Friday, 24 December 2010



This is soulful fucking record.  These songs can reduce me to tears; take me down when times are not good.

The blues and indie rock have generally tended to make for awkward bed fellows.  Indie rockers don’t generally have trouble paying the rent.  Even if they don’t have the funds, they have a safety net to cover and catch.  The only risk is that of self destruct.  This version however is the purest, most evocative sense.  It is affecting and amazing.  What they do is not secret but it is very special.  How it is made however can be home to secrecy and discretion.

Thank You is a powerful record.  It exudes a weird kind of gratitude that is not necessarily genuine or sincere.  There are two parties present in this exchange/consumption and it is not exactly clear which is the more important to the other.

In many ways Royal Trux is terrifying.  The cool desperation that seeps from every pore, every lick is that of chasing the next sandwich regardless of which kind of fix that is (and they are in).  The band feels so off the mainstream radar that they might be the basis of militia.

This album tends to appear in my life in broken situations.  When people belittle me I’ll search it out and bring it up.  The pace matches recovery.  Released in 1995 the band was now gaining attention from people with money (industry types) and the fresh direction was touching a sweet spot between Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.  Rather than being a dilution of a dilution the charge of empowerment from each source brought a whole new rasping energy which comfortably sat with their lifestyle, personality and methodology.  As Herrema squawked like a modern Janis Joplin there was something distinctly masculine and bluesy in her motions and ultimate function of the band.  The broken energy soars more than prior lo-fi gestures.

From the off the band is acting like a well oiled machine.  Behind Herrema and Hagerty the engine room rhythm section is given a lot of room breath and with it comes real funk drive as each piece of the puzzle is given space to star.

Often surface sloppy the nods to the Stones can be heard hardest in singalong of “Ray O Vac” while the expansive wail of “The Sewer Of Mars” is quite Led Zep.  Indeed the rumbling, bubbling bass of “Granny Grunt” almost sounds like Thin Lizzy.

Lyrically “Map Of The City” with its slow sweeping blues of working class crimes contains equally images of cancer and masturbation while “Lights Of The Levee” with its big bridges ends with the question “when will the water wash me out?”

Of the more familiar tracks opener “A Night To Remember” is funk driven promise which saw the band performing live on The Word while single “You’re Gonna Lose” was glorious bargain bin stuff all scuffed and too damaged/dirty to make a common dent.

The masterpiece is left to last “Shadow Of The Wasp” literally stings the listener was an explicit description of a struggle to secure goods.  One Friday night I found myself in a perfect life sync with this track as during a moment of the blues attached to an impending emotional and physical exchange in Deptford I couldn’t decide whether I was caught in the saddest and happiest of times.  Slow, subtle and sedate it paints a rough picture of proceedings ahead of stepping up a gear as it launches into the chorus where it questions if things were actually better in the past as they complain about being “sick of searching to get hooked on a feeling”.  Then the third movement kicks in and all erupts heavily layered.  All in all its tiring stuff and then it (and the album) ends on a drum solo.  Special.

This is an album that can change days, maybe even lives.

Thesaurus moment: benefaction.

Thursday, 23 December 2010



Few pieces of music manage to paint pain with such clarity and sincerity.  The clear narrative of this song is of a singular conversation replaying a moment, analysing a personal issue in search of clarity and solace but achieving none.  This is not the winner’s circle, not even the sound of a batter on deck.  The emotion experienced is loss in a very deep and thoughtful way.  The hurt is key in a most essential way.

After experiencing crossover success with Throwing Muses Hersh established herself as quite the force and strong front woman.  Her songs captured a rare take and perspective of damaged moments and exchanges.  And lending a helping hand on this release was Michael Stipe which didn’t harm its chances at all.

“Your Ghost” is a heavy dose of reflection.  These are the words of a person lost and unable to move on.  Stuck in the past she wages war with the telephone and broken communication.  The desire is there but not the urge.  The reality is that to act on impulse would be wrong as external motion suggests the other party is no longer there, no longer receptive.  As I write this there is a person I so want to contact but I know that I shouldn’t and so I won’t.  I can wait in hope for her to call or message but that does not appease my urge of pace and suffer.  Hersh is amazing in capturing and sharing this.

A sombre tone maintains as the twinkling pick of “The Key” with soaring upbeat vocals that echo and transcend in a wondrous description of an ideal partner.  It’s a desire that does not feel sustainable, one destined and doomed to failure.

By the time the release reaches the bluesy take on “When The Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin all issue has been explained if not rectified.  With an acoustic slide guitar certain to impress Jimmy Page there comes a fresh edge and intellect to the song being delivered in a female voice.  This too shall pass.

