Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"You love me 'til my heart stops"

Just a quick one to let you know I've done a little guest blogging over at Sweeping The Nation as part of their Songs To Learn And Sing series. Go here to read it.

While you're there, have a look around, read the other pieces in the series and generally take in a better blog than this one.

I'm off to see Arab Strap. Wish me luck!


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Standing in the way of control.

Well that was a short-lived crisis. Came home today and the internet was working again! Praise be!

Anyway, on with the show. FYI: This week's Single Of The Week...

Robyn - The Rakamonie EP (Konichiwa Records)

I don't know what triggered the decision to 'launch' Robyn in the UK almost two years after her latest album was released everywhere else (her appearance on the Basement Jaxx record, probably), but it may well be too little, too late for the record-buying public. They're all philestines though, because Robyn, as any of the enlightened will attest, is one of the biggest, brightest shining stars in the pop world. The lead track on this five-song taster, 'Konichiwa Bitches', is justification enough for that bold statement. It's a strutting, hypersexual, three-minute wonder that chews you up and spits you out, leaving you feeling a little dirty, but with a filthy smile, suggesting that, although you've clearly been used, you obviously fucking loved it.

The other four tracks here are great too; three covers (Teddybears' 'Cobrastyle', Saul Williams' 'List Of Demands', with Jenny Wilson, and a barmy, piano-heavy run-through of Prince's 'Jack U Off') and a stark, beautiful new version of her already heartbreaking 'Be Mine'. Don't sleep on Robyn, she may well change your attitudes towards pop music.

Although you could argue that it's a complete non-story these days, the latest horrendous snafu in a long line of horrendous snafus by NME has made me laugh. A lot. More for the repercussions than the actual outcome of the fuck-up, which has seen the increasingly laughable music weekly shoot itself in the foot by angering half of the population. Not to mention seeing the very people they were trying to praise turn on them before the fickle bastards even thought about knocking them down.

In case you didn't already know, NME printed their annual Cool List last week, awarding The Gossip singer, Beth Ditto the number one spot. Straight away, I smelled a backhanded gesture (the words that Ditto herself has since used to describe the award), especially because half of the top ten were also women (Kate Jackson of The Long Blondes, Lovefoxxx of CSS, Karen O and Lily Allen were the others). Then, I spotted NME on the shelves of a newsagent in town, totally expecting to see La Ditto snarling back at me.

But she wasn't there. Instead, the cover featured a rather standard photo of Muse, with the Cool List ladies ghettoised to a side banner. This showed the prominence of women in the cool list up for the cynical concession it actually was. In the year that Pete Doherty and Carl Barat were joint number one, NME had two special covers, one Pete, one Carl, but both with snazzy (read cheap-looking) hologram covers. Lily, Beth and Kate got an inset, next to Matt Bellamy's face.

I suppose that we shouldn't have expected more from them, seeing that that insufferable prick, Conor McNicholas is still editor-in-chief, but to completely forget that courage helps in backing up convictions when they had made, by their standards, a bold decision, is just absolutely spineless. It then transpired that the pic of the three women that covers about four square inches on the final cover was (surprise, surprise!) originally supposed to be the cover (with Muse relegated to second place), before being pulled at the last minute.

The shit has been flying ever since, with Ditto labelling NME "cowards" and Allen proclaiming them "wankers" in one of her outspoken MySpace blogs. Lily hits the nail on the head when she says that the whole endeavour is "patronising", but really, who gives a fuck about being 'cool' these days? It's such an outmoded concept that brings to mind (for me, at least) preening, posing tosspots more concerned with how they look than the music they're making. Which just about sums up the NME ethos in 2006.

Rant over.

Now for some music...

Sandie Shaw - Reviewing The Situation (mp3) (Just because it's ace)

My My - Propain (mp3) (I've been listening to the My My album, Songs For The Gentle a lot lately and this is one of my favourites.)

Also, our friends over at Twentyfourhours have the new Carl Craig remix of Brazilian Girls. Go get it!

More news as we have it,


Monday, November 27, 2006

"Snake Plissken?! Thought you was dead!"


No, I haven't shuffled off this mortal coil. Nor have I given up on the blogging world. I was intending to have a busy week this week, with lots of things I wanted to share with you guys, but wouldn't you just know it, my internet fucking died today! It won't be back on until Thursday at the earliest, so you're going to have to wait for new blogs.

I'm sure you'll cope. Go outside, take in the world around you, read a book, whatever. Just don't expect anything new on here until at least the weekend, because I just don't do internet cafes. Not my thing. Obviously, I'm sat in one at the moment but that's purely out of necessity and I don't intend to stay here for long after I finish this senten...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mixtape Ahoy! Part Two


