Monday, 31 December 2007



For obvious reasons “Fire” is my favourite Hendrix track.  It works for all seasons and serves as one of Hendrix hardest and most direct compositions.  Whereas on far too many Hendrix songs the rhythm section often took a background role, here all elements coming crashing through playing at the peak of their powers and managing not to get lost in the mix.  Then within the blink of an ear the song is done and the listener wonders “what the fuck just smashed me over the skull?”  Also in addition to that, this is one of the few songs to contain a call out to a dog.  Basically it holds good stuff all over.

The version on this seven inch is a live one taken from The Jimi Hendrix Concerts album on CBS that was released in August 1982 with both tracks of this release being recorded at Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco in 1968.

Unfortunately it has to be said that this is not the strongest take of the song that has ever been heard.  It is too noodly, feels rushed and here the rhythm section fails to star.  Who the fuck selected this version for release?  They should be shot.

Fairing better on the flipside is the version of “Are You Experienced”.  Opening with the customary feedback the band rev up before they kick in and soon get in the stride of vocally questioning, boasting then grandstanding.  This is one of the more lumbering tracks of the Hendrix catalogue and it does not take him long to begin wailing and souring.  The freedom displayed and suggested in the playing really should have been taken more seriously by an audience that never really crawled off first base.  Shame.

Basically Hendrix was one of those artists that were never overrated.

Thesaurus moment: fusillade.

Sunday, 30 December 2007



Of all the grunge bands it was always Mudhoney that seemed to have the best sense of humour (absurdity) and the most open minds with regards to experimentation and genre crossing. With that in mind it shouldn’t really have come as much of a surprise when they channel hopped to collaboration with country singer Jimmie Dale Gilmore back in 1994, not least a time when their given movement was at its most reflective.

The five song release involves Mudhoney and Gilmore covering one song by the other before collaborating on a song together in the middle.

Mudhoney begin proceedings by tackling “Tonight I Think I’m Gonna Go Downtown” in which Arm’s vocal style surprisingly seems to fit the task like a glove while Lukin’s playing really gives the song a country feel as the dumbness of country lyrics is both enabled and celebrated.

Jimmy Dale Gilmore tackles the usually fuzz laden “Blinding Sun” and transforms into some kind of blues song in a Cowboy Junkies style that lends a real quality to the song, truly empowering the suicidal words of regret from the original. This guy is a country crooner in the style of late Johnny Cash no doubt. By the end of the track it feels as if the length of the song has been doubled and the meaning with it.

The collaboration between the two of “Buckskin Stallion Blues” is a moist affair that ultimately sees country win out over grunge as Mudhoney embrace and pay respect to a much derided genre while indulging in the opportunity to have some fun.

From here the remainder of the release are the original versions of the songs by Gilmore and Mudhoney. The original of “Tonight I Think I’m Gonna Go Downtown” is a classically sedate country song quite removed from what Mudhoney did to the track. Likewise the original of “Blinding Sun” is a plundering piece grubby sweat from Mudhoney.

Thesaurus moment: streams.

Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Sub Pop

Saturday, 29 December 2007



Easily one of the most stirring songs from my youth (aka the grunge years) was “Fuzzy” by Grant Lee Buffalo.  I came to me at a troubled time and appeared to offer some kind of optimism and freedom, exhibiting a reality that was not mine alone and would eventually get overcome.

It all begins succinctly as a beat far in the distance couples with muted guitar as eventually a troubled voice emerges from the darkness requesting some solace in craving “bring me home, to this house of many days” before seeming to submit with “just lay me on the floor” as the mental rainstorm tears down.

“Fuzzy” is a song open to interpretation.  As the chorus strikes “I’ve been lied to, I’m fuzzy” you struggle to sense what specifically is occurring.  Regardless it does not sound healthy.

For what its worth I’ve always taken that the narrator is exhibiting his emotions after being cheated on or rejected.  With this he is recoiling, maybe even regressing, as little of the situation makes sense, as it becomes fuzzy.  From here the majority of the song is defined by pained recollections and blind hope that he maybe able to rediscover better times and save the day.  In a way there is a guarded optimism attached to so much surface misery.  And as such through the basis of the agony it is possible for the listener to gain some degree of positivity.

This particular copy/issue of the single came out on the SOL label (the Singles Only Label), which produced seven inches with large jukebox holes specifically with the intention of being played on such devices.  Myself I managed to happen across this particular copy of the single on the Time Records stand that used to be housed in the Clacton Indoor Market.  I bought it during my wilderness years period while I was working at Texas Homecare around 1995 and spending so much of my earnings on great records at the stall.  It felt like freedom.

Alas the emotions of this song have always been a world away from me.

Thesaurus moment: bleary.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007



Over the years there have been many many Christmas songs and generally they have tended to be sickly sweet full of empty of sentiments and hollow gestures.  In response to this many more credible answers have come up with their own take on the season and seldom have they won.

Its not that Christmas is bad or horrible, it’s just that it brings out polarising traits in personalities.  There is never any middle ground when it comes to Christmas, people either hate it or love it.  And to capture this essence of the season is a truly tough task for the artist.

This is the Billy Childish take on events.

After everything looking fine it soon turns out Christmas 1979 may not have been a classic year in the Hamper household.  Proceedings already look grim as halfway through the song Childish’s “father walks in pissed through the door” then chucks “the telly across the floor” before falling to his knees.  At this point his old man begins a sing song of “merry fucking Christmas to you all” with the “last words he ever said” which leads to one of the great choruses of any alternative festive song ever made.  Its nasty but it suits.  I sense Christmas will be happy time of year for this family.

The fun flows on the flipside with “Ho Ho!” and a suitably more jubilant Childish track offering positive charms to a loved one.  His message is universal and just cannot make it to end of the track without turning snide.  Nothing is precious.

Thesaurus moment: stable.

