My Life Story

Randomly had this going around in my head. Time was when any half decent pop act had their own chamber orchestra. The Divine Comedy, quite deservedly, attained some rather belated popularity and ended up writing the theme tune to Father Ted. The other, far less renowned contender, was My Life Story, who I had the good fortune to see twice – first supporting Blur, and then at Brighton’s Concorde, where they had 12 people on stage – almost more than people packed into the tiny venue – and Jake changed costume three times during the set!

While they had a handful of very minor hits hovering around the lower end of the charts, here are my two particular favourite songs.

and, for good measure, here’s a great track by The Divine Comedy. It starts off routinely enough, but the middle instrumental passage sends shivers down my spine.

6 Reasons You Should Be Listening To Foetus

Since 30 March this year, I’ve made *counts* 1, 2, 3 … a ridiculous number of posts about Foetus. The 294th album, HIDE, was due today, but since it’s been delayed, I figured I’d talk to you guys. See, my problem is that media consumption is an intrinsically social activity – people like to discuss the things we like – but Foetus fans are unsociable buggers; not mean, just uncommunicative (no, not you, Kenny). The net result is that Foetus makes me feel like this:

JG Thirlwell with hearts and kittens

… while being a Foetus fan makes me feel like this …

Monty Python dungeon guy

Ummm ... hello?

It wasn’t always thus. Back in the 90s I was signed into a club by someone saying “she’s met Jim Thirlwell” like it was some sort of credential, had made half a dozen friends before I’d hung my coat up, and spent the first few minutes answering questions on what he was like (an endearing blend of Hecubus from Kids in the Hall and Beetlejuice. He’s still very likeable, just different and rather quieter. The music seems to have followed suit.)

Now,  my only option is to reel in a few of you people, because – well – I like you: you deserve better music. People ask me which Foetus albums they should be listening to, so I figured if I went through them you could pick them out yourself. Plus it would be good to talk about this stuff with someone other than Kenny and my bunny finger puppet.

Bunny finger puppet

Endless source of mischief

So, here once and for all is a rough guide to why you should be listening, after which I’ll shut the f*** up about Foetus. At least until HIDE comes out, anyway.

TL;DR: My first uninformed impression of Foetus’s NAIL was that it sounded like Nick Cave fronting NIN as scored by Danny Elfman. After that, I figured he’d just thrown an entire warehouse-full of records into a blender and poured them into a mould marked “awesome”.
What to say:
Most great artists have been underappreciated in their lifetimes.
What not to say:
Oooh! Industrial! Does it sound like VNV Nation?
Suggested listening order:
FLOW-LOVE-GASH-NAIL-(DAMP)-(VEIN)-(BLOW)-THAW-(MALE)-(SINK)-LIMB-HOLE-ACHE-DEAF
See also:
My JG Thirlwell interview at Brainwashed.com

1. JG Thirlwell makes the best music by anyone, anywhere.

It works on three levels, and that’s what throws almost everyone because we’re not really designed to hold that much unprocessed information in our heads. The top level is noise, and that’s what will immediately scare off most people. Then there’s the melody, which reels in the fans, since even noisy Foetus is enjoyable to listen to. Taking the 1982 album ACHE as a prime example, it’s cacophonous and catchy at the same time, which makes it as unsettling as it is pleasing. The outcome of that is that you miss the third level, which is the intensely cerebral sophistication of a pop record made by a classical music fan. Beneath the noise is an intricate tapestry of samples – most performed by Thirlwell himself – that you’re unlikely even to notice unless you listen to LIMB first and pick up on those recurrent motifs.

Foetus has definitely mellowed of late, which just gives those giant arrangements room to breathe. Someone on YouTube described Time Marches On as “some kind of epic, demented pop song”, which it is. Continue reading