Archive for the ‘Music Criticism’ Category

High On Fire

December 3, 2017

Not the band, the song – The Telescopes approaching their most mainstream –

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Guildford hip-hop. Hip-hop. Upset.

December 2, 2017

At its best rap / hip-hop is fantastic… funky, witty, intelligent, experimental… let’s go back, WAY back, early 80s, Brooklyn, the four elements – DJing, MCing, Break-dancing and graffiti art… as Scroobius Pip puts it on the MIGHTY “Thou Shalt Always Kill“… “Thou shalt remember that guns, bitches and bling were never part of the four elements and never will be.”

[As an aside, any track that can reference Hollyoaks, open mic nights, Lethal Weapon, Stephen Fry, Minor Threat, Led Zeppelin, Pop Idol and Lostprophets – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg – deserve massive respect].  [As a second aside… you really need to listen to shit loads of Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip if you haven’t before].

Anyway, some of the reason that I do not pay more attention to hip-hop –

(1) Songs about gangster life – in the projects or in the gated mansion on the Hills – do not chime with my life.

(2) Songs that celebrate UDWs (Unnecessary Displays of Wealth), greed, shallowness and appalling taste are depressing.

(3) Songs that require 50 practically-naked, large-breasted, bouncy-butted young ladies in the video in order to sell in order to acquire big shit and shiny shit that means one can engage in massive UDWs are fucking depressing.

It seems to me that whilst hip-hop could and should be about education and elevation, it is usualy lowest common denominator, borderline-evil, shit. And it is basically mainstream crap – it is supporting the status quo which sexualises and patronises and denigrates women; which promotes a nasty, extreme, unequal form of capitalism; it promotes violence.

Of course, anything that reaches the mainstream is destroyed, and of course there are a million and one artists out there fighting the good fight, just I don’t know them cos I’m too busy working, watching Scorpion and listening to fuzzy guitar shit.

But FFS, I need to get on the case… Dr Dre Chronic 2001 is one of my absolute favourite albums of all time… and shit’s happening in G-Town.  Upset (and others) put on nights, artists make tunes…

Cappa – Jacket – love it…

Tony Humphries – For Sure – nice –

I have to say though, I can’t really get 100% behind hip-hop unless / until I can really get my head around  what the artist is trying to say, and how… so much of it has so much negativity and bullshit that I am really reluctant to say “so and so artist is a fucking genius” because I more than half not quite fully expect to soon hear BS from them, or, kinda worse, realise the bullshit in what I have already been listening to and enjoying.

Which is I love Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip.  They are fighting the good fight, no doubt, no fuzziness – MISSION TO MAKE THE WORLD BETTER.  FACT.

The Jacket remix is fine fine fine too.

Rodsuit – Part Of Me – Nice –

https://rodsuit.bandcamp.com/track/part-of-me

That’ll do for now.

 

 

The Telescopes – Stone Tape – Album Review

November 30, 2017

So good. Hum, bass drone, keyboard drone, clean guitar, percussion, repetition, whispered vocals, nothing to it. Great sound. Interference. Dirty guitars. It’s building. Nothing to it. It’s so easy to do this badly, this is amazing. Over. Keys. Vocals. Still nothing.

More of the same? Dirtier, heavier? Sounds like bows are being used. Whispered vocals. Noise, more sounds. Funhouse-era Stooges 5 seconds before ODing? That’s it.

Track 3. The Desert In Your Heart. Cheery. Title start. Still 5 seconds before ODing, vocals this time. The loops are everything and nothing. Serious sounds. Great production.

Interference. A few notes. Piano, whispered vocals. Feedback. Nothing. Keys blending into feedback. Pianos still going. This is quite abstract and challenging music all round, but it’s peaking now… sounds are fading, relief. This happens much slower in audio compared ot reading my words. Its building again, quite unsettling. This is some serious shit going down. Vocals, feedback, still that piano. Least favourite track so far, but this is great.

Bandcamp says –

“Stone Tape Theory speculates that inanimate materials can absorb energy from living beings, that electrical mental impressions released during emotional or traumatic events may somehow be “stored” in such materials and “replayed” under certain conditions.

Theorised by the archaeologist, parapsychologist and explorer Thomas Charles Lethbridge in 1961.”