  1. Burial - Broken Home (The sound of urban despair and decay sounds even more vital and relevant now that the skies are grey and the nights are long. Burial's self-titled is one of the year's best albums, no doubt. Get it now if you haven't already.)
  2. My My - Clean Break (One of the more upbeat numbers from My My's new album on Playhouse, Songs For The Gentle. My My are generally a little warmer and less austere than the usual minimal stuff and 'Clean Break' with its subtle disco edges brings to mind a European take on Metro Area.)
  3. Roxy Music - The Thrill Of It All (M.A.N.D.Y. Vs. Booka Shade Remix) (At some point inbetween compiling this mixtape and now, I've really gone off this. At first it sounded nicely familiar, but then I realised that it's just a less euphoric, therefore lesser version of 'In White Rooms'. Nevertheless, here it is, for your listening pleasure.)
  4. The Glimmers - Time 4 Action (Padded Cell Remix) (A strutting bassline anchors this dub-disco rework of The Glimmers' latest, while PC chuck in weird fx and noises to pique your interest, seemingly at random, a bit like an aural version of action painting. More intriguing devilment from the DC Recordings stable.)
  5. Putsch '79 - Doin' It (Daniel Wang Remix) (Balihu's Daniel Wang camps the original up a notch or two, resulting in sheer, synthetic discoid thrills. Music for the hips.)
  6. BT Express - Peace Pipe (The first of two Tom Moulton-touched crackers on this second part of the mixtape, this is one that you all should know. If you don't, shame on you. Redeem yourself by cranking this up and get on down with your bad self.)
  7. Of Montreal - The Past Is A Grotesque Animal (One of the best, strangest songs I've heard in a long time; a twelve-minute electro-pop epic that eschews the verse-chorus-verse for a nervily eddying riff that twists itself around, changing key, climbing, then dropping, while Kevin Barnes rants away about "Swedish festivals", tearing "our fucking bodies apart" and other stuff, growing more manic and paranoid by the minute. Brilliant stuff.)
  8. Talking Heads - Life During Wartime (Live) (THE best recorded version of 'Life During Wartime' is this one, to be found on The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads. David Byrne whoops and hiccups even more like a ball of nervous energy than normal, while the extended band (it was when Adrian Belew, Bernie Worrell and Nona Hendryx had joined) whip up a stupidly tight frenzy in the background, with Belew's guitar stabs coming to the fore. Awesome.)
  9. Pull Tiger Tail - Animator (I hear the kids are going completely monkey-poo for these guys. They shared a house with Klaxons, you know? As with all these hip young things, I've approached them with just the right amount of cynicism, but the boys know their way around a catchy chorus. When stuck for a hook, repeat one word again and again and again and again. "Animator, animatooor, animatooor, animator, animatoor, animatoor, animator...")
  10. The Apples In Stereo - Skyway (While it's not quite up to the standard of their masterpiece, Fun Trick Noisemaker, the forthcoming Apples In Stereo long-player, New Magnetic Wonder is a joyous thrill-ride, packed with power-pop gems. 'Skyway' is one of the highlights, with its SFA-esque "do-do-do-do-do-do"'s.)
  11. Deerhoof - Wrong Time Capsule (Since compiling this, I've heard Deerhoof's snazzy new record. This cut from The Runners Four will have to do for now though. More about Friend Opportunity soon.)
  12. Jeremy Warmsley - I Promise (Strapping young lad, Jeremy Warmsley writes tender songs about love and betrayal. He also wears braces. Don't hold that against him though, as you'll be missing out on a promising talent.)
  13. King Creosote - 678 (Chorlton & The Wh'Earlies Version) (Recorded with Texan Mancs, The Earlies, this version of '678' is better than the one that appears on KC Rules OK, in my opinion. KC finds the joy in repetition and, probably, stretches the coda out beyond breaking point, but it hammers home the song's subject matter of not wanting to be a big star and just being happy with what you get. Lovely.)
  14. Grace Jones - La Vie En Rose (12" Only Promo Version) (The second of our Tom Moulton productions this week and the mixtape closer, is this big fat slice of camp. It doesn't get much more lavish than Grace Jones + Edith Piaf + Tom Moulton. It can only equal bliss.)

Pop's Yer Uncle Volume Three (Disc Two) Zipped and Megauploaded

Monday, November 20, 2006

"It's the new, the new improved lucky you"


It seems that I've been limiting my blogging activity to one post per week lately, but I do have an excuse of sorts; I'm completely fucking brain dead. To elaborate, I have been kind of busy this past week with work, but I've stil had plenty of opportunities to sit down in front of the computer and hammer something out. The words just haven't been coming though. I don't know why, in fact, when I'm actually at work, I'm full of ideas and my clarity of thought sometimes astonishes me. Get the laptop out though and all I'm left with is the mental image of a chimp on a bicycle.

I suspect that the floodgates will open at some point and I'll start blogging like a demon again. I've got a few things that I want to pass comment on, like last week's Art Brut gig, for instance (at which I met the lovely people from The Indie Credential), or the new albums from Clipse, Bloc Party and Deerhoof. There's also the second part of this week's mixtape to contend with, not to mention the fact that I've been trying to knock out my end-of-year lists, which I'll probably start in a couple of weeks.

So, yeah, that's a half-arsed reasoning for my slothfulness out of the way. I'm interested to know whether anyone is still reading (I don't have a hit-counter, as I'll probably only be disappointed with the stats), so if you're out there, give me a sign. Any kind of sign. Actually, just scrawl something in the comments box if you want.

To this week's singles, then. It was a tough decision picking a winner this week. I was pondering making it a joint one, but upon listening to them both next to one another, the song that made me do the robot emerged as the clear winner...

Subtle - The Mercury Craze (Lex)

Announcing its arrival with a double-tracked, kickarse glitterbeat, before going off on a space-funk tangent, Subtle's 'The Mercury Craze' is probably the best pop single you'll hear all year that doesn't stand a chance in hell of making the top 40. Subtle's indie hip-hop sensibilities are kicked into touch in favour of an insanely catchy, molten-hot party-starter that sounds like OutKast should sound if they weren't dicking around with Depression-set musicals these days. Doseone (cLOUDDEAD) rips shit up, while the rest of the band throw more ideas into the pot than most mainstream hip-hop acts have in their whole careers. It'll melt your brain, but you'll thank them for it.

The 1990s - You're Supposed To Be My Friend (Rough Trade)

Sloppy, buoyant glam-pop from the Scottish should-bes. Their advancing years will be a deciding factor as to whether they'll connect with 'the kids' or not (singer, Jackie McKeown used to be in The Yummy Fur, ferchrissakes!), but this is so goddamn spirited that it shouldn't matter to anyone with a brain if they're eighteen or eighty. Bouncier than Tigger on a trampoline.

Art Brut - Nag Nag Nag Nag (Mute)

The intro will throw off the hardcore, seeing as it actually sounds like the band are standing up as opposed to being in various states of falling over. When Eddie Argos' inimitable vocals kick in, however, there's no mistake that this is Art Brut. It does sound a little more musically mature than what we're used to, but Argos' lyrics, casting the protagonist (my guess is that it's autobiographical) as someone who should know better being in a constant state of arrested development (I know that feeling), are comfortingly familiar, while being different enough to stop you from feeling cheated. Bodes well for the 'difficult' second album.

Blood Red Shoes - You Bring Me Down (XL)

Apparently, this boy/girl duo are hot shit right now. I'm not hearing anything particularly great or new. Not that they're shit, just aren't very hot either. Meh.

Fields - If You Fail, We All Fail (Atlantic)

Skyscraping harmonics and chiming guitars will only get you so far, you have to have a hint of personality to go with it, in my book. Fields don't seem to have any, even if this is a perfectly good tune. So, I'll say that it's like Broken Social Scene meets The Books and die a little inside.

Jet - Bring It Back (Atlantic)

Please don't.

The Noisettes - Don't Give Up (Mercury)

The rockabilly revival starts here! If only that were true. 'Don't Give Up' isn't likely to get anyone taking up the stand-up bass or dousing themselves in gel and using gasoline for after shave, but it sure as shit sounds like The Stray Cats and that can only be a good thing, right?

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Snow (Hey Oh) (Wea)

I haven't actually heard this yet but it's got to be shite right? Post your reviews in the comments.

