Posts from 19th July 2000

19
Jul 00

Gentleman Jim

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Gentleman Jim: “Here were songs of love, loss and yearning by cult artists such as the Church, the Go Betweens and Ed Kuepper, songs that had entered the national psyche, sung by an old-style crooner enjoying a Terry Callier-like renaissance. “

Ironminds: The Savior Is Coming

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Ironminds: The Savior Is Coming Ironminds is by far the worst rockzine online. Every piece has about a paragraph of opinion puffed into four pages of tiresome off-the-shelf ‘attitude’. They have by and large wretchedly conservative tastes, trotting out hagiographies of the usual altrock suspects and anti-pop screeds with all the zest and originality of milkmen.

But even if they liked every single record I did, they’d still be shit, because they’d come on so bloody rock-critical about it – this piece rests on the completely stupid assumption that there is such a thing as ‘our generation’, and that it needs some unifying figure (just like Kurt) to come along and ‘save’ it. Oh, and of course it would just so happen that some rock critic or other (maybe, just maybe, one of the Ironminds people – oh, speed the day!) would ‘discover’ this prodigy: what glory would be his!

How about this idea instead: there is a lot of good music being released all the time. It doesn’t matter whether people are into it or whether they’re not, and you write about stuff when you think you’ve got something interesting to say. Less glam than the Ironminds boys would like, but maybe a little bit truer. Generational unity is fucked: if it wasn’t dead when hip-hop hit big it was surely finished off by Ecstasy. And Kurt Cobain didn’t save shit: he galvanised alternative rock and made it shift a few more units, and his style (like every style) produced a handful of good records and wore itself out in 3 or so years. It’s pretty sad that the kids of ’91 are already lazy nostalgists, but at least in Ironminds they’ve got a zine that’ll cater to them superlatively.

MEN WHO SING HIGH

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MEN WHO SING HIGH

If Bono does it, it’s a bad idea. Few of the laws of pop are so immutable, and U2’s lead git is the master criminal of music, responsible for outrages of every stripe (and indeed Stipe), but few as heinous as his habit of doing a falsetto bit when he has something particularly ‘moving’ to sing about.

It’s a cynical game, this: male vocalists reckon that hitting the high register will make them sound feminine (i.e. sensitive) and weird (i.e. arty). Wrong on both counts – Bono, Yorke, Stipe, Ashcroft et al just sound horrible and freakish as they strain around at the top end of the scale like constipated budgerigars. Bono’s most patience-beating high-note caper is “Lemon”, from his anus-weldingly hateful ‘ironic’ period. (The track is called “Lemon” and the song is, yes, a lemon! See the irony! See it!). And Ashcroft spends the coda of “On Your Own” (un-fucking-surprising that given that your bandmates hate you as much as I do) mewling like Steptoe’s dad. And let’s not even start on Thom Yorke.

Any man who squeaks is said by critics to have “the voice of an angel”. Now, I’m no theologian, but as I understand it Christian doctrine suggests that on the Day of Atonement the virtuous will be resurrected and transported to Paradise intact of body and free of infirmity. In other words, complete with testicles, something plainly lacking in the unheavenly host of tight-trousered squawkers flattered with this cherubic metaphor. In fact, the only remotely good thing about rock stars singing high is that it provides a wonderful preview of what they will sound like all the time when I finally get to give them a sharp kick in the goolies.