Thursday, 20 November 2008



The movie Kids terrified me.  It disgusted and repulsed me.  And it wasn’t so much the horrid actions of the characters, it was the attitude attached.  How could they be so proud of what they were doing?  Why did it leave feeling picked on?

For the longest time the film was not available in this country on video.  It was banned not that anybody really noticed.  Indeed other than the few hipsters that saw the film on release, it was one of those cases where the soundtrack was better known than the actual movie.

The first time I saw Kids was on a Saturday night in east London.  We were in town with Hirameka Hi-Fi recording their first single for Che Records offshoot Extreme Sports and Nick from the label had an American NTSC VHS of the film which we all sat down and watched.  Certain underage members of the band (the rhythm section) had already seen it and indulged in the junior hedonism while I just looked on horrified at the bratty advances of the participants.  Was this what kids were doing today?  Then afterwards Nick declared “that’s a powerful film”.  Really?

This is very much known as something of a Lou Barlow project, mostly/mainly using his Folk Implosion vehicle with John Davis as the band inhabits seven of the thirteen tracks.  Indeed it even spawned a “hit” in the form of “Natural One”.  Then in addition to that he revs up with the ferocious and noisier Deluxx Folk Implosion using “Daddy Never Understood” for the opening credits before using his own solo composition “Spoiled” for the closing credits.

The appearance/attendance of Daniel Johnston is a grand gesture.  It’s funny to note how similar his voice is to that of the annoying Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick).  The vocal chords of both creaky and high suggesting a lack of physical and emotional development somewhere down the line.  In much the same manner that Kurt Cobain wore a “Hi, How Are You?” t-shirt at the 1992 MTV Awards this was an olive branch being extended to bring a great hidden talent to attention.  And his two tracks here sat perfectly entitled “Casper” and “Casper The Friendly Ghost” seemingly in honour/tribute to the sidekick of the piece’s villain.  “Casper” feels particularly apt sounding drunk, damaged and dizzying all in one foul swoop.

When I travelled to California in 2003 this album was one of the priorities on my wishlist.  It’s time had passed and it was hardly any longer the epitome of cool but the emotions of the record remained important to me, right down to the colour scheme.  I hadn’t really cared for the movie but the concept was strong.  And for some reason at the time it felt that you couldn’t find the record in England for love nor money (which of course was nonsense).  I would buy a used copy on CD from a store called The Beat! in Sacramento for $8.99.  The locals around me said this was an album you could now find in the reduced bins but I couldn’t see it.  Had nothing been learnt?  Later during the visit I wound up in San Francisco one weekend sleeping on somebody’s floor while next to me lay a boring couple.  When I woke silently on the Sunday morning, with no other life around I took a swig of Jim Beam and masturbated.

The Folk Implosion is a great act.  Their music is played down and subtle but very affecting all the same.  There are huge atmospherics attached to what appear slow and simple gestures.  For me this was always what was great about indie in the nineties, people didn’t tend to say or do much but when they did it was all important and all exciting, cool by nature and swift in circulation.  The pair may not have been cool but they certainly sounded it.

It’s quite funny to contrast this album with what appears in the movie and on that note despite the abundance of hip hop in the film here the only offering comes from an act called Lo-Down who it appears were quite a mystery and never recorded ever again.  Surely an inside joke.

For me this record represents a very exciting and adds a gloss to a series of exciting memories.  I am so glad that this was the soundtrack even if Kids was not my life.

Elsewhere if you look hard enough on the internet you will come across an apparent two disc thirty nine track complete version of the soundtrack.  This includes three instrumental tracks by the Beastie Boys as well as songs used in the film by John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins Average White Band, A Tribe Called Quest and Brand Nubian amongst others.  There are also eight addition Folk Implosion tracks including the three Unkle remixes as featured on the second “Natural One” CD single.

Jesus Christ, what happened?

Thesaurus moment: remembrance.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008



From time to time these days you will discover (rediscover) a band is still playing well after you had figured them to be long gone. My favourite example of this is Trumans Water who seem to appear every couple of years with a new record, doing a random show in town to celebrate and promote the fact happily acting as a timely reminder of how things can otherwise be.

As a similar example of this, today I find myself holding the new album by Beatglider, a band from Southend that was once almost part of a burgeoning lo-fi/post rock scene in Essex that was never allowed to get started (for various reasons).