Monday, 24 December 2007



This was my youth.  I was very fortunate to be aware of Kevin Smith movies immediately (via a Mark Kermode review on the old night time Mark and Lard radio show) and when Clerks dropped I managed to catch while it was still fresh.  This came coupled with my working a pre-career fill-in job at Texas Homecare where Dante and Randall were my heroes as they seemed able to deal with a life of moronic customers in a way that I was not able.

Then came Mallrats.  When it was released no one saw it.  I almost caught be accident when Sky Movies bought it and buried it in the schedules.  However once I had seen it once I was addicted, locked in.  These people were my age having to deal with shit I was encountering but again, as with Clerks, they were nailing circumstances so much better than I.

In addition to this it starred Shannen Doherty who was always a crush of my when I was younger, even back to her being in the show Our House.  Tales of her tantrums were legendary and they only made me admire her more.  With that as I entered secondary school there was a girl named Sarah Smith in the year above who lived on my street growing up.  In a weird set of circumstances she wound up dating the guy who was bullying but then went on to send me a Valentine’s Card one year, the only such card that I have ever received in my life.  Unfortunately I did not respond the gesture (as dubious as it was) and she never spoke to me ever again.

Arriving at the arse end of the Generation X/grunge/alternative nation era the songs in the movie were pretty great even if not holding the credibility of the bands that brought about the era of rebellion.  Obviously with the DVD not being released in the UK, the soundtrack wasn’t released here either.  Mallrats actually turned out to be the first ever Region 1 DVD I bought as I typed in the crack code into my monster of a Wharfdale player (for some reason in the early times of DVD Tesco were pushing such a model that was multi region, a thing unheard of with most players).  So being a huge fan of the movie I bit the bullet and bought the soundtrack on import from the basement of the Virgin Megastore on
Oxford Street
at an extortionate price.

To put things further into context this soundtrack occupied me for a very long time.  The most memorable moment was one day when my accountancy class at college (well, the Colchester Institute) was cancelled and I found myself invited back to the house of a girl called Ellen who I had an enormous crush on.  As we both drove back to her place I was rocking out this sound (even the Bush song) in anticipation of getting my whistle cleaned.  Obviously it didn’t happen as we just sat sappy and chatting as I failed to put down any moves.  I was too young and stupid as with the theme and characters of Kevin Smith movies.  Regardless this was the soundtrack to that experience.

Then a few years later I met the real love of my life in the form of a girl called Bella (who later turned out to be a lesbian but that’s beside the point).  More than an admiration, she was an obsession.  One of our early bonding points were Kevin Smith movies as she appeared to harbour some kind of attractive towards Jason Mewes.  Another Jason.  Despite having no money she was happily racking up a huge debt off the back of her fashion course grant and this included an expensive order to View Askew which included an autographed copy of this CD.  She was the only ever person in the world I knew that owned this soundtrack.  It should have worked out.

Compared to Clerks, Mallrats has quite a cartoony look to it; it’s very bright and very colourful.  Now in the wrong hands this could run the risk of going down the Empire Records route but fortunately that never happened as things were flagrantly crass and expletive.  And loud!

After a quick piece of dialogue including Jason Lee/Brodie (who everyone wanted to be at the time) the first song on the album is “Bubbles” by Bush.  As I said this was the arse end of the Gen X fantasy and the pretenders had long since crept in and taken over.  That said this is probably by far the best track Bush ever made not least as it doesn’t necessarily sound like them.  I never understood why everyone said Bush were Nirvana copyists, to me their sounds were never even close.  “Bubbles” is one of their quickest paced tracks with at least a bit of kick.  It was recorded by Barrett Jones, another old Nirvana producer.  Yup, this truly was a band worshiping at the house Kurt built.

Following this comes the end credits song “Susanne” by Weezer which was something of a tease towards a future Smith project.  Its typical goofy Weezer fodder, one that impressively tended to remain charming when in essence it always felt to me that Weezer were occupying a place in people’s music education that should really have been filled by Pavement.  I’ll concede that I heard Weezer before Pavement though, they just had more exposure while containing the ability to geek out and produce awkward music that made an awkward person feel slightly more empowered in themselves.

It is probably “Seventeen” by Sponge than best sums up this exact moment in time.  All in all Sponge were on the whole a nothing band but this one song is a truly great/fine moment as it wistfully delivers a sporting piece of empathy and understanding in a form that was digestible and fully owned.  It helped make things feel so much more better.

The disc is twenty five tracks long, fourteen of which are songs and eleven are moments of highly quotable dialogue.  These were lines that you could (and would) make friends with, words that were solidify bonds and friendships while confounding and frustrating parents and supervisors.  Of the spoken bits the “Mission Impossible” clips featuring Jay And Silent Bob (Bob in spirit) and the “Cousin Walter” story (featuring Gill Hicks) are the pick of the bunch.

From here the great and the good appear in the form of Elastica, Girls Against Boys, Belly, Archers Of Loaf and All while some real music bollock is dropped with the attendance of Silverchair and Wax.  Then filling things out were Thrush Hermit (sweet song but who?) and Squirtgun (who?) along with Sublime (no Ska, no!).

One final hurrah arrives in the form of The Goops doing a version of “Build Me Up Buttercup” which while being a pretty decent and fun cover also pointed towards the changing times as the distortion of college rock was fast being run out of town by so much pop punk arriving on the horizon.

Listened to now as an “adult” the memories are still there if not the entire exhilaration.  In a way it was easier to cope back then.  All in all in many ways it takes me back to a very uncomfortable place.

With a cast that also included Claire Forlani, Michael Rooker, Joey Lauren Adams and a cameo from Stan Lee these were truly great times to be young and exposed to awesome.  As I said at the top, this was my youth.  Perhaps I should revisit it more but then again that would require a Kryptonite Condom.  And that would kill me.

