Gene. Perennial mid-afternoon act on the NME stage of the nineties. Martin Rossiter a second-rate Morrissey with his controversial interviews. That memorable quote ‘they chose the only time in history when sounding like the Smiths was a bad idea’. There at the birth of indie landfill. Except now. I’ve listened to Olympian and Drawn To the Deep End and they are great. Just great. Much better than I thought at the time. I’m not saying if they were starting today they’d have been world-conquering, but Steve Mason’s guitar lines, Rossiter’s vocals and the all-round sturdiness of the songwriting have aged surprisingly well. Other bands please who were second-raters at the time who have now become firm favourites.
We’re a little behind schedule (World Cup, new jobs and so), but we can swing open the doors to the third edition of the Afterword CD swap, hosted by your good self and @kid-dynamite. Come on in! Our theme this time around, after the on-the-money cold is…..Space. Inner space, outer space, crawl spaces. Get out there man. New members are welcome to the bit of the Afterword that gets physical – yes you’ll need actual blank CDs, envelopes and postage stamps to take part. But the joy of receiving a CD of anonymous musical goodness through your letterbox cannot be underestimated.
In very plain English: you compile a CD of 12 tracks on the theme of Space. We put you in a group with two other people. You post yours to each of them, you get two from your other group members. You post your review of theirs, they post their review of yours. You send us your tracklist. We post them. that’s it. It is usually a lot of fun.
Those rules in full:
1 Sign up by the closing date by just letting us know in the comments to this post. Sign up for CD » Continue Reading.
Side 1, Track 1 is a perennial blog favourite. But have we done the other end? Doves, four albums in, had this mournful yet uplifting cracker as the last track on their (to date) final album Kingdom of Rust. The HjH’s may have been on top of this too with, er, The End followed by a musical jape on Abbey Road. So, the best final tracks on the final studio album where artists got it right at the exit door. Not everyone manages a dignified finale: would anyone want Life Is Wild to be the Clash’s final musical statement? Sometimes a catalogue is just too messy (Pistols, Zappa) to decide what the final track ever was. But for those with a legible catalogue let’s have your nominations for best finale. Studio albums only, live, remixed, collections etc all not allowed. I would say qualifying inactivity period would be at least 7 years. Doves list as ‘inactive’ on wikipedia
That jolly green giant Spotify is trying to lure streaming refuseniks with a campaign emphasising how your 80s favourite tracks are just a click away after all these years. So we have: Simple Minds haven’t forgotten about you Phil Collins wants one more night And so on I cant help but feel them have missed a trick here and we could broaden this 80s appeal with a few witty spins of our own. Foetus is still bothered by what you’ve got on your breath Crass still want to know how it felt to be the mother of a thousand dead Chuck’s ding-a-ling is still waiting for you to play with it.
I’m sure we can help them out here.
Though I don’t tend to get involved in ‘meta’ threads about the site itself, I do read them of course and in the latest threads on Bricameron there’s a widespread feel that ‘people don’t post so much anymore’ . Clearly there are individual reasons why particular people do or don’t, but I would like to share another thought. I don’t know about you, by in friendship groups I’ve had people delete their Facebook profiles (a few), stop actively posting (a few more), transfer from messenger to other platforms (a few more). In my case I would like to call my general feeling Digital Disenchantment. If we ever thought that Zuckerberg was more than a robber baron, well we know now. If we thought that every time we shared a post or video we weren’t adding to the data mountain that all sorts of people were secretly mining, well we know now. So in my own case it’s meant not actively posting anything on FB, and only looking at Pages because work requires it. I’ve come off messenger at the behest of a friend and now use (oh the irony) Whatsapp which of course is owed by…FB. And whose founder has » Continue Reading.
So in between the end of ep 2 of City and the City and Match of the Day master moles introduced me to vapourwave, an entire genre of music I was blissfully unaware of until yesterday. The cornerstone idea seems to slow down and pitch shift music, particularly 80s pop, until what was jaunty and upbeat is now melancholic and threatening. Here’s one of the founders (he became One Oh Trix Point Never) turning Africa by Toto into god knows what… more hilarious videos (including an extreme version of Running UP That Hill) in the comments. Apparently it is not just a joke, but a proper genre that people, like, choose to listen to.
