Posts from 13th June 2000

13
Jun 00

SAINT ETIENNE – “Heart Failed (In The Back Of A Taxi)”

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SAINT ETIENNE – “Heart Failed (In The Back Of A Taxi)” (CD Single)
They’ve finally stopped trying to have hits, which strategy could go two ways: that way, into grooveless pitter-patter testcard culdesacs, or this way, into cold European not-quite-pop, the after-image of pop on the back of your eyelids. “Heart Failed” is written with a coroner’s eye, picking up the telltale details, keeping the big picture in firm scientific view. It’s a sketch of someone – a businessman, a Tory grandee, who knows – and the trails they leave behind them, of short-termist abuse, cultural vandalism and asset-stripping. It has the snap and economy of good poetry, and I’m talking about the music here, too, its balances, pulses and flares, a shrouded step left of the mainstream but still as accessible as it needs to be. This kind of remoteness and fatalism is what the new clinical Euro-music is suited to, not a teched-up take on Chicagoan finickitiness. “Heart Failed” is a great single, is the last great Saint Etienne single, and more than that is the last great New Romantic single. For now.

Warning! Inter-blog battle continues! (except I do actually think I’ve got more general stuff to say too)

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Warning! Inter-blog battle continues! (except I do actually think I’ve got more general stuff to say too)

us|against|them replies. For what it’s worth again, I thought the British music comment might be a gag, but you never know on the net. And another reason to dig 1965 – it’s just plain hornier. Anyway, real reply time.

I wasn’t expecting to hear the old ‘major labels’ argument again, but there it was. As a pop fan, believe me, I would love it if Spin! and NME were in tune with NYLPM, but something about the idea didn’t ring true. So I checked. 37 major label albums. Not that it matters. I also checked Signal Drench’s list: 45 major label albums. Not that it matters. (I’m not allowing for stuff which was major there but indie here or vice versa. I’m also assuming that on my list Creation is a major, which it wasn’t once upon a time). Since SC think this sort of stuff does matter, they usefully put the label next to each review, which made things easy. Two points spring to mind (general readers start here):

i) What I do, and I’m sure what Us Vs Them do too, is listen to music and work out whether I like it or not, and not care what label it’s on. It matters economically – it matters a lot economically – and I think major labels are broadly speaking greedy corporate scum but the fact is that they aren’t as stupid as we like to paint them, and they do release a lot of good music, as both our lists prove. Caring about whether something’s on a major is a hindrance, aesthetically: I circumvent the economic stuff by nicking most of it anyway.

ii) The thing is, though, that Mark from Us Vs Them looked at my list and saw two things. Firstly lots of English bands, secondly lots of major label bands. He simply didn’t register the stuff he didn’t know about, any more than I twigged the stuff I had never heard of on the SD list. Like filling in the blanks in an optical illusion (or digitally compressed music file!), he either passed over the other stuff or assumed that Position Normal, Fushitsusha et al were more effette English pop tart major shill nonsense. And I in turn assumed that the unknown stuff on the SD list was just more indie rock that I happened not to have heard yet.

The point being that this is something inherent in lists themselves, and a good reason why not to make them: when making a list, you think it will represent the breadth and subtlety of your taste. Reading a list, people say “Oh, he likes Pulp” or whatever, and write you off. So you end up in stupid arguments like this one, but it’s always worth pursuing even the stupidest argument, in case you realise something less stupid at the end of it. In this case, no more lists in Freaky Trigger.

Thankyou for your patience.

us|against|them – an indie music weblog yo

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us|against|them – an indie music weblog yo “I really don’t understand why anyone paid this list any attention because it is SO obviously focused almost exclusively on British music”. Sigh. As the list’s author, I have no idea either – it was purely intended as a personal likes/dislikes list on a music website edited in Britain by a British person. I think collaborative lists like Signal Drench’s are pointless bean-counting exercises, because your own tastes get lost in the mix and albums that everyone involved thinks “Yeah, OK, I guess that should be on there” end up in the top 10. Signal Drench’s list was a well-written slog through some predictable material – all the way through I just wanted the individual voices to jump out, not hide behind a false group objectivity.

Anyway, being the anal music boy I am, I did a count and 49 of the 100 albums are British (maybe 50 if Phil Niblock’s British, but I don’t know) – which is anglocentric but hardly “focused almost exclusively on British music”. Yeah, it’s quibbling, but really, that’s just being thick. Look, I know that you’re an indie music weblog yo and have a pretty narrow focus, but if you don’t know about the music that’s being mentioned, don’t talk about it.

