The Human League - “Almost Medieval”: My third favourite pre-split League track* - particularly punishing beat on this one and I’ve always enjoyed time-slip pop. (Well, this and The Fall’s “Wings” - are there any other examples I wonder?)
*#1 - “The Black Hit Of Space”, #2 - “Empire State Human”
Brian Protheroe - Pinball, h/t Matt. Last night on the way home from dinner we discussed what kind of opening and/or sex scene in a 70’s semi-art film this song might accompany. I suppose should look up which ones it actually did accompany, if any.
Grimy English realism I’d guess, like a serious version of Confessions Of A Window Cleaner.
Skitz ft Estelle, Wildflower, Tempa - “Domestic Science”: From producer Skitz’ 2001 album Countryman, this is UK Hip-Hop which I enjoy a lot anyway, but might also be of interest for the presence of a very raw Estelle!
Crush - “Jellyhead”: One of the great lost pop tunes of the 90s (I think it may even have been a very early Xenomania track) - actually, given the number of times I and others have posted it in various places it probably isn’t even lost any more, per se. But it is still marvellous.
(This is actually the Motiv8 radio edit! Who then became Xenomania. So I was right.)
This rings very true, and is a snappy summary of something I was groping at in a Poptimist column last year: I encounter more blogs/tweets/etc who seem to feel the act of taking time to criticise music (consider it as a discrete rather than a social object) is bizarre. Which, in a world of social objects, it is.
"If a statement, a work of art or an action truly deserves a scathing response, its offense must be so deep that you would say the same to the person’s face. Otherwise, even though intellectual brutality can be useful and especially pleasurable, it comes at too great a cost to the soul."
I think the problem is in conflating “a statement, a work of art or an action”. A work of art isn’t the same as a face-to-face communication: if it was, surely art would have the same responsibilities to etiquette as criticism should - to take into account the recipient’s sensibilities, to be constructive, to not offend?
More broadly, “Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say face to face” is probably the most common piece of advice issued about using online communications - it always feels slightly pat to me. Online speech is a public performance, not a private conversation (and a blunt tool - the bulk of face-to-face information is transmitted by tone of voice and body language: the most wounding things can be communicated unsaid - it’s no wonder online speech is routinely ruder, without access to these subtle weapons.)
In the decade-plus I’ve been using it the net has gone from a place where identity construction was a USP to a place where it’s close to anathema: that’s a big cultural shift and it’s not surprising older hands and critics are sent reeling when they/we try and make sense of it.
XTC - “Snowman”: As you will be aware if you follow any British people at all, it has been snowing here today. This is one of my five favourite XTC songs, it does their too-postpunk-to-morris-dance thing very well.
People assuming that you don’t actually like what you like is a MASSIVE pain in the arse: happens to me a lot, and it’s one of the things I hate most about music discourse too. But honestly, it’s always going to happen, and it’s not going to lead to a world where everyone is too afraid to like anything, especially not when the band in question is the most critically acclaimed of 2009. I think the sensitive souls whose fandom is being questioned may just about have their backs covered. Try being a Celine Dion fan!
Ginuwine - “What’s So Different?”: March 1999 was a pretty inauspicious time to launch a pop site, looking at the tracks which got into the UK Top 40 then - this is by some considerable distance the best one. Oh for the time when a harpsichord patch meant futurism!!
Freaky Trigger is ten (well, in 60 days or so it is). I’ll be linking on FT to one article/post from every month of its history, and providing a bit of commentary. THE SECRET ORIGIN OF THE BLOGOSPHERE!
http://freakytrigger.co.uk/tag/ft-is-10/ - this is the page to go if you just want the reposted content as I select it and not the waffle. Not all of it will be by me, and not all of it will be great - but lots of it will.
This list dates from 1998, from the short lived men’s magazine for post-Britpop fops, Deluxe. It is the only “men’s magazine” I have ever bought, apart from porno ones in my teens. Anyway this list - more the approach to it than the actual contents of it, though obviously I agreed with most of those too - impressed me hugely. Enough to go to the bother of typing it up on USENET anyway.
(Mild apologies to those readers of my tumblr who don’t give a monkey’s about superhero comics. If tumblr had an equivalent of LJ-cut, I’d be using it now!)
3. If you read Final Crisis as a 7-issue miniseries, it will be great but jumpy and with a completely WTF ending. If, however, you read it as a 12-issue miniseries (like the original Crisis) - as I did last night - it is TERRIFIC and flows a lot better. To do this you simply read everything around the event written by Grant Morrison. Morrison’s suggested reading order is given in this interview and gives the following neatly symmetrical flow (with one little switch in the order).
Parts 1-3: FINAL CRISIS 1-3: The crisis begins, the dark gods start making their moves against the heroes, things get worse and worse and creepier and creepier before the climactic “end of book one” takeover play.
Parts 4-5: SUPERMAN BEYOND 1-2: Revealing the Crisis’ cosmic scope and showing Superman’s first confrontation with Mandrakk.
Part 6: SUBMIT: The Crisis at street-level - a good all-action palate-cleanser after the previous 3-D widescreen stuff.
Part 7: FINAL CRISIS 4: Ends with Turpin’s surrender - the series’ (and humanity’s) lowest ebb.
Parts 8-9: BATMAN 682-683: A spotlight on Batman to mirror the earlier spotlight on superman, and a look at the Crisis at the level of an individual’s psyche.
