Archive for August, 2009

London Gig Guide # 3

August 28, 2009

Again, not all in London…

Saturday 29th August 2009
Winnebago Deal and Los Mendozas at The Hobgoblin in Brighton
I Write Lies at The Archway Tavern

Sunday 30th August 2009
The Coal Porters at The Horniman Museum

Tuesday 1st September 2009
Not Cool at The Old Blue Last

Friday 4th September 2009
The Coal Porters at The King’s Head
Milk Kan at The 12 Bar

Saturday 5th September 2009
The Coal Porters
at The Green Note

Monday 7th September 2009
The John Moore Rock and Roll Trio at The Social

Tuesday 8th September 2009
Ice, Sea, Dead People at The Lexington

Wednesday 9th September 2009
She Keeps Bees at The Boogaloo

Thursday 10th September 2009
She Keeps Bees at The Wilmington Arms
Future of The Left at 229

Friday 11th September 2009
The Krak
at the Barfly

A Definitive History of Radiohead

August 16, 2009

Radiohead are an English snooze rock band from Privilegeville, Oxfordshire. The band is composed of Thom Yorke (whining), Jonny Greenwood (wanking), Ed O’Brien (bit of everything), Colin Greenwood (farty noises) and Phil Selway (hitting things).

They met whilst masturbating each other in the dorms of some posh boys school.  Originally formed in 1986 and named “On a Friday”, the name referring to the band’s usual rehearsal day in the school’s music room, music fans across the have subsequently spent 23 years wishing that they’d resist picking up their instruments on Saturdays, Sundays, Monday, Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays.  On a Friday’s greatest years were 1987-1991 when the members were at University and the band was on a fairly long hiatus, though, proving the maxim that walls have ears, groaning was heard coming from some seriously pissed off rehearsal room walls in the University Holidays.  Some even walked out.  And believe me a wall has to be pretty pissed off to walk out.

During this period they recorded the song “Manic Hedgehog”, which surely must be as good as its name suggests, and were too uncool to fit in with a shoe-gazing scene that revolved around such epitomes of rock ‘n’ roll cool as Slowdive and Chapterhouse.

Radiohead’s first release, the “Drill” ep was released in 1992 to the sort of universal disinterest that every subsequent Radiohead release has deserved.  Their next single, “Creep” was initially unsuccessful, but it became a worldwide hit several months after the release of their tedious, generic, indie-by-numbers, debut album, Pablo Honey (1993).  Radiohead had achieved something no other band before or since has ever achieved – compress every single listenable note of their entire career into the A-side of their second single.  And it was an amazing song, especially if you were a self-obsessed, self-pitying, self-deprecating, male, middle-class, tosser.  The only good to come out of “Creep” becoming their breakthrough hit was the fact that it delayed the recording of their second album.

Radiohead’s popularity inexplicably rose in the United Kingdom with the release of their dismal second album, The Bends (1995). The band’s tedious guitar parts and Yorke’s incessant whining were warmly received by the cloth-eared and the stupid both in the media and amongst the general public.  Michael Stipe was moved to say, “Radiohead are so good, they scare me”, which proves nothing beyond the fact that shit bands often stick together.  Radiohead’s third album, OK Computer (1997), took crap music to new levels, yet greater international fame arrived, proving just how correct the Director of “Idiocracy” really was. Both sonically and lyrically, OK Computer has often been acclaimed as evidence of just how bad music got in the 1990s.

Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001) marked an evolution in Radiohead’s musical style.  The law of averages would have said that a band as bad as Radiohead could only get better, but inexplicably they actually got even worse.  EMI extricated themselves from the embarrassment of releasing such drivel in 2003 when Hail to the Thief became their final album for a major record label.

The hopes of the right-minded – that the lack of a major might stop their releases – were dashed 4 years later when their new album In Rainbows was given away in the bands vain hope that they could destroy the livelihoods of all struggling and up and coming musicians.  Musically even worse than previous releases, at least by copying tabloid headlines the lyrics were generally above the pathetic level of most of their crappy songs.  Rumours abound that their next album, featuring 12 songs reciting the rules of snooker, will be lyrically better even than In Rainbows.

In 2005, Radiohead were ranked number 73 in Rolling Stones list of “the greatest artists of all time”, leading to Cliff Richard’s famous pronouncement that even he could see how irrelevant the publication had become.  The fact that one of the world’s most stupid readerships could unintentionally complement Radiohead so highly by implying that there are 72 worse bands in the history of recorded music, came as a shock to everyone.

