Monday, 21 December 2009



With all this festive talk of Rage Against The Machine versus Simon Cowell for the Christmas number one this really should be a time to reflect on what is important in the music industry, of what is pure and decent and away from all these Sony promoted monsters, of what is independent in spirit and ultimately more deserving of being played at the end of the Christmas Top Of The Pops just because it celebrates what is in earnest the happiest time of the year.

More in keeping with Fairy Tale Of New York and (Here It Is) Merry Christmas than the two pieces of shit whoring their way to the top of the charts, Kunt And The Gang is here to save Christmas music for everyone with a crass sincerity that should make X-Factor, Rage Against The Machine and Sony all bow their heads in shame.

This is not the first time I have championed Kunt And The Gang on these fine pages and at this rate it will not be the last. Once you get past the blunt and puerile humour that fuels these songs things suddenly click into place as the tunes remain fixed in your head and his pop claws dig in. The premise is simple, this guy is John Shuttleworth mixed with Wesley Willis reading from the pages of Viz all packaged in a wonderfully Essex manner. For such foul mouthed content the songs are surprisingly upbeat, positive and happily despite the language despatched and involved not in the least aggressive. Forget raging against the machine, forget being a wet lad covering Miley Cyrus – this is where the real fun in music is come Christmas.

OK, so the sentiments of wishing your neighbour a kuntish Christmas on “Kuntish Christmas” after he borrows and breaks your Strimmer are perhaps a bit negative but schadenfreude rocks in the right context. Likewise referring to Mary’s snatch as a “sausage wallet” on “Jesus (Baby With A Beard)” is actually quite testing to the senses, exceptional both in the offensive and creativity stakes.

The closer is “Santa’s Sack” which features the tale of Kunt as a child discovering Santa Claus having sex with his Grandma, a song that more than once features the word “disturbed.” Very apt.

This is as far removed from Scrooge and The Stooges as you can get. Where’s me jumper?

Merry Christmas!

Thesaurus moment: chuckles.

Kunt And The Gang

Thursday, 10 December 2009



Volume = Colour is pairing from Australia consisting of Arthur Karanikas (guitar/artist) and Don Rogers (musician/visualist).  In execution the duo produces lively and caustic soundtracks to images and projections produced by Karanikas.  For this project contribution they have additionally collaborated with friends Cam Butler (Silver Ray/The Coralinas), Michael Munsun, Geosophy and Primitive Charlie with the intention of exhibiting four radical reinterpretations of the LDWR tracks.

The pounding of tools greets the listener in menacing fashion as the early moments of the Volume = Colour remix resembles something of a take off.  For some reason at this moment I am thinking of freedom and opportunity although I am not exactly sure/convinced that it is connected to this working.  Regardless, just what is at stake?

To the subtle popping footsteps of Track 2, Volume = Colour brings a sample of shaking flows and random stabs from the heart.  Initially it proves one of the most sparse reworkings as repetition flows in an almost John Zorn gesture of belligerence.  By the end the insertions of the remix almost appear to be working against the original samples rather than with them.  This is a version most at odds with itself.

Within the final remix there is subtle total destruction as the base track hovers above a bed of ruin and wreckage.  All in all this proves one of the liveliest contributions and painfully disruptive executions as gradually the engine beneath becomes louder and louder shattering all that stands in its way to pieces.  It takes true dedication to dish out such an onslaught.  Then it all ends with glorious feedback, as all good music should.

Thesaurus moment: sate.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009



At some point something really bad happened to Aidan Moffat. I’m not talking about all the drunken antics and shenanigans his poor man’s growling MacGowan songs were talking about but it was some kind of moment of clarity, a weird epiphany it would seem that spoke to him and told him to “stay the course, you’re doing fine.” Was it his inner child? Did an angel Aidan appear on one shoulder and a devil Aidan appear on the other and the angel Aidan won? Whatever it was that happened to him he just fucking changed.

Personally I no longer feel comfortable around his records. Is this supposed to be some kind of serenade? What is going on with the music that accompanies this? It’s almost as if he is betraying his gin soaked roots. Be foul, be nasty just don’t be like this.

Thankfully the flipside “The Lavender Blue Dress” saves the day as its Ivor Cutler crossed with Irvine Welsh wrapped up in a Dirty Fan Male delivery is the ramblings of a dirty dirty man, like a nonce reading from Dr Seuss. Its not that content is x-rated it is that the person doing the reading is, the whole concept of the absurd positioning serves to make it seedy and when the inevitable moment of smut you expect is waiting around the corner never arrives once more you feel tricked by the most cunning of foxes.

The back cover of the single features Moffat lying on the floor in a hospital room next to some bedpans and a fan. I hope he gets better soon. There’s a ship coming in, its time to get well.

Thesaurus moment: dank.

Aidan Moffat

Sunday, 6 December 2009



Initially I thought I was playing this record at the wrong speed but alas a change of speed did not improve things any and suddenly the realisation hit that Deerhunter do indeed sound like a shoegazing vision of The Strokes. Forget all the My Bloody Valentine and Pavement comparisons, with warm and fuzzy vocals and train track straightness of the guitar line there is no question that they sound like The Strokes. Now whether that is something to be treasured and/or trusted is another thing.

I have to concede away from the hype and away from the impossible comparisons to match in aspiration taken without preconceptions this is a joyfully mesmerising thing and as proceedings slowly/subtly grow into a swirling mess there is plenty of charm to be taken from the emissions.

The lauding of Deerhunter this year has served as a painful reminder of just how old and out of touch I really am and to now endeavour to party with the cool kids is running the risk of being viewed as some kind of nonce at a disco (or nightclub as I believe they are called these days). Its all very warm and subtle, snugly in a manner that feels foreign and difficult to/for me.

Elsewhere on the other side “Microcastle Mellow 3” feels like something of an indulgence, a spit in the face of a person giving the band a benefit of the doubt. Where am I going wrong with this band? Should I trust my gut instincts or those of a pale skinny kid in clothes several sizes smaller than my own. Growing old is devastating me.

Thesaurus moment: nook.

Sub Pop

Saturday, 5 December 2009



There is a distinct air of crappy on purpose attached to Times New Viking and as a result it is a beautifully damaged thing.