Much appreciated.

Thesaurus moment: better.

Sunday, 23 December 2007



With its name taken from the Beat Happening track held within this was a sharp Sub Pop Europe compilation that came out in 1992 chock full of many great names from the second (some might say third) wave of the label and a few of the heavyweights all being showcased at the top of their game.  In the process of being such a great collection in a way it displayed the label in a better light than it perhaps was but this was always the Sub Pop way of hype.

The first of the twenty one tracks is “Jinx” by Tad.  This was the song that featured in Singles where Matt Dillon installed a new stereo in Bridget Fonda’s car which Chris Cornell came out to dig before it eventually became too loud and smashed the car windows.  There is definitely some kind of metaphor in that moment but equally the fact that the song did not make the cut for the soundtrack album.  Everyone always thought that Tad should have made it bigger but in contrast to those who did, there was something sadly one dimensional and generic about the band.

A band that did kind of make it was Mudhoney who appear here with their cover of “The Money Will Roll Right In” by Fang.  This is a genuinely great song and probably the first ever Mudhoney track I owned on CD, something that I probably should not admit (although “This Gift” was the first Mudhoney song ever heard).  Around this time Nirvana were also dropping a cover of this song into their live sets but the Mudhoney version is the superior take, probably even better than the Fang original.  As it glows early with a warm bubble of rising distortion swiftly a wave grunge guitar swoops in as Mark Arm begins sarcastic vocal duties in his trademark manner.  It works on all levels.  This band, what was not to love?

On that subject Courtney Love manages to crowbar her way into proceedings with “Dicknail” by Hole.  It’s a chiming, dark song that doesn’t sound pretty and actually suggests some degree of molestation.  Not necessarily their finest moment but certainly a ragged example of where Courtney’s shriek can take things, not least when it falls apart towards the end as she insists that she “was a good girl” and fooling no one in the process.

The track that really stands out on the release is “No No Man Pt 2” by Steven Jesse Bernstein.  Taken from his Prison album there really is nothing else like it on this record (or indeed on the Sub Pop roster at the time).  After listening to deluge of fuzzed up grunge guitar bands suddenly out of nowhere appeared to be the ravings of a crazy man calling on the end of the world and mankind with it.  There was a true urgency to his voice that did not feel forced or disingenuous and the music (from Steve Fisk) that accompanied his words felt like some kind of sick upbeat juxtaposition.  It was unnerving but awesome, condemning but cool.  All too quickly the song passes and leaves in a flurry and the record never quite feels the same.

Around the time that this was all happening Channel Four used to show many interesting shows through the night including a show called Made In The USA hosted by Laurie Pike who would travel across America and looking at the local public access cable stations.  When she arrived into Seattle it was at the height of the media frenzy of grunge where the big bands were now off on a high career trajectory and Sub Pop were left scrambling around trying to hold onto the pieces.  As part of the show she interviewed Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt who said, with tongues in their cheeks you feel, that the leading lights of the label destined for stardom were now the Supersuckers and Earth.  I don’t think they could have chosen two more contrasting acts as the Supersuckers were always a balls out heavy punk act (as displayed here by “Caliente”) while Earth were a slow drone act whose on aspirations were dense and doom.

The title track of the compilation proves subtly one of the most exciting moments of the record as the wayward structures of the Beat Happening suggest an alien world that I want part.  Equal parts retro and futuristic the minimal blasts rub up against some kind of fuzz surf sound declaring wonder at some insular, special and unspoilt by the outside world.  Kind of opposite to what was happening to the Seattle scene at the time.  Then again Calvin wasn’t from Seattle.

The Walkabouts produce an equally inspired nod to a better, more collective system with their country tinged cover of Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm”.  I have to concede that this was my first exposure to this song (ahead of the original) and even if the music did not necessarily resonate with me (as with much of The Walkabouts career) the words certainly did.

In addition to the well known acts there are some surprise unknown hits here including Florida’s Rein Sanction who deliver “Creel” in startling beautiful fashion as they demonstrate just how effectively great hulking guitars of distortion can be harnessed and set against blessed but lethargic voices to make the kind of comforting sound the slackers of the period felt warm with.

Another similar such example is the blissed out effort from Truly entitled “Heart And Lungs”.  With this song they managed to conjure up an image and how it feels to be dragged around in haphazard fashion.  Featuring Hiro who originally played in Soundgarden a few years after the dust settled the band were briefly touted as being the latecomers that might win.  Unfortunately this suggestion proved only fleeting as not all songs sounded as good as this one.

In the same manner the Six Finger Satellite contribution “Weapon” proves something of a misleading exert in a bowling and bouncing piece of relentless yob rock that didn’t really represent their records that proved somewhat robotic and synth heavy in comparison.  This was a band that later got a second wind and part time jobs in cooler outfits (such as The Make Up) but few of their tracks ever snatched at the devastation of “Weapon” and its wah drenched breakdown.  This is one of the few bands on this record I managed to see live and it was a tense affair.

At the time it seemed no Sub Pop article was complete without a mention of the Reverend Horton Heat.  Here was a gun slinging king of surf guitar that would leave the listeners ears ringing, feeling as if they had gambled the contents of their life away.  Then the song was called “Marijuana” and all was rebellion.

Without question the nastiest track on the album is “Fucked ‘Em All” by The Dwarves.  It is quite possible that this was the most overtly nasty act ever to grace the label which eventually saw them being dropped by Sub Pop after they released a press statement in 1993 announcing the (fake) stabbing to death in Philadelphia of HeWhoCannotBeNamed.  It wasn’t well received even though this track was.  As a teenager though I delighted in such a song with lyrics as “I fucked one in the basement, I fucked one in the hall, I fucked on a toilet seat, in a bathroom stall”.  I was just so aggressive and misanthropic, taking the negative attitude of those around me (my peers and fellow school inhabits) and raising it a notch or two.  Fortunately there was comedy in there too as the conclusion that “it seems like balling bitches is all I ever do, hey you better watch your ass, fuck that too” went past offensive and onto absurdity.  With such transition on these things a person either goes mental or laughs in appreciation.  This record has its place, has its purpose.  Over the course of a minute and a half this was Sub Pop has its most blunt and offensive.

