There is a scene in this towards the end, which I can't find on YouTube, of Albert Finney eating a bacon sandwich. The camera stays fixed on a single chew for about two or three minutes -- it's a big mouthful, and these are thick hearty slices of bread that his divorced missus (Billie Whitelaw, wonderfully stern) has made him, and he's just masticating away, and away, and it even follows through to him "cleaning" out his back teeth with the tongue for sticky bits of granary and bacon rind
Other good scenes are the depressing visit with his 9 year old son to Old Trafford to watch a football match... Bubbles, being a celebrity bestselling novelist on a return back home to North, gets them a director's box, bird's eye view, but of course it's remote and insulated from the crowd fervour of the stands, which is where the boy would rather be...
well that is weird, in the few minutes since i started writing this post and now, the two Youtubes i was going to post from the film -- the infamous sex scene and Liza Minelli and Albert Finney arriving in his Northern hometown -- have disappeared! Very odd.
Worth Netflixing or recording next time it pops up cable though.
"Oasis is an entity that is to do with Liam and Noel," agrees Bell, the mild-mannered former Ride guitarist who, like Archer, joined Oasis in 1999. "It was much better to go, 'Right – new band, new songs.'"
After a summer spent recording with producer Steve Lillywhite, the result is Beady Eye's debut album, Different Gear, Still Speeding. It is, predictably enough, a rock'n'roll album in thrall to the Stones, the La's – an old band of Sharrock's – and, of course, the Beatles. What's more surprising, given that Noel Gallagher was widely regarded as Oasis's only songwriting talent (and then as a diminishing one), is that it's quite good.
That's not to say it's a masterpiece. There are moments of toe-curling banality, but there are some fresh and impressive songs, too. If you didn't like Oasis, Different Gear, Still Speeding won't convert you. But if you found anything to enjoy in their last few records, it will be a treat.
If it had been an Oasis record, that band's fiercely loyal fanbase would presumably have already done the preordering necessary to have made it their eighth consecutive No 1 album. But success for Beady Eye isn't so assured. The band's first proper single, The Roller, stumbled into the charts at No 31 last month – not the ideal result for a singer who enjoyed 22 consecutive top 10 hits with Oasis.
"You'd prefer it to go in at No 1, wouldn't you?" shrugs Gallagher. "But it didn't happen."
(Stuff too tethered to the social wouldn't allow him to write in the edge-of-abstraction way he likes, see).
Still, seeing as I did like quite a bit of IDM (back when it was called electronic listening music) I find this good intricate stuff to listen to on your computer.
These sounds that "Like a G6" and the other songs here are built out of have been with us for 20, 30 years now. Hence my analogy with ZZ Top taking the blues and snazzing up it into gritless, sequencer-slick modernity. Far East Movement rock that 808 like Robert Cray rocked a 1958 Stratocaster. It will always sound good but it doesn't resonate like it did in its own time.
Interesting discussion recently at Dissensus (starting around about this page ) on whether funky had passed its peak. I couldn't help wondering what that peak had been and whether anyone had actually noticed. Consider the facts with a cold clear eye: this is the first continuum genre not to have made any impression on the U.K. charts. The first major nuum-phase not to spawn any overseas transplant scenes (any play that funky tracks have received will have been through dubstep deejays having a dabble). Drum'n'bass and dubstep went internatty big style; 2-step and even grime had small but fervent followings in major cities in non-U.K. territories, with DJs and MCs brought over to perform, with compilations and domestic releases of albums, and strong critical interest. I understand there are barely any funky releases domestically in the U.K.
For sure, the conditions are different now in some ways, with the economics of putting out vinyl. But equally the conditions are different now in ways that ought to serve a hot new sound well, in terms of the potential dissemination across the globe via the web. If a sound has something going for it, it will spread like wildfire. Locality no longer holds things back. But parochialism does, and with funky the just-4-U--London fine-tuning of appeal to a specific demographic's tastes, once so potent a cultural engine, seems to have become self-defeating. The desire for something-to-call-our-own has resulted in determinedly niche-appeal mutant of tracky house that makes occasional half-assed gestures towards pop and songfulness and Big Voices... a sound that keeps being tugged back to that nuum zone-of-preference (rough-hewn jagged beats + MCs) only to veer away again for fear of becoming grime Mark 2...