“Move To California” for me was one of the standout tracks from their last album Born Again Revisited, an album I initially thought was actually called Born Against Revisited in some barbed tribute to the band of the same name, such is the fractured snap of proceedings.

I’m not quite sure what California holds for these peeps but you do feel it is not much as here appears to be an act that thrives on misanthropy, of not fitting in or having peers or compliments.

The single is housed in a ramshackle package where the inner sleeve is made out of the crappy kind of brown crate paper that in bygone times you would have got your fruit and vegetables handed to you in. Then slipping out comes the insert which you suspect is going to tell you the name of the pretty girl playing keyboard but instead it is a reprint of an angry email declaring how Times New Viking are the worst band that they have ever encountered. The suspicion that this declaration is coming from the dude in Kasabian is still to be confirmed.

Boasting four tracks of true enlightenment I have to concede that I think I got my initial perceptions of their album completely wrong. There is a genuine identity to this recording technique, one away from the origins of lo-fi that only adds to the conceit and methodology. So as a result coupled with the exuberance and hook display on this single it is win all around. I love this band.

Thesaurus moment: optimistic.

Times New Viking
Matador Records

Wednesday, 25 November 2009



Produced by Tim Burgess (but don’t let that put you off) there is plenty to take from An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump. For starters (a point I have laboured before) they look fantastic and are the kind of band you want to be into just in order to boast to your friends. In addition there is quite a sense of darkness and danger attached to proceedings, healthily crafted witches of grunge persona that transcends your usual white bread Goth types.

“Silent Hour” leads the release sounding much like PJ Harvey back when she used to make records with Steve Albini. With tortured vocals delivered at the helm, the sparse content of the music and eventual swoops of guitar malice display an attitude that is so valued at a time of so much fresh and cleanliness attached to music inhabiting this genre.

Moving on the tribal like drums that remind of Moe Tucker continue to pound through as “Smear” maintains the Harvey vibe addressing similar sort of territory as tracks such as “Dry” did previously. All is assisted by guitars the JAMC would have dug and bludgeoned. Also knowing this band’s tastes it is probably also a nod to everyone’s favourite Germs guitar player.

Flipping over “Only In Death” rises in the manner of Huggy Bear with a bouncy chant and winning smile. This is sensibly uncomfortable.


Thesaurus moment: perturbation.

Sunday, 22 November 2009



It’s a relief to consider that the big Blur comeback of 2009 was able to avoid embarrassment or blushes and despite their age the band were able to kick it with exuberance and gusto that suggested the band were still in it for the sport as opposed the money. These great songs being performed at the risk of sounding cheesy and rusty managed to avoid such pitfalls as the band pulled together at just the right time before it was too late and they were too old.

This is a live CD that was given away with the Sunday Times in November 2009 collecting together ten songs from various performances over the summer. It came coupled with an exclusive and extensive piece serving as some kind of promotion for their “All The People” live recordings.

It begins with two songs from their gig at Goldsmiths College (domain of the brat) in the form of “She’s So High” and “Girls & Boys”, the first of which sounds more beefy and mature than ever.

The third song on the compilation is the selection from their hometown gig at the East Anglian Railway Museum, which being pedantic is actually in Wakes Colne and not Colchester. That very night the annual Abandon Ship gig was being played at the Colchester Arts Centre, which was always the more obvious of stages for the band to be doing their hometown return show on. Ironically here a live version of “Badhead” is selected from the show which was the song covered by local heroes Hissing At Swans at said Arts Centre. When all is said done the strength of the song powers through as it would seem both versions that June night were magnificent.

From here it moves onto a version of “Parklife” recorded in Southend where Damon Albarn takes on the Phil Daniels parts as the band tear through the song at breakneck speed. This song has always sounded weird with Albarn doing the duties but with additional brass it manages to paper over the cracks as the new pace of the song suggests they’re just doing it to get it out of the way.

The Hyde Park summer shows are represented here by “Song 2” and “The Universal” but in most people’s minds (those who were not there) the shows are now represented by the Youtube video of those two Chavs dry humping at the back while the band rock out in the distance. Modern life is indeed rubbish.

In the end though it was their headline set at Glastonbury that was seen by most people when it was triumphantly beamed live on BBC2 that Sunday night. With all the momentum behind them they sounded as good as ever, jubilant in a sharing and affectionate manner where everybody wins and no flags were waved. As the coverage had to step away for a breather the BBC went straight into brash coverage of The Prodigy headlining the other stage and suddenly it felt like all music came from Essex for a moment.

You would have to be slightly blinkered to say that it all sounds amazing but it definitely doesn’t stink. These were the better songs of an era/movement where there were more villains than heroes.

Thesaurus moment: reciprocate.

The Times

Friday, 20 November 2009



When Katy Perry first released “I Kiss A Girl” I used to sit opposite a lesbian at work and whenever the song would arrive on the radio with its charged intention I couldn’t help but snigger at the posturing of a silly little girl acting up as I would look straight at Claire wondering just what was going on inside her mind at the time. Was this the song that permanently resonated within her mind? Is this really the girl nation soundtrack?

Displaying the best and worst that Essex has to offer Kunt And The Gang return with a special four song tour single to accompany his riotously offensive live show that never fails to cross several boundaries of good taste.

It will probably come as no surprise to discover the “I Sucked Off A Bloke” is an homage to Katy Perry’s “I Kiss A Girl” faux homosexually tomfoolery. The rhythm and stroke of the original tune remains in his voice as the music that accompanies it resembles something of a cross between John Shuttleworth and Wesley Willis gone x-rated.

“She’s bound to take it out of context.”

This is the kind of music would suspect a person might get arrested for. As during the second song “My Nob Is Bigger Than Your Nob” Kunt compares his knob to looking like “Justin Lee Collins eating a sausage”. Later Kunt also accuses Little Kunt of a knob so cheesy it could be bait in a mousetrap. If by this point you are still listening your threshold is fine, strong even and generally in life you will definitely do all right.

Additional delights arrive in the form of “That’s My Erection” and his “Michael Jackson Tribute” both of which generally serve to make a person feel like a better person of tuning in.

In such politically correct times these songs serve as a refreshing beacon of freedom, where people can make their own choices and decide for themselves if they do not want to pander to the rules of behaviour (accepted social conventions) that television so cunningly subversively enforces on us through the mediums of GMTV, Vernon Kay et al.

This is not Forrest Gump. Forrest Kunt maybe but not Forrest Gump.

If only everything from Essex was so great.

Thesaurus moment: homage.

Kunt And The Gang

Tuesday, 10 November 2009



This is a truly bold and nasty sounding statement of a piece of vinyl. Stripped bare there is fuck all information held within the limited packaging giving the vessel something of an air of mystery seemingly with the intention of leaving things pure for the music doing all the talking. With no Myspace or record label attached there is no dog and pony show necessary.

Charging out of Sacramento this is a severe and frenzied attack on the senses that recalls the heyday of the Butthole Surfers at full strength crossed with a host of acts on Gravity Records such as Antioch Arrow. Also throw in the sensation of a speeded up Bardo Pond on uppers instead of downers coupled with Pussy Galore gestations and you have quite the sonic soup.

For a while now there has been a real buzz surrounding Mayyors as the band appears to be serving as a vehicle for a number of seasoned and accomplished musicians (primarily Chris Woodhouse of FM Knives fame) to let loose and take off in a new, more experimental direction away from their existing and established outfits.

As with all things swinging on a hype there is the risk the listener may eventually get their fingers burned but for now Mayyors rule the roost.

Highly recommended.

Thesaurus moment: ghoul.


Monday, 9 November 2009



The Abominable Mr Tinkler is a long standing member of the Colchester electro scene.  And thus is he is also one of the loudest, most important figures in what is a compact movement.  For those about to sock(et), we salute you.

The reputation of Tinkler is one of caffeine driven gestures of sonic obliteration.  Nobody gets out of here alive, nothing remains in one piece.  For some reason Tinkler has always remind me of Wax Trax, not necessarily in the output but certainly in the aesthetic and intent.  It is a harsh realm to exude.

It kicks off with a suitably bombastic entrance, building to a hearty explosion off the back of a tense build up and landing.  The echoes attached feel like space screams, of the unexplained doing bad, doing wrong.  On the way, you find yourself drunk.

The second encounter proves equally surprisingly restrained as some kind of zonal marking tags a windswept ordeal that remains a calming affair until thirty seconds from the end when machine drums and drill sounds slap in a droop seemingly in search of reaction.

There is a kind of desolate menace attached to the remix of track 3 that reminds heavily of The Terminator score.  Of course that peace is soon shattered by the intrusion of what seems some kind of malfunction.  Then come the random break beats delivered in no sensible manner, a sequence that spews scorn all over the track and indeed the listener.  Its what they do.

The final version proves barely recognisable to the original as a screwy set of organs take control and mashup proceedings in juvenile gabba fashion.  This feels like aural equivalent of hiccups.  Then just when you think they are done, it bounces back.  Tinkler always will.

Thesaurus moment: deface.

Monday, 2 November 2009



This was the moment for our generation where it all appeared to come together, where everything felt right and that our people had won the culture war regardless of the direction and what was deemed permissible by the industry and our parents.  Of course it was all fleeting and ultimately an illusion but what an amazing time to be part of such a movement.  Nirvana was a band with purpose.  They were stoically to the left but not weak with it.  This was the heaviest band on the planet and somehow their might came coupled with amazing songs and a truly exciting and infectious perceived way of being.  By acknowledging how bleak our collective experience of existence was it felt empowering and a general threat to the old guard in power running thing.  Then three things ruined: Kurt killed himself, the internet ruined everything and 9/11 slammed the door closed on what had felt accomplished ten years earlier.  It happened.

Nirvana headlining Reading 92 was a great thing.  The majority of the set was broadcast on Radio One that week which lent an immediacy to proceedings and managed to capture the moment; helping us stuck in our bumfuck towns feel part of the event.  Over the years however the truth has emerged as to just what a horribly miserable and muddy experience the weekend was.  That said despite the conditions a line-up consisting of Public Enemy, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Beastie Boys, Mudhoney, Pavement, L7, Rollins Band, Public Image Limited, Shonen Knife, Manic Street Preachers, Teenage Fanclub, PJ Harvey, Melvins, Screaming Trees, Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy makes it the greatest rock festival lifetime of our (my) generation.

After much suggestion and rumour over the weekend that the band would not even be performing eventually the band literally rolled onstage Sunday night as Everett True brought out Kurt Cobain in a wheelchair sporting a large blonde wig and a hospital smock.  As Novoselic followed onstage shaking his head in concerned manner this was the “Kurtney”.  From here it rose from the wheelchair to “sing” the first few lines from “The Rose” (which Mudhoney had covered on the Sub Pop 200 compilation a few years earlier) before falling backwards in seemingly an unhealthy state.

Then the band rose and stormed into action opening the set with “Breed” in waspy and ferocious manner.  From here faultless versions of “Drain You” and “Aneurysm” follow as the ball truly gets rolling on one of the greatest sets in rock history.

As the band tear into “School” they are now more than warmed up as one of their oldest tracks also sounds like one of their heaviest with a really nasty sound that resembles a band truly on fire.

After this track the band begin playing up to rumours that they were splitting announcing that it is their last gig “tonight” before declaring that they’re about to do a new record before launching into a tidal wave version of “Sliver”.  It closes with Dave Grohl stating “we practised last night”.

In Bloom” follows which was a rare airing for a song they seemed to seldom play live.  This then leads into “Come As You Are” and after only twenty five minutes of play we have already been handed our arses.

The infamous singalong for “Lithium” occurs next.  Considering that this was around the time of their appearance at the MTV Awards doing this song, this performance is somewhat tighter.  This version was previously included on the “Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!” video originally released in 1994 just over six months after Cobain killed himself.

As someone in the crowd yells a request for “Sub Pop Rock City” (actually a Soundgarden song) Grohl eggs on Novoselic to tell a joke as the band gears up to play “About A Girl”, the first song in the set that fails to growl.

At this point Grohl calls out to the bootleggers to record as they band tear into a song called “The Eagle Has Landed” which actually became the song’s name in various music publications for a while.  The song is actually “Tourettes” and this version of the song actually previously appeared on the “From The Muddy Banks Of Wishkah” live compilation put out in 1996.

Then they play “Polly” and kill it all.

Much like “In Bloom”, next “Lounge Act” gets a rare live airing.  Perhaps it was just a tough song to play live as the version here certainly does sound plodding in contrast to the version on Nevermind.

After this song Dave begins drumming a cover of “Satisfaction” by Devo before Kurt tears into his own cover version of “More Than A Feeling” by Boston which Dave and Chris happily sing along to before Kurt regains control and rips into a wonky version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” which remains defiant and powerful despite his apparent nonchalance and sarcasm.  Pixies rip off.  It seemed like Kurt did everything he could to ruin the song on this night but he just could not murder it.

Continuing to chew up the scenery “On A Plain” drops in the heaviest tone followed by a machine gun entrance and incendiary run out for “Negative Creep”.

Prior to another new song Kurt dedicates the track to his “all of day old daughter and my wife” and due some “pretty extreme things being written” about them he says that she now thinks “everyone hates her now”.  With this in mind he gets the audience to yell “Courtney we love you” before the band purr into a version of “All Apologies” that possessed slightly different (and in my opinion better) lyrics to the version that wound up on In Utero.  With all the singing towards a sun/son it feels a very paternal song and even if it wasn’t written about his expectant child it certainly gives off such an impression adding a heavy degree/dose of emotional weight to the piece.  It was so exciting to hear this song at the time, the new material was promising so much and this was definitely a band that appeared to have a huge and great future ahead.  This was why the band was the greatest on the planet at the time and right up until their demise eighteen months later.

From here the band churn into the always muddy “Blew” which was often a set closer (ironically cast considering it being the opening track on Bleach).

When the band return for an encore Kurt wishes “a happy birthday to Dave’s mother” which causes the audience to sing a round of “Happy Birthday” before Dave declares “the power of the bootleg”.  With this the band then strolls into “Dumb” before ripping things up once more with an incendiary play of “Stay Away” motored by more rapid drumming from Grohl.  Listening to this you can almost forgive him his subsequent indulgence with the Foo Fighters over later years.

“Spank Thru” soon follows and as ever never fails to entertain even if this is not the best version of the track that there ever was (that version resides on the Sliver EP).  On this night it just sounded a bit too much like Elvis Presley was on the vocals,

For some reason (probably licensing/royalty/legal) the band’s cover of “Love Buzz” is sadly missing from the CD release of this concert which is a real loss because on this night their performance of the track was by far the greatest I have ever heard.  As Kurt wheels out an extended noisy introduction when the song finally boots in it is as powerful as things ever got.  This version even tops the one that almost saw Kurt lose his life to a promoter early in their career.

After the cover the band roll out a few bars of “Smoke On The Water” before launching fully into a cover of “The Money Will Roll Right In” by Fang which Mudhoney themselves had recently covered and included on a fantastic Sub Pop compilation called Revolution Come And Gone.  Personally I always preferred the Mudhoney take on the track but there was mistaking that the sentiments of the song were prevailing wholesale at that moment in time.

As the band began exhaust their material they chipped in with another cover in the form of “D-7” by The Wipers which had appeared as a b-side on the “Lithum” single in addition to the Hormoaning release in Asia that fans were now shelling out big bucks for.  The lacklustre nature of the song was conducive in signifying the end was nigh.

Then it all comes to a climax as Chris sarcastically rips into his rendition of “Get Together” by Chet Powers before the band tears into “Territorial Pissings” which they charge through in minutes ahead of the inevitably equipment trashing that saw Cobain playing the “Star Spangled Banner” in a modern take on the Hendrix.  Then with Krist banging a snare and Dave swinging around a broken bass guitar it concludes at 11.33PM with Kurt giving his guitar to the audience and the lights coming down as “Bustin’ Surfboards” by The Tornadoes begins ringing around the arena.

This was our once in a lifetime music moment.  How green was our fucking valley?

Thesaurus moment: everything.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009



This just might be the future of presenting albums: release it as a DVD of videos only. No CD, just DVD. Years ago Sonic Youth did it with their Goo video but the plums went and released it as a conventional record also. Plums.

Sputniko! is a female Japanese artist currently residing (and inventing) in London. Citing Takako Minekawa (Mrs Cornelius) as one of her many influences here possessed are thirteen tracks of demented and subversive chiptune, almost J-Pop songs in that neon manner only Japanese artists seem able to construct/contrive. With the cute smiles they get away with murder!

Things begin with “Google Song” and the tale of shy Japanese schoolgirls too scared to speak to boys they fancy who instead put their name into Google as a fluffy adventure into subtle stalking. Playing on stereotypes, perversion and a wicked sense of fun early Sputniko! reveals herself as a cunning exploiter of the listener’s awareness.

With the invention of Wakki Sputniko! demonstrates her invention of being able to play an instrument designed by herself with movements of her armpit. On the DVD she later demonstrates that Wakki is a knitted soft toy with a Wii controller inside it and on “Wakki Song” this is where the gift is best examined and executed.

Live favourite “Chinko Song” continues the silly theme of the piece especially when considering that when this pretty young lady is repeatedly singing “chinko” as the chorus she is singing the Japanese word for “penis.”

Slowly the album begins to resemble the music equivalent of commuters reading Anime porn on Tokyo underground as “Child Producing Machine” becomes possibly first and definitely the most explicit ever pop song about a lady having her period. During the middle of the song she gives birth in what feels an increasingly uncomfortable listen from a lyrical standpoint especially when considering the tone of the vocal delivery and the upbeat Nintendo music guiding the song. With lyrics such as “I’d rather be a cyborg than a goddess” who can fail? Here comes a nervous smile from the listener.

Basically here is the dark undercurrent that ripples beneath the beautiful neon lights of the Japanese experience, the one where cartoons are about killers, bears are gloomy and the females are not so subservient after all. There is part of me that suspects she is something of a female Japanese Borat but at least a good one with it.

