Posts from July 2017

26
Jul 17

21 Lists

New York London Paris Munich4 comments • 484 views

A list in which the descriptions match the wrong entries.

A list in which the order is determined drunk and the descriptions are written sober.

A list in which the order is determined sober and the descriptions are written drunk.

A list in which the reader’s task is to guess what is being ranked.

A ranked, definitive and fully justified list in which the contents have been selected by lot.

A list in which the descriptions are written by ex-lovers of the voters.

25
Jul 17

RONAN KEATING – “If Tomorrow Never Comes”

Popular13 comments • 1,739 views

#926, 18th May 2002

ronan tomorrow I have been playing a lot more country music than usual lately, thanks to recommendations by wise friends of foundational albums. It seems to me that listening to country is, inescapably, listening to tradition. Country artists emerge within a tradition and while they may modernise, criticise, expand, revive, reinvent or inherit that tradition, they do not reject it. Roberto Calasso, the Italian philosopher of tradition and ritual, was talking about Vedic seers and the Catholic Church rather than Garth Brooks when he waxed lyrical about how tradition confers a gauze of quasi-mystical legitimacy on individuals and institutions, but the point applies just as well.

Calasso is no idiot – a conservative via pessimism rather than conviction, he knows full well that legitimacy and tradition are just what happens when enough people have chosen to forget past thefts and usurpations. Country music isn’t really more authentic or sincere than all the other kinds, but the investment in tradition gives it an aura of sincerity, of straight-talking honest-truthing God-fearing realness, whose aesthetics and effects are visible enough even if the aura itself is often flimsy. (Calasso understands that the gauze of legitimacy is, by its nature, quite easily shredded – he just thinks that what happens after tends to be worse. What he makes of former Boyzone singer Ronan Keating is unknown, but may be guessed at.)

What makes country music great is that this aura is itself a gateway to expression and tonal play – once the tiresome question of “do they mean it, man?” is taken off the table, the music is opened up more to camp, schmaltz, vulgarity, corn, lust, metaphysical awe and dread, and yes, honest attempts to couple with thorny adult problems and emotions, of which, whether I actually like it or not, “If Tomorrow Never Comes” is one.

18
Jul 17

HOLLY VALANCE – “Kiss Kiss”

Popular16 comments • 1,862 views

#925, 11th May 2002

valance “Freak Like Me” is a rare case where hit covers and mutations keep building on the foundations of a song, finding new things in it. At this point in pop, the opposite was more often true. “Kiss Kiss” is a good single – in the context of the charts, its dipping and rolling Turkish rhythms are delightfully fresh, a showy flourish across a grey backdrop. But hearing the singles it was based on – Tarkan’s “Simarik” and Stella Soleil’s remake of it as “Kiss Kiss” – lets you hear possibilities this version closes down.

12
Jul 17

2017 Albums I Like Part 2

FT11 comments • 610 views

horseface I am still listening to a new-to-me LP every day! A lot – in fact, most – of those LPs come from this year. So here are 30 MORE albums I’ve enjoyed a lot, in some kind of ranking. Confusingly perhaps, these are not all records released in April-June, but records I heard for the first time in April-June. That pedantic point is of interest only to me: what YOU want to know (maybe) is what these good records are.

1. HORSEFACE – Jaakausi (Charming Swedish post-rock, like a lost Too Pure signing)
2. POLO & PAN – Caravelle (Summertime bubblegum house-pop from France)
3. HAUSCHKA – What If? (Bustling future visions, like Olaf Stapledon with player-pianos)
4. JLIN – Black Origami (Intense, brain-twisting footwork epic)
5. ANGALEENA PRESLEY – Wrangled (Smart, tuneful, country; part wistful, part kick-ass)
6. SZA – Control (R&B act achieves the near-impossible by making 20something relationship angst compelling)
7. OMAR SOULEYMAN – From Syria, With Love (Does what the title says, and you could dance to it)
8. PARAMORE – After Laughter (Big, bright pop move from perennial emo kid faves)
9. OCTO OCTA – Where Are We Going? (Sparkly, expansive house music)
10. KENDRICK LAMAR – DAMN. (Hip-hop monarch embraces the banger)

10
Jul 17

SUGABABES – “Freak Like Me”

Popular32 comments • 3,642 views

#924, 4th May 2002

sugafreak At The Disco

A scene from Phonogram III: The Immaterial Girl, by Gillen, McKelvie and Wilson, published in 2015. It’s the early 00s, at a disco somewhere in the south of England. A group of people who love music so much it’s become their life and the tools of their craft – magic in the comic’s world; writing, DJing and blogging in ours – have been brought together to scheme and to dance. One of them is Seth Bingo, a skinny guy in a T-Shirt saying “Mutya Keisha Siobhan”. The final name is crossed out, with “Heidi” scrawled underneath. Bingo, affected but handsome in a gaunt sort of way, is talking to another thin white man, a morose husk of a creature called Indie Dave. “What is your take – “ Bingo asks – “on the Babes Of Suga?”.

“My real take?” asks Dave, “Or my ironic one?”. And so Seth Bingo lays him out with an uppercut, the art exploding in colour around the punch.