As a natives-only mutation of faceless housy bollocks with odd-angled beats, though, it's pretty exciting. Heard on a proper CD rather than a pirate-set-turned-into-low-grade-MP3, and played over a proper stereo rather than through the computer, these beats really bang. Owing to the fact that there's no Anglophiles transplanted funky scene in either NYC or LA (cities full of trend-chasing Anglophiles) I can only imagine how powerful they sound in a club.
Amazing to see all these bloggers becoming musicians-with-profile.
Classic example of Reviewer's Lag, a/k/a pent-up love releasing itself on the record that isn't quite in the same league as the earlier one that forged the bond. Good, though.
Demdike Stare, it has to be said, lean to the hauntological side of things. Just a bit. How hauntological are Demdike Stare? As hauntological as a dog-eared and yellowing 1971 paperback of The Owl Service protruding out of the pocket of Jim Jupp's corduroy trousers. As hauntological as a frosty winter evening spent round Baron Mordant's gaff watching faded VHS recordings of The Stone Tape and The Changes while sipping on a steaming mug of Bovril.
Truth to tell, Demdike Stare are ruddy hauntological. They couldn't really be more hauntological if they assembled their records following the guidelines in a booklet issued by the British Hauntological Council. Demdike Stare are hauntological by day. Hauntological by night. Hauntological at work. Hauntological at play.
Demdike Stare are hauntological and I claim my ten shillings in the old money.
No, but seriously, the way Demdike tick all the boxes--Wickerman/crate-digging/soundtracks/sampling/paganAlbion/library/Radiophonics/"we look back in order to go forward"/"lost futures"--is so thorough, it verges on the conscientious... I mean, if they didn't intentionally set out to occupy the thin strip of land between Belbury Poly and Shackleton then ... it's pretty fucking freaky how they've ended up exactly in that small spot
Their music has this spooky effecton young journalists, it casts this spell that makes them uncontrollably go on about the process of "unearthing old recordings and reanimating them in new shapes" carrying with it "an intrinsically arcane power; by passing the phantoms trapped in these records through a modern lens, Whittaker and Canty resurrect and re-contextualise the ghosts of the past".
I mean to say... it all sounds... a bit... hauntological, don't you think?
"Don't pigeonhole us...", "moving between genres", "we don't believe in categories", yeah yeah yeah ... . but you've pigeonholed yourselves. You've walked right up to the pigeonhole and squeezed your whole bodies right inside it, with barely a toe poking out.
But for all that I find their records perfectly pleasant listening--after all, they certainly do push all the right buttons!
After last year's triumphs, a low profile year for the haunty man dem, even as they've been fairly busy. And this tidy lot is just the first batch of H-ological matter in this run-down, hang on for the best bits.
The clanking nu-techno on this terrific compilation reminded me a little of the kind of stuff that Herbert pulled together on his great Let's All Make Mistakes mix-CD for Tresor a decade ago. As it turns out there's a Herbert-like aspect to the project: environmental sounds and ambiences from the club Berghain during its non-open hours were recorded and provided to the artists to weave into their productions anyway they wished, which may account for the vibe-y quality of these ascetic but atmospheric tracks.
There is something symptomatically recursive about dance culture in the new millennium: the way that all these figures you'd half-forgotten are popping up again, careers reactivated... Zed Bias... Horsepower Productions... And here' s Terror with his debut album, every bit as brilliant as you'd expect, yet in another sense suffering in some obscure way for being four or five late. Except that's to think with the old, no-longer-applies temporality, the one that described a world where you could actually discern a Way Forward (and which accordingly meant that major talents got jettisoned along the way ). Who's next for a comeback? Dem 2, I hope. Or New Horizons.
Funny how it all fizzled out for Die Antwoord, they didn't seize their interweb moment quickly enough. This sounds inevitably flat after the event but what still compels is the musicality, the harsh, grating vocal timbre and the slick quick flows braiding with an effect redolent of Eminem at his most fluently obnoxious.
(Postscript: re. the end of year polls, thought it was REALLY CHICKENSHIT of all the journos and bloggers who really made a big fuss about Die Antwoord earlier in the year but then didn't mention them in their End of Years polls. You know who you are.)
