Posts from June 2000
Whenever our old friend Nicholas Currie wants to tell us how, you know, *radical* and *sexual* and *dangerous* his music is compared to all those *repressed* and *parochial* Brit-rockers (hmmm … Fran Healy hollering his way through “Turn” as though he was reading out somebody else’s shopping list, Paul Weller shouting “He’s the keeper!” as though he’s warning young kids off the sinister owner of some Hampshire museum … for the first and only time in your life, Nick, you’re right) he draws our attention to one song – an irritating and inconsequential little throwaway called “Coming in a Girl’s Mouth”. This, apparently, is the most subversive thing ever recorded, the jewel in his crown which places him millions of light years of subversion above Primal Scream, whose most recent album got its most positive review in the Daily Telegraph (for the benefit of those outside the UK, a rabidly right-wing, fanatically pro-tradition and indescribably backward-looking newspaper).
And coincidentally, it occurs to me that I have no idea whether Tom might have linked to this before. Am I non-lazy enough to check, even with Blogger’s search feature?
No. I am not.
For so long, as a matter of moral principle, I despised DMX. Hated the blatant simplicity of his music’s production values, hated the way his every emotional response was intoned as a blood-red tabloid headline, hated the way he played into the hands of the shocking and disgraceful racism of the British media (half the time he *does* sound like an orang-utan to *me*, and if I can think that then what would the average Telegraph reader think if *they* heard him … ?).
MAX TUNDRA – Life in a Lift Shaft, Doggy Biscuits, Control It (Bistrotheque), Ampikaipakan (MP3s)
I don’t know why I find myself listening so obsessively to Max Tundra’s skittering electro-jazz, since its air of aimlessness and slight self-satisfaction clash with my current aesthetic of self-promotion and self-belief. It has overtones of Nathan Barley-ism, true, but it’s saved by this uncontrollable rush, the way the sounds play with each other. Like all the best electronic jazz – and, indeed, all the best jazz full stop – it plays a game with excitement and indulgence, and just about saves itself.
I feel strangely assured by it, awful word I know, but it’s the best description for the mixed feelings of strangeness and security this music gives me (and it’s steering me through these unsettled weeks like nothing else). Something seems to be happening sonically in every one of these pieces, as well – the way “Control It (Bistrotheque)” hurtles along to what sounds like a frog on speed, the way “Life in a Lift Shaft” is powered throughout by a frenetic mad dash of concert piano. A large part of me will recall this as the backdrop to a cruel, unthinking summer.
I drifted away – the Guardian reviews the Festival Of Drifting. The mysterious asterisk next to the name of the event is actually the rating out of a possible five stars; one star, the paper tells me, means “terrible”. Is it just me or does this review make the event sound really really good?
I guess I must stake a claim as one of the nylpm curators in Tom’s absence, though I suspect most know me anyway …
But I’m slightly embarrassed at my sporadic recent contributions here. There’s one coming in about 30 minutes, though.
Having “the rock” is often assumed to be a singularly male obsession. We chicks have got more important things to worry about that strapping on a set of leather strides, damaging our sleek body curves with ungainly guitar straps and standing with our legs 20 degrees apart. This is the misconception that Sleater-Kinney are here to batter down. They are chicks and they rock.
Well, actually no. Sleater-Kinney – a name more suited to a low rent one room law firm than a band – are merely the latest in a long line of trad rock bands peddling the fact they are women to give them that extra boost. For christ-sake, we had the Bangles, we don’t need another one. Of course the SK sound differs from the pop savvy nature of the mid-eighties girl band, but there is a direct line back to Suzi Quatro with all these groups. Okay, they don’t play on their looks (such as they are) because they are a proper, serious rock band. They do fast songs, they do slow songs but they do them all with a singular ineptitude. If they had put a bit of scratching on an early record they would probably be touted as the female Beastie Boys (oh hold on a second – that’s Luscious Jackson I’ve accidentally strayed on to).
My many years as a detached observer of pop music gives me the power to say that sex sells. The only thing that marks out Sleater-Kinney from The Dandy Warhols is that S-K are all woman. At least the Dandy Warhols appreciate that their female member is their biggest selling point, and she gets her kit off at every available opportunity. All the above may be a pretty generic set of criticisms to hang on just one band, but Sleater-Kinney Management Consultants have one more trick up their sleeve. It is quite common these days for girl bands to use the harmonising qualities of their voices to special effect. Sleater and indeed Kinney instead employ the member with the most caterwauling voice to bellow over the fast songs, scaring animals and small children wherever they go. I have seen the yelping on Little Babies make peoples ears bleed.
Still, let’s leave the last word to the girls themselves. The hint is in the album title. You buy their record and you will have All Hands On THE Bad Thing. It’s a bad thing. A very bad thing.
1. Wookie – “Battle” (MP3, forthcoming single)
Underground soulful 2-step ex-Soul II Soul man UK Garage. Would be big except for the fact that I’ve not heard it on the radio yet. Perhaps the Dreem Team are playing it? Large sections of the track repeat the most repetitive two-note melody EVER and then the singer breaks into a more chart-friendly melodic vocal section leading into that staple of crossovers: the singalong chorus. Every day is like a battle but we’ll overcome / When we get back in the saddle faith will bring us home. Hardly the most profound of lyrics but when the track sounds this nice who cares? Tim might be interested to take a listen.
2. Craig David – “Seven Days” (MP3, forthcoming single)
“I work with a stylist. I can trust him to go out and buy stuff for me. It’s not like when your mum buys you clothes.” Poor lad. Despite a Select magazine interview’s best efforts to trip him up along the way he still follows up “Fill Me In” with style. This isn’t as immediate as his solo debut but it’s equally as strong in a very different way. Rather than the 2-step beats he’s become associated with this has a very straight R&B beat, with hardly any groove. It’s a technique I like; it reminds me of Otis Redding tracks the way it has a totally straight beat and the soul coming from the vocals rather than a more obvious groove.
3. Black Star – “Re-Definition” (MP3)
One two three / Mos Def and Talib Kweli / We came to rock it on to the tip top / Best alliance in hip hop. The claims are arguable but this is still a good track, if let down by those weak Rawkus production techniques. Mos Def and Talib Kweli are undoubtedly two of the hottest rappers in the underground at the moment and they work well together on this one, as they do on the other Black Star material I’ve heard. The one reason I often feel like listening to this particular track is that for some reason I really enjoy this lyric: “Re-Definition”, turning your play into a tragedy!
Here comes Greg to stop the lethargic NYLPM from slipping into a coma and look what happens while I’m writing my entry!
Anyway, here goes…
Napster: The Computing Equivalent Of Unsafe Sex – and so the backlash continues. A band named the Tabloids (nope, me neither) have launched a site named StopNapster.com with the intention of spearheading guerilla tactics against your favourite music download tool.
Have you heard this, josh? if not, you should coax tom into making you a copy.
For me, it’s quite revelatory: if i was jason pierce, i’d be majorly pissed off at the writers of “can’t help falling in love” for nixing the elvis mix from the record. as it is, “ladies and gentlemen…” is a nice song and a great opener, one that sets the mood of the album; as it was, “ladies and gentlemen…” was the emotional centerpiece of the album, a true heart-wringer. at the climax of the song, one can hear what sounds like elvis, floating in space as it were, singing the refrain to “can’t help falling in love” over and over. when the choir joins in and the juxtaposition of the two major themes of the album — an unhealthy addiction to both drugs and love — is fully realized, if you have a soul, shivers will run down your spine. truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring.
And here i was worried that the mighty nylpm might go a day without an update. perish the thought.