Striding the fine line between post rock and shoegazing, this is an epic construction towering over twelve tracks that cohesively combine to make a sedate sonic elevation.

At a time when the (supposed) genre of post rock has mutated off in one direction to resemble the cuddly Sigor Ros and in another path the nastiness of Mogwai still prevails in the other version, there is distinctly still an audience looking to relish in such evocative and courteous expansive recordings. Perhaps this is the standing strong of the prog rock gene.

There are many influential sounds on show here. The more oblique of Lush’s output can be heard on “The Rattlesnake” while the occasional dipping in of vocals reminiscent of Syd Barratt give proceedings a slightly spooky tone (“Wasteful Is Love”). There are also many true moments of na├»ve glee echoing the meanderings and conclusions of Flaming Lips at their most stirring (in the form of closer “Natures Arms”). And “Where Time Stands Still” sounds like a cross between Snow Patrol and spaced out Pavement.

The highlight comes in “Wild Night” where an astute arsenal of instruments come together to echo all Chemikal Underground’s best hits squeezed into one composition. Suddenly Southend begins to feel/sound strangely Scottish.

This record represents victory.

Thesaurus moment: bespelled.

Enraptured Records

Wednesday, 12 November 2008



In the dim and distance past Marceline once bemoaned about the lack of reviews of musical acts with a name beginning with the letter “X”. Finally I have found an act with such a moniker and although the single was released early this year it has managed to become one of my favourite singles of the year.

With a name and song title that are truly worthy of underground credentials the tedious pounding of a drum accompanies a lengthy and sarcastic guide to exactly how to reduce the chances of being a terror victim.

For the longest time now I have been purchasing seven inch singles and as tangible music makes a last push for survival in the eleventh hour of physical formats being the main vehicle for recorded music, unfortunately the majority of the new bands posing as “indie” have been resoundingly substandard. Here most definitely is an exception.

This XX Teens single however has proved to be the exception displaying a nonchalant attitude of mock seriousness and a dark sense of humour that is really missing for underground music at these times.

A record that would not be unwelcome in The Fall’s back catalogue, the advice dispensed on offer ranges from the sensible to the absurd echoing those terrifying public service videos from the eighties that seemed to promise nuclear warfare next week and shot fear into the hearts and minds of so many impressionable children such as myself.

The world requires more records like this.

Thesaurus moment: evangelic.

