Posts from 3rd July 2001

Jul 01


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NB: You might have noticed a lack of Moments In Love updates lately. This is annoying but it’s not because I’ve got bored of the feature already – quite the contrary, I’m really excited about it. I’ve just been trapped doing oceans of work in advance of going on holiday and have had no time to sit back and think creatively about anything – entries like the Greil Marcus one below were cobbled together from fleeting e-mail chats.

So this seems a good opportunity for me to ask if any of you want to help with MIL. You’d probably be asked to do a run of between five and ten days on the feature, to prevent too much stylistic incongruity from day to day. Other than that, you could do whatever you like with it – e-mail me if you’re interested.

America’s Best Rock Band

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America’s Best Rock Band: according to Greil Marcus, it’s Sleater-Kinney. Now reading this article you might be struck by how irrelevant the opening paragraph is – about S-K meeting the Backstreet Boys and them not knowing who S-K were. And you’d be right – it’s bogus point-scoring (besides, what should Kevin Backstreet have done, bent over for Corin Tucker’s so-cute antipop irony?).

But the opening paragraph also hints at why Sleater-Kinney have done so well – there’s something so neatly alternative about them, something which swerves Marcus into self-parody (or just laziness) every time he goes near them. They’re beautifully messless, nobody’s marketing tools for sure but still a furrowed liberal rock writer’s dream-lie of what a girl punk band should sound like. For Greil, hearing them must have been like finding a missing jigsaw piece under the table.

For me, there’s still more dread in the Backstreets’ “Shape Of My Heart” than in any self-satisfied scratches I’ve heard from Sleater-Kinney. That dread’s only there because I choose to put it there, sure, but this strikes me as a good way to take a swing at pop – throw something of yourself into the songs and see what stares back at you. It’s the kind of idea Marcus might like – “On the radio, a Sleater-Kinney song throws everything around it off balance” he says, and then he talks about how their sound makes you feel unafraid, and makes other music stupid, and how their voices sum up what’s “at stake”.

But this is what Greil Marcus has been saying about the bands and singers he likes for twenty years now. His critical method – looking for bands that can turn the world (a world) upside down – is good, but it’s never Marcus’ world that’s getting overturned, it’s always some mythical listening you or them. He’s listening for what he thinks bands might or should do, it seems to me, and his reactions are patrician and distant. Sleater-Kinney don’t overturn his critical life, not one bit – if anything they’re a labour-saving device, something to make his job easier. And listening to them you can tell why.

My Indie Life

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My Indie Life: five old pieces find their way into the FT archives, to make up for my being too busy to produce a new bit of writing this week (don’t worry – Ned has a few goodies lined up for an update towards the end of the week). They document in gruesome detail my love-hate relationship with indie pop, of the sensitive boy stripe. From 1999, reviews of Spearmint (an album I find very hard to listen to now), and ginger steps toward rehabilitating The Wedding Present. Then the epic Belle And Sebastian essay, about that band’s strengths and the community that cherishes them, and my conversation with my conscience about liking this sort of stuff in the first place. And finally my review of Suburban Light by The Clientele, still my favourite record of last year.

These aren’t up on the archives page yet because my connection this morning has fallen down the arse pipe.

Am I Cool Or Not?

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Am I Cool Or Not?: sorry, dude.

Now, a new pic awaits you all. But here we come to a delicate matter which I had best address directly: I need pictures of women. The submissions pile for AICON is running low – if you’re reading this and you fancy letting your tastes be filletted by your cruel and jaded peers then do please send a .jpg (under 50 KB please!) to this address. From next week too AICON will be edited by the most excellent Nicole, rather than lazy me.