Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Who needs the f***ing Osbournes?

I apologise in advance for the coarse nature of this anecdote...

Overheard at a friend's house on Saturday morning (let's call him A):

A: "Mam, I did a bad thing last night. I shagged that girl from work. Now she wants me to shag her over the boss's desk sometime this week."
Mother: "But A, that's a sackable offence!"
Quote of the day

"I know that people will appreciate the darker direction I am taking. Hopefully it will appeal to those who still like their music to have little teeth."

Toyah Willcox on her new mini-album Velvet Lined Shell which - she claims - has been inspired by the likes of Mogwai, Nick Cave and Marilyn Manson. This, lest we forget, is the woman who is currently favourite to win the forthcoming second series of ITV1's 'I'm A Celebrity - Get Me Out Of Here'. Jesus H Christ.

(Thanks to No Rock 'N' Roll Fun for the link)
Losers

I watched 'Millionaire: A Major Fraud' last night (in spite of myself, I should add), and I still can't believe it. No, not how long it took for Ingram's deception to be detected, but why any sane couple would want to give their son the name Tecwen.
Blogwatch

Quite understandably, on Popjustice there has been much wailing, gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands at the news that S Club are bowing out of the big time. Follow the link to sign a book of condolence. Much of their stuff might have been synthetic musical candy floss, but 'Don't Stop Movin'' remains one of my all-time favourite pop singles - very close to perfection, and just the sort of thing that, like Sugababes and Kylie, preserves pop's good name in the face of tedious dirges from the likes of Westlife and One True Voice which amount to a serious smear campaign. Still, despite their demise it's not all doom and gloom chez Popjustice - S Club Juniors are being renamed S Club 8 and their new single 'Fool No More' "is better than anything the seniors have released since 'Reach', meaning that pop equilibrium is restored".

Meanwhile, over at Troubled Diva Towers Mike has interviewed himself about the humble beginnings of his blog and its subsequent blossoming into the colossus of the blogging world that it is today. This guy's dedication and devotion to the art of bloggery is truly phenomenal, which is why it is with some sadness that I read that he is downscaling his postings due to new pressures on his time. So, the sheer quantity may drop, but rest assured that the quality most certainly won't.

News from elsewhere: Dead Kenny paid his first ever visit to Nottingham this weekend to sup a few ales in Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem and see Radio 4 at the Rescue Rooms - thank you very much, please call again!; Ethan has spent a day listening to nothing but rock operas - Tommy, Sgt Pepper's, The Wall, Ziggy Stardust; BirdMan has been composing a poem for MP George Galloway; and Anna has been eating far too much tuna and reflecting on the vast number of terms for a lady's breasts. Call me extremely puerile for a 25-year-old, but there's a sandwich shop just north of Newcastle city centre called Baps which never fails to raise a smile.
The nerves they are a-jangling

More points dropped, this time against a side with precisely nothing whatsoever to play for. Even though we seem to have put in plenty of effort against Villa and performed better than in the previous three matches, at this stage of the season that's just not good enough. Now it's off down to the Dark Place next weekend for the Tyne-Wear derby. I've been saying all season how great it would be to send them down in front of their own fans - but in the event, given they're already relegated, the big boot is on the other foot and aimed squarely at our backside. They may have lost twelve games in a row, but they'd just LOVE to piss on our chips. Saturday afternoon will be rather tense.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Take that (and censor it)!

Whatever you think of Robbie Williams - and I think he's an ego-driven Grade A prick - you have to admire (grudgingly) the fact that he's made two great visual statements. First there was the video for 'Rock DJ' - everyone given the pound of flesh they'd been demanding. And now there's 'Come Undone' - musically a tedious power ballady sort of thing, but lyrically self-lacerating and accompanied by images of depravity, debauchery and maggots.
A black mark for the White Stripes

In the recent NME interview with The White Stripes (which for me plumbed new depths - they clearly felt the need to run a feature on the band to coincide with the release of Elephant, but then cobbled together the most inane bunch of questions in an apparent attempt to both bore and bewilder Jack and Meg into silence), I was hugely disappointed to read the following quote from Mr White, when asked about his views on the war with Iraq:

"We're not really a political minded band, I don't think. It doesn't really seem like our realm, where we should have opinions - it's not going to do anybody any good if this says, 'The White Stripes are against the war', y'know? It doesn't mean any ... it's not our realm. We're musicians and songwriters and I'd rather not even bother with having an opinion about it."

