Tuesday, 6 July 2010


AAAAaaaaaaaaah - :) Nothing beats swigging White Strike from an empty Pot Noodle tub that you skanked from a nearby prostitute who was inventively using it both as an ashtray and as a makeshift rain-hat for her newborn baby as they both vainly sheltered in their upturned skip from the remorseless fog gathering outside

#sum days u jus gotta speke troof yall

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Rufus Wainwright - All Days Are Nights

Until the unlikely day that Sufjan Stevens completes his 50th album Odes to Delaware, the crown of America’s most ambitious musician must surely belong on the head of Rufus Wainwright. You’ll have to excuse the opulent imagery, as nothing else seems to suit an artist whose recent creative output has reached levels of extravagance that would make Louis XIV feel slightly inadequate. Recreating Judy Garland’s legendary 1961 show at Carnegie Hall is one thing, but penning your own French libretto and transforming it into a debut opera written for 70 musicians? It’s an impressive CV by anyone’s standards.

Given his comfort in grandiosity, Wainwright’s sixth album All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu perhaps represents his boldest move yet. Shunning orchestral augmentation and studio flourishes, the songs here are deeply personal paeans to loved ones and family, not least to his late mother Kate McGarrigle. Each is performed as they would be heard live, solely voice and piano.

It’s an aesthetic that will no doubt have Rufus fans salivating in anticipation. After all, from ‘Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk’ through to ‘Dinner At Eight’ and ‘The Art Teacher’, emotional resonance has always flowed through Rufus most powerfully when sat alone at the piano stool. Accordingly, songs like ‘So Sad With What I Have’ and ‘What Would I Ever Do With a Rose?’ ache with poised, poetic vulnerability. “Then I think of you, how could someone so bright love someone so blue?” - he plaintively asks on the former - “Guess the world needs the sun and the moon…”

There’s a very tangible emotional weight present in the recording of these songs. You can almost sense the perspiration on his brow as his hands reposition on the polished ivory, the shifting of bodyweight as his feet recoil from the pedals. It creates a brooding intimacy which simmers throughout the whole album, before peaking with mesmerising composure on final song ‘Zebulon’, one of his most profoundly affecting to date. Through hazily recollected flashbulb-memories Rufus pines for contact with his eponymous childhood sweetheart. “All I need is your eyes, your nose was always too big for your face, still it made you look kinda sexy, more like someone who belongs in the human race.”

It’s not all heavy-hearted balladeering though. ‘Give Me What I Want and Give It To Me Now’ is a romp in the most old-fashioned sense of the word, excitedly darting about like it’s soundtracking a prim heroine letting her hair down in some forthcoming Jane Austen adaptation. Elsewhere the oscillating phrasing of ‘Who Are You New York?’ twists and turns elegantly underneath an assured vocal delivery. The poignant delicacy of ‘Martha’ is a hopeful ode to his younger sister, clearly evoking the hurried necessity of togetherness in the fading hours of a loved one.

It’s no secret that Rufus yearned for mainstream adulation with last album Release The Stars. Perhaps its failure to set cash registers alight may have provoked him into including some particularly inaccessible songs here. Take the three consecutive Shakespearean sonnets set to music in the middle of the album. In a work with no choruses to speak of, these three songs are a particularly laboured indulgence. Likewise ‘The Dream’ evokes Liszt with its erratic descent of scales and thundering crescendos, but together with the disaffected lyrics it comes across as impetuous, even for Wainwright’s standards.

Ultimately, an album as deeply personal and emotive as All Days Are Nights might only appeal to those who have followed the soap opera of Rufus Wainwright’s life so far. Like a Shakespearean monologue you’re either going to be living every moment with the narrator or gazing on indifferently as your attention drifts away. For those in the former camp, this is a challenging listen where life mirrors art in a profoundly
resonant way.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Owl City - Ocean Eyezzzz

No matter what your age you can always be sure that pop music will be sniffing around your heels like a stray dog, looking for an easy opportunity to worm its way into your affections. Easily-targeted demographics had better watch out. Whether it’s the granny-luring charm of Susan Boyle or the Top Gear soundtrack intended to get Dad winding down the soft-top once and for all, everyone’s money is equally green.

