Sunday, November 21, 2004
1. LCD Soundsystem – “Yeah”
2. Embrace – “Ashes”
3. Britney – “Toxic”
4. Deep Dish – “Flashdance”
5. Eminem – “Just Lose It”
6. LCD Soundsystem – “Movement”
7. M.I.A. – “Galang”
8. Kelis – “Trick Me”
9. Kylie – “I Believe In You”
10. Destiny’s Child – “Lose My Breath”
11. Embrace – “Gravity”
12. Rachel Stevens – “Some Girls”
13. Blink 182 – “I Miss You”
14. Ghostface – “Run”
15. The Streets – “Dry Your Eyes”
16. Nas – “Bridging The Gap”
17. Natasha Beddingfield – “These Words”
18. Dizzee Rascal – “Stand Up Tall”
19. Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out”
20. Kanye West – “Jesus Walks”
11/21/2004 11:25:00 am
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Single of the Year?
Of course it’s not good to snap judge a song on first listen, as Josh found out here, but this is a special case. After all, I’ve heard it, in its prior incarnations, a huge number of times (even if I can’t remember its second time around, thank you Pete), but this new take I have heard only once. So far. Soon enough I’ll probably be sick of it.
Band Aid 20 - “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
No, they probably don’t because the only reason they would even have heard of Christmas or Christianity is because of British Imperialism. Moot point, who cares? First up, Bono totally over plays his line, THE LINE, that line – “well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you” – because he’s Bono and he’s got soul, or some nebulous semblance thereof, and he sang it originally, so now he’s gonna sing it better, which means singing it more, with more feeling and more notes and taking up more space, more actual seconds of the record. Secondly the guitar over the chorus, that main melody line, hook, riff, fill, call it what you like, presumably played by yer man from The Darkness, is really garish and high-pitched and 80s hair metal sounding, presumably deliberately. The solo towards the end makes up for it. The whole end of the tune makes up for it actually – it’s like “What’s Going On?” only instead of Marvin, poor, dead, legendary Marvin, it’s all these people you know, these voices you recognise. And therefore it’s all the more… affecting?
I caught the first play on Chris Moyles’ show at 7.57am, or whatever, in the car. Will Young taxi’d over with a copy of it, after they’d finished mixing it last night. He hadn’t heard it finished yet. Midge Ure and Sir Bob said, 20 years ago, that it wasn’t the greatest song ever. It isn’t. I heard it in the car on the way to work. I’ve said this is happening more and more often? I started crying, big daft sobs in the car, bawling my eyes out practically, not quite totally because I was driving and had to keep my shit together, because Bonio or Chris Martin or Jamelia or Sugababes or whoever was singing and, you have to remember I was 5 when this first happened, for the first time it really struck me what this was about. Maybe it was the juxtaposition, mentally, of this and the audio footage of a US soldier shooting a dead body in the head “to make sure” that was played on Five Live last night. Maybe it’s the fact that all those popstars, Bonio excepted, are my generation, my age. We all remember the record from the first time around, and from every Christmas since. We all blanked out the SAW version (I nearly typo’d “pversion” then, somehow – perversion?). Maybe it’s the fact that… who knows? But Band Aid 20 is here, and I hope it wont go away for a while.
11/16/2004 08:42:00 am
Friday, November 12, 2004
So I just had lunch in McDonalds and then bought the Eminem album from Tesco because it was only £9.77 and I objected to spending £13.99 on it in HMV.
I have no principles anymore.
It looks like a (career) suicide note at first glance. It isn't. Not listened yet.
11/12/2004 02:15:00 pm
We don't barely keep in no more...
Every day in every way I despair a little more at the human race. The guy by the door on the train, trying to get off like several dozen of us, had his thumb glued to the ‘close’ button, eyes glazed over. Twice the person outside pressed ‘open’, trying to board, and twice the door closed immediately, stopping us alighting and him taking our place. I noticed straight away, but… you have to credit people with some sense, perhaps, and to interrupt in that situation would surely make the man pressing the wrong button feel embarrassed, stupid. Surely, surely after the door had juddered closed once when it should have opened, he would realise, he would open his eyes? But no. Wearily I gave in. “That’s the ‘close’ button.” Forced and muffled laughter from several directions including his. How does he manage with the day ahead when he can’t even cope with simple tasks like opening a door by pressing a button? How does he tie his own tie? What happens if he’s the first at the scene of an accident?
