Kasami Washington may not have received the memo (what with his Amazing Reproducing CDs – leave his two discs together overnight, come down in the morning and – hey! – there’s a whole new CD), but from the start of this year I noticed a trend for shorter, snappier albums, from the extremely sensible 38-40 minutes (U.S. Girls, Darlingside) to pithy (although perhaps less value-for-money) 30ish minutes (SiR, Tove Styrke, John Prine) After years of wading through pointless filler I was digging this, but then sub 23 minutes albums started dropping (Kids See Ghosts, Pusha T, Teyana Taylor), which meant I had to re-evaluate Diplo’s California and Sudan Archives’ Sink, which I had classified as E.P.s, being 20 and 19 minutes respectively. When the Tierra Whack album (15 one minute tracks at full album price) came in shorter than Malfunction, the ace opening track on the Cavern Of Anti-matter album, I felt the wheels were coming off. But now mates are trying to persuade me to get Tony Molina’s Kill The Lights (10 tracks, 14 and one half minutes FULL ALBUM PRICE) and I am asking the question where will this madness end? (And – sidebar – how do you » Continue Reading.
What is the greatest dichotomy in popular music? Some might suggest it’s more cowbell or less cowbell, or should I stay or should I go, or selling out or selling nowt. But I put it to you that the single question that cleaves le pop is, when confronted with an irresistible dancey groove, whether to “get up” or “get down”. In this video for the sublime new single by Swedish beatbots Galantis, we observe a quintessential example of the “get up” reaction (although I suspect any TOTP screening of same would necessitate a sober health and safety warning advising not to imitate the behaviour on view). Where do you stand on the get up/get down dilemma (and do you, in fact, just stand). And what are pop’s other great dichotomies?
It might be the ace Chart Music podcast, it might be the relentless sunshine, it might the fact that I’m full of virile, youthful joy (No. It’s definitely not that.), but I’ve been immersing myself this last while in Proper Pop That Goes !Pop! As we know, this is usually music made by ladies of the female variety. This means parking one’s prejudice against 1. songs which are mostly about sexy bits and boys and fluffy-headed female stuff instead of the power of rawk or the Dukla Prague Away Kit 2. music which evokes a feeling of happiness and makes you want to move ya body instead of making you feel all clever and cool just for being the only kid on your street for having heard it apart from when your parents are away and you turn up the stereo and open all the windows 3. artistes who work with other writers and may have arrived via tv talent shows or some form of sinister behind-the-scenes grooming by The Man rather than slogging their way around Britain’s foulest venues in a germ-infested van writing new songs by failing to correctly nick the good bits from the records they admire » Continue Reading.
A warm welcome, as is right, for the return of Chak-Chak-Chak-Chaka Khan, but no noise on The AW about a new Suede song dropping. Listening, one might understand why – those who have never cared for boneyarse Bertie won’t find anything new to like here. Bert’s man, Sir David of funny eyes was renowned for his “how you like me now?” ch-ch-ch-changes of style from record to record and back in the days when bands could only hope to have five album careers it was de rigeur to pop down the barbers/ buy the latest kit/ clamber aboard the bandwagon with this year’s reg to artificially delay your inevitable slide into that part of the record shop marked “yesturday’s men” (the geezers writing the cards in record shops could never spell). So naturally, now that bands refuse to go away – like that athlete’s foot from that one time in the public swimming pool so long ago that you had a body you weren’t ashamed to exhibit it in public – they don’t feel any pressure to sound different at all. This new song doesn’t just sound like Suede – it sounds like a newly-discovered song from 1992. I approve. » Continue Reading.
