Posts from August 2000
Gasp! Choke! Dissed in Indieshite at last! I have no choice but to join Western Homes in forced retirement. Goodbye, cruel web.
Actually Ernst and co. have hit on a persistent paranoia of mine. I don’t even have access to Netscape, let alone a Mac, and have ‘designed’ all the FT sites from scratch on a crappy free editor I got off a magazine cover CD two years ago. So I am always slightly concerned about how these pages look. If NYLPM is unreadable on a Mac, and you have any idea how to make it less so, please get in touch if only to refer me to a good piece on the subject.
I’d not come across fakejazz.com before – maybe it’s out of the ‘online zineblog loop’ (or maybe, more likely, I am), but I like it a good deal. The writing doesn’t always flow but the people involved always make an honest stab at describing and assessing some fairly uncategorisable music, and they usually do it without recourse to too many rockcrit cliches. The stuff covered initially struck me as your bog-standard indie rock, but a quick poke about their reviews section shows fakejazz’s committment to a much wider range of sounds – any US zine which covers Piano Magic and Nurse With Wound is going to get a thumbs up from me. (via Us Vs Them)
Mmmm, admin: I’ve rejigged the list of websites to your right, categorised them a little and added a few which I’d previously left out. But my memory is imperfect – if you run a music review site, or especially if you run a commentary-based or weblog site, drop me an e-mail and I’ll add you on.
Taken to task by Tim!: SINK seems to suggest that my disdain for the late-90s music press is down to some kind of refracted nostalgia for the music of my (relative) youth, and quotes The Manual‘s entirely accurate assertion that every age of pop is a Golden age to the people who live through it. Well, yes, but that wasn’t what I was talking about. Drummond and Cauty are talking about the music, I’m talking about the writing about the music.
Obviously I still like reading about music or I wouldn’t be doing this: if the NME was still a good read, I’d still be buying it, since I actually like a lot of the stuff it does. The lack of credibility I was talking about didn’t so much arise from the music papers’ embrace of Britpop as from their flip-flopping around when albums sold well or relatively flopped. I’m almost certainly being naive in that, as I bet they’ve always done it, but at the time it was another factor in my deciding to quit reading.
The music press was pretty awful when I started listening to indie music: I loved the NME in ’89 because it made me feel connected and I knew no better, but I’d never hold it up now as quality writing. (Tim also mentions shoegazing, which occasioned another monster slump in the quality of the paper and made me give it up for a year or so, infuriated by the weekly ‘Take Birdland go-karting’ articles.)
We’re the younger generation: really apalling piece on ‘twee’ from Salon. Briefly considers analysis, rejects it, reverts to stereotype. Will annoy lots of people: personally I don’t care much since I’ve hated every one of the bands mentioned aside from B & S and the Smiths (“sweetness and light”, it sez here). But I know hackwork when I see it.
Farewell The Lonely Surfer: Guardian obituary of Spector arranger Jack Nitzche.
FLOWCHART – Flutter By Butterfly
For a while there, childhood was the last frontier. The clumsy-beautiful melodies and quaint analog dreams of kinder-techno starlets Boards of Canada and Plone turned dance music into a playpen. These bands imagined childhood as a landscape every bit as exotic as 50s Hawaii or the 60s Moon, and one quite as crammed with carefree sweetness and crushing poignancy. I never quite trusted them and their slightly cloying take on infancy. Their childhoods may have been swimmily spent in hallucinatory bowers, but it fell to a band like Daphne And Celeste to capture the real, cruel rhythm of the playgrounds I remembered.
But Flowchart’s 1998 single is the prettiest thing I’ve heard in weeks, and on first spin it fits squarely into that whole naive tradition.It has children’s voices, bright-eyed one-finger melodies, and the production makes it sound as sharp and unreal as Christmas morning. But it’s got something else, too, some trace memory perhaps of when electronic music meant dancing and release. And so “Flutter By Butterfly” builds and peaks like it had a fieldful of faces to entertain. It sounds like “Smokebelch 2” played on a toy radio, or a nursery “Little Fluffy Clouds”. That obvious, that ravishing.
Supremes Taken To Extremes: (via scrubbles). More things wrong with this piece than I can really be bothered to list, some specific to his put-downs of the Supremes (which are right – Diana Ross is not the world’s greatest singer – but rest on his explicitly leaving out the contributions of the backing band and songwriters to the music), others more generally thick. Some talk of purity if you like that kind of thing. “Just about anybody on the Motown label was more soulful” – but the whole point of Motown is that it didn’t confine itself to being ‘soulful’. Etc.
The central problem, though, is that this guy is writing as if box sets were meant to be listened to in one sitting. Would I sit through five discs of the Supremes straight off? Christ no. Would I sit through four discs of Joy Division in one go? No also, but it didn’t stop me buying and enjoying Heart And Soul. The point is simply to have those four discs, to have a greater range of material than a best of allows, plus the possibility of mining a few more gems from the sets. That’s why box sets are a ridiculous indulgence, and why people still buy them. I honestly can’t think of a single band who’ve recorded more than three CDs worth (probably two CDs worth, come to think of it) of ten-out-of-ten, essential material, but I can think of plenty where I’d want the option of stretching out boxwise and judging for myself what that material is.