Oh, bollocks to the rest of them. I can't be bothered. Let's just say that there's fuck-all else out and leave it at that.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mixtape Ahoy! Part One

It's a two-part mixtape this week, people. Part one today, with part two arriving either tomorrow or Tuesday. It's a good one too, if I do say so myself. N.B.: I ripped this week's mixtape at VBR, as opposed to the usual 192kbps CBR, so the file is bigger than normal. Bigger=better, in this case.

  1. 2020 Soundsystem - Tape (Prins Thomas Disko-Tek Miks) (Lindstrom's best buddy injects some freshness into a tune that's been kicking around for a while now with three new remixes. This is clearly the best, taking a stompy, martial disco route with the source material to create one of his best ever reworks. Loads of cowbell too!)
  2. Michoacan - Sabor (Emerging star, Michoacan conjures up one of the best basslines I've heard all year on this recent Bear Funk 12", decorating it with all manner of shimmering sonics. Closer to the spirit of pure disco than the current trend for all things 'cosmic', but there's definitely something spacey about this one.)
  3. Home Video - Penguin (The Loving Hand Remix) (Some of the best DFA remixes have always had something of a deep house bent to them, so it's no surprise to see Tim Goldsworthy going the whole hog with his latest remix moniker, The Loving Hand. Twinkly, stardust effects cover the track, but there's a definite 'deep' feel to the dubbed-out keys and insidious beat. Nice work, fella.)
  4. Minimal Compact - Nil-Nil (Rub 'N' Tug Remix) (Thomas 'n' Eric get their psych on for this re-rub of an old track by the man now known as DJ Morpheus, Samy Birnbach. Lovely, spagheti western-like guitars abound, with the reverb-heavy drums giving the track a spectral twist. They keep on making them like this, then Rub 'N' Tug will always have a place on my mixtapes.)
  5. Depeche Mode - People Are People (Underground Resistance Remix) (The Mode have put their tracks in the hands of some shit-hot remixers in the past year (Villalobos, Holden, Digitalism etc.), but I don't think anyone saw a hook-up with Mad Mike and crew on the horizon. UR give the classic a dark, techy overhaul that often skirts the boundaries of cheese, if we're being totally honest. Nice to see that famous UR sense of fun in action.)
  6. Martin Buttrich - Full Clip ('Full Clip' is all very Detroit-y and Carl Craig-y, but with nods towards the minimal style so beloved by us Europeans. Buttrich has created a modern techno classic of sheer understatement here. Every home should have one.)
  7. Proxy - Destroy (Forthcoming on Tiga's Turbo imprint, this is seven minutes of rave nastiness. NME are barking up the wrong tree with the likes of Klaxons, Shitdisco and Datarock, this is the real nu-rave. It even goes all 'Charly' towards the end.)
  8. Pizzy Yelliott - Could You Be Loved (Mungolian Jetset 303 Acid Mix) (Indescribably nutty, deranged cover of Bob Marley's classic roots reggae, with seemingly faux-German accented toasting and sprinklings of bowel-bothering 303 courtesy of MJS. Needs to be heard to be believed really.)
  9. Flipper - Ha Ha Ha (A wonderfully, chaotic, cathartic, misanthropic, seething sludgefest that should be in the dictionary under 'nihilism', if only for the line about the couple who "went down to one of those cheap motels and they got all gushy and wet", before Will Shatter pisses himself laughing. Brilliant.)
  10. Malajube - Ton Plat Favori (One of the blogosphere's latest obsessions are these French-Canadians who put their own spin on that well-worn path of indie-rock. What it tells me is that I don't know as much French as I used to. Something about "I am your favourite dish" and "eating my heart", or something like that. I did it at A-level, you know.)
  11. Man Man - Van Helsing Boombox (Bands that I've seen recently always tend to turn up on my mixtapes, so it's no surprise that Man Man make an appearance here, as they were one of the best bands I've seen in a long time. They drop the syphillitic pirate schtick for four minutes here to craft one of the most tender ballads I've heard all year.)
  12. Mark Beer - The Man Man Man (See what I did there? This is taken from the largely excellent new Crippled Dick Hot Wax compilation of obscure British post-punk releases, 7" Up! and it's brilliant. Don't know why this wasn't a hit, to be honest.)

Pop's Yer Uncle Volume Three (Disc One) Zipped and Megauploaded

More soon,


Monday, November 13, 2006

"Ain't another woman that can take your spot"

Hey you!

I was going to prattle on at length about a few things tonight but with time constraints and suchforth, I am limiting myself to this week's single reviews. What gets a rave and what gets a rant? You'll have to keep reading to find out...

Justin Timberlake feat. T.I. - My Love (Jive)

Finally, one of the finest pop songs of this and any other year gets a proper release and that shock of the new that many of us experienced upon first listen has not diminished any in the intervening months. Sure the lyrics are sappier than a boatload of Hallmark cards, but if ever a song lived for its arrangement, it's this. The insistent, ravey synths are still the hook you'll find your enjoyment of the song hanging on, but with every listen, Timbaland's airy, booming drum programming gets better and better. And that "hee-hee-hee-hee-hee" effect that sounded so annoying first time around even starts to sound integral the more you listen. And that female, new-agey vocalese that hangs around in the chorus adds a whole new spooky layer. Oh, fuck it! The whole thing's just absolutely fucking perfect. Even the lyrics. Forget what I said about them being sappy, they suit the futureshock backing so adroitly that it'd be churlish to pick at their simplicity. Plus, T.I.'s machismo-heavy verse superbly balances them out. I have friends who'll hate me for this, but in Justin Timberlake, we truly have an all-new king of pop. 'My Love' is already a classic in my eyes.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Cold And Wet (Domino)

A rather by-the-numbers porchlight blues ballad from Will Oldham. Bonnie "Prince" Billy going through the motions still has its charms though. Oldham does his usual homespun/creepy thing, the schtick he has now got down to a fine art, but you can't help but feel ever so slightly cheated in the process.

The Charlatans - You're So Pretty We're So Pretty (Version '06) (Island)

"Well I've been to Hastings and I've been to Brighton, I've been to Eastbourne too/So what, so what/And I've been here, I've been there, I've been every-fucking-where/So what, so what/So what, so what, you boring little cunt/Well I've fucked the queen/I've fucked Bach/I've even sucked an old man's cock/So what, so what/And I've fucked a sheep/I've fucked a goat/I rammed my cock right down its throat/So what, so what/So what, so what, you boring little fuck/Well, who cares, who cares what you do/And who cares, who cares about you, you, you, you, you!/And I've drunk that/I've drunk this/I've spewed up on a pint of piss/So what, so what... You get the point.

The Flaming Lips - It Overtakes Me (Warners)

Loping psychedelia is the order of the day here, but isn't that always on the menu with The Lips? Never mind, especially when it's this good. Coyne and co. have their haters but fuck them. At least they're still making interesting music this far into their career, even if their best is behind them.

