Sunday, February 29, 2004

The Observer go wild forThe Fiery Furnaces. And why not?

Friday, February 27, 2004

Splendid stuff from The Onion this week:
If Al-Qaeda Had A Hockey Team, We'd Kick Its Ass!

And everyone's favourite stoner, Jim Anchower aka The Cruise, is back...fuckin' a.

holy fucking shit!

Bloody hell, rockcritics daily have picked up on my rockism post. We're famous! Shame some of my other posts are a bit iffy (my Parisian ramble springs to mind). That said, if there are any influential people reading, don't hesitate to check out "stuff wot I wrote". Have I no shame?

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Thursday, February 26, 2004

Getting more and more excited about Brian Wilson's Smile

Interesting to note that the "Beach Boys" are touring later in the year, visiting many of the same venues as Brian Wilson. As Mike "Fucking asshole" Love bought the band name a few years back he can bill his tribute act as the real thing, when it's simply him, Bruce Johnson (I've no beef with him: he wrote Disney Girls and has provided many hours of amusement thanks to his uncanny resemblence to Melvynn Bragg) and some hired hands. But it's kinda like Ringo going on tour with his mates and calling it the Beatles. And at least Ringo is a nice guy and a talented musician...

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Fiery Furnaces were terrific at King Tut's on Saturday. Eleanor Friedberger is a real cool frontwoman - poised and charismatic without having to resort to rock chick cliche (hello Brody!). She spins out surreal yarns about the King of Spain and the Millenium Dome while brother Matt grooves behind his organ or fires off hot scrappy guitar licks. Plenty of Moog too. There was a glut of strong new material, while the songs we know and love were given a new vitality.
On Sunday I attended Brian Irvine's Filmworks at the Tolbooth in Stirling where the fruits of a week long project where six budding composers worked with the big man to produce soundtracks for short films were unveiled. Impressive results - review for the day job and Brian Irvine feature for IFS coming up...

And another thing...Just over a week until Brian Wilson performs Smile in Glasgow. I'll be there, can't wait. Won-won-wonderful news: the completed Smile album is now slated for an autumn release.
Do you like worms?

Monday, February 23, 2004

It's the biggest thing in music blog land. So big the word has been registered on Google. Yes, yes y'all, we're talking about ROCKISM Thanks to the efforts of, a whole bunch of articles with references to rockism can be read here.
This whole rockism thing is more than an internet in-joke. In fact, it's sparking off a classic and much needed debate on the nature of popular music criticism. The ever-astute Simon Reynolds makes some particularly good points on his superb blissblog. He discusses how popists such as Paul Morley use a great, colourful and sexy pop moment such as Kylie's Can't get you out of my head as a club to bash dour rockists. All good fun, but do we really need to take sides, Reynolds asks. Damn straight.
Rock crit daily also lists an article on how Common and the Roots are not at all innovative, but rockist. I.E. they compromise hip-hop by approaching it like 70s rockers did, making "serious", conceptual albums. Humourless and preachy, lacking fire and funk. I got over the indie backbacker thing when I realised how dull most of it is - the same old jazz breaks, the same old rhetoric about the "elements" and respecting hip-hop tradition. But as with any musical genre, trying to preserve styles in aspic only stifles creativity. There was a split in backpacker circles when El-P et al arrived. Those offended by Company Flow's still startling 'End to End Burners' (undoubtedly one of the greatest hip-hop 12"s ever - the relentless abstract churn of that distorted sample, the disturbing lyrics and vicious scratching...oh man!) were like the hip-hop equivalent of old hippies dismayed at punk, or to be more apt, rockist Pistols fans gaping in horror at the dubbed out grooves and angularity of PIL.
And when the mainstream can produce greatness in the form of Outkast and Timbaland et al, the validity of the whole indie rap purism thang crumbled for me. All these stoned guys nodding along to the latest DJ Premier (although, to be fair, on form Premier is great cf. Nas's Illmatic) seemed to forget how funky and colourful all the old-skool guys they claimed to be keeping the flame for were.
Anyway, I'm going on a bit, and I've got articles which I'll actually get paid for to write. Oh, and I have used the word "rockist" in a review before, long before it became a blog buzzword. Attempting to reappraise Neil Young's electro-folly Trans, I queried whether its infamy was simply a knee-jerk reaction by Ol' Shakey's more rockist fans. I wrote this for the first Beard but held it back. A revised version shall appear in issue two, however. Whenever that comes out...