Overloaded, dazzling guitars, golden hordes, probing, indolently marauding basslines.... There's late Can in here, and a sort of woozy, On The Corner via War & Cymande swamp-funk, but I'm also getting, and I'm fairly certain it's a coincidence, a whiff of baggy off this.... the side of the baggy that came out Happy Mondays when they got late-Can-y, or Stone Roses's "Fool Gold" and even more "Something's Burning" the great if indulgent flipside to the disappointing "One Love". And then maybe even moments on Cope's Peggy Suicide, when he copped a bit of a baggy feel under the wah-wah geetar.
Few bands have devalued their brand like Faust, that unstaunchable seep of albums through the 90s and 00s, such that the idea of listening to a Faust record (even the 70s divine tetralogy) seemed tedious beyond belief. but for some reason I listened to this--i think someone of reliable opinion had opined that it was surprisingly bloody good--and fuck me if it's not surprisingly bloody good. stupendously good, Faust in their blasting rock-out mode like nothing since the second side of Faust IV, that patch of Stooges-meets-Groundhogs kosmik blues-punk but actually benefiting from modern production in terms of immensity and attack. If this is their last blast, then assuredly they did go out in heroic style.
His best yet I think.
Suburban Tours is Hypnagogic Pop indeedy. The whole concept to do with American suburbia and its odd relationship with nature. I got into it when we were in New York in the months before moving to LA and it's almost as if subconsciously preparing for the move to Southern California. There's moments where it sounds like Dif Juz meets the soundtrack to Gregory's Girl with a bit of Rush's "Subdivisions" in there as well. Some really great playing underneath the gtr FX/reverb smog. Rangers man Joe Knight said something in the Wire to the effect that he was going for a "numb, glazed, vacant" vibe--that's not an exact quote--and I would say he has succeeded amply. But there is definitely emotion in there, kinda suppressed or felt through heavy sedation. My favourite of the year, I think.
but you know, credit where due, Dam Funk has apparently done a record with Steve Arrington, which is thoroughly laudable, in so far as Arrington's first couple of solo records were great (a David Stubbs favourite back when he was a deejay) and Slave, the band he was in, were a major funk force, actually popular, lots of hits on the Billboard R&B charts
But the distortions of hipster culture are such that many of the people who will rally to this desperately minor release by Mr Phelps will never have heard, oooh, SOS Band, or Vicki D, or Loose Ends, or Heatwave or Rick James's Cold Blooded -- it's quite possible none of them will ever have bothered to hear an Earth Wind and Fire or Stevie Wonder album
such mainstream black pop records will never achieve hipster currency because they were too successful... too many copies of them exist in the world to become rare... but on every level they trounce the obscurer-than-thou stuff.... just as with most minimal synth you'd be better off listening to Soft Cell, most cosmic analogue obscurities you'd be better off with a Jean-Michel Jarre LP, and so on....
but in this particular instance judge for yourself
[2001, fragment prefacing an essay with the working title "$7000 Please"]
If you could sum up the history of rock in three words, they might be: white on black. Three words that could be shorthand for a number of interconnected syndromes: white folks dependent/parasitic ON black innovation/expression; whites getting off and getting high ON black edge/style/passion, a vicarious and voyeuristic buzz; whiteness superimposed ON blackness and resulting in grey, neither-one-thing-nor-the-other crossover material (blue-eyed soul, lite jazz, etc). There are other crucial prisms through which rock history can be examined, of course--gender, technology, drugs, class, the struggle between margins and mainstream.... But the white-on-black narrative has many claims to being the single most defining aspect of rock, indeed of 20th Century popular music: jitterbugs going jazz-crazy, the teenage Elvis sneaking off to the wrong parts of Memphis, the Rolling Stones's exaggeration of the hypermasculine wordliness of blues singers like Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, the recently revealed fact that an astonishing 70 percent of today's hip hop album sales are to white kids, the fact that today's teenpop explosion is based around whiter-than-white girl-divas and male harmony groups whose vocal melisma and dance moves are all utterly imitative of R&B songs and "urban" music videos.