The Hold Steady - Chips Ahoy! (Vagrant)

One of the prime cuts from Boys And Girls In America gets a limited 7" release on these shores. Highly encouraging signs. Maybe we'll even get some touring action. Anyway, Craig Finn spins a story of a girl overdoing things down at the racetrack in that way he does so well, while the band rock up a storm in the background. Ace!

Home Video - Penguin (Defend Music)

The original is sweet, downbeat electro-pop a la Junior Boys, only not as good, but this release is all about the remix. And boy, what a remix! Tim Goldsworthy, going under the moniker The Loving Hand turns in a slyly addictive, crystalline, deep house-skewing re-rub that lends weight to the notion that he is the one behind The DFA's more interesting, leftfield remix work. Glacial brilliance and one of the best remixes of the year.

Little Man Tate - Man, I Hate Your Band (V2)

Don't like yours much either, mate.

Michoacan - She's Sent (Heaven) (Tiny Sticks)

Slippery, space-age punk-funk is the direction that Michoacan is heading in here. Seems to be a popular direction these days, but Michoacan does it with such elan and a mastery that belies his experience that it's easy to see that this guy is going to go places. Fabrizio Mammarella and The Emperor Machine add to the fun(k) on the flip.

Oasis - Stop The Clocks EP (Big Brother)

Timely cash-in from one of the most irrelevant bands on the planet. To coincide with the release of their greatest hits compilation, they've stuck out this EP that contains, wait for it, 'Acquiesce', 'The Masterplan', a live version of 'Some Might Say' and a demo of 'Cigarettes & Alcohol'. Sure, 'Acquiesce' is one of the best songs they've ever recorded and further kudos is gained by sticking to tunes from when they were in their snotty pomp, but don't they have enough money already? Don't give them anymore, please.

Peaches - Boys Wanna Be Her (XL)

Tired, unsexy, unthreatening, glam shite from the erstwhile Merril Nisker. She really should have just called it a day after 'Lovertits', as she's pretty much wrote the same song since. Nice Flaming Lips remix though.

Snow Patrol feat. Martha Wainwright - Set The Fire To The Third Bar (Polydor)

The lanky, Irish, indie-boy tosspot and Rufus' sister try to out-mawk each other on one of the most deathly dull singles I've ever heard. Forced emotion and pound signs fuel this dirge and, to think, I'll never get those four minutes back. Don't waste precious time on this, go out and drown kittens instead.

Stereotyp feat. Edu K & Joyce Muniz - Jece Valadao (Man Recordings/Funk Mundial)

Barnstorming baile funk, with rave sirens all over the place. The sound of the best carnival/house party/riot you've ever attended. Hot fire! The b-side, 'Uepa' is excellent too.

I was going to say something about the new Robbie Williams single actually being quite decent (until he opens his fucking mouth, that is), but I'm choosing to ignore it.

Back tomorrow, kids!


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Came without warning.

The US hardcore punk scene of the late-70s/early-80s is one that seems, if not completely alien to me, at least vaguely baffling. Not in a musical sense, of course-there's absolutely nothing to 'get' when it comes to short, sharp shocks of guitar, bass and drums played at light speed-but in the ideological sense. This is because the whole scene (if, indeed, you can actually call it one) seems to be a mass of contradictions.

Some splinter scenes and bands advocated the straight edge, maniacally teetotal lifestyle, naively following Minor Threat's Ian MacKaye's credo of "Don't drink, don't smoke, don't fuck" (from the song, 'Out Of Step'), whilst others tended towards violence and heavy drinking to act out their nihilistic worldviews. This stemmed, I believe, from the many regional variations that the hardcore scene threw up. There was a hardcore thing going on in New York, that was different to the one being followed in L.A., which was different to the scene in Boston, which was altogether dissimilar to the one in D.C., and so on. This led to in-fighting amongst regional divisions, as evidenced by The Freezes' track, 'Boston Not L.A.'. Something that is presumably going on, as the disclaimer on the hardcore punk Wikipedia entry amusingly states, "This page is currently protected from editing until disputes are resolved".

In the main, what these regional scenes all had in common was a singular willingness to play music as hard, as loud and as fast as they could, with blatant disregard for, well, everything and everybody. This leads to something else about hardcore punk that I just can't get my head around; the inherent exclusivity and, if you will, xenophobia. If you were to call these ideals anti-neophyte, that paints it in a better light, I guess, but at its root, the hardcore scene's them or us mindset makes it seem more like a cult than being any kind of youth movement. Hardcore was the anti-acid house.

I suppose this shutting out of those who aren't deemed welcome crops up in plenty of other scenes too, but it never seemed more rigid or militant than it did with hardcore. With musical movements like the original punk scene or, say, goth, the message to outsiders seemed to be "You wouldn't understand". Hardcore added a suffix of "So fuck you!". You could argue that this was true of the first wave of punk, but hardcore gave this sentiment a testosterone-fuelled agression and masculinity that the androgynous early punk scene shunned.

One thing I don't think you can argue with, confused politics aside, is the balls-out brilliance of a lot of the music. The soundtrack to the documentary of the same name (which I haven't yet seen, but I'm hoping it sheds some light on my misgivings about hardcore), American Hardcore: The History Of American Punk Rock 1980-1986 aims to compile some of the seminal cuts from that era. It's a largely successful compilation that, despite a few glaring omissions (no Dead Kennedys, no Dicks, no Husker Du), covers pretty much every aspect of this genre, within its perameters, while bludgeoning you into oblivion.

Kicking off with what is seen to be the first hardcore punk single, Black Flag's 'Nervous Breakdown', it carries on in the heads-down, take-no-prisoners vein for 26 tracks in 37 minutes, barely pausing for breath. The gleeful nihilism is present in Bad Brains' 'Pay To Cum!', the sXe blueprint laid down by Minor Threat's 'Filler', the wanton violence covered by Gang Green's 'Kill A Commie' and the myth that hardcore was a humourless endeavour is exploded by Really Red's 'I Was A Teenage Fuckup'.

The album is rounded off with one of the best bands that you've never heard, Flipper (a fact that is truer on these shores than in the States). Flipper paved the way for grunge and were leaders of a small field of hardcore bands when they decided that playing faster than is humanly possible might not be the best course of action. They added a sludge that still sounds fresh and vital today, despite all that has come since. The Flipper track the compilers have chosen is the brilliant 'Ha Ha Ha'; a snotty indictment of teenage suburban ennui that you figure made some people who heard it question their life choices, regardless of how cool Emilio Estevez looked, drunk at dawn, walking down the road singing 'TV Party' in Repo Man.