Of course, the most easily obliging group are those who haven’t quite weighed up what exactly it is they do like yet, so in these times of dwindling industry-profits, welcome the new musical elite, the pre-pubescent tweens. A cursory glance at the Billboard Chart shows the likes of Miley Cyrus, High School Musical and the Jonas Brothers riding high, whilst on our side of the Atlantic Adam Young - aka Owl City - reached number one with ‘Fireflies.’ So, pop singer at number one eh? Nothing new there. So why all the vitriol?

Perhaps it’s because Ocean Eyes is not the work of an America’s Got Talent winner, but of a shy musician who has spent years escaping insomnia by crafting intimate laptop-pop in his parent’s basement. It might seem like he’s sprung from nowhere, but this is in fact his third record, the first two being low-key self-released affairs. In interviews he speaks quietly from beneath a swept fringe about Boards of Canada and growing up as an introverted loner. It’s all very Conor Oberst, it’s all very… indie.

And there’s the crux of the matter. Owl City don’t sound like a mainstream pop band, they sound like a Fisher Price My First Postal Service, shorn of lyrical subtlety and left to soak overnight in tepid rosewater. There’s genuine emotion here, but with all bones carefully removed so you’re left with an album that’s twee-er than two ragdolls on a houseboat. I could take up the entire word-count of this review picking out childishly sentimental lyrics like “you’re the bird, I’m the worm, its plain to see we were meant to be” or “every mushroom cloud has a silver lining” but I’m sure you get the point.

It seems that for those with a well-honed sense of us vs them, Owl City have crossed an unspoken divide. As if by nudging in on the territory marked out by Ben Gibbard back in 2003, Young has somehow hitched a free-ride to the top of the charts and now occupies a prickly no-mans-land between indie and mainstream.

But such pessimism is not a label that fits Owl City well, and hiding beneath the syrupy vocals is a record filled with surprising musical innovation. There’s delicately uplifting strings on ‘On The Wing’ whilst ‘Umbrella Beach’ rachets through the gears from hushed verse to shimmering euro-disco chorus. Its relentlessly positive music that skips and bleeps its way along in a way that renders critical dissection slightly awkward, like being hostile to a Tickle-Me-Elmo. Naturally Ocean Eyes contains plenty of songs that are flimsier than a 99p windbreaker. ‘Dental Care’ for example is a ditty about, well, how much Young hates going to the dentist. ‘Vanilla Twilight’ invents a beta-version of twee-mo with the lines “The stars lean down and kiss you/ I lie awake and miss you/ pour me a heavy dose of atmosphere” and the way Young pronounces the word ‘fireflies’ pushes the rhoticity of the American accent into an entirely new spherical realm. However, this is music aimed squarely for the naïve-at-heart, and the industrial knife-sharpeners are best waved elsewhere than at the entirely likeable Young. If these genteel Casio-noodlings are what the kids are going to be listening to in 2010, I predict a peaceful year for the rest of us.

Monday, 1 March 2010

In Praise of Glo-fi

This morning something remarkable happened. On my 6:30am walk home I gazed upwards and noticed a glowing disc-like entity hovering untethered in the sky. This new, as-yet-unnamed heavenly object appeared to be emitting a curious mixture of heat and light, drenching the city with a renewed sense of vitality and life. In fact, it wasn’t long before I started to regain memories of some former life where evenings weren’t spend huddled under blankets in front of Sopranos Series 1-6. When outside was a place to enjoy rather than escape from.

Seems like plenty of bands feel the same way too, and I can’t help but look forward to reminiscing on Spring 2010 as the season when that I was in love with glo-fi.

Whether its the woozy, washed out nostalgia of Air France

The woozy, washed-out nostalgia of Toro Y Moi

Or the woozy, washed out nostalgia of Is Tropical

Or the...woozy, uh..

Its all gorgeous stuff.

