New York London Paris Munich

Jun 04

Bits of business

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Bits of business: HELLO AGAIN I am back from Glastonbury. Who was best? Basement Jaxx were best, them and Daara J from Senegal.

The track currently on Radio 1 (Kasabian?) is baggy! I have heard this mob described as “Kraftwerk meets Oasis”, actually they are Campag Velocet meets The Soup Dragons – indie dance is so coming back. I’m rather enjoying this, oh dear.

Streets album at #1 again thanks to “Dry Your Eyes” thanks to the football, my Cassandra-like marketing skillZoR proved sadly right, XfM (damn them) were playing some of the commentary “highlights” mixed in apparently…

I am DJing tonight at the Chapel Bar in Islington for the Freaky Trigger Glastonbury Reunion night, a great evening will be had by those brave few who turn up, particularly if they were at the festival and know all the tracks I’m going to be playing anyway.

Speaking of which I’m finally getting into this 2004 singles thing, the office is loving “Some Girls” and I take back my catty comments re. the verses (except maybe “My baby drives a car – HEY!” which is the moment when the Dorothy of yr mind suddenly notices the shabby bearded man behind the shimmering pop curtain).

If you asked to be in the Freaky Trigger Pop Panel (and I’m still not more inspired as to a name) then you should have received an email from me. Shout at me if you haven’t.

Jun 04

Sonic Youth-Tunic

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Sonic Youth-Tunic

i’m writing this story about anorexics for the local daily, and have been listening to this song as a way towards thearpy, except its not really working…see the thing is that all of what i believe about anorexia is in this song, and also things im not quite sure of. The idea of it being about control is here, in how kim gordan (playing karen carpenter) has to move her voice into and out of the guitar scrawl…and how she isnt nesc. loud enough. Or about how the world wants women to be smaller, because smaller is easier to control, easier to leave behind—and how that you lose her voice in this, how the guitar is considered so phallic, and how it presents in a really agressive fashion, with an agressiveness that is abusive towards the female voice. Then there is the idea of a perfect world, wanting to please family, wanting to be happy, and only being happy when you lose that last ten pounds–but the irony there, the irony that the only way to mantain that happiness is to do so in heaven–the idea of the afterlife as perfect jam session (cf Dolly Partons Hillybilly Heaven). The last closeness is the obession with food, the liturgical naming of Carpenters actual food. The problem with the track is how happy some of it is, how freeing–around the 4 minute mark there being a fuck you to Richard, about how she has to go because of a gig–a gig away from the boys, away from fame, a self directed happy just being us girls, taking over the reigns, noisy, messy, guitary gig that collpases the rest of the song into almost farce.

(note: where are the pop songs about this sort of thing, where are the carp;enmter songs about love being a withering wasting–did the girl groups even do it ?)

Jun 04

CLUB FT Glasto Reunion: Wednesday 30th June

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CLUB FT Glasto Reunion: Wednesday 30th June

While the rest of the stinking crypto-hippy NYLPM set roll around like piglets in the Somerset mud, or get proper freaky with crystals in the soul zone (more likely the Perry Zone), it falls to me to remind you all of the forthcoming Club Freaky Trigger: Glasto Reunion!

That’s Club Freaky Trigger, Wednesday 30th June, at the Chapel Bar in Islington, from 7 until late-ish, FREE ENTRY, happy hour cocktails, you know the drill. I’m reliably informed that it will have all the usual pop delights, with drinking and that. Everyone’s welcome, and if you haven’t come to one of these before, this seems as good a time to start as any.

Why? Because it won’t all be stories about spilling corrosive cider over your last clean shirt in the Rave Tent at four a.m. on The Friday. No! Our FT chums have concocted the perfect mix for the football lover AND the football hater: one of the Euro 2004 semi finals will be on that night and it Club FT will, for one night only, be built around the game. It won’t all be football though, there will be plenty of the proper pop business too. Some of these delights may even provide the soundtrack to the match, which has to be better than Motson. We’re hoping the evening doesn’t demand “Dry Your Eyes”.

See you there, I hope.

Jun 04

The Freaky Trigger Pop Panel

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The Freaky Trigger Pop Panel: Do you have

– the ability to receive MP3-size files over email, once or twice a week?
– an interest in pop and a desire to comment on current records?

If so you might want to join the Pop Panel* – email freakytrigger at gmail dot com and I’ll send you some details when I get back from Glastonbury. If we get lots and lots of reponses I’ll prioritise people who write for the site or have been involved in the Focus Group (and yes I know you’re owed a focus group, sorry! The FTPP will run along similar lines so I’ll probably incorporate the last group in it.).

*we might give it a less rub name.

And that’s me off! Have a good two weeks!

Girls Aloud-The Show

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Girls Aloud-The Show
Tom may have already written about this, but we can call this a remix. Obviously when the initial rush subsides we will all be properly capable of analysing this record, in a measured and balanced way. Ugh!

The most striking thing about “The Show” is how it reinforces, for me, an idea which I think I gleaned from Morley somewhere or other. There’s a section in “Words and Music” where he is very verbose about Dr Dre’s productions and analyses them with some depth, and then concludes by saying “in other words, he is a cool motherfucker”. Dre’s beats, like ANY really tightly executed electronic beats, just reek of arrogance. There is something utterly uncompromising and unfair about those moments when production seems rock hard and untouchable. “Rubicon” has it, “Still Dre” has it, Vitalic has it, “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” had it but it seems to have faded with time. “In Da Club” converted it into medicinal strength crack and sold millions without losing a scrap of its original dignity. And “The Show” has this swagger too, without a doubt.