Quite the host.

Thesaurus moment: eidolon.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010



Subtitled “From Our Rears To Your Ears!” this is something of a strange curiosity of a record but no less wonderful with it.  And inside the booklet there is a message from Sarah herself: “Well, we finally put all our songs on CDs.  Play them while you are making love, or doody”.

I think the Sarah Silverman Program was something of a confused beast.  This is probably demonstrated by the shoddy manner with which it was originally treated (was it two seasons or three – nobody really knows).  Personally I went for it immediately, often to my detriment I like bad taste comedy and these days its tasting worse than ever as limits get pushed further and further.  In essence these are boundaries that have long since surpassed in public life and now as they seep into art and entertainment suddenly this gives people a sense of entitlement to cry foul.  Begs the question: is an awful statement worse when made to a large audience?  In many ways I guess so but the substance and essence of the piece is not new.  Ultimately you just come to the conclusion that people are hypocrites.

Milked for the full ninety nine tracks available on the CD this is a combination of those short songs from the TV series (36 in total) in addition to various sound bites and jokes.  It feels like such a weird throwback concept to a time before the internet and everything being available at the click of a mouse.  That this CD even exists feels something of an achievement.  Thus I feel the need to celebrate it.

Surveying the scene only twenty six of the tracks make it past the minute mark.  That is barely a quarter of the collection.

Within two tracks Silverman has shit herself as it all resembles some kind of memory akin to reading old text messages.  The humour and fun is not so much in the snippets, its in the moments they originally came from which pretty much makes this mostly for fans of the show only.

Other ghastly occurrences include a conversation to God justifying her stealing batteries, nostalgia for an abortion at the eight and a half month mark, patronising the homeless (played by Zach Galifianakis), convincing all her friends that she has AIDS, explicitly teaching a classroom of children how you catch AIDS, she becomes an animal sexual offender and all kinds of awful things occur to her mother’s corpse.  She is awful, selfish right to the end on track 99.

If you’re looking for a stand out track let me recommend track 48 “That’s Been Done Song” with its cynical robotic gestures.  And on “Dry Sheets, Ice Cream, Jellybeans” her voice reminds me of Juliana Hatfield even if the lyrical content is somewhat removed to say the least.  Then there is a Kate Bush moment that comes with “Opposite Day” as the music prowess peaks in collaboration with Keb’ Mo on “Blind Woman Blues”.

Throughout the process she is ably assisted and accompanied by Brian Posehn, Steve Agee, Jay Johnston and her sister Laura Silverman.  And keeping with his metal affection Posehn finds opportunity to rock out on “Glad I Hurt My Hand”.  There’s a lot of talent on show here.

In the absence of a foam finger or mouse mat, this will have serve as an adequate souvenir and reminder of a very fun show.

And despite these nice words the cow still has me blocked on Twitter.  Some people.

Thesaurus moment: ungenerous.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010



“And They Call Me Mad?” is a statement that I often find myself uttering out loud.  Alas in the act of making such an external comment crazy is all that compounds being explicitly received.  You can’t win.  Conan O’Brien knows that from his experience dealing with Jay Leno.  He has however survived and become a cooler cat for it.  And now he is releasing records with Jack White.

Sporting an uneasy expression on the sleeve O’Brien delivers an echoey monologue that sounds like the kind of thing a Simpsons writer would author. In other words it reminds me of Dana Gould.  That and the kind classic recorded passage Carl Reiner or even Bob Newhart might come up with.

O’Brien’s voice sounds strange.  Perhaps due to contractual obligations it is best that it is not easily recognised by lawyers and accountants alike.  View from an artistic perspective, this is a performer fully immersing himself in character, in his creation.  It’s a classic style, a classic device.

“And They Call Me Mad?” is a one-sided conversation with a Frankenstein style lunatic.  One voice is attempting to convince two minds all housed in the same skull.  You can’t help but relate his statements of reanimation relate to his own career.  As he builds “Benjamin” he proceeds to persuade his monster to kill hostile invaders outside his castle.  In camp fashion he directs it like a filmmaker, a Hollywood or TV exec type.  And all done on the promise of a latte.  This was the real life of Dr Frankenstein.

The tables turn on the flipside for O’Brien as interviewer becomes interviewee as Jack White quizzes him from the control room in grill fashion.  Who else would use an analogue recording studio for an interrogation scene?  After running through various fresh nicknames for Conan we get a genuine “how are you?” as O’Brien discusses/addresses life post-Tonight Show having gone on the road.  In a moment of satisfaction he does an impression of rapper Ludacris that sounds quite like Jay Leno except not for legal reasons.  There also maybe a confession of murder.  He has never been more on point.  As he states that he does not like jokes and holds no empathy for other humans it all turns quite confessional.  Jack White hosts quite the church in Nashville.