Look Jack - all art is political, whether you like it or not. Now you might well be making the (perfectly valid) case that some "celebrities" have used the whole war issue as the means of levering themselves back into the public eye - but if you are, it's very poorly stated. It's a very short leap from this to the moronic Kelly Jones 'It's all about the music' mindset, and to go so far as to say that you'd "rather not even bother with having an opinion about it" beggars belief.
Nightmare on Loftus Road

It's a familiar story. Team desperately trying to halt a slide down the table seeks three points to assuage any lingering relegation fears. And, right on cue, the Newcastle team bus rolls into town. Hands are duly rubbed and the necessary three points duly gleaned - on this occasion, in poetic fashion by former Newcastle player and lifelong fan Lee Clark. Why oh why are we so obliging? It's not as if we've got nothing to play for - three consecutive defeats have now left us far less certain of grabbing a Champions' League place than we were a few weeks back. In many ways, the result is even more disheartening than last week's mauling at the hands of Man Utd - at least then we could say they were on fire. Fulham, on the other hand, are hardly the sort of team we should be afraid of, if we are genuinely worthy of another season in "Europe's premier competition". Our position could have been much worse, had Chelsea not lost at Villa. As it is, though, it's time to WAKE UP and finish the job, starting on Monday afternoon.
Feel good hits of the 19th April

1. 'The Light Before We Land' - The Delgados
2. 'Bandages' - Hot Hot Heat
3. 'Comforting Sounds' - Mew
4. 'Move Your Feet' - Junior Senior
5. 'Date With The Night' - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
6. 'Seven Nation Army' - The White Stripes
7. 'Fried My Little Brains' - The Kills
8. 'Heart Of Glass' - Blondie
9. 'Anchor' - Cave In
10. 'Paranoid' - Black Sabbath
Quote of the day

From a poster outside a church:

"Jesus had so much to live for - and so many to die for."

Not in my name.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Know Your Enemy

No Rock 'N' Roll Fun on the new Stereophonics single:

"Oh my. This isn't just poor by any system of analysis you wish to apply to it, it's shaming. If you remember the wrong turn the Primals took when they'd spent too long with their Black Crowes albums, imagine if a bunch of half-hearted pub rock chuggers turned up and tried to recreate the Rocks era of Primal Scream working from that blueprint alone, but with the injunction to make it sound a bit more blokey? Oh my, oh my. This has been a long time coming, and it just makes you wonder what the stuff they couldn't use sounds like. Oh my. Oh my."
Quote(s) of the day

Will Self, from this interview (thanks to Olav for the link):

"The Dorian Grays of today are Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. These are the celluloid imagoes who dominate not only Hollywood, not only the international entertainment network, but actually dominate the psyche of people in a very, very powerful way. They are the people whose images do not age. And therefore people take [them] to be as kind of totems of our culture's values."

"Books that have genuine longevity are always contentious and kicking against the pricks. Anything that is too in harmony with its time is very unlikely to be timeless."

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Music Sounds Better With You #2

'Hey Jude' - The Beatles (c.1988?)

Picture the scene: it's been one of those archetypal school discos (in our case, a joint one with the neighbouring girls' school) where boys and girls stand in opposite corners for most of the night, in mortal fear of one another, meeting only fleetingly in the middle of the room for Coke and Mars Bars. And yet this one song seems to have broken the ice, and got even the most shy and gawky squits to interact with the opposite sex (yes, I'm counting myself in that number). In the car on the way home, I mention the song - 'Hey Jude'. "Oh, The Beatles", says my dad. I am MORTIFIED. That's, like, from the 1960s, old, parent music - and definitely NOT cool.

