Archive for October, 2008

31
Oct
08

Dressed in Borrowed Time and Finery: Luxury Stranger’s Desolation

Several months ago I found out about a Nottingham-based band called Luxury Stranger via MySpace. Oddly enough, I had already met the bass player, Chris Ruscoe, who happened to be at the two IAMX shows I attended a year ago, but who wasn’t in Luxury Stranger yet. The rest of the band is composed of drummer, Owen Walton, and vocalist/guitarist, Simon York, who used to be signed to Roadrunner Records with former band Delirium (and who incidentally is related to William of Orange). They are about to release their debut album, Desolation, which reminds me of my favourite post-punk/new wave bands like The Chameleons, Echo & the Bunnymen, and the Pornography/Faith/Seventeen Seconds era of The Cure (in fact, perhaps I would still be enjoying The Cure if Luxury Stranger wrote their melodies for them), but as much as York’s vocals veer into Robert Smith agonized cadences and tones and the occasional Ian McCulloch quaver, they also remind me of the gravelly, masculine posture of grunge and the full bass tonality of someone like Eddie Vedder. Luxury Stranger has also cultivated a rather enigmatic profile via guerrilla marketing; for example, if you were lucky enough to find a Luxury Stranger card lying around, you became an honourary member of the Luxury Stranger elite. After listening to Desolation, it seems the world this elite occupies is one of industrial decadence, like a limousine pulling up to the curb in the Lace Market, offering you a few sordid moments above your station. There is both a sense of dangerous urgency and a doomed despondency, a naked bipolarity that seems too tenuous and tense to last without tearing the narrator in two.

Opening track, Dirt, is indeed dirty in its gritty guitar sounds and self-loathing lyrics. York’s delivery of “I’m dirt” ranges from petulant declaration to raspy scream, demanding attention like a dark dare to all the “clean girls.” Substance is more punky and angular than Dirt and features verses that are actually reminiscent of Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me Cure and then a poppy, infectious chorus. Inner Eye slouches along like a shambolic shadow in lockstep to ticking, precise drums as though the narrator’s wrought desire cannot be unshackled nor diluted in shady alleys. Falling on the punkier side of post-punk like Substance, Marlene has an incredible hook as it conjures up images of a femme fatale worthy of The Blue Angel. Slowing down to a more contemplative tone, Paradise Untouched builds layer upon layer of dramatic sound as escapist promises escalate, dressed in borrowed time and finery. Grounded is one of the most memorable tracks for me on the album with its propulsive guitars and “wrap you up in plastic” refrain; in this song there’s an unabashed, transparent revelry in the way human relationships become power struggles of puppetry.

The album then takes a slower, more atmospheric turn. With its echoing drums and gentle washes of guitars, Dreaming Our Lives Away is a moody ballad of romantic intentions that reiterates some of the escapist tendencies of Paradise Untouched, emphasizing a yearning for preserving ephemera, which wouldn’t be so precious if it weren’t so transient. Item continues the atmosphere of sombre brooding with an insistent lower register that swells like a dirge against the backsliding backbeat as the narrator drags his directionless feet away from the wreckage of his heart that he can now only view as a detached, abstract item. NMQP picks the pace back up again with the plea of “no more questions please” and breezier guitars. The record’s coda is Don’t Go, a track that begins with a skeleton of acoustic guitar, but which continues to round out its sound and culminates in more wounded self-absorption reaching for the last vestiges of love, or for what would pass for love for any navel-gazing romantic. The naked last breaths that plead “don’t go” belie a true vulnerability behind the gothic bravado of the earlier tracks.

In addition to the tracks from the album, I was also able to listen to two bonus tracks (which are currently streaming at Luxury Stranger’s MySpace): Completion and Precious For Evermore. The former is a driving melody with a vindictive, vicious vocal performance from a possessive lover – a Phantom of the Rock Opera; the latter is a bass-driven ode to masochistic voyeurism and more need for preservation and possession of an idealized lover. Hopefully, both are to see some sort of official release whether as part of a sophomore effort or as bonus tracks for this debut.

Overall, if you’re a fan of the darker, brooding side of post-punk and also into fist-pumping forceful rock, I would definitely recommend Luxury Stranger. Considering I’m in Canada and that there’s a low likelihood of my returning to the Nottingham area any time soon, I asked whether I would be able to get some cards of my own to spread throughout Canada. Though the cards were ostensibly sent to me twice, I never did end up receiving those cards, which leads me to believe that I am neither luxurious nor strange enough to be a part of the Luxury Stranger elite. Or perhaps our postal worker is indeed more luxurious and a bit stranger than I thought.

Luxury Stranger’s MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/luxurystranger

Grounded – Luxury Stranger

Item – Luxury Stranger

Completion – Luxury Stranger

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27
Oct
08

Sound the Last Post, Then Unite and Take Over

I, like many MP3 bloggers, am deeply disturbed by the information gathered on a post over at The Vinyl Villain. JC has collected links to the following posts that all address the current censorship and bullying that is taking place in the MP3 blogosphere:

To Die By Your Side Post
Song, By Toad Post
Teenage Kicks Post
17 Seconds Post

I encourage you to read them all because each of them provides a slightly different insight into the rash of MP3 blog post removals, specifically by Google’s Blogger. I would also like to add a couple of my own links to relevant stories, including this story about Metallica and the Muxtape story. Now, as many of you know, I’ve been studying MP3 blogging with a fair amