Thursday, June 26, 2008

CSS and their Donkey

Having been accused too often of only liking bands because I want to be down with the kids (dahn wiv der kidz!) I can only point to CSS and say “Fuck You, I was there first”. I love this band. They are everything most British bands aren’t. That is influenced by things other than other bands, like art, life, literature and…er…other bands; at least interesting bands that don’t exist anymore like Death From Above 1979.

This gang of arty girls, and one guy, from São Paulo don’t really do the standard game of pop. Shoot me down in flames but when CSS appeared on our shores they were the catalyst that kick started the musical jolt of 2006. Their constant touring, their gigs were unfocused party time blow outs that were as much of a good time for the audience as they so obviously were for the band. Cool is dead, long live cool!

As far as I’m concerned the likes of Klaxons (who I also like lots) wouldn’t have happened. I mean, for fuck’s sake, look at the list of favourite bands of 2006 as voted on Jo Whiley’s show. It reads like a list compiled by some lower ranking civil servant of the most mundane things of the year. Sort of explains why popular taste should never be allowed to govern artistic choice; it’s just sooooooo safe. Anyone with any great interest in music, those of us who remember various golden ages as being the very apogee of music, should go back and see who the most popular bands of their particular era were. It’s quite a wake up and doesn’t explain history as we know it, Jim.

So from Music Goulash’s point of view CSS were the saviours of British music in 2006 and anyone who says otherwise should be locked in a room with their shitty Razorlight albums. Suddenly there was some colour in the sound, not that they ever got played on the radio, well not much anyway. And now they have a new album out and it’s great.

Donkey is a good title. It’s stubborn and doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. Sensibly the band went back to São Paulo to record their new opus. It was produced by the token bloke in the band, Adriano Cintra, and then mixed by Spike Stent, who has become mixer of choice for so many. In this particular situation Stent was a good choice as his clear eyed crisp sound gives the album a pop punch that it deserves but he has a big enough love of music to retain the foibles and eccentricities that CSS are famous for.

From the kick off, with Jager Yoga, and into Rat Is Dead (a personal fave) that was given away as a free download the album announces it arrival with some force and focus. On their own, and in the ears of some humourless twats, some of the songs may be construed as naïve or simplistic, but this is an intrinsic part of this band’s charm. Lyrically songs like Left Behind are streets ahead of their musical, British born, contemporaries, like the Kooks or Fratellis, where the lyrics seem both lazy and inarticulate. Maybe it’s the Abba syndrome, where writing in a foreign language can appear simplistic on the surface but in the track the words are just so and seem to carry more weight than native born lyricists (The Day Before You Came).

So they are back and ripping up the summer months. I really hope that their planned relocations don’t have an adverse affect on who they are and what they do. They are global culture; they are the sense of humour in a corporate music world. Maybe they are the last gasp of the real art school band, which would be a disaster, but as Pete Brown once said The Art School Dance Goes On Forever. As Lovefoxxx sets up home with Simon Klaxon in London and three of the others also make the move, two of whom look like being my neighbours in Kensal Rise, which makes sense given the Little Brazil area of Harrow Road – one of the coolest places to go for a night out.

Tired of Being Sexy; I really hope not.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Boris proves his credentials.

So like the fools the electorate can often be, and proving that the USA does not hold the monopoly on voting in morons and cretins, we elected as mayor of London one Boris Johnson. Now I'm a big believer in democracy and reckon that as long as you vote you have a right to complain and whinge, but if you didn't well.....fuck off. However when some oaf is elected on a platform of declared anti-racism, particularly after he had been guilty of ridiculous and blatant racism, you have to wonder what right he has to backtrack on all those pre-election promises.

Here we are then, with our new very own Colonel Blimp stepping in to tell the Rise: London United anti-racism concert, held annually, that they need to drop the anti-racism bit. Has anyone told the acts who had agreed to play it? That'll be CSS, Jimmy Cliff, Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Bassekou Kouyate and the Dub Pistols (with the legendary Terry Hall) to name but a few; all bands who have taken a reduced fee to play the event in solidarity with the message.

This happens at a time of a rising presence of the BNP (British fascist party) and racial violence. Kind of makes you wonder how Johnson's spokesperson, and cultural advisor, Munira Mirza can spit the words out when she suggests that it's no longer appropriate for the Cuba Solidarity Campaign to take part. We talking Uncle Tom here? Maybe she should discuss it with the recently elected BNP assembly member just to test her theory that racism is exaggerated in the UK.

Whatever your political persuasion, unless of course you're a fascist pig, racism represents the nadir of stupidity and does nothing to improve the society we live in. To actively prevent this point being made is at least stupid and at worst criminal.

Oh God! Another summer of love.

It seems like we're gearing up for a summer of bleeps and squeaks from the look of it. Tracks that have fallen through my front door in the last couple of days all indicate that the age of stupid drugs and repetitive beats is back upon us. Hurrah!