Cool ending to that last one, great sounds. Fuck.

Silent Water. An old track that appeared on their first album nearly 30 years ago. Acoustic guitar. A looped percussiony thing. Tuba sound? as well. Nothing to it, slow singer song-writer acountic with motorik pulse beat racing ahead. The closest thing to pop / a song so far on the album by a mile. That pulse takes Suicide to new levels.

Final track. Dead Inside. Cheery. Drone. Acoustic. Where’s this gonna go? Bass and whispered vocals, that where. I love drone.

I love how it’s so inspiring. Anyone can do this. Anyone. Only you need to do it amazingly or it’s shit, and this is not shit, it’s fucking perfect, and if you do it, or I do, it’ll be shit. Not perfect. Not at all perfect.

More drone, looped vox. Feedback, noise, so mellow, so heavy. Panic setting in. But so chilled, a cocoon with a firestorm outside, fuck, what will I make of it on second play?

Album of the year, I thought it 4 songs ago. So good.  Sold out on vinyl I think, still available on download –

https://thetelescopes.bandcamp.com/album/stone-tape

I really liked the album they put out a few months ago as well. Must review that one too.

I gotta say one more thing.  If you like noisy or psychedelic music and you don’t like this then give at least 4 or 5 of their other albums a chance.  There are some massive similarities but some huge differences too.

American Hardcore, retro is shit, more about scenes

November 29, 2017

So, there’s this book…

US Hardcore 2001 (3)

… that I have just started reading, not even got to the start yet, still on the introduction…

US Hardcore 2001 (2)

So, the paragraph starting “As for the hardcore renaissance…”

“Yo, make your own fucking music!  Why just ape the music of my salad days?”

Fuck yeah… bang on.  If you’re part of a scene just churning out the same old style of music, music from a different place, a different generation, especially if yours purports to be the music of rebellion, then maybe you’re doing something wrong?

“Face it.  Hardcore ain’t the same any more.  It can still make powerful music, but it’s an over-with art form.”

Nail, head, head nail, do your thang.  I’m sure there are some good hardcore bands around now, but it’s an old style to dip into, nothing more.  If you’re nothing but a style from 35 years ago… pffft.

“Hardcore heroes like Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains, The Misfits and Minor Threat are modern immortals.”

Interesting the bands he chose.  Aside from Husker Du and The Replacements who transcended hardore, my hardcore listening is basically –

Black Flag – a fair bit, utter genius.

Bad Brains – a bit, utter genius.  Shame about being homophobic, would like them more if they didn’t actively try to make me hate them.

The Misfits – a bit, utter genius.

Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys – occasionally, but neither band do it for me really, however much I appreciate them intellectually.

But other than those he mentioned do I need hardcore in my life?  No.  A load of bands came along, a few of the real innovators nailed it early on, and it was past its best within a few short years.  End of.

Please try to look forward, and if you don’t look forward at least try not to do something as cliched as hardcore (or punk, or hard rock, or old school metal, or emo, or…)  Or try to be a better band with better songs than Bad Brains… and even then you will never be anything special, you’ll never go down in history for changing anything.

Set your sights at the stars, innovate, challenge, rebel, politicise, make great art, don’t fucking churn out dead shit.

Can’t wait to get right stuck into this book.

Moper, Bops, Joe Booley, Burrito Loco, Guildford, Sunday 5th November 2017

November 27, 2017

So, do I remember fuck all about a gig I went to three weeks ago?  Do I remember much about gigs I went to half an hour ago? Do I ever have the half a pint and no more that would enable me to judge the music at my best?  Is my best good enough? Questions, questions questions.

Joe Booley, missed at least half his set… electric guitar, singer-songwriter thing, not bad at all… he does a full band thing with Parachute For Gordo… his music online goes from very simple acoustic / vox simplicity (pretty good as it goes) to more electronic elements more recently (not convinced yet but gonna keep an eye because too few bands locally have electronic elements – which is partly cos doing it well is so damn hard).  Aiming to play 10 gigs in a day very soon, interesting guy with an interesting take, not 100% my thing, but I approve, and I trust his intentions. I don’t expect him to give a fuck what I think, but half the battle is pursuading potential fans that you have something that can be bought into.  I’m not 100% convinced that the music’s for me, but I am convinced – by what he does and how he comes across – that he’s on a righteous path. Worth keeping an eye on at the very least… but then I knew that the second I knew PFG were working with him.

