To say at the start, I did eventually enjoy my Saturday afternoon at London’s Brewing and I have definitely been to events more badly organised (Glastonbury 2007 springs immediately to mind), but to my mind some of the criticism has been a bit rabid, I’m not sure what place Trading Standards have in this discussion? I’m not sure why people were expecting to be able to swan up to the bar at a sold out event, and one that they’ve probably only paid £4 to get into (£15 ticket minus 3 pints at £3.80-£4.00) at that.
All that said, the first two hours were a shambles, here’s why: more »
Apropos >Mark’s earlier post, I must confess to having imbibed some lager and been in proximity to both paper and pens during Europoptimism, which partly resulted in a sign for the door and partly resulted in this.
I don’t really know who east sky/taktophoto is (or are)*: but his/her/their tumblr republishes sets of images gathered from all over the place (always linked to, generally captioned as per the original, never commented on). The images can be hypercoloured, intricate, abstract, surreal, sexy, ridiculous — sometimes strange wtf artworks, sometimes simply startling photos from nature, hard as this very often is to believe at first glance.
And we are back, season two of the Lost Property Office limps stridently forward having survived a complete clearout, reorganisation and a system put in place. Which is better for the students, strike rate of returning keys and small electronic equipment has soared by over 100%, but less good for the show. But creative constraints can cause creative epiphanies, and who better to discuss creative epiphanies with than novelist and comics writer Al Ewing.
Actually we almost totally avoid talking about creative epiphanies, to instead discuss lost comic panels, skinny men getting stuck in holes, posh breast cancer ribbons, A BOOK THAT SHOULD NOT BE OPENED (we open it) and pop music which for the first time on Lost Property Office we recognised from the opening notes. And for pretty much all of the running time Al forgot (until pushed) to pimp his new novel The Fictional Man, which is a pulp rollercoaster ride through a metafictional universe eerily similar to ours (which at least as many Sherlock Holmes’s). I’ve read it, its great! At least as good as he is on this show.
Low’s Christmas tree is a simple one, with eight plain wooden baubles. The band write four tracks themselves, offer interpretations of two carols and crooners’ favourite “Blue Christmas”, and nobody’s bothered to take credit for “Taking Down The Tree” (but it sounds like one of Low’s own). The record is packaged – beautifully – like a very plain, precious card, steeped in a quiet sense of occasion. Low have won half the battle before you’ve even unsleeved the CD.
Certain strands of Alternative music and certain strands of post-Reformation Christianity have in common an occasional appreciation for starkness, and a reflexive distaste for vulgar and worldly ornament. Low, with their professed Mormon faith and the slow, stern but compassionate guitar music they make, bring the strands together, which explains why they’ve become the Christian Rock it’s OK to like. more »
In The Beginning There Was The Word. NOT THE BIRD FROM L7 PULLING DOWN HER KECKS AGAIN.
But neither of these are strictly true. Because the first book of the Bible Of Badness is Genesis. And if you were ever to question how bad this Bible could get, Collins and the rest set a mighty low standard. One wonders if it really was the Serpent that caused the fall of man, or if Adam just wanted to get away from the prog-rock band noodling in the Garden of Eden. more »
On Skykicking last week, Tim touched, popwise, on the continuing cultural battle over what the eighties were or are or mean or meant. The story of mainstream rock and politics in the 1990s was among other things the story of a similar battle, that time over the sixties. On the one hand you had the beatification of the Beatles and the shift in popthought from rejecting the past to defining yourself entirely by it. And on the other hand, in the big untrivial real world, you had the same thing in reverse: an attempt by rightwingers across the West to define the sixties’ social legacy in negative terms, and following that to absolutely deny it. “Kill All Hippies” may have been the T-Shirt slogan du jour last year, but it’s also the unshakable raging kernel at the centre of William Hague’s philosophy, or Trent Lott’s or Tom DeLay’s or Anne Widdecombe’s. more »
Lists, lists, lists. Its what we do around here, and the end of a decade gives us ample opportunity to look back with fondness over a decade. Music, films, television were all thrown in the mix, and may pop up. But most important to us is the social. From a site that is run by avowed Geezaesthetics, the pub is a sacred space, a space of learning and entertainment. And this colours the list too. And for me, my first blog was the Pumpkin Publog, which was rolled into FT five years ago. It is nice to get back to the pubs sometimes.
So firstly, before we go to far. These are not the 25 best pubs in London if you are a tourist. They are probably not the best if you live and work in London. Hell, some of these pubs no longer exist. But these are the pubs that the core of FreakyTrigger, and lots and lots of friends visited the most, and had the best times in. more »
The mode of the music changes, the city quakes, or at least those blocks of primer-than-thou office space quake that house the HQs of worldwide record companies. The reason, apparently, is MP3 technology, which you all know about and most of you use, and which has been the subject of acres of ruminative, pessimistic music biz newsprint over the last year.