Naked Pig Girl was on the train again. Two weeks now, I think. She appears to be going out with the 6ft geek boy, who is too old now to be a geek, and possibly too posh too. When I say geek I mean in the “Belle & Sebastian fan” sense (I have three B&S albums before anyone whinges), not the spotty, computer-loving loner masturbating into a cup and wearing £12 trainers. 6ft, maybe 13st, cords, fleece, shirt and tie for work but even at 7.54am his top button is undone and his tie is loose. He probably thinks he’s really lucky to be going out with Naked Pig Girl, because she wears saucy black to the office and dyes her hair and is slightly aloof and might have a past. She probably feels really lucky to be going out with him, because I imagine that he gives her a sense of stability which she never got at home. I know she never got it at home because she used to live opposite my friend George (name changed to protect the innocent, not that he is innocent, not entirely) with her mother and younger sister. Why call her Naked Pig Girl? Her eyes are smaller now, more piggy, her hair dyed away from the blonde it was when she was 13 or 14, her nose more protruding, slightly bulbous almost, making her seem even more piggy. I realise the horribleness of what I’m typing, but I remember her being pretty, seeming aloof, almost condescending. I realise now, I realised then, that it was probably just nervousness, discomfort, a sense of never belonging and not knowing who you are. She has a job that is presumably respectable and a boyfriend who doubtless treats her like an angel, but she’ll never feel as confident as she might, never look most people in the eye. I wonder if she recognises me as the friend of the guy across the street, or, more specifically, as the friend who walked in on him and her naked and bouncing like inept teddy bears on top of each other in his loft (which was where we, as friends, and many of us, had congregated for a year or more and… done things that teenage boys do, things involving smoke and cider and a pool table and late, late nights watching films and listening to records) on Boxing Day almost a decade ago, when she was only 13 or 14 and he was 16 or 17, when I had arranged to come round and see him because I knew Christmas wasn’t easy since his mum and dad had separated, because I knew he behaved like a lunatic and put his mother through hell and because I knew his mum considered me to be a “good influence”. But there he was, just after lunchtime on Boxing Day, expecting friends to come round any time, naked with the girl from across the street, trying to fuck her in his loft. “For fuck’s sake, it’s Boxing Day and you’re trying to shag your underage neighbour. Sort yourself out.”
George stopped going to school in the fifth year because he preferred staying at home and smoking dope. He said he had issues due to his parents divorcing when he was 13, due to being one of twins, due to the other being stillborn. I didn’t doubt him. George was intelligent and, although not good-looking particularly, attracted a certain type of girl, the type of girl that a certain type of man wants to either fuck or save, or, in his case, both and also neither. The inverse of both. Condemn. Drag down alongside him. Because if someone else is sliding then it doesn’t make you feel as bad? I don’t have the most successful life of my friends from school – I still live at home, I earn well below the national average salary, my job satisfaction is not high – Matt earns almost triple what I do, drives a huge company car, is married – A is married (but not for long), earns much more than I do, drives a BMW Z3, has owned three houses – JB is on the way to being a lawyer and has slept with more girls then I’ve had hot dinners (possibly), some of them quite attractive – others have been in the forces and now served their term, have done PhDs and have lucrative biological research jobs, are graphic designers, are in successful bands, etcetera, etcetera. But I’m very happy with my life in general, and I am aware that I have control over what happens to me, and that these differences are differences of focus and desire, not ability or happiness. I passed George in the street on Wednesday. He didn’t see me, or if he did, he hid it incredibly well. He still wears all black, although not in a goth way. It was never in a goth way, not the vaguely creative, make-up wearing, intricately-sculpted steel&leather boots way, not in the Marilyn Manson way. He just wore black because it was… easy. I last saw him about 18 months ago, outside a nightclub/bar in the city. He was sitting with a girl who looked like she wanted / needed saving. It was Emma’s birthday and she was happily dancing with friends inside while I basked with some other friends outside in the warm evening. I went over and sat down next to him and said “Hello George.” It took him several seconds to realise who I was. I can’t remember what we talked about after that, not a word. The girl he was with looked as if she was on cold turkey. Too skinny, drawn, pale, quiet, downwards eyes. She looked like her life was terrible. It was probably the first time I’d spoken to him since we were 19 or 20, and even that was only a chance meeting in a local pub at Christmas. “What drugs are you on?” he had said. “None” I replied, and we didn’t speak any more. 18 months ago he had grown fat, as those given to not much exercise do, and while I am far from slim I am at least athletic to a degree – as 14 year olds he was far more muscled than I, simply due to his genes, and I was jealous, but things don’t stay that way if you sit on your arse and smoke dope and eat muffins. On Wednesday he was possibly grown ever fatter – not obese, not obscene, but… 14st perhaps, and no muscle tone at 5’7”. I doubt he could run, not if he still smokes. And I don’t imagine he stopped. Long hair, black jumper, shapeless and too long, like a pauper’s gothic smock, slightly loping walk, bouncing almost, but now shoulders are completely dropped. At 12 he wanted to be an engineer, I think. How do you get from there to here? At what point do you relinquish control of your life? Or do you ever really have it? Do we make those choices for ourselves? The choice to fuck up. The choice to slide.