Skip forward to September 1998, and my local pub. It's a leaving party for a friend who's about to join the Merchant Navy, everyone's joyously drunk, there's karaoke - and every single person in the place is bellowing out the "Na na na na" bit of 'Hey Jude' with nary a thought of pitch and tune. Some are standing on tables, some can barely stand at all, but everyone - including yours truly - has a beaming grin on their face. A fantastic song. How things change.

The Beatles inspired a love of bands and artists whose careers began or even began and ended before my passion for music was fully formed, and ensured a preparedness to eschew the NOW in favour of the ETERNAL every now and again - The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, The Ramones, Joy Division, Frank Sinatra, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Dexys Midnight Runners...
Art attack

Today I paid my first visit to Baltic, the new centre for contemporary art on the Gateshead bank of the Tyne. The five-floored 'gallery' is so called because it's been converted from the old disused Baltic Flour Mill - and mighty impressive it is, too. Entry is free, and thankfully there's no pay-off for this season's corporate sponsors (Northern Rock) in the form of having their logo plastered all over the guide leaflets. Although two of the exhibitions (Chad McCail's "subversive" cartoon world populated by robots and zombies and 'The Cathedral', a photographic exhibition of work by four different artists centred on Durham Cathedral) left me rather cold, the exhibition of works by the Cobra group (artists from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam in the immediate post-war period) was worth seeing - a real riot of colours, vibrant and energetic canvasses, abstract but not clinically so. There was also a chance to see the latest Anthony Gormley project, 'Domain Field', in progress: along with a team of artists, he's been making plaster casts of 240 local volunteers in order to construct figures made of "welded steel bars forming a three-dimensional drawing in space".
Sacred profanity

My trip up to Scotland convinced me of one incontrovertible fact - swearing sounds better in Glaswegian than any other dialect.
Secret pint

So, there I was, on Saturday night, in Edinburgh, taking advantage of Scotland's fantastically relaxed drinking laws in The World's End pub on The Royal Mile, having been treated to tales of torture and the supernatural on a late-night ghost walk, talking to a friend about how well Ian Rankin recreates that darker side of the city in his fiction, and about the fondness of Inspector Rebus (and his creator) for Glaswegian noiseniks Mogwai - when I realised that the stumpy hairy-faced gentleman sat at the neighbouring table indulging in a few pints and conversing animatedly about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs was none other than Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite himself. Now, don't get me wrong - I love Mogwai, they've opened all kinds of doors for me. But when they decided to allow Levi's to use 'Summer' in an ad, it left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, despite the fact that they said the money would help them to put out records on their own label. And when I noticed that Stuart was wearing a pair of pristine Levi's - well, it might sound very harsh, but all I could think of was Judas jangling his thirty pieces of silver in his pockets...

Your heroes always let you down.

Needless to say, I'll still be buying their new album (Happy Music For Happy People) though.
The devil's work

A mere four days after the event, I now just about feel capable of a vaguely measured response to our thrashing at home by those red wretches. I blame the wonderful regional daily The Journal for it all - after all, they did run a piece on Saturday about how Paul Scholes was "laughably" a fixture in the England side ahead of Kieron Dyer, and the article found its way onto the Man Utd dressing room wall. Result: they embarrassed us just as they themselves were embarrassed by Real Madrid in the week. Still, at least I can cling to two crumbs of consolation, one very real and the other a malevolent hope. Firstly, we stayed in third place, while Sunderland were relegated on the same afternoon. Secondly, there's just a chance that the title will all come down to goal difference, and I'm hoping and praying they lose it to Arsenal by one goal, the one they conceded to us right at the end of the match when they were dicking about like the arrogant tossers they are.

