New York London Paris Munich

Jan 03


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I don’t drive. I’ve never even taken a driving lesson. This in itself is not of any great interest, but it means that I rarely have the experience of hearing music I like in the car: when I do travel in a motor, I tend to be subjected to the listening choices of the driver.

But one night I’d been to a folky / country benefit show in Hammersmith with my brother. I went to see Emmylou Harris and came away wildly impressed with John Prine. In the car on the way back home to South East London, through Chelsea and onto the Embankment. I was long-term ill and feeling drained, desperate for my bed but with that over-tired awe of London’s wonderland. The brother flicks over to some dodgy country station.

I didn’t know what it was at the time, but they played ‘Drive’ by Alan Jackson. Modern-trad epic country: I couldn’t work out whether it was a come-to-me or a run-away song, but it didn’t matter. It sounded like the greatest, hackiest thing ever, sentimental, spot-on. Dry as dust, maybe not going anywhere much but moving anyway. For that moment, perfect.

More than a year later, bits of the song are still stuck in my head. The next day, the internet told me what the song was, but I decided not to buy it. I couldn’t — can’t — see how I could hope to get anything more from familiarity with the record. As Daniel Williams wrote on Tangents (probably at around the same time), it’s not often one remembers particular instances of listening to recorded music. I decided I wanted to hang on to this one.

Jan 03

One Line Dismissals of Country Videos, Part One

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One Line Dismissals of Country Videos, Part One
Drive-Alan Jackson
Daddy songs, no matter how hackish, make me lose all critical skills, and Country has too many of them.
Dean Tuftin-I’m not so little
A bully comeuppance story,
Alabama-I’m in a Hurry
The best selling country group of all time, which proves that danger is not a virtue in Nashville.
Tim McGraw-Cowboy in Me
He’s vain, and the images of him half naked throughout distract from the music.
Willie Nelson -Maria
The latin women dancing throughout the honky tonk is a cliche, but
Luke Wilson as bearded drifter, fucking hot.
When the Lights Go Down-Faith Hill
Darling, CMT means country, take your banal Celine stealing, interchangeable pseudo diva, big haired nonsense to VH1

Jan 03

JOHN MAYER — ‘Your Body Is a Wonderland’ (redirect for the prosecution)

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If he’s so full of poetic wonder and awe, why does he sing these lyrics like he’s reading an encyclopedia? What woman is going to be flattered by having lecherous lyrics unemotionally intoned at her by someone who gives the impression that they’d rather be watching football than sing to her as she stretches out naked on the bed before him?

(Further discussion should probably happen in the comments or on ILXOR, I’m guessing.)

JOHN MAYER — ‘Your Body Is a Wonderland’ (a conscientious rebuttal)

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This isn’t the wonderland you’d find a hyperactive grade-school kid pinballing through — sure, the kid’s happy to pull on pant leg & dress hem screaming MOMMY DADDY LET’S GO HERE I WANNA SEE MICKEY WHERES MICKEY MOMMMMMY!, but what about their flagging enthusiasm? Undoubtedly, their once-boundless happiness at seeing little Horatio geek over Captain EO for the 15th time becomes subsumed by sore legs and crotchety financial concerns and those ever-so-brief thoughts to distract their bundle of joy with nice animated rodentia while exiting stage left for a quick soak and a quicker snog.


JOHN MAYER – “Your Body Is A Wonderland”

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JOHN MAYER – “Your Body Is A Wonderland”

I decided this morning that i would take on the following challenge; I’d pick a song I didn’t particularly like and write about it without going off on a ranting screed. Dear readers, if only you knew how hard this is for me! Even now, I sit here with finger trembling, every nerve in my body aching to type invective and derision as if I was psyching myself up for a pit fight. But NO I SHALL NOT SUCCUMB.

So, this song has been making its way up the top 40 for some time now. What can you really say about it? John Mayer has a passable singing voice, I guess; he doesn’t hit any wrong notes, even though his nasal burr is slightly less soothing than having porcupine quills lovingly stuck in you arms by an evil witch- WOAH I am breaking my rules. Let’s try this again.