I wished they had chosen Flipper's 'Sex Bomb' as the record's full stop, however, as that is probably the best party tune this scene produced. It definitely would have made this comp more of a celebration of the scene's ideals, as opposed to a mish-mashed overview that further highlights hardcore's bewildering contradictions. As mish-mashed overviews go though, it's certainly an invigorating and eye-opening one.

Bad Brains - Pay To Cum! (mp3)

Minor Threat - Filler (mp3)

Jerry's Kids - Straight Jacket (mp3)

And just for shits and giggles...

Flipper - Sex Bomb (mp3)

Fuck you!


Saturday, November 11, 2006

So much to answer for.

So I went back to work yesterday after a three-day sabbatical, spent fighting off a horrendous cold. In the morning, I felt absolutely dreadful. I was completely expecting to be home by midday, such was the state of my body. This cold has just totally fucking ravaged me, getting into my muscles and bones, making me shiver and coaxing juddering spasms out of muscles I didn't even know I had.

Then something strange happened. At around 12.30pm, I suddenly realised that, actually, despite the fact that my lungs were desperately trying to force something devilish out through my throat, I felt alright. That 'alright' feeling then blossomed into an all-round general wellness. By 1pm, I felt pretty much fighting fit and ready to face the rest of the day down, like John Rambo taking on all-comers.

I intially put this down to it being Friday and the de-mob feeling that you get when the working week is nearly done. So I saw it out until 4.05pm with a slight spring in my step. Then, I left work, turned right onto High St., then right again onto Church St., making my way to Piccadilly Records because I'd also found out that I had more money in the bank than I thought I had. I deserved a treat.

I left Piccadilly with the new Spektrum album in my bag (I paid for it, don't worry) and made my way back down Church St., past the barrow boys, randomly pointing at fruit, making eye-contact with me and barking out a succession of numbers. Then, I was involved in a mini face-off with a pedestrian coming the other way. There was no way he was going to move for me, so I stepped out of the way, onto a loose paving stone, which promptly, predictably flicked a shitload of water up my outside leg.

All this time though, despite the usual annoyances of the metropolis I call home, the smile didn't shift. In fact, the annoyances (arrogant people, shrill fruit & veg salesman, loose flags) just made the smile broader. I thought to myself, "I fucking love this city". It's true. I've been about, I've seen plenty of other places, but nowhere I've ever been holds a candle to Manchester. Someone said to me recently that they blamed Manchester for feeling down, but a fresh, uncut hit of this city can reverse the darkest of depressions. So, fuck the country, fuck London, fuck New York, this is where I am and this is where I want to stay.

Anyway, after that heartwarming story, here's some music I'd like to share with you...

Robyn - Cobrastyle (mp3) (At the end of the month, Robyn is being launched in the UK. I'm not sure quite what this means, but when 'Konichiwa Bitches' is getting airplay, I don't really care. Anyway, she's due to release The Rakamonie EP then, which includes 'Konichiwa Bitches', a new, stripped-down version of 'Be Mine', and covers of Saul Williams' 'List Of Demands' with Jenny Wilson, Prince's 'Jack U Off' and this run-through of the Teddybears' ubiquitous euro-pop hit, which Robyn manages to make all her own. Nice.)

Spektrum - Moody Feels Good (mp3) (Slightly more downbeat than we're used to from London's Spektrum, but there's dark ESG-like magic going on here. Get on it!)

N*E*R*D - Run To The Sun (mp3) (I've recently reacquainted myself with the original electronic version of N*E*R*D' s In Search Of... album, if only to remind me of a time when we all thought that Pharrell and Chad Hugo were going to save music. Have you heard that new Gwen Stefani tune?! Awful, just awful. This is still great though.)

Paul Zaza & Carl Zittrer - Prom Night Theme (mp3) (I stumbled across this the other day, it's on the soundtrack to the shite Jamie Lee Curtis-starring horror film. I don't remember the music being this good in it at all. The theme is pure, sparkling, vaguely cheesy disco, not unlike Donna Summer's 'Hot Stuff'. Check it out.)

Escort - Karawane (mp3) (Brilliant, afro-skewing disco from the group that brought us 'Starlight'. Ones to watch, definitely.)

Right, that's it for now.



P.S. Everyone should watch the stunning, poignant documentary, Young At Heart, on More4 at 9.10pm tonight, if only to see octogenarians singing 'Schizophrenia' by Sonic Youth. Visit their website here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Don't call it a comeback...

...I've been here for years.

Seriously though, I've been on hiatus since Saturday because I've been suffering with the absolute mother of all colds. Sure, this has led to time off work and time that could have been spent updating this fucker, but, to be completely honest, I plain haven't felt like it.

The blogging bug prevails though and tonight has me itching to get some stuff off my chest, starting with my pick for single of the week. By the way, today's mp3s are brought to you by the lovely people at Zshare, because I can't seem to get YSI to work.

Roxy Music - Roxy Music Remix #01 (Virgin)

What may at first seem like a cynical cash-in, turns out to be a pretty darned good idea after all. The details of the proposed forthcoming remix album are a little sketchy at the moment, but the good people at Virgin have given us a quite nifty little taster of what's to come here. Frank Tope and Dean Rudland have given 'Angel Eyes' a disco-skewing re-edit, while Kaos takes the same track and takes it on a more cosmic adventure. Over on the flip meanwhile, Tiefschwarz give 'Rain Rain Rain' a dark, techy do-over, while M.A.N.D.Y. and Booka Shade take 'The Thrill Of It All' and turn it into a prime, Get Physical classic-in-waiting, albeit one with a Bryan Ferry vocal. Cynical it may well be, but you do get the sense that the remixers assembled here aren't only in it for the money. Let's hope we don't have to wait too long before the album, where the likes of Lindstrom & Prins Thomas, Rub 'N' Tug, The DFA and Hell are all lined up to give Ferry, Manzanera & co. the dancefloor roughing-up that they deserve.

I'm a bit of a Pavement fan, as anyone who has been reading this blog closely for quite a while now would probably have figured out, but Wowee Zowee is not my favourite album of theirs. That title has always and will always be held by Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, but the older I get, the more appealing Wowee Zowee gets. I'd accredit this to the album's sprawl and the fact that the more you listen, the more you get from it, but it probably has more to do with the fact that, sometimes, when it comes to music, I'm unbelieveably attention deficient.

