This little blog has been going six months now, and I just had a little look to see which posts had attracted the most attention. There were some surprises among the list, especially among the posts that didn’t get many views on their first day but crept up slowly over time. I keep in mind Jerry’s advice about blogs needing six months to establish themselves, and I’ve done almost nothing to promote the site, so it’s perhaps surprising it’s had as many views as it’s received. The main point is (and I remind myself of this often) that I’m enjoying the process of writing about the things I genuinely love here. If you stumble across your new favourite album, game or show through reading these pages, so much the better.
1. 10 Sexiest Nerds
That was just done on a whim. What can I say? I love brainy cuties!
2. How to be a rich, famous rock star
My husband (not rich or famous, but definitely rocking) suggested this one after becoming frustrated by people’s apparent ignorance about how “being in a band” really works. He says it’s changing pretty fast out there so I’ll probably have to follow it up some time in the future. For example, in my day *creak*, a standard demo tape (yes, cassette!) had only three tracks … Continue reading →
So, after months of waiting for me and years of waiting for everyone else, Foetus.org has proudly released HIDE. It’s going to take anywhere between a week and a month to wend its way to me from JG Thirlwell’s Brooklyn magic shop, so I can’t tell you very accurately what it sounds like yet. The preview clips I listened to on the site while I was gleefully throwing my money at Ectopic Ents and yelling “GIMME GIMME GIMME!” sounded exactly how I thought they would, only more so.
In other words, it’s a cross between this (wow – check out the similar imagery in the artwork!):
Can’t. Bloody. Wait.
(While I’m hopping impatiently from foot to foot, why not pop over to Foetus.org, check out the preview clips for yourself and order the album?)
After having spent the past six months reacquainting myself with the music of some of the poster-boys of my youth, I thought it would be fun to see what became of them. Some we know about: poor Kurt Cobain, or the likes of Trent Reznor who seems to be releasing something every second Tuesday. Next to him on my lurid grey-striped wallpaper (seriously, what was with that awful 90s decor?) was Al Jourgensen.
On the left, that’s how I remember him when I thought that he epitomised the ideal taste in fashion (hey, you’re talking to someone who willingly put black chipboard furniture with red plastic handles in their bedroom). I remember my straight friend Mike, who knew him, describing Al as “really sexy”, though I never really saw it under all that hair. He’s 51 now and officially disbanded Ministry in 2008, but still releases RevCo albums and works as a producer. In case you’re wondering, he quit heroin years ago after nearly losing an arm! Good to see he’s doing OK, and that Last Sucker album was actually pretty good.
Tim Burgess (The Charlatans)
Born 30 May 1967, the Charlatans singer epitomised the non-threatening cheeky-chappy indie vocalists of the time. For about three years in my early teens, he was my idol. I may have lost interest, but it seems he didn’t: the 43 year-old is still fronting the band, who released their 12th album, Who We Touch, on 6 September this year. It reached number 21 in the UK charts.
Q: I thought you were going to STFU about JG Thirlwell until HIDE came out.
A: Yes, but I got bored waiting and bought this instead. I liked it, and figured I should instruct you to run out now and buy it right away.
Q: Exactly how bored?
A: Well, while I was listening to it, I figured I’d draw a little picture of Thirlwell in Photoshop.
Q: You know that pic’s completely f***ing terrible, right?
A: Yes. I’ve never drawn anything electronically before, so I figured I’d teach myself to draw while listening to Ectopia.
Q: That’s some exquisite level of boredom. Pray, what possessed you to take up a new artform in which you have no experience and clearly not much aptitude?
A: JG Thirlwell is my muse: he makes me want to make things. Actually, he makes me want to hug kittens out of sheer joy whenever I hear the sweet, sweet noodlings of his creative brain. I need to buy a kitten just so I can exuberantly hug it. Only problem is that I don’t really like cats.
Q: I … see. And what does Thirlwell make of your obvious eccentricity?
Jerry’s comment in my Collapse Board post (caught in the spam filter – sorry, Jerry!) enticed me to check out this “Vaudevillian” two-piece from California. Most of what Everett True links to is crappy lo-fi all-girl punk bands. This is a lot like that, but they’re actually quite good.
There’s something of a Tom Lehrer vibe going on there with the wry wit of the lyrics.
It’s not a setup I normally like – given that I thought The White Stripes were total sh*te – but this lot have a great deal of charm and personality that proves instantly engaging. I’m not yet hooked enough to run out and pre-order forthcoming album Chateau Crone, but I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out to see what they do next.
The rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. 20 video games you’ve played that will always stick with you. List the first 20 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Then tag 20 friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what games my friends choose.
This was the game Him Indoors used to reel me in to video games in the first place. It was the twisted cuteness of the game that got me – the savage humour that accompanied my inevitable defeat. We still quote lines like the squeaky-voiced “I’ll get you” to each other from time to time. An unforgettably charming game.
My addiction to Klax was even worse than my current Bejeweled habit. I think I might have actually broken down in tears once after losing a particularly fraught battle against the tumbling coloured blocks.
It’s rare for a video game to have a story that compares well to other media, but Bioware’s astonishing space opera fares well even next to the Star Trek reboot. The gameplay is mediocre (better on PC than 360), but the cutscenes will linger in your memory for years.