Seeing as June-August will inevitable be cancelled due to bad-weather, now's the best time to revel in the dewy spring-time promise - let these bands soundtrack your fictionalised Summer

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Product Of The Day #1

Two things. Firstly, welcome to the less-than-glorious world of the 2 Megapixel Blackberry camera. Good if you want all pictures to look like NES screenshots, bad if you want to say, take a photograph. Oh well, if you're gonna read this blog you'll have to get used to it.

As for the product, I saw this in an Asian Food Superstore and couldn't help but chortle, I mean do these guys not speak English or something? What's next, クを発見しましょ?????????

Monday, 8 February 2010


In an ideal world, the BPI would have Hot Chip tracked down and collectively shackled to a typewriter. The resulting Rough Guide to a Successful Band would be standard issue to musical daydreamers everywhere.

Stage 1 – Release a first album of metronomic laptop-soul to a murmuring of critical praise.

Stage 2 – Pen first crossover single, something with a big repetitive hook maybe?

Stage 3 – Deftly ascend festival bills with new-and-improved major label-backing. Successfully balance the commercial/critical tightrope by releasing singles that hold equal appeal to both your milkman and to your well-established fanbase. Top with sell-out tours, a Mercury Prize nomination and a live appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

Done that? Good. So what about Stage Four? It’s the tricky situation Hot Chip find themselves in with One Life Stand, a record that sees their familiar pick'n'mix genre-shopping combined with unprecedented levels of Mills & Boon sentimentality. It’s a heady cocktail, but when mixed in the right proportions the results are stunning. Album showpiece ‘I Feel Better’ is the perfect example, an epic hit of neuphoric hands-in-the-air bliss. Ascending strings and auto-tuned vocals simmer away before the chorus lifts-off with enough fission to blow a fuse in your speakers. The song is one of Hot Chip’s most crowd-pleasing efforts to date, and the lyrics? “I only want one night, together in our arms”, of course.

Similarly, opener ‘Thieves in the Night’ begins with scattered arpeggiators and a throbbing 4/4 beat. Just as you’re expecting a Dave Pearce voiceover, Alexis’s delicate voice chimes in with characteristically playful juxtaposition. It’s a magnetic introduction that weaves through layers of synth-fireworks before emerging in the aching refrain “Happiness is what we all want.” This song, like all the best of Hot Chip’s canon, works because of the dynamic synergy between lead songwriters Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor. It’s perhaps telling that their respective solo albums, (Goddard’s minimal techno-house Harvest Festival LP and Taylor’s folk-soul Rubbed Out) aren’t stunning records in their own right. The banner of Hot Chip coaxes out the best ideas in both of them, and it’s only when this synergy fizzles out that One Life Stand falters.

The placid trio of songs that comprise the middle of the record, ‘Brothers’, ‘Slush’ and ‘Alley Cats’ feel bereft of either the firepower or the emotional weight to maintain interest. They’re not badly written songs, but as the band contentedly set sail towards genteel Robert Wyatt-esque pop-soul balladry, fans might be left back on the shore wondering what happened to the idiosyncratic Hot Chip they fell in love with. In an album where no song clocks in under four minutes, it feels decidedly like there’s a gap where the meat of the album should be. By the time suitably hushed penultimate track ‘Keep Quiet’ arrives, Hot Chip seem like a band who have spent their time in the ring and are now happy enough to hang back in the dressing room penning love-letters. They may have boasted about the size of their alloys in ‘Playboy’ and threatened to snap off your legs in ‘The Warning’, but One Life Stand sees them faithful and enamoured throughout, “Remember, my love is with you”Alexis and Joe harmonise in ‘Slush’.

