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?
2017 for me was…
12,270 lastfm scrobbles – 33 per day on average, from 1714 artists, including 2590 albums and 9846 different tracks
70 films as logged on letterboxd
67 books from Goodreads
And 503 km of running on Strava.
Any others quantifying the year just gone?
There’s a genre of entertainment – and that is the right word – so far little touched upon within these walls. Elton’s done it, Celine, Britney – and magicians. It helped fund those sandwiches and guns for Elvis, and who knows maybe Laibach will do one as an ironic art project one day. I’m referring of course to the ‘Vegas residency’. Which is shorthand for a style of universally-appealing ‘show’ which can be lengthened until the cows come home and franchised all over the world. I’ve not been to Vegas, and the second-mortgage prices required for Cirque de Soleil have likewise left their charms untested round here.
But who’s this at the Birmingham ICC over Christmas? It’s globe-franchising Vegas-residing conference-atttendee-satisfying coloured people The Blue Man Group. Tickets while not cheap, were realistic, and so yesterday evening family Mole attended.
The BMG appreantly started life as an edgy Manhattan street theatre happening thing in the late eighties, but thirty years down the line they, in the usual jargon, couldn’t be more middle of the road if they had two white lines painted down their blue foreheads
After some scroll and roll fun with audience » Continue Reading.
After cameras can we do MP3 players? My sandisk jam fell apart after 3 years, so am asking a relative for a new one for Christmas. As my price point is around the £50 point have narrowed it down to 2: the fiio M3 and the APTEK Rocker. The former has some iffy reviews around UI and indexing your files, the latter doesnt have the fiio name but does have Bluetooth. Any users of either please post your experiences. I’m likely to be playing from my digital shelves initially mp3s at 320 rather than anything lossless, but could of course rip stuff again to the hi res formats. Usage is travel really, so that I don’t have huge amounts of spotify offline clogging up my phone.
Formula One is apparently having a crisis of conscience over scantily-clad girls holding up lap placards and the so forth.
But check out the comments below the line. For those devotees of Private Eye’s From the Messageboards this is pure gold. Can’t see metricmartyr or bogbrush but sure they are in there somewhere.
Some instant highlights:
why dont we just shove everyone in a standardised orange jump suit make them wear a mask and refer to everyone as “person”
From what I can see the girls in F1 are treated with respect and dress nicely. You do know girls like to look nice and like dress nicely, that’s why they take so long getting ready.
I would like to think that all the posters are actually taking the piss. But you know I’m really not sure. its a perfect ‘pc gone mad/minorities run Britain’ story…
Ok a friend posted this on FB – the KLF are building ‘The People’s Pyramid’ or not and to accompany this they have done some new songs or got ‘Post-witch’ band monomorte to release some remixes/new songs – or monomorte themselves, if they exist, have cooked all this up as a great publicity stunt – anyone care to illuminate? Videos and tracks are full of KLF stuff, but who knows whether any of this is actually connected with the actually japesters or not.
Free downloads from bandcamp at the minute.
What does it sound like?:
Just before the end-of-year polls cap it all why don’t we try and rescue a few notable releases from the ‘mentioned in dispatches’ pile. So, kicking up a little bit of a storm, here’s the second album from Zeitgeist-botherers Wolf Alice for your consideration.
The WA sound does not exactly emerge like a strange fish from some uncharted musical ocean. I lost track of bands that came to mind in listening to this album but here’s a go: Curve, Throwing Muses, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Kitchens of Distinction, This Mortal Coil, even a touch of Spacemen 3 and revivalists like Ballet School (second album from them would be very welcome).
First track Heavenward (a completely nineties title) sets out the stall with soaring vocals, chiming guitars and a straight-ahead driving (Driving That Fast indeed) 4/4 rhythm. Yuk Foo adds a bit more crunch to the guitars, more yelp to the vocals. By Beautifully Unconventional we have a bit more attitude and lyrical content, it’s a track that will ‘speak’ to anyone at Sixth Form College. Don’t Delete the Kisses – most keyboardy so far. Fifth track Planet Hunter (which returns to » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Five good reasons why I am entirely the wrong person to review this 10-disc blow out:
It’s remastered. You know honestly my ears and Spotify streaming just aren’t acute enough to work out what has been gained or lost this time around. So anyone else who can comment on this – well go ahead. I don’t know anything about their catalogue and have never seen them live. So not a clue whether this is their best, worst or somewhere in the middle. No shortage of people willing to tell me, not least daughter. Metal. Not my period. Rock yes, heavy rock yes. But apart from Sabbath and Motorhead and a touch (little touch) of Priest metal is really not my thing. I remain untouched by the charms of Maiden (who I am at least aware of), Kiss, Van Helen, and the many others. Extras. See I really don’t do extras. Never played a directors commentary on a DVD. Not that interested in live versions, demos, rough mixes, out-takes. I can just about hack an alternate ending or a good blooper real, but that’s not going to get me through 9CD’s of this kind of » Continue Reading.
I could have sworn that someone else had written a perfectly good review of an earlier gig on this tour. I even commented that I was going to see them this week as a comment. But blowed if I can find it anywhere now. So, to the Birmingham Institute leg of the 2017 Ride tour, in support of their perfectly fine first album for 20 plus years, Weather Diaries. Its the second-most convincing shoegaze comeback of recent time, not quite the equal of the mighty Slowdive, but ahead of Swervedriver. Various commitments caused us to arrive just as Ride take the stage so no comment on the unseen support. What we get is twenty-odd songs over the next 100 mins that take in the new album and shoegaze-goes-britpop stumbler Carnival of Light, but mostly are securely anchored in their early EPs and first two studio albums Nowhere and Going Blank Again. Their subdued stagecraft, largely limited to some rock shapes thrown by Mark Gardiner, leaves one to concentrate on their music. And mostly its magnificent, waves of guitar washing over a rock-solid rhythm section. Andy Bell wrings long chains of melody from his, Gardiner » Continue Reading.