Business reactions to MP3s aren’t what interest me (they’ve mostly been laughably ineffectual, as far as I can see), nor the economic consequences, nor even the theory that MP3 is going to democratise the production and distribution of music and open all our minds to amazing new, unsigned talent (not likely, in my opinion – small record companies are useful and will remain so precisely because they act as quality control, not as a block to the new). What interests me, rather, is the way MP3s will accelerate current trends in the way we’re listening and relating to music. more »
101. THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS – ‘My Elastic Eye’: ‘It sounds exactly like an elastic eye!’ said Fred S. I scoffed, but you know what? – it does! Though maybe more a clockwork one – but the wobbly fuzz-bass still sounds like it’s looking, even probing the track for something. Every music-box noise here is luxurious and sinister, like the beautiful baroque machines of City Of Lost Children reset for music-making.
100. From the Soundtrack to HAAN MAINE BHI PYAAR KIYA – ‘Mubarak Mubarak’: Entirely tokenist Bollywood tune, representing the style that’s given me the most meaning-free pleasure this year – I picked this filmi track because I could date it to 2002, but not much seems to change. Actually that’s not true – check the Bollywood Nights compilation to find out how dance music infected/inflected Bollywood – so in those terms ‘Mubarak Mubarak’ is old school. It presses my buttons though – rampaging percussion, big-lunged singing, and a heartbreakingly direct gypsy melody care of the inevitable string section. more »
I don’t think much of the idea of ‘guilty pleasures’ but there’s guilt and there’s guilt, isn’t there? There’s guilt for something you might be doing wrong – breaking some invisible law of taste, maybe – and that guilt you can and should kick aside. But then there’s guilt for the things you have done, and that’s what I felt when I listened to Carter USM.
The USM stands for Unstoppable Sex Machine, and like everything else about them it seemed like a good idea at the time. Which was 1989 to sometime in the mid-90s – they lost their major label deal and faded from sight; they’d faded from fashion long before. But for a while they were kings – a No.1 album and Top 10 singles when ‘indie bands’ didn’t routinely achieve such things, in the music press all the time, et cetera. In their pomp they were as big as The Smiths ever were, I’d guess. They had a high profile for so long that their profile now they’re uncool is absolutely flat – they don’t even get referenced by mags who want to wink knowingly at their readers and say, hey, even we get it wrong sometimes, because with Carter the NME and other zines got it ‘wrong’ continually, for years. more »
Sinead O’Connor is one of the finest song interpreters not just because she thinks hard about the material and the feelings locked in it, but because she’s so good at placing songs into a situation. A great example of this is her version of “Chiquitita”, warm and homely where ABBA’s is melodramatic, replacing its theatrical flourishes with a cosy tick-tock rhythm like a parlour clock. In the video she makes you, the viewer-as-Chiquitita, a cup of tea and settles down for a chat, and it’s perfect: that’s exactly what her version feels like. more »
Sixteen Listens For Sixteen Weeks: An Everything I Do Liveblog
This song got to number one for 16 weeks, so I decided to play it 16 times in a row, writing as I went.
Play 1: And we’re off. I’ve honestly hardly heard this in the last twenty years so I don’t anticipate the full horror will strike me for a few plays. In case anyone doesn’t know why I’m doing this, “Everything I Do” – a soundtrack hit from Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves – holds the record for the longest consecutive run at Number One in the UK singles chart. At least one other record has come close, a few have threatened to, but this is still the champ. Sixteen weeks. Almost four months.
The record is – oh look, you know this, but anyway – it’s a power ballad, slower in fact than I remember. Very weighty. It levels up repeatedly, reaches a climax about two-thirds of the way through, then we have a lingering solo (which I didn’t remember at all and have really no desire to hear another fifteen times), a reprise of the pre-chorus and chorus, and that’s your lot.
Play 2: So on first go that wasn’t so bad! I was 18 when this song was around and I dare say a great deal less amenable to ballads in general and romantic ballads in particular. The song got to number one just after I’d left school – I was spending the summer listening to Bob Dylan and picking fruit for a pittance. “Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands” – now there, I thought, was a love song. I suspect “Everything I Do” might have a rather wider appeal. (Ah – the solo again – now I’m noticing little moans from Bry on it, dear me.) Anyway I hardly noticed this being number one for its first few weeks and certainly bore it no ill will. more »
This week Avengers Assemble #15AU came out, by Al Ewing (yes relation) and Butch Guice. The comic is, as Hazel has pointed out, the most British thing ever published (at least by Marvel) and it is absolutely rammed with references – some obvious, some rather more obscure. Because Al is a pro, I reckon the comic is comprehensible without understanding all this stuff, but it’s safe to say there are parts of it many US readers won’t really get. There’s also parts of it which tap a knowledge of recent Marvel continuity, and we’ll explain that too.