Wowee Zowee is such a willingly ramshackle collection of songs, with so many different ideas flying around, that if the song that's playing at any one time isn't holding your attention, you can guarantee that the next track will chuck you a sonic curveball, direct to your head, as if to say, "Come on! Keep up!". Malkmus, Spiral Stairs and the rest could easily have coasted after the moderate commercial success of Crooked Rain... but that would have been too easy for them. Also, the prospect of being the next indie-rock poster boys scared them to the point of commercial suicide, so it was pretty much a given from day one that the follow-up was going to alienate a few people along the way.

Covering eighteen tracks and running the gamut from grunge-punk ('Flux=Rad'), tender ballads (the opening 'We Dance'), country-rock ('Father To A Sister Of Thought'), frazzled, psych-blues ('Half A Canyon') and arch, novelty-skirting joke tracks ('Brinx Job'), Wowee Zowee does kind of have something for everyone. Despite the fact that it isn't my favourite record of theirs, it does contain a few of my all-time fave Pavement raves. Take 'Grounded' for instance; a gloriously understated, unassuming epic, this song fills stadiums in a parallel dimension somewhere, with that dimension's inhabitants basking in Malkmus' dazzling wordplay, singing along with the epithets about contract bridge, sterile gauzes and crystal ice picks. Sure beats the usual "I love you" platitudes, don't you think?

That's before we come to the likes of the Pavement-in-a-nutshell, 'Rattled By The Rush' (which isn't to say that it's rote or by-the-numbers, just that it encompasses pretty much all that is great about the band), the loveably shonky, Spiral Stairs-fronted, 'Kennel District', the schizoid acid-pop of 'Best Friend's Arm' and so on. Sure, there are tracks that don't quite cut it for me ('Extradition', 'Pueblo', 'Grave Architecture' to name three), but the amount of great stuff here leaves you with the impression that Wowee Zowee is a bit of an embarrassment of riches.

Well those riches have just got a little more embarrassing with the release of the Sordid Sentinels Special Edition; a two-disc set that compiles off-cuts, b-sides, live and session tracks to give you even more of an indication as to what Pavement's mindset was like at the time. Of the b-sides and such, 'Give It A Day', 'Mussle Rock' and 'I Love Perth' could have all easily made the cut, while some of the BBC sessions and live takes display a band at the peak of their powers who aren't quite sure what to do with that power.

This was Pavement's last great record though, with the next two paling in comparison to what went before (that said, below-par Pavement is still better than most bands firing on all cylinders), so even though the extras available here range wildly between essential and superfluous, this is still a must for all completists and casuals alike.

Pavement - Rattled By The Rush (mp3)

Pavement - Give It A Day (mp3)

Pavement - Unfair (Live In Australia) (mp3)

Now, it's time for something of a confession. Talking Heads are my favourite band of all time (not the confession). When I say that, I mean that I was fucking weaned on their stuff, I didn't just get into them because some hack said that Franz Ferdinand or The Rapture sounded a bit like them. My love for Talking Heads is a pretty much life-long and definitely enduring one. I was probably about five or six years old when I was first introduced to their music by my brother and sisters, alongside such other seminal groups like Pixies, Love, The Smiths, New Order, Happy Mondays etc. Yes, I had a bit of an early start when it came to getting into music, but the one band from that period that I never, ever tire of are Talking Heads.

So here comes the confession; I only recently got the reissue of The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads that was released in 2004. I'm pretty sure I have it on vinyl somewhere (acquired due to the fact that my brother no longer has a turntable), but the CD eluded me until last week. I have no real explanation why, it was just one of those things that I never got around to doing until last week. Well, I don't know how I lived without it. Maybe people think that you only really need one Talking Heads live album in your collection, but they're wrong. Both this and Stop Making Sense are totally essential purchases and, I think, a good starting point for those who inexplicably remain oblivious to TH's charms.

While SMS contains some of my favourite versions of certain songs ('Psycho Killer', 'Found A Job' to name but two), The Name Of This Band... covers the period when the Heads were at their most productive (1977-1981) and shows two different sides to this ever-changing band. The first disc covers their raw beginnings, with just the core four of David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz really cooking with gas and sounding so metronomically, methodically in step with each other. The second disc, however, displays Talking Heads at the point where they started to branch out and experiment with new sounds. More disco elements were creeping in at this point, no more so than on the badass version of 'Born Under Punches' included here. More tellingly though, this was the point at which Byrne started to look further afield than America for inspiration, specifically to Africa, with the likes of 'The Great Curve' and 'I Zimbra'.

While the first disc shows a side of the Talking Heads live experience that is less-documented (coming, as it did, before the advent of the promo video, something that Talking Heads used to their advantage, and also before the band went huge), it's the second one that I'm more drawn to. This is the period of Talking Heads' evolution that I find more interesting and, more importantly, more thrilling. When they expanded the band to include the likes of Nona Hendryx, Adrian Belew and the venerable Bernie Worrell, they created an energetic, never-bettered sense of magic that I just wish I was old enough to actually see at the time. I've seen David Byrne solo since, but it's not the same. Maybe there's an unshakeable sense of wistfulness that leads me to prefer the later period covered here, but just take one listen to the second disc here and take one look at the Stop Making Sense film and tell me that it wouldn't have been an absolute blast.

The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads is a document of the best band of that era, nay, of all time (may as well be partisan) that will bring bittersweet regret to those too young or too ignorant to catch them at the time and a warm sense of nostalgia to those that did. Perfect.

Talking Heads - Psycho Killer (Live) (mp3)

Talking Heads - Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) (Live) (mp3)

Ladies love cool James


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Calling all enthusiasts.

Radio 4 @ The Roadhouse, Manchester (2.11.06)

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. I saw Radio 4 at this very venue almost four years ago, alongside Schneider TM and The Faint and had a rip-snortingly good night out. Since then, however, Radio 4 and I have grown apart. They've released two decidedly pale albums since then, lost a guitarist and I've gained a few grey hairs. Around that time, I was loving the Gotham! album intensely, but I don't think that they've done anything as good as that since.

So it was with pretty low expectations that I approached this gig, with my mantra being, "Well, they were really good live". If that comes across as a bit of a backhanded compliment, that's because it is. I just don't think that you can get worked up about a Radio 4 gig in 2006, especially now that the punk-funk scene that was so prevalent four years ago has become so anachronistic these days, with most of the major players expanding their palette in the intervening years (see Pieces Of The People We Love for example). Radio 4, despite being admirably true to their initial blueprint, have kind of become accidental dinosaurs.