Whether the girls themselves are aware of just what a beat they’ve been given is unclear, though the important thing is that they appear to know exactly what is going on. “The Show” is the suffocating force of consumer driven pop music at its ruthless best, it’s the girl pop “In Da Club”, a behemoth of a production which will soon cease to depend on any opinion or anything beyond its own swaggering existence. This record is the most instantaneous pop or dance moment of 2004, the charts are its bitch.

I’m off on holiday tomorrow.

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I’m off on holiday tomorrow. Pre-hols linkage:

Lacunae has MP3s now. Of course we were all reading it anyway.

Party music for jaded cynics – clubbing blog, promises details of ‘goings-on’.

Chuck Eddy on country duo Big & Rich – he’s not wrong; very enjoyable album.

Jun 04

The Best New Music Blogs

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The Best New Music Blogs

Bloggers get tired or bored or busy or run out of things to say or just vanish – it’s the nature of the game. Luckily there are plenty more being started. All these made their first post sometime this year.

The Tofu Hut: more than just another MP3 blog, Tofu Hut is absolutely stuffed full of links and research findings, just like – gasp – blogs used to be. Friendly and enthusiastic (and yes you get MP3s too).

Gel In They etc etc.: stream-of-type hip-hop chat from Plum Drank, Mia Trill and the mysterious Old Stuffz.

Bang And Burn: sexily-designed MP3 and pop blog – sharp, loving commentaries.

Scissorkick: MP3s (undie hip-hop) and video clips and again a nice design.

Digital Music Weblog – links, facts, commentary on the digital music explosion: very informative.

There are lots of others but these stand out. My quick and incomplete ‘state of the weblog nation’ view suggests that Fluxblog is the current Preferred Model – the one newcomers want to emulate, much like Blissblog was 18 months or so ago. I think It’s a good model – emphasis on content, friendly, encourages comments, inquisitive. Fans like me of the long analytical ‘event post’ won’t find much to chew on in the newer blogs, though. The ‘music press in exile’ aspect of blogging is perhaps being superseded by a version of the music blog that makes more use of multimedia and interactivity rather than basing itself on rosy memories or fictions of pop writing. (Of course it’s not a binary – one of the things that makes (made?) Woebot so good is its combination of generous multimedia and good writing.)

If that’s so (big if!) I’ll miss it – the usual suspects had a great year or so, and they’re near the top of my read-list. But I’m excited about the newer trend, which seems to exploit the Internet’s potential so well (how ’98 of me!)

Jun 04

trife hide yr eyes as the us left PICK THEIR FAVORITE LPs

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trife hide yr eyes as the us left PICK THEIR FAVORITE LPs:

a lot of pretty nice if highly orthodox records, almost all from very long ago, with little evidence here (militant anti-rockist a.cockburn aside)* of agile or inquisitive or even listening minds after c.1980 (except maybe among the jazz-inclined) (ok so i’m an ornette fan)… comically high vote for the clash naturally, with all the usual timid and confused reasoning (those strummer obits last year surely mere practice runs for the reagan obits we’ve been flipping past this week, in their gluey revisionist reverence??!!)

haha at one point some LaYMoR deploys the phrase “stands the test of time”!! so much for revolutionary boldness and originality of critical thought eh?

*(AC even inveighs against the evils of lists always being multiples of five!)

Jun 04

singer who defied musical categories…

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singer who defied musical categories…

but “musical categories” are of course only defined with hindsight, not in advance: a more accurate (or do i mean helpfully argumentative?) description might be “singer who refused to kowtow to the routine distillation – which is to say enfeeblement – effected by latterday niche-marketing and/or (same thing) critical credulity”: refinement entails a loss of power bcz it entails a loss of [scientific-semantic truism alert] potential

Fine Ray Charles piece

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Fine Ray Charles piece by Marcello. (Update – also explore and listen to Tofu Hut’s memorial post)

I don’t know Ray Charles’ work well enough; another example of the (slightly shameful if hardly unique to me) syndrome where someone’s death prompts me to look deeper at their work. Aside from his acknowledged classics there is one song of his I know and really love, though, that Mike Daddino taped for me years ago: a version of “Ol’ Man River” that Google suggests is pretty uncelebrated. The first time I heard it it stopped me in my tracks – one of those headphone moments where you just have to stand and listen.

It was my first time with “Ol’ Man River” too – I’d never seen or heard “Show Boat” though I guessed it was from a musical. I didn’t know what liberties if any Charles had taken with the tune, but I could tell that it was an old song and a corny song. If you’re singing a sentimental song you can try and fight or subvert the sentiment, maybe approach the tune more starkly than expected or try and draw out some more fundamental meaning. Ray Charles does not take this road with “Ol’ Man River” – with a full choir and wide, rich string setting he embraces the sentimentality and runs with it, amplifies it, trusting in the power of his singing to make you hear the song as if you’d never heard it before. Of course I had never heard it before, but no version I’ve heard since has moved me nearly as much.

Charles pitches his singing perfectly – there’s a staginess which matches the grandiose arrangement but an intimacy too, the first time he sings the chorus it’s almost to himself, as if the words had just that moment occurred to him and he’s trying them out. It’s a crafted performance: it reminds me that a great soul man, a great singer of any kind, needs to be able to act as well as feel. Thanks (again) Mike and thanks (again) Ray.