere You Go...
Had I sat in one place at lunchtime instead of wandering around campus, I would have run the risk of acquiring a touch of sunburn, such was the heat in Exeter. The sky was blue, the sun was up, the prunes were dented, something something. At half past four I sat in the sun and ate a banana. And then, at quarter past five, I walked out of the back door to be greeted by deluge. Billy had wandered down from his kennel to watch it, such was the power and noise. It was biblical; I’ve not seen rain like it in years. Stocker Road was a stream of rain water, and students, dressed for the morning sun, were rushing, sodden, flip flops in hands, bare legs stung by bullets of rain, towards whatever shelter they could. I gawped at the pleu and swore; Billy offered to lend me an umbrella so I could walk to the station.

At the bottom of Prince Of Wales Road, at the junction with New North Road opposite The Imperial pub, it was like the Somme. Well, probably not. I wouldn’t know anyway; I’m 24. But it was as if the storm drains had blown – the whole road was flooded, cars were trawling through the filthy water slowly, churning huge waves across the pavement, which was almost ankle-deep anyway at some points. In order to avoid getting trenchfoot, I had to jump up onto a wall, clamber around a pillar, and then walk along a slippery, curved-topped wall for a good 25 feet, arms outstretched like a tightrope walker. I then had to jump down and immediately spring back across the last gloomy, churning puddle of filth before it lapped my already sodden feet and ruined the leather on my poncey Art shoes.

And then when I did get to the station I’d missed the train by about a minute. I could see it about 200 yards down the track. Fucker.


5/10/2004 07:47:00 pm 0 comments

Under The Influence… Sick Nouthall
Someone on ILM started a ‘make your own Under The Influence… compilation’ thread, and this was what I came up with off the top of my head. It is quite possibly the most Nick Southall compilation ever. I can’t remember a compilation I’ve made in the last 6 or seven years that hasn’t had at least one of these on (excluding iPod playlists).

Orbital - "The Girl With The Sun In Her Head"
Glen Campbell – “Wichita Lineman”
Bark Psychosis - "Blue"
The Stone Roses - "Standing Here"
Deee-Lite - "Groove Is In The Heart"
M/A/R/R/S - "Pump Up The Volume (Rare Version)"
The Verve - "Brainstorm Interlude"
De La Soul - "Eye Know"
The Staple Singers - "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)"
Disco Inferno - "It's A Kid's World"
Embrace - "Blind"
Aphex Twin – “Flim”
Delakota - "The Rock"
Miles Davis - "So What"
Talk Talk - "John Cope"


5/10/2004 06:55:00 pm 0 comments

The Streets
A Grand Don't Come For Free
Up on Stylus already.
Thanks to TP for getting the PR people to send me a promo.

The second album from The Streets starts with a fanfare that gets quickly muddied by a clumsy drumbeat and Mike Skinner’s in-need-of-a-throat-lozenge voice, his Brummie accent finally coming through the Cockney lilt as he monotones something about achieving absolutely nowt; about forgetting a DVD; about the battery on his phone going dead; about the cash machine proclaiming ‘insufficient funds’; about losing a grand that he was sure was in a shoebox or on a mantelpiece or something. Two years ago on “Let’s Push Things Forward” Skinner claimed he made “bangers / not anthems”. “It Was Supposed To be So Easy” is neither; it’s an opening scene, an introduction to a story, the start of a post-garage, 20-something romantic tragic-comedy that owes more to Mike Leigh than two-step. Mike Skinner has cleverly, and possibly vaingloriously, sidestepped the difficulty of making a worthy follow-up to the astonishing, genre-busting dance elegy of his debut, Original Pirate Material, by changing the game completely, by not making a ‘normal’ album, by stringing a simple but compelling and well-observed narrative through eleven tracks so that, even if the individual songs don’t match up to any of the standout moments of his previous work, the cumulative affect is exceptional, powerful, and pretty much unprecedented in pop music.

