Posts from December 2001

21
Dec 01

Compare and Contrast

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Compare and Contrast: Blogging is hip-hop (November 2001) and Blogging is hip-hop (July 2000, entry #96). And for some proof – bloggers at war!

Pitchfork’s Top 20 Of 2001

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Pitchfork’s Top 20 Of 2001 is more interesting than you think it is. Still rather too scared of having a good time (unless that good time is validated by 900 different samples) but the site’s vision has gradually widened and the poll reflects that. ILM discussion on the poll here.

18
Dec 01

PUNK ROCK LYRIC WATCH SPECIAL

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PUNK ROCK LYRIC WATCH SPECIAL

THE CLASH – London Calling

A bunch of middle class punk chancers or the only band with something to say to come out of Britain during the late seventies? Well, on the evidence of London Calling it’s pretty much neither. Certainly if the something they had to say was of the standard of:
“London Calling, to the zombies of death”

That will be opposed to what other kind of zombie exactly Mr Strummer? The zombies of new born babes, the zombies of skipping around joyfully? The Zombies who had a hit in the hellish swinging sixties with “She’s Not There”? Well I’m glad you specified the dead kind of zombie. Now just fuck off with your Big Audio Dynamite and blow your head off properly this time. And join the zombies of death.

Robert Christgau In Two Parts:

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Robert Christgau In Two Parts:

1) For the lovers, the official Robert Christgau website is open for business, chock full of his hit-&-run Consumer Guide antics (along with other, longer, more considered pieces of prose).

2) For the haters, there’s this quote (emphasis provided by yours truly) from In Their Own Write, Paul Gorman’s book on the history of “rock criticism” (a term I wish would die a painful, tortorous death, but don’t mind me, here’s the quote, which, by the way, is from a snippet concerning the role of women in “rock criticism”, and maybe it’s just hard for me to swallow that women were mere window dressing for those big manly rock stars, or, worse yet, seeing the work of these women molded ever so slightly BY MEN in order to fit preconceived notions about “rock criticism” (hi, Mr. Marsh), but, again, don’t mind me, I need dinner, here’s the quote already):

“The New Yorker critic Ellen Willis, who I lived with in the Sixties, had a tremendous influence on my thought.”

2a) Haters will also be eager to sneak a peak at the latest issue of Badaboom Gramophone, a behemoth of a publication that contains a pithy little article entitled “A Consumer Guide To Robert Christgau’s Consumer Guide”, where the Dean is on the receiving end of some tough grading, ha ha. (It reads better than it sounds, believe me.)

17
Dec 01

Counter attack

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Counter attack: the Christmas party season and a hideous workload have served to nip the NYLPM renaissance in the bud rather – sorry about that, normal service etc. Here’s an article about the race for the Christmas No.1 to keep you in the holiday spirit.

13
Dec 01

WHICH ONE’S PINK?

I Hate Music6 comments • 560 views

WHICH ONE’S PINK?

I have always been a firm believer in doing the work you love and loving the work you do. That’s why my CV includes spells as a librarian, a sensory deprivation engineer, and a special liason for the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Busker Corpse. But that’s not to say I can’t sympathise with you poor souls trapped in a job you hate, faced every day with the punishing traumas and choices of modern industrial existence. “Hmm, which CD will I put on today – Dido or David Gray?”. Actually, no, I can’t sympathise.

But I sympathise more with you, O oppressed White Ladder listener, than with Roger motherfucking Waters. Roger’s job was to be a rock star. How he’d got the gig was a mystery, given that he looked like the horse from Steptoe And Son – but once he was in ‘the business’ he threw himself into it with the precise opposite of gusto. All of Pink Floyd’s biggest-selling records are about how absolutely shit it is to be a famous musician. “Welcome To The Machine” howls Rog with his customary metaphorical deftness. Yes the business nay LIFE ITSELF is an evil MACHINE that PROCESSES YOU and stops you being FREE it is populated with PIGS (three different kinds, Roger painstakingly points out) who say “HAVE A CIGAR” as they make you sign away your creative SOUL…

Hold on there Roger! The Man did you wrong how exactly? He restricted you to a mere nine parts of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” perhaps? Let’s get this straight. Pink Floyd were at the height of their commercial powers at a time when rock was the most indulged music on the planet. In other words if there is anybody in human artistic history who could done absolutely anything he wanted to do it is Waters, R. It’s not anyone else’s fault that what resulted sounded like Eric Clapton fallen in a tar pit.

Roger should have taken note of his colleagues’ attitudes. You didn’t catch Nick Mason complaining about his job, oh no. He knew a good thing when he saw one – turn up, hit a drum maybe fifteen times per song and then fuck off for the next three years to drive racing cars. (Pink Floyd may have put out A Collection Of Great Dance Songs but their music goes beyond mere BPM – if only because “beats” in the plural would contravene the Trades Descriptions Act.)

But Roger had none of this fair-mindedness. He moaned and moaned and moaned. For goodness’ sake, Rog, I agree with you! The music industry is a pit of cloth-eared snakes favouring product over talent (Evidence A is Pink Floyd but never mind). So why on earth didn’t you just leave and get another job? Very simple, no problems. Just put down the bass, walk out of the door, and forget all about it. You have to conclude that either Roger was just as greedy and venal as the rest of them, or that his blinkered misanthropy and grudge-bearing had made him completely unemployable. Like Dido versus David Gray, readers, it’s a very difficult choice.