But are they still "really good live"? Well, I'm happy to report that this statement, while not 100% true, still definitely rings that way. R4 work their socks off to get the (political) party rocking. Sweating profusely and throwing slightly mannered, stuttery shapes as if their amps are sending volts through their bodies, they put on a tight show for the main part, with the odd sag and disappointing troughs between the peaks, mostly coming in the shape of songs from the last two records.

The Gotham!-era tracks that they rattle off remind me why I liked them so much in the first place. Buzzing with manic energy, the likes of 'Save Your City', 'Calling All Enthusiasts', 'Struggle' and 'Our Town' (which was dedicated to "the three guys who were here last time" after a quick show of hands) get the most out of both crowd and band, with Anthony Roman and co. barely hiding their joy at playing songs that they've been playing for the last five years.

The newer stuff fares less well, which means that the pace drops whenever these are aired. Watching a band who are often quite efficient at demanding the audience's attention in an aggressive way struggle manfully through the likes of 'This Is Not A Test' or 'Dismiss The Sound' is quite disheartening. Doubly so when 'Dance To The Underground' still sounds as fresh and vital as it did in 2002.

The overall impression you get of the Radio 4 live experience in 2006 is a mixed one. As I said earlier, they sure do work to get you moving, but oftentimes, it feels like a harder task than it should be. There's only so far you can go with wiry, taut, firebrand dance-punk though and the songs that do stray from the well-travelled path suggest that, despite all the perspiration, it's the inspiration that's lacking. Below-par facsimiles of 'Dance To The Underground' may be a bad idea, but no-one should ever have to listen to bad cod-dub. If their next record is as colourless as the last two, there may be no redeeming Radio 4, but at least their affable, often exciting live show (minus the occasional bum notes) should see that they keep trucking on, even if fewer and fewer people care.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"When the night breaks and the clouds shake..."


That's my way of saying a belated Happy Hallowe'en, by the way.

So, while I realise I've been neglecting this blog somewhat as of late, I retain the right to neglect it whenever I want. It's not like it's a child or a pet or anything. It doesn't need regular feeding or sunlight to stay alive. In fact, I think it grows in character if it's left to gather dust for a little while, before blowing off the dust and remembering why you started it in the first place gives you a little more of a thirst or a hunger to keep it going.

Anyway, in short, I think that my mood of the other day was partly due to being a bit bored more than anything. I mean, yeah, I've got my worries and my problems and sometimes they can get the better of me, but there are millions more people out there more worse off than I am, so why mope when you can just get back on the horse, so to speak, and indulge in a bit of what you love. So this is me, bouncing back, Alan Partridge style.

Here is an account of my two-day dalliance with the annual unsigned free-for-all that is In The City.

Every year, around the arse-end of October, Manchester goes absolutely batshit for live music. I mean, we're pretty fucking cuckoo-bananas about gigging up here anyway, but there are countless hardy souls who dedicate five days out of their year to going temporarily deaf and increasing the chances of contracting cirrhosis of the liver later in life, all in the name of In The City.

For those who don't know, In The City is basically an industry shindig, where an absolute fuckload of unsigned bands, along with the odd signed one, converge on Manchester to try and get noticed, much like performing seals begging for fish. In the past, In The City has helped to 'break' the likes of Muse, Coldplay, Keane and The Darkness. So, it's clear that ITC must be stopped. I went to see a handful of bands on Sunday and Monday who, in the main, tried their damnedest to ensure that the A&R men stay at home next year.

SUNDAY 29TH OCTOBER: Break In The City @ Walkabout

I fucking hate Walkabout; the risible 'Australian' chain pub that is so fucking fake, you half expect Alf Roberts to serve you. It's about as soulful a live music venue as Belsen, so thusly, you have to be something of a special act to avoid going down like the proverbial lead balloon.

So I was surprised then to find the sight for sore eyes that is Ebony Bones rocking the stage with a delightful riot of colour, poise and sass. Like a hybrid of The Slits, The Cramps and Amazulu (ask yer mam), Ebony Bones are one hell of a good time party band. It's just a damn shame that I only catch the last three songs, one of which was a bastardised cover of Delta 5's 'Mind Your Own Business'. They're a band after my own heart and the best I saw all day. Only I didn't know this at that point, so I foolishly stayed.

Next up is Dublin's Butterfly Explosion, who have got the post-rock thing down to a tee, but end up being just a vaguely unsatisfying amalgam of about a hundred better bands. Ooh, that bit sounds like Mogwai! That bassline is just like a Sigur Ros tune that I forget the name of! That keyboard player looks like a bit like Billinda Butcher from My Bloody Valentine! When it's more fun to play spot the reference than get lost in the music though, you know that this band are wasting your time and theirs.

Can Teasing Lulu's glamour punk fare any better? Only slightly, is the answer to that. They make a point of beckoning people to move forward and giving it a bit of 'tude and some of their tunes lean towards backing up their moxie, but again, the reference points are too obvious and too plentiful and, in the end, that feeling that you've heard it all before returns. While there's essentially nothing wrong with wearing your influences on your sleeve, in Teasing Lulu's case it just feels a little protracted. Nice hair though.

A rather misguided friend of mine told me a few months ago that, despite the fact that their singer, Rupert Hill plays Jamie Baldwin in Coronation Street, Shepherds Pi are actually really good. He was wrong. He was so wrong in fact, that I'm considering never talking to him again. The sub-Libertines bollocks that Shepherds Pi peddle is, in my opinion, possibly the most offensively bad music I've heard in a long time and I've heard The Fratellis. Making matters worse, their bass player gets up on the mike every odd song to indulge in a little ill-advised rapping/scatting. This is the aural equivalent of rubbing salt in the wound. You know how when your ears ring, it's a little unpleasant? Well, I'd rather hear that any day of the week than have to suffer the godawful hackery of Shepherd's Pi again.

Next, a slight upturn in fortune with the arrival of the not-unpleasant, Sean Redmond. He's a cocky little fucker with some scrawl on his guitar ("I bet you've never seen anyone do this before", I think it said) and a glittery Bathing Ape t-shirt on and his music is, as I said, not unpleasant. Just nothing to write home about either.

I feel a little sorry for Midnight Juggernauts when they come on, seeing as they're Australian and having to suffer the indignation of playing in a fake Aussie bar, miles away from home. However, despite their hotly-tipped nature, I'm not hearing anything to inspire me. You can lump them in with fellow antipodeans, The Presets and Cut Copy, as they do that electro-rock thing but I kind of hate that stuff at the moment. I don't hate the concept, just the execution. Most of these bands are so ham-fisted at the whole endeavour that it ends up sounding hideously lumpen and completely personality-free. I hear that you and your band have not sold your guitars and bought a vocoder. I hear that you and your band have heard a Daft Punk record and thought, "I can do that". I hear that everybody that you know is getting into French house, ten years after everybody that I know. Have you seen my records?