Bops – album out on Rose Coloured.  French.  Would be very very easy to dismiss them as far too retro, and to be honest I am just not in a position in my life right now to really fall for a band like them.  But their very poppy, slightly psych-y take on sixties guitar pop, energetic, melodic, the accent really worked on the vox… really good.  My other half’d love ’em I reckon.

I really ought to check the album out and make sure she does too.

Moper – they really are an amazing band.  They’ve got the best songs out of just about any band I’ve seen around here in years… Johnny’s a fine frontman, great guitar sound, awesome volume. Job’s a good ‘un if that’s all the positivity I could find.

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor
[Photo credit – https://www.facebook.com/Holloway-productions-1871146373100894/]

Then you have the rhythm section, they just work, they rock, they groove. Such an intimate space, so close to Ben’s bass, one bit he gave Adam on drums a look and a smile… I might be reading far far too much into it, but the second I saw it I thought “he’s thinking – and telling Adam with the look – that he knows that what Adam just did was deliberate, that he know’s Adam’s trying to keep him on his toes, but no, he ain’t fucking up, in fact he’s gonna step it up another level and relish the challenge”.  I’m probably reading far too much into it, but what I am not reading too much into is that there’s a real groove, chemistry, funk and superbity or something.

All of which occurred in a tiny burritto bar.  A squeezed in three-piece with enough power for a considerably bigger venue took up almost half the floorspace, the audience squeezed in the rest.  Utterly ridiculous place to host any event, let alone a gig, I approve, thoroughly approve.

Hats of and thanks to Andy at Rose Coloured.

https://www.facebook.com/rose.colouredpresents

 

Pascagoula, This Is Wreckage, Space Church, Grits, Star Inn, Guildford, Sunday 19th November 2017

November 26, 2017

First up, Grits. I can’t help but have some reservations. I find it hard to buy into what they’re doing 100%, there’s something about them that makes me doubt their motives and remain a little unconvinced by them.

Flip side is that I feel that is harsh, even as I type it. Three great musicians, some really decent songs, and a furious energy that reminds me of the chaos of rock n roll at it’s best… I’m talking early 70s, Raw Power era Stooges, proto-punk, that properly fucked up all over the place rock n roll from when rock n roll was still at the cutting edge and punk had yet to seize the mantle.

They are getting better, and they’re also taking more of a stoner influence which is no bad thing… but then maybe I’m back to paragraph one, is this stoner influence a natural progression of the band, or is this an attempt to capture a part of what is kinda en vogue at the moment?  I am all for bands progressing, just I hope it’s natural and I hope it’s not an attempt to find a market.

I’m being so harsh, they’re a fine fine band, great energy, I’d happily go see them any day of the week.

Up next was Space Church. I’m back on an upward curve with them.  I loved the noise and the madness in the variety when I first saw them… to what extent did they mellow and to what extent did I just get my head around them so I wasn’t so mind-blown?  Either way I think they’re getting better, though I’ll never get that “first time” feeling again.

Phil’s a brave performer bringing a bizarre take on theatre to the party, I appreciate anything that puts a smile on my face and is wilfully different. Why has no-one else thought of forming an easy listening-influenced, performance art-influenced, Slinty-Albini-y thing like Space Church? It’s such an obvious thing to do.

Pat and Dan hold it all together… the bass kinda always adding something at all points in the set, the drums more ticking along in between the real highs.  Really good band.  Fucking good.

This Is Wreckage.  I’m a total hypocrite… or am I?  I like stuff to be reasonably original.  I don’t like old fashioned punk bands – or most modern ones for that matter.  It’s old hat, and it takes a bit of a spin and a real energy (see Freakouts locally) to make it good.  This Is Wreckage are kinda the noise-rock equivalent.  I think.  I don’t know enough about all the [late 80s, early 90s maybe, US] influences to know how much they’re bringing to the table that hasn’t been done before.  Why don’t I reject it as old hat?

But… noise rock is just more interesting than punk, it sounds better, it doesn’t have quite as many miles on the clock, and it has not been done to death in a mainstream way and become part of a fairly conservative consensus like punk has.