What sticks with me most about this strange and rather basic RPG with Bejeweled-clone gameplay is the music. The medieval-style soundtrack just goes around in my head all the time.
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines
OK, so it’s one giant masturbatory fantasy for teenage goths, but it’s also one of the finest games ever made. I’ve been playing it on and off for several years now – never quite completing it, and starting it many times – but despite all the bugs it’s still an endlessly entertaining and amazingly lifelike journey into the undead LA.
I mentioned a while back that I’m on a mission. Just for my own piece of mind, I want to know that there’s a new generation of great rock stars out there – people that 13 year-olds in 2010 are wanting to be when they grow up. Rock ‘n’ roll, as I deemed it, was “knock-out charisma, a sense of poise and glamour that radiates from a good-natured personality, an exuberant sense of joy, and a certain forthright sensuality”. That the music has to be great goes without saying.
Today I found myself just wanting to hear something good, quickly, and idly searching youtube for Aylin Aslım, who I’ve mentioned before when I loved her Gülyabani album. I realised very quickly that while she’s not my personal X-Factor winner, she’ll make the Final Twelve.
The thing I like most about Aylin is that she basically just does not give a f***.
I don’t know anything about her personality and I don’t understand Turkish so I don’t have the slightest idea what she’s singing about, but in terms of sheer nonchalance she’d give Lady Gaga a run for her money. The first hurdle at which almost everyone falls is that they try too hard. Like Gaga, Aylin can dress up in wacky costumes or just saunter around in a bikini and look equally comfortable. She can channel anyone from Lacuna Coil to Cardiacs without seeming to switch gear.
So. Nick Cave. Lives in Hove now. “Hoveactually”, as we used to call it – the place where people lived who were too posh to live in Brighton. (“Oh, no, I’m from Hove, actually.”) Safe, boring Hove with its white-fronted Regency terraces and endless seafront of grey waves and squalling gulls. There’s something actually perverse about Nick Cave living there, but I’m happy for him: you can’t sit there wailing at the walls forever.
I’ve been hearing about Grinderman for two years now, and for some reason never got around to checking them out. I wouldn’t call myself a Nick Cave fan – got the greatest hits and been to a couple of concerts – but he’s the sort of man I’ll take an avid interest in, because everything he does is interesting.
He looks these days like he ought to be in No Country for Old Men – a film that isn’t nearly as interesting as it thinks it is. Its jarring soundtrack distracts more than it unsettles, and it spends more time telling you that it’s a masterpiece than even coming close to being one. It’s not a bad film by any stretch, but it just doesn’t merit the attention.
I’m not overwhelmed by the earlier single, but Heathen Child … well, that’s something special.
It’s actually fairly poppy – reminiscent of something like Papa Won’t Leave You Henry, drenched in lazy lo-fi riffs pulled straight from the mid-70s. It could be a Led Zeppelin cover for all I know, with its hypnotic repetition, tamborines and distorted squealing guitars. I like it a lot.
Having read a bit more of Collapse Board, I’m re-editing this article to wibble more about the blog, which is really bloody good.
Everett True and Lydia Lunch have a lot in common: I love the idea of them a lot more than I like most of anything they do.
Once in a blue moon, though, they come up with something that reminds me why they were so bloody essential in the first place. Today, it was catching up on a few of True’s posts on new blog Collapse Board, and his link to this Sonic Youth ft Lydia Lunch track in a review of new band 8 Eye Spy. Somehow the blend of Sonic’s droning, pummelling noise with Lydia’s yowling actually works, creating a life-affirming racket that’s quite catchy in its own noisy way.
If there’s one thing the French are particularly good at doing, it’s electronica. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Hydroze Plus – a collaboration between Electronicat’s Fred Bigot and Foetus man JG Thirlwell – sounds more or less how you think it will: bleepy and very French, with the sort of overtreated and barely recogniseable vocals Thirlwell lends to his other recent collaborations. Bigot does the music; Thirlwell sings, with each taking a remix of the EP’s two main tracks to bring the total to four.
Overcoat and Calm Calm are the main tracks of the release, which I bought via digital download from Foetus.org. The former is by far the strongest – a very catchy mix of sub-bass, bleeps and vocoded-style vocals in the Tricky/Massive Attack vein, albeit with a distinctively Gallic ambience. Belladonna and Epi-dose are remixes of those, with Thirlwell and Bigot taking a mix each (of course, Epi-dose – Thirlwell’s treatment of Overcoat, is the stronger of the two).
Special mention should go to the packaging for the limited edition 10″ vinyl, designed by Thirlwell, which is four colours silkscreen on a transparent disc and comes in a clear hard plastic bag. The artwork majorly grosses me out (the record itself has a cross-section of an eyeball on it), but if you’re into biology, I’m sure you’ll love it: it’s quite beautiful in its own gruesome way.
The vinyl’s been out since June on French label Optical Sound, and the 30-Euro signed copies appear to have already sold out, but there are still a few discs available to those who want them, and plenty of digital downloads for those of us who just want the music. The digital release is only about £2 (depending on exchange rates) so it’s a pretty sweet deal, and includes JPEGs of the icky artwork. I’m not the type of person who would declare it genius if Thirlwell belched into a microphone, so taken purely on its own terms, I think this is a pretty good record that I’m glad I bought.