18
Aug 19

Omargeddon #10: Despair

FTPost a comment • 33 views

2009 was a prolific year for Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, with a total of six albums released. Cryptomnesia and Xenophanes are comprised of material that was originally intended for the Mars Volta but took a left turn at Albuquerque. Solar Gambling features the magnificent Ximena Sariñana on vocals, as do three of the five songs on the live album Los Sueños de un Hígado. Megaritual is a glorious exercise in trippy jamming, recorded in Amsterdam with longtime Volta member/even longer time brother Marcel.

And then there’s Despair.

»
More

17
Aug 19

NELLY ft KELLY ROWLAND – “Dilemma”

Popular17 comments • 1,502 views

#939, 26th October 2002

Nelly spent some of the year before his second LP dropped in a beef with the perennially grumpy KRS-One. The feud was not a dignified one. KRS-One called out pop-rap in general, Nelly took it personally, spent a summer trying to goad KRS into a response, finally succeeded (“You the first old man to get a rappers pension / No hits since the cordless mic invention”) and was rewarded by KRS-One calling for a ‘boycott’ of Nellyville.

»
More

8
Aug 19

Great News For All Our Readers!

Popular17 comments • 798 views

Hello Popular readers!

After sixteen years, and suffering from (as you’ll have noticed) a much slower posting rate, I’ve come to a decision.

I’m going to crowdfund this project, using Patreon. HERE’S THE LINK. This coincides with me leaving my day job and going solo, which opens up a lot of spare time. But billable time being money in the freelance world, I want to be able to devote time to Popular, and Patreon is a way to do that. It’s not a perfect platfornm – what is? – but I’ve been able to set up tiers and goals which I think might appeal to people who like my work.

Very importantly, if you decide not to contribute, nothing will change – Popular will still appear here, on Freaky Trigger, and hopefully a lot more regularly than it has done recently.

UPDATE: We’ve already reached the point at which I am happy to guarantee 4 entries a month – I am enormously grateful and delighted by how quickly this has happened and how much support this funding initiative has had. Thanks, you lovely lot.

If you DO become a patron, you’ll get early access to main entries, very early access to certain other entries, and exclusive access to some other exciting things. THAT LINK AGAIN.

Whether you join up or not, it’ll mean more Popular, sooner, and I hope you agree that’s something to celebrate!

And finally, other fantastic FT contributors have Patreons of their own which also deserve your support! Mark S is creating podcasts and articles around the topic of his excellent book, A Hidden Landscape Once A Week and Hazel is crowdfunding her motorsport journalism by dishing the (some) dirt on a Patreon.

4
Aug 19

Omargeddon #9: Zen Thrills

FTPost a comment • 56 views

There are some musicians whose stage presence is so powerful, it creates a visual tunnel around them, making it nigh on impossible to pay attention to anyone else. Cedric Bixler-Zavala has it with his slinky salsa moves and microphone swinging. Jack White has it with his cryptic un-banter and towering stature. And Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes has it in spades. The combination of her frenetic dancing and piercing stare with the sheer volume of her voice nearly swallows the room regardless of venue size. She’s mesmerising and slightly terrifying. I love her.

I’ve only been to two gigs this year, both of them blinders and both of them Le Butcherettes. I’ve seen them a few times before as opening acts, so I knew to expect fiercely intense performances, and I was not disappointed. Each time I brought friends who hadn’t seen them before and, as I’d hoped, each time left with new fans. The set lists drew from across their four albums, and whilst there has definitely been a progression from raw, garagey rock to a sleeker, tighter sound, the fury and passion has, if anything, been ramped even more. Maybe this is because year on year, there’s so much more to be pissed off about or because the recent shows I’ve attended have been in more intimate venues. Either way, they were exhilaratingly life-affirming.

Teri and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez have been collaborating for several years now; she
provides backup and lead vocals on many of his solo albums, including Zen Thrills. Although three songs revisit previously recorded material, the flavour is very TGB, and I’m guessing she wrote the lyrics, as this seems to be the case for other releases where ORL doesn’t sing. Listened to out of context, you might mistake some of them for Le Butcherettes tunes, and this is a very fine thing indeed.

»
More

8
Jul 19

LAS KETCHUP – “Asereje (The Ketchup Song)”

Popular37 comments • 2,125 views

#938, 19th October 2002

A throwback to simpler times – the European novelty hit that spreads across the continent, sparking the dry tinder of holiday nostalgia, reaching Britain in time for bonfire season. Family act Las Ketchup were recruited by Spanish producer Manuel Ruiz for just this effect, and the project was ludicrously successful – an ongoing career for the Munoz sisters and a debut LP which shifted an eye-popping 12 million copies. Four of its eleven tracks are incarnations of “Asereje”: the days of Boney M, and the dance group as steady hitmaker, are long gone. You only get one shot.