At the 2009 Grammy Awards, the band won Best Alternative To Music Album.

In summer 2009 Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke said recording another album would “kill” the band because making records has become a “real drag” to them.  Irony of ironies, I said the same thing about listening to another Radiohead album.  Unfortunately, given the sort of self-promoting dick-weeds that they are this is almost certainly just some tacky publicity stunt.  He went on to say that the band may start releasing one-off songs rather than full-length albums, raising the horrific prospect of shorter gaps between future releases.

Review: Future Of The Left “Travels With Myself and Another”

August 15, 2009

Review:  Future Of The Left “Travels With Myself and Another”

Excellent, heavy, alternative rock band release second album.  Features all their numerous qualities, but sounds relatively weak on first listen.  Quick grower however and proves to be a great second effort.

Or I could take slightly longer over this review I suppose.

A slightly spooky riff fades in against a hi hat; drums and rim shots come in gently and WHAM, “Come on, Rick, I’m not a prize, I’m not a cynic or one of those guys”, and the fun really starts.

Blasts of distorted guitar chords spit out then chime towards orbit.  Drums fill the gaps, Falkous shouts.  Songs lack much of the familiarity that nods to a traditional rock heritage would supply.  Short riffs repeat as they might in techno, or like a sample might loop.

The lyrics combine nonsense (to the listener at any rate), humour, politics, wordplay and anger.   They know how to give a song a title.  “Drink Nike”, “Lapsed Catholics” and “The Hope That House Built” all, I think, deal with religion, which to my mind is politics.  The latter is one of the highlights of the album.  A childishly simply riff is joined by some sort of stalking psychobilly, before it turns into a military stomp, interrupted only by another, this time distorted, child’s riff / scale “Come join, come join our hopeless cause, Come join, come join our lost cause”.  Verse two invites us to “re-imagine God as just a mental illness”

Sure, they’re not totally original – ripping off McLusky is outrageous – but they are pretty unique.  Ugly unique.

Synths when they appear do not take the music in easier directions, rather they ratchet the noise up when the guitar refuses to do so.  The backing vocals are spot on.

I am Civil Service” picks the pace up again, and the riffs stay simple as fuck, until the chorus, which is a hint that FOTL could be a normal band if they wanted to.  Just about the only hint we get.

Land Of My Formers” is in many ways a particularly belligerent version of Krautrock.  Fuck, this shit is mean as hell, but it’s life affirming with it.  This is the sort of stuff, along with Misifts and Black Flag that can guide me through the morning rush hour, safely, sanity intact, ready to face a day at work

It ain’t chilled vocals about a sunset on Ibiza that makes the next track less aggressive than many of the others.  When Future Of The Left ease off it is generally a reduction in the volume (height by width by depth, not loudness) of the guitars, as on “You Need Satan More Than He Needs You” rather than any fundamental change in tempo or vocal style.   “That Damn Fly”, though, actually has a guitar line that doesn’t seem to want to kill you.

After the revelation that “Emma’s mum and dad use plastic knives and forks” they kinda hint at the sort of track that the Stranglers might have written 30 years ago, a big compliment by the way, with a couple of interplaying keyboard lines.

After an almost-acoustic guitar riff starts “Lapsed Catholics”, it is joined by the vocals –

Whose prison break is the most impressive?
I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go Tim Robbins in Jacob’s Ladder.
Such patience, such verve and poise,
But wait a minute, shit, that’s the wrong film.
Morgan Freeman would roll in his grave, if he were dead,
Which he nearly was, if you believe the hysterical gung-ho Technicolor crapfest
That is Sky News, or Murdoch live, or whatever the hell the devil calls himself.
Sky News, or Murdoch live, or whatever the hell the devil calls himself
.”

But just before you’re ready to think that they’re going soft a keyboard riff ups the ante, the drums kick in and, not-metaphorically speaking, it quite literally happens, all hell breaks loose.  20 seconds of acoustic and vocals and the fun’s over and you’re ready to GO TO TRACK ONE.

Jerky, aggressive, loud, big, fun, serious.  Catchy, addictive.  I don’t care what you want, this is what you need.