Got to get it in your bowl...

I was listening to Mingus's Ah-Um yesterday. Absolutely incredible. Here are the great man's tips on how to toilet train your cat. This is for real, I shit you not.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Is This Music? #9 out now. There are some reviews by my bad self, but don't let that put you off, cos there are features on Franz Ferdinand, the Magnificents and Future Pilot AKA. Excellent free CD too. Click the ITM? link to the left to find out more.

Shitty ol' Brits

I suppose I shouldn't have expected much, but this year's Brits were dull as Milton Keynes ditchwater.
The overall tone of blandness was established from the start, with Cat Deeley trying to be all Kylie-sexy stradling a giant champagne bottle, but coming across like a holiday rep with highly paid stylists. "The booze is back!" she grinned, but the following two hours remained more subdued than a Christian Union disco. What's happened to Cat Deeley? Has she had a lobotomy? Back in the days of Chums and SMTV she was a sweet and funny foil to idiot man-boys Ant and Dec. Hardly Lucille Ball, but more likeable than her dead-eyed, cooing self.
Andre 3000 stole the show effortlessly, jigging about in his skeleton costume to Hey Ya. Shame it was curtailed for a perfunctory Beyonce performance featuring an entirely lame attempt at cheeky Benny Hill goes to Brixton humour, whereby a buff young man in a dirty mac flashes Beyonce to reveal Union Jack boxers. As he shook his thang, his manhood quite clearly rose and fell beneath the cloth. Beyonce actually looked a little shocked. Fair enough. It was awfully badly judged - a blatantly staged attempt to raise a Janet nipplegate style brouhaha in the tabloids.
Alleged "jazz" musicians Jamie Cullum and Katie Melua teamed up for a duet. As is wont to happen in these awards show pairings, the individual artists fight for attention, rather than do a real duet. The utter lack of chemistry wasn't helped by the fact they could barely see each other - JC was at his piano and KM right up front. Her weedy voice was no match for Cullum's graceless mugging or the parping horn section. This had more in common with weak tea than jazz.
Talking of weak tea...Dido! Need I say more?
Wack version of Kiss, with none of the sass and slinkiness of Prince's original, starring Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefani and Missy. Much as I love Missy, I can't pretend she was any good. Fluffing inane lyrics, making yet another tiresome reference to her buddy Michael Jackson...c'mon girl, work it.
As for Duran cunting Duran...I can't believe some people are trying to pretend their ridiculous, preening, coke sprinkled ouvre represents great British pop music. It's clear the Brits are running out of potential lifetime achievement candidates. It's almost got to the stage where - heaven forbid - they might give it to someone on merit rather than record sales. Someone like John Cale, Robert Wyatt, Elvis Costello, Kate Bush...
What the fuck???!!! moment of the night was Lemar winning best UK urban. What, over Dizee Rascall or even Amy Winehouse? You could see the daggers launching from Ms Winehouse's eyes when the camera briefly cut to her. And who could blame her? I'm not a great fan, but at least she seems to have a personality. As Lemar made the most dull of the evenings many dull thankyou-to-my-manager-producer-mum-god-biggie-Jordan speeches, presenters N.E.R.D, particularly a toothpick-chewing Chad Hugo, looked bored to tears and not a little peeved. They know Dizzee is the boy. I mean, he's old school like Happy Shopper.
Another year, another boring Brits. Oy vey.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Chicken, chicken, marry my mouth