The much-vaunted storyline is simple and full of holes; Skinner has admitted leaving out various details that would plug the narrative gaps because they made tracks overlong, and also, one suspects, because the exactitudes of the plot are less important than the melodies, the beats and the minutiae of the lyrical twists that he drops throughout every song. So precisely why the misplaced grand is in the shoebox in the first place pales into insignificance next to the delicately naïve chorus of “Could Well Be In”, where lyrics about a dating programme on ITV are underscored with a tiny, broken string melody and piano, pushing the trite (pathetic, even) into the realm of the affecting by eschewing pretension in favour of disarming honesty.

And so A Grand Don’t Come For Free guides us through what Mike Skinner’s life might be like if he was in a different, less fortunate and talented situation, documenting an existence wasted through gambling, clubbing and easy emotional atrophy. The reliance of the songs on the narrative that links them is such that, the Blur-esque “Fit But You Know It” aside, there are no obvious singles on first listen. Familiarity reveals though, that while there isn’t a “Weak Become Heroes” or “Has It Come To This” here, maybe half the tracks could stand alone even if none of them will be filling floors anywhere. In fact the only song to deal explicitly with Skinner’s beloved dance culture, the extraordinary “Blinded By The Light”, is such an uncomfortable and accurate evocation of an (unpleasant) ecstasy experience, from arriving at the club and dropping a pill (“ah that’s proper rank / that tastes like hairspray”) to the eventual rush of coming up (“I think I’m gonna fall down… that one noise is like… oh who cares… I’m mashed… this is fucking amazing…”), that you can’t imagine people wanting to listen to it that often, let alone dance to it.

We know that Skinner is sharp and strangely beguiling, his almost dissonant, anti-song voice cringe worthy and off-putting but so natural and honest (despite its clear affectation) and different that it’s hard to resist, even if at times his delivery is so deliberately stilted and broken that it almost seems like sabotage on his part. The frustration and pain in his voice as the signal cuts out during the mobile phone confessional of “Such A Twat” (“ah fucking phones, man!”) is as universal as the ominous string patterns and paranoid whisperings about his girlfriend’s philandering in “What Is He Thinking”. His ability to match words and music in order to achieve a level of dramatic irony or catharsis is unequalled, from the thoughtlessly comfortable emotional alacrity of “I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way” to the confused defensive of “Get Out Of My House”; whether he’s dropping jokes or scathing remarks about femme fatales (“I like her, d’ya know what I mean? I’m never gonna meet her”) he continually creates moments so delicious or affecting that they’ll stick with you for an age. The refracted repetition of certain moments adds another level of pathos, the “I think I’m going to fall over” line played for drunken laughs in “Fit But You Know It” and disconcerting headfuck in “Blinded By The Light”, two sides to every moment of every tale.

Like any story the momentum slowly builds to a climax, in this case the emotionally bare “Dry Your Eyes”, where a requiem of strings gives way to a sparse acoustic strum and Skinner’s lachrymose plea for a reconciliation, the too-familiar clichés of the chorus ringing truer than you could possibly imagine. And then, like any story, there is the denouement, what happens next and what might happen after that. “Empty Cans” comes in two alternate parts, bitter and beaten (“everyone’s a cunt in this life / no one’s there for me”) vs. bruised and hopeful (“something that was not meant to be is done / and this is the start of what was”), Skinner at first damned by his own failings and then redeemed by them, with the aid of a friend and a little good fortune. As strings and pianos slowly rise through the tune after it’s rewound itself in order to start again, and more positively, altering the mood magnificently, it develops the power to make (physically, if not emotionally) grown men weep in public. Like the whole album it’s flawed and clumsy, but it packs an amount of emotional clout that can’t be denied. It’s not perfect, but somehow… it is. Mike Skinner’s taken a big risk in doing this, but he’s found the bizarre and beautiful meeting point of The Specials, Danny Rampling and Serge Gainsbourg. A Grand Don’t Come For Free is a remarkable record.


5/10/2004 10:42:00 am 4 comments

Bidding War
Had one inside the first 6 minutes of getting to work, for a copy of the "Are We Here?" single by Orbital. I'd forgotten I'd ever bid for it, actually. I was the £5.55 winner at 6 minutes and 55 seconds past nine; excellent!