RIP Les Paul (1915-2009)

August 13, 2009

This blog is not about fawning over famous people, or banging on about some guy who’s died. Apart from today. I know very little about Les Paul, but what little I do know is that as a musician, innovator and a man he was pretty special.

He was playing Hillbilly semi-professionally in his early teens.

He had re-invented himself as a jazz musician within 10 years.

He played a huge role in the evolution of solid bodied electric guitar.  A significant percentage of the best electric guitars made today have his name on them.

He overcame a near fatal car-crash that left his strumming arm a mess.

He invented multi-tracking and released the first multi-tracked record.  He pioneered delay and phasing.

He presented TV and radio programmes and was a massively popular recording artist, not least with his wife Mary Ford in the 50’s.

He came across as a really nice guy.

He was playing live into his 90s.

Respect.  I’m not sure this is the track he’d like to be remembered by, but it’s fun.  And makes me think of George Galloway, which can’t be a bad thing.

London Gig Guide # 2

August 13, 2009

With a couple outside London.

Friday 14th August 2009
Billy Childish and the Musicians of the British Empire at the Boston Arms

Monday 17th August 2009
Theoretical Girl at The Lexington

Thursday 20th August 2009
Roky Erikson at the Forum

Friday 21st August 2009
The Krak
at Rooz Studios

Saturday 22nd August 2009
The Fabulous Penetrators at Saturday Night Beaver at the Bethnal Green Workingmens Club
Exit International at the Boiler Room, Guildford

Wdnesday 26th August 2009
Noisick at Vibe Bar at London

Thursday 27th August 2009
Snuff at Portland arms in Cambridge

Sunday 30th August 2009
The Coal Porters at the Horniman Museum

Our Band Could BBQ Your Life Pt 2 @ The Windmill, Brixton, Sunday 9th August 2009

August 10, 2009

Sorry guys, I haven’t got the time or the energy to write quite as much about part 2.

I’ll start on some reflections on the weekend as a whole.  The first night was best… of my favourite bands represented the majority were on day 1 with only Husker Du and Fugazi comparing to the best of the first day and I was more tired at the end of a weekend.  And the element of surprise was inevitably less present.  And Winnebago Deal played the first night of course.  Mind you, they could have supported Ant and Dec* on the first night and left everyone else to the following day and it would have been the best night.  Genuinely no offence to the rest of you, they really were awesome.

The covers were the point of both nights.  Yes the normal stuff was good too, but it was the covers that brought the smiles.  Seeing musicians struggle along embarrassed with fumbling fingers and mumbled non-lyrics amuses me no end.  The original material was generally solid and I’d happily go see any of the band on Day 2 live again.  And again most of the bands again on Day 2 seemed to fit the band they were being better than you could have imagined anyone else doing.  Up the curator!

Day 2 Top 11 things (no particular order) –

(1) Ice, Sea, Dead People for being the only band of the two days who have got better songs than the band they covered.  Maybe I’m being a tad harsh on Minor Threat.  “Straight Edge”, “Minor Threat”, “I Don’t Wanna Hear It” are all great punk numbers that have a place, but just about every other band in the book has a depth that Minor Threat lacked.  And Ice, Sea, Dead People are a damn good band.  These guys do deserve number (1) on this prestigious list as it goes.

(2) Amy Blue doing “Human Canonball” off Locust Abortion Technician in a suitably chaotic fashion.  You did the right thing, no question.  If you’d learnt it you’d have sounded too polished for any sort of authenticity.  Best to make it up as you go along.

(3) 4 or 5 Magicians managing to play an entire set of Dinosaur Jr songs I don’t know.  Seriously, cheers.  I know that I’m not a Dinosaur Jr Freak(Scene) out there but you could have played the aforementioned track.  Or “The Wagon”.  Or “Start Choppin’“.  Or “Green Mind“.

(4) “I Don’t Wanna Hear If You Are Lonely” sung but an unnecessarily embarrassed XCERT.  Chill man, the song’s brilliant and the hair’s incredible.  You’ll pull it off.  So to speak.  And the soft Scottish accent’s gonna help with the ladies too.  Maybe you won’t have to pull it off.

(5) Getting to see Neil Hannon and John Lennon (or was it Jesus?) on stage together (if you looked from the right angle, squinted, and poked yourself in the eye with a stick first).  Louis Theroux on bass was just weird however.