And even if it hadn’t, This Is Wreckage just nail it.  Drums get hammered, absolutely hammered.  Bass get’s abuse at high speed.  Guitars fizz and vocals shout.  Go see them.  Put them on.

Check ’em out here – awesome – buy it –

https://thisiswreckage.bandcamp.com/album/q-y-c

Onto Pascagoula.  They’re not that similar a band but they did kinda remind me of Wytch Pycknyk [are both bands from Brighton?  Wytch Pycknyk played the Star recently] in the level of chaos and genuinely fuck-up energy.  If you could combine Grits professionalism with the sense of danger and fucked-up mess from Pascagoula you’d have an awesome awesome awesome beast of a band.

Pascagoula reckon they’re sludge doom metal drone or summat, judging by their bandcamp.  Not sure they sounded as heavy or dark as what I checked out online before the gig.  They’re a bit all-over-the-place, and that’s no bad thing, enjoyed them, definitely the band I’d like to see again.

It’s almost getting embarrassing… the Buffalo Club guys, literally, genuinely, do not put on bad bands, and I am literally, genuinely not sleeping with any of them, that is the truth.

Quicksand and Thrash

November 25, 2017

Quicksand… another band on my list of bands that needed to be checked out… and by coincidence they’re kinda more evidence to back up my thoughts on scenes… Wikipedia says “Quicksand’s sound has been compared to that of post-hardcore band Fugazi and Helmet“. I’m no big Helmet fan (another band on the list that needed to be checked out), but I am a normal, well balanced human being therefore I am of the firm opinion that Fugazi are actually and literally GOD. Quicksand do kinda sound a lot like Fugazi… they’re a fine fine band, I could happily listen to them anytime… apart from every second of doing so I’d be thinking “this is great, but why the fuck aren’t I listening to Fugazi instead?

[If you ever get the chance to see Joe Lally live and solo by the way… JUST DO IT.  What a genius bassist… and when he got off the stage, stood in the middle of the circle and did a whole song a cappella… very impressive.]

It’d be different if I could go see them up close and personal, fantastic loud pa (not some shitty venue with everything turned down, you might as well stay home as put up with that shit), great real ale on tap. I’d love seeing that, and I’d have more time for them on record as a result (records to me are about listening to the best of the best, and listening to the bands you see live to increase your appreciation of the live event).

Like most scenes / styles of music, there is the odd band that invents a new thing, nails it, and often even goes beyond it. Everyone that follows – the whole fucking scene – is a pale imitation – every single fucking time. Not “invent, nail, push the boundaries”. More “copy, ok, stay safe within the fences”.

Know your history, ignore scenes or you’re self-imposing MEDIOCRITY.

Which brings me onto Thrash. I bought Hazardous Mutation by Municipal Waste years back. I love it. I regularly, every month or two, give it a spin. It is my thrash album, my only thrash album, and when I want thrash I want Hazardous Mutation by Municipal Waste. If Hazardous Mutation by Municipal Waste is to thrash what Fugazi is to Quicksand then I literally never need to hear another thrash record. One is plenty. If Hazardous Mutation is not the best thrash record ever then mayby I need to listen to whatever is. Anyone care to help me?

SPR!

November 24, 2017

If you’re gonna make music try to make it a bit different, challenging, blah blah blah… I give you SPR!

I think I can honestly say –

(1)  It is very rare that I hear a band that genuinely makes me think “I’ve never heard anything that similar to this before, this is right out there”.

and

(2)  It is even more rare that I hear a band and think “I can see they’re Spacemen 3 fans, it’s in their sound… but they don’t sound like a shit rip-of, they deserve to be judged on their on their own merits.”

Fantastic stuff for heads.

Why Scenes Are Not At All Fucking Shit And Where I Am Coming From Using Fuck All As An Example

November 23, 2017

Where a scene is not about a style of music, rather its geographic, its not necessarily shit.  If a scene’s about people coming together to support each others’ bands, to support venues, to support interesting bands trying to be brilliant and maybe even a bit new / different, then a scene can be a wonderful thing.

Where it is shit is when it is a scene forged around a specific sound and style of music, around people all doing the same fucking thing, despite the fact that it has been done a million times before, and better, by others.

