Posts from 3rd January 2001

3
Jan 01

A Thousand Songs

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A Thousand Songs: it’s an experiment of sorts.

Today I think we will link to

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Today I think we will link to In Review – we will do this because it is a sorely underrated music weblog and we will specifically do this because of Jimmy Mod’s sarkily entertaining track-by-tracker on a Kill Rock Stars comp.

THIN ON THE GROUND

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THIN ON THE GROUND

I went to the pub the other day (well you know me, I go to the pub every day,- but for the sake of verisimilitude let us say it was New Years Day). I walked up to the bar and ordered myself the usual double G&T, and after consulting with my companion ordered – through gritted teeth – Diet Water for her. The barman looked at me in a puzzled way.
“Who are you ordering that for?” he asked.
“My associate here.”
“There is nobody there.”
“Oh please do not tell me that you are trying to pull some sort of Harvey (Jimmy Stewart’s invisible rabbit) / PJ Harvey schtick here.”
“No. Though its quite a good idea – and I though IHM was getting stale. I genuinely cannot see her.”
That is because – dear readers – Ms Polly Jean Harvey is indeed too thin to be seen. The only reason she took up the guitar is so that people would have something to look at when they were talking to her. Or shouting at her telling her to knock off the fuzzed up blues rip offs already.

Of course I am no body fascist (my fascism is squarely aimed at sonic squalling), and whilst PaJama Harvey may have no corporeal
body to speak of she more than makes up for it in her body of work. Unfortunately it is pretty much Patti Smith’s body of work, so its looking a bit ropey twenty years down the line. Still she can’t help having the blues – being from the deep south like she is. Yeovil. A town noted for its name sounding a bit – but not much – like the word weevil. I know that insult may seem poor but I am really not the kind of girl who goes to places in Somerset. Glastonbury is in Somerset – the risk is too great.

Back to StringBean Harvey anyhow. Its interesting to follow her career development from Dry to Stories From the City, Stories From The Sea. Interesting at least if you’re waiting for grass growing season. I’ve seen more development in a polaroid of a white wall. The only difference is that on Dry she got her drummer to sing castrato, and in Stories From The Slag Heap she got a castrato to sing dead low. I assume Thom Yorke has no balls anyway, that can be the only reason why he is so fucking miserable.

Lick My Lips, I’m on fire”: Hold up love, a little bit of saliva won’t put out a fire. Let me spit on you too. Just calling an album “Rid Of Me” raised my hopes too damn high, as did that photo of her drowning on the back cover of “To bring You My Love”. How dare she raise my hopes so high. And then collaborate with Tricky (those men may break your bones, but if you bring your husky rumble round here again love I’ll snap ’em for them). And that no mark Nick Cave. I hate her, I tell you, damn her wafer thin eyes.

Okay. So my New Years Resolution was to go on a diet. So I broke it yesterday (it really is unfair that there are so many calories in one shot of gin – let alone nineteen). That doesn’t mean I don’t hate her music as well.

The Pub Seven Deadly Sins: 3: Fake Doors

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The Pub Seven Deadly Sins: 3: Fake Doors

There is a joke about this. “When is a door not a door? When it is the left hand door of the Lord John Russell.”

It is cold, dark and relatively late. You are scurrying to meet friends in a local pub. Its a new pub to you, but they tell you that it is really rather nice. You arrive at the Red Lion (for want of a statistically likely name). You push on the door. It does not budge. You push on its partner. It does not budge either. You then notice through the frosted glass window a table in front of the door, your friends sitting there in, pointing and laughing – gesticulating to the “other” door – usually hidden out back. Yes my friend, you have come across : The Fake Door.

Fake doors are not of course fake at all. They all work, though they may be a bit sticky from years of repainting the hinges and being bolted. They harken back to the good old days where pubs were not merely one room warehouses of drinking. In the old days, (cue fag stained sepia flashback) your pub had at least two seperate bars. Public – for any old punter off the street – and private, for the locals. You may even have a lounge – for the ladies, or a Saloon for those authentic Wild West punch ups. Since it would not be right to find any old bloke in the Private Bar, let alone a lady, each segment had its own door.

Flash forward to the horror of the eighties. Not only did the eighties bring us the demise of Double Diamond (the holy grail for any drinker coming of age in its thrall), they also knocked most of these pubs through. Its almost definately Whitbreads fault. The idea is sound from a management freeflow diagramaitical point of view. Less bars mean less bar staff, less walls mean more space. But it also means five doors to enter one pub. And since, in a freeflow diagram, a locked door is merely another wall – this is promptly what they did.

A lot of pubs neglected to do what might be sensible and pick the least used doors as the once for wall conversion. Indeed many still look like doors as well. Occasionally there might be a tiny sign saying “Please Use Other Door”, but rarely are there directions to find said other door – and once you have committed yourself you are still going to look a fool.

All we ask is the ability to walk straight into a pub, off the street without some Krypton Factor test to see if the door is infact a door. If you walk into a pub looking and feeling like a fool, then you will be treated as such – and this most welcoming of bosoms will suddenly feel barren and unnurturing. And you feel like a tit.

Fillums eh?