(6) Ice, Sea, Dead People for taking me to heaven.  They did this by reminding me of being 17, young and in love, beautiful and free and in 28” waist jeans…  unfortunately this feeling lasted about 12 seconds, then I remembered fucking work, and fucking how shit everything is, and how my jeans are too tight even though they are decidedly not 28” any more, and how these bastards are probably younger and more beautiful and in more tighter jeans than I ever was.  Bastards.  Double bastards, all three of them.  Of course I am older and wiser than them.  They better look shit by the next time I see them or I’ll give them a lecture on responsibility, career choices, not drinking or taking drugs, saving themselves for the right young lady (and she will be a lady), the importance or hard work.  Actually, fuck it, I’ll start the lecture now.  If you wanna know how to make it big read “Run To The Hills” about Iron Maiden and take your band as seriously as Steve Harris does.  Punchline?  No.  There isn’t one.

(7) “The Model” with distortion.  Anytime.  And Everyone To The Anderson were good enough to get a link too.  And playing London tonight as well.  Do yourself a favour and go.

(8) Amy Blue’s climatic clown-like climax including climbing cleverly back onstage, having not so cleverly spent literally hours writhing round on the floor screaming into a microphone that was clearly not plugged in.  Note to band: If you can see all parts of the ¼ inch jack-plug the chances are the sound it makes will not be very loud.  This handy tip works with most instruments.  I’ve got a small club-hammer too and a sander so if you want me to tune your guitars for you I can do that too.  Wild Eye: He’s Here To Help!  (TM)  Undoubtedly the most rock n roll moment of the weekend, with the exception of Winnebago Deal’s entire unfeasibly good set.

(9) Thanks being given to “The Indie Bruce Forsythe”.

(10) Spotting the mustard to go on my bean-burger after the schoolboy error on day 1 of having it without either ketchup or mustard!  Consolations cards to the usual address.

(11) The Muscle Club’s rendition of “Waiting Room” which was awesome.  Amazing.

(12) Props to 50% of a band that shall remain nameless maybe ‘cos I forgot which one it was but maybe not you’ll never know, for getting their shirts off.   More props to the other 50% (old ones eh? you’ve come to the right place) for being chicken shits and keeping theirs on.  Thanks.  Although you looked like the sort of guys who were used stripping for a baying mob for loose change, why not last night?

* Little known fact, Ant and Dec are the only musicians in the history of recorded music to sing the lines “I’m Paul Daniels, I am small, I am bald with a bird called Debby McGee” in a song.  This makes them good so my point doesn’t stand.

Our Band Could BBQ Your Life Pt 1 @ The Windmill, Brixton, Saturday 8th August 2009

August 9, 2009

Michael Azerrad’s “Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991”, has, to some extent at least, changed my life.  For years I have loved Mudhoney, and been a fan of Beat Happening and Sonic Youth.  Looking through the shelves at Waterstones the book caught my eye, and a glowing, hand-written, staff-member review, stickered on the front convinced me to buy.  To cut a long story short I have gone on to buy numerous CDs by all of the bands covered and many of them have become all time favourites.

How’s this for an idea?  Get 7 bands together in a pub, lay on a barbecue, and give each of the bands a chance to take the role of one of their heroes from the book, playing a selection of their own material and covers of that bands songs.

So, let me get this straight?  7 bands who all love some of my favourite bands, and if I don’t particularly like them it won’t particularly matter ‘cos I’ll get to hear a shit load of great covers?  And food as well?  In a pub that sells Marston’s Pedigree?  £7, or £1 per band?  You know what I might just go.

The night starts with Dan Ormsby as Paul Westerberg.  Terrible start.  I hate cheats and this Ormsby bloke ruins the whole point of the night by (1) not being a band, and therefore (2) playing as Paul Westerberg from the Replacements, not as the actual subject of chapter 4, the Replacements.

That’s not true, he did not ruin the night.  He posed the ultimate punk rock dilemma.  Slightly preppy shirt, shorts you might wear on the beach – should he receive a lecture about failing to be punk rock enough, or is it more punk to look unpunk rather than following the punk stereotypes?  A toughie, and I only wish Plato was around now to help me with this one.  Anyway, he nips through a few songs, “Skyway“, “Waitress in the Sky“, “Here Comes a Regular” amongst them, just him and an acoustic guitar.  The ability to get on stage like that is a really precious skill – and success or failure pretty much comes down to two things.  The strength of the songs and the strength of the voice.  Success.  100%.

