Posts from 18th January 2001

18
Jan 01

A somewhat skewed site about

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A somewhat skewed site about Bubblegum Music, notable mostly for the rather obsessive definitions of what is (Elvis Costello, apparently) and what isn’t (anything with horns) bubblegum. Also the bizarre observations about pop and politics at the end of the ‘definitions’ section.

[Spinning Today]

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[Spinning Today] is a log of short record reviews, much like NYLPM was originally conceived as, lo those months gone by. It’s rather good so you should go and look at it.

AN UNACCOUNTABLE OMISSION

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AN UNACCOUNTABLE OMISSION

Readers, I have failed you. I have done my best over the last several months to expose the very worst in music and warn you all from ever wasting your time, money or breath on it. But I have left a group out. A group so terrible, so screamingly bad, so unutterably unconscionably murderously smugly awful that it alone makes a stinking mockery of the very notion of human progress and the concept of ‘good’. A group so godawfully useless that I had blocked their very existence from my memory and it has taken several sharp corrective blows with a steel mallet to restore the details.

I am of course talking about Ben Folds Five.

First of all of course there are not five of them. A fuckheel of Ben Folds’ magnitude could hardly be expected to have four friends willing to share a continent with him, let alone a stage. No, it’s just Ben’s goofy madcap way. Ben Folds, you see, conceals his poignant songwriting skills within a slightly zany and – hey – kinda clever shell. In other words, he is the sanity-shattering crossbreed of Billy Joel and the Barenaked Fuckerty Ladies, Billy Joel without even the tiny figleaf of sincerity to cover his pallid retchworthy arse.

The Ben Folds Five are the most contrived band in existence: “I want to be an indie rock star” wheedles the horrid Mr.Folds, “What instrument can I play which nobody else is using? I know! I know! The piano, yes, that will be my calling card.” Had Pavement or whoever tickled the ivories a bit more he’d no doubt have plumped for the fucking accordion, so naked was his desire to be noticed. Ben Folds Five and their sentimental AOR revivalist shit are the musical equivalent of the man who comes into work every day in a different novelty tie. The only song of theirs I can remotely bear is “Army”, because it conjures up the delicious prospect of the repeated and violent kickings Ben Folds would receive on a daily basis were he ever to get drafted. Come on George W., make it happen!

INDIE DANCE

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INDIE DANCE

Indie dance. Now hold on just a minute. We’re in trouble there from the outset, I think. Short of perhaps Laryngectomy Doo-Wop it’s tough to think of a genre which quite so comprehensively shoots itself in the foot. Indeed come to think of it a man with a shot foot would be better able to dance than the average indie kid.- the agony in his bullet-ridden limb might impel him to hop up and down a bit, which would be more than your indie shuffler circa 1988 could muster.

But for whatever sick and wrong reason, indie dance was invented. The idea was that you took an indie band and they would record records which people would, yes, dance to. The idea was hatched at the end of the 80s where a lot of cash-strapped indie acts noticed that some of the Young Folk were going out and moving around rhythmically, and doing so in great numbers. Whereas at indie gigs tiny numbers of lank-haired parasites would turn up, shrug to some vague approximation of the beat, and end up spewing snakebite all over the stinking poky venues. Blatantly attracting thousands of people and getting them to dance would be good business, whereas continuing to pack out the Bull & Gate was obvious pony.

Market research was conducted by the likes of the “Roses” and the “Mondays” and the “Primals” and indie dance was revealed to be a goer: the only problem being that many of the target audience didn’t know what dancing was. To sort this out, several bands decided to hire somebody to dance on stage with them, and introduce indie people to this curious new form of bodily movement. “Can you dance, man?” bristly man-beast Shaun Ryder asked the length and breadth of Manchester, earning himself many a beating for his trouble. He soon tired of the struggle – “I’ll fookin’ show them!” he declared and ironically selected the worst dancer in the universe, writing “He’s gonna step on you again” as a warning to anyone unfortunate enough to share a floor with Bez.

(The Stone Roses meanwhile found Cressa, a man named after a nasty vegetable with an ‘-a’ unconvincingly stuck on the end to make it seem as if it was a proper nickname. Curiously Cressa features little in the many, many, many histories of this wretched band.)