If you do know about it, feel free to slag it: it’s my taste and making other people agree was never the point. I’m not even too annoyed at your dismissal of British music since the mid-70s: the stuff that you’d most likely get to hear is indeed 95% risible, and if you don’t give much of a fuck for anything non-rock, you wouldn’t like a lot of the great music the UK’s produced anyhow. If you mean mid rather than late, you’re missing out, though. Start with Wire’s Pink Flag and follow a line.

Actual music content: I picked 1965 over the other Afghan Whigs’ albums because I think Greg Dulli sings a lot better on it, because the first side has an incredible drive, killer hooks, and manages to be funny too, and the whole thing has a black-hearted slickness which matches his talents better than the smoulder-y, angst-y stuff he did before. I’m the only person I know who thinks that, mind you. Gentlemen is alright, it’s very ‘raw’ and early and everything but I can’t remember any of the songs.

(Sad nationality breakdown of the list: UK 49, US 25, Japan 9, Germany 6, Australia 2, New Zealand 2, Finland, France, and Holland 1 each, Unknown 1)

The Freaky Trigger Pub Meet

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The Freaky Trigger Pub Meet: FT contributor Ned Raggett (who did the other Top Albums List on the site) is coming to London for reasons I dare not ask about. But anyway, and I know this is short notice, on Sunday 18th June we are going to meet up in a PUB from about lunchtime. And we want YOU to be there, if you’re an FT reader or writer and want to get together, meet Ned (and me, if you haven’t), and talk shite over drinks of your choice. Please e-mail me if you want to come, you’ll be very welcome. I haven’t thought of a pub yet but it’ll be in Central-ish London for easy-ish access: possibly somewhere near a Record And Tape Exchange, heh heh.

Marksimpson.com . The Man Who Murdered Pop

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Marksimpson.com . The Man Who Murdered Pop “Morrissey had to become an unperson in order for the Nineties to happen”. This is quite old now, but I started NYLPM in order to link to stuff like this, so here it is, now. Is he right? No of course he’s not right. But he’s not exactly wrong either, and it makes for terrific reading in the meantime. From the forthcoming and below-mentioned Saint Morrissey.

Marksimpson.com . Interview

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Marksimpson.com . Interview “I don’t think that Morrissey titillates a straight audience, I think he implicates them. Hence, openly gay Norton and Winton come across as eunuchs; Morrissey the famous ambiguous “celibate”, is decidedly sexual and sexy. Mind, the most crucial difference, between Morrissey and campy comics like Norton is that Morrissey is funny.” – interesting interview about Morrissey, with Mark Simpson, author of the upcoming Saint Morrissey.

For Pop Stars, the Same Old Song

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For Pop Stars, the Same Old Song “Like Sting, Santana invites great guests – Lauryn Hill, Eric Clapton, Eagle-Eye Cherry”. That sound you hear is me chewing the flooring. And now you too can share my annoyance: I blog this for no other reason. He’s right about Tom Waits, mind you.

Two more points about the

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Two more points about the Top 100 albums list.

i) I would happily swap every loud-but-melodic-indie-rock-songs-about-getting-dumped record in the world for one copy of Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque (#74), even if it doesn’t use any cool tunings. But then you’re only 19 once.

ii) Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock should be on it. Damn.

us|against|them

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us|against|them checks out my Top Albums of the Decade list and finds it wanting. I’m not going to make any comments about Us V Them’s taste (or lack of it!) but I do find it interesting just how little common ground there is even among people who listen to what you might broadly call ‘alternative music’. My list isn’t a pop one by any stretch of most imaginations – indeed looking at it I’m struck by how indie-weighted my album purchases still are. But then I think ‘indie’ means a different thing to somebody brought up on Factory and Rough Trade than to somebody brought up on the close-knit local scenes you get in the US, where – massive generalisation here – I get the feeling community is more important than diversity.

(But let me appeal to the readers who come here from places like Us Vs Them, or Kempa or westernhomes – what am I missing out on? If my knowledge of the 90s is so shockingly lacking that I’m getting only a 2% strike rate, then surely you lot must be able to offer some advice?)

DOVES

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 368 views

DOVES

cf. Coldplay.

Additional info: Used to be Sub Sub.
Not to be confused with: One Dove (dour Scottish pre-trip hop sonambulists), Watoo Watoo (Super Bird).