I’m sure we’ve done this before, but hey I’m listening to Daisies of the Galaxy and enjoying Mr E’s Beautiful Blues, released as the first single natch. It was recorded after the album was finalised. Record company and E agreed on a compromise with it as an unlisted track at the end (my copy has a somewhat hopeful record company sticker on the front advertising its presence, presumably baffling to the casual buyer as on turning over to the track listings it is nowhere to be found). So, your best hidden tracks. Hidden means not listed on the cover or the record, so not apparent to the browser. And this was of course around long before CD’s as another favourite is…in the comments. Please don’t post that Ash track of them all being sick.
Hare and Hounds
If you had tried to come up with an indie novelty act in 1981, its hard to think of a more ephemeral idea than three Japanese girls in kwai dresses playing Ramones-style punk rock. A great gag for maybe a 10″ ep, tour and Peel session. Yet, 37 years later here we are at the Hare and Hounds with one of the great survivors from the post-punk era. Not so much of a in-joke, more an international treasure now. Founder member Naoko is joined by sister Atsuko and Ritsukoon. Over an hour and a bit we get twenty-five songs that stick rigidly to the pop-punk-rock template: brief, crunchy riffs, catchy chorus and slogan lyrics. What other band could say ‘This is the first of four songs about food’ – then deliver Ramen Rock, All You Can Eat (a personal favourite), Wasabi and so on. Barbecue Party is a set closer, and Banana Chips elsewhere. There really is no-one else like them. Rock shapes are thrown, audience sing-alongs encouraged, and everyone is firmly in Knifeworld: a more colourful, happy place. Is there another band who can create such a happy and positive vibe: the » Continue Reading.
Lodestone’s recent post prompted a discussion on repetition and saturation. Fear of over-saturation is a thing I have a fear that overplaying will cause certain artists, my very very favourite ones, to lose their magic. Or if you will, if you play Kate Bush every day she will end up sounding like Kate Nash. Kate B not N is one, The Jam are another, David Bowie, New Order and 80s Prince also. Rationing has enabled their magic to stay with me for decades now. Artists not in this very very top bracket in my mental HMV don’t cause this fear, because playing Doves, brilliant though they are, every day for a month is not a real issue. We could also go quasi-religious on this: my outlook being fundamentally protestant in that a listen of Hounds of Love has to be ‘earned’ through plays of several long-unplayed records, while there are on this site many catholics who can happily have Abbey Road on daily repeat and enjoy its magic undimmed. Assuming you are of the protestant persuasion, who is in your ration book?
Year: 2018 Director: Steven Spielberg
At relatives over Easter so instead of our usual Cineword or Odeon we saw Spielberg’s latest at the brilliantly straightforward Kavanagh cinema in Herne Bay. Tickets £4.00! A ‘4 sense’ ticket at Odeon is now heading towards £14 in Brum. Also the joy of local graphics done with Windows movie maker announcing ‘ The feature presentation’. But I digress…what was the film like? There’s spotters badges for Digbeth’s arches (standing in for post-slow-apocalypse USA) and a building in the City I used to walk past on my way to the Barbican centre. But I digress…what was the actual film thing like. It’s one of Spielberg’s family adventures like ET or Jurassic Park, rather than those aimed at a more grown up audience. So we get plucky teen protagonists versus the man, and a good deal less sense of jeopardy than being chewed by a T-Rex.
At stake is a virtual space world called the Oasis that was set up by Mark Rylance (a film-stealing cameo) and Simon Pegg, and is now the panacea that distracts everyone from the utterly f====d up world of 2040. Evil masterminds the the 101/I O I corporation want to » Continue Reading.