FACT-A-FUCKING-MUNDO LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

Why Scenes Are Fucking Shit And Where I Am Coming From Using Shoegaze As An Example

November 22, 2017

There is a difference between supporting music and supporting a scene.

No-one can or should support all music – let’s face facts the vast majority of bands are fucking shit, however much it’s true that so many are brilliant.  It never ceases to amaze me how many fantastic bands there are, but for every one there is that is great there are so many more that are exceptionally poor indeed.

Not only shouldn’t you support all music you are FUCKING EVIL if you do.  You are diluting the support for quality, making it harder for original musicians, great musicians to forge a career, because 90% of their potential audience is wasting it’s time and money on bollocks.  People who care about their garden seek to destroy the weeds that deprive the flowers of light; people who care about music seek to destroy the twin cancers of unoriginality and mediocrity.  This is fucking art, you have to be cruel to be kind.

If the vast majority of bands are shit – and it is FACT that they are – then it is self-evident that the vast majority of bands in a group of bands all doing the same thing (a scene) are going to be fucking shit.  Therefore, QED, the scene is shit.

All scenes, ever, have been shit.

Shoegaze is the perfect example, and it echoes what happens in most scenes.

Stage One – bands like Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, The Telescopes and Spacemen 3 make music that is highly original and different (both from each other and from everyone else), but does share a certain something. This stage may last at least a couple of years, maybe more like 5 or 10. It’s not shoegaze, it’s proto-shoegaze, but only with the benefit of hindsight.  It is not a scene, though as the first stage progresses it is likely to start coalescing.

Stage Two – a scene forms and bands like Ride and Slowdive show up and the music press lumps the bands together under a marketable heading – the word “shoegaze” is coined. Some exciting things happen musically and especially socially. People come together and everything is wonderful. This stage might last a day or two, it might last as long as a few weeks.

Stage Three – the scene settles into an appalling dirge of same-y, shitty, derivative, unoriginal, bland, no-songs, fucking crap, a veritable shitfest of mediocrity. The music press wanks itself senseless. This lasts for a couple of years if the shitty bands involved are lucky.

Stage Four – the backlash. The deserved critical slamming as the press realise they’ve sold themselves and their audience yet another pig in a poke. At this point the press should really be getting it more than the shitty bands that they ludicrously got behind, but of course the press are already thinking about the next scene to hype for no reason.

Stage Five – silence. This last a few years, maybe more.

Stage Six – arguably the worst stage. A shit load of bands get fed up with the shit scenes around them (maybe boring crappy emo-y / punky-poppy bollocks), and decide that it was actually some dead old scene that was the be all and end all of popular music, and the scene gets reinvented and the new bands churn out the same old shit indefinitely, with each new band being a worse facsimile of the crap that went before.  This stage can last FOREVER, like HELL ITSELF.

Stage Seven – the bands like Ride and Slowdive from Stage Two reappear to churn out crap just like they did 25 years earlier, only even more pointlessly and even more shittily.  This only encourages the arse-wipes that appeared in Stage Six.  This stage can last FOREVER, like HELL ITSELF.

Now if your priority is not music, if your priority is your mates, hanging out with like- (narrow-) minded people, and doing the same old shit that was probably dead before you were born, but for some fucked up reason you have decided to give it CPR with an old car-battery as its corpse rots in front of your eyes, then fair enough. That is your call. But it has nothing to do with this blog. It has nothing to do with music. It has to do with your social life and your need to identify with something.

But of course, if you’re putting your music out there then you can expect to be judged as music.  This might be grossly unfair – after all you may have no interest in music, you may not actually give a shit about it at all, you may just like the scene generally and particular individuals specifically.  But it is an occupational hazard of putting out music.

Me, Wild Eye, this blog, I’m about the music. I am about the new, and the interesting, and the brilliant. I am not into being part of a tribe and promoting that tribe however average, boring, unoriginal and demonstrably shit that tribe is.  I cannot think of anything more pointlesss and depressing to be honest.

Who knows, a new shoegaze band might come along who are fantastic, it is possible. If they do then great, I have a lot of time for some of the proto-shoegazers and the ideas beind the scene, so it would be great if someone came along and did it better than everyone else, or put a new spin on it.  But chances are it won’t happen, which is why I say fuck shoegaze, fuck all scenes, fuck the narrow-minded people who hate music.