To Mr. John Mayer: Really, would it have killed you to invest some energy in the song? From what I can tell, the fact that this lovely lady’s body is a wonderland laid out for your enjoyment excites you as much as looking up the oil company in the phone book. Everything about the song screams “safe middlebrow music”. There’s no bite, no hook, no ANYTHING for the listener to engage with besides vaguely pleasant, forgettable guitar and vaguely unpleasant, forgettable singing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this song, partially because they play it to death on Boston morning radio (and BOY do I regret that our bathroom radio is stuck on KISS 108), but mostly because despite the countless times I’ve heard it, I only have a vague recollection of how it goes. All I really remember is deep irritation and pain while it’s playing; once it’s over, I find myself somewhat puzzled as to why I was so irritated. Perhaps I should give the song points for giving some insight into what it’s like to live the life of the main character of “Memento”, but I’d much rather hope and pray that I never ever ever ever ever ever ever EVER had to hear it again.

Jan 03

POP-EYE 26/1/03

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Every time I do a Pop-Eye (and it has been a while) I learn something new. This time I have become increasingly sure that despite the idea that this is a rundown of the most popular records in the country, the top three are a bit of an anomaly because by far the worse songs in the top ten are the occupying those slots. That means David Sneddon is still at the top. But even though he came out of that awful Fame Academy thing – its okay – he wrote this song himself. Which may explain why no-one has slagged off this sub Del Amitri mid-tempo blah tune as much as they should Hence he is literally living the lie that he is a good songwriter. David, back to the streets with you.


Jan 03

JOAN JETT-“Crimson and Clover”

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JOAN JETT-“Crimson and Clover”
You know the kind of boy (or girl) that you refuse to think about, cause all of the blood is caught between your heart and your loins ?
this is the song for that. Hearing her sing Crimson and Clover over and over is lonely and hot and brooding and funny and oh so tragic.

DIXIE CHICKS-“Travelling Soilder”

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DIXIE CHICKS-“Travelling Soilder”

MASH was about Vietnam, not Korea.
Despite the lyrics this song is not about Vietnam, its about the new war, the tenuous war that has happened and hasn’t happened at the same time, the problem is that you cant really talk about something that hasn’t happened.
But Country and the Army often overlap when it comes to demographics, and for something that is on the mind of its listeners you cant avoid it.
This is what they do, they make a folk son ca 1967, a perfect pastiche- like The Ballad of Penny Evans, but with more respect for the Solider.
The lyrical details are trenchant: He’s 18. There is a football game, a wife is made widow too young, mention of prayer, of public grief and private mourning-of the letter home and the promise never to love again.
The music is stark, a voice as lovely as Baez or St Marie, some martial fife and drum, a mandolin keeping tune.
Its not the pop country, its not the usual good times-this is the band that made a novelty hit out of domestic abuse(Goodbye Earl)-its a common song about a common tragedy, that manages to be universal.

that was a naughty bit of crap

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that was a naughty bit of crap – via Blissblog, bloody excellent music weblog. No permalinks yet but the top story is about Chris Morris’ pastiche reggae 10″, which sounds to me like a tribute to the notorious Sex Boots Dread and “Tickle Tune”, a mighty record introduced to me by NYLPM’s latest and much-revered contributor, Mr Tim Hopkins (scroll down for Taskforce write-up). Reminds me also to get working on my article about blogging (yes another one).

Jan 03

KOMATROHN – “Mirrors And Chrome”

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KOMATROHN – “Mirrors And Chrome”

Simon Reynolds pointed out last year that neo-electro bands were busy making tracks not songs, which meant they didn’t ever really hit the heights of their 80s forebears. And Ronan Fitzgerald pointed out last year that tracks would do him nicely thanks and what was all this ‘eighties’ shit anyway? Between them they’ve put up a most comfortable fence and I intend to keep sitting on it – Komatrohn’s “Mirrors And Chrome” is about as songy as these records get but listening to it just now it’s still the bass I vibe off.

Komatrohn’s song-template seems to come from Visage – the same marble and crystal keyboards, the same detatched but hungry scene-voyeur perspective, the same European rhythm axles and pop-song chassis. “She wears hair just like Limahl / She is posing like she’s seen / Famous people in magazines”. It’s ludicrous. It might even be a pisstake, I don’t know. It might be a pisstake on people who want it to be a pisstake. 1980 New Romantics were ludicrous too in what looks now like a weirdly innocent way – maybe they wanted to turn the clock back to 1973, Bolan-Bowie-Roxy starworship, but all the stars were dead so they had to put the clothes on themselves. 2003 Electro kids want to smash the clocks and disappear down the mirror-lined rabbithole of bluff and counter-bluff, pose replying to pose. There is nothing whatsoever innocent about Komatrohn. Uncomfortable listening in a sense, but exhilarating too.