Driving home today I was listening to the magisterial Risque by Chic. Sandwiched between Good Times and the equally magisterial My Feet Keep Dancing (tap break!) is the pretty-much filler ballad Warm Summer Nights. Then my mind drifted to the true awfulness that is a one-per-album-record-company-mandated Madonna Ballad (Rain…Love Don’t Live Here Anymore etc). In how many albums are the ballads/slow numbers rather tiresome things to get through before the beat is back. A lot I venture to say. And as for hip-hop ballads. Just saying LL Cool J that’s all.
Elton John may have sold a billion copies of that Diana track but even the ballad man himself surely has his best tracks working at least at a mid-tempo. Sometimes It Snows In April may be the exception, but Prince apart from this was at his best at his up-tempoest. Don’t all say The Dame at once. He was I think equally at home with the ballad and the rocker. The clever so and so.
So – challenge laid down. Which artists can we say delivered their very best at a ballad pace. Where their rockers were rather pants and their ballads rather ace.
Rules: I think we are » Continue Reading.
What’s your 1971?
There was an interesting observation in the Afterword CD swap reviews thread that ‘1991 was your 1971’. Setting aside the Spurs-esque ‘1’s’ part of this, it touches on a thought: that we will all have our own 1971. Not the greatest year ever, but the greatest year for us. For me it’s 1979. I’m 14 and reading NME and going to gigs for the first time. I look back and the albums released this year form the very core of musical tastes. I didn’t buy all these at the time of course on my pocket money, but everywhere I look 1979 is a ground zero for my music. So what’s your 1971 and is it better than 1979?
The Jam – Setting Songs The Clash – London Calling Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures The Cure – Three Imaginary Boys Buzzcocks – Different Kind of Tension (saw them on this tour) Stiff Little Fingers – Inflammable Material Talking Heads – Fear of Music Entertainment – Gang of Four Join Hands – Siouxsie and the Banshees Blondie – Eat to the Beat Ruts – The Crack Skids – Scared to Dance Magazine – Secondhand Daylight Wire 154 The Fall » Continue Reading.
BBC4 have a two-part series on Minimalism. Part one last night focused on its origins in fifties California and in the work of two composers: La Monte Young, who is interviewed dressed as the Oldest Biker In the Gang, and the guruesque Terry Riley. Young is the more enigmatic, allied to the visual art world of Yoko Ono and writing pieces that consisted of instructions to start a fire (the urbane but slightly too well-dressed Charles Hazlewood, our guide, recreates this – and hey next time you have a barbecue you can too.) Riley is more down to earth, cheerfully admitting he hit gold with In C and hasn’t written anything of compareable power since. Ragas, phasing and lots more.
There’s an all-star band who recreate tape loops and have a bash at in C : Adrian Utley from Portishead shows off his collection of vintage reel-to-reels, and Will from Goldfrapp appears in the line up. It is pretty much uncovered stuff from start to finish, and towards the end we get to Steve Reich – who features with Philip Glass in part two next week.
It’s what the licence fee should be paying for.
Platform:Playstation Age Rating:16+ Year of Release:2017 Review:
In 22 Jump Street – possibly apart from Aliens and T2 the best ever sequel – Ice Cube greets the returning cops in his new office. Did they like it? It’s got a huge glass cube and loads of hot staff drinking espressos. Didn’t they know this is the sequel? Bigger budget baby.
Destiny’s budget was pretty big to begin with. Bungie – legendary developer of Halo – spent the GDP of a medium-size nation on bringing together the FPS and MMO. I think the verdict was pretty much that the MMO was pretty lame, while the FPS was the gaming equivalent of cocaine. Bits everyone liked included rock-hard team raids that took hours, as well as the usual multi-player options like capture the flag where you could be owned by a 12-year old from Bulgaria. It looked georgeous, but couldn’t escape a somewhat convuluted and tokenistic plot that didn’t really work hard enough to set up the bad guys as people you didn’t like, and the good guys as people you rooted for.
Now a mere six months after Destiny 2’s launch your erstwhile correspondent, AKA middle-aged gamer man, is about » Continue Reading.