So here’s an annotations post, which in the way of annotations posts will be updated with new information as you uncover it in the comments boxes. (And will also be updated with links and images!)
Contains, obviously, HEAVY SPOILERS for Avengers Assemble #15AU more »
As a kid I only read British comics (Beano, Dandy, Topper, Beezer, Sparky et al), and never graduated to — or really understood — Marvel or DC. They were too vast in conception to catch up with, I felt: too big a universe, filled with too much backstory. As a consequence I only recall two ministories, a Spiderman vs Doctor Octopus which ended on a cliffhanger as the latter hefted one of those water-coolers that sit on top of New York buildings at the former OH NOES, and a Silver Surfer spread where this gentleman floated unconscious in space while a squamous and bubbling mucous-beast crawled though a mirror from an eldritch dimension into an empty (excuse alliteration) marbled mansion OOOOH NOOOOOES. So anyway, I didn’t get much of a bead on what Superheroes were like as people. Lately I have embarked on a study of same — for other purposes eventually to be revealed (possibly) — and have drawn up a table, based on Iron Man1&3, The Hulk (second half only), Capt America, Thor, and Avengers Assemble. more »
A few years ago I returned from a trip to Spain with a somewhat disreputable CD – Rice And Curry, by Dr Bombay, AKA Swedish Eurodance chameleon Jonny Jakobsen. Browned-up for this project, and singing songs like “SOS (The Tiger Took My Family)”, Dr Bombay is the most eyebrow-raising example of how older traditions of ethnic and cultural comedy took root in Eurodance – Jakobsen has gone on to perform as Scottish stereotype Dr.Macdoo (LP title: Under The Kilt) and ‘comedy’ Mexican Carlito. And Rednex are in very much the same game.
It’s a feature of eurodance that comes out of European disco – just as anything could be discofied, from film themes to classical music to rock, so anything is fair game for novelty Eurodance treatment, and if it made people laugh too, so much the better. The genre existed in the same amoral, self-serving zone stand-up comedy sometimes claims for itself: the effect on the audience (partying, laughter) is all that matters, and anything goes to get there.
I’m not saying this because I’m personally offended by Rednex’ appropriation of hillbilly culture, it’s just a fascinating and overlooked part of Eurodance aesthetics. I doubt any rock band in 1995 could have got away with the rat-eating, drooling hick-play of the “Cotton Eye Joe” video, but if nobody’s taking the music seriously anyhow, it’s never going to get that level of scrutiny. Or to put it less kindly, there were plenty of other reasons to hate Rednex in 1995. more »
So on Saturday we ran a fun little club night called Europoptimism, which was partially to celebrate the fact that Eurovision is coming up. And all the Eurovision songs are available now so we wanted to try to pre-empt the competition, but we didn’t want to spend two hours playing 39 tracks. So we decided to try to judge the intros instead, as without a good intro, what song can really soar. 30 seconds of each of the intros were played, and then voted on Eurovision style. It was so much fun, we thought we might like to give you the option to play along here.
Join DJ Chlorine & The Barnet Ape for a celebration of the best of German technobosh, Italo-disco, Russian girlpop, Swiss post-punk, Irish jigs, Serbian turbo-folk, Spanish holiday hits, Scandinavian hair metal, French house and of course UK Garage (and everything else that could possibly score douze points).
Special guest DJ duties fall to DJ MAXIMATOR who owns at least 7 different versions of Ça Plane Pour Moi and may well play them all at once.
WHEN: This Saturday! 4th May 2013, 8pm-1am
WHERE: New venue! Downstairs at The Hideaway Bar, 114 Junction Road, Archway (nearest tubes Archway/Tufnell Park, 390 & 134 buses both run all night)
WHO: 2 Unlimited, ABBA, Ace of Base, A-Ha, Alcazar, Alizée, Annie, Boney M, Björk, Black Box, Bucks Fizz, Cascada, Daft Punk, Europe, Falco, Giorgio Moroder, Girls Aloud, Infernal, Justice, Kraftwerk, Katy B, Lindstrøm, Lordi, Lulu, Margaret Berger, O-Zone, Plastic Bertrand, Praga Khan, Propaganda, Roxette, Röyksopp, Ruslana, Scooter, So Solid Crew, Stardust, tAtU, Teddybears STHLM, Todd Terje, Tomcraft and of course Yello.
PLUS: Early arrivals can expect a small amount of ORGAFUN (er, mp3s permitting…)