Also on the way to work this morning I saw an indie kid wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "Non-Athletic", which I thought was clever for two seconds before I decided it was stupid.

Also, Blogger have totally changed their interface, again, which confused the shit out of me.


5/10/2004 09:27:00 am 0 comments

Tuesday, May 04, 2004  
BP >>> C:DS >>> TBM
It comes in two parts, like The Isley Brothers through the looking glass.


5/04/2004 11:43:00 am 0 comments

The Earlies
“Doomie” and I spar with tedious regularity on I Love Music; he’s a big lanky Canadian who loves Urbane Hymns and indie pop and Alan McGee and who writes for the NME, and I’m a short, stocky English country lad who likes techno and jazz and thinks Urbane Hymns is a big pile of cocktwat (one day I shall explain why) and writes for Stylus. Anyway, he’s been waxing lyrical about The Earlies, some arseflap about how they’re the first band to use both the Mamas & Papas and the warp back catalogue in equal measure, nu-psychedelia, blahblahblah, pitched an album review at NME and it stuck. Normally I treat his recommendations with more than a pinch of salt (Montgolfier Brothers? Oh, just FUCK off), plus I’m not keen on Doomie’s online persona or his offline writing style – all that quiet indie passion turns me right off – but even I have to admit that he might be onto something with The Earlies. I did a quick perusal of slsk and found one tune, “Morning Wonder”, which I subsequently downloaded (they’ve only released vinyl EPs so far - uergh, feel the indie, feel the indie - do you not want people to hear your music, you fuckers?). And guess what? It’s really good. Layered, drifting, melodic, big electronic climax – (at least) one of the guys/girls can’t sing (“Let’s do harmonies like The Beach Boys! Even though we can’t!”) – plenty of different instruments scattered around, and a big, wide-open, stargazing feel. Not at all schmindie. The electronic climax is pretty awesome, and gives a sense of ambition that pushes them above and beyond expectations. They’re almost like Spiritualized would be if they’d a; ever been a proper band and b; Jason Pierce wasn’t a cocktwat and also c; all the members weren’t smashed on heroin.

So, Doomie, thumbs up.


5/04/2004 11:41:00 am 0 comments

Monday, May 03, 2004  
I've Never Really Written About Orbital
At the time I thought I spent 1996 and 1997 searching for The New Stone Roses. I had a letter printed in the NME when they split up. I used the word ‘winsome’ and the guy doing the letters page that week put a snarky exclamation mark in square parenthesis after it. I was distraught. I’d only really had them for a year, and now they’d gone. And, by all accounts, gone badly, like idiots, like they didn’t realise how important they were. When, of course, they always realised (Ian Brown said “what do you think people have done for the last five years? Do you think they stopped breathing? Get real” – that’s how important they were; no one stopped breathing, not really). The Blutones? Fuck off. Kula Shaker? Fuck right off. Although, you know, I’m downloading “Tattva” right now. Just to be sure, like. Anyway. Cast? Not a chance. Oasis? No way. The Verve? Different thing altogether. Embrace? Likewise.

With hindsight I’d already found The New Stone Roses before The Stone Roses had even split. It was never going to be a four-piece guitar band, not really. It had to be someone, anyone, who had that sense of majesty and mystery, humour and charm, oddness and perfection, pop and strangeness. Music that could make me believe in magic, that could alter the way I look at the world.

April 1996. The pre-release press was gushing. Select (or was it Vox?) said they had more in common with Mozart than… some dance act. Someone said they were one of the best five bands of the last ten years in any genre. JR said he’d got an advance tape of the new album and that I should just go and buy it and stop fucking around. So I did. I skived off English or something that Monday morning (April 26th? – check a calendar) and went to Woolies, of all places. It cost me £16, even then, for the limited edition in the blue&black cardboard box. It’s long since gone west, given away because the CD got scratched, replaced with the later release (with “The Saint” tacked on for good measure, you wankers FFrr). A poster of the cover came free with Vox (or was it Select?); it still hangs above my (not slept in for two months) bed, faded and tattooed with blu-tak stains. On the other side are Kula Shaker. I know because I just checked. They can fuck off.