Spoken word instructional just might be my new favourite genre.

Thesaurus moment: sly.

Monday, 20 December 2010



A number of years ago after coming off tour I found myself with a real urge to watch Mad Max 2.  Perhaps it was my experience of two weeks on the road (often driving) that gave me the desire to revisit so much automotive carnage.  Almost immediately one of my first gestures was to head into town and pay over the odds for a copy of the movie on DVD.  It had been a few years since I last saw the movie.  Indeed the first time I saw the film was around the age of eight when I hired it on VHS from our local video store only to sit down to watch it with my best friend Aaron who cried off the viewing early on as he was horrified by it.  I watched it on my own the next morning as was amazed.  Was this where the world was heading?

The Brian May score on Mad Max 2 was always an imposing thing.  To be frank it always felt too high in the mix, too loud in the crowd.  Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior in America) was never going to be the most quiet or sedate of movies but somewhere down the line it was decided there needed to be more, the effects required additional sonic assault.  Enter Brian May.

Even though guitars feel heavy, the score here is very orchestral.  This is not the full on hard rock action of Flash Gordon; this is serious music, the real deal.  Quite frankly you only know it is conducted by the guitarist of Queen via the credits.  And then you discover: it is a completely different Brian May.

Soundtrack fans are the music equivalent of tourists.  Mainstream ears suddenly pick up on classical gestures and nuances.  With the mental music video of a movie in their mind the shapes of the composition (the posh word for song) add an emotive level.  The second track is entitled “Confrontation” and as menacing strings swoop in you cannot help but envisage Mel Gibson getting pounded by Australian desert punks.

Throughout there is a level menace attached to the eight tracks (ahead of a ninth track of fun special effects).  With “Marauder’s Massacre” a beautiful piece of work is given an ugly name as the vibrant direction changes encapsulate somewhere blood being spilled.  The frenetic movements are jagged in design done to keep and match up with the noted harsh editing of the motion picture.  And then it all ends with a menacing rattle.  This was the future.

With track nine all hell breaks loose as earlier composition “Break Out” is mixed into an “SFX Suite” designed to display how sound effects were used in the score as in essence instruments.  These wonders include the anarchic gems “Boomerang Attack”, “Gyro Flight”, “The Big Rig Starts” and “The Refinery Explodes”.  To incorporate sounds in such a method was groundbreaking.

I must concede the liner notes by Tom Null cannot be topped with his comment: “the music is suffused by a profound melancholy for the losses mankind has sustained”.

Offerings from this album later appeared in other movies including The Terminator.

This holiday is over.

Thesaurus moment: stentorian.

Sunday, 12 December 2010



Riding a fine line between the country rock of “Range Life” and the laidback summer gestures of Wowee Zowee, “Shady Lane” is Pavement in post-whimsical mode.  It feels like the music equivalent of rowing a boat, the early licks inhabit gestures close to steering oars while Stephen Malkmus’ vocal assertions are akin to looking around and breathing in one’s surroundings ahead of expressing gratitude for the world around him.

“We went Dutch Dutch Dutch”.

While not being the most dynamic and exuberant of Pavement songs it does house some of my favourite Malkmus lines in: “you’re so beautiful to look at when you cry” and “you’ve been chosen as an extra in the movie adaptation of the sequence to your life”.  The latter line is quite the tongue twister for him to deliver while maintaining quite the flow.

I know exactly what is meant by saying there is beauty in crying.  Many years ago when I dated Bella, the first true loved of my life, I actually told her “I like it when you cry”.  Eleven years later a boss would give me the advice “never trust the tears of a woman” but in the meantime I would like to interpret/decode it as being a moment when she genuinely cared.

The seven inch was the version of the record to purchase because it came with “Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence” on the other side and their tribute/ode to REM, which originally/previously appeared on the No Alternative compilation that secretly housed a Nirvana track.  It’s a majestic fawn.

A casual stroll.

Thesaurus moment: perambulation.

Saturday, 11 December 2010



I’ve lost count.  Is this the thirteenth Trumans Water studio album?  Longevity is both a skill and a curse.

Warped and wrapped around the angular there is nothing simple about this band.  Indeed even removing the record from the shrink-wrapped sleeve is awkward.  However once freed from slumber the packaging reveals a most excellent and satisfying twelve inches of prime blue vinyl.  There is no MP3 download code just pure analogue joy.

Typically in playing with the band’s sensibilities the sides are entitled “Zeta” and “Zunis”.  Convention is for wimps and the soft ones.

