Posts from 10th May 2000

May 00


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FRAZIER CHORUS – “Typical” (from the album Sue)
More politeness: Tim Freeman’s whispery, resigned entreaties to his lover are as English as tea on a rainy day, the disappointed murmurings and shrugged-shoulders of the suburban lover. For more on the Chorus, read the Betjeman Beat article: for now, know that “Typical” was as close as they came to writing a ‘real’ pop hit.


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NICK DRAKE – “Hazey Jane II” (from the album Bryter Later)
The sudden inflation of Nick Drake’s fame is deeply pleasing: sensitive and gorgeous, he makes a much better ambassador for British pop than Travis or bloody Toploader do. Better yet, despite his death and its unresolved circumstances, he’s not really attracted the coffin-chasing crowd, in part because while his music may be introspective it’s also endlessly pretty, like melancholy on a summer’s day (the skeletal Pink Moon excepted). Bryter Later turns down the strings a bit and occasionally wanders into TV-theme-land, but on the whole it’s Drake’s friendliest album, and “Hazey Jane II”, a typically roundabout and polite love song, has his best lyric, too: “If songs were lines in a conversation, the situation would be fine”. Hear that and render High Fidelity redundant.


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SAINT ETIENNE – “Mario’s Cafe” (from the album So Tough)
The same scene, nearly thirty years later, and one of Saint Etienne’s most beautiful songs, the peak of the bubblegum-dub style they worked so fruitfully in their early days. A group of friends at a cafe in ’93, all-day breakfasts, the morning papers, last night’s telly: if you listen to this and don’t immediately want to be in their gang then you certainly can’t be in mine. Beautiful tune, too, and the lyrics are probably the band’s best: “Eubank wins the fight / And did you see the KLF last night?”

The artificiality of mood is deeply underrated when it comes to music

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… Note, for instance, the seeming contradictions between playing music to set a mood and playing it to get into a mood. Currently I’m listening to Brother JT, who might or might not be insane. Certainly when I saw him live at Terrastock 2, at least for his solo performance, he seemed calm enough, but hey, insanity and art is its own problem. On a functional level I’m listening to him for a review for the All-Music Guide, for which I write, but given that I’m at work where, unsurprisingly, nothing is really happening, I’m also merrily trying to escape the usual semi-pseudo grind. So is Brother JT soundtracking my escape from the office or am I using him to imagine like I should be escaping from the office? If we’re pumping noise-collages through work-provided speakers and overdriven computers, or even quiet acoustic hoohah through same, are we seeking escape necessarily or are we driving ourselves to work harder by at least making it all sound good while the next annoying e-mail about work procedures that will never affect you comes down the pike?

Create your own Belle And Sebastian song!

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Create your own Belle And Sebastian song!: you know you want to. “Is she alright or is she on the game?” etc. And for karmic balance here’s Full Fathom Five on why B & S matter.

confessions of a canadian anglophile

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confessions of a canadian anglophile: great reply/follow-up to Tim’s Britpop story.

Promise Ring: Electric Pink EP: Pitchfork Review

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Promise Ring: Electric Pink EP: Pitchfork Review: I have never in my life heard The Promise Ring – this review suggests I should keep it that way. Pitchforkpeople can write, of course they can, but the dig at westernhomes at the end of this review, and the dismissive e-mail reprinted at, suggest that their professionalism is mutating into an elevated snottiness.

The reeducation of Lauryn Hill

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The reeducation of Lauryn Hill: what makes a pop song? asks Salon (in publishing and royalties terms, that is). Interesting topic, surprisingly dull article. It might be this, says one guy. It might be that. says another. There’s a basic contradiction between musicians getting a flat-rate fee for what they do and writers getting royalty payments for what they do – i.e. the person who writes the words and melody is ‘creative’ and the person who improvises a great bassline is a ‘labourer’. The obvious solution – treat both parties as labourers – goes unmentioned.

Punk Manifesto:

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Punk Manifesto: Greg Griffin’s ‘punk manifesto”s core message (summary: Ask Questions) is good and infinitely repeatable. The evolutionary-biology flimflam surrounding it is original, though I wouldn’t agree with him that lying is never socially or culturally useful, as seems to be his implication. But he loses it when talking about big-T truth and small-t truth: his big-T truth is just as much the product of the “objective” experience of individuals as small-t truth is, it’s just those individuals have a lot more money and power than Greg does. And his small-t truth just looks like a bullheaded reliance on “common sense” (or “uncommon sense”, being as punks are very individualistic) dressed up as objectivism.

Plus at no point is the connection made between all this limbic stuff and making shouty guitar music as opposed to, say, disco. Which is the connection shallow ol’ me is interested in. (Ta Josh for the link.)

us|against|them – an indie music weblog yo

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us|against|them – an indie music weblog yo: damnation, I should be going to work, yet still the blogging madness continues. This is, as it says, an indie music weblog, and lists a lot of reviews of bands I’m far to out of touch (and British) to know about. It looks very nice, even speaking as someone who is no doubt wholeheartedly “them” rather than “us”.