Posts from 24th January 2001

24
Jan 01

THE TEN SMUGGEST MEN IN ROCK

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 920 views

THE TEN SMUGGEST MEN IN ROCK

My apologies, faithful readers, for this interruption but it’s come to my attention that new people may actually be visiting, and perhaps a list of fictional songs by They Might Be Giants is not the best possible welcome. My understanding is that some of you newcomers are readers of weblogs or music mags, so I’d better keep this as simple as possible.

Smug, adj. possessed of undeserved self-satisfaction. A lot of rock stars are smug, of course, mostly because they are cossetted idlers who have made a very tidy living by peddling rank idiocy to a dazed and drooling public. Even the dead ones are probably smug: I’m sure that down in pop hell the ex-stars look up and are relieved from their endless torments by our infinite gullibilities. “Fucking hell, Kurt! Look at that! ‘Imagine’ No.1 in another poll! I only wrote it because Yoko bet me a bag of Moroccan I couldn’t come up with anything duller than ‘Let It Be'” “Uh yeah whatever nevermind”

Mind you it is in the realm of indie rock that the worst self-congratulation takes place. It is not difficult to become an indie rock star, oh dearie me no. You don’t have to look good, play good, talk good, think good, or indeed do anything other than turn up and sulk a bit. Sooner or later huge sheds in Olympia and Manchester will be discovered, holding the Indie Lottery Machines which randomly allocate which bunch of unemployable layabouts are the flavour of this month (imagine chewing the same piece of gum for a month and you’ve got an idea of how tasty most indie bands are). And yet indie musicians are smugness champions: here are the ten worst.

10. BADLY DRAWN BOY: Admittedly this unassuming shuffler is more punchable than smug but the gap between achievement (arrives on stage, picks nose, wobbles off, records bad soft-rock album) and reception (wins every award on earth) cannot fail to have inflated his apish ego. Smuggest Moment: calling a typically MOR plod “Another Pearl”.

9. STEPHEN MALKMUS: Sad-eyed fringe-merchant and perpetual student, will continue making the same album again and again until the education system is annihilated in a Maoist revolution. (see also Stephen Pastel) Smuggest Moment: endless rambling shaggy dog story concerning Smashing Pumpkins tour, won ‘cred’ by dissing Stone Temple Pilots, which is like watching someone fire a bullet into the ground and congratulating them for hitting the planet Earth.

8. STEVE ALBINI: Likes old vinyl and knows how to swear. Has built “ooh, scary” reputation by badmouthing the people who pay his wages. Thoroughly dislikeable. Smuggest Moment: endless Nirvana petulance.

7. MOLOKO: Not indie you say but one of them used to be in indie-funk outfit Chakk (think indie-dance but even more horrible). Besides their rancid narcissism and playschool ‘experimentation’ are indie to a San Andreas fault. Smuggest Moment: calling first album Do You Like My Tight Sweater, i.e. Look At My Tits

6. MOMUS: He’s an artist now, you know. Smuggest Moment: re-recording an entire album of his own godawful forgotten songs, forgotten for much the same reasons that wet loud farts in front of prospective dates are.

5. STEPHIN MERRITT: New York God-King of smug, unstoppable juggernaut of pallid wryness, who rumour has it is reviving the grand tradition of the musical. I intend in turn to revive the grand tradition of the rancid tomato: who’s for an opening night date? Smuggest Moment: that fucking “i” in his name.

4. NICKY WIRE: He’s the most intelligent man in rock (by dint of having got beyond page 20 once in a politics textbook). And my lord does he let you know it. In reality he’s a gangly, reactionary, embarrassing old twat, mithering about playing rent-a-quote to cover up the fact that his band are crap beerboy crowdpleasers and after nine years learning the simplest instrument in the world he still can’t fucking play it. Smuggest Moment: “PCP”

3. MICHAEL STIPE: Everybody hurts. Everybody hurts. Everybody fucking hurts. Fucking skinny bald fucker walking on fucking cars while the worst fucking song ever devised strums oh-so-fucking-politely behind him. Nobody is hurting more than fucking me, Stipe. Smuggest Moment: what do you think?