Housing fourteen tracks (seven on each side), the good ship Trumans Water still sails the high seas of lo-fi with persistent waves of drunken gestures driving more by determination and desire than resource.  In a polished era of digital organisms reducing the workload of man, there is something hugely reassuring and calming in hearing an object such as this.

The sound is clear and familiar.  It is early Pavement through and through.  At one point they were probably on an equal footing/standing but one act decided to refine, some might say mature, their sound whereas the other decided where they were was more than enough.

The artwork looks like some kind of Monty Python collage.  On the front two bears are fishing the stream of a small waterfall while below them a giant hand is grabbing a human body with a frog head attached as the whole scene is bedded by a line of serious cyclists.  In other words the cover looks just how the record sounds.  Its cut and paste, an efficient execution of scraps.  Why bother with typeface when you can just write the band name and song titles in felt tip using a steady hand.  Then as you go in search of information and a tracklisting on the back you find yourself faced with three polar bears staring you out.  Dear listener, you are not to blame.

A mutual appreciation of fuzz and distortion goes a long way as the Zunis side opens in lurching fashion akin to wading through treacle.  The sound is that of being trapped in a vortex.

There is clear contrast in the material of the two sides of the record.  The first feels somewhat more “coherent” with at least song structures harnessing roaming and overdriven gestures.  The vocals feel a cloudy stream of consciousness more designed to stalk the music than vice versa.  The tail (tale) is wagging the dog on this adventure.

Occasionally it accomplishes pop gestures such as the hook happy “Last Time” but aside from that frequent stops and time changes seldom offers a smooth ride or fluid exchange.  However by the end of the side the screaming over distorted has become all encompassing and tough to take in.  It’s scratchy to a fault.

As the second side motions in mechanical fashion with an almost prog work out in “” Hands 4 Eyes” the exploration is lax and meandering offering an almost mini rock opera feel.  Here is Zappa, here is Beefheart, here is the culmination of a huge history serving indie rock.  There will always be something exhilarating about a band building to a hook then once it is served they scream and shout in the style of a rollercoaster going over a cliff.  We Fish” I am looking at you.

If only more guitars were still played in this fashion today.

To surmise Trumans Water remains a wonderful, it’s a just a little too much of it is likely to see the listener drown as they eventually get out of their depth.

We’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Thesaurus moment: soak.

Saturday, 27 November 2010



The Queen Is Dead is a fascinating record.  It is multilayered and speaks with as many personalities.  It holds in its hands the power to be devastating tapping direct into underdog emotions, describing and harnessing in a manner that brings purpose to bleak situations.  It is a record about drawing strength in the face of desperation and so much more.

As an experiment today I will listen, analyse and attempt to review this record just after a break up has occurred and my moments are raw.

The third Smiths studio album is a bleak and damning excursion coupled with emotionally absurd humour.  As with so much of their material there are a lot of laughs if you look for them.  Sure there is loneliness and melancholy but Morrissey makes it a shared experience offering opportunity to at least lighten a load a little.  And coupled with that is an amazing base layer provided by Marr running ragged and wayward in a most efficient fashion.  It is expansive in its pessimism

The original name of the album was to be “Margaret On The Guillotine” tapping into the anti-Maggie sentiments of the era.  Of course such a title would be perceived as treason in certain sections.  As if “The Queen Is Dead” sounds any less aggressive.  Even in the eighties Morrissey was already pining for better times.

“Take me back to dear old blighty.”

It is actually the voice of Cicely Courtneidge that is heard first singing as an excerpt of a 1916 song about four soldiers longing to return home from the trenches of war-torn France.  With that Morrissey is soon setting up shop and charging into action offering a history lesson quizzing “has the world changed or have I changed?”  He understands legacy if not solution while the adjoining sonics merge sensually offering a piping pulse.  “The Queen Is Dead”, even back then.  On the other hand Courtneidge was the original mum in On The Buses.  Here nostalgia is currency paying for an exhilarating passage.

Intuition was the key.

This work is broad and scatological.  For every scathing moment there is a sympathetic one.  For every downbeat gesture of solace there is an upbeat execution.

And upbeat didn’t necessarily always work with the near country cheese of “Vicar In A Tutu” bounding along and the lumbering “Frankly, Mr Shankly” only being saved by the snarling sentiments in Morrissey’s words.  At the time he appeared to hate Geoff Travis as much as normal people hate Simon Cowell now.  Then again these two songs have been described as “legs-in-the-air comedy”.  The other happy sounding track arrived in “Cemetry Gates” and its carefree skip around graves both physical and metaphorical.  With Oscar Wilde on your side, why not?