In this format accompanied by a grand set of clever videos expertly delivered on a small budget this is a really stunning offering caked in humour and cultural difference confusion. Sumptuous.

Thesaurus moment: edifying.

Sputniko! live
360 Degrees Records

Wednesday, 14 October 2009



I have to admit that this stand-up DVD and album is a few years old now but thanks to his performance in 30 Rock Tracy Morgan has now gained worldwide exposure with his scene stealing moments and with some further investigation I managed to uncover this true gem of a stand-up comedy performance.

Released as a DVD but coming with a bonus audio CD of the show this is by far the best and funniest example of the stand-up art form I have seen this year.

Obviously a great black stand-up comedian is always going to be compared to Richard Pryor and there are definitely some moments that come straight out of his legacy but as with a lot of modern comedy the real strength comes in his invention with crassness. With this he has that great assertive delivery that snaps and bites just on the right side of sounding aggressive.

As an individual Morgan is a very endearing and mysterious person. A person widely known for wrestling with various demons his deliver contains a lot of confessional material and streams anecdotes for which a hyperbolic measure feels almost impossible.

Listened to through headphones on public transport this is embarrassingly laugh out loud stuff. Delivered in a seemingly purposely dumb manner Tracy picks apart peoples tiny foibles with a distinct lack of bashfulness but never is humility a casualty in the piece.

When Michael Jackson passed away earlier this year it felt scarily apt to be listening to Morgan’s run down of his situation on “Don’t Be Like Mike” and how the guy probably just need “a plate” and some family compassion. Of course Tracy also acts how he would happily boast of being sucked off on the spinning teacups by Michael to his homeboys but that is beside the point.

His admissions of porn preferences and sexual acts (“I like to eat the pussy until I burp”) is both enlightening and levelling as he points out flaws and hypocrisies on both sides of the fence in the war of the sexes.

After a couple of sharp and revealing family anecdotes about relatives tooting cocaine and his cousin Jimmy (“Negative Ass Jimmy”) being in a wheelchair but earning no sympathy in the process, the most genuinely funny material arrives in his observations regarding superheroes. Or rather more to the point why there are no black superheroes. After quickly dismissing the Hulk as just being “some drunk white dude” and revealing that Robin “wanna fuck Batman up” Morgan leaves the listener with a whole new perspective on the Marvel Universe.

It all comes together at the end with a bit too much information on the subject of love revenge (“Monique”) and Tracy Morgan fully earns his stripes as a scary talent housed in a scary human being. Off the back of SNL and 30 Rock though the world knew this already.

Even if it isn’t, it feels fearless.

Thesaurus moment: jocular.

Tracy Morgan

Thursday, 8 October 2009



As the Long Division With Remainders project arrives at the halfway point it is does so in the strongest fashion and what I must concede is my favourite version yet.  Ken Peel is a composer based in Somerset where I can only image such vast surroundings are what allow his interpretations to soar.  There is something wide and far reaching in these adaptations which accomplishes a retread of beauty.

Peel describes his work as “lounge electronica” and it certainly comes with a swing being piano led, accompanied by chilled jazz drums with the occasional sonic interjection for swank atmospheric thrill.  These moments add a lush mood akin to an Angelo Badalamenti indiscretion.

I’m not quite what the intention of these reworkings is but they certainly serve to inflict a decadent climate to proceedings, to enable a new way of mind.  Unlike many of the other contributions, these works are light and upbeat in a winning fashion.

For the second remix the entering rhythms prove all encompassing in an almost Krautrock without guitars sequence.  That and maybe Air with a splash of Walter/Wendy Carlos in the abstract.  Certainly there is something quite continental about the future being relayed with this release.

As the effort arrives at the dot matrix mess of track 3, the swing returns and resumes something of a Twin Peaks/Clockwork Orange mash.  This electronic noir, the kind of sound the gives birth to death.  It is damaging technology of the most lush distraction.  A haunting exploration.

The final fix is a suitably sedate closing affair that continues to sprinkle light right until the end.  This is the kind of stuff that could be used for higher purposes.

Thesaurus moment: twinkle.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009



This is not merely an album but a series of mesmerising releases that represent a very ambitious body of work from Leyland James Kirby who has traditionally been known as V/VM and more recently The Caretaker. With numerous versions of multiple vinyl and multiple CDs, each with individual and breathtaking pieces of artwork by Ivan Seal, the version that I am listening to today is the double CD.

Expansive and vast the work is filled to the brim with emotive minimalism not afraid to draw out a pregnant pause but dedicated to uncovering an eclipsing sound that fills any room with furniture of the mind. As an echo sound rings out all of a sudden the sun begins shining into my room with a fresh method.

This is score music, something designed to layer lives and events, to inhabit the mind and thought process of the listener and energise their being with view to setting them aside from the troubled and mundane. The music lends to breathing space to thought and assists in conjuring conclusions and resolutions, potentially lending answers to moments of internal decay. For this you can be truly thankfully for such a furrowing work of art.

The obvious touchstone is the work of Badalamenti on the Twin Peaks soundtrack, a subtly energised drone pierced by keys that in the best traditional of Lynch is beauty with the suggestion of impending menace lying underneath. It is a harsh realm.

There is a meditative air to this music as the sonic exploration goes long and far, often sounding similar to Kirby’s work as The Caretaker in addition to basically sounding like being submerged under water or dumped into a sensory depravation tank (not necessarily out of will). More or less it sounds like structural movement, be it personal/internal or industrial/commercial. These are lofty heights.

As I emerge on the other side a true sense of euphoria resounds. I have to concede were I to feed this to most people I know they would probably spit in my face or if I put it on the stereo at work I would possibly run the risk of being sacked, this is a very personal experience, one that feels like a genuine connection between the conductor and listener, the author and audience. For such an accomplishment the man has to be applauded.

Thesaurus moment: neubauten.

Leyland James Kirby

Tuesday, 6 October 2009



The Tromans by now is something of a seasoned songwriter that has been subtly very prolific with his output that stretches right back to his stint fronting San Lorenzo. After a number of solo efforts here he is once more backed by a band to great degree of success.

