Monday, September 30, 2002

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP - an era where we are aware that everything is corporate, yes, but can accept it, can look at things as they are.

FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP - an era where the money side of things has to be disguised with ideas of "authenticity", where "alcohol" is assumed to have some intrinsic importance to football.

nb. i do not actually know what i am talking about.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP = of an era where football was more indicative of grass roots (more loutish?)

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP = of an era where financing/footballer's wages are the first thing anyone thinks about the sport.

Coincidence? I dunno, just a thought

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

We should probably take this to mail or something. I'm sure it's fascinating for all of the no people whatsoever who read this.

and now, AC/DC:

uh- hit the SAAAACK!
been too long ah'm GLAD TO BE BAACK!

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Depth = being able to understand why you like something and discuss it in a more opinionated way than "Oh, I like that song".

Aging = not ref. to all worthwhile musicians. I was talking about those musicians whose mentality for making their music at point X in time (ie current Ashcroft) is all about expressing that they are getting older and understanding life more. This mentality inevitably forces them to forget about ploughing any musical field they have yet to plunder, and fortify their musical palate, instead relaying these feelings of 'comfort' and 'wisdom' in the same, time-honoured fashion as they have done before.

Obviously there are examples of people who have managed to do this credibly, (Elvis Costello, Tom Waits etc), but the difference is they are able to convey PERSONALITY in doing it, whereas Ashcroft is relying on things like the salsa trumpet in SFTL (probably not his idea, either) to add some kind of extravagance to songs which have little (the video's toilet humour also does this). My point really is that the people would see Ashcroft in a completely different, belittled light if they would only bother to listen to less obvious examples (Conor Oberst springs to mind). Cue "Indie snob" criticism blah blah blah.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

What does "depth" have to do with it? how does one listen with depth without submerging oneself in some handy nearby pool of liquid?

What does "aging" have to do with it? are all worthwhile musicians eternally young?

"bland, irrelevant, ... , sentimental, ..., no buzz, no spark, no genius"; there is no specific reference to his music here. you could throw these charges at any pop song whatsover. (Noel Coward was fond of throwing these charges at all of them, simultaneously.) ie. now demonstrate precisely how Ashcroft is bland, irrelevant with recourse to the salsa trumpet on the outro of Song To The Lovers.
"The Ashcroft fan should be capable of judging musicians on the level of depth they make their music with" - this is why he can't see Ashcroft is shite. Ashcroft is shite because he makes the same kind of bland, irrelevant music that countless others have made (e.g late Stones), in a sentimental way, which takes all the interesting facets of his personality out of the music. John Squire is also guilty of this. The Stones, however, kept their personal lives as flamboyant as ever, so however turgid the music was, it was always presented in an amusing way, therefore keeping the buzz about them. Ashcroft has no buzz, no spark, no genius.
you use too many words, Danny.

"someone told me the other day Richard Ashcroft is a genius. bastards. bastards. BASTARDS."
I am finding it damn near impossible to get casual music fans to start listening with depth. I was part of a conversation/argument the other day which was started by someone telling me "Richard Ashcroft is a genius" or something to that extent. While that statement is, in my eyes, self-evidently wrong, this is a person likes to think he has a superior music taste to others, almost rockist, so of course he argued to the hilt and gained support from the others around at the time. The Ashcroft fan should be capable of judging musicians on the level of depth they make their music with, and realise that everything on record is deliberate etc, for him to make a statement like "Ashcroft is a genius", but I was completely unable to convey why Ashcroft is the shored-up, shacked-up bore that he is in a way that might get this person to realise that depth of listening proves it. This explains my POV on the matter pretty much.

Friday, September 20, 2002

the new Oxide + Neutrino single is called "dem girlz". but in the record the guy actually sings "these girls". and he's white and everything. bastards. bastards. BASTARDS.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Last year I thought "Hallelujah" was a perfect song. This year i think "Like a Prayer" is a perfect song, or at least a perfect record...

A sign i've been listening to stephin merritt too much: I was going to put a paragraph about how the line "let the choir sing" and the religious metaphor context subverts and satirizes the cliché of using a hire-choir to add 'soulfulness'. Which got me thinking how I'd like Spiritualized to cover this.

There are enough bad covers of Madonna songs.

Kelly Osbourne: Quite possibly unlistenable without the video (it has Incubus on it, after all) but the video is interesting: in the original version of Papa Don't Preach Madonna comes off as being quite capable of dealing with the situation, but the cover version's video, with accompanying Material Girl-riffing video manages to turn "help me out, dad" into "awww, dad, quit it"; it's something in the way she looks at the camera. Maybe.