Handy tip from The A.V. Club that you can stream sets from Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival one day behind (link below) If my U.S./Euro timeshift calculations are correct Sparks are on in about 10 minutes. Not too excited about the rest of tonight, but some good acts over the next couple of days, so depends who they choose to stream… (Handy since Twitch.tv have suspended their live classic Doctor Who stream until Monday)
When Guru took the opportunity on the Mo’ Better Blues soundtrack to declare that “The 90s will be the decade of a jazz thing”, it seemed less like a prophecy than an inevitability. The thing called rap had caught our attention riding disco grooves such as Chic’s Good Times and the Incredible Bongo Band’s take on Apache, before moving on, via Afrika Bambaataa, to become “electro”, plunder the rock riffs of Rick Rubin’s record collection, then find its most obvious fit in the funky grooves of James Brown and his imitators. And so to jazz.. Thing was, jazz was already prominent among the many fathers of rap. Jazz dude Gil Scott-Heron’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is regarded as a foundation stone. You’d already had the radical rhymes of The Watts Prophets and The Last Poets. These fellows were playing! The LPs (as no-one calls them) even coined the term “jazzoetry” to describe what they were at. And the Last Poets are one of the main reasons I’m a tap tappin’ right now, as they’ve recently released the first album for a couple of decades with the help of master reggae producer Prince Fatty and it’s mighty fine. But » Continue Reading.
Here on The Afterword we have a lot of time on our hands. We’ve had threads about albums with great opening salvos, albums where one side always gets played at the expense of the other and albums that finish with a bang. But, after living with the new Janelle Monae album for a week, I’m coming to the conclusion that it falls into the category we might call a “Jaffa Cake” album – that is to say I’m seriously underwhelmed by the first four tracks and the last four tracks but it does have “a smashing bit in the middle”. Now, this is a curious thing as, when albums are front loaded with bangers this is usually quite deliberate (it seemed to reach epidemic status in the early days of cds when there was no imperative to distribute the gold democratically between two complementary sides) and choosing to finish your opus on a high is clearly an attempt to emulate the dynamic of the live concert performance. But pop music’s been around a while now and, offhand, I can’t think of too many albums with this pattern, which suggests it’s not something an artist might do deliberately (and, to be » Continue Reading.
Sewer Robot on Comedy Horror
Comedy Horror, eh? It’s bleedin’ everywhere nowadays. In movies, in those comics your kids buy, even on proper, non-satellite, tv channels. But has its ubiquity blinded us to fact that this marriage of genres is an ill bred abomination? I mean, I like sitting at home at my “table” and I also enjoy a vigorous game of “tennis”, but that doesn’t mean I can just bolt these two words together to produce a game involving tennis-style skills that can be played indoors on a waist-high wooden surface.
The poet Patrick Kavanagh has a line about the newness that was in every stale thing when we looked at it as children. True dat – but it’s also true that there were loads of things we encountered as kids which, though of fairly recent vintage, we, in our stupid innocence, assumed had been around forever.
Chuckle worthy beasties were ubiquitous in the culture when we were kids. “Over He-e-e-r-e” were Scooby and Shaggy hiding from ghosts in the pantry, over there was Creature Teacher and the other assorted ghouls of Monster Fun comic. We bought gum containing cards where the black and white monsters from old RKO » Continue Reading.
The song that kicks off the new Okkervil River album connects the singer’s own surgical experience to that of assorted well-known figures, chugs along in a most pleasing manner and, for the AW week that’s in it, has an attention-grabbing opening lyric (even if this is a far cry from this group’s first rodeo). But it’s principal value, to me, is that it has drawn my attention to the correct spelling of the word “tracheotomy” (Dunno, but assuming it has a Latin derivation, I imagined there’d be another “a” in there, or some other surprise). Has the release of a song ever enlightened you wrt to the actual spelling of a word?
What does it sound like?:
Well, first off, for those of you for whom Lauryn Hill’s totally Afterword-friendly album is a step too far, I would hazard that there’s nothing for you here.
I’m going to start by making a wildly simplistic generalization, which is that contemporary hip hop is pretty much divided between the (mostly samey) unit shifters, a (frequently backward-looking) underground and a menagerie of far out explorers whose work, while frequently admirable, can also be frustratingly hit-and-miss. What’s more, nearly twenty five years after Chuck declaimed that he “never did represent doing dumb sh*t”, the prevalence of said “dumb sh*t” in this genre has meant that those with something to say who do so directly tend not to feed at the top table.
Jean Grace and Quelle Chris are partners in real life. In musical terms I would say Jean is sharp and clear old skool-style underground, while Chris can be a bit trippy Hippy dippy and their respective flows mirror this. So – as much as we all enjoy the idea of working with The Missus – bumping and grinding their quite different styles together might have produced quite the ugly offspring. Instead, the inevitable » Continue Reading.