Cleverly positioned the truly exhilarating “Rails” by Bullet Lavolta maintains the sudden jolt in pace.  Bullet Lavolta appeared to be one of the tighter, more dynamic bands on the new roster.  Hailing from Boston their guitarist Clay Tarver later went on to form Chavez but they never produced anything like this.

Also from that area (Massachusetts) was Green Magnet School who sounded like the Afghan Whigs with a charred wall of dense noise coupled with math noodles.  This sound came too early, this was not grunge, it was too energetic and seemingly light in comparison.  Their track “Throb” is a huge towering piece of work that does stand out on this compilation.

On the subject of the Afghan Whigs they appear on this record with “Miles Iz Ded” as Greg Dulli wore his trademark heart on his trademark sleeve and displayed why the band was above the standard of the roster and why they were one of the acts later signed to big things.  This was before the sharp suits but the R&B influence was already in their blood.  Sounding effectively painful as Dulli begins yelling “don’t forget the alcohol” the sonic stabbing motion that accompanies proves earnest and emotional.

Seaweed was another immediate band on the label for me with their relentless surges and repetition that gave the band a real excitement and density.  Their contribution “Baggage” is a very bouncy track with genuine flow in the vocals and sharp construct.  Then they seal the deal with a fine hook and pay off at exactly the right point.  They had a career.

For good measure Mark Arm returns sounding slurred fronting “Seattle super group” The Monkeywrench and singing “Call My Body Home” joined in the band by Steve Turner and Tim Kerr amongst others.  It’s a wheeze as the song audibly descends and secretes a fun atmosphere and desire, displaying a sense of play that was sadly missing from so many careerist acts frequently the region at the time.

In similar style Love Battery chip in with “Foot” as the trebly beginning emerges from lush feedback and subtly builds passive aggressively until the yelling hits with the chorus and the hook at the noodling intensifies to Sabbath levels.  Love Battery was always notable for housing Jason Finn on drums that later turned up in the Presidents Of The United States Of America.

Codeine was always weird.  I must concede I never go into them as Slo-core failed to resonate with me as it played out like a soft version of Swans, a band I definitely never clicked with.  With drugs though, this had the chops to fit in the downbeat areas of the scene.

As the compilation races to a conclusion “Woe” by Mark Lanegan serves as a tender and tasteful moment of clarity and sadness in amongst so much noise and chaos.  This track came from his record The Winding Sheet while he was still very much rocking it as part of Screaming Trees before his various other musical digressions.  Fresh and raw this is definitely one of his finest tracks.

Earth close the record with their dark and brooding trudge rock that towers over proceedings like a dark cloud.  For seven minutes painful repetition flows seemingly with the intention of clearing the room and allowing staff to clean up and go home.  This was Earth before their sound became cool and christened doom, before acts such as Sleep harnessed their sound and gave the audience a little (just enough) to work with to make it digestible.  And definitely before post-rock.  Dylan Carlson was without doubt fucked up when he recorded this song, definitely thinner than he is now.  If you can get away, go for it.

It’s funny to note that the final two tracks on this compilation came from records/releases that Kurt Cobain featured on.  This was definitely a product of the house that Kurt built.

You will not find a better collection of Sub Pop tracks anywhere.

Unable to find the correct case for this disc the other day I put it (temporarily) in the case for In Bed With Madonna.  That’s a major disappointment waiting to happen.

Thesaurus moment: revelations.

Saturday, 22 December 2007



Opening awash with the sound of the seashore, the debut album of Ipswich’s Cats Against The Bomb soon lurches into something pulsating and special. Exhibiting and executing a fine usage of samples straight out of a Sci-Fi movie, this record has been a long time coming.

With vocals at times not sounding unlike a nitro-glycerine version of Wall Of Voodoo, over the course of twenty seven tracks Cats Against The Bomb deliver something of an alternative universe version of Big Black, a version where songs are about pirates instead of murder and delivered in the style of a science fiction writer crossed with a very electronic approach to rock, molesting accepted guitar conventions in the process.

It is relentless from the off as “Fluffy Yumi Critters” pulsates and pounds the listener’s head with machine drums clear as day and dark as night, as painful as that contradiction. Also being splattered with/in samples the whole affair is given the cinematic atmosphere that you suspect was the desire and intention from the album title and package in general.

The first real sense of euphoria comes with “Sesame Cake” as it sounds like the score to the most victorious of air raids on the enemy, a track that itself soon mutates into a John Carpenter-esqe electro romp on “It’s All In The Reflexes” that could well appear on Escape From Ipswich when Kurt Russell signs up to star in it. Nice vehicle.

Things fall together most successfully on “Woodshed” which is the stand out track in which the morphing of spiky guitars, headache drums and vocals sync very slickly.

The bonus of bastardised cover versions taste like chicken (especially the very Sigue Sigue Sputnik take on the Ramones). If Spaced made a record it might sound like this.

Were the band a question on Celebrity Jeopardy! it would be “feline pacifist” to which Sean Connery no doubt would remark “your mother doesn’t put up much of a struggle Trebek.”

Inch for inch one of the most solid releases you will hear from a band spewing its debut album.

Thesaurus moment: HD.

Cats Against The Bomb

Friday, 21 December 2007



Repeater was the first full length studio album by Fugazi.  At this stage they were still the heat of hardcore respectability still benefiting from the legacy of Minor Threat and the mentality coupled with that.  However both their ambition and ability was looking further/higher and thus they found themselves having to juggle the balance between the past and present and keeping everyone/anyone interested satisfied.