11/12/2004 10:56:00 am
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Dear sloan girls...
...who walk into the library at 11am sharp on Armistice day, notice all the staff and students standing still and silent in rememberance of the dead of two world wars and countless other nasty (but not necessarily pointless) conflicts, and then proceed to go into the toilets together and continue to talk at a volume still audible outside; you make me sick.
11/11/2004 01:36:00 pm
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Why do the menko ones always talk to me? Does anybody want any chocolate?
11/09/2004 01:46:00 pm
Oh german man
You say “cool” and “yah” a lot
And listen to jazz
Your clothes are all black
And you want to watch The Wicker Man
I can’t get over the feeling that you are
Playing a clichéd german jazz fan
In a dodgy film
Perhaps it is the way you twist your lips?
With your long hair
“Oh right, cool, yah, right, cool”
When we answer one of your
I was going to make you into a haiku
But I can’t be bothered
You’re going bald
I hope you know
And your clothes are all the same
You never change
11/09/2004 01:39:00 pm
Bed bed bed bed bed bed bed.
11/09/2004 01:37:00 pm
Friday, November 05, 2004
Stand on a cliff and look at that and listen to this.
11/05/2004 08:45:00 am
Thursday, November 04, 2004
wtf is with people hating on Robbie Williams?
This Is Part Seven (7)
The Enormous Embrace Exercise Part Whateverthefuck It Is (which is seven (7), isn’t it)
A song-by-song directory and exegesis of my in-and-out-of-love affair with The Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band On Acid
And lo on the fourth day He did say There Shall Be Another Single, And With It Shall Come More B-Sides And You, My Son Nick Southall, Shall Be Compelled By Goodly Love For Music To Write About Them.
Maybe I Wish
Danny told a selection of fans who accompanied the band (all expenses paid) on a three-day trip to Spain for a gig aboard a yacht that “the next single has the best b-side we’ve ever written on it”. This is that b-side. Is it the best they’ve ever written? Someone who was on that trip but who shall remain anonymous asked me via MSN last night whether it was, citing the fact that often he/she trusts my opinion more than the band’s when it comes to how good the songs they’ve not heard yet are. Do bands always know their best songs? Doubtful. I bow to my brother when he tells me what I’m best at doing in a game of football (i.e. “stop attempting 40-yard passes in five-a-side, stop trying to go past everyone, just pass the ball simple and early and find space and get on the end of things; you’re very good at that you twat”); sometimes people outside of yourself see the best in what you do because of the remove. But make no mistake – this is a very, very good song. For a while it was deigned to be the closing track on the current album, until “Out Of Nothing” came along and obliterated it. “Maybe I Wish” starts small and builds and builds and builds – five and a half minutes long, no guitar solos, no instrumental passages, no dramatic changes in direction – just an ever-developing melody and growing weight of impetus and emotion. The band produced it themselves in a perfunctory fashion, as if they are saying “here is a damn good song, a song so good, in fact, that all you’re getting is the song”. Had Youth got hold of it and worked some magic it might have been amazing.
Played live at one of the Cockpit gigs back in December, this is the vinyl-only choice this time, which is sad because it’s very good indeed. Golrim does not like it because it’s noisy, but WHAT DOES HE KNOW? (Quite a lot, actually, and I love him.) It is noisy – it spits and snarls at you from a garage. The title comes from the phrase “I’ve just had ENOUGH” which is the refrain. Sounds like it was largely done in one take with some overdubs later – great guitar in the verse when it goes a bit quieter and makes a rhythmic shluckaschlucka noise. Great harmonies to close. A bit Spiritualized, a bit Primal Scream, a lot pretty good.
