New York London Paris Munich

Jul 00

The Boy on the Bus

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The Boy on the Bus: scary Eminem fan freaks out guy on bus. Well written, but slightly disingenuous in its implications. I’ve been freaked by kids on buses and trains, been beaten up by one bunch. Some of the kids probably had band patches or t-shirts or were copying styles or moves off of their favourite artists. Some of said artists probably did the same when they were those kids too. The lesson? Adolescent boys – particularly adolescent boys who are stupid, poor or both – are aggressive creatures, and sometimes they focus that aggression through music.

The boy on the bus was antisocial, scary, horrible, but he didn’t actually do anything. Which isn’t to say he won’t next time. But what the article, in its conversational impartiality, seems to hint is that if it weren’t for his Slim Shady attitude he wouldn’t be doing it at all. That’s possible.

But I think it’s as likely that if it weren’t for Shady giving him a walk to walk and a talk to talk, giving him cool boundaries of action, even if those boundaries scare you or me, he’d have lashed out before now, or for real. We can’t know either way, that’s the point. We can’t know without knowing each individual kid, and we’ll never know each individual kid, but we do know Eminem, or we think we do, and so we try and project.

That link via Catherine.

Don’t play that song again!

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Don’t play that song again!: The most irritating songs of all time, as voted for by dotmusic. I have to say “We’re Going To Ibiza” has grown on me somewhat. But other than that, hard to fault this predictable list and it’s good to see Chris De Burgh getting his licks. I think the Teletubbies have been rather hard done by – surely the quintessence of an irritating record is that, as with “The Birdie Song” and, say, “Don’t Look Back In Anger”, they refuse to lay down and die.

Pop Music is shit

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Pop Music is shit. I get the impression sometimes that people think NYLPM will roll over and put its paws in the air for anything as long as it goes Top 10. I say thee nay! There is a whole cartload of pop music out there which is just as calculated, predictable and hokey as the form’s critics would have us believe, and to make matters even worse is rubbish to boot. No, we like pop just fine, but we’re discerning about it, just like you all are with your indie rock (heh, heh). Here’s a capsular selection of recent hits which haven’t made our exacting standards. First in an occasional series.

5IVE – “We Will Rock You”: Dicey repositioning alert! 5ive have always been the nearest thing to ‘tough guys’ the British boyband boutique offers, and they’ve remained acceptable for precisely as long as they’ve not actually noticed this, having their biggest and best hits with stuff like “Keep On Movin'”s delightful Haircut 100 shuffle.But what with the recent and farcical marijuana spats, and now this horror, it’s obvious some dingus in marketing has spotted 5ive’s latent greaser potential and is pushing it hard, much as he would a recalcitrant turd. Queen are actually credited on this, and hearing the enervating guitar histrionics at the end it wouldn’t surprise me if May,B. had given some kind of sonic endorsement, but really, even without their input “We Will Rock You” would have been a joke. A song that rocked as hard as pyjamas in the first place is unlikely to be toughened up much by a boy band singing it, and so it proves. Misjudged to bits.

KYLIE MINOGUE – Spinning Around: That’s Jason spinning in his commercial grave as he witnesses his ex’s ‘return to form’ with this undiverting bit of neo-disco. All the years of desperate grasping for indie cred have been revistionistically purged, and Kylie is apparently back doing what she does best: simple pop for that segment of the market with more disposable income than sense. What nobody seems to have noticed in their rush to praise hits like “Shocked”, “Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi” et bloody al is that “Spinning Around” sounds nothing like them. Kylie puts on a sultry diva voice which sounds bogus and unsubtle, and the chorus slips from your head like dandruff.

MELANIE C – I Turn To You: But who? Who does she turn to? Well. Can you guess, readers? The video, you see, has Mel with long fair hair extensions, standing on a rock overlooking the sea and, and waving her arms about as she sings a techno-pop tune with a ‘spiritual vibe’. Do you think she’s got a Madonna record in her collection? Mel C’s solo career has been remorselessly useless, careening from bad pastiche to bad pastiche with only one relatively high point (the good pastiche on her Left-Eye duet). A recent compilation of the tracks Moby borrowed for his Play has been making someone a pot of cash – I’m sure Mel C’s record company could do well for itself along similar lines by releasing the Northern Star Companion with tracks Mel has found hem-hem inspirational.