2. NEIL HANNON: The Liam Gallagher to Stephin Merritt’s John Lennon. Yes, quite that unspeakable. Taps a weary old tradition of sniggery music-hall ‘wit’, which will prepare him for a long and fruitless career trading unfunny jibes with Ned Sherrin on Start The Week. Now winning a following among stupid Americans who don’t quite realise how horrible that prospect is. Smuggest Moment: “National Express”, a bottomless abyss of conceited flab-brained horror.

1. DAMON ALBARN: He may change his style with every album but he certainly can’t change his awful boggling perky smugness. The world of pop may tolerate him, may even respect his ability to shift units to the kind of people who think ‘dangerous’ is when you throw away your IKEA instructions before you build the shelving unit. But it will never, ever remotely like him. Smuggest Moment: “Western pop bores me. I’ve recorded an album in Mali.” Plenty of cheap laughs still to come, I suspect.

I’ve had the best of times and the worst of times

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 343 views

I’ve had the best of times and the worst of times playing pub loner. Well no, not actually the best of times, sitting by yourself in a pub is still sitting by yourself in a pub. Nobody will disturb you if you are reading comics, is the main thing I’ve found.

What I tend to do nowadays if I’m on my tod in a pub is read the paper – guaranteed nondisturbance if it’s a broadsheet because you can hide behind it – or write. But as Emma implies, it’s only acceptable to do either of these if you’re in a pub with some very small tables: if so you can take one in the knowledge that it would otherwise be occupied by a couple, and present company excepted couples are bad for pubs because they tend to either coo or argue.

Every time I try to write something in the pub though I am uncontrollably reminded of how forgotten useless poet Murray Lachlan Young once rolled up in the Uxbridge and proceeded to write his doggerel at a table, barefoot. Bad enough when the Office Hippy insists on going barefoot at work, but in a pub? Madness, madness and thrice madness. What a twat.

Telephone On My Desk

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 653 views

(You know, four days in – that title is starting to look a bit wieldy).

Written, on a slow day even for the genii which TMBG are. The two John’s were sitting in the They Might Be Giants Cave (actually a pokey rented office space shared with a massuse two stories above a Chinese restaurant) – kicking around ideas for a song. John One suggested “Desk”, whch John Two countered with “Telephone”. Realising both of these ideas not to be up to the standard of their usual glittering gems they compromised – creating one of the finest works of music since Paul McCartney made a pact with the devil and sold John Lennon’s soul (a worthless item anyway if you’ve heard his solo records). The tune merely repeats the words “Ring, Ring – Little telephone on the desk” over the sound of a metronome and an accordian. It rocks in at a magnificent one minute, one second – five seconds of which is CD dead air.

More solo pub talk.

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 176 views

More solo pub talk. I am tempted to suggest that the person who reads a book in the gentle afternoon of a quiet pub is a generous soul, happy to pass the time in a public space with the ebb and flow of humanity around them (otherwise they’d have bought a bottle of sherry and sat at home). Conversely, he whose reading habits take up a whole table in the context of a busy pub is a cruel man (possibly a psychopath) with no regard for his fellows.

But of course, it’s more complicated than that. If, for example, you see someone sitting on their own at any time reading a Tom Sharpe novel then leave the premises immediately: they are up to no good and their brain is most likely a scrambled rictus of hatred. If you see someone reading a hobby-related magazine (Anglers’ Monthly, perhaps, or Record Collector) then they are probably self-absorbed but harmless. Be aware, though, that they may be the advance guard of some sort of meeting of like-minded souls. I once frequented a lovely bar which became unusable fortnightly due to the appearance of a live role-playing / sealed knot style group.