12
Dec 01

BORE-BITAL

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BORE-BITAL

Male pattern baldness. Has there ever been a better sign of tedium in pop? Alopecia is just not a good sign in any band, lets pick off some examples. The grand Pooh-Bah of baldness would be Brian Eno o’course. He made Music For Airports. Of course the best place to listen to it is an airport. The whooshing jets cause a nice distraction to the ambient twaddle. Sinead O’Connor chips in with female not strictly pattern baldness, and was vilified. Not for saying nasty things about the Pope (like he would care). Instead for turning a dreary slushy Prince ballad into a dreary, slushier advert for polo neck sweaters. Christ baldness is such a bad sign that fucking Michael Stipe felt he had not reached his nadir of lousiness until he went the hole hog and put his pate on view.

So picture this. A band made up of two bald brothers. How dull could they be? How stupendously poor could genetic hair-loss cause the music to get? Why, you would imagine only a personality-free musical form would even vaguely contemplate putting up with light shining off of both performers bonces. Phew – that’d be dance then.

Intelligent dance dahrling – must be intelligent. They’re bald like all mad Professors. The Hartnoll brothers, Orbital, have managed to ply a trade of uninspired blips and blops fuelled on lack of charisma, lack of serious competition and a couple of penlights strapped to their faces. Its not as if they do not warn you though: take their heartfelt look at the effect of tranquillising drugs on their mother : Halcyon…and on…and on….and fucking on for about twenty minutes. They sampled Opus III, that’s like the Beatles covering Dave Dee, Dozy, Mick & Titch (not that this is necessarily a bad idea).

More clues to self tedium. Are We Here? Well point one – we wish you weren’t. Point two – you might as well not be. Orbital are apparently one of the best live techno acts. Scurrying like hamsters behind their big banks of equipment, pretend that they are not just playing the record. And let’s delve further – where does this reputation stem from? Oh yes, a barnstorming set at Glastonbury. Frankly you bung five hippies in front of a pile of burning waxed cups for half an hour and Jo Whiley doing shadow puppets with her withered hand would be “the best fucking gig in the world – mahn”.

Orbital are apparently named after the great early acid raves which took place in random places around the M25 in 1988 – 1989. Well if that were the case why aren’t they called “Rave” or “Party” or “Fucking Freezing Cold Milk Marketing Board Warehouse On The Outskirts Of Tring”. Instead they have decided to name themselves after the road – and not any old fucking road – the M25. When the highlight of an entire album / set is a sample of Suzi Quatro / Belinda Carlisle / the them tune to John Cravens Newsround you are really on to a loser.

Nope Orbital are dull baldness personified. Luckily they have written their own obituary – and fittingly it has no words. They should end up in “The Box”. Preferably six feet under.

Ethan P on Roots Manuva

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Ethan P on Roots Manuva: “Who gives a fuck about “ten pints of bitter?””. Well, not you Ethan, cuz being American you’re not old enough to drink it yet.

(Serious response – the Roots Manuva album is a bit overrated, but under the very funny bluster I don’t get the idea the review’s got much handle on the music. The feeling I always get from Ethan (on the forum and here) is that he wishes those horrid Brits and their horrid dance music inflections would stay away from his lovely hip-hop. Mind you, expecting Roots Manuva to weather an Atlantic crossing well – as his pop press glad-handers do – is as silly as expecting, say, Pulp to suddenly top the Billboard charts.)

11
Dec 01

Got Your Money Shot

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Got Your Money Shot: sloppy, slippery, disappointing Village Voice piece on Britney (maybe there’s just not much to say about it, and her, any more?) – the increasingly common and cheap e-mail exchange format doesn’t help.

Almost every time co-writer Amy Phillips* says something nice about Britney, she seems to feel she has to back it up with some indie/rock comparison point – PJ Harvey, The Strokes, Nation of Ulysses. She’s not doing it to bait, but to sell her opinions – which is odd in the Voice, the most pro-pop weekly on Earth. By the time you get to a paragraph devoted to the fact that she knows who did “I Love Rock’n’Roll” before Joan Jett did (the Arrows, if you care), you wonder if she’s really doing it for us – to prove to the big cynical boycrit readership that she knows her stuff, that she – just like Britney – can do her chosen profession ‘properly’.

She’s Britney’s age, too (the VV tells us so – presumably it wants to prove its pop reporters are demographically 4 Real). And, like Britney’s new material, her piece ends up a drag because she can do what she wants to do too damn properly.

*There’s another writer who’s only Mandy Moore’s age! But that one I lost when she started fretting about how she could wear a Britney shirt and still “demonstrate the irony”.

Old

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Old – here’s a question I’d like people to answer.

We all get into bands or records or scenes – get excited about them, get passionate about them, live for them. That music becomes you, becomes part of you. There’s not much argument about that. But the first thing I’d say is that the younger you are, the easier this happens. Is that true? And why is it true?

And then, sooner or later – usually after 7-10 years but sometimes sooner, that music stops being part of ‘living memory’, something to be ‘into’, and something happens to it.

Either it vanishes entirely, to live on only in the odd embarrassed cynic-nostalgic reference and then to surface maybe years later as exhumed ‘influence’.

Or it turns into history – you see The Smiths on the cover of Mojo, or ‘YOU KNOW THE SCORE: 40 Hardcore Classix’ in the supermarket, or a big record-straightening tome on K Records.

And my question is – what happens to YOU when that happens to your music? How do you feel about it? About your past? And about yourself now?