27
Jan 18

The Inaugural FreakyTrigger TV Poll: 35 – 25

Do You See6 comments • 299 views

disposable-heroes-of-hiphoprisy-michael-franteHi I am Michael Franti and I am here to present the first ever FreakyTrigger TV Poll. Now some of you might remember me, and my clumsily named band, The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy and my opinion the Television was The Drug Of The Nation. You may not remember our follow-up hits, Don’t Sit So Close You’ll Go Blind, and Your Eyes Will Go Square They Will. Well even so I have realised that it isn’t the TV that is the problem, and so I have returned with the band for a whole new album called Tiny Mobile Phone Screens – The Opiate Of The Masses and will be making hot takes about millenials bumping into things whilst using their mobile phones in a toilet venue near you soon.

Thanks Michael, nice Spearhead – I mean big toe. So here are the first set of results. The TV vote was a lot more spread out than the Movie one, which had the upshot that under our methodology (you had to get two votes) only 35 TV shows actually qualified. And down the bottom they scraped by on a few votes each. Here are the first 11, so I might get this done in three lists (I have a film list to do too you know).

25
Jan 18

And Then I Took Some Of THESE

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Mark E Smith, 1957-2018. Some things to read.

My favourite ever piece or sequence of pieces on The Fall is our own Kat Stevens’ stint on One Week One Band. It’s very wide ranging, very funny, and especially perceptive about the different things different musicians brought to The Fall. It also gives the Brix Years their due, which I’m pleased about – it may not be the greatest era of The Fall, but it was where I jumped on.

Another writer who’s good on The Fall as musicians is Douglas Wolk – his review of their Peel Sessions box set is an excellent single-article history of the band’s development, making the argument that they were often at their best in the pressure-cooker environment of the BBC studios. Peel repeated a bunch of their sessions across two weeks in the summer of 1990, and I stayed in night after night to tape them. I don’t think any Fall recording on any format could be as berserk as the session version of “Container Drivers” that kicked off the C90.

Over the last decade or so there’s been renewed interest in Mark E Smith as a literary figure, though. The Quietus has an excellent long piece by Taylor Parkes discussing him as a crafter (and, crucially, performer) of short stories in song from “Spector vs Rector” on through most of the 1980s.

And then there’s the critic I most think about when I think about recent interest in The Fall: the late Mark Fisher, aka K-Punk. Fisher is an interesting critic of The Fall because he was devoted to them but in one specific aspect – he’s quite caustic about Smith’s decline as a visionary writer (the element he loved) and reification as a national Northern treasure. It’s a reading that de-emphasises a lot – mostly the man’s identity as a working musician, a James Brown style bandleader/martinet/monster. And the fact that – granny-on-bongos jokes aside – The Fall were always a collaboration between Smith and specific sets of musicians (or dancers/artists/etc) with specific talents, something that comes out in Kat’s writing. I quit listening in 2000 or so but there are surely great pieces to be written about his late lyrical approach in this punishing, gigging context. This conversation on Smith, Brian Clough and management, from K-Punk’s blog, is an interesting angle.

But there’s much that’s truthful about Fisher’s position as well as harsh. First off, Smith really was a unique, visionary creator – there’s nothing in English pop remotely like, to take one example, “Wings”, the SF yarn Fisher talks about in this essay. And second, there was certainly a Cult of Mark E Smith, of the cartoon curmudgeon and bully, the straight-talking prole with the difficult band and the endless catalogue. He played up to it – crafted it, even – but like all cults I doubt it did him (or anyone) any good.

23
Jan 18

ELVIS VS JXL – “A Little Less Conversation”

Popular44 comments • 2,324 views

#930, 22nd June 2002

elvis jxl 2002 was the 50th anniversary of the charts, and Elvis had been dead for half those fifty years. The scale of the public reaction upon his death took media observers by surprise; the Elvis industry kept on rolling, turning a star back into an icon. By 2002 the name was still household, the face still instant, his life and death bywords for some kind of American promise, or tragedy, or comedy. What about the music? There, perhaps, was a problem. Was Elvis “relevant”?

“Who cares?” you might ask. To the people who stood to make money off it, that response was naive. But for some there was also a question of cultural propriety – Elvis was the first dead rock’n’roll icon whose work risked losing its audience, fading into a gentle twilight, respected but hardly heard. His partisans might not have put it so crudely, but the impulse was clear – Elvis mattered, and had to be seen to matter. The corpse must be re-powdered and kept on show.

22
Jan 18

2018 Music Diary Week 3: The Week Of Appropriation

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NEW MUSIC

fob mania

Day 19: FALL OUT BOY – Mania: Short, and making no secret of its modern pop inspiration (there’s a song here with a reggaeton beat!), Mania underlines Fall Out Boy’s flexibility and their continuity. Basically, they’re all about those long, epigrammic lyrical unburdenings – what makes FOB FOB is their cadences, not their instruments. Wentz’ lyrics don’t necessarily even connect, they’re a series of verbal poses and the songs, in whatever style, are the catwalk.