Rant over.
Pushing up tulips

From a sandwich board for an edition of the Nottingham Evening Post last week:

"Widow buries husband in garden"

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Blogwatch

Congratulations to Alex, now married and pondering a return to playing music in a band.

In the light of the MC5's recent decision to "reform" for the sake of Levi's, Olav's article for Logo magazine on selling out is a particularly topical read.

If it's wry and astute commentary on events in Iraq that you're after, then look no further than Wherever You Are, where you can find Vaughan's observations on propaganda and on the popularity of T-shirts with the BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar's head on them.

On Deviated Septum Kevin has been writing admiringly about Pitchfork's rather critical review of the White Stripes latest opus Elephant, which, I gather, has ruffled a few feathers. I haven't availed myself of a copy of the album yet, so I can't pass judgement.

Thanks to Mike's inaugural BlogBuzz Chart, I've been introduced to three more excellent sites:
Low Culture
It's OK, It's Just Your Mind
Raised By Chaffinches
Only when you've checked them out will you realise quite how impoverished your existence was without them in your life.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Quote of the day

"That voice was a lamentation. Calmer now. It's in the silence you feel you hear. Vibrations. Now silent air" - James Joyce, 'Ulysses'
You WHAT?!!

The latest bizarre search engine requests to throw up this 'ere blog:

bryan ferry amnesty international
tickling song words
neil hannon divine comedy iraq
sigur ros kids in gas masks
hans blix's sexuality
y-fronts surrey uk

Keep on lookin'...

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Music Sounds Better With You #1

Now I get the chance to redeem myself. Following on from the last music-centred series, Criminal Records, comes Music Sounds Better With You. Over the next few days I'll be revealing the songs in my record collection that have irreversibly shaped my tastes and exerted the most influence over my listening habits. As you might well imagine, whittling this list down to just ten has not been at all easy. The idea is to progress from earliest to most recent, the songs being dated to the time when they first entered my life.

So, to kick us off...

'Ring Ring' - Abba (c.1983? 1984?)

How this could be left off the first Abba Gold album I really don't know. Collectively Frida Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Faltskog made pop music the unstoppable cultural juggernaut it is today, and from the moment I heard this track (along with the likes of 'Dancing Queen', 'Mamma Mia' and Sweden's winning entry in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, 'Waterloo') I was smitten. My parents had (and, I think, still have) the original Singles collection in the fantastic double LP format, and I recall listening to 'Ring Ring' so many times that it was a miracle the groove didn't wear through. There never has been and I don't think there ever will be a band that does joyously ebullient pop better than this.

Inspired a love of: Bananarama, early Pet Shop Boys, Wham!, early Madonna, much 80s pop

Inspired a general tolerance of (despite occasional attempts to affect the musical elitist's sneeringly superior tone): most mainstream pop
Quote of the day

"There is a loquacity that tells nothing ... and there is a silence which says much" - Thomas Hardy, 'Far From The Madding Crowd'
Title bid comes unstuck

(Imagine me writing this post with gritted teeth and veins bulging in my forehead...)

Sunday's game against Everton was always going to be tough, but, given other results, one we really couldn't afford to lose. Enter the wonderful Neale Barry, right on cue, to FUCK US ROYALLY UP THE ARSE. Woodgate and Bramble had excellent games, while our forward play merited at least a point - and yet all we were left with was staggering injustice, gross incompetence and a prostrate Olivier Bernard. There's no doubt at all that we have the spirit to dust ourselves down and the ability to go out and beat Man Utd and their horse-faced talisman at St James's on Saturday - but, thanks to Mr Barry, it's all the more vital now that we do just that.

Friday, April 04, 2003

Quote of the day

Sir Bobby Robson, upon whom you can always rely for pearls of warped wisdom:

"Tickets are selling like cream cakes"
Lyric-that's-stuck-in-my-head-and-won't-leave of the day

"I know what it's like to seem wrong when you're right"

'If This Is A Plan' - The Delgados

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Know Your Enemy #10

Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakhunin on organised religion, from his book 'God And The State' (1882):

"All religions are cruel, all founded on blood; for all rest principally on the idea of sacrifice - that is, on the perpetual immolation of humanity to the insatiable vengeance of divinity."
Quote of the day

Not entirely sure how this gem from last week's NME evaded my attention first time around...

