New York London Paris Munich

May 05

Culture Wars: one step forward one step back

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Former UN worker barred from charity gig because incorrectly ‘authentic’. If this is true (link from popjustice) then things are worse than we thought. The alliance of bleeding heart crypto-liberalism with the elitism of the arts open up a new front in the war on pop. If discrimination on grounds of ethnicity is banned, why isn’t discrimination on the grounds of ‘authenticity’? (And of course, ethnicity = authenticity, for much of the left.)

May 05

So ya / thought ya / might like to… go to The Show

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Talent In A Previous Life‘s review of the Glasgow Girls Aloud gig 2 weeks ago. The most exhaustive description of the show I’ve seen in a pop-blog, and though the actual performance I saw differed in only minor details (the ‘g-g-g-go’ was NOT done at Hammersmith), I’d def disagree with more than a few opinions. First off: Teenage Dirtbag is totally ACE. Yeah? Well you can shut up too.

The night had a few “mini bootleg” moments. I was expecting “And The Beat Goes On” to make an appearance as the intro to Sound of the Underground started up. It didn’t, but the “My Sharona moment” made its expected appearance. Not quite so expected was a chunk of “Another Brick in the Wall” which we were sadly denied a full cover of. Less expected than that was the squeals of delight caused by support act Kute, who used a Rainbow sample to extraordinary rock/pop effect. That’s Rainbow the band, not the kids telly show, fool. You may be hearing more about this from other nylpm’ers, but if you look at the home page of Talent in a previous life you’ll find more info on Kute than you’ll find on any official site.

Alan Jackson-Talking Repair Man Blues.

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Alan Jackson
Talking Repair Man Blues.

Alan Jackson is the best example of countryist, a historically minded obsession with purity mars the rest of his music and this is the latest example, after examples like Gone Country (which, even with the huge sales, seems horribly outdated), Chasing that Neon Rainbow (which is why the j-pop cover has a certain perverse genius), and Murder on Music Row (with George Strait, a fellow purist). The song in question is a talking blues and he?s been doing story songs like that, even if he isn’t talking about what happens when pop starts taking over Nashville.

This one’s weird though, it’s also a template for making the perfect country song, and a mockery of everyone who thinks they can do it. It is a mechanical paean to the power of a good hook and that, said it sounds it. No real energy, no rambunctious joy?just a barely disguised fuck you.

Alright, what happens here is that Alan Jackson brings his work to a mechanic, who told poor Alan that his car repairs would take nine hundred bucks, after spending the entire verse cataloging everything that could be wrong with his car?the chorus starts and it’s supposed to be a sing-along, but it’s sort of anemic, and he harmonica is perfunctory.

The mechanic sings?and then Alan Jackson talks about how badly written the song is, about too many adverbs and verbs that are too weak, well that works, that’s easy writing advice if you are bob Dylan or Britney Spears. Where it gets weir ,are the next lines. The most technical explicit discussion of the actual transcribing and writing of music I have ever encountered, it’s studio notes from the guitar gnomes of Nashville made public.

Do you think that anyone who listens to country knows what ?it?s got so many dotted eighth notes in it? or the importance of ?50 beats per minute? or how many ?augmented chords? are too much. He then charges the mechanic a hundred bucks more then the car?proving to the world that mechanical, technical craft is needed and a form of skilled labour, like carpentry or being a rigpig?something that blue collar, but just a little more special, a hundred bucks more special, really. Smarmy shit all around, and not as humble as he needs to be.

May 05

More on the frog.

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I think Tom is probably right when he says on ILX that if it starts a trend of ringtone-themed hits it won’t be a great thing. However, isn’t this the wrong way round to look at things? I’m sure I went on ages ago (probably in a comments box so lost in the ether now) about how the consumption of pop is changing very rapidly, blah blah blah, but in particular because of the market in ringtones. I’m sure there must be tracks that will have sold more ‘copies’ as a ringtone than as a CDS. It can really only be a matter of time before people start writing tracks which will sound a bit lame on the radio, but totally fucking shred on a polyphonic phone. (Of course the ‘real’ ringtones screw this slightly, if they are what I think they are, but even then the limits of the speakers on a phone must mean, for example, that putting arse-quaking bass on your track is a waste of time.) Now the download and singles charts have merged, how long before the ringtone charts are merged in as well? At which point a Crazy Frog single (and there’s another coming out in a couple of weeks I think, so this could go on all summer, but more likely will dry up overnight and we’ll all be wondering what the fuss was about) will look like a quaint anachronism.

An American considers the Crazy Frog

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…huh. I admit to the same disappointment Jess feels here — surely the whole point of a frog doing a cover of “Axel F,” aka the world’s greatest example of form following function (we have a synth, we shall play on the synth, it is a synth smash!), would be to have the frog croak, gargle, gasp etc. whatever the riff, much like, say, those dogs who sing “Jingle Bells.” Instead it’s just the same riff but somehow sounding even flatter and not as grippingly modern — it did sound modern one time, you know — and said frog, whose cell phone noise I’d not yet heard before and who just makes some noise over it like the hamster in the Cuban Boys song. The hamster admittedly hadn’t been dancing around with his wang hanging out, so clearly the UK populace is driven by little more than sex (this might perhaps be an incorrect assumption).

But yeah, it’s keeping Coldplay from a number one, so while I understand Alex’s frustration at the paucity of choice, to us here in America it’s more like “Those nutty British, they like novelty songs like that Mr. Blobby thing.” (But then Coldplay tops the album charts here too and I have to strangle myself in fear and loathing.)

Paul Bearer And The Hearsemen – I’ve Been Thinking

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Paul Bearer And The Hearsemen – I’ve Been Thinking

After last week’s festival of Europop something a little more atavistic. I don’t listen to a lot of garage rock, but this jumped out at me when I first heard it a few years ago (care, I think, of Mike Daddino), and it’s been an effective palate cleanser ever since. Biographical info on Paul Bearer is hard to come by due to his puntastic name also being thought of my some wrestling guy.

May 05

Guess my theory, part eleventy

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Charlie Chuck

Phil Spector

May 05

What no Lenny and Terence?

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First vital step in the rehabilitation of Carter USM – a tribute album! Nay, two tribute albums. And what’s this down at the bottom….”Art Brut – Falling On A Bruise”!??!! Whoa.

Crazy Frog Wuz Robbed

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This week’s Stylus singles jukebox, with a mixed bag of comments from me. In not-commented-on news I gave high marks to Gwen S and Arcade Fire and a pretty good mark to Teedra Moses. In comments-not-printed because Stylus cannot take THE TRUTH, British Sea Power and the Magic Numbers both got a 2 from me. The BSP entry was, like the song, just the usual shit, and here’s what I said about the Magic Numbers, in best throwaway NME-in-’94 style.

There is a tiny, tiny part of me which still reacts with puppydog glee to the idea of bands writing “perfect pop tunes” and really hopes that the new bands hyped for same are going to be wonderful. In more ways than one, this is equivalent to habitually replying to dick enlargement spam. When I saw a Magic Numbers song on the download list I was honestly quite excited. As it happens though my personal first rule for writing perfect pop songs goes “Sound as little as possible like The Thrills” so you can imagine how fucked off I am right now. [2]

Download Doppler

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That odd time-lag between downloading a track way ahead of its US release and then its second coming as a real actual single over here. Witness “Milkshake”, “Get Low” and now “1 Thing”, it’s worked in Amerie’s case though as the song has coalesced from an intriguing misfit into an all-conquering radio hit, its buzz of digital potential fleshed out as a real-world pop event. A fancy way of saying it’s been a “grower”, then.