20
Jan 18

The Freaky Trigger Movie Poll 2017: #30 – #21

Do You See + FT3 comments • 236 views

diehard2Hi I’m Former U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel William Stuart, and I am just preparing to rescue General Ramon Esperanza, the rightful ruler of the made up South American country Val Verde. I have a foolproof plan to hold an airport hostage, at which point I will grab Esperanza’s plane, fly him home and where I and my men have been promised lots of money by his legitimate businessmen allies. As preparation there is nothing I like doing than flexing naked infront of a mirror – I believe it makes me more intimidating and not silly, even though it does mean some people call me the Nudey German (even though I am not German). Anyway I am sure my foolproof plan will work, and not be foiled by some meddling cop on holiday who is only trying to meet his wife. Even if that does happen, I am sure I won’t get blown up and thus be unable to watch the Freakytrigger best films of 2017 numbers 30-21 except in vain-glorious hell.

Thanks William, I prefered you in Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey. Here are the next ten movies, including an exciting four way tie for 23.

18
Jan 18

The Freaky Trigger Readers’ Poll 2017: #20-#11

FT8 comments • 425 views

Heart_of_the_Ocean“Hi there, I’m the Heart of the Ocean, a fictional diamond necklace made famous by Britney asking whether I’d been chucked in the Atlantic Ocean or not when actually I was on MARS. My higher than average refractive index means I have an angle on everything! I’ve often wondered whether Britney has actually seen Titanic all the way through, or if like me, she dozed off in the middle and forgot that (SPOILER ALERT) the old lady was actually Rose all along!!! I don’t know why Billy Zane bothered giving me to Britters anyway, I ended up living in an ophidiarium for 80 years with that anaemic snake. But enough about Matt Damon and that Martian igloo (o-ho), my heart must go on – with the poll results!”

Thanks very much, The Heart Of The Ocean if that is indeed your real name and you are not one of the 3 replicas made for the duration of filming. Here’s the next batch:

15
Jan 18

Read Harder Challenge (1 of 24): SIX TO SIXTEEN

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 98 views

Six to Sixteen: A Story for GirlsSix to Sixteen: A Story for Girls by Juliana Horatia Ewing

Read as part of the Book Riot Read Harder 2018 Challenge (Category: “A children’s classic published before 1980”)

She’s no relation, but I’ve always had a curiosity about the work of my mid-Victorian namesake Mrs Ewing, author of dozens of books and short stories for children. In her time a bestseller – enough that her early death sparked an 18-volume memorial edition of her collected works – hardly anyone reads her now, but there’s a chain of admiration linking her to the present day. There’s something of Mrs.Ewing’s unpatronising interest in childhood concerns in the work of E. Nesbit, for instance (who is not much read herself but whose flame is kept alive by Pullman and others).

Even so I was a bit scared to approach Six To Sixteen – I had the idea Mrs Ewing’s books might be rather dry and improving, since she was keen for them to lead her child-readers along virtuous paths. But I was wrong. If there’s a central message of Six To Sixteen, it’s one that’s orthodox today but I suspect was a good deal less widely agreed in the 1860s – the need for girls to have an education and lifestyle that strongly emphasises curiosity and “intellectual pursuits” (everything from art to naturalism to languages) over the traditional domestic and social spheres of the Victorian feminine.

2018 Music Diary Week 2: The Week Of Intensity

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NEW MUSIC

camila lp

Day 12: Camila Cabello – Camila: Short, well-put-together pop LP which puts “Havana” fourth – I don’t really get how post-physical media track ordering works, but back in the day this would have been a statement that yes, she has plenty of others where that came from, thank you. And it’s true – the sound of the LP is the woozy, sparse mid-tempo mode of current pop, but with stronger songs and Cabello’s slightly raspy, bullshit-weary tone to elevate it.

10
Jan 18

The Freaky Trigger Readers’ Poll 2017: #30-#21

FT11 comments • 464 views

heroHullo! I’m Hero, the naughty hedgehog mascot of the 2017 World Athletics Championships. You thought I was mute, didn’t you, just because I was holding up all those Bangface-style signs? In fact I was merely SILENCED by the authorities. Unable to accept my wacky brand of slapstick humour and terrified that I would reveal the TRUTH about the Olympic stadium, they turned off the microphone I stole from Iwan Thomas just as I was getting to the juicy bits. The scandal came out eventually so now I’m free to say whatever I like! The MAN will feel the sharp end of my barbs now! I’ll make them wish they never used the Benny Hill music over all my highlight reels!

Thanks Hero. Maybe there’s a good alternative theme for you in this batch?

9
Jan 18

Popular Crystal Ball: 2017 – Islands In The Stream

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Tom, enjoying Havana

Tom, enjoying Havana

Its Sheeranmania bookends might fool you into thinking that 2017 was just as bad a year for Number Ones as 2016. It wasn’t. For a start, very little could be. But while last year saw the charts reeling under the impact of streaming, this year they adjusted. New rules: get people in the first 30 seconds or GTFO (aka fail to count as a play, fall off the Spotify playlists, etc.) The emerging formula – with some variations – is to put the chorus first and then, if we’re lucky, fool around with variations and guest spots later. Those stars big enough to ignore this imperative often used their power badly.

Anyway, the Number Ones of 2017, in order. I’m pleasantly surprised at how far down this list I have to go before I get to singles I would turn off rather than hear. I’m also pleasantly surprised that – assuming I ever get my groove back – the future of Popular holds the opportunity to write about Young Thug, Quavo, Daddy Yankee, Chance The Rapper, and more. But I’m disappointed that I don’t really love any of these songs, even my favourite.