"We want to be the radio version of what The Sun newspaper would do. We are not going to be saying, 'This is our opinion, get behind it'. We are going to reflect the mood of the nation."

Yes, Virgin Radio's Programming Director Paul Jackson really did say that, in relation to his station's policy of record censorship during the Iraq conflict. He's not got a very good grasp of the way The Sun works, has he? Anyway, a radio version of The Sun doesn't bear thinking about - the numbskull bluster of Richard Littlejohn beamed directly into your earhole. Ugh.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Ignorance: bliss?

As a blogger who has not yet heard anything from Radiohead's Hail To The Thief, I feel in the overwhelming minority. Ah, the joys of being a technophobe with an almost complete lack of knowledge of MP3s! At least I've managed to secure a Glasto ticket via a friend, so I'll be able to hear the material in what is still far and away the best format - live.
Blogwatch

What's caught my eye in the past few days...

"Is a record you love on first listen necessarily more shallow and of lesser quality than a record you have to warm up with, you have to force yourself to listen to in the beginning to appreciate?" That's the question recently posed over on Close Your Eyes.

The Glastonbury ticket sell-out has inspired reminiscences of heinous tent thievery from Vodkabird. Back in 2000, a friend of mine had his mobile phone and wallet nicked from under the pillow he was sleeping on...

Anna has shared details of her weekend trip to Manchester - a city sadly lacking in establishments which sell the beer of the gods, Hoegaarden. She also has one or two strong words for entrepreneurial gnome and jumper fetishist Richard Branson, whose Virgin Train service proved somewhat less than satisfactory.

Something to look forward to: over the next few days / weeks / months Nate will be posting his 100 Favourite Singles Ever. Lists, glorious lists!

... and finally - congratulations and best wishes to Alex, who, in a mere matter of days, will be a married man.
Quote of the day

From The Fly's interview with Tom McRae:

"'Cynicism only gets you so far. It's like irony: after a while it's no good because you've still got to get up the next day. There's no point sneering and saying it's all shit.'
He pauses to collect his thoughts. It's ALL shit?
'Of course it is. But get up and do it anyway. Face it. I like the idea of the challenge of trying to find the hope, being cynical and reigning it in. Saying that it's all shit isn't going to get us anywhere. We've got to be on a journey to somewhere better in our lives, otherwise it's just...' Tom's eyes glide upwards and around the room '...this.'"

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Know Your Enemy #9

H G Wells reviewing James Joyce's novel 'A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man' in 'The Nation', 24th Feb 1917:

"Like Swift and another living Irish writer, Mr Joyce has a cloacal obsession. He would bring back into the general picture of life aspects which modern drainage and modern decorum have taken out of ordinary intercourse and conversation."

Monday, March 31, 2003

Heart of darkness

I finally got to see 'The Hours' last night - and, as a result, Michael Cunningham's novel is yet another book I now feel duty-bound to read. Not that I'd be approaching it with anything other than genuine interest - I'm intrigued as to how the spliced and intertwined narratives work in print. The film was fantastic from start to finish, heavy without ever becoming leaden and lumbering, and the acting was uniformly superb (personally, I felt Julianne Moore outshone both Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep). Prior knowledge of Woolf's 'Mrs Dalloway' was helpful, though, in appreciating the way narrative strands from the novel are played out (in fascinatingly refracted and distorted form) in the two storylines set in America.