A gentle reminder to those taking part to do the following: If you’ve not sent your ‘it’s cold’ CD – 12 tracks – to the others in your group do so asap. If you’ve received them but not let your swap buddies know it would be nice if you could. If you’ve not yet received a CD that someone has told you they’ve posted and should have arrived, drop them a line.
If you’ve not sent us your track listing please do so.
If you’ve not listened to your received CDs – again, time to do so, so that:
1 March or thereabouts we will start a blog post for you to post your blind reviews of each other’s efforts. Get ready to claim that that obscure prog jazz track is just genius….
Then after a fortnight or so myself and @kid-dynamite will post your track listings so that obscure prog-jazz genius track may turn out to be by Shed Seven…
I have just returned from that modern rite of passage the visit to the mobile phone hospital. Son’s phone has been put on the critical list, with hopefully a return to full health tomorrow morning. Over the last few years we have been regular visitors to our friendly Kings Heath High St shop, who have put screen protectors on, replaced shattered screens and non-functioning home buttons. Like any good rite of passage it has its own code of conduct and social behaviours:
1. The innocent ‘nothing really’ when responding to ‘any liquid you might have dropped it in?’ followed a minute later by the reveal that there’s half a can of coke inside.
2.The bedside manner when giving bad news: I’m really sorry, there’s nothing more we can do. The charge port has given out.
3. The effusive thanks when a phone is resurrected from its deathbed.
4. And of course the unreasonable entitled person who has got coke in it, a cracked screen and a non-functioning power button who can’t understand why it can’t be repaired there and then despite the queue because ‘ I really need it’.
5. The compulsory racks of non-branded accessories.
Your other modern » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Five facts about the Ohio Players I knew before listening to these CDs:
They had a series of album covers featuring ladies in states of undress and/or S & M gear They did that Fire song that is on absolutely every funk compilation Sly and Robbie did a cover of Fire I wonder whether Woollies or Boots stocked those saucy covers er….that’s it
So what have I learned from 3 CD’s worth of OP funk (this is a pun that no-one who doesn’t game will get, answer if you need it at the end of the review)?
If the 3-CD retrospective were a movie it would have three acts: the rise, the glory years and fall from grace. Redemption very rarely comes along in musical careers, as the Stone Roses comeback demonstrates. The Ohio Players story might not have the universal relevance of a Hollywood classic, but if conforms to this template pretty well. The first CD starts in the sixties with a Stax soul sound: heavy on the organ and horns. These tracks, particularly Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, are pleasant enough without being in any way essential.
Then we get the glory tracks » Continue Reading.
There are some bands whose musicians are clearly auditioning for the bigger gig as surely as a good half-season in the Southampton midfield is a come-and-get-me plea in the direction of Anfield. I’m listening to Heavy Stereo, whose guitarist bowed to the inevitable (have a listen) and rather than continue supporting Oasis, joined them. Other examples please.
If you can tear yourself away from the BBC Sport coverage, there’s another much more important deadline today which is the second Afterword CD swap. We’ve had a good sign-up for round two, but if you’ve missed it then the post is here:
Just reply in the comments and the swap, organised by @kid-dynamite and my good self, will include you in.
What does it sound like?:
Third Reich and Roll is the second album by The Residents and in every way puts their art-rock manifesto out there fully formed. It’s a quantum leap forward from the first album. Just as well they ran their own record label – I can just hear the elevator pitch no: we’re going to make an album of two side-length tracks which are both collages of fragments of sixties pop songs mashed together, with an over-arching idea that they show the totalitarian ideology that lies behind modern America.
And that’s what they do. Their sonic palatte: scratchy dry guitar, Bontempi keyboards, biscuit-tin drums, Beefheartish growling lead vocals and ghostly chant/half-sung backing vocals; is brought to bear on tracks including Horse With No Name, Land of a Thousand Dances and Hey Jude. If nothing else then a single listen will provide a very alternative half-hour music quiz. If only they had used this on the Radio One roadshow instead of Bits and Pieces…..
