Saturday, April 24, 2004

Product and Plan B

Update: Is This Music? is out now, with a couple of reviews by moi.

ALt. country a-go-go! You can read my review of an compilation for Plan right here.
Should be another one up soon - I'll keep you posted.

The new issue of Product, a Scottish arts magazine, is finally out. It's been produced (groan) in collaboration with C4 Ideas Factory and I have a couple of short pieces in the Product Placement section.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

It's been a while, huh? Well, I've been running back and forth to gigs the past week or so. Last week saw the inaugural Stirling:Live festival, which I attended in my capacity as Stirling News arts maestro. Had to be nice to all the local bands - it's only fair - but the main acts were quite good. Wreckless Eric was very funny, Martin Stephenson was warm and fuzzy, while Thea Gilmore, a bit earnest on record, was actually quite good live. I interviewed her, which went okay, although I'm hardly Lyn Barber yet. She's a Replacements fan, so plus points.
Also been to see - as a paying customer - Calexico and Blance (molto bene), and the Shins (nice, but shit QMU sound). I'll bash together some reviews for Beard #2, which is starting to come together. We've got some nice illustrations of Kinky Friedman to go with Neil's fantastic interview. Once they're scanned a double page spread can be laid out. That's another two down.
My mission to namecheck as many obscure bands as possible in the Stirling News continues apace. So far I've got in Fugazi, At the Drive In, Sufjan Stevens, Alisdair Roberts - I forget the rest. My favourite preview has been for some shitty Queen tribute act: "With the Darkness straddling the pop world like some hideous four headed gargoyle, you'd think the last thing anyone would want is another Queen tribute band. Think again, because Mercury are here to rock you!" A cheap shot I know, but it brightens up the day.
An exhibition of Alisdair Gray's artwork (bear with me and I'll link this later) is on display at the Smith in Stirling, which meant I could go to town and show off my knowledge of his ouvre. So I've put references to Hobbes' Leviathan and William Blake into a news story in a free paper. And why not?
My Dad, self-styled Zelig figure of the literati, says Alisdair Gray owes him a pair of car keys. He was driving the great man home from a talk my Dad had organised in Irvine. Mr Gray was somewhat worse for wear and threw my Dad's car keys into Irvine harbour. Despite my Dad's best efforts with a fishing rod and magnet the keys were never recovered. Alisdair Gray was forced to stay in Irvine as punishment. (I jest, it's a perfectly decent place)
Alisdair Gray's finest moment is complaining to the staff of a Glasgow chippie about their use of the Daily Telegraph to wrap fish suppers. Were they trying to brainwash the proletariat with right wing propaganda?

Friday, April 09, 2004

Real Shocks

My Real Shocks interview for Ideas Factory. I'm pleased with this one, although the band helped cos they can talk the talk. A shorter, pithier version will appear in the forthcoming issue of Product. They're pretty good actually. And they love Sparks, which can never be a bad thing.

My day off

Being off work on weekday is bliss. I've got a cold, so it justifies my sitting around watching Spaced DVDs and surfing the net. It's not all good, though - I felt too weak last night to go see Jonathan Richman in Glasgow. Boo. Still, he seems to play at least once a year.
Back to my daytime viewing. I hate T4 - it's reduced yoof programming to endless repeats of Friends, sycophantic interviews (June Sarpong and Vernon Kaye in a competition to see who can crawl the furthest up Robbie Williams' fundament) - and the fucking Salon, but the Simple Life is strangely fascinating. It's an MTV "reality" show which places workshy socialites Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie on a Midwestern cattle farm. Witnessing two people who are so utterly dim and removed from reality is oddly compelling. You have to feel sorry for the people trailing in the wake of their idiocy. What did decent, hard-working people do to deserve these two fuckwits?

The Beasties are finally releasing new album. Hello Nasty came out the summer between school and uni, which makes me feel real old. While the Beasties have never been the greatest lyricists, they do have moments of genius, such as Ad-Rock's adaptation of Run DMC's King of Rock to "I'm the king of Boggle, there is none higher, score eleven points from the word 'quagmire'". So it was with a heavy heart last year that I downloaded their anti-war song. "Say ooh-ah, what's the White House doing?" was one of the better lines. I've managed to purge my memory of the rest. It was painful. Unfortunately, their new album apparently continues the political theme. Public Enemy it ain't.
Here are some of the rhymes, according to Pitchfork:

"Since 911 we're still livin'/ And lovin' life we've been given/ Ain't nothing gonna take that away from us/ We're lookin' pretty and gritty 'cause in the city we trust." ["Sonic Reducer"]

"We've got a president we didn't elect/ The Kyoto treaty he decided to neglect/ And still the U.S. just wants to flex." ["Time to Build"]


Good news! I'm getting tried out for some reviews in Plan B, the sequel to Careless Talk Costs Lives, and I've been given a place on a reviewing masterclass, which should hopefully lead to reviewing comedy, theatre and music at the Edinburgh Fringe for Fest mag. Yay! And Beard #2 is gradually taking shape. Very gradually.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

David Stubbs [Mr Agreeable]

Ah ha! David Stubbs [Mr Agreeable] has a website. Great blog entry on getting into Private Eye's pseud's corner for his florid descriptions of Hendrix.

It's also well worth checking the Sacred Cow columns he wrote as "The Reaper". These were a breath of fresh air in a dad rock mag like Uncut. It's the antithesis of their 20 page features on the time Eric Clapton and Duane Allman changed the gauge of their guitar strings from a 10 to 9-44 hybrid. I pastiche, but you get the point.