I feel a little bad now for heaping so much scorn on Shepherd's Pi earlier in the post as the next band to take the stage are light years ahead of them in the terrible stakes. Their name has been bandied around for quite a while now as ones-to-watch and Tony Wilson even signed them up at one point, but Young Offenders Institute are quite possibly one of the worst bands I've ever seen.

A bunch of roughneck, council estate scallies with nary an ounce of talent between them, YOI draw trhe biggest crowd of the day; a crowd filled with roughneck, council estate scallies nonetheless. Words fail me really. Young Offenders Institute are laughably bad. It's as though they all decided to go out and buy Definitely Maybe one day and all come to the decision that 'Digsy's Dinner''s, like, a fucking top song. It's not, it never will be and neither will you guys ever be anything resembling a decent band. Just. Give. Up.

So we exit the Walkabout before the end of YOI's clod-hopping bovver-boy rock set, disheartened and more than a little tired, but decide to give this In The City lark a second bite of the cherry the next day.

MONDAY 30TH OCTOBER: Tiger Lounge & Pineapple Folk @ The Waldorf

We head down to Tiger Lounge, intrepid, yet harbouring realistic ideas that the likelihood of finding the next big thing may well be out of our grasp after yesterday's fiasco. The Philadelphian mavericks, Man Man are at the forefront of our thoughts for the night ahead. I was champing at the bit, dying to see them, if only to salvage the two-day sojourn, but not really knowing what to expect. My companion is less than convinced, having heard only one song and "really hated it".

They're on later however, at The Waldorf, and the reason we'd plumped for the Tiger Lounge first was to see my mate's band, Doublejo(h)ngrey and whatever else is on the same bill. When we arrive, there's a band called Duty Now onstage, doing the whole Joy Division/Interpol, post-punk thing in a not unpalatable way. In fact, in contrast to the shite we saw yesterday, Duty Now actually sound pretty decent. Maybe it's only relative, but it's a slightly promising start to the night.

iDresden have a terrible name and a bass player who looks like he shouldn't even be allowed in the venue, on account of his young appearance. They are, however, not all that bad, in a kind of spaz-pop, Les Savy Fav-esque kind of way. I could imagine jumping around to these guys when I was younger. Nowadays, I'm far too old and far too cynical to do stuff like that, so I sit at the back, sipping my JD & Coke, whilst nodding approvingly.

Next, a band who I don't catch the name of come on and noodle about for ten minutes or so, until the drummer stands up, throws his snare over his shoulder and the rest of the band follow suit in trashing their equipment. I'd be impressed if there was any hint of danger, but the fact that not one member of staff rushes over to stop them, gives me the impression that this is just something that they do all the time.

Shit! It's 9.45 and time to pop over to The Waldorf to catch Man Man. Sorry mate, I'll just have to catch your band next time. In fact, we forgot to figure in the erratic nature of ITC's running orders, so we get there about halfway into a set by The Nightjars, who sound pretty good, in a kind of steely, humourless way. We see too little to make a judgement though, but the fact that loads of people actually pile out after them speaks volumes, I guess.

Watching Man Man set up is part of the show itself. The upstairs room in The Waldorf doesn't have a stage as such, so the band are set up on the floor, with the crowd encouraged to come as close as they desire. Honus Honus and Pow Pow (not their real names) are up front, with their keyboards and drumset respectively, but it's the odds, ends and accoutrements that seem to cover every available surface that really intrigue. There are Hallowe'en-y fairy lights that look like eyeballs, a squeezy Bart Simpson doll, a beanie rabbit on top of the hi-hat and a load of other bric-a-brac, making me wonder if these are all good luck charms. Are Man Man really that superstitious? Oh, and there's also a tomato with a moustache that looks uncannily like Honus.

After taking forever soundchecking, Man Man leave the room, only to return five minutes later, decked out in P.E. kits. Yep, it's white t-shirts and spray-on white shorts all the way for these guys. This is a signifier of the workout that's to follow. They lead off with 'Feathers' the piano-and-voice opener from latest album, Six Demon Bag, before launching into a full-on hour of power, barely stopping to catch their collective breath (their reasoning for this being that "when you go to a club, the DJ doesn't pause after a song").

I've seen bands do this kind of breakneck speed before, but never in this manner. All those bits and bobs are used in some way, either squoze or hit or thrown about, but it never leads to complete chaos. Okay, it's chaotic, but Man Man always seem to have a grip on the mania. Every little quirk or jump or musical non-sequitur is executed with the precision timing that comes with an almost psychic connection between band mates. The wheezy, fractured, junkyard rock of the records is recreated so perfectly and with such kineticism that it's all you can do to just stand there, agape, occasionally smiling a smile that you know is going to be hard to budge.

Highlights of the set include the band using the walls of The Waldorf for percussion during the muted climax of 'Black Mission Goggles' (one of the few moments where the pace drops), Honus reaching out into the crowd with a drumstick at one point, briefly playing some poor sap's knees like the spoons, Honus again, hurling a handful of stainless steel spoons at a brushed metal pudding basin, just to recreate the sound it makes and Pow Pow bringing his foot down onto his snare in a dazzling display of ambidextrosity.

By the time the band reach the girl-group coda of 'Ice Dogs', with Honus donning a black sequinned vest and affecting the desperate croon of the hammiest lounge singer, jaws are on the floor, expectations have been met, surpassed, lapped and blown off the face of the earth and the unbelievers have been well and truly converted. They come back on for a tender rendition of 'Van Helsing Boombox' that acts as the perfect comedown after one of the most thrilling, high-energy live shows I've ever seen. Man Man may well be the greatest band in the world; a brilliantly realised unique voice in modern music that I urge you to seek out.

Or is it all relative still? Have I seen that much disinterested, rote dreck over the last couple of nights that anyone who does anything vaguely different will seem like the second coming of Elvis? Well, a lot of it may well have been dreck, but given the size and scope of In The City, I'm pretty sure there were plenty more acts on over the weekend that were way more deserving of our attention than most of these were, so I'm not about to give up on the Manchester music scene just yet. One thing I am certain about though; I bet not one of them were anywhere near as good as the mind-fuckingly excellent Man Man. We could learn a lot from them.


In other news...

Today's Derek and Clive-influenced post over at 20 Jazz Funk Greats is, without question, the best thing I've ever read on a blog. Good work, guys.

Also, check out Mattie's gold grills in the rather fun new Rapture vid for 'Whoo! Alright! Yeah! Uh-Huh!'.

Peace out,