Early on there is a staunch Wire/Gang Of Four attached to proceedings with “The Bad One/House Of The Magicks” as a post-punk Jekyll And Hyde feel slaps/snags the track between the rails taking the listener to a very dark place as atmospherics bubble in the background while in the foreground jagged guitars and snarling vocals rule the roost. This could weather the music of a murder in the rain as a high standard for the record gets set from the start.

As the record revolves equally the sound evolves when a whole new series of instruments are introduced on “Golden Connection” and a mesmerising tone is added like one of those acoustic tracks on a Led Zep record. With it comes a warm trumpet that sooths the sound into some kind of graceful submission and luscious conclusion as the minor epic closes out to the sound of the coast in all its glory.

Elsewhere there a number of hook laden chants but as the album arrives at “The Dead-Eyed Man” a collective shanty feel erupts over dealings paying tribute to the traditions that came before these times.

The standout track arrives in the form of “Acre”, a genuinely epic workout that represents the sound of a man going through torture as the song distorts and descends into some kind of treasured madness but never outstaying its welcome.

By the time the disc rolls to its conclusion the overriding emotion is one of pleasance at what appears to be some of the bleakest times, this feeling is warm(th).

With a raven on the cover looking over proceedings this is a true departure with everything ventured and everything gained as the eleven tracks on display surf over many spaces and genres to create a very accomplished series of events.

Often with these tunes I feel he is singing about me. There is a lot of depth here.

Thesaurus moment: requite.

Owen Tromans

Saturday, 3 October 2009



It has to be noted that when the NME recently gave this effort a mention it stated that this was latest of his many side projects that included Sebadoh! I can’t in my wildest imaginations expect that quote went down well although I think J Mascis could be heard giggling in the background.

So here are the breathy tones of Mr Lou Barlow. I have to admit for years I was scratching my head as to why people were saying Snow Patrol sounded like Sebadoh/Barlow but once it finally clicked with me it was obvious. And here indeed this is now a song that no longer sounds like a Sebadoh off cut, it kind of sounds like Snow Patrol. With that in mind then Domino should be working overtime to snag that section of the crowd and bring them into the house that Lou built and proceed to sell thousands upon thousands of units of Lou, Sebadoh and even Dinosaur product. However unfortunately at this time nobody is selling units by the truckload, not even Snow Patrol.

Over the years Lou’s solo efforts have been mixed in quality and indeed occasionally his own efforts with Sebadoh were often eclipsed by Loewenstein’s. Indeed when Loewenstein put out his record nervously we looked at each other and felt “this is better than a Lou effort.”

The timing and appearance of a Lou solo record at this time is a strange one, especially with a new Dinosaur record doing the rounds. In “The Right” the world is now in possession of a real plodder and not too much else.

I once had a boss called Mr Barlow. He was considered something of a “doddery old fucker” amongst those around him and there is a certain degree of risk that with solo efforts such as this Lou’s little indulgences may end up carrying a similar kind of tag.

Thesaurus moment: listless.

Lou Barlow

Friday, 2 October 2009



Created to accompany and compliment his recent “The Secrets Of Me” album here is Andy Nice again now with a four song EP to download for free featuring a quartet of electronica acts each offering reshaped and enhanced versions of tracks from said album.

The initial reconstruction comes from the hands of fellow Front And Follow recording artists Sone Institute. To the string-based haven of “The 4th Man” now added into the mix are further intricate atmospherics adding a new dimension of mortality. Keys drop into the mix as vastness rules supreme and the layer affect hits home.

Following comes the remix effort of Yellow6 serving to compliment the original cello strands with a delicate bass pulse giving the track “Orangeblu Home” a new lease of energy and infusion of trait before it all breaks down in calculated method at dusk with eleventh hour female vocals emotively dropping in. With it a submerging sensation is added to the already claustrophobic feel of the track.

Stepping up next is the Isnaj Dui take on “Dr Titan” with is a full frontal squeal of angst allowing the cello to breathe in amongst desolate whistles and mesmerising sounds that serve to further enhance the hypnotic aspects of Mr Nice’s music.

Keeping up with the Front And Follow theme/motif of the releases the final remix comes courtesy of Elite Barbarian who also take a stab at “The 4th Man”. This is the most full on electronic remix of the release as bleeps hang heavy over proceedings often snuffing out key textures of the original.

As an exercise in music exploration these four new renderings manage to add new textures to already fulfilling pieces of music creating a whole new identity all their own. Awash with chilled elements none of the remixes outlast their welcome.

This EP can be downloaded for free at

Thesaurus moment: again.

Andy Nice
Sone Institute
Isnaj Dui
Elite Barbarian

Wednesday, 30 September 2009



As ever Male Bonding invade the joint with scratchy guitar and a reckless sense of adventure. Today with their contribution to this split single of “Year’s Not Long” they up the tempo/pace from their usual trudge before winding up in some kind of circling frenzy that revitalises proceedings before the band launch into the final leg of their energy infused declaration of fuzz. The increase in speed does not serve them well as it feels as if it dilutes their temperament gives them something of an upbeat sound that doesn’t snap as effectively as previous efforts from them.

The Eat Skull effort sounds as if it has been recorded from a television using a cheap cassette player. It is a real spinning top of an affair of warped funfair surf guitar music that almost sounds like a Hammond organ and vocals delivered in an equally dizzying fashion and crashing expletive. This is fat person go-go dance music, made to look ugly when really under the masks are clean faces and stupid but cool hairstyles. “Heaven’s Stranger” would make good theme music to a camp television show about a one legged crime fighter.

A nuisance to the industry.

Thesaurus moment: haze.

Male Bonding
Eat Skull

Wednesday, 23 September 2009



A more raw and earnest album will be impossible to find this year. Sounding like a cross between a female hardcore band and The Shaggs, this serves to remind me why I fell in love with crude lo-fi guitar music in the first place. This is the less is more principle in action and thriving.

Pens follow in the great traditional of band scratchy, primal lo-fi bands where the passion and desire far outstrips the mechanicals on display. They’re not angry enough to be Huggy Bear, they’re not crazy enough to be Bette Davis And The Balconettes and they’re not skilful enough to be Sleater-Kinney but certainly there are slight elements from each within their songs and sound which makes for an individual and fresh batch of compositions.