The other side winding track was the single “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side” which coupled with “Bigmouth Strikes Again” served as Morrissey addressing the industry in which he operated and the art he feared misappropriated.  On defensive mode it is something of a confused struggle and dare I say a root of ones bitterness.

Northern England is well represented on this record.  This is not an album that could or would be made be committee.  And in that I mean trends and fads took longer to reach Manchester, if at all.  This is original material not fashionite.

When asked by Tony Wilson why he wanted to be a pop star Morrissey answered “many reasons, it doesn’t make life worse”.  Damn, this was actually pop music.

“Why are you alone tonight?”

Back to my broken heart and allowing me to wallow this evening is “I Know It’s Over” and the sensation of being suffocated by the pain of separation.  As Morrissey sings “I can feel the soil falling over my head” the ending of this relationship does indeed feel like being buried alive.  This could kill me.  We all wallow.

“If a double decker bus…”

And now in the aftermath I can only hold onto the memories, hold onto a torch.  For that I have “There Is A Light That Will Never Go Out”.  A lesser man might send a departed love a link to this song.  Of course it’s a gesture that only ever works in the movies but Morrissey being Morrissey he actually pulls it off in this track making it seem almost acceptable to pine in requited fashion.  Quite frankly (Mr Shankly), what else is there a Smiths fan could/can do?

“I have just discovered.”

The album closes with “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” which too feels something of an ode to my exiting love with her being big boned and all.  Let’s just say that this is a record that explicitly speaks to me and for me.

In 1986 when the record came out I was just discovering football via Liverpool FC, Jan Molby and Mexico 86.  I had no idea that The Smiths existed being only nine years old.  Nine years later however I worshipped the band.  Too little, too late.

Rough Trade released the record with full knowledge that the band was leaving the label.  It reached number 2 in the album charts, second only to “So” by Peter Gabriel.

Morrissey was quoted as saying writing was an “absolute physical necessity”.

I live in a bed-sit.

Thesaurus moment: witch.

Thursday, 25 November 2010



This is one of those songs I can listen to on repeat play over and over.  It is just a perfect song, a wonderful accident.  Acts can write and record songs but it requires a special kind of alignment for everything to come together in this fashion.

The Will Always Negates Defeat.

“The W.A.N.D.” is an exhilarating composition.  It begins with a heavily distorted procession building a ripped anticipation ahead of the dam bursting and Wayne Coyne swooping in to the lead the charge (“we got the power now motherfuckers”).  And from here the positive drive is relentless right up to the echoed exit.  Being dizzy should never be a chore.

Moving on the expansive and glistening seventies sound of “You Gotta Hold On” maintains a thrive vibe before the single ends with “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (In Anatropous Reflex)” which is a stripped down piano play of the previous single.  It adds maturity but removes power and pace.  Swings and roundabouts.

The single peaked at #41 in the charts.  I bought this CD single from Sister Ray on Berwick Street in London at 4.52PM on 19 July 2006 for £2.99.  It was back when I was working at Sarm Studios for Trevor Horn in accounts.  That day the weather was particularly warm that the boss just let us go home as offices can be unendurable.  On the way to central London I boarded the tube at Notting Hill and just as I sat down a cranky old lady told me off for sitting in the priority seat of a next to empty carriage.  It was a weird experience where only amusement should emerge.  The Flaming Lips should be viewed in such a way.

In keeping with their hip approach to proceedings one of the two music videos features a pillow fight between two roller derby players from the TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls (Lux and Venis Envy).  A comfy fit.

Who knew at this stage of their career they would be able to come up with the second best song in their arsenal.

Thesaurus moment: theurgy.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010



Quite frankly I am surprised that I actually bought this album.  Jay-Z maybe the biggest hip-hop artist in the world but that is never a guaranteed seal of approval, just a mark of much exposure.

A white guy reviews hip-hop.

In music history there have been three black albums: Spinal Tap, Metallica and this one.  Spot the odd one out and why.

Generally Jay-Z is an artist that has passed me by.  As I hint above, he has tended to strike me as being something of a mainstream commodity, a performer more rich in product than talent or material.  That’s the problem with first impressions you never get to make them again.  So, despite the pop is he any good?  He’s certainly radio friendly.

The Black Album is/was his eighth studio offering.  It was also his “retirement” record.  How the fuck did he put eight records out without making a dent on my consciousness?  Longevity is a rare thing in hip-hop.  Material is regularly milked but rarely do artists make it into double figures on albums.  What am I missing in this guy?  His fame crept up on me.  I thought he was painfully average when actually he is/was huge.

Jay-Z is music that actually sounds good played through a set of tinny mobile phone speakers.  Maybe that’s the secret.