Next up The Jelas as Mission Of Burma.  Possibly my least favourite of all the bands in the book, Mission Of Burma’s sound does influence The Jelas, as do all sorts of American New Wave / No Wave bands.  Jerky, funky, back-and-forth vocals and shouts distant from the mic, on paper they really aren’t my thing, in the flesh they are.  They played “Red“, they might have played “the Enthusiast“.  The complete opposite of Dan Ormsby, their success is less about the songs themselves (either their own or Mission of Burma’s) and all about the interaction of vocals, guitar, bass, drums, occasional sax.  It just works.

Dutch Husband as Sonic Youth mounted the stage next. Again the parallels with the band they were covering are profound.  Sonic Youth have become my default band.  You know sometimes you’re not sure what to put on the stereo?  In the past I used to think for ages until I either gave up of just put something on at random and was invariable unsatisfied.  Now if I haven’t decided after 10 or 20 seconds I just put on Sonic Youth, most likely one of their later albums.  Dutch Husband have that same thing, the songs aren’t that strong – you could not just pick up a guitar and play them – yet the way they are performed, the whole sound, is right.  It just works.

Not Cool are cool.  Minutemen are very cool.  Not cool as Minutemen is gonna be cool, right?  Wrong!  No right!  Re-reading my notes I put “fucking good bass and guitar”, but with hindsight I’m kinda overlooking the drumming, and the vocals are fine too.  They did “Toadies” and, I think, “The Anchor“.  They rocked and I will be seeing them again.

Internet Forever as Beat Happening.  I just don’t understand how it is possible to find this many decent young bands that are so reminiscent of the bands that they are here to represent.  And to get them all to pitch up in a pub in Brixton the same night.  Chaos, instrument swapping, faulty keyboards, tweeness!  It’s all there!  “Indian Summer’ –”and I don’t mean this as any sort of slight on Internet Forever – is the sort of song that is so incredible absolutely anyone can make sound good.  You can even lose 1/3 of the instruments, forget the lyrics, and it’s still incredible.  What a fucking song.  Best song in the history of everything ever?  Possibly.  Then they do “Bewitched” and you remember just how incredible Beat Happening were.  Not a patch on “Indian Summer”, but still a truly fantastic song.  And they do some of their own, including “Break Bones“, a song good enough to sit next to “Indian Summer” in a set.  I hope the depth of this compliment is coming through.

OK Dan, get back on stage.  Play some more Replacements tracks.  4 or 5 Magicians as The Replacements to be precise, only to start with there’s just the two of them.  Sam on guitar, Dan on vocals, they elect to play “Answering Machine“, which is – along with Blake Shelton’s “Austin – one of the two best songs ever about the effect an answering machine has on a broken heart.

Then Dan pulls out a Fender Mustang, the same mustard yellow as mine, absolutely identical to my favourite guitar, Ivan and Alex step up on bass and drums.  And they’re off.  I’m gonna have to see them as themselves soon.  Yet another one to add to the list.

We have the same effect Internet Forever, songs so fucking good that the band could be shit and you’d still love it, but the band aren’t shit.  Seriously, if you write songs listen to The Replacements and learn.  As a band if you play “Alex Chilton“, “Color Me Impressed” and “Bastards of Young” the inevitable happens… your own songs sound relatively ordinary in comparison.  Just how good were the Replacements?  It was a really good set, but the covers were the highlights.   I did like the song about the quality of play-lists driving music lovers to Radio 4 – I thought I was just getting old.

The best was left to Winnebago Deal as Black Flag.  I’m gonna try and keep it simple.  The whole point of this whole rock ‘n’ roll business, is to make the fastest, hardest, dirtiest, most punk, most rocking, most metal noise that you possibly can.  Be angry.  Shout.  Be aggressive.  Be loud.  Have killer riffs.  Basically be Black Flag.  And Winnebago Deal did just that.  They were, with a bit of help from a bassist, Black Flag.  And Ben Perrier was both Greg Ginn and Henry Rollins.  Now some people can say, ‘I climbed Everest’, or ‘I high-wired between the world trade centre towers’, but how many people can say they have been Greg Ginn and Henry Rollins at the same time?  I never saw Black Flag, but last night I came damn close.  “My War“, “Rise Above“, “Six Pack“, “Nervous Breakdown“, “Depression“.  20-odd tracks of fucking heaven.  Seriously, if they ever get sick of being Winnebago Deal they owe it to society to keep going a Flack Blag or whatever they decide to call themselves.