Left school 9sixth form) early, as usual. Home by 1pm. Put it on and went to do something else. Transfixed within 2 minutes. Sat still for the next 70. Didn’t do “something else”. Changed the way I listen to music. Music that could make me believe in magic. Yadda. Bought all the old albums. Fell in love. I’ve never really written about Orbital. Before.

Blue Album is their last album. It’s been 15 years since “Chime” was released – they recorded it into their dad’s tape player. The last two albums disappointed me – I liked Middle Of Nowhere at first but didn’t play it for a long time afterwards, possibly because it came out in 1999, the year before that year when my life went nuts and I forgot who I was. With hindsight, it’s a great record. The Altogether actually was just a bit rubbish though; no focus, a series of moments hanging loosely, plus two very, very bad ideas, placed right before the best idea, thus making that look bad as well. And “Dr ?” too. Sorry JR, I still don’t get it. I never will.

Blue Album is great not because it is great (although it nearly, nearly, nearly is), but because at every step it reminds you of how great Orbital have been in the past. It reminds you of every moment of their career thus far, near enough. “Tunnel Vision” is dark and spooky and kinetic. “Bath Time” is delightful and a bit silly. “You Lot” is incensed and atheist and willing to believe and awesome. “One Perfect Sunrise” is a big spiritual moment. “Acid Pants” is NUTS. Etcetera. This isn’t a review. You can wait for that. This is a getting to know you. Because first listen I was impressed, and second listen I was nonplussed, and third I was quite keen, and fourth I was just listening and half asleep and freaked out on headphones. And fifth listen needed to be… Walking. I needed that promontory.

Maybe one of the reasons I don’t get hip hop much is the fact that I’m used to a lot of space. Scary, empty space. Hip hop is too crowded, too urban, too busy; I can’t even begin to hear the words. I never cared about the words. Maybe. I’m used to… The sea. The sky. Great big fucking fields. My house is two minutes from fields, five minutes from seas, no minutes from skies. Maybe this is why Bark Psychosis ‘speak’ to me too. (What an asshole phrase.) Open space, twilight, moving vistas, empty heads. No heads. No company. Expanses. Big swathes of synth? I love The Streets but Skinner’s raving was done indoors, in nightclubs. Orbital did theirs outside, in fields and barns and Glastonbury, which, lest we forget (I’ve never been, though I’ve been to the Pilton Village Fete) is only up the road. Bark Psychosis may be in the city, but they’re in a church or else on the streets at night when nobody else is around, in the roads away from where the clubs kick out. Space. Huge swathes of synth? Orbital. Those enormous, synthesised vistas are like the sea, moving slowly, interlocked, life beneath them and barely perceptible. Standing atop cliffs. And such.

I spent this afternoon on Dartmoor tracing gulleys. This evening I left the house at 6.50pm, iPod in pocket, determined to ‘hear’ Blue Album. I went over on my ankle this afternoon – these days it doesn’t even swell, it just hurts a while and then stops. I went over on it too many times as a kid. The ligaments are fucked, most likely. But I left to walk the clifftop, down to the beach (three routes – I took the most awkward, cutting back on myself halfway down, through the shelter), along the seawall, high tide, no breakwater to stand on, keep on walking. Red Rock, sixty, one hundred, maybe, feet in the air, that role of fog 10 days ago TWO HUNDRED FEET TALL, perhaps (pick yourself up and try again), is maybe two and a half miles from my house. I’d done maybe one and a half, maybe almost two. “You Lot”, track five, started. Reached the SAW II moment; Eccleston starts talking – “You… are becoming Gods.” “Bath Time”, “Acid Pants” and “Easy Serv” to go before “One Perfect Sunrise”. I wanted to be on top of Red Rock for “One Perfect Sunrise”. I could make it to Red Rock by half past seven, just as the sun will be dipping behind the trees. The moon was up, and as ever when it’s in a clear blue sky appears to have been painted onto the evening by a dodgy draughtsman. “Easy Serv” had just started as I reached the base of Red Rock, a sandstone monolith with a gigantic hole whacked out of it by the sea at one side. Grass on top. I wandered around up there, alone, till it finished. Then I sat down and watched the sea move slowly, tiding out, and listened to “One Perfect Sunrise”. I’d thought it was perhaps pushing those buttons rather cynically and automatically before, but… no. Did I cry? I could have, if I hadn’t realised I might. At one point I saw the flow of the sea away from the land really clearly and it was as if everything was rushing away from me before I could experience it, just like Orbital are doing, and it was then that I decided I had to catch them in London before it’s too late. I almost cried then.