In a moment of clarity I must concede that the popularity of Jay-Z confuses me.  His voice is funny but his rhymes and flow are good.  On a surface/superficial level he should not endear.  It would appear that I bought this CD as part of a 3 for £20 offer at Virgin Megastore.  I have no recollection of the transaction or what else I bought on the day.

Sometimes he sounds like a tranny.  And what’s the protracted cough about?

It begins with an “Interlude”.  What the fuck is this?  There is no interlude in thug life.

The sticker attached to the product states that “Change Clothes” and “What More Can I Say” are the heavy hits on board.  The former, a song about the importance of getting dressed, is plagued by a cheesy hook and the latter by a cheesy tag and Gladiator sample.  Lets start again.

Jay-Z came from the projects.  A boy like me could never understand how he lived, what he saw.  He speaks about struggles in a manner with which others do not.  In his mind hip-hop is the blues.  And this is why he’s friends with Chris Martin?  For the record Martin has said his favourite track on the album is “Lucifer”.  So that song must suck then.

One step forward two steps back.

On the Pete Rock remix “December 4th” was the first song to stand out for me.  With his mum (sorry, mom) offering wise words and a history lesson this is her perspective of the creation of Jay-Z.  The remix comes with a tasteful haunting accomplishment while the album version comes with a cheesy flag waving sonic backing.  This man is not subtle.  And that just might be his undoing in my mind.

Let’s chainsaw.  He laughs but I don’t read a sense of humour.

“Encore” was produced by Kanye West.  Being from an indie rock background it seems weird to me that an album houses almost a different producer on each track.  Elsewhere turning nobs and pushing buttons be The Neptunes, Timbaland, Rick Rubin and even Eminem.  Have these guys never heard of the too many cooks concept?  This was originally intended to be the first single.  Really?  It’s a song that appears to feel the need to add its own applause and worship.  It does however have amazing flow.

Apparently he achieved “it” with this record.

From some angles “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” is as good as it gets.  The piping eastern flavoured sample offers a broad hook and flexes the waves of the listener’s mind.  And then the hook is Jay-Z telling his people to pick themselves up and keep plugging away.  There are more inspirational manners.

“Threat” falls into the cliché of exhibiting gunshot samples and the sound of a crazy man launching them.  This is not the Wu-Tang Clan, it does not convince.

Finally I find a truly great instant occurs with “Moment Of Clarity” as it builds with effective drive and sinister source through a layering strings mixed with majestic beats.  The grab is in the hook that rises above so much flab and debris exhibited elsewhere.  At least I see why people believe in the man.

And then with that we get to “99 Problems” and his hard hitting throwback.  Smashing a sound so distinctly old school Def Jam and Rick Rubin in many ways the track is genius.  At a time when hip-hop became so intricate in composition it lost a lot of bite and edge so with this unsubtle sledgehammer he cracked it.  It’s a sound dismantle of the climate/environment.

The second half maintains momentum with “Public Service Announcement (Interlude)”.  With a deep piano intro and speech sample it genuinely explodes with another description of his purpose.  But the front don’t fuck it up, the electric shock of the organ sample feels like lightning shot from his soul.  Good work.

“Now back to our regular scheduled programme”.

He almost had me.

The record returns to pop with “Justify My Thug” and a dumb molestation of a Madonna song.  That and a Bill Haley like rock around the clock.  This track is just a fucking whine despite his declarations that he never felt sorry for himself.  Its so easy.  Shooting dogs, killing cats – that’s not cool.  And quit with the ringtone type frequencies.

Faltering at the finish “Allure” is the sound of a silly man being sensitive and sympathetic while more gunshot samples fire in the peripheral.  Is this work really a war zone?

The Black Album concludes with “My 1st Song” and some kind of offer of assurance.  The casual guitar decorating proceedings works against the rapid rhymes of more tainted confession.  He sure loves himself, how does he fit in Beyonce?  I guess with a shout out.

Jay-Z has said that this album marked an era.

I hate how the record has its Parental Advisory sticker on the sleeve, the actual artwork instead of wearing it as a sticker on the case.  Stuck and physically sealed its owned almost as a badge of honour.  Grow up like the only people supposedly allowed/entitled to purchase the piece.

This is an album designed to sell millions and little else.  Swag.

Thesaurus moment: something.

Monday, 22 November 2010



This is the dirty sound of sorrow.  I found the CD single in the bargain bin at Andy’s Records back in the day which feels an apt place to make such a discovery.

Royal Trux is a rare positive combination of indie rock and the blues.  The sadness feels vengeful not victim.  This is a hard act, not an easy fix.  There is no such thing as an easy fix.