Repeater is actually an obscure nod to The Beatles’ Revolver.  This was a band evolving while also acknowledging the repetition of the process.  As I said, Fugazi was stepping up.

Released a year before Nevermind and grunge, this was self sufficient artefact, a truly independent album that was reaching big numbers and eventually passed the million mark in sales without an major label assistance.  This was a band tapping into something.

The basic eleven track album clocks in at just over thirty minutes.  Within these motions the band explores its own existence, subtly experimenting with its sounds but never really fully cutting lose.  And why should they while still being at the top of their game regardless.

From the off Fugazi were genius at album structure.  All of their studio albums are perfectly book ended and Repeater is no exception as it opens with “Turnover” which begins with lighthouse-esqe glimpses of guitar before the rhythm section gets involved and a more measured line takes hold as anticipation grows.  Then it fully kicks in as a huge wave of power engulfs proceedings as Guy screams “languor rises reaching” which hangs in the air until his next command.

Things get exciting when the title track kicks in with a scream of its name as Ian and Guy go rabid on their guitars before the intro calms down and Mackaye begins pointing defensive fingers shouting “you say I need a job, I got my own business, you wanna know what I do, that’s none of your fucking business”.

With that the record pauses for a breather with the instrumental “Brendan #1”, the natural accompaniment to “Joe #1” from the seven inch.  This no doubt is a track born out of stolen moments from playing live.

Famously the band never did t-shirts, never soiled its pure existence as being an artistic endeavour first and a reluctant way of making anything more than a living second.  “Merchandise” is the track that expresses their feelings most explicitly on this matter.  Opening with the line “when we have nothing left to give” courageously and honestly Mackaye continues “there will be no reason for us to live” expressing awareness that so few acts tend to have.  This is probably their most explicit song about selling out as when the pace steps up they enter the accusation “what could a businessman ever want more than to have us sucking in his store” as suddenly the items on offer take on a much darker meaning.  Basically if you’re a proud consumer, you’re a junky.

Somewhat amusingly today as I listen to “Two Beats Off” I find myself working on a set of business accounts where the owner has plainly fiddled and neglected to pay tax on his fat earnings.  And this is no white collar crime, it’s a man that works with his hands doing flooring.  He just got greedy and as per the worlds of this song “caught red handed”.  There is some sympathy attached to the track as the jittery verses offer a calm take on proceedings.  Then again the track does arrive following the hostile, accusatory “Greed”.

Away from the meaning and lyrical content Repeater contains a couple of pure pleasures in “Sieve-Fisted Find” and “Styrofoam”, not that they tracks without message.  The former holds a very exciting, anticipation caked build before experiencing one hell of a pull back, an organic trajectory changing hook that confounds proceedings and lets you know you are in the presence of greatness.  This is the band pulling at the listener’s leash.  With that “Styrofoam” exhibits a similar kind of playfulness and treatment of its audience tickling before stepping up the pace and daring/challenging the observer to try and keep up.  The words “everybody’s down, we pulled each other down” coupled with a chorus stating “we are all bigots” is quite self flagellating and in different hands could be quite defeating but coming from Fugazi, knowing the attitude and origins it is plainly a command to improve.

“Blueprint” offers a contradicting motion.  It is a big, blunt, brash gesture of a track.  It doesn’t so much as fly as just bashes the listener over the head as Guy opens shouting “I’m not playing with you” in repetition.  It’s a big rock number that eventually exhibits a call and response gesture from the two headed monster at the front dictating “never mind what’s been selling, its what you’re buying and receiving defiled” more or less telling the listener “shut up and listen”.

Then with that outro of “Shut The Door” occurs as the band leisurely plays out offering a set of everyday contradictions while drifting off to better places asking “ever been cruel?” before arriving at some nightmare scenario and the end of connection ahead of the song breaking into an all out sonic onslaught in disciplined fashion.  “Shut the door so I can leave”.

I first bought and heard this album when I was going through a transition stage.  It was a time when old friends still lingering and fresh ones had arrived.  Suddenly there felt some kind of decision had to be made, a test of loyalty to be taken.  In the end I moved on and went with the new.  My old friends had already betrayed me, you can’t reject after you have been rejected.  Music such as this is important.  It can expand you opinions and open up your opportunities.  When so much good is to be gained, why question?

With that the 3 Songs EP is tagged onto the end of the CD version of the album thus disrupting the cohesion but those tracks needed to be available on the format some how.

This is the best selling Fugazi record but not the best.

Thesaurus moment: prevailing.

Monday, 17 December 2007



Wonderfully sludgy this is Nirvana at seemingly their most down tuned and the song I used to attempt to play most when I had aspirations to learn the guitar while Kurt was still around to inspire us.

I don’t think this EP was even released in North America instead it was a UK only release scheduled to tie in with an upcoming European tour.

“Blew” was always I felt a much undervalued track in the Nirvana songbook with its seemingly distracted take with punctuating guitar stops feedbacking at the end of each verse in courteous fashion. The meandering bassline gives the track a drunken feel. Then as the song reaches its chorus the hooks fly in fast and hard. As to what the actual meaning of the song is, as with most Cobain compositions that is much open to debate. The poetry of the song trickles nicely though to the point that all the other elements of the track mean this is not of the essence. It has always been funny to note how this track sat as the opener on Bleach but would often close live sets.

Following on the EP is their cover version of “Love Buzz” by Shocking Blue which as everybody knows was their first release on Sub Pop. For some reason this song was missing from the Tupelo versions of Bleach so its inclusion here was enabling it to see the light of day in Europe. The version here is indeed the one from Bleach as opposed to Sub Pop Singles Club version. Personally I always thought the song stuck out like a sore thumb in a negative manner when it came to Nirvana, it is just too cumbersome and lumbering in a bad way. It fails to show or distinguish the strengths of anybody involved. Later some live versions of the song emerge to justify its existence but it’s much of muchness.