Purposely na├»ve there mere name of the album along suggests a kind heart and ritual curiosity within their ranks. The album then gets rolling with a track entitled “Horsies” which is a basic gang singalong akin to a playground patty cake. By the time the drums come crashing the charm has oozed to an uncompariable degree. Perhaps the band should have named themselves Crayons instead.

Everything is slightly distorted with this record. By design this is probably a tactic executed to hide technical frailties and gives uniqueness to the sound but regardless it is a system that works, giving the band the kind of stars and chops they require. Often the guitars are a huddled fuzzy mess and the drums sounds like they are being bashed out on a biscuit tin but the key is that the songs are still there, the hooks are genuine and exhilarating. Once upon it felt like all records sounded as exciting as this one.

A song such as “1-2” pleasantly reminds me heartily of early Dischord seven inches and the more exciting moments of Free Kitten. Elsewhere the excellently named “Fukufuckinfuk” truly accomplishes the Huggy Bear vibe while “Freddie” contains the kind of vocal loops that are excitingly dizzying.

Racking up fourteen tracks, most of which barely make the two minute mark, in many ways this is the perfect record for a band such as Pens to be releasing as their first effort (i.e. a young band cutting their teeth). This is the real sound of teenage expression. Buy into now before this kind of art is finally lost.

I’m reviewing this while watching Predator.

Thesaurus moment: energy.

Pens live

Tuesday, 22 September 2009



The sound of Times New Viking is truly fucked up. They are out of tune and they don’t even sound as if they are playing actual instruments, more using appropriations of what instruments should sound like. All in all this is a record that sounds as if it were made out of cupboard.

As a result of this the reality that there is a drive behind proceedings says a lot about the determination of the band and the apparent strength of their songs in the sole/soul, bloody minded desire to see things through until a hook is found. I guess this has been what lo-fi ingenuity has always been about.

With drums that sound like they are boxes falling down stairs, the hardest hook to arrive first is the chorus refrain of the title track “Born Again Revisited” as the song descends into true dementia, a refreshing voice from the back raises her hand and lends the song a kiss.

In sounding so bad and awful there is true invention in the process. The fact that the sound has been rendered so sharp and nasty but yet remains (just about) listenable indicates that there is no off switch on the genius button here.

Ultimately it feels as if this muck is some kind of response to the horrible slickness that no comes with the digital age, the bland anonymous cold feel of listening to music through a computer. As we now reach the Skynet era of music and how Kraftwerk appeared to once predict songs being manufactured by robots this is in many ways as pure a statement of/in music as you can get as they purposely apply a recording technique akin to the playing technique of The Shaggs. With its transgression this is a true blessing.

To be found are genuinely rocking joints that come in the form of the optimistic sounding “Move To California” and the Germs echoing opening “I Smell Bubblegum”. It’s definitely not all great but certainly is fun.

This is the sound of what Guided By Voices would be like if they were hoodlum kids packing more than just guitars and sticking scissors into open electric sockets. Any band that has a 36 second song called “Take The Piss” cannot be bad or wrong.

These songs were born to be heard on vinyl.

Thesaurus moment: scuff.

Times New Viking
Matador Records

Monday, 21 September 2009



In many circles this is considered the best Black Flag album.  Certainly it is the most compact and economic bust out 16 songs in only 26 minutes.  And they aren’t just hardcore bursts of energy; they are tastily crafted balls of anger sewn into solid songwriting that does not exhibit an ounce of fat.  Greg Ginn described what they were doing as “modern blues”.  It seems he already had one eye on legacy and tradition.

Essentially it’s a compilation but to refer to it by such terms feels demeaning and severely missing the point.  Early into Get In The Van, Henry Rollins states that “in my opinion the finest Black Flag record released is The First Four Years compilation.  Its all the singles and compilation cuts that the band made before I joined. The record spans three singers that came before me.  Its 34 minutes (sic) and it’s about three full length albums worth of anyone else’s music.  It is the densest batch of jams I have ever heard on one record besides the Fun House album by The Stooges.  When you put it up against what’s out there today, its hilarious.  These bands would have been eaten alive at a Black Flag show.  Music has mellowed out to the point where it just doesn’t interest me anymore.  And I’m not a snob either, I just can’t forget what I know.”

“Self as cell, body as cage”.

The onslaught kicks off with “Nervous Breakdown” and the subsequent additional three tracks from the EP which was the first SST release.  It features Keith Morris on vocals who always offered a more snotty, swinging style than Mr Rollins.  “Nervous Breakdown” is a concise explanation of circumstances referencing the anxiety and energy that comes with being a punker.  The playing is wickedly tight with slicing hooks that punch proceedings as the words pierce the senses and serve the mind.  Early Black Flag was such a well oiled machine.

The following tracks from the first EP are equally stonking and astonishing.  “Fix Me” possesses the finest countdown ever in music and within a minute so many expressions and emotions are displayed in relentless fashion.  The next track “I’ve Had It” succinctly represents the frustrated mind with threats of “I’m going to explode” in heavy emphasise.  And then there is the pure joy of “Wasted”, of delirium and reckless abandon.  The manner in which Morris drags out the hooks and chorus makes the words bigger and more powerful than they ought be.  Within a few listens, you already know these lyrics by heart.  The words were already it just took this band to bring them out in you.

Up next is the “Jealous Again” EP and five tracks of frustration.  “Jealous Again” is a solidly condensed one way conversation, a brief interview with a hideous man/woman.  In the words of Rodney Dangerfield: “I can’t condone it but I can understand it”.  Continuing the frustrated flow the equally aggressive “Revenge” arrives like a war-cry and disgusting declaration.  This is the sound of a person getting things done.

Then we arrive at “White Minority”, a song the word problematic was born to be strapped/tagged onto.  It is a rant about being the underclass, a section of society where race isn’t necessarily an issue when the main consideration is survival.  I have compared it to being their version of “White Man In Hammersmith” but that song never had the ferocity or hook of this rocketing explosion.  A great song and very bold holding gestures that could worryingly misappropriated by right wing wrong ‘uns.