The conventional wisdom--the VH1/Rolling Stone Encyclopaedia version--is that the white fascination for blackness is a one-way romance, unrequited and unreciprocated. This is not entirely true. The cross-town traffic has occasionally run the other way: Miles Davis grooving on Stockhausen in the early Seventies, and later, bizarrely, admiring pallid Anglo popsters Nik Kershaw and Scritti Politti; George Clinton describing the Beatles as his favorite band; Prince worshipping Joni Mitchell; rappers from Ice T to Chuck D who are heavy metal fans. There are doubtless black people out there who own Huey Lewis & the News and albums, or even records by Shania Twain and Garth Brooks. Mostly, though, when we start using all those words that begin with the prefix "mis-"--words like miscegenation, misunderstanding, misappropriation, misrecognition --we're talking about white infatuation with black expression and black style; about white youth's desire, if not to be "down" with blackness, at least to get a taste of the Other.
The other half of this syndrome is less talked about: what you might call "black flight," a response to white appropriation or white interest that involves the reinvention of "blackness," a continual process of abandoning styles and moving to new terrain. In fact, one way of understanding the racial dimensions of pop history is seeing the eternal return of a kind of win/win situation. Whites respond to black innovation, get it "wrong," and create something new; blacks abandon the co-opted style and create something new, something they hope whites won't understand or feel. This tense racial dynamic might be the single most vital motor of change in pop history, rivalled only by technological shifts.
The "getting it wrong/creative misrecognition" phenomenon---the Rolling Stones being an obvious example---is not the only way that white musicians engage with black music. Just as common is the purist, conservative stance---the white musician who diligently and respectfully applying himself to the task of "getting it right" down to the tiniest detail: blues scholars like Eric Clapton, Paul Butterfield, Stevie Ray Vaughan, blue-eyed soul serenaders like Boz Scaggs and Michael Bolton. Often these purists become curators of a black style that has long since been vacated by your actual genuine black people. You can even get the bizarre phenomenon where white artists are praised by black critics for lovingly preserving an art that its black audience has callously left for dead. e.g. Nelson George paying tribute in his book The Death of Rhythm & Blues to singers like George Michael, Phil Collins and Paul Young, and arguing that these British singers cherish soul more, and even understand its spirit better, than black Americans.
The thing about the purist approach, though, is that the undeviating faithfulness to a particular, past version of "what real black music is" invariably leads its practioners to being outflanked by black pop's mutational and protean onrush. The result is that the purists end up in the ludicrous position of being perplexed by a contemporary black music that isn't "black" enough. Usually code words like "funk" or "swing" or "soul" are used to refer to this lamentable absence, or qualities like "grit" or "warmth."
For instance, a whole generation of British "soul boys" were totally thrown off by Black America's passion for the stiff machine rhythms and cool Teutonic melodies of Kraftwerk, resulting in the "funkless", "soul-less" sound of electro. In the early Eighties a bunch of Blues & Soul writers formed an anti-electro organisation called LADS--League Against Disco Shit. Any rhetoric that positions the musician as restoring some vital intangible that is felt to be departed or depleted usually contains the following implicit subtext; "black people, what went wrong with their ears?" You can see it in the laments for the old skool spirit of hip hop vis-a-vis current thugged-out gangsta rap, or people who disdain contemporary dancehall reggae and mourn the lost spirituality of Seventies roots reggae.
The "faithful" white adherent to a black form often seems to be striving to be the one white guy who gets it right, who truly understands, who comes correct. To me, this pursuit of authenticity is a futile and foredoomed struggle: self-effacing to the point of self-erasure, it's essentially inauthentic, because you're not allowing your own identity politics to refract the influences. It's similar to Harold Bloom's literary theory of the anxiety of influence, in which the "strong poet" is the one with the most anxiety, because he engages in a titanic agon with the genius precursor, goaded by his terror that nothing new can be done with literature and that he will be unable to find his own voice. The weak poet, by comparison, is simply inundated by the predecessor's vision and carries on in its tradition. Lacking that vital anxiety-of-influence, that Oedipal drive to slay the father and beget oneself, he is comfortable about speaking another's language...