Coming third is “Been A Son”, that horribly self flagellating number with a grand hook delivered with slightly cringing lyrics and laboured intentions. The recording that appears here is different to the one that eventually appeared on Incesticide and is noticeable for its less punchy drumming and very different solo at that climax of the song which lends it a more lo-fi feel rather than the full on style that the song eventually took on.

Closing the release is another selection from Incesticide in the form of “Stain” (the actual version that appeared on the compilation. Again more self loathing rules the roost as Kurt refers himself as the stain in question providing and enabling a gateway for the listener to also celebrate their awkwardness and alienation. Its not necessarily empowering but being Nirvana the music of the number is caked in hooks and its own distinct power as such a degrading chorus almost turns into one of celebration. It is also noticeable that this is one of the few Nirvana songs with swearing in the lyrics, something that was often surprisingly avoided in their songs.

If you see this and you can afford it buy it.

Thesaurus moment: ooze.


Wednesday, 12 December 2007



With their second album The Breeders suddenly appeared to cross over from exceptional side project to becoming a genuine going concern, not least down to the fact that this project was so much more satisfying than anything else any former Pixies members had moved onto. Within this act there was a strong degree of stability and the distinct promise that this was going to be a long term act worth the listener investing in.

The record opens with “New Year” which bellows beginning all the way. One day all rock records will start in such a manner, of such determined fashion and clear cut intentions. I even opened a DJ set with this song once and had one of the local hipsters who previously hated me come running over asking me who it was I was playing. Such is the power of the Deal twins, they even made a lesbian like me.

From here it slickly and swiftly turns straight into “Cannonball” which will always be THE Breeders song and the big tune that surely resonates as a bonafide hit.

Last Splash is the sound of record made by individuals who give off the impression that butter would not melt in their mouths while at the same time harbouring the ability and desire to playfully set things on fire.

Supremely situated at a time when noise was all that was required on the agenda tracks such as “Roi” were ultimately able to thrive while not exhausting much in the way of patience from the listener. Meander they could.

“Do You Love Me Now?” sounds so heartbreaking, almost like a wife during the outset of a beating as Deal possesses distinctly chilling chops. Not long after “I Just Wanna Get Along” springs up like a more feisty take on events, more forceful and representative of their ultimate demeanour.

The second single “Divine Hammer” appears to be currently annoying the couple sat around me on the train as I sit and type this. They have no taste being that this is pop perfection in laidback motion. They have no drive.

Of all the songs available to be cash cows on the record it is the noisy filler of “S.O.S.” with its sloshy wah that proved the ultimate money-maker when The Prodigy tactically sampled it on “Firestarter”. Ka-ching!

The album ends strongly with the couplet of “Hag” and “Saints” which staunchly remind me of the best moment on Pod that was “Iris”. “Saints” in particular is a perfectly poisonous song as a lifting personal anthem when faced by a lifeless set of people when seemingly exhibiting apathy. “Summer is ready when you are” is a perfect sentiment. Wake up peoples.

An ex-boss at Baker Street apparently in Alcoholics Anonymous once told me how when he moved house one time and finally set up his record player all he wanted to listen to was “Drivin’ On 9” as it became the first record he put on his deck. It was a wonderful moment/exchange. Unfortunately we then proceeded to argue as to which album it appeared on, he insisting it being on Pod when I knew it was on Last Splash. He won.

Somehow they took the bliss of Pod, added grunge and made a good thing better. Deal with it.

Thesaurus moment: brisk.

The Breeders

Tuesday, 11 December 2007



To be menacing is the apparent way of operation for MC Dalek and Oktopus as they charge through another record in truly devastating fashion looking to scream home truths down the listeners throat while assaulting them aurally. Unsurprisingly dark and brooding as with previous releases, this is the fourth album (excluding the record with Faust) from the Newark duo that may as well be from another planet because they certainly don’t sound content with this one.

A Dalek record is about atmospherics and dense rhythms, now something of a trademark for them, coupled unapologetic revelations and verbal alarm bells. The beats are very reminiscent of DJ Muggs in his heyday while the rhymes flow as if holding a seminar of attrition, not a million miles away from Michael Franti’s finest moment (albeit with a New Jersey snap).

With an opening track that tips the ten minute mark, it is a courageous listener that will maintain full gusto for the entirety of the album, not least for when the track “Lynch” appears to take after its filmmaking namesake very closely.

Generally this is beyond hip hop, the vocal delivery is there mere icing on the cake for what is a concentrated effort to make the most paranoid and claustrophobic sounding record possible. By nature their sound benefits from hidden depths of funk that are smothered and well hidden but basically an element that makes the record easier to digest for the listener.

Ultimately though Dalek only succeed in dragging the listener down into the murky depths of their underground which is perhaps further than is necessary a level from which the observer may not be able to recover.

For a slow heavy ride into hell, this album delivers a pretty accurate feel for it.

Thesaurus moment: brooding.

Ipecac Recordings

Sunday, 9 December 2007



Of all the Wu Tang solo efforts, this is the ONE!

Proceedings open with a trademark Wu sample, an introduction to the drama that lies ahead as a damaged girl reels off some kind of shellshock narrative before an opening declaration from RZA of “…see niggaz don’t know where this shit started, Y’all know where it came from, I’m sayin’ we gonna take y’all back to the swords” and then the record launches with swagger.

There is a disarming sense of urgency attached to this record as the John Coltrane-esqe stature of GZA spits out a plethora of commands and directions wrapped up in metaphor but also spoken/taken from experience.

Continuing the eternal superhero motif it feels as if his rhymes are delivered with such ease that the accuracy of his genius moniker is criminal.