On a personal note the film cut straight to the heart of what Woolf's novels, for me, are really all about - underneath the genteel veneer of social niceties of early twentieth century upper-middle-class English polite society, there is a real and potent darkness. Woolf's themes are the classic stuff of art - death, sex, madness. If you stare them all squarely in the face, you become more aware of life. In terms of film-making, it's gratifying to know that even in the current money-obsessed quick-returns-focused climate, major film companies will not always opt to eschew tackling this sort of serious art head-on in favour of patronising, trite and overhyped drivel.
Quote of the day

Chris Habib on the Stars and Stripes:

"I say "fuck the flag" because it's lost its meaning. It's devoid of all that it once stood for. Desecrate it and start afresh. Take it back, renew its meaning and then return it to the glory of old. It's not disrespectful at all. It's patriotic. Too many people who wave it and rally behind it do so as a consumer convention. It's an icon that people buy and sell and buy and sell into. The lapel pins, the window-clings, the T-shirts, bags, skateboards and fluttering graphics that mar the lower-third of my television... it's become a crass tool of accessible conspicuous consumption.... I will neither wave, nor salute, nor hide behind an icon that has been hijacked by an administration of pirates and poisons. I will not have them wrap my mind in a fabric of a nationalism that I neither condone nor identify with."

(Taken from Habib's 'label statement' for Protest Records, set up by himself and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore in response to the invasion of Iraq - thanks to Wisdom Goof for the link)
Lyric-that's-stuck-in-my-head-and-won't-leave of the day

"The less complete a sentence is the more I guess I tried to say"

'Penny Racer' - Cave In

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Quote of the day

From a Texas Air National Guard press release, March 1970:

"George Walker Bush is one member of the younger generation who doesn't get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed.... As far as kicks are concerned, Lt. Bush gets his from the roaring afterburner of the F-102."

(Taken from this - thanks to The Yes / No Interlude for the link)
Patriot games

The Guardian's Gary Younge on the death of democracy in America (thanks to Wan for the link). It seems that everyone is free to express themselves - as long as they're supporting Bush and his administration. And yet the 'Coalition forces' still claim to be fighting the war in order to liberate the Iraqi people and allow them to enjoy the same freedoms of movement and speech as us in the West. Isn't irony a wonderful thing?

I read with interest all the stuff in this week's NME about radio and TV music censorship. An MTV spokesperson justified their decision not to broadcast videos like Radiohead's 'Lucky', System Of A Down's 'Boom!' and Paul Hardcastle's '19' by claiming that the station "feels that content should be sensitive at this time of war". Well, that's one way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it is that it's a cynical and calculated attempt to suppress lyrics and images that might be seen to offer a critical perspective on current events and war in general. The web is the only place any kind of freedom of expression seems to exist.

Also quite staggering were some of the comments of Joanne Bell, Head of Music for British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) Radio: "The track used to open the service was Thin Lizzy's 'The Boys Are Back In Town'. That was overwhelmingly requested. It's a very good military 'we're back' sort of record". Tally-ho, Bertie, see you in Baghdad for tea and cakes. Another even more bizarre song featuring heavily on the service is The Clash's 'Rock The Casbah' - even more bizarre, because of the opposition of Mick Jones and the late Joe Strummer to war. Apparently "it always gets played. It's a 'you can't mess with us' record". Add in 'We Will Rock You' by Queen (presumably), and there you have it - the soundtrack to unnecessary and unlawful imperialistic thuggery.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Acting the part

On Monday night I went to the theatre. It's been a shamefully long time since I last went, and the experience was on the whole an enjoyable one - although that particular type of smug knowing laughter you only ever get from theatrical audiences really starts to grate after a while. The performance was of David Hare's 1990 play 'Racing Demon', the first in a trilogy of 'state of the nation' plays, the others being 'Murmuring Judges' (1991) and 'The Absence Of War' (1993). The play explores the Church of England's awkward and marginalised place in British society in the late twentieth century, as more an unacknowledged social service than a shining beacon of faith. Belief and conviction, relevance and tradition are central themes, and, although on odd occasions Hare seems determined to shoehorn particular debates into the play which detract slightly from the dramatic effectiveness of certain scenes, the subject matter is dealt with warmly, intelligently and with a measure of wit. I was perhaps slightly disappointed that there wasn't the 'edge' to the drama I'd been expecting, given Hare's collaborations 'Brassneck' (1973) and 'Pravda' (1985) with the polemical playwright Howard Brenton, whose 'The Romans In Britain' (1978) is really powerful in-your-face stuff - but it was still certainly an evening well spent.
Criminal Records #10

