Posts from 30th May 2000

30
May 00

Salon

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Salon reviews the new XTC album: my big question is, how come Salon’s music features are among the most interesting and thought-provoking on the net, and yet its reviews are usually so flat? Spending half of every piece giving boring background details doesn’t help, but the tone of the reviews is so measured and fair-minded, in a weird contrast to the mag’s catty tone when covering news stories.

Their choice of music to review is also deeply safe: aside from the odd predictable pop slag-off, they appear to see their reviewing role as winnowing through vaguely hip indie releases to find the CDs which will make up the most significant and taste-weighted collection a modern young executive could possibly hope to possess. They certainly don’t encourage adventurous or critical thought, that’s for certain.

The death of music retail as we know it?

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The death of music retail as we know it?: the most interesting things in this article are the things only barely touched on – the apparently common, even fashionable attitude that music should be free. Something about that worries me – not so much the implications it has for the much abused copyright system and the CD-price-inflating music industry, but more the sense of an underlying flippant selfishness which is perhaps more to do with Internet culture in general than to do with the Napster issue. How many of the people who ‘think’ music should be free could articulate why, beyond a few grumbles about how expensive that last REM album was?

Does the whoa-cool-site, where’s-the-next-one? mindset which surfers seem to nurture and thrive on lead to a culture of instant gratification – and does it matter, if so? A big part of me thinks it does – if you think of the last ten or so really good sites you visited, how many times did you even bother to drop the webmaster an e-mail saying that you liked it, let alone why you liked it? Probably none – it was just raw material for an office e-mail or the day’s blog, if that.

The people who created the sites just seem too remote – you don’t know them, so they don’t matter. Same with the musicians who made the records you’re copying off Napster. That’s why when people on the internet talk about ‘content’ being cool they tend to mean the personal blurts or gonzo rants that form the majority of journal writing – this ‘content’ tends to be much more confessional than it is insightful, but why worry about that? They offer the all-important personality fix, the thing which helps you ‘get to know’ the writer, lets the writer into your mental social network, which is the only thing that matters a damn in a ‘faceless’ environment like the ‘net. And the inevitable end result is a medium where exhibitionism counts for a lot more than quality of thought.

TANYA HATES JAZZ

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TANYA HATES JAZZ

When I was a young girl, skipping through the cornfields which ringed my idyllic childhood hamlet, I had nothing but happy thoughts. I had not yet entered the big bad world and my ears had been relatively untroubled by noises beyond the chirping of the corncrake and the odd cat getting munched up by a rogue reaping machine. These noises came, seemingly as random to me, and were the music of my youth. But before you ask me what the skies were like when I was young (and trust me, I am leaving that particular bugbear to a later date – suffice to say that unlike the typical Orb track they did not go on for bloody ever) its Jazz I want to talk about here. The entire canon.

I know now that the sounds of nature are not in their own way musical: in this way they are much like the constant drip drip drip of noodlings which come from Blue Note Recordings. I like the idea of Jazz in theory – in as much as if I appreciate it in theory I do not have to listen to the damn stuff. The core thesis in Jazz, that via improvisation we can reach and touch true emotion is admirable. It just appears that the majority of Jazz musicians seem to be have the same fucking emotion over and over again. Perhaps there is a subtle message in all Jazz that is a secret message from the creator of the universe. It is somewhat disappointing to find out that this message is “Take 5”. I tend to think the real reason is less sinister; with jazz comes jazz cigarettes and as with dub we know what these particular non-proprietary brand of smokes does to creativity.

You would expect, given the number of variables involved, that your average Jazz gig would consist of as many disparate sounds as my childhood soundscape. The possibility that even the smallest of Jazz bands could crank out anything which could be described as a tune would bear some relationship to the old infinite monkeys, infinite typewriter equals Hamlet scenario. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The word dangerous is often attached to these fits of improvised creativity. The only dangerous thing about it is that it may drive me into further paroxysms of rage and I get up on stage and wrap their trombones around their heads. Or stick their cornets up their arse – it works as a half decent muffler.