On those occasions when I deign to view a picture at my local theatre, I always insist on the full 3D Vibroshock™ Smell-O-Vision™ experience*. My television is a 200 inch Ultra HD 8k hooked up to 25 perfectly placed surround sound speakers with a Sub-subwoofer. I even bring my pastels along so I may, through the medium of illustrative fresco, “flesh out” (as it were) my favourite glory hole. So, how disappointing is it that, during my hours aboard the assorted joyrides and amusements of The Afterword, what I know (and the podcasts barely hint at) must surely be a “Quality Street”-style assortment of nasal poshos, high pitched gigglers and geezers with that movie-trailer-guy gravel in their vocal chords, I have to hear every insane utterance in my own voice? (Granted, most of the insane stuff is, in fact, in my own voice). I thought it might be an idea to address this limitation by posting an “off the peg” clip from a famous person whose voice you think resembles your own. Naturally, you can just be a git and employ a decoy comedy avatar, but I’m gonna hold you to one Pasquale maximum. My own clip features a song » Continue Reading.
Moose made a gag about when, precisely, this site started going downhill, which had me wondering what might be at the bottom of the hill. However, this video makes me think, sometimes, when you’re hoping things will bottom out, there simply is no bottom..
It won’t be long now before someone posts an Album Of The Year thread which will quickly be filled with lists littered with names of bands that simply have to be made up… to be followed shortly after by hilarious lists of made up bands. But in this giddy excitement over the new, a sober voice will state – in the manner of the modern-day Chinese premier warning against haste in assessing the impact of the French Revolution – that the only safe way to pick a 2017 Album Of The Year is to wait a few years, just to be sure. This otherwise appealing idea is rendered somewhat fanciful on a site where the demographic means that “crazy new beat” you’re grooving to is less likely to be coming from your Rega than from the grim reaper knocking at your door. So, in the spirit of calm reflection but at the same time acknowledging the irrefutable reality that your sense is, at every moment, ebbing away like the air from a punctured tyre, I thought I might ask these questions about your favourites of last year.. (1) Which album’s greatness did you fail to grasp? Here I am referring » Continue Reading.
Recently, I picked the the eponymous album by “supergroup” (I guess?) The Thorns on the cheap. It’s the version which includes a second disc where they play all the songs acoustically. Now, I’m not the “ale should be chewy”/”wooden wheels are best”/”if you can’t play it on an acoustic, it’s not a song” type, but with this album by this band I think the harmonies work better strummed. So much so, I may never play disc 1. Previously, I bought the second Tindersticks album for a CD copy of the live LP (a particular favourite on double 10 inch vinyl) that comes with it (and, curses! the cd doesn’t have space for the superior live version of “My Sister”). When Rakim was making his comeback he half-inched a trick from the King Of Pop by attaching a EB&R greatest hits disc to his new album, which was again snapped up for CD versions of favourites. And, I’ve mentioned here before, I really like Visioneers’ Hipology album, but I love disc 2 where all the songs are mixed together. So, what have you bought just to get the extra disc, or upon owning it found the second disc substantially better? Now » Continue Reading.
“Talent borrows, genius steals” is a line usually attributed to the genius (convenient!) Oscar Wilde. Cynical old devourers of popular culture like us may appreciate that there truly is nothing entirely new under the sun, but I was wondering whether we might reach some kind of agreement about what we believed was the most complete piece of appropriation. Music, I think, should be excluded as I’m confident there won’t be the teeniest bit of consensus in this contentious field. Here’s a few suggestions:
Goober And The Ghost Chasers A not-at-all fondly remembered and short-lived cartoon from the 1970s which decided to capitalise on the popularity of Scooby Doo by introducing us to a plucky bunch of youngsters who encountered ghosts as they traversed the countryside in their logo’d up vehicle with their talking dog. Oh, and they had lots of “celeb” mates including famous basketball players. Mind, there were a few touches to distinguish GATG. Firstly, the kids were journalists at “Ghostchaser” magazine who actively sought out ghosts and their vehicle was straight out of Gerry Anderson’s Century 21 designs (lucrative trade, ghost journalism). Also Goober, as per the ancient theatrical tradition, talked to us, the viewers in supposed-to-be-funny asides, » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
“Last Century, last week” goes one of the refrains on Blk Girl Soldier, one of the bangers on Ms Woods’ self-penned solo debut – a reference to the plus ça change nature of the black American experience. Timely, you might think, as events US-side last week did carry so many echoes from the previous century (and the one before that). Thing is, this album has been around for almost a year. The earlier version was in my AW albums of 2017, as it was downloadable at the time gratis on Soundcloud. Apart from some overdubbed backing vocals and some new noodly guitar work on the title track, this differs only in that it is the official release. Well that, and the fact that the assorted “interludes” have been given their own separate track numbers – it’s a pet peeve of mine that on so many albums you have to hear the intro/outro every time you experience a tune.