Parts 10-12: FINAL CRISIS 5-7: The (completely rockin’) huge two-issue fight scene as the heroes fight Anti-Life, and then the weird final issue with reality breaking down amid multiple not-quite-endings (of which more below)
Read like this there’s only one big plot lacuna (where’s Superman between part 5 and part 11) which of course there is an answer to (he’s off in yet another miniseries by someone else) but you wouldn’t know it from reading that lot. Otherwise the 12-part FC is relatively straightforward: big, ambitious, pretentious maybe, but also satisfying and thrilling and haunting.
4. So what’s going on at the end? Not the actual “what” of it, which is pretty clear - cosmic vampire rocks up to stop Superman restarting the universe, gets his arse handed to him by funny animals. But the why and how of the telling, which is (I reckon) deliberately anticlimactic: Mandrakk is much feebler in FC7 than in SB2, he comes over as a loser, an afterthought. There’s an in-comic reason for this: in the Overvoid dimension Mandrakk is (literally!) the big story - as he enters the multiverse he’s confronted by a ton of better, more vibrant stories (the “natural defenses” Nix Uotan talks about), and nobody really believes in him (including, significantly, the poor readers who didn’t buy SB and don’t know who he is - in Morrison’s metafictional cosmology, their outrage at his random appearance must actually fuel his defeat!). As has been established, like any god he needs believers to exist, and Superman can now treat him with justified contempt.
Also, Mandrakk’s thing is - as Grant M helpfully points out in that interview - “draining the life out of stories” - so it makes sense that his last appearance is jumbled, rushed, a rubbish retread of his earlier and grander appearance. As a story vampire, what else can he do but turn into a hackneyed sequel of himself?(it’s not even the ‘real’ Mandrakk anyway, it’s Rox Ogama thinking himself into being Mandrakk II).
There are also parallels with two sources GM has mentioned for the series: “Lord of the Rings for the DC universe” - the final book of Lord Of The Rings is odd, elegiac, a long sad wind-down after the climax of the Ring’s (and Sauron’s) destruction. The real annihilating force in LOTR isn’t Sauron but the creeping grey realism after Sauron’s vanquished - no more stories to be told in the Fourth Age of Middle-Earth. Final Crisis is indeed a Lord Of The Rings for the DC Universe, but it’s about the DC Universe beating that final enemy.
And also, recall that the original Crisis ends with a kind of afterthought - the half-destroyed Anti-Monitor roaring back for one last end-of-the-film slugfest. COIE’s real climax is the fight at the dawn of time: maybe FC’s double-ending is a comment on that?
5. A theme of FC: what happens when your head gets infected? (By stories! Or by evil gods.) Turpin fights but surrenders. Batman fights and wins. MONITOR freaks out. What do you the reader - in an advanced stage of infection if you’re buying this comic; hooked on events, steeped in fictional continuity - do? Give in, resist, or move on?
””Girls” are clearly in line to be the new black/wolf/f**k/crystals for 09. So far we’ve got Vivian Girls, U.S. Girls, “My Girls,” and just Girls (not to mention Women), and now, riding the dirty wave of ultra lo-fi yet extremely melodic/endlessly hummable noise-pop that seems to be building right now comes Toronto’s Little Girls.”
I’m more concerned about the endlessly rising tide of no-fi/shitgaze-type indie-punk. I guess it must be pretty easy to make, because it seems like this stuff is straight-up taking over indie rock. If you ask me, all this nostalgia for the DIY sound stems from the mainstreaming of so-called “underground” music. Indie rockers never wanted to take over — they just wanted their little corner where they could have a scene that was only for them. This kind of music is easy to make, and super lo-fidelity alienates everyone but the faithful. The records are pressed in small enough quantities to actually be collectible, and the labels and artists are obscure (and short-lived) enough that you actually have to dig deep to find out about them. Elitism and exclusivity ride again, and indie-rock goes back to the basements of nerdy collectors, leaving the dancefloors free for HRO-type party kids and NME readers.
Note that is just my armchair sociology, btw, not music criticism. I don’t mean to imply that this music is no good. I rather like most of it.
I like this idea of the music arising to fulfil the social need. Healthy, even! Of course that doesn’t mean anyone extra-scene should cover it. Or listen to it. Quite the opposite in fact: ignoring it completely is really a win-win situation when you think about it.
I have 0 against Georgia Wonder, but I think this press release is a bit disingenuous - being in the Top 20 on Pirate Bay is SURELY not the same thing as “being in the Top 20 Shared Music in the World”. Firstly there are a lot of other torrent sites - PB is the most famous but I’m not even sure it’s the most used - and that’s even before you start thinking about last.fm, P2P, streaming music services and other kinds of “sharing”.
It’s a nice angle though, and they’re obviously a canny band and will surely transform sharing into some kind of actual remuneration before too long. But I’ve seen this “top 20 shared music” posted uncritically by 3 or 4 people now - admittedly largely on Twitter, where 140 chars doesn’t leave much room for critical response (hence its burgeoning popularity!).
EDIT: It’s notable actually that @georgiawonder is using Twitter in a very human way - tweeting about oscar noms, getting into real conversations. It’s certainly not just a case of spam-friending (even though they’re a band). So in that sense they’re going about it ‘right’.