First off Dolby Anol's new track Puppies, that's coming out on Back Yard (the people who gave us Gossip), is the sound of several pieces of electronic equipment falling down the stairs. being as the guys are from Glasgow there's a stereotypical chance that alcohol is involved, being as that's all they do up there. That said this is a marvellous collision of hardcore retro beats from 88, how the PR people manage to squeeze "electro house" into the equation beats me as I've always found house to be kind of mellow and it tends to be made on electronic equipment. This is Teutonic and smells of amphetamine.

The second track that, like a swallow, heralds a summer of off-your-face-is-that-my-tongue-I'm-chewing fun is the wondrously named Fukkk Offf with their Rave Is King track on Coco Machete (a label I am particularly fond of). Fukkk, whose real name is Bastian, comes from Hamburg and probably wasn't around for the fun in 88 but that doesn't stop him using a computer generated voice, that sounds nothing like Stephen Hawking, extolling the virtues of alcohol, drugs,overdrive, noise, neon lights, party people, rave is king and then it kicks in with the fattest analogue sounding bass and pump that I've heard since I first was blown away by Material's Bustin' Out back in 81. Can you feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel it???

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lovin' Alexis

Hehehehe - absolutely love this review of Coldplay last night. His review of the album wasn't bad either. While I don't really go along with John Lydon's views about the band you have to admit he has a point. Even though Lydon sounds more and more like the piss stained guy who sits on the bench at the end of my street ranting and screaming at all the kids and young women who walk by, even though he's like the weird clown at a nightmare children's party and even though he hasn't been culturally relevant for around twenty years he still points out their bedwetting credentials.

I know, I know 30 million sales and counting; but I'd still rather have a Nick Cave album than a Coldplay.

Elephant Amongst The Pigeons

It never ceases to amaze me the propensity of the American fan to head straight for the insult button when challenged about the veracity of any aspect of their culture. Weirdly I received two comments from "Anonymous", the second squealing in a piggy-like fashion about my ignorance of the Delta. In my travels around the USA I have always been surprised by the ignorance so may residents of that fine country show of their own heritage and lands. I once had the pleasure of a young lady in Corpus Christi who made herself available to me purely because I had seen the world outside of Texas. She was great, and I love Texans for their openness and warmth (well not all of them obviously).

My criticism of CTE is more a criticism of the herd mentality of the music industry. I have absolutely nothing against "kick ass rock n' roll", or "a great live show", but I do struggle with a music media and industry that is so desperate to discover some new messiah that they grasp at any weak straw or crumb of comfort. This has no benefit for the acts or the industry; when a band is pursued so relentlessly, with inducements and large cheques, the pressure on them to succeed from the off is intense and invariably leads to disappointment and career meltdown. I'm sure CTE are fine live but they are purely revisiting somewhere that has already been mapped out and rediscovered in a far more ground shaking way by the likes of The White Stripes or Black Keys.

And as for English fog, anonymous 2, maybe your stereotypical tornadoes has blown a huge new hole in your ass.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cage The Elephant???

So I was round at HQ end of last week and the main guy, Dave Knight, was in the process of putting up the new video by Cage The Elephant. Naturally I was interested as there's been words on the wire about this band with various people banging on about their hotness and general fabulousness. So I was pretty disappointed when I discovered that they were basically the new Gomez.

What I mainly got from them was a band who, as usual, wanted to be The Stones but were coming at it via Black Crowes or a band like that. So in effect they are copying a copy-cat band, in that sort of phoney rock 'n roll fashion.

I know, I know. Lots of people liked Gomez and they won the Mercury Prize blah blah blah but come on. They were one of those bands that people like my brother in law, who let punk pass him by as he was on the road with Mike Oldfield, would deem "real music". Oh come on. A bunch of white college boys trying to be all delta does not make it real. If I come across a bit like Steve Buscemi in Ghost World well so be it. I'm sure they're a great night out but it's all a bit too contrived for me. Mind you I like the Ami Barwell pics on their myspace.

Anyway file under whatever.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Life after Music Week

It's been a while but finally, after a very slow and long fade out I have left the building. Sort of sad but, to be honest, life had changed for the worse as the circulation continued to spiral down, previous publishers had wasted huge amounts of money on an almost internet bubble type pursuit of an illusory data revenue stream (I mean who really wants to pay £500 a year on finding out who does Amy's press?) and the years of atrophy had taken their toll. There are still some great people there, who love music and believe in the industry, but as always it is a bit lions and donkeys.

Now I'm here, and there as well, and plan on moving this forward as a place for slightly old farts to come for advice on what's good and what's crap. Believe me there is a lot of good music still being made out there but to read some of the "youth" mags you'd think that bands only had one good album in them - in The Twang's case not even the one (hey James, I thought they were the future of rock music!). So come back and check me out on a regular basis.