The minute I saw Thora Birch in Ghost World, I thought she looked familiar. Not because I remembered American Beauty, or because she resembles Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games. I recognised her because I saw myself at that age – belligerently “different”, sneeringly aloof.
Later on, I realised that she was nothing like me at all – just like in Mean Girls, there isn’t much difference between the cruelty of the alternative kids and the snooty jock set, except that here almost everyone is trying desperately to please her and she throws it all back in their faces. Continue reading →
Have you ever listened to an album for the first time and just stared in disbelief for several minutes afterwards? It’s not like you hated it, but it just baffled you so much that you were completely unable to assemble any kind of opinion on it whatsoever: precisely what the f*** just assaulted my ears?
1. Thinking Plague – Decline and Fall
Amusingly mistitled ‘Decline and Fail’ at Amazon, Decline and Fall was the eagerly-awaited (at least by me) follow up to A History of Madness after nearly a decade of absence. Although they’ve always been on the quirky side, Thinking Plague used to be generally quite accessible. While I wouldn’t rule out suddenly deciding that Decline and Fall is my favourite album of 2013, right now it sounds an awful lot like the band-members turned up at the studio and just all started playing the first thing that came into their heads without reference to any kind of musical sense. The made-up-on-the-spot feel to the lyrics doesn’t help, either.
Youtube comment: “a fan for the last 10 years, i can say this : it requires a few listenings, but it gets better each time ! after a difficult start with it, i wonder if this may not be their best recording yet...” Continue reading →
OK, so I was just discussing mash-ups with someone, and though the genre (or practice) of mash-ups is old and tired and done to death, by its very nature it can be limitlessly inventive. Over the years, I’ve heard some frankly awe-inspiring incongruities, and here are just a few of the ones I’ve loved best.
1. Nine Inch Nails – Hand That Feeds / Ghostbusters Theme
Although very tame by modern standards, Elvis Presley’s first performance on the Ed Sullivan show was considered highly shocking at the time. The myth goes that he was filmed from the waist up, so as not to offend viewers with his racy hip gyrations, but in truth, his whole body was shown. The performance was broadcast on 9 September 1956. Continue reading →
Hate is too strong a word. I mean, I can think of plenty of songs that I just don’t want to hear again – Fool’s Gold by the Stone Roses doesn’t interest me any more, I’ve no real desire to listen to most of the shoegaze bands I enjoyed as a teenager, and lately Miracle by Foetus has me scrambling for the skip button because I’ve just heard it too many times.
A slight case of overplaying. That was our nickname for the Sisters of Mercy’s “greatest hits” collection, but truth be told I could listen to any of those tracks any time. The winner, though? The one track I literally never need to hear again? I think it would have to be Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Band-members are like the ingredients of a cake: get it wrong, and the result is bland or sickly. It’s about getting people together who make each other feel comfortable, who can inspire the audience, and who can deflate the ego of an overindulgent songwriter. The producer is the mould. If you pour cake mix onto a baking tray, you’ll end up with a flat, sticky mess. Some producers are like old-fashioned round cake tins, providing a strong but subtle structure that simply allows the flavours to emerge. Others make fancy shapes, so vibrant and daring that its cakeness comes second to its art-form. Like the line-up, the right producer for your band is the one that fits your personal dynamic, and brings out the best in what you, uniquely, have to offer.
Unlike misheard lyrics, Literal Videos are cover versions of songs with the lyrics changed to match the action in the video. Youtube user DASjr Productions has uploaded some absolutely hilarious examples, and others have followed suit. Here are my favourite videos by DASjr, which had me giggling like a lunatic yesterday. The Bonnie Tyler and Nirvana ones are way funnier than the others, but I got a smile from all of them. The “cat frame” is to avoid the videos being blocked on copyright grounds (which rather undermines the fair use/parody idea).
Total Eclipse of the Heart “I’m swaying side to side / these dancers need to stop / the gayest man on earth would call this over the top”