Jamila (pronounced Jam-ee-la – “It’s a long ‘i’ baby!”) is one of a plethora of musicians from Chicago who seem to pop up on one another’s recordings. Previous collaborators Chance The Rapper and Nico Segal (the » Continue Reading.
I took triangular chocolate from triangular bees and triangular honey from triangular trees… but it turns out the shape of your turds is largely dictated by the shape of your rectum. Yay Science! Anyway, here’s a time wasting quiz of old advertising slogans, with the qualification that you get 1 point for the missing words, 1 point for the product, but 20 points for saying something funny. Please add any more you feel have potential
1. Put a ……… in your ……… 2. This …..’s too wet 3. If ……… could talk, they’d ask for …….. 4. They ……… in your mouth, not in your …….. 5. A girl’s best friend is her …….. 6. A ……. a day helps you …………………. 7. The …….., they came in search of …… and found it in …… 8. ……………………..the hole 9. The sauce is on the bottom! But the …………… on top 10. A ………… of ……… is just enough to give your kids ……… 11. ………….. A ……. in every bite 12. Once you ……… you can’t stop 13. The milky ………………… on me! 14. ….. it with ………. 15. If you like a lot of …………… join ………….
My fellow survivors, as we huddle in this underground shelter, sharing a glass of sock strained wee and secretly envying the millions already dead, it seems an opportune moment to ascribe blame to the man most responsible for the recent thermonuclear catastrophe. That man is Stephen Fry. Mr Fry, I think we can all agree, was a clever man: erudite, witty and a delightful recounter of even the most familiar of anecdotes. Alas, what bitter irony that his wonderful evocation, on his QI show, of the extraordinary preservation of the features of the victims of Pompeii in the moment of their demise was ultimately to be echoed by the atomic torch fixing his death shadow to the walls of the BBC building so many centuries later. Of course, by then Fry had quit presenting QI, and why wouldn’t he – his work was done. After more than a decade spent removing pieces from the Jenga tower of our certainties until it tottered, tugging maniacally at the threads that knitted the fluffy jumper of accepted wisdom which had hitherto kept us warm and reassured, he departed like the fleeing farter who is happy to pass on the blame for his flatulent » Continue Reading.
Did you lot know about this? And, if you did, couldn’t you have found some way to let me know so I could let myself down gently (certainly, The Guardian didn’t -Jimbo’s ugly mug is still on top). I’m already reeling after the departure of Jack O Brien’s odd staccato style from the presenter’s chair on the Cracked podcast (although at last the GFW maintained its usual standard this time. The Cracked podcast hasn’t been the same since JOB left). Can’t see any of the usual guest presenters doing the gig full time, so who will be the long term replacement? Thoughts….?