On the way back the tide had moved out enough to reveal the breakwater, and I anticipated eagerly being able to stand on it and look back towards town as if from far out to see. As I was nearing it, from maybe 300 yards, I could see a young couple walking to the end of it, her in a long skirt, him in black. I couldn’t see them clearly but they looked as if they were enacting some courting ritual that I’ve long since forgotten. It looked as though they were nervous. I hoped they were both beautiful and innocent and thrilled. As I got closer, and they left the breakwater, I saw that he was bald, in a suit, and probably 40. She was probably the same age. They were dressed as if they might have just been to church. Not a young couple. Not especially beautiful. Maybe a new couple. Beautiful enough. Love is not the fulfilment of yearning. Sunrise.


5/03/2004 01:19:00 am 0 comments

Genius. Stops dead, flicks his heel, doesn't even look where his teammate is running, he just knows. Barcelona and Arsenal - next year's dream Champions Cup Final.


5/03/2004 12:01:00 am 0 comments

Sunday, May 02, 2004  
All The Houses Look THE SAME
The thing that freaks me out about going to Halifax or Northampton is the fact that all the buildings are the same colour, and built in nice neat rows. I’ve grown up in a seaside town (next to the country – you can see the sea from Dartmoor; how fucked up is that, says Emma, from Manchester, fond of Edwardian townhouses, which yes, are nice, but aren’t pink cottages salted by the sea); all the houses are different colours, and built on top of each other. And any that are the same are red, or maybe, on Dartmoor, granite-grey. We live on sandstone. It’s quite spectacular. The sea mist threatened to overshadow Dartmoor this afternoon but it didn’t. The clouds parted and the sun came out and the recent rain flushed the gulley (2 miles from Haytor) so that it became a beautiful amber stream. I hopped, skipped and jumped from one rock to another, traversing the gulley’s fresh flow, looking for my old bird, which has long since flown away.

Then I listened to some bangin’ techno.


5/02/2004 11:39:00 pm 0 comments

Spatial Awareness
I was wrong last Sunday when I wrote that Red Rock is 30feet high. It's 30 feet high from the railway side, which is a good 30feet above the low-tide beach level. Making that huge coil of fog crawling down the Exe a good 120feet high.

I know this because this evening I climbed it again.