To condemn the entirety of Jazz in one foul swoop may seem the height of arrogance and ignorance, for which I am truly unrepentant. Oh, I agree Louis Armstrong probably deserves a separate slagging, and I am not sure if this small picture of ire can really contain the horror that is Acid Jazz. But rest assured, now when I revisit the haunts of my youth – it is not the squeal of a cat getting accidentally munched in the jaws of a combined harvester I hear. It is the sound of Jazz – forevermore doodling its emotionally vapid minuets in hell.

DUEL!

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DUEL!: Skunk Anansie vs Primal Scream.

A slight lack of updates yesterday as we all got down to the Pop Music Focus Group. Ballots were sent out Sunday, votes in by next Saturday, but more importantly a good time was had by all (oh, my aching head). In November, the next time one of these comes around, I pledge to: a) arrange it earlier so that more of the people who wanted to come can come (Magnus, Stevie, Guy, et al: I’m sorry), and b) see if I can sort out some kind of chat/IRC link-up – if anyone thinks that’s a good idea.

Anyway over the next week or so NYLPM will be running Mike Daddino’s long and detailed comments on the last focus group selection. I’ve been sitting on these fine reviews for ages so it’s nice to do something with them at last.

Fleischer on Madonna’s Pie

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Fleischer on Madonna’s Pie: ho ho ho ho, Madonna’s Pie, geddit? “In Madonna’s hands, the song ceases to pertain to its subject matter.” – yes, and that’s a good thing, since the ‘subject matter’ in question is a tedious sentimentalisation of rock history which was mawkish in 1971 and seems more indefensibly premature with every passing year. Of course, it was a bad thing Buddy Holly et al. died, but that only puts “American Pie” on a level, aesthetically, with “I’ll Be Missing You”. And even Puffy didn’t have the hubris to say the music was dead without Biggie.

What Madonna seems to have done is got all MacLean’s awful, coyly allusive lyrics, and struck through the ones which didn’t make any sense. Unfortunately she couldn’t change the chorus, but that can’t be helped. She also cleaned up the song so you could actually hear the hook, which readers might be surprised to learn does exist.

Chris Roberts pointed out long ago that “American Pie” contains one teenpop lyrical gem (“Well I know that you’re in love with him / Cos I saw you dancing in the gym”) and not much else – I get the feeling Madonna would agree, and good for her.

(This link via Jejune.net)

EMINENTLY EMINEM — HA, IT IS TO LAUGH

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EMINENTLY EMINEM — HA, IT IS TO LAUGH

I won’t waste too much time on this one because, well, what’s the point? It’s a casual hate, this one, not a poisonous one, though everytime I see him doing that tiresome “I am mean, yes I am — yes yes” pose, the one where the chin is held at the 45 degree angle, I consider how amusing it would be if a baseball bat slammed into his unprotected balls. Granted the talk about his own supposed hilarity and all that, and I guess there’s an argument being advanced that if one worships South Park one worships him, except that I think the brain caliber involved is different. The semi-comparisons to Moliere vis-a-vis misanthropy haven’t helped either, and I suspect that even dead said Frenchman, who had to live with royal whims and murderous aristocrats and the like where young Mr. Mathers sounds more like he only had to worry about the social worker who smelled weird on the one visit, could take the young pup. Bierce wouldn’t have even bothered responding back to him, that’s for sure. The supposedly ‘mad skills’ aren’t there from what I’ve heard; he just sounds like about most of the frat guys around here — from wildly different backgrounds, I should note — who pretty much all deserve to be killed, while he’s only getting airplay on certain stations because he’s white, so to hell with it. Nick Cave does funnier ‘ha! I killed my girlfriend’ tunes, and the one vague note of interest was that “Stan” song, except nothing’s more annoying than a dumbfuck who, having told an obvious joke, then proceeds to explain the joke in pointless detail. Had the song ended up in a murder/suicide pact, I would have been the one guy standing next to the carnage who shrugs, says something flip to the Nearby Friend with the Cool Haircut, and wanders off whistling in a blaze of lens flares and rotating camera angles around slow motion bullets while CGI scripts collapse around me in an orgy of Roman Empire style decadence. This while a Slipknot song plays, I’m sure.

Alternately, maybe I just hate Detroit.