The prime cuts are “Swordsman” and “Livin’ In The World” before it all closes philosophically with “B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth)”. With “Swordsman” there is a true immense menace, a track that appears to come out of nowhere suffers no fools as it clears the decks of anyone or anything in the GZA that is jerking around. As the beats hit hard this is only topped by power of words spitting from his mouth. With the line “cause at a young age I was molded in religion I relied on and got caught up in superstition” he describes a universal scenario that I have definitely witnessed in affect.

As the RZA takes on production duties, as horror movie samples open numerous cuts, as Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah all make appearances and as the tracklisting shows no coherence in its sequencing this is a typically astute Wu-Tang delivery, one played out using their rules and methodology.

With Liquid Swords Gary Grice owns/inherits the earth.

Thesaurus moment: check.


Saturday, 8 December 2007


When this record dropped in 1993 Burroughs was in the best position possible to be discovered by the latest generation (Generation X) and to adopt his philosophies. With his cut-up processes electronic and dance acts appreciated the way in which his methods could be used to splice up and chop beats into cohesive and revolutionary sounds while at the same time Kurt Cobain was cited him as an influence and even collaborating with him dragging in a whole different side of the crowd (generation). Also smack had never appeared so regal or intelligent. Basically all hip people wanted to be into William Burroughs and this was easier (and more fun) than actually reading one of his books.
This collaboration with Michael Franti and the Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy lent a further nod to a slightly different audience as Burroughs just ran off with the words when the tape rolled and the sonic professors followed and accompanied him on the way.
William Burroughs possessed one of the most recognisable voices anywhere and so any recording with him present is always going to stand out and often confound. Sometimes his rambles may not necessarily be cohesive but the tone is certainly stoic and defining.
My PC just crashed trying to download this album.
It’s a scatological piece of work with tracks ranging from a few seconds (the interludes) to almost sixteen minutes spread over fifteen units.
The title track is where the record begins properly rolling as Burroughs describes one of his famous centipede sexual fantasies over a trademark mid tempo hip hop drum with jazz licks dropped in for good measures. All in all it lends a very cool flow to proceedings and compliments the reading as some kind of updated Beatnik coffee shop reading, readings that ran the danger of being closed down because to accompany poet readings with a jazz backing technically made the performance cabaret and thus required a suitable licence to hold such an event.
From here Burroughs takes aim and targets Dutch Shultz and Mildred Pierce to some kind of bouncing bebop backing before slipping into Naked Lunch mode with some Dr Benway wisdom (dependence).
“Warning To Young Couples (Huntman’s Hounds)” displays a real distaste and paranoid towards dogs. Perhaps Bill got turned over one time too many by a sniffer dog or two.
In an unexpected turn of events things turn reggae on “Did I Ever Tell You About The Man That Taught His Asshole…” as “Uncle Bill” is encouraged to read more Naked Lunch over a jungle beat. The dub sure compliments such a subject as you half expect the brown note to rear its head and arise at any moment. Tolerance comes in the strangest places.
The centrepiece of the album is “The Junky’s Christmas”. Clocking in at over fifteen minutes this is a sprawling piece of prose detailing a character’s need to score at Christmas much along the lines of “The Priest They Called Him”. The track came accompanied by a claymation film produced by Francis Ford Coppola. Over the course of the track the score mixes salvation army-esqe tradition band music with bouncing bubble bass beats akin to Bomb The Bass. The mix proves a swaying and disorientating brew akin to sweats and suffering. Eventually it becomes a tale of empathy and sharing at Christmas, displaying a glowing degree humanity even amongst junkies, of honour amongst (sometimes) thieves.
The record comes to a close with “Words Of Advice For Young People” which now resembles something of a tough retort to Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” with the sickly advice now being replaced with some real world experience. However being the Burroughs’ track pre-dates the pop song by five years you can’t help but wonder if the Aussie had listened to this track first.
There is no doubting how exciting and interesting Burroughs as an artist was only how cohesive and durable his work was to newcomers. Having heard a number of his other audio releases this is where the words and sounds best collide and come together as a perfect collage to satisfy his intellect and bring in fresh blood. These tracks could be played in nightclubs (albeit ones with needles).
Thesaurus moment: annex.
William S. Burroughs
Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy
Fontana Island

Tuesday, 4 December 2007



The Misfits are one of those bands who are in that awkward position of being better known for their t-shirts than their records and music.  And that is not necessarily the best situation to be in the music world.

Famous Monsters is their fifth album that was released in 1999.  Obviously there is not a whiff of Glenn Danzig attached to piece, unless of course you count the now heavier leanings in the style of the music, which is not necessarily good.

There is very little that is subtle about this record.  It now feels an eternity since the band was a punk band although certainly they are the main embodiment of that thinly sliced genre that is horror punk.  However as with ageing punk bands often the guitars will become heavy (while remaining basic) as the rhythm section slows down and the vocals grow more theatrical.

So is this a bad record?  To my ears: yes.

It opens with an appropriate “Kong At The Gates” which sees/hears a gong and a chant that beckons the Misfits into life.  Unfortunately then comes the sound of heavy metal guitar and ghastly realisation that there is something wrong.

From here the record ploughs through a sound more akin to The Exploited and Iron Maiden than Black Flag.  Disheartening there is nothing frightening about this record other than just how off the boil it sounds.  It just swings and this is music that should not swing.

As they plunder through eighteen tracks of horror nostalgia the song titles are great, perhaps the best thing about proceedings, as they rock up with “Hunting Humans”, “Witch Hunt” and “Fiend Club” which all conjure great black and white TV imagery.  Sadly Fantomas this is not.

Maybe horror film samples could have saved it.  That or narrative.

Context is everything.

If they played All Tomorrows Parties though, I’d watch them.

Thesaurus moment: venal.