Musicianship has developed significantly from the first album. Now, instead of causing the listener to wonder whether they have picked up the instruments for the very first time, we are wondering whether their » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
There will be someone for whom these reissues are vital additions to their collections. That they have always been missing the mono mix of Meet The Residents, the Santa Dog ep or those always thought lost outtakes. I am not that person, though I have known who the Residents were, and even had purchased copies of Eskimo and Third Reich and Roll for myself. So, I am not able to either comment on the mono/stereo distinctions or the place of the outtakes in Residents lore (and boy is there lore).
The outtakes Meet The Residents is their first official release, though there are eps and tapes from before. Let’s approach the out-takes first. From what little can be gleaned of their biography, the group were possibly artists or maybe just people who by virtue of ending up in San Francisco in 1966 were at a uniquely powerful cultural epicentre and thus becoming musicians was a natural idea. If you imagine the ‘learn a guitar’ section from 2112 re-enacted by four-year olds ransacking the music cupboard in an early seventies infants school then you are in the zone for these out-takes. They are, if you » Continue Reading.
We are back back back baby. New Year and a new (well the second) Afterword CD swap is go. We need you to sign up now. We hope you enjoyed the summer’s debut run out, now it’s time for that difficult second swap. You may have noticed its been a bit chilly, well here in the UK. For our Southern Hemisphere brethren its all passing out out on centre court in 40 degree heat. Anyways, the theme of the second CD swap is that its cold. You can respond to the theme in any way you like: lyrics, artists, titles.
The CD swap is once more by your hosts @kid-dynamite and @moseleymoles. If you didn’t get your full quota of swaps last time let us know in a DM, and we will put you in a group with two (hopefully) reliable sorts.
We’ve tried to keep the rules to a minimum to make taking part as easy as possible. For those who’ve never done one before, a CD swap involves you making a compilation, posting it to a couple of other people, who post you theirs. How it all works is in » Continue Reading.
The current thread about whether pop music has lost its fun made me think about the novelty hit. If it’s golden age was from the mid-sixties to the mid-eighties, has it gone the way of the dodo? Dealt mortal blows by CDs (everything was more expensive) , mp3s (everyone could share the best music) and finally streaming (just everything). Or does it persist like the Aussie flu currently? So, if the modern musical world began with the founding of Spotify in 2008, what can we dig up novelty-hits wise from the last ten years. Novelty hits from the last decade please. Here’s one to start you off:
Year: 2016 Director: Michael Haneke
So it’s a Michael Haneke film called Happy End. So is it happy ever after for the characters? It’s not a huge surprise to know that it’s not. This late into a career that’s brought us the blowtorch cinema of Funny Games, early video nasties such as Benny’s Video ,and the high water-mark of Hidden, he’s not going to start making rom-coms. Haneke’s style is now as firmly set as a new Noel Gallagher album and Happy End is, as several other reviewers have noted, practically a greatest hits collection.
The film introduces a large cast of mainly related characters revolving around the matriarch, Anne, played by the majestic Isabelle Huppert, head of a loaded haute bourgois family. She is fighting to save the family construction business, that she took over from her father Georges. He meanwhile is infirm and worried about dementia – so much so that he spends most of the film attempting to end his life. Anne’s brother, Thomas, has to care for his daughter 13-year Eve, brought into their lives after her mother, Tom’s first wife, has a drugs overdose. Keeping up? Meanwhile Anne’s drunkard son Pierre is putting the business » Continue Reading.
I’m enjoying the first Chic album – and alongside the main band, horn section, extra percussion and vibes and strings is one Gloria Augustra whose less predictable harp textures can be heard on Compulsory Ballad Falling In Love With You. Well a bit. She provides a few shimmies at best. So, your nominations please for the ‘Why Don’t We Get One of Those’ musicians. Rules: only one, must have a clear credit with their name and instrument on the sleeve, and be audible. Cowbell player on the first Napalm Death album? An overlooked marimba maestro on Let It Be?