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Fillums eh? Tom claims to know not much about them, but I think its merely because its a difficult critical beast to muster. Writing about films already has a number of critical paradigms, there are degrees in the stuff – wheras degrees in Music Criticism whaft up occasionally in the kind Daily Mail articles which wrings its hands with the state of the nation. (A BA in ABBA – Whatever Next) That’s why, if you fillet out the opinions, ninety percent of film reviews will look the same. Not true of music reviews.

So to the Tangents article on Lars Von Trier. Well worth a read, even if you do not know much of Lars Von Triers stuff. I always find films (and songs for that matter) which work despite themselves fascinating. Dancer In The Dark is technically, narratively and dramatically shoddy – yet it is also compelling and strangely moving. Von Trier irritates, The Idiots is an exceptionally annoying film, and Breaking The Waves is both exceptionally moving and distasteful.

So is there a music analogy? Do we draw a line between record producer and director – in which case we may see similarities between Von Trier and say Malcolm McClaren (a definate irritant). Except I do not see Von Trier as a shameless self publicist, more as someone who realises that in the relatively stagnated field of film, risks need to be taken. If you see a bad film these days, it rarely technically bad. There may be no characterisation, lack of central ideas and a limp script but camera movement and set direction will tend to be superior to anything done in the fifties. Von Trier is showing, with Dogme and equally with ignoring Dogme, that there is a route to making challenging yet commercial films which ignores convention. No-one since Hitchcock has really played about with form so much.

The paradigm in film criticism is to split a film off into its component parts. Basically it is theatre criticism with an additional paragraph on cinematography. That it is possible to do this with Dancer In The Dark, and conclude that it is a lousy film is the most interesting aspect of Von Trier’s work. It then makes you suggest that film theory must be wrong – because the film does make an emotional connection, I did walk out thinking that I had seen a good movie. This scares film critics, their formula no longer works. They have been reduced to the level of a mere music critic – fumbling around in the dark for words to try and sum up their subjective response. This is why it would be interesting to see Tom review Dancer In the Dark – he’s actually quite good at that subjective fumbling.

So Dancer In the Dark, the movie which should only be reviewed by pop fans. A conclusion reached without once refering to it as a musical. The tunes on the other hand…

(I’m not entirely happy with this Le Tigre reviewlet but pending articulation of whatever else is kicking around my head re. the band I’ll put it up anyway….)

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(I’m not entirely happy with this Le Tigre reviewlet but pending articulation of whatever else is kicking around my head re. the band I’ll put it up anyway….)

LE TIGRE – “Deceptacon”

Do you want new wave or do you want the truth? Le Tigre say: both. What “Deceptacon” is positing, while you get off on its pinball bassline and overdriven robot rhythms, is this: that rock and roll, the weird unknown heart of rock and roll, whatever that may be (they call it the bomp, which suffices), has been lost. No, that would be boring and blameless: has been stolen. “Who took it?” – that’s what they’re asking. “How can we get it back?” – that’s what they’re demonstrating.

Meanwhile I’m still mostly digging the music, and Kathleen Hanna’s tumbling crackling stabbing non-voice, which against this high-kicking bouncy background just sounds fantastic. I think it’s dull when people – men or women – start winking backwards at rock history, even if they’re trying to, I don’t know, subvert it. So when she sings, wonderfully, “I wanna disco / Wanna wanna disco / Let me see you depoliticise my rock” (I think that’s what she’s singing: that’s what she’s singing to me), I take it as an imperative, not a defiant challenge.

More FT news

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More FT news: there’s a selection from our bulging mailbag here; there’s an article on Foreigner and the eighties’ legacy here which looking at it may be the best thing I’ve written in a while; and if you’ve not been reading CAOTM recently then you are a knave, because it’s kicking much critical ass.

Playlouder’s Top 50 Singles Of The Year

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Playlouder’s Top 50 Singles Of The Year: a good job thoroughly done, and little enough to quibble with. If the NME could still be arsed to cover singles properly, it could run this and keep the target market and the old bores alike fairly happy. This link brought to my attention by DJ Martian.

Now the publishing thing seems a little smoother

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Now the publishing thing seems a little smoother a few more words on those Tangents articles – Everett True contributes a lengthy and fascinating Dexy’s Midnight Runners interview which, awkward pauses and all, reads like the Don’t Stand Me Down lyric sheet (compliment, silly). David O. MacGowan has written an excellent thinkpiece about the self-construction of cultural meaning with reference to an ATR live album (for more noise sleevenote action he should of course check out the speed-fuelled rantings on Metal Machine Music, in fact checking out MMM full stop is generally recommended). Marino Guida has covered a variety of subjects with his usual elegance – fans of the Josh Blog are encouraged particularly to read Guida’s pieces: after his incisive write-up of “Kicker Conspiracy” I’d have liked to see him flip the single and tackle “Wings”, though, cause it’s possibly my favourite Fall tune ever.

There’s also an article about fillums. But I don’t know my arse from my elbow when it comes to fillums.

In Close Proximity of a Muppet

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In Close Proximity of a Muppet: hey, it’s his tagline, not mine. Anyway this is agenbyte.com: it’s a weblog with a decent splicing of good music links included.