Madhouse! is there any truth in the idea that they're doing legitimate versions of tracks that were originally bootlegs? the new Holiday has a backing that sounds almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Music Sounds Better With You, so.. I don't know. They have an album, which is a little too far to go for a group whose raison d'etré was a bad pun. [insert here note on how in their Like A Prayer moving the line about the choir a verse before the choir comes in further subverts that thing. no actually don't.]

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Saturday, September 14, 2002

I'm gonna talk The Teardrop Explodes, unfashionable in the sense that no one takes LSD anymore and even if they did they would call this stuff dated. Mind you, The Coral have recently cited being influenced by them but whether that is a good thing I'll leave for you to decide. Their pair of albums, 'Kilimanjaro' and 'Wilder' serve as an excellent account of leader Julian Cope's character, and how it can change so drastically in such a short period of time.

Yeah, so the actual music, then. The opener of 'Kilimanjaro', 'Ha Ha I'm Drowning' has this wonderful part where the band return from the wig-out middle eight into a repetition of the verse, and it just strolls back into the rhythm nonchalantly, and you just get this image of Julian Cope grinning at you as you hear it, more smug and loathesome than Paul Weller has ever been, because you were at the mercy of this snowballing sound, exactly how he wanted you to be.

Anyone reading should know for the record - I love arrogance ;-)

The two obvious singles are 'Sleeping Gas' and 'Treason'. They fulfill their purposes of course. The lyric "I wander around" in 'Sleeping Gas' is onomatopoeic, since it is repeated several times over circular guitar/keyboard patterns (This IS funny, I tell you. Listen to it) while 'Treason' is one of the most gloriously half-camp songs i have ever heard, Cope's delivery is just simply DIVINE, darling. There's this skippy rhythm to it and it's just so gloriously girly and macho at the same time ( the second line being "I could swing for you", the lyrics in general being deliberately threatening/provocative). The song also benefits from a French version included in the additional tracks on my reissue.

'Second Head' has the best title on the album and also a thrillingly hypnotic organ. It just slams down during the bridge and holds the chord, eventually tremolo-ing off as if buckling under too much pressure.

'Poppies In the Field' is my favourite track on the album, mostly due to the ridiculously repetitive lyrics which appear as if they could only ever have been written simply to be meaningless and disposable - "Poppies are in the field/Don't ask me what that means". However, the subtext is of Cope as the frustrated geeky kid, a personality that suits him perfectly of course. Yes I am aware that 98.2359574% of indie is about these personalities, too. Who has expressed this as plainly and open to ridicule as ""Comics insult" you said/But comics are all I read", though? The delivery is chest-out, nose in the air snootyness, contrasting the downbeat, sulky connotation of a snivelling "B-b-b...but comics are all I read?!".

The whole album is basically a Julian Cope romp. Unsurprising if you know his future exploits ( a seven foot alter-ego giant named Sqwubbsy for instance), but its the flashy, brassy presentation of the band leader that carries most Teardrop material, and in particular these five tracks. All this coming from turn-of-the-eighties Liverpool, a place I can't imagine was as brimming with bravado as Cope is on Kilimanjaro. So its a reactionary revolt against his current situation/upbringing, whatever. Kilimanjaro is best listened to if you imagine it as the friend everyone has who argues every point all night in the most outrageous way possible in order to make an impression on the people s/he doesn't know in the room.

Second album 'Wilder', despite being released only a year after 'Kilimanjaro', is almost polemic in its portrayal of Cope's personality. The first two tracks are vintage Teardrop and could have wandered on to the first album, but by the time 'Seven Views of Jerusalem' fades in you realise this is going to be a more considered, socially aware record, setting the tone for Cope's subsequent solo work (and possibly the reason they/he never matched 'Kilimajaro'). The tinny drums of the intro sound like rain pattering on a window, symbolising a more bitter, morose Cope. He is moody, and he's gonna tell you about it - "Haven't you seen all the lines round my eyes?"

It appears Cope's downbeat attitude is someone else's fault, and is revealed on the track "The Culture Bunker" during which he groans - "Waiting for the Crucial Three/ Wondering what went wrong...I stormed out of the culture bunker". As a former member of The Crucial Three with Ian McCullough and Pete Wiley, this can be taken as a direct insult at his current band members. Cope is using this and the term 'culture bunker' as a metaphorical microcosm for Britain at the time (1981 under the Thatcher government), expressing that he is tired of things as they are, and feels as though he should just walk out but doesnt out of sense of duty, he "wonders" instead.