What does it sound like?:
Now I’m not really sure this belongs here at all. If I read the AW parliament right, its majority party is made up musical purists who won’t like this record for the simplicity of its cut-and-paste arrangements and a stroppy minority group of hip-to-the-beat 40ish year old kidz who won’t hear anything “fresh” in these tracks. Fact is, Mr Jukes may also have fallen between the two stools of satisfying his own fans and appealing to the beat boys who might see this album as some half-assed dilettantism. Y’see “Mr Jukes” is today’s name for Jack Steadman from Bombay Bicycle Club. I say “may have” because I’m not really familiar with BBC, apart from snippets when they played Glastonbury some years back (I gather they sound a bit different now) so I don’t really know what baggage he brings into this. And anyway, I had heard it all the way through and my foot was already a tappin’ before I did a search to see who this dude was. So, the music: what you get is the samples-over-beats construction of a DJ Shadow or RJD2 incorporating the rolling guest spots and smorgasbord of styles » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
It seems like only six months ago that everyone was saying “see that Donald J Trump with his crass, uninformed, bigoted, poorly articulated, wildly inconsistent and frankly dangerous statements? Just you wait – once he assumes the Presidency, the gravity of the office will transform him into a thoughtful and unifying statesman”. You may be thinking that’s an odd way to start a review of Cody Chesnutt’s new album, but the analogy here is the way many of us fans reacted to The Codester’s extraordinary but sprawling home-produced 2002 debut The Headphone Masterpiece, by declaring a major new talent had arrived and, “just you wait, in a few short years Mr Chesnutt will marshall his many talents to produce a new, more focussed, bona fide undisputed classic”. And how did that go? Well, the fifteen years since have yielded a second, pretty good album Landing On A Hundred (a mere ten years after the first) and the six track e.p. Black Skin, No Value. And this new album, while honed in proper studios with a serious producer, and coming in at a tidy 48 minutes, somehow over its 14 tracks still finds space to » Continue Reading.
Over on the rather fine Cracked podcast this week, they were talking again about the final scene of The Graduate, where, after all Dustin Hoffman’s bloke-in-a-movie rush to reckless action succeeds in producing a result conventionally regarded as desirable within movie logic, if not in real life, the camera lingers on the couple past the “sorted!” freeze frame long enough to see the realisation break across their faces of what they’ve done. Wordlessly, we see how the weight of what’s going to happen next subverts the “Hollywood ending” we were prepared for. More often than not, the great spaces between dialogue in film are filled with stunts and explosions, but, from time to time, there are unforgettable moments of drama conveyed without a word being uttered – I’m thinking of Bob Hoskins’ bottom row of teeth retracting defeated at the end of The Long Good Friday. Moments before, the future object of Jessica Rabbit’s affection absolutely nailed one of those grandstanding speeches actors dream of, but he still shifts up another gear in the back of that car.. So, how about celebrating some of the great scenes that required no words? I’m hoping for replies, although I suppose complete silence » Continue Reading.
Music. Some of it’s great, some of it is truly awful and a great deal is just “meh”. And who has time to listen to all of it?* ** *** Fortunately, in the course of their a strummin’ and a plinkyplonking and a cut’n’pastin’, many of our pop buddies have a habit of hitting upon that one title that completely sums up what they do, thereby providing a helpful shortcut in our quest to identify that which we might “dig”. As a f’rinstance, 10,000 teased out and carefully considered mots justes by the planet’s foremost music scribes will provide the curious with scarcely more information about the band Spiritualized than their one quintessential song title: She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit). All you need to know about Senior Spaceman’s particular goulash combining love, divine grace and winky opioid up-tops is right there in that symphonic oo-er pop referencing pun. Not a great example? I’m sure you can do better…. *okay, probably Tigger ** yeah, and duco *** dammit, probably most of you freaky shut-in mofos…!
There was no end of material over on the Back o’ The Net thread – as Sir Junior of Wells points out “a lot of bands prefer to hit you with their best shot” and, no doubt, record companies encourage artistes to frontload their albums with bangers. Interesting then, that we can probably all think of an album (this time, not necessarily a debut) where the starter’s gun has gone off but our heroes seem sluggish getting out of the blocks. Sometimes it’s just our self-important friends signalling to the punters they they are in the presence of a work perhaps a little different to what they were expecting – I’m thinking here of something like It’s No Game (No 1) at the start of Bowie’s Scary Monsters; Yes, says David, you will be getting a run of chart hits, but first you’re getting this, because I have a rep to maintain. While the CP(POF)H had by this point established himself as both “a bit experimental” and an habitué of the top 20, sudden (and possibly unanticipated) success might be the explanation why civilian fans of one of 1981’s biggest hits were treated, upon purchasing the album with the same » Continue Reading.