“You’re Gonna Lose” comes saddled with sad notes.  Its delivery feels like an aftermath, like the quivering meander of a defeatist internal monologue echoing the message the world strikes us down with.  It does however offer space for the protagonist to switch/turn tables and be the one performing the scolding and dismantling of hopes.  In defence comes offence when an individual finds themselves cornered, not least when Jennifer Herrema emphasises “I’m talking to you”.

This is the sort of song you need in your pocket when you’re wounded.  As Herrema makes various statements and declarations she is immediately shot down by associated guitar licks which eventually override into vocal/verbal retorts from Neil Hagerty and the others.  It’s all about beating the individual down and bursting bubbles.  When JFK is mentioned it is with disillusion.  Then towards the end you can literally feel the effort that is put into the last large lick.  It’s a hard life.

On the other side the vibrant “Hibiscus” benefits from loose informal percussion and dense distortion in guitar accompanying the Herrema snarl before all breaks out into jam while a live version of “Hot And Cold Skulls” recorded by the BBC conjures up visions of burnt summer Saturday afternoons on the festival circuit.

Who knew we had it so good?

Thesaurus moment: mislay.

Saturday, 20 November 2010



At some point I thought all music would sound like this as we emerged head first into the 21st century.  This should be the sound that accompanies our new fresh sterile cities, way of life and existence in general.  I love this music, it doesn’t demand too much of my being and effort, which at the end of the day is much appreciated as already enough aspects of the world appear intent in tearing me apart.

The music of DJ Krush is minimal but pleasingly effective.  His way offers a very helpful and useful mental workout.  The drive is subtle but also explicitly intensive, helping to furnish and score any task or mindset.  It works on many levels slowing down systems while speeding up mental environments.  The repetition of the beats serves almost as some kind of ignition and pulse for manoeuvre.

This is the kind of music you would expect to exist in cool Tokyo basement clubs lit by neon appliance and attitude.  It expresses a motion and state of cool where time is not of the essence.  Where one track ends and another begins is true grey area.  Kakusei is a single piece of work best taken as a whole to streamline the chore of existence.  Often it ticks like a bomb as the results feel endless.  Whenever an album begins with “Intro” and ends with “Outro” you can be sure you are listening to a singular piece.  It follows a grand jazz tradition.

Turntablism heavily subscribes to the cut-up methodology made famous by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin which was later adopted and adapted by many electronic artists such as Scanner and Bomb The Bass.  In deconstruct DJ Krush achieves reconstruct.

As a constant/persistent beat flows through standing out are tracks such as “Deltaforest” which engages downbeat piano drops and frequency distortion as garnish and frill.  Later on “1200” smoky little jazz inserts cater a heavenly tone/feel while it is on tracks such as “Crimson” and “85 Loop” where the beat is felt hardest.  Later less subtle is the flowing saxophone and orchestra strings of “The Dawn”.  Eventually it is “Final Home” where folding train samples and the drums of distant movement offer most urban suffocation.

A Slow moving vehicle.

Thesaurus moment: abatement.

Thursday, 18 November 2010



This is a painful and legendary live album for all the wrong reasons.  In many ways this is the sound of a band committing career suicide as they opened for Nine Inch Nails at London’s roughest mainstream venue.  As the story goes the set came at the end of a very long, exhausting and draining tour.  This was their final night and all they could do was make a statement of how they were feeling and transfer the state onto the audience.  Sure this was a belligerent thing to be doing but sometimes it is all you have, all you feel like do and cannot help but feel a certain degree of contempt to your situation and those around you.  Had I been there at the gig I may have felt anger and disappointment but taken as a historical piece/recording this is truly an amazing piece of work, truly uncompromising and in the same league as Metal Machine Music as a polarising gesture and release.

Right now this is my number one album to annoy my neighbours with.  I do not derive an inch of enjoyment from listening to the disc, its all about the sonic and noise pollution, about freaking people out and making them feel miserable and uncomfortable.  People do such things in everyday life using a variety of measures and methods, I just happen to play really horrible sounding “music”.  You can’t spell “antisocial” without spelling “social”.

Ultimately I guess this release is mainly about cutting off your nose to spite your face, to express you current emotional state using an element of sacrifice that contorts the listener to a state of unknowing voyeur.

That’s twenty six minutes and forty seven seconds of my life I won’t be seeing again.

Go fuck yourself.

Thesaurus moment: hate.

Digital Hardcore Recordings

Sunday, 14 November 2010



I used to know a fat girl from Manchester who was obsessed with this band, she bordered on wanting to have the lead singer’s babies.  Later she would jump a member of a different band from Nottingham and cause concern of unleashing an STD in Leicester.  Rumour was that the sleeping bag that they shared had to be burned (had to be destroyed).  She then got a job in a bank, lost the weight and reeled out a pretty decent and impressive set of Facebook photos.  In other words she grew up and left childish things such as Braid behind.