But enough history – what of the music? Well, you take a guess at the strength and depth of a scene which produced the likes of the Mock Turtles and Candy Flip. That said it has always been one of my favourite musical eras – rarely was there so much entertainment to be gained from watching music fans go about their absurd business. The style became known as ‘baggy’ after the voluminous t-shirts the listeners wore – not to show how loose and relaxed they were but in fact to disguise the floods of sweat which would drown their pigeon-chested, terminally unfit bodies should they so much as twitch. They would jerk around like sponge-brained apes, frantically twisting their faces, hoping they would look as if they were on mad space pills rather than painfully negotiating a particularly wide shit. As long as I wore earplugs and faced away from the stage it could be a rather pleasant evening out.

The FT Fantasy Pop Etc. Etc.

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The FT Fantasy Pop Etc. Etc. game is now full up. Everyone who wrote in before now has got a place, hooray. And now back to normal NYLPM service.

Gawd bless yer,

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Gawd bless yer, Metafilter: the weblog community’s premiere discussion board discovers Tanya: much incomprehension ensues. As endearingly muddleheaded as MeFi always is.

More East London bars

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 201 views

More East London bars The Vibe Bar is a mess. The grotty interior is well suited to its shabby student regulars. It’s got internet access on crappy terminals (worse luck – see below) and a bloody Wall of Sound-sponsored DJ. Is it not possible to enjoy a beer round there without the bangin’ accompaniment?

Somehow, unexpectedly, it works. There’s a good range of drinks and its proximity to Brick Lane and its curryhouses is a big plus. A note for connoisseurs – the excellent Cafe Bangla is just down the road, famed for its appalling mural of Diana, Queen of Hearts. Ignore the irony tourists and just enjoy the superb fodder.

By the time I saw The Light last Thursday, I was a bit tired and emotional, so maybe I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to savour this (barely) converted warehouse. I had a bottle of Budvar, which is not really an end-of-session beer – it’s rather too thick and treacly. The preponderance of media tosspots didn’t encourage me to explore the place too much.

Leaving at 11pm, I discovered that you can carry on drinking in The Light up to 2am – but only if you are casually dressed. I feel that the opposite practice should be encouraged in pubs – you should be allowed to drink all night if you’re wearing a suit. Or a catsuit.

The Pumpkin Publog Urban Regeneration Campaign

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The Pumpkin Publog Urban Regeneration Campaign

The Greenwich Peninsula can collectively suck my dick – what concerns me as we shuffle into the second year of the new Millennium (yes, I said second, you pedantic arsebags) is the large stretches of urban London devoid of a decent drinker. This is a matter of particular interest to me because these stretches seem to like bang on the stopping points of the Oxford Tube bus service, and after crawling down the A40 stuck behind Recliner Man or Loud Mobile Bint the first thing I want to do is walk straight into a nice pub and settle down for a tete-a-tete with the Fat Man or one of his many continental cousins.

But no. Case in point: Marble Arch. Hub of Central London, stopping point of every bus ever, complete wasteland on the pub front. (And on the shopping front incidentally, since HMV got replaced by Surprise Surprise). All sorts of tempting side streets up the Edgeware road prove to be boozer-free: under the tutelage of Mr Hopkins I found some excellent drinking joints in Marylebone but that’s a ten minute walk. In Marble Arch itself you have a mass of hotel bars (which is a whole separate post, really) and the notorious Carpenter’s Arms, pub of the free-to-hire upstairs and godawful downstairs, and not an establishment I’m ever keen to set foot in again.

There is some hope, though – last night my drinking companion and myself were wandering the Marble Arch Void and ended up in the Mason’s Arms, a quick trot up the road from the Carpenter’s. A shabby and endearing pub, serving Holsten Pils, Premium and Export, it has one of those theatre-in-the-round bars which is very pleasant to sit at if you’re not in the line of punter fire. So that was what we did and a good time was had. It also has, jukebox spotters, a Sequential Jukebox, albeit one not updated since 1996, which seems to be the Year The Music Died as far as album renewal is concerned.

The Mason’s would not generally rate much of a mention, pleasant though it is, but its location as the one green shoot in an otherwise bare and stony drinking environment forces its inclusion. Let’s hope it starts a trend – and let’s also throw a spotlight on other areas of town which sorely require governmental pub aid.

Three places remain

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Three places remain for round one of the FT Fantasy Pop Charts game. The sooner they’re filled, the sooner we get back to links, ha.