Toughest slot of the night for Wonderswan as Mudhoney.  The crowd was thinning as people left to try to make it home.  Those left have just been pummelled into oblivion by sonic destruction at the hands of Black Flag, sorry Winnebago Deal, and it’s passed bedtimes for some as well.  But then again Mudhoney are so deeply ace…

A bit similar to 4 or 5 Magicians in the originals inevitably took a back seat for me.  But then Sonic Youth, Black Flag, The Replacements, The Minutemen and Mudhoney, depending on the direction of the wind, could make up 50% of my “Top 10 bands ever” list, so again I have to make the point, I’ll judge Wonderswan when I see them playing a normal set, and I will see a normal set soon I hope.  Their first attempt at a Mudhoney song just fell apart half-way through.  But they got back in the saddle and nailed “Touch Me I’m Sick” and “In ‘n’ Out of Grace”.  Fucking tough gig following Winnebago Deal as I said, but they made it 7/7 bands that I would definitely see again.

Everything that is wrong with music…

August 6, 2009

… can be summed up in an interview I read in “The Fly” with Nick O’Malley from Arctic Monkeys.

Let’s get a few things straight first off.  I love Arctic Monkeys.  They have probably released two of the best British albums of the last 10 years, and certainly two of the best mainstream albums.

Bands can and should do what they want.  If they want to branch out, experiment, change, then that is their prerogative.  It is then up to their fans whether they want to follow the band on the journey.

Anyway, back to this interview.  What does O’Malley have to say for himself?

I think that the Last Shadow Puppets thing has really influenced Alex as a songwriter and also as a singer – he’s singing a lot better than he used to.”  What on earth has quality of singing got to do with anything?  Beside his voice was perfect.  Right, I was going to give this album a 10, but it’s down to a 9.

That whole experience has helped him to get a bigger picture and reach a bigger sound“.  What for playing stadiums?  8.  Nice English by the way.

There’s a lot more musical (7), instrumental (6) things going on with the new album, rather than just guitar, bass and drums stuff.”  What the fuck are you on?  Guitar, bass, drums, killer fucking tune.  You lot had the lot and you wanna dilute it?  Fuck it.  (5/10).

We wanted it to be less simple I suppose“.  Along with revolution, purity, love, suicide and accuracy, simplicity is clearly one of the half-dozen most important things on the planet / world of music.  You wanna ditch it?  2/10 and I am being generous now.

I wake up sometimes and think: ‘You know, I really should get a job’, and then it kicks in that I’ve already got one.”  GIVE.  UP.  NOW.  -4/10

There are always gonna be people who don’t want you to change or do anything different…”  Of course there are.  Especially if they recognise that you are incredible at what you do, and you are stating that it is your intention to make worse records.

It is clear that Arctic Monkeys can shit in a bucket, record it, release it and still sound better than most of the dross around these days*.  Their album will undoubtedly be a highlight of the 2009 mainstream.  Yet my scientific analysis, unmuddied (and this is where so many so-called music-journalists get it wrong) by actually listening to the thing, proves conclusively that it is one of the worst ever albums, given that it could not even reach the -2 I awarded to Radiohead for Kid A**.

* (c) my Dad.

** one day I will listen to Kid A, and I’m sure that’ll push that score downwards a bit.

Review : Spectrum – “War Sucks” ep.

August 6, 2009

This is the sort of release that really challenges the critic.  What to say?  Back to first principles as we say in the day job…

(1) Are you familiar with the work of Spacemen 3 and the two core members, Sonic Boom and Jason Pierce? Yes – go to (2).  No – go to (3)

(2) Do you like Spacemen 3 and in particular Sonic Boom’s influence on the band?  Yes – go to (4).   No – go to (5)

(3) Where on earth have you been?  Buy the second album “The Perfect Prescription” and “Translucent Flashbacks” (a compilation of the first two Spacemen 3 eps).  If you don’t like those go to (5).  If you do work through the rest of the Spacemen 3 catalogue, I suggest in roughly this order – “Playing With Fire”, “Sound Of Confusion”, “Dreamweapon”, “Recurring”, “For All The Fucked Up Children In The World We Give You Spacemen 3”.  If you’re still with me move onto Sonic Boom’s solo work and work with Spectrum (go to (4)). If you like the second half of “Recurring” move on to Spiritualized (tempted to say go to (5) but that is a bit harsh on poor old Jason, who had all the musical talent but none of the magic).