Excellent weekend in Aberdeen where I caught up with Uni pals and was persuaded to spend cash money on records by the staff of the Cavern, Belmont Street's superb vinyl basement. Damned good records, though - Townes Van Zandt's first, which includes the absolutely stunning For the Sake of the Song and Waitin' Around to Die, not to mention Be There To love me, as covered by Norah Jones, who surely couldn't do it justice. Also got Gene Clark's Roadmaster. Lovely stuff.
Also saw Explosions in the Sky hanging around the morning after their gig, which, unfortunately, I only realised was on too late (Instead I went to horrible rock club Moshula and got royally drunk with my good friend Hugh before eating foul curry and chips and waking up with my mouth stained yellow - a good night then).
But highlight of the trip was catching the Granite City's finest garage-punkers, King Liar & the Brutes at the Lemon Tree. Headlining over much fancied, but quite painful classically influenced indie bods Cayto (or is that [cayto] or [wank]?), King Liar were highly entertaining. With his gold cape, massive crucifix and gravity defying quiff, Project S.A.M. is a great showman, who rides on the neanderthal power of his band. Ferocious guitars and rinky dink organ make ditties like 'Ghost Cop in my House' and the inspired 'Chicken chicken, marry my mouth' the best silly punk songs you've heard in a long time.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

The Grey Album

DownloadDanger Mouse's Grey Album - a Jay Z/Beatles bootleg mix - from before EMI shut it all down!

Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Here's a feature I wrote with Mark Robertson with Coldplay's boring bassist for the Sunday Herald. Mark did his best with the interview, but bassist bloke just wouldn't give up any goss on Gwyneth. The sub-heading says it all: "not the furious rollercoaster ride you might have expected."
Not one of my best, but that's my fault for being hungover when I wrote it. Us journos - crazy huh?

Monday, February 09, 2004

John Kerry's Record: One You Can Dance To (

Frankenstein's monster lookalike and Democrat presidential frontrunner John Kerry's garage rock past He'd get my vote, if I was American.

This Charmless Man: the genius of Larry David

Here's a good article by Joy Press on America's greatest comedy show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. We'll have to wait a while for season four over here, but it sounds genius. So read it, Larry, you bald fuck!

And while you're at it, here's Clark Collis (remember him from Select back in the day?) reviewing Curb Season 1 on DVD. Let's hope it gets a region 2 release.
This one's from Blender, Felix Dennis's Maxim-as-music-mag venture soon to launch over here. It's a shame about all the lad-mag crap and glistening hotties 'cos it's picked up some of the best British writers (various ex-Q and Select chappies) and is pretty lively without being NME-dumb.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Merci les musiciens

With the Evening Time's most promising young photographer, Kieran Dodds, in tow (actually, it should really be the other way round) I went off to Paris two weekends ago to work on a feature about musicians in Metro stations. Kieran came up with the idea, booked cheap flights, and organised an interview with the man who auditions and looks after all the accredited Metro performers. His photos are fantastic. What a star.
Our friend Simon acted as translator at the interview, which was just as well, as I only got a C for Higher French. And that was about 7 years ago.
So we've got some pics, an interview with the main man, contact numbers for musicians and an invite to the auditions in March, where I can do my reportage thang. We're pitching it to the Herald magazine, so let's hope they like it and pay for our next trip (ha ha!).
I managed to fit trips to the Pompidou Centre and Musee D'Orsay in. And I'm really glad I did. The Pompidou is an incredible place, with its inside-out structure and colour coded pipes winding around. The modern art gallery inside is quite simply the best of its kind I've been to. It's shamelessly intellectual but playful too. If you want a crash course in 20th century art it's peerless. You can see how Cubism evolved, with Picasso and Braque breaking down form and using multiple perspectives, or how abstract art developed through Kadinsky to Pollock.
And there's all manner of playful recent stuff: a room lined with rolls of grey carpet and a solitary grand piano in the corner; a short film called Lasoe where a girl watches an oblivious boy practicing his rope tricks; a canopy of amber glass lampshades; right back to Duchamp's readymades, urinal and all.
Orsay was almost too much - even the most casual art lover would recognise at least one painting per room. Monet, oodles of Degas, Van Goch, Renoir (dance at rue Gallette with the handsome boy getting all the attention from the girls and his geeky mates trying to look like they're part of the conversation) and Whistler's Mother, which really is wonderful.
As you can tell, I'm no art expert, but, hey, I had fun.