1/ the internet is an engine for the ephemeralisation of culture / discourse
"onwardness" again: always the next, the next, the next
i am also convinced that words on a screen do not sink into your brain with the same penetrative depth as words on paper
now this amnesiac syndrome might be an effect of the general pan-cultural imperatives towards time crunch/distraction/onwardness
but i dunno, it really feels like screen-text does not make the same kind of mental imprint on the brain as words that have been printed, pressed physically upon, a paper page did, and still do in fact
see i can remember record reviews and features in music papers from 20 or 30 years ago, vividly, in some cases actual sentences or half-paragraphs, also the layout with the illustration... along with the overall impact they had on me
now, granted,i was more impressionable then, more of a tabula rasa... less mentally crowded and cluttered
but still, i can remember magazine articles from later too, the 90s, even some in the 200s, with an approaching equivalent intensity, and this would have been long after the passing of my impressionable stage, if still perfectly capable of being impressed...
now i do also remember certain blog posts from the early years of blogmania, i.e. the first several years of the Noughties... not as vividly as magazine and newspaper pieces.... but there were favourite posts, and then Event Posts that stirred up debate
but from the last several years or so, though, it's all blurry... this might be a side effect of the fact that there is just so much discourse to sift through (meaning that you do in fact skim or glance at it most of it).... that it enters your mind thinly, because you are spread thin
but i don't think so actually
and then twitter -- does anyone remember a tweet for longer than a day or two? In most cases, a tweet will be lucky to lodge in someone's brain for more than a few minutes. The format has remorselessly rapid mental obsolescence in-built to it,
it's a great shame that twitter has proved to be such a brain drain in terms of the blog scene -- it's totally obvious why it would have such potent rival appeal... it offers all the ego-boost/connectivity buzz-satisfactions of blogging but in much more instant-response and quick-hit form, with a continuousness and relentless onwardness that is literally irresistible (so i imagine: i'm not on it, not yet).... and with much less effort required...
but the result has been a haemorhaging of mental energy away from more substantial and sustained work.... i sense (and mourn) the phantom existence of all those potentially great blogpieces that were never finished or more likely never started.... or just frittered (twittered) away in endless micro-apercus, wisecracks and passing observations... the seed of longer, stronger thoughts spilled onto the digi-wasteland... never allowed to reach full fruition
2/ connectivity is the enemy of collectivity
well i was going to write that, but of course we have the role of social media in Egypt, in the student protests in the UK, even that rave that was pulled off right in the centre of London, near the British Museum...
but crucially, the point is that the social media can only be ancillary
to actually challenge anything, collectivity had to assemble itself in a place, it had to take (to) the streets
collectivity requires real time and physical space, in other words
BANK ROBBER MUSIC AND DEUTSCH LA TEAM UP WITH VOLKSWAGEN
FOR SUPER BOWL AD CAMPAIGN
JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION RECORDS "BLACK BETTY"
VERSION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY BEETLE
Bank Robber Music and Deutsch LA are proud to announce that the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion will be the music behind Volkswagen's new 21st Century Beetle ad campaign. The band recorded a version of the blues classic "Black Betty" for the spot. The :30 second spot will be premiering during Super Bowl XLV this Sunday.
"Deutsch was working with Volkswagen and contacted me, wanting to get a bunch of bands to cover 'Black Betty,'" said Bank Robber Music's Lyle Hysen. "If one band is going to do this song and get it right for the 21st century, it's going to be The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion."
To view the ad, click HERE
In "Black Beetle," the first spot for The 21st Century Beetle, cutting-edge CGI creative goes etymological, creating a photo-real lush kingdom where the Black Beetle rules, runs, navigates and out performs all the other creatures. The ad is an homage to some of the greatest car chase scenes in the history of film and TV. With the fast- paced and explosive "Black Betty," the Beetle ad revs to life even though it does not feature any actual images of the car, a bold move for any automotive brand. The iconic shape of the Beetle and its performance attributes are prominently showcased in the spot, further building anticipation of the reveal.
The ad will also have an extension that will live beyond the game. Immediately following the Super Bowl, Volkswagen will execute a digital and social media campaign, including an ESPN mobile takeover, VW.com blog, and Facebook activations, as well as a YouTube homepage takeover for the recently launched walk-around webisodes "Inside the VW Academy."
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion recently released an anthology of the band called Dirty Shirt Rock 'N' Roll, The First Ten Years as well as four double discs comprising all the band's material from 1993 - 1998 on Majordomo via Shout Factory Records