However, there’s a fine line between mentally nudging an SH-101 under the band's collective nose and getting caught up in the loving mood yourself. ‘One Life Stand’ pits rapidly detuning synths against the titular refrain to form the aural equivalent of Picasso’s Weeping Woman; a crooked and deeply emotional masterpiece. When final song ‘Take It In’ comes around you’re left wondering whether Hot Chip have misfired with this album at all, or whether they were just shooting at targets you didn’t realise were there. It wages its own cluttered minor-key battle with itself before blindsiding you with the most unashamedly soaring chorus you’ll hear this side of the X-Factor 2011 single. Heart/sleeve interface may be at record highs on this album, but only a cast-iron cynic would turn their noses up when the treats on offer are so lovingly prepared.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

T-Shirtz n' ting

If you were cursed with an XY chromosome formation in the womb, then you’re fucked when it comes to fashion. Girls, your splendid array of halternecks, juliette sleeves and tapered hems leave me seething with rage. You hog the fashion smorgasbord and leave boys with nothing but discarded remains. As far as our torso’s go, we can choose between T-shirt and shirt. That’s it. You all sicken me.

Given our limited options, design is everything. So here are the T-shirts most likely to amplify your personal brand in 2010.


Christian-blip, fish n glitch, shoe-rave – all legitimate trends for the discerning twenty-tensy music consumer. But how to let people know exactly what you’re buzzing on without looking like one of those fold up n’ draw three-people-draw-three sections-of-a-man-game? Enter Hipster Runoff to pull you out of this puddle of discontent. From Sufjan-house to Pitchforkcore, it’s all there. In any relevant dive-bar you won’t even need to open your mouth to let people know you’re surfing on the crest of an epic cultural wave.

As the above diagram shows, in 2010, ambiguity is out. Increasingly shorter attention spans are going to lead to a new-wave of litero-style. Look out for Blogrizovic's new snow-boots featuring a constantly updating ‘last.fm most played’ list embossed on the sole. If you’re gonna leave a footprint, at least make it say something about you.


If you’re going to sit cross-legged in the corner of a bar reading Hunter S Thompson on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, this is the T-shirt to do it in. Within days you’ll have the entire shy-girl-in-cute-plaid-shirt market covered. You’ve got a subtle yet intelligent sense of humour, you enjoy cups of tea, and the last thing you want is to have your heart-broken. Just remember to delete your internet history often and you’ll be fine.


When it comes to band T-shirts there’s a definite cool-hierarchy. At the bottom you’ve got your mis-shapen Kasabian T-shirt written in the wrong font and bought from a Kosovan refugee outside the 02 Academy.

Slightly higher up but still not acceptable are Ramones/Sonic Youth/The Clash T-shirts bought from Topman. By wearing these you’re kind of a walking metaphysical paradox, violently negating any sort of kudos you may have had to the point where you actually cancel out your own existence. All that’ll be left is a gloopy patch of VO5 BedHead Clay where you once stood. That’s no way to live your life.

Striding to the top of the pile are authentic vintage band T-shirts that you secured via the three beautiful words we know as ‘Buy It Now.’ Mmmm, Michael Jackson original 1982 Bad Tour Shirt, Oooooh 1987 Genesis Invisible Touch LP Cover Shirt. Content is irrelevant here. You reached beyond the High Street, and the rewards and yours and yours alone.


Classic T-shirt syllogism passed down from the Greeks tells us the following:

Supposition A - Plain White T-Shirts are uninteresting.

Supposition B -You are wearing a plain white T-Shirt

Ergo: You are uninteresting

(Dionysius et al; forthcoming)

So let’s reverse this statement and extrapolate to its opposing parallax:

Supposition A – You are wearing a T-shirt displaying the illustrated face of an elder lion, proud, hirsute, staring intently through thick-rimmed NHS prescription lenses, quietly contemplating whether contact lenses are adaptable into his daily routine.

Supposition B – “WTF even is that? Hey *insert name of girl who previously assumed you were the University Janitor* have you like, seen this? LMAO!

Ergo – You get all the girls you get all the girls.

Chances are any attention you get will strictly be for a limited time only. If you’re wearing this you must come prepared with pre-scripted conversation topics to revert to once the initial hubbub dies down.



Since this blog entered the public domain all of the above T-shirts, ideas and attitudes have ceased to be cool. Be aware that by subscribing to any of the above viewpoints you are essentially selling yourself out. Maybe you should just grow a beard or something.