Monday, 3 December 2007



For the longest time Rushmore was a favourite movie of mine.  I saw it at the cinema in Ipswich with a good friend and then later bought a DVD player (well, requested one as a Christmas present) specifically so that I could watch the movie as it had not been released on VHS.

In addition to this I also paid £16.99 for the soundtrack on CD.  These days you would not dream of spending a fraction of that price on a disc but for me that was how much the collection was worth.  Many of the songs in the movie exhilarated me and even though I didn’t know what they were or who they were by I wanted them all the same.

If you have never seen Rushmore it is a movie about a fool blindly ignoring his priorities and overachieving in aspects that are not necessarily.  Our hero is Max Fischer who is played by Jason Schwartzman, a person whose calm approach to the world is one that you could do worse than apply.

Spread over twenty tracks the soundtrack is split between score orchestrations from the ever reliable Mark Mothersbaugh and exhilarating British Invasion songs from the sixties.

The first track to really capture the sense of fun offered by the movie is “Making Time” by Creation.  In the film it is used to rock a montage of Fischer’s accomplishments and victories.  It is storming song, perfect to enhance any moment of winning.  And then it begins to feedback sixties style.  Was the world really that good?

In contrast the use of “Nothing In This World Can Stop Me Worryin’ ‘Bout That Girl” from The Kinks is used to exude the concerns of Herman Blume (Bill Murray) and display what are now past victories that have turned sour and into defeat.  It is a particularly beautiful song of horrid resignation and caring/concern being only one way.  Over the years I have applied this track to some of my own situations.  It has always proved a waste.

The sad reality is that these songs take me back and remind me of a time when I gave a fuck, something is just unfortunately no longer the case in my world.  And in many ways that is what Wes Anderson’s work attempts to express.  So often his characters and scenario are run down, at the post everything stage now very much representing an afterthought.  Yet within that he finds beauty and optimism even if first things need be taken down a notch.

The score from Mothersbaugh is very regal sounding almost medieval suggesting some kind of fort and turret attached to Rushmore that is in many ways Fischer’s Camelot.  This is not a movie or a score about modern times.

Later another Mothersbaugh composition called “Snowflake Music” appears in the mix, which appears to have been a song originally from Bottle Rocket, Anderson’s first film.

Elsewhere on the tracklist some real heavy hitters in the form of John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, Cat Stevens, The Who and The Faces all appear in subtle form with hidden treasures from the bottom of their chest.  So underplayed are their presence is that you fail to realise that these are the biggest names in the history of rock present on this record.

When The Who chip in with the eight plus minutes of “A Quick One While He’s Away” it really feels like things have weird.  That said I half suspect the song was only included in the movie for the chorus of “you are forgiven”.

Appearing twice on the album is Cat Stevens and particularly with the use of “The Wind” it serves as a suggestion and reminder of how influenced by Harold And Maude Wes Anderson appears to be.

Finally the movie and the album close with the euphoric nostalgia and sadness of “Ooh La La” by The Faces.  It is a song that always suggests a happy ending.

As with a film I can over and over, this is a soundtrack album I can listen to over and over.  This was my youth.  This got me through heartache and one day it might see me to maturity.

Thesaurus moment: academic.

Sunday, 2 December 2007



I think it was with “Cut Your Hair” that most people clicked with Pavement.  Those who said they were into them earlier/before these songs were just posers or uber enlightened.  To this day there are very few Pavement tracks that match up to this one.

It has always been a great thing to foist Pavement onto people.  Most just don’t get it and the latecomers tend to go for the less demanding material, the easier and not so thrilling filaments amongst such dirty gold.  This was when the band was still carefree and weird as their record sleeves really didn’t make much sense in the least.  “Cut Your Hair” is a wonderful thing, a high watermark of music and much defining of a transitional era.  They fucked up being famous, fucked up being famous and potentially fucked up being rich.  All of which didn’t matter once upon a time.

The song opens with irregular whoops that suggest some kind of weird optimism and playfulness in the face of so many serious expressions.  No band on Sub Pop ever sang like this and if they did they wouldn’t have got a real deal.  To sing in this manner suggests it is just a fucking lark to these guys.

Then things get serious as Malkmus questions “darling why’d you go and cut your hair?” in simpleton fashion.  Were these guys really like Forrest Gump?

Cut to the video and there they are, all lined up at the barbers to get a fresh do.  This was small town America from a bygone era.  Better times.  Times where they were allowed such frolic.  With this one by one they step up to the plate in most masculine fashions and attempt to tidy themselves up towards getting a major label record deal.  And do not let anyone tell you anything different.

Of course their efforts failed.  When Ibold sneezed seemingly out shot cats, Kannberg was actually a gorilla, Nastanovich tried to drink the barber’s oil, West possessed a toad’s head and most tellingly Malkmus wore a crown and considered himself a king while wearing a Luton Town FC shirt.  How could these people be taken seriously?  And people thought Gary Young was weird with “Plant Man”.

It is at the two minute mark that this song achieves perfection as they band peak at sonic heights with destructive noodles and Sonic Youth throes.  It slays in around it.  Then the whooping returns and this big bastard of a wonky pop song arrives at fruition and we all gain closure.

God bless MTV for once being good and actually showing this video.  Kids today will never have it so good.  They will have their Youtubes and their downloads but never the spontaneity of such a life changing moment as this video suddenly arriving on screen late at night and making the audience’s day (maybe even their week).

Originally released on Big Cat in the UK the single was backed up by “Camera” and “Stare”, the former of which is one of Malkmus’ almost whispered ventures that is royally wonky and seemingly saddled/laboured with regret.  Yes it comes with noodles, special fried nice.  Then he seems to break out in tears.  For somebody: soothing.  “Stare” in contrast feels played under water, a kind of aquatic auto erotic asphyxiation.  This was truly the land of the slack.  I really miss it.

This wipes the floor.

Thesaurus moment: trim.