Posts from 1st August 2000

1
Aug 00

The Project Dark Singles Club Catalogue

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The Project Dark Singles Club Catalogue: speaking of non-standard records, here we have 7″ singles made out of glass, hair, biscuit and ice, among other things.

IHM LYRIC WATCH 3

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IHM LYRIC WATCH 3

‘I’m your worst nightmare squared
That’s times two for those not mathematically aware’
: Common feat Canibus

Here comes Common, lording it down the street because he got ten out of ten in his first grade maths test (after obviously repeating it for the last sixteen years). Knowing how many beans make five does not however make you a mathematician. Laplace, Fermat or even Johnny Ball are not quaking in their respective boots. Everyone knows – especially the mathematically aware – Mr Common (first name Clapham?) that something squared is something multiplied by itself. So the problem can be set out like this

2n=n x n: where n is my nightmare. Now while it is unlikely that the letter n is my nightmare it is about as plausible as the solution to this simplest of quadratic equations. The only possible way that my nightmare squared could equally my nightmare times two is if my nightmare was indeed the number two. Which is not a very scary number truth be told. If I was religiously inclined I might find the number 666 a touch scarier. I cannot say I care for the number 1963. All of this assumes that I have to restrict my ultimate fear to the relatively tame world of mathematics. Which is relatively unlikely, eh Common? Spiders, fire, The Pogues and world gin shortages – this is the stuff of nightmares. The combination of spiders made of fire playing old Pogue tracks whilst devouring the worlds total gin output – this would make me start bolt upright. It does not matter how nightmarish Sesame Street gets, there is still a big, camp, yellow bird on it which is scarier.

So I think you will have to concede that Common did not mean that he was assuming that the listeners greatest fear was the number two. Instead we have to walk away with the knowledge that Common believes he is mathematically aware, and yet he squares numbers by multiplying by two. I think we have a perfect example here of pride coming before a very big fall. But wait! Common, and his friend Mr.Canibus (yes you can, and as far away from me as possible), are saying that it is they who are the listener’s worst nightmare squared. And as we have discussed, this can only mean that they are ‘number two’. What polite boys! Of course they actually mean ‘shit’.

(Thanks to Greg Scarth for uncovering this inanity. Suggestions gleefully accepted.)

Perfect Sound Forever’s

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Perfect Sound Forever’s rockcriticguide – but where oh where are the pop dollies and self-conscious dilettantes? Needs a sequel, I think. (via Kathleen, whose URL I could probably type in my sleep by now, and who is less than enamoured of Negativland, though I would say that the reason Negativland’s U2 single got the publicity and respect it did is because it is very, very funny.).

Joe Sixpack’s SLIPCUE

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Joe Sixpack’s SLIPCUE: also found via Scrubbles (who rocks for it), this excellent site documenting the various enthusiasms of a world music, Brazilian, ‘hick music’, French pop, rock writing and indiepop fan. If the attitude-laden micropolitics of online music writing occasionally get you down, you’ll find Sixpack’s unpretentious enthusiasm as endearing as I did. More generally, after a couple of weeks of feeling my sites were directionless and pointless, it’s nice to see examples (such as Slipcue and Lacunae) of stuff which I think is getting it right.

The Internet Museum of Flexi / Cardboard / Oddity Records

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The Internet Museum of Flexi / Cardboard / Oddity Records: metal records, paper records, make-your-own records…..this is beautiful. In our MP3-driven times a little full-on FETISHISM is always welcome. (via Scrubbles).

Guardian columnist

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Guardian columnist Charlotte Raven talks about Oasis. The most comment-worthy thing about Oasis now is why intelligent people like Raven seem to fret so much over their decline. It’s hard to fault her crisply written arguments, but hasn’t she got anything more important to write about?

JONI MITCHELL – Skooldaze

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JONI MITCHELL – Skooldaze

If Joni Mitchell was actually any good, you would think her record company would get a proper sleeve artist in to paint her album covers. When you look at her self penned efforts you see clearly the danger of telling a seven year old that they are good at art. It stunts artistic growth, the individual never progresses beyond that seven year old highpoint.

Of course more blame should be laid upon the music teacher who told her she was a good songwriter. Im just trying to work out what Joni was doing seeing a music teacher at age two thats all.

JUDY COLLINS – “Send In The Clowns”

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JUDY COLLINS – “Send In The Clowns”

I’ve long found sentiment and melodrama in pop music enormously appealing, so it stands to reason I’d find myself gravitating sooner or later to show tunes. There those two qualities stand rescued from a stultifying consensus that sees sentiment as debased escapism and melodrama as vulgar inauthenticity, and replaces them with respectively ’emotion’ and ‘soulfulness’.

But if sentiment and melodrama aren’t how we live our lives, they’re often how we’d like to. If life’s going to hurt, and like it or not it is, then can’t we dream about taking the blows with the poise and presence Judy Collins shows here? Relationships may corrode, tongues may tie, and reality may well end up as messy as some lo-fi indie jam, but there can’t be a lover alive who’s not wanted to take their final bow properly, rather than shuffle offstage with a plaster knife half-falling from their back. That’s when you need songs like this, pulled out of their narrative and ready to be transplanted into yours. Showstoppers like “Send In The Clowns” tell you more about heroics than a guitar ever could: when I was revising for my University history finals I played “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” obsessively, trying to find a way into how Alexander The Great might have thought and felt. God knows whether it helped, but then stupid gestures are what songs like this are about, too.

It’s all in the voice. The music is sumptuous, of course, but great musical songs make immense demands on their singers – technical precision possibly, but emotional command and dramatic talent for certain. That theatrical expressiveness, that knowing when to trick the voice away from being just a melody vehicle, is something I always love to find in pop music – it can redeem an otherwise bland song entirely. Too often it’s missing, though: it’s enough to sound like you mean it, or sound like you know what people who meant it sounded like, and no need to go any further. Even you know she’s just an MOR singer doing some big theatre number, Collins sounds like she means it from the second her lips open, and then she goes on to demonstrate, with restraint and resignation, how little that matters.

One of the finest things I’ve heard all year. Thanks, Mike.