»
More

25
Jun 19

GARETH GATES AND WILL YOUNG – “The Long And Winding Road”

Popular31 comments • 1,921 views

#937, 5th October 2002

Let’s imagine a world – apparently this is a good idea – where the Beatles never existed, and where “The Long And Winding Road” exists only in this form, as a slow ballad duet between the winner and runner-up of a singing competition. I think it would make very little sense – this is a song about the long game of romantic destiny, about the workings of fate leading you to the place where, you realise, exhausted, that you were always heading. It has no business being a duet, unless – a-ha! – the dyad in question isn’t the singer and some welcoming other, but the two singers themselves. Maybe that’s the point: the closure the song is offering is an end to the Pop Idol story, two rivals-turned-partners riding into the sunset.

»
More

13
May 19

PINK – “Just Like A Pill”

Popular21 comments • 2,475 views

#936, 28th September 2002

At the time, I didn’t warm to Pink’s overt rebrand. For one thing, the brusque R&B singer of “You Make Me Sick” already seemed fierce, and fierce in a more interesting way than a pop-rock restyle promised. For another, the heel turn from pop star to pop rejector seemed messy and unfinished – “Get The Party Started” was terrific, but tighter and slicker than any of her R&B hits; “Don’t Let Me Get Me” lurched the other way, a take-it-or-leave-it splat of rejection on top of muffled, churning beats.

»
More

18
Apr 19

Album-A-Day #9: Nothing Of The Thresher

New York London Paris Munich1 comment • 276 views

This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get framing content and non-music miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here.

#56 Ray Charles – Yes Indeed!! (1958)
#57 Adina Howard – Do You Wanna Ride? (1995)
#58 Various Artists – Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental And New Age Music, 1980-1990 (2019)
#59 Solange – When I Get Home (2019)
#60 Julia Kent – Temporal (2019)
#61 Chubby Wolf – Ornitheology (2010)
#62 The Japanese House – Good At Falling (2019)

The remuneration structure of Spotify is opaque in places but the broad outlines are well known – Musicians are paid by the play, and paid by the track. Thirty seconds is the magic number – keep someone’s attention that long and you’ve earned your fraction. This structure incentivises particular behaviours – releases with a lot of short tracks, most obviously. UK Meds

»
More

8
Apr 19

Album-A-Day #8: The Unquiet Groove

New York London Paris Munich6 comments • 302 views

This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get framing content and non-music miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here.

(The letter subsequent to this went out ages ago, sorry – midway through the next instalment already…)

#49 Betty Who – Betty (2019)
#50 Cherry Glazerr – Stuffed & Ready (2019)
#51 Horseface – Jaakautiset (2019)
#52 Dorothy Ashby – The Fantastic Jazz Harp Of Dorothy Ashby (1965)
#53 Kehlani – While We Wait (2019)
#54 Hank Mobley – A Caddy for Daddy (1965)
#55 Teeth Of The Sea – Wraith (2019)

»
More

31
Mar 19

Omargeddon #8: Umbrella Mistress

FTPost a comment • 123 views

Back in the day, I had a very fixed idea of what an Omar Rodriguez-Lopez album should sound like. I was still in recovery from the rockism that had clouded and limited my horizons since I was a teenager, and often struggled to identify what it was I actually liked. Did I like or dislike something because of my perceptions of its genre, or did I like or dislike it because I felt I should or shouldn’t based on other people’s opinions? I really did waste a lot of fucking brainspace worrying about this kind of thing.

But I empirically knew what I liked from ORL, and what I liked was what I wanted and therefore expected – nay, demanded – to hear: lots of very loud, very crunchy guitar steeped in trippy effects. If there were vocals, they should be at least mildly distorted and preferably sung in Spanish, even more preferably sung by Cedric Bixler-Zavala. When I didn’t get what I wanted/expected/demanded, I didn’t like it as much, as when I bought Omar Rodriguez Lopez & John Frusciante all prepped to have my ears blown off and was rather let down when it turned out not to be the dueling guitars freak-out that I had assumed it would be.

Although you can never tell which genre of ORL record you’re going to get based on the cover artwork (particularly Sonny Kay’s busily detailed digital collages), it’s fun to try and cobble a message out of them. When I look at the Umbrella Mistress cover, it seems to suggest a hushed shh, don’t tell anyone Omar done a pop record! Because this is hella pop, and I wonder what my reaction to it would have been a decade ago. Would I have liked it with qualifiers, justifying it by defining it as indie/psychedelic/folk/country/power pop, not pop pop? Or would I have rolled my eyes and waited a couple months for something else? I’ll never know, and besides, the past is a foreign country populated by idiots. Even if I had initially dismissed it, this project would have changed that, because Umbrella Mistress is pure perfection.

»
More