As for offensive behaviour, I think very loud walkman use would fall into this category, as would ostentatious self-grooming such as toe-picking or nose-picking. If a stranger asks to read a single section of my Sunday paper, that’s fine (assuming they return it when they’ve finished): asking to read subsequent sections would get my goat. Buy your own! The newsagent is only just down the road!

If you are in a pub on your own

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 372 views

If you are in a pub on your own, don’t be tempted to pass the time on a quiz machine. It’s far too likely that someone will come up to you and try to “help”, or worse, just watch the screen annoyingly over your shoulder.

On the other hand, fruit machines are perfect for the sole drinker, assuming you can bear the loss of cash and sense of ennui that they produce. It’s extremely unlikely that a local will see fit to step up to you while you’re playing “Squids In” or “Jackpoteers” to suggest that you hold a fruit or choose a feature. If someone does, they are trying to make you lose so they can clean up later. Be warned.

Fruit machines are, of course, pretty sad pastimes. As the Barcrest site comprehensively proves. I shan’t be joining the Players Club in a hurry (unless someone tells me I’m missing out).

Rock dinosaurs eh?

New York London Paris Munich1 comment • 1,071 views

Rock dinosaurs eh? This is a most amusing piece regarding the naming of a dinosaur after 80’s legend and noughties binman (probably) Mark Knopfler. Rightly so, the BBC have used as many cliches as possible in their reporting of it. Nevertheless, this new naming pales into insignificance when you find out that there is a tree frog named after Sting.

The quote regarding the increased productivity of the archaeologists when listening to Dire Straits is an interesting one. I find that I do my best work when I am listening to stuff I do not overly like. This is not an excuse to accuse me of owning only lousy records – though I daresay there are certain areas where I could be seen to be guilty as charged. If I hear a track I like, I’ll tend to listen to it rather than work. If they continue to use this method to keep their work rate up expect to hear of the fabled Brontosaurus Creed and the Tyranosaurus Matchbox 20…

Glad to see the issue of what to do in the pub on your own raised here

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 238 views

Glad to see the issue of what to do in the pub on your own raised here. In my younger, more bashful days I would refuse to enter a pub and wait for my friends on my own but now I am usually so desperate for a drink that there’s no holding me. As I am pathologically punctual/early (and most friends are not) I find myself sitting alone in pubs quite a lot. And being a girl, this makes me self conscious, so I am in pursuit of the ideal activity which makes me look busily occupied and not pathetically stood up.

Crosswords are OK (although doing the Metro crossword doesn’t go with the intellectual image I am aiming for…); reading a book makes me look like the sort of saddo who goes to the pub alone to read thereby taking up a whole table that could be better used by proper drinkers. More modern pastimes such as texting or calling other people seem a bit desperate – ‘look, look, I do have friends, they’re just not here yet!’. Having gone down the road of being engaged by/engaging other drinkers in conversation I have realised that I’m not paranoid, I am in fact a weirdo magnet (must be my kindly psychiatric nurse demeanour), and so that’s out of the question too. (Bad memories of man in the Angel, Highgate’s ski holiday photos come flooding back at this point…)

Not sure that any pastime above could be described as offensive – although I know some people take irrational exception to mobiles. However suggestions for pastimes which are likely to cause offence would be most welcome.

Is

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 107 views

Is this a challenge? I throw it open to my publog companions.

POP-EYE 21/1/2001

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 112 views

POP-EYE 21/1/2001

Of course Limp Bizkit don’t matter. Fifteen-year-old boys like what fifteen-year-old boys always have and always will: shouting plus snot plus noise. Some of the best music ever has been made that way and some of the worst has, too. The problem is that after a decade of critically rehabilitating every music imaginable pop’s immune system has weakened rather, so when a band who really are absolutely, laughably, no-possible-doubt-about-it shit roll up nobody quite knows what to do. “But…but….this is a bit like metal….and we’ve all decided that metal’s good now….and we all like rap too….and the kids like it….help!”