XX Teens
Big Billy Records
Mute Records

Sunday, 2 November 2008



As soundtracks (and indeed scores) grow in stature and prominence as not only just a commercial outlet/cash in for studios and labels, the compiling and creation of soundtrack albums as the thinking man’s compilation has really become something of a work of art in itself. As Quentin Tarantino became one of the first people to most use dialogue snippets effectively in his soundtracks for Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction it was actually the soundtrack to another movie that he wrote that really elevated the soundtrack to a new level. Natural Born Killers really hit notoriety upon release in the UK, falling foul of recent outcries and legislation, which lead to the movie being banned from home video for several years. As the bootleg began to do the rounds, the movie only grew in more and more notoriety, a notoriety that has been rather questioned over the years. With a darker than darker reputation associated with it the soundtrack became on of the few things attached the movie a kid could get his hands on and when Oliver Stone called in Trent Reznor as music supervisor he really knew what he was doing in order to capture the atmosphere he wanted. And when it came to the soundtrack album Reznor really went to town and took his role super seriously. I cannot think of another soundtrack album before and since that sounds like this. Sure dialogue is more evident on soundtrack CDs than ever now but this is more than an album it is more a combination of a self contained modern orchestration or something of an industrial goth/grunge mixtape. Musically this is far from the best soundtrack album to ever grace music history but I really believe it to be unique in its construction and sheer freedom in its usage and connection to movie sound bites. It begins with an initial gripe however as per usual here is a soundtrack that omits (for various reasons) a track that was in the movie. In one of my favourite film music moments in the movie Mickey and Mallory leave the opening scene and enter the credits driving crazily in their car to the accusing strains of “No No Man Part 2” by the late legend Steven Jesse Bernstein. Had that song been present here this release would have taken one step closer to perfection. What the record instead opens with is Leonard Cohen and “Waiting For The Miracle” as the soundtrack perhaps takes its cues from the Pump Up The Volume soundtrack that adopted such a tactic. Regardless of the choice’s origins it is a spot on selection as Cohen’s haunting voice sets an eerie and dark tone to proceedings as if speaking on behalf of Mickey and Mallory in addressing their hopes and desires. Then it kicks off as Juliette Lewis (Mallory Knox) asks a hillbilly “are you flirting with me?” and L7 drop on the scene like a bomb with “Shitlist”. It’s the perfect synchronisation. Then the song ends and returns to the scene of the crime and more carnage from the natural born killers themselves as they run wild in the diner before heading out to the desert accompanied by the harmonica of Dan Zanes on the “Moon Over Greene County” that serves up an expansive vision and view of proceedings. The anger resumes as Patti Smith smashes out “Rock N Roll Nigger” in the most defiant and rebellious sense looking to upset and offend. Then in another bipolar stroke Mickey and Mallory exchange more sweetness to the strains of “Sweet Jane” by Cowboy Junkies. Without doubt a twisted pairing on all fronts. After this a curious nod is made to Bob Dylan and Duane Eddy before Reznor arrives full blown with “Burn” by Nine Inch Nails and a suitable soundtrack for a riot with its overt sentiments beginning with “this world rejects me, this world threw me away, this world never gave me a chance, this world gonna have to pay”. That’s Rodney Dangerfield parenting for you. Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr) arrives on the scene as he stirs up a furor as the murderous couple go worldwide and establish a cult fanbase of weirdos including Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) from Mad Men curiously. Then on top of everything else the listener has to suffer Patsy Cline. By now the record is beginning to resemble one of those book and tape affairs that you had as a kid when portions of the movie would be placed on cassette and you followed the plot through the book. The words “spoiler alert” had yet to be invented it would seem. One of the albums highpoints arrives as “Ted, Just Admit It” by Jane’s Addiction gets spliced in with Mallory instigating a sexual assault cum homicide as Perry Farrell declares “nothing’s shocking” as he heads to the warble of “sex is violence” coupled with the infamous Ted Bundy sample which all eventually arrives at a climax of Diamanda Galas’ crazy voice doing a crazy version of “I Put A Spell On You” as it leads into the eventual demise of Knox’s victim coupled with a Dave Navarro wig out. Its truly punishing as it all ends in gunshots and all boxes get ticked. Thankfully things calm down as the reflective coupling of “History (Repeats Itself)” by A.O.S. and “Something I Can Never Have” by Nine Inch Nails serve to prepare for the massacre that lay shortly ahead. From here things fail to improve as they mess with forces they should not be tempering and as one snake bites another further insanity ensues to a soundtrack from Barry Adamson as the pair of them eventually wind up in a high security prison vulnerable at the hands of Warden Dwight McClusky (a possible descendant of Mrs McClusky from Grange Hill). Adamson provides a beautiful accompaniment to the image of a dead mother being eaten by ants. To fully exhibit the experience of being in prison Reznor decides to bring in Dr Dre to represent the African-American gangsta population behind bars. Sign of the times. Pre-dating her own music career Juliette Lewis gets her first music credit down with “Born Bad” which pre-empts another attempted assault on her before all hell breaks loose in the prison to the sound of Jello Biafra and Al Jourgensen as Lard with “Forkboy” that sounds like the banging of prison cell bars and the thunderous emergence of rioting prisoners. For the longest time the “Batonga In Batongaville” speech was our favourite track as its masterful delivery by Downey Jr served to encapsulate the multifaceted appeal of the meal with its sense of drama, rebellion, urgency and absurdity rendering it far beyond hilarious as the early stages of media ridiculous were being ploughed as the live stream being displayed in the movie proved not far from the rolling news that has eventually arrived on our news palates. With the climax closing in Reznor serves up some ambient noise via Nine Inch Nails with “A Warm Place” as there is a call for calm. At the close Leonard Cohen returns to bookend proceedings with “The Future” and message of looking towards the future. Whether some kind of Clockwork Orange change of heart redemption has occurred is open to debate and this song explains the uncertainty of what lay ahead. From here tagged onto the end is “What Would U Do?” by Tha Dogg Pound, which kind of knocks the cohesion of the piece and almost feels like a contractual obligation that perhaps serves to cheapen the piece. Certainly the question of the title fits. With reflection this is a pretty fucking big soundtrack that in many ways works better than the actual movie itself does. It’s a shame more people didn’t take their cues from this piece of work and create their own masterpieces. Thesaurus moment: paradigm. Trent Reznor Nothing Interscope