Flaming Red Hair
This might raise some eyebrows. Some people might hate it to start with, but most of the people I trust will love it, because it’s fucking wonderful. Started life as a jammed cover of a certain Michael Jackson tune, and has been corrupted almost unrecognisably from there (connoisseurs will recognise parts of the bassline). Apparently Youth and an engineer ran off with the master tapes of the jam that this was adapted from and worked on them in secret while the band were mastering the album tracks – clever man, clever man. I love him, in a truly platonic sense. I played it to a musician/academic friend of mine yesterday and his response was “that emphasises just how shit Kasabian are then”. It emphasises a lot of things. That Embrace are not living in the pigeonhole people think they are. That their next album is gonna be fully jaw-dropping amazing. That they’re happy to piss away outstanding pieces of music such as this on the b-side of singles. Almost all the criticisms levelled at Embrace by whoever chooses to criticise them would be completely laid to waste by songs like this and “Too Many Times”, and by older tunes like “Blind” and “Brothers & Sisters” – those are just the b-sides. “One Big Family”, “New Adam New Eve”, the orchestral meltdown at the end of “All You Good Good People”- oh, I’ve said it all before. If you’d heard “Even Smaller Stones” live then you’d shut the fuck up. This is what marks Embrace out from your Keanes, Coldplays, Thirteen Senses or whoever, above and beyond any tremulous claims that they write better, more emotional songs (although they do). It even marks them out above the likes of Doves, Elbow – none of those bands ever rocked, ever stuck themselves right on the edge of creative failure and challenged themselves to do what the uneducated didn’t imagine them to be capable of, none of them ever did this. “Flaming Red Hair” is a tightly controlled and exercised melange of disco noise, of energy, or barely concealed psychosis and oddness. It’s got a verse, a chorus, a middle eight, but it doesn’t use any of those things in a way you’d expect. It doesn’t use anything in the way you’d expect. The DFA’s publicity guy is a huge Embrace fan, which, as Mr Unterberger pointed out to me last night, was rather an odd thing. This sounds like it could have been produced by the DFA. ARE YOU LISTENING? Bollocks to The Rapture.
This might raise some eyebrows too, only most fans have already heard it. A live session for Jo Whiley these days must include an indie band doing a (possibly ironic) cover of a recent pop hit, to show just how superior (yeah, right) “real” “indie” music is to pop, in some people’s eyes; LOOK, HAVEN ARE SO TALENTED THEY CAN MAKE SOME PIECE OF POP SHIT BY SOME POP SHITTER INTO A HEART-RENDING MASTERPIECE DRIPPING WITH EMOTIONAL EMOTION – witness Travis making “Hit Me Baby One More Time” into a pussy ballad (where ballad = quiet acoustic sappy shit rather than story-as-song). Dismemberment Plan covered “Crush” by Jennifer Paige on an EP a few years ago, made it into a brooding 6-minute psycho stalker song. It was OK. Embrace did the Jo Whiley show some 6 weeks ago or so, and were going to cover “Cry Me A River” by Justin until someone told them it had already been done. So they hastily arranged a cover of “How Come” by D12. YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT. It’s only three minutes long, it starts out with piano and a melody that Danny wrote so he wouldn’t have to try and beat Eminem at his own game. It grows into something that you might call epic. It is intense and it is very, very good.
I wonder what other Nick-appeasing tunes they have saved up for the next batch of b-sides. Hopefully more disconoise.
11/04/2004 09:51:00 am
I am, of course, less than delighted with the outcome of the US presidential election, but not exactly surprised. For the last month of campaigning I could feel no hope for Kerry, only an overwhelming sense of dread and pointlessness. American friends, there is a spare room in our house.
Can reissues… Mute and Spoon have remastered and reissued the German masters’ first four albums on hybrid SACD, and they sound incredible. A review of Ege Bamyasi, that is less a piece of journalism than a passionate and hyperactive over-long love letter, will be up on Stylus early next week. Hopefully Future Days and Soon Over Babaluma will be dealt with shortly. My girlfriend does a good profit out of remastered CDs; she’s built up a decent collection of Stevie Wonder, Rolling Stones, Cocteau Twins and now Can due to my obsessive addiction to clarity. Next up Beatles? Stone Roses? Come on Silvertone, you love money and you already remastered a stack of stuff for The Very Best Of, now do all the singles, the debut album and Turns Into Stone, eh? Roses fans are now all fat and forty, they love reissues. “Music really was better back then, wasn’t it?” WELL NO BUT IT WAS STILL ACE. There are probably loads of other people due good remasterings that I can’t think of right now.
Someone at EMI likes me and has stuck me on the promo list. This is great (Pet Shop Boys DVD!) but there is only so much Jamelia and Tina Turner I can stomach. And the Dirty Vegas was not good.
Do yourself a favour and buy the next Embrace single, even if you only get one CD of the two and vinyl that are available. And if you do choose to get one CD, then get the one that has “Flaming Red Hair” and “How Come” as b-sides. You might be presently surprised. An album of their b-sides would (if it were selected by me, obviously) be one of my favourite records.
Football again tonight; missed last Thursday due to not being well and this Tuesday due to working on a job application. I am DUE GOALS.
11/04/2004 08:49:00 am