Limp Bizkit however are not metal in its happy reissue-friendly form. They are the descendents of the kind of greasy stupid crap metal that turned up on the fifth page of the Kerrang! reviews section with a picture of a goblin and would get the regulation two ‘K’s from a weary junior, metal which is metal because it is competent to be nothing else. As for rap, it is amazing that a man who seems to do it quite as much as Fred Durst does is still so apalling at it. The sheer gumption of this horrible man, whose song sounds like someone having his piles done in a cement mixer, singing “You need some better beats and some better rhymes”, is flabbergasting (easily the most impressive thing about “Rollin”)

“Rollin” is really, really bad. Really bad – the worst Number One since Elton John by a shit-flooded mile. It’s also the first number one which nobody over the age of twenty likes, even knowingly ‘likes’, since….well, ever, possibly. Credit to Fred Durst, pathetic and creepy though he is, for opening up the first generation gap of the noughties. At first I reckoned “Rollin”‘s success (funny how I find myself typing Rollins, clearly the godfather of this wounded-macho rubbish) was inexplicable, then I thought, no. Nobody’s buying this for the music, they’re buying it for the attitude, which is obviously worse but at least makes sense.

Fred Durst, sad twat in a backwards hat, is the avatar for tosspots and no-marks everywhere: people who read Front and put one-paragraph ‘Rants’ on the internet, dribble-mouthed wankmerchants who are both thick and lazy but still feel entitled to ‘respect’ for their non-existent opinions. In every pinched bleat from Durst you can hear his infantile anger: this is the main difference between LB and previous fluke-metal No.1s (“Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter”, anyone?).

So Durst, while vile, is not much of a big deal. Why then spend four precious pop-eye paragraphs on him? Because, alas, my knowledge of the other new releases is a bit sketchy. Spooks I know, though, having stupidly bought their single, which is a considerably more cynical bit of tat than “Rollin'”, being a bunch of Swedes pretending to be the Fugees. Spooks cover up their lack of rhythmic or conceptual originality with a vaguely portentious rap approximately about what happens when fuck meets all. “You won’t believe the things I’ve seen….where chaos and order reign supreme” their Lauryn-a-like warbles – well come on girl, which one is it? You can’t have chaos and order reigning supreme, you dozy bint! The whole thing sounds like a karaoke Blackstreet: embarrassing.

Particularly as it beat All Saints, whose “All Hooked Up” is a bit of a gem – muscular pop-swing just like it used to be made before all these micro-beat peddlers and vocoder divas got hold of it, plus a very funny bit where one of the Appleton sisters talks about having a fool up her ass and one’s thoughts immediately turn to Popbitch. It didn’t get as high as “Black Coffee” or “Pure Shores” because it’s not anything like as good, but that hardly merits the head-shaking that they’ve been getting from the press.

Stopping to administer the briefest of kicks to the useless Feeder, we come to Pink, who is being made sick by her man, so what is new and then a lot of other things I haven’t heard, my not hearing of which is a deliberate ploy to get people talking in the forum of course. Several of these sound promising – Slarta John after all did a good turn on a Basement Jaxx single, and Boom are probably cheap and cheerful, and a track called “Pistol Whip” sounds like it should be a horrid dusty alt-country thing but is on Nulife so is probably not. And Toploader seem to be going for the record for weeks spent at #21, the pop equivalent of being the man who built the biggest model ship (British Record) in the Guinness Book.

But basically this week is all about the Bizkit, and the biggest sign yet that fratboy rap-metal is here to stay as an import. Where’s the Bob The Builder follow-up when you need it?

THE FIVE BEST (oh what a surprise)
ALL SAINTS – All Hooked Up (7)
MISTEEQ – Why (10)
EMINEM – Stan (12)
DESTINY’S CHILD – Independent Women (26)
WU-TANG CLAN – Gravel Pit (30)

(From next week Pop-Eye moves to an exciting new format on its own page, and better still we’ll be ditching the five best feature so you won’t need to be reminded week-in week-out that we’re quite fond of Eminem.)