'Faith' - Limp Bizkit
'A.D.I.D.A.S.' - Korn
'Loco' - Coal Chamber

Yes, for this final installment I'm afraid it's an ungodly nu-metal triumvirate. Mercifully, what a couple of years ago appeared to be a many-headed hydra now seems to be dying a miserable death. As is usually the case with these things, the genuinely interesting bands, who suddenly find themselves unfairly tarred with the same broad brush as all the bandwagon-jumping losers, ultimately shine through and survive - in this case, the likes of System Of A Down, Deftones and Tool. Here, however, we have three offerings from the less worthy end of the spectrum.

Limp Bizkit's cover of George Michael's 1987 hit 'Faith' was the nu-metal meathead manifesto, at least in the early days before they wrote the tragically bollocks 'Break Stuff' and every self-respecting teen was wearing clothes three sizes too big and dancing like the victims of severe spinal injuries. From there it was on to 'Rollin', Eminem disses, Britney and Fred Durst's ego ballooning so far out of proportion to his meagre talents that the planets have realigned to orbit his head.

If Limp Bizkit spread the plague, Korn can claim to have developed the virus with their self-titled 1994 album. 'A.D.I.D.A.S.' features on the 1996 follow-up, Life Is Peachy (the title is brilliantly sarcastic, you see?), and stands for "All day I dream about sex". The sports clothing manufacturers naturally weren't too happy about being associated with the track. Appropriately enough, given that it's pumped full of testosterone and teenage sexual frustration lacking any outlet, the song is a big sack of wank. The band? Last seen looking fat and peddling the awfully overblown 'comeback' album Untouchables.

Worst of the lot, though, were Coal Chamber. However, even 'Loco' wasn't the lowest point of the whole sorry affair. No, that was their cover of Peter Gabriel's 'Shock The Monkey' with Ozzy Osbourne in tow. At a time when every nu-metal act was hitching a ride on the back of covers of instantly recognisable 80s tracks (most shameful: Orgy, whose 'Blue Monday' rocketed them to popularity before the discovery was made that they had no material of their own), Coal Chamber just had to follow suit - with truly horrific consequences. Nevertheless, from this black hole of musical achievement one moderately good thing did come - a Urusei Yatsura track on the album Slain By... which, for no apparent reason, namechecks bassist Rayna.

Thank god that's it.

Music Sounds Better With You, the new ten-part feature with which I will hopefully redeem myself, will be getting underway in the next few days.
Know Your Enemy #8

Popjustice on the demise of Toploader:

"If you're going to remember Toploader at all, remember them as being unbearably crap, unjustifiably self-righteous, and terribly styled. The world of pop is a better place today and so, paradoxically, is the world of indie."
Quote of the day

Olav on procrastination:

"Sure in thirty years time, when a hoover-car accident cuts short my life, I'll regret every second that I spent watching 'Richard and Judy', but for now I'm quite happy to swim in the stew of my own ignorance and laxity. Effortlessness is, after all, a good thing. Hard work gets you nowhere. Our destination is still the grave."

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Feel good hits of the 25th March

1. 'Beat On The Brat' - The Ramones
2. 'Lost In The Air' - Cave In
3. 'Goodbye' - The Coral
4. 'Jackie Wilson Said' - Dexys Midnight Runners
5. '1969' - The Stooges
6. 'Boys In The Band' - The Libertines
7. 'Kissy Kissy' - The Kills
8. 'Untitled Track #8' - Sigur Ros
9. 'Reasons For Silence' - The Delgados
10. 'Holiday' - Madonna
Blogwatch

The almost-weekly round-up of what's attracted my eye in the Blogosphere recently:

After a temporary hiatus, Wherever You Are is back and in great shape, featuring in recent days astute reflections on the "toned-down" Oscars ceremony and youth involvement in the anti-war protests.