Remaining on the Jealous Again EP, “No Values” follows which is another crushing track from the off unleashing a ferocious first few lines of “I don’t care what you think, I don’t care what you say”.  It is a song that truly motors and pummels all in its path as the band plays out the part of a crucified nihilist.  And with good reason.  Then finally this section closes with the slightly slower tempo “You Bet We’ve Got Something Against You” which also serves to bulldoze surroundings and the bystanders inhabiting.  With Chuck Dukowski booming condemnation on his sole singing role it verbally busts heads open.

Track ten is “Clocked In” which originally appeared on the New Alliance compilation Cracks In The Sidewalk which was the first release by the label run by the guys from the Minutemen (D Boon and Mike Watt).  “Clocked In” is also legendarily the song Henry Rollins jumped onstage and sang with the band when he was merely a fan and not a member.  It is a ninety three second blast of griping about doing menial work and being tied to a clock.  Again the Ginn playing is spacious and chunky, happily going way out when it comes time to provide one of his weird solos.  And even though it sounds like Rollins singing, it is actually the first vocal workout by Dez Cadena on the record (Rollins ain’t anywhere on here).

The original version of “Six Pack” brings in the next three tracks from what was the third Black Flag EP.  To be honest the Cadena sung variant doesn’t sound much different to the form Rollins later owned on Damaged.  “Six Pack” is a celebration of denial, escapism and wilful disregard.  It is the band rocking satire big time.  From here things move onto “I’ve Heard It Before” which is a prolonged threat that exists like a bomb with a lit fuse.  When it eventually arrives the track explodes as another aggressive dismissal and heated message.  Closing the EP is “American Waste” a song about positioning and celebration of the fact that the band knows its place in the grand scheme and is fighting to ascend on its own terms when really knowing the game is rigged and a big win is beyond their realm/means.

“Machine” arrives screaming as another track that previously appeared on a New Alliance compilation (this time the twelve song twelve band Chunks).  It’s a swift blast very much playing one note with the declaration of raging against the machine long before it became vogue.

With that we enter the final release of the compilation and the Black Flag take on “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen.  In the process of making this a staple they mutate the words and amplify the riff sculpting it for their own needs.  Then with that it all ends on “Damaged I” and an early workout of what would later become the title track of their debut album.  “Damaged I” the song was described by Simon Reynolds in his book Rip It Up And Start Again as a “slow-grind as drawn out as the death throes of a wound animal”.  This was where the band was heading.

At this point many argue that when Henry Rollins he ruined the band.  There was certainly something of an audible change between these tracks and those of Damaged.  Whether this was increase or decrease is down to the tastes of the listener.  Black Flag the band changed music forever.

Thesaurus moment: effectual.

Friday, 18 September 2009



Released in February 1994 the second Pavement studio album is so good they named it twice.  With Gary Young now out and Steve West in the band took an organic change of direction away from the abrasive and more towards classic rock.

Even if things were now more polished on a surface level the band retained the loose sense of adventure that set them apart; keeping them sloppy and effortlessly cool in an era when such expression was key.

It opens in appropriately ramshackle fashion.  Even the song name is ramshackle being “Silence Kid” but due to the messiness of the artwork it has come to be known as “Silence Kit”.  In execution is contains seemingly the sound of switching things on, of tuning up and get in the position/mindset to rock.  It’s a beginning on many levels.  Then like a jumbo jet it soars over proceedings.  From the off Steve Malkmus is soaring in solid fashion ahead of pulling/bringing it all back before the end so as not to allow the listener too much comfort.  It is the sound of being submerged.

“I wouldn’t want to shake their hands”.

Motion maintains as the drive of “Elevate Me Later” lifts proceedings in laid fashion as the fizzy distorted gestures raise the roof with the revelation that “there’s forty different shades of black”.

This is quite melancholic and dark album at times.  The song “Newark Wilder” has often supplied me with morose lines during failed moments.  The lines “it’s a brand new era and it feels great, it’s a brand new era but it came too late” remind heavily of “Here” from Slanted And Enchanted and the aftermath remorse attached to defeat and frustration.  As the words pile up and riddle in tongue as sense of whimsy grips proceedings in an almost theatrical formation.

In the past Malkmus has been quoted as saying with Crooked Rain Crooked Rain he said they thought they were going to make an indie Eagles record.  In a way the intention was a west coast response to the noise rock from the east dominating the genre.  From one perspective it was taking back riffs.

“Songs mean a lot when songs are bought, and so are you”.

Cut Your Hair” is in many ways the band’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  Its their rocker and most recognised track.  It has an amazing video which seems to encapsulate everything they are about right down to Malkmus seeing himself as king and shedding a tear in the process.  The song is actually about being in a band from the beginning to the end, through the good times and the bad.  By the end the song is exploding into the kind of dense wall of white noise you wanted every Sonic Youth song to be.

Coupled with this is “Range Life” the other single from the album expressing more bemusement at the reality of being in a band.  With a Mamas And Papas piano line and a Neil Young drive this is the sound of feeling like an outsider at Lollapalooza.  After years of trying to reach your people they arrived only to discover these people were shit too.  Perhaps this was another symptom of arriving late but really what did Pavement have in common with the Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots?  Everything if you listened to MTV and all the other stuffy media outlets cashing in on the moment.  This was their way of taking the bull by the horns and walking away.

The other big song is “Gold Soundz” which stars them almost sounding optimistic.  There is message in this movement, explicit in letting off the listener in lowering their expectations and standards.  This is a track that is fucking loved.  And I don’t understand that.

Elsewhere there is a more genuine jubilation in “Unfair”.  With his words Malkmus is relentless with a fully formed flow that could almost pass as hip-hop.  And the band follows in kind as a kind of rollercoaster ride creeps to the peak eventually letting go as all hell lets loose.  It’s a triumph.

“There’s no survivors”

As with Slanted And Enchanted things begin to wind down towards the end.  The chilled declaration of “Heaven Is A Truck” continues to suggest their minds be elsewhere as one final prod of play arrives in the bouncy whirling outro of “Hit The Plane Down”.  With that “Fillmore Jive” closes with another declaration and gesture towards sleep.  There is definitely a running theme in the grand mind of a slacker.

This is a summer record through and through.

Thesaurus moment: anfractuous.