"Like Leila Khaled Said" is inevitably also an attempt to undermine authority, but is also one of my favourite of all TE tracks. Token hit single "Passionate Friend" aside, "Like..."'s bouncy rhythm is the only indication since the first two tracks of the shimmering, playful tones that composed 'Kilimanjaro' and is heartily welcomed. This contrasts well with the social comment of the lyrics, which are also a reminder of how slyly Cope can present himself and his ideas, as his abstraction of theme, metaphors and tongue-in-cheek indirectness shows. "You can smother me with kisses/You can smother me with dreams/You can always be the mistress of my schemes...Bringing friends around for dinner/I showed an empty crisp packet and said "Christo was here"", where "mistress" is a euphemism for Thatcher, Cope is reiterating that old adage of the dishonest politician. The reference to Christo makes this obvious, as a suggestion of the unveiling of a concealed character.

But the social theme of the record is most evident in the track 'Falling Down Around Me'. Occuring at the mid-point of the album, the track contains the lines "Workers laughed and fired their pistols/ Shout hip hip hooray/ But some of us and me especially/Want to walk away/ They are falling down around me". It's not that Cope wants to subvert the system, its that he wants there to be a system to subvert.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

more 24
{after watching hours sixteen to twentyfour dear god i need to get a life}

the subtext, if you like, is that the american dream is there and does work but that with the caveat that you'll end up an unhappy fuckup and push away those you have loved. it's this subtle. check the used up union flag decorations Palmer is walking on in the hall as he tells his wife they have to split up.

alternatively, it's about SPIES GUNFIGHTS TOM CLANCY GRR but I need pretentious reasons to justify spending most of a weekend watching TV and that doesn't cut it.

you could argue it as a classical tragedy. hell. dramatic unities and so forth. it's a single day, after all..

the real time thing works where it doesn't: because they need to make the times work there's all these little gaps everywhere, pauses, significant glances, deep breaths; it makes the show work, sometimes, showing off how good the actors were, and it makes the show work a lot worse, sometimes, showing off how badly the actors coped although frankly i think anyone would have trouble trying to make eg. the amnesia thing work. and they needed, sometimes, to take a step back from the gimmicks, since the bits of the first episode at the ending are mostly just there to... to.. mostly just there.

that's an interestingly evil ending, really: the last half hour pretty much implies that everything you thought you knew about the plot was in fact wrong. and the last two minutes is the biggest fuck-you-viewers I've ever seen on television, but there you go.

the gimmick (and yes it was a gimmick really now shush i'm tired) the gimmick was odd in that it justified an ongoing plot for 24 episodes, without having to resort to this-week's-plots. now i want a series that does this without some gimmick as its justification.


Saturday, September 07, 2002


{after watching hours ten to fifteen or thereabouts}

so it's about hrm hrm "terrorists" and it originates from america in 2002 and weirdly enough, it's actually really rather good.

what seems strange is that the two main characters, Bauer and Palmer, they're both pretty much all-american-dream-people, the ones who have fought to make themselves what they are instead of submitting to corrupt authority and et cetera and yet, given what i hear of the ending, they both end up pretty much fucked. which is, you know, atypical at least.

there are two important black female characters, thus far, shown to be rather manipulative and corrupt and et cetera. of the other female characters the one shown least often as "weak" turns out to be a traitor. oy vey.

also: the Drazens, not caring about public reaction, are in no way "terrorists". wanting to kill someone != "terrorism". weirdly the piracy warning on the video, which I really hope comes from America, says "music and video piracy funds terrorism. stay away from the hot stuff: copyright is cool." that the voiceover doesn't sound much concerned here only adds to the convincingness.

Keifer Sutherland has a funny face. it's like watching a widescreen signal of the face of a fatter man on a regular size tv.

it's weird about violence. you see say someone get their arm broken and it actually feels like violence, not stylized, you just see a twist and a crack and hear and you flinch. but when cool sniper guy alexis drazen is introduced there's a bit where he blows up a building, then has to kill one survivor, and on the way over to do so he puts on sunglasses, takes out gun, strikes pose, cut back to long shot, fires, scene change, and it feels not a part of this, almost like a parody of what "cool" violence looks like onscreen.

but y'know, for a show which flashes up a clock every five minutes to remind you that this. is. realtime, it's clever. there's one moment - into the second half, so scripted after the response to the first episodes are pretty much known - Palmer and Bauer are working together, and Palmer stops in what he's doing for a moment and says some stuff ending "... you know, what's really amazing is that this all has nothing to do with the fact that I'm black." and the two of them just halt for a few seconds, just sit there staring into space, and never quite turn towards the camera and grin like you're expecting them to.

well, I laughed.

there's all these spaces in the thing, people pausing in their dialogue, like real conversation, or like stage play conversation, I can't tell which. it seems to operate at a different level of realism from most television, almost.

were all these touching family moments done by scriptwriters who hadn't been informed of the ending?

there are other things, but I still have nine episodes to watch and would like to keep something to add.