More soon.

The Godfathers of Britpop: the dichotomy of the mid-90s

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The Godfathers of Britpop: the dichotomy of the mid-90s – it’s a new article on Robin Carmody’s Elidor site, and I hope he won’t mind me saying that it’s taking a pop at what has become really quite an easy target. Britpop is a conservative genre, yes, but at least what it was looking back at was progressive and radical. This is why Robin’s political analogy – Britpop = Major – misses its mark: if anything, the Britpoppers were the equivalent of the Old Labour stalwarts peppering their every speech with references and reverences to Attlee or Bevan.

Robin also focusses on the ‘Brit’ part and misreads the ‘pop’: they may have been made using guitars, but a lot of the ‘classic’ Britpop singles are marvellous, energised pop music. The rhetoric about sweeping crappy dance-pop and boybands away was just rhetoric after all, and there was no more substance to “Alright” or “Yes” than there was to any East 17 track. A lot of it – most of it – was crap, but five years on it should be possible to cut through the smokescreen of journalistic nonsense and appreciate the cheeky pop heart of the music a little more.

Not to mention that, ultimately, revivalism is revivalism – you can talk about context and reclamation all you want but in the end there’s no higher ground won by harking back to 70s funk, or early Moog experiments, or analog e-z listening, or TV theme weirdness than there is by ripping off the Beatles.

Jul 00

Interview with

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Interview with The Coup from the Onion’s marvellous A.V. club. Solid, ego-free interviewing with people who have something to say…..what a concept!

Hip Hop Must Die!

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Hip Hop Must Die!: bloody good article which refuses to draw the cosy conclusions most ‘real’ hip-hop heads seem to, and is infinitely better for it.

Time Travellin’

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Time Travellin’: we used to have a section in the bookshop I named ‘Parahistory’, for all the post-Daniken, pre-Millennium “Did Aliens/Christ/Masons/Yeti Build The Pyramids?” books that were flooding in. Here’s a hip-hop take on that stuff, kind of. Grant Morrison’s listening to the wrong music, for certain.

Nick Drake – A Gay Perspective

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Nick Drake – A Gay Perspective: recent articles on Drake have tended to suggest that in fact he was a bit of a womaniser. This article, though, led me to this list of articles on the man, which includes Ian MacDonald’s vast overview of his work, the kind of in-depth piece for which we can forgive Mojo all sorts of pomposity, even if I don’t agree with everything MacDonald says.

Drake’s albums have of course now been reissued, placing the capstone on the process of canonisation which the records have undergone these past five years. You may be sick of hearing about him, but they are damn good. Unfortunately the remastering and reissuing process has shoved Time Of No Reply, the outtakes and final tracks collection, into pop history’s bottom drawer, annoying since I never got round to buying it.

Cultural Artifacts of the Moment: A Musical Education

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Cultural Artifacts of the Moment: A Musical Education – yeah yeah, I host it, but this is a fascinating trip down one fan’s memory lane. Since said fan (Mike) is probably the most eclectic listener I know, this is well worth a look.

Not a bad idea at all: Andy Weatherall has put together a compilation,

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Not a bad idea at all: Andy Weatherall has put together a compilation, 9 O’Clock Drop of early 80s white avant-funk bands (ACR, 23 Skidoo, et al. – lots of Factory acts too, I shouldn’t wonder). Here’s an article (link c/o Martin) where he talks about it. The piece contrasts the skeletal mechano-paranoid effectiveness of the era’s music favourably with Britney et al. but that seems beside the point – the people who should really be paying attention are the trip-hoppers and downtempo purists who have shamefully neglected this whole movement both as an inspiration and as a source for reissues, probably because this edgy, atmospheric music entirely lacks the chilled, cossetted vibe of today’s bar-ready breakbeat nonsense.