(4) Spectrum – “War Sucks” ep.  This is the second time Sonic Boom has covered a song from The Red Krayola’s 1967 album “The Parable of Arable Land”, after Spacemen 3’s version of “Transparent Radiation” which was, in my opinion, one of the finest Spacemen 3 songs.   “The Parable of Arable Land” is a pretty good album (almost) ruined by horrendous ‘free-form freakouts’ between each song.  There are many reasons to love the sixties, but any decade that results in musicians employing 50 of their fans, calling them “The Familiar Ugly” and getting them to make random noises using both musical instruments and household implements to use as segments between songs clearly wasn’t all that.

And how fucking depressing is it that some old hippy, anti-war, nonsense from the 60s is relevant and vital today as it was back then? The only consolation is at least that Tony Blair has given us a damn perfect reason to hate him, so I don’t have to come across as unreasonable saying I just hate his smug, bible bashing, self-serving, smug, conceited, cunty, smug, twatty smug-face.

Anyway.  “War Sucks” is the kinda garagey, poppy, psychedelicacy that Sonic Boom does so well. It would undoubtedly be harsh to say it’s one for the completists, but let’s be frank, not everyone is a total Sonic Boom obsessive like me.  8/10.  “Razzle-Dazzle Mind” is much more in a Stereolab vein – relentless and almost certainly one that will become a live favourite.  On record 6.5/10, but I gotta felling it’ll be an 8.5 on stage.  “Walking and Falling” is not a song (spoken word track in its original form, but with music on this ep) that I am familiar with.  Apparently it’s a Laurie Anderson cover.   Fucking chilled out shit of the highest order.  Very few guitar bands can get this laid back, and it segues into “Over and Over” which doesn’t get any less horizontal.

(5) You, my good sir (or madam), are a cloth-eared fool.

Review: The Shitty Limits “Beware The Limits”.

August 4, 2009

I was going to write two reviews of this album, and I was damn sure I could stand by them both.  But I’m actually going to withdraw the second one, and suggest that you rely on (1) with the conclusions drawn in (3).  I have removed the complex sub-paragraph system for simplicity.

(1) What the fuck is wrong with most music? I’ll tell you –

It is made by people who take musicianship seriously rather than as an unfortunate necessity, a means to an end.

It is made by people who care for their career above their art or their principles.

It is overproduced.

It is made by people who have not spent enough time with Minor Threat on repeat.

There’s too many keyboards.

There’s not enough shouting.

They might sound like schoolboys who have yet to get into double figures for rehearsals (massive compliment – and complete exaggeration – BTW), but The Shitty Limits are smart enough not to fall into any of the above traps.

They make a fucking racket.   And play fast.  I really should stop here.

The above says all you need to know.   Fucking genius album.

But no, I’ll go on.  Their influences span 60s garage, 70s punk, 80s punk and hardcore and right through to the DIY scene that they’re a part of.  It’s hard to pin them down in terms any further, with one song leaning in one direction slightly more than others, the next leaning a different way.

What more do you need to know?   They race through 12 tracks in under 25 minutes with only one breaking the 3 minute mark and only 4 more breaking 2.  They give the distinct impression that they do not give a fuck whether or not you buy this record.  So long as they sell enough to make another, sell enough tickets to play live the next week, they’ll be happy.   You need this record for what it represents.

(2) None of the tracks are particularly good, and if you want to sit at home listening to punk rock there are a hell of a lot of albums you could and probably should buy instead.  Only “Television” which goes “Saw it on the television television television!” is particularly memorable.  Go see them live, buy some more Black Flag or Circle Jerks and chill out to the punk vibes on them man.

(3) Saying that I’m giving it its sixth listen in 3 days and am not even slightly bored with it, so it can’t be that bad.  In fact these songs are getting in my head now.   “Hardwired” has a fucking neat little riff and a cool, almost Sonic Youthy, break.  Aforementioned “Television” is stupidly catchy in the old chorus department.  “Beware the Limits” is brooding genius. “Your Limits Are My Limits” is a wonderfully silly little pop song all wrapped up in distortion.  Stick the fucker on 6 times in a row and the tunes will start shining through the speed and the fuzz.

I can’t fucking wait for this album to finish so I can put it on again.