Everett True reckons that Artists Should Stick To Art instead of making mixtapes of obvious dad rock. If mixtapes made by artists are so disappointing in real life, I think we should invent some fantasy selections.
It’s been exactly two years since I started this blog and the difference it has made to my life has been remarkable. Not the writing part; I’ve always done that. Even when I wasn’t writing for publication, I was wittering away on internet forums or clogging up Facebook with my rantings. No, it’s the inspiration. It’s like being in love. You know, the butterflies-in-the-tummy feeling you get that makes you feel like you’ll just burst if you don’t shout it from the rooftops – that’s how I feel when I hear a great song. It goes far beyond just transforming my mood or giving me an idea. The word “inspiration” is related to breathing, and that’s how essential and natural this process is. I might have a conscious discipline to blog every day, but that just facilitates my discovery of these wonderful tunes – the words that appear on the screen are just a manifestation, a by-product of the process. If I couldn’t write, I’d just have to speak about it, and if I couldn’t speak I’d grunt and gibber. I’d point. I’d take you by the hand and drag you over to the record player. This. Hear it. Now.
These are just a few of the songs that have inspired me in the past 12 months. You can hear them as a YoutubePlaylist (click to stream). Enjoy! Continue reading →
It’s been a funny year. I spent most of it pregnant, which is a lot like being really hung over for nine months. Not really conducive to productivity. Now my tiny bundle of trouble is here, blog posts are hastily composed in the few minutes she is able to sleep without being cuddled up on my lap. It’s been a funny year generally, though. There were terrifying natural disasters, tumultuous political events, and a slew of zeitgeisty buzzwords. There were the riots in the the UK, which was the logical result of our filesharing culture: if you tell people that they can take music, films and games without permission, payment or consequence, then of course they’ll just start smashing shop windows and stealing televisions and consoles to play them on – because, really, what’s the difference?
Steve Jobs died, to worldwide mourning, and John McCarthy – who coined the term “artificial intelligence” – died the same month, to little fanfare. Amy Winehouse succumbed to her addictions, and Charlie Sheen miraculously survived his own. A royal couple who actually seemed to like each other got married. Lady Gaga got boring. An American preacher predicted the Rapture – twice – and was a little embarrassed when the dates passed without incident.
And a number of things were released that I rather liked.
A few weeks ago, Chris Razor wrote about clank – a new genre title he’d coined, and I was grateful, because I’d been trying to think of a word for it for ages. I was getting fed up of saying “experimental electronica”, because that makes it sound like it sounds more like this and it doesn’t. Instead, it sounds like this.
If you’ve ever liked music, there’s a reasonable chance that you have enjoyed the music of Portishead. I certainly did in the 90s, but lost touch with what they were up to some years back. At the end of this month, they’re curating a festival at Astbury Park, NJ. If that’s a little far for you, they’ve handily put together a free-to-download mixtape featuring the acts who’ll perform, including Battles, Factory Floor, Cults, Swans, DD/MM/YYYY, and Manorexia. I’ve only heard the first track so far (Oneida), but this is seriously good music. Continue reading →
“Mostly only art created by women has any validity. The male experience has been created and recreated so often” – Everett True, 1992
That is such bulls***. It’s like saying that only Tuvan throat singing/rock hybrids have any validity because you don’t get much of that, either. (And, f***, it’s good stuff.) I don’t flip the sleeve over to check the gender before I’ll listen to the record, any more than I’d think too much about whether they were, say, Turkish. And, yes, a Turkish act does bring a certain flavour to the mix that you rarely get with non-Turkish acts. It’s informed and shaped by its Turkishness but not wholly defined by it because it’s more than that and to reduce it to that is to insult it.
Take Aylin Aslim, for example. I don’t know who she is, but I love her. I don’t have the slightest clue what she’s singing about (though Google translate tells me it’s called “ghoul”). There’s definitely a Turkishness to what she does, but I don’t set out to listen to Turkish folk. I just like this one – her – because she has such a don’t-give-a-f*** attitude and playful energy that makes her an absolute joy to listen to.
My review of Battles’ new album Gloss Drop is up at Collapse Board. It’s pretty funny: one of the comments there was aghast that I hadn’t mentioned the loss of a founder member. I was pretty stunned because I immediately assumed that it meant that Tyondai Braxton had died, which of course would be absolutely terrible! I was pretty surprised that I hadn’t heard about it, even if I was the sort of casual fan that didn’t know off-hand the names of the members of the band.
Listening to MGMT yesterday, I began to wonder if people had forgotten how to write great songs. “How can you say that?” I hear you cry. “Electric Feel is a great song”, to which I’d counter, “Electric Feel has a great hook; it is not a great song.”
Great songs have rules – surprisingly rigid ones at that. It’s not that the songs that obey those rules are automatically good, but that the ones that break those rules are almost universally bad. Continue reading →