5/02/2004 10:59:00 pm 0 comments

Genre Munching
I was this close the other day to emailing John Darnielle and asking him what genre he’d like The Mountain Goats to be categorised as on my iPod. I had them down, jokingly, as ‘Indie’, but since I only ever use that term as a pejorative these days it seemed unfair. And so I purged it from iTunes. Belle & Sebastian and Clearlake became ‘Alternative / Pop’ alongside Pulp, New Order, Cornelius and The Cure. Delays, Yo La Tengo and The Clientele became ‘Ambient / Dreampop’, sitting alongside Bark Psychosis, Bows, Spiritualized and My Bloody Valentine. Embrace are now ‘Alternative & Punk’, in the company of !!!, The Specials, Disco Inferno and Teenage Fanclub (maybe TFC should be ‘Alternative / Pop’?). The Postal Service became ‘Electronic’, in the company of Vive La Fete, Depeche Mode and Junior Boys. Maybe New Order should be ‘Electronic’ too? And I have to get rid of ‘Ambient’ – it’s silly to have a separate section for it with only 30 or so songs in, when they could all happily fit in either ‘Electronica / Dance’ or ‘Ambient / Dreampop’. And don’t even get me started on what The Streets, Dizzee Rascal and Wiley are! Anything even loosely fitting the template gets deigned ‘Hip Hop / Rap’. Except the stuff that’s down as ‘R&B’. But there’s one Salt ‘n’ Pepa song in ‘R&B’ and one in ‘Hip Hop / Rap’. And is Kamaal The Abstract actually Hip Hop anyway? Or Tricky? Because Massive Attack ended up in ‘Electronica / Dance’. Talk Talk have some stuff in ‘Alternative / Pop’ and some in ‘Avant-garde’, along with Scott Walker and The Penguin Café Orchestra. And then there’s The Tosca Tango Orchestra’s soundtrack to Waking Life, which is down as ‘Soundtrack’ even though it could fit in ‘Avant-garde’, or even have it’s own ‘Tango’ genre made for it. I got rid of the ‘Classical’ section a while ago, deleted Mozart and Arvo Part. Who wants to listen to Requiem on the train? And then there’s the ‘Folk’ genre, with The Strands and a few Nick Drake songs in it. And ‘Funk’ which has Sly Stone, some Lee Dorsey, Funkadelic and Gene Harris. And it seems nuts to call Guns ‘n’ Roses and Jeff Buckley and David Bowie and Love all ‘Rock’. And Robert Wyatt. And Rufus Wainwright. And The Cult. And that one Pearl Jam song (“Given To Fly”). And “Louie Louie”. And why are Big Star ‘Alternative & Punk’? Should Cocteau Twins be ‘Ambient / Dreampop’ instead or ‘Alternative & Punk’? Should Disco Inferno be ‘Avant-garde’? I’ve often said that record shops should only have two genre sections – ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’, but this is obviously insane and is just an example of me being an idiot. In truth it would be much more helpful if they either had none at all, or else thousands and thousands. Actually, scrub that last suggestion.

I think I ended up putting The Mountain Goats in ‘Country’, alongside Gillian Welch, Sparklehorse, Wilco and Lambchop. I hope that’s OK, John.


5/02/2004 10:53:00 am 0 comments

A Happy Story
Once upon a time there were two brothers called Phil and Paul, who made wicked techno for ten years. Then they made a duff record, which everyone said was rubbish. Then they decided to make one more record and play two final gigs and split up, and everyone was sad, but the last record was actually really good, much better than the rubbish record that preceded it, and while their fans were sad that they were to make no more music together (at least under the name they had used before), they were happy to hear this new album, and happier still to have been fans for all those years


5/02/2004 10:35:00 am 0 comments

I Mean...
It's not up there with In Sides or "Brown", maybe not with Snivilisation, but it's as good as The Middle Of Nowhere (which is still great) and better than the patchy and directionless The Altogether, and "Green" as well, which is to all intents and purposes a handful of GREAT singles and some filler.

There are three different tracklistings floating about at the moment.

The official Orbital site says it's this;

1. Transient
2. Pants
3. Tunnel Vision
4. Lost
5. You Lot
6. Bath Time
7. Acid Pants
8. Easy Serv
9. One Perfect Sunrise

The version I downloaded is like this;

1. Transient
2. Acid Pants
3. You Lot
4. Pants
5. Lost
6. Initiation
7. Bath Time
8. Easy Serve
9. What Happens Next
10. Tunnel Vision
11. One Perfect Sunrise

And the version ILM guy (and occasional Stylus contributor, plus permanant all round Good Guy) Matt D'Cruz has on CD has those tracks but in a different order, which I think must be summat like this;

1. Transient
2. Pants
3. Tunnel Vision
4. Lost
5. You Lot
6. Bath Time
7. Acid Pants
8. Easy Serve
9. Initiation
10. What Happens Next
11. One Perfect Sunrise

Personally I hope "What Happens Next" and "Initiation" both get on the final version, although I don't think they will if they're not even mentioned on the official site. "WHN" in particular is brilliant.

In depth descriptions and reactions at some point in the future, or else just visit this thread for Matt D'Cruz's take, plus the comedy stylings of Dan Perry's arse.


5/02/2004 09:53:00 am 0 comments

Saturday, May 01, 2004  
Blue Album


5/01/2004 04:39:00 pm 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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