Both Badger Minor and Last Bus Anywhere have respectfully and insightfully taken The Dismemberment Plan's Travis Morrison to task for his predominantly pro-war comments on the band's website.

If the rolling news has been getting you down, take a peek at Little Red Boat for some light relief in the form of a feature (and many subsequent comments) on the subject of irrational fears - these include metronomes, shopping trolleys, soup, ice-cream sticks and "prehistoric-looking animals"...

The musings of Little Red Boat's Anna can also be found over at Troubled Diva, where Mike has temporarily invited guest bloggers to pitch their tents in his garden. One happy camper, Noodle, has his own blog, The World, Backwards - another addition to my list of links and heartily recommended.

And finally ... well done to Dead Kenny's beloved West Ham for banging another nail into the Mackem's relegation coffin! For what it's worth, I hope the Hammers stay up.
Sweet and sour

Revenge, so the platitude goes, is sweet - and don't I just know it after Saturday's result. Down at Ewood Park in the autumn Blackburn had inflicted on us one of our most damaging defeats of the season. On an afternoon when it all went wrong, Dabizas was sent off for handball on the line after just four minutes, we fell behind and then rallied briefly only to succumb to two goals from their Geordie central defender Martin Taylor and suffer a 5-2 defeat. So, how fitting that we should score three times in the last five minutes of Saturday's match at St James' to wrap up a 5-1 thrashing for the Lancastrians, who only the week before had been celebrating doing the double over Arsenal. Robert and Viana in particular both looked good, as the competition for the left-sided slot hots up. The title might be beyond us, but at least we seem determined not to let Arsenal or Man Utd relax for an instant.

On a decidedly sour note, though, it seems that young Master Bellamy has once again bawled himself into trouble, this time while being ejected from a Cardiff nightclub. There's no doubting he's a very talented footballer and a tremendously valuable asset to the club, but these incidents and the subsequent shows of repentent apology are doing his reputation in the game and among supporters no good whatsoever. C'mon Craig - you need to grow up, and fast.
Quote of the day

From the sleevenotes of The Ramones' All The Stuff (And More) Vol I:

"The Ramones saved rock 'n' roll. Assigned a mission by a muse so bored with the mechanical dance rhythms and vapid love songs of the middle 70s - a period of popular music wallowing in its own excremental excesses, the likes of which we hadn't experienced since the pre-Beatles 60s - this Goddess cast the fate of four lads from Queens to blast pop culture from its post-Watergate doldrums."
Know Your Enemy #7

Michael Moore at the Oscars, on the invasion of Iraq:

"We live in a time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr Bush."

Monday, March 24, 2003

Terry, June and Saddam

In Chris Morris's absence, you can rely on TV Go Home for all your satirical requirements. In the latest edition of the listings, you'll find details for such must-see programmes as 'Eastenders In Gasmasks' and 'The Third World War In Sepia'. Plus, Nathan Barley is memorably described as a "worthless upper-middle-class London cultural shitblister".
The height of cynicism

Watching the TV the other day, a friend turned to me and said, "Do you reckon the war with Iraq has been specially commissioned by the BBC because they need to fill up their schedules?"
Quote of the day

From the 1966 play 'US' about attitudes to the Vietnam war:

"I would like to see an English dog playing on an English lawn with part of a burned hand. I would like to see a gas grenade go off at an English flower show and nice English ladies crawling in each other's sick. And all this I would like to be photographed and filmed so that someone a long way off, safe in his chair, could watch us in our indignity!"

(As quoted in this article by the Guardian's theatre critic Michael Billington on the lack of current politically engaged drama - well worth a read)