Braid were emo before emo turned silly, went goth and got silly haircuts.  That said beneath the exterior it would seem attitudes were much the same.  Don’t cry.

“I’m Afraid Of Everything” is a terrible song title and sentiment to unleash on the world.  And then the fuckers place the song in the middle of a three song release.  It’s the meat in an emo burger.  Not to worry though as to large extent all three songs on this release sound the same.

So why am I giving this release such a hard time?  I guess for me it just represents a really bad time in my music education, a moment when people were insistent that this was some kind of pinnacle and peak in playing.

I whine but I’m not proud of it.  I don’t record music about it.  Occasionally I’ll write about it but the key element is that I will sprinkle it with a heavy dose of humour whereas this kind of earnest display of emotion seems to lack such abandon and humility.

Poor old Braid, it’s not their fault.

Thesaurus moment: wet.

Thursday, 11 November 2010



For their fifth studio album Liars have bounced back with a fangled array of weaponry.  After a few diversions and distractions they are now back to their art-punk funk fresh.  Here is an act with Butthole Surfers tones with a death rattle now exercising a Beck like slacker vibe.  Or rather in their own words: “acting awkward, clumsy, uncoordinated.”

Being Australian in New York must be a strange thing.  Your accent already makes you stand out but when it’s served from a frame that towers above the herd as from a distance you look like the car crash combination of Gibby Haynes and Luke Skywalker, there truly needs to be method in your madness.  Angus Andrew lives up to that old adage: never trust a man with two first names.

Liars is a band that bonded over a love and appreciation for acts such as PIL and Gang Of Four which is an appreciation that has always seeped through in their most majestic moments.  Then their playfulness and general dishonesty, as derived from their moniker, has caused complication and annoyance.  This is an act that appears to take glee in toying with its listeners/audience.

Sisterworld is a subtle and jerky offering.  What kind of sick and twisted sphere is this?  For extended periods it is sedate as the creepy warm vocals of Angus insinuate the awful.  As with all good things, it’s not an easy listen coming with a drunk, menacing emerge.  Indeed tracks such as “Here Comes All The People” are downright horror movie paranoid.  Then there is the cult like chants of “I Still Can See An Outside World” which prompts the question: from where?  Ultimately it is a frustrating listen as a slow moving vehicle that often requests too much patience in the listener.  In other words, it is selfish.

Sometimes the new direction works as with the Krautrock of “Proud Evolution” and the near trip hop swaying swings and pulse on “No Barrier Fun” but it’s the destruction and devastation that you just want so much more.  A track like “Drip” just goes in one ear and out the other.

The high times prove few and far between.  “The Overachievers” stands out with its crazy motoring surf guitar haunted house ride sound while “Scarecrows On A Killer Slant” supplies the sound of bubbly and bouncing slaughter and Manson like delights.  It all begs the question: who are these people out to get?

I don’t know, exiting I am just left with the impression that here is a band that thinks they’re being smarter than they actually are.

Thesaurus moment: forestall.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010



This was a highly anticipated single.  When it arrived Pavement were now solidly established as favourites in indie rock minds with a penchant for American noise.

It begins with what sounds like a horse rearing or an elephant screaming ahead of the beast abating and bouncing on a bum note.  Pavement guitars always sound like none other.

Like an eager beaver I bought this on both seven inch and CD single.  My memory recollects that this was one of the last big releases to appear on the Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley Radio One Graveyard Shift before their career spiked and briefly went into a weird oblivion.  The same could possibly have been said for Pavement at the time as soon Blur (and specifically Graham Coxon) discovered American lo-fi gave their profile a genuine mainstream push.  From here each time Pavement toured the UK they did bigger venues as people that you didn’t want liking Pavement suddenly liked Pavement.  They were on the stereo.  And for some reason my CD single version always faltered.  There was too much dust on the lens.

On this song the band sounds very confident and knowing.  Both musically and lyrically the unit has tapped into what it likes and the results are expert.  Magnificently the words are both matter of fact and memorable.  There is even room for a little conversational call and response.  It’s a song that will always supply a smile.

Moving on “Westie Can Drum” emerges prodding with almost rap vocals.  It runs a bit like “Coffee & TV” by Blur eventually becoming an extended wonky work out that ends in screaming.  “Winner Of The” in contrast offers an upbeat plod that sounds like conversation in its weird harmonies while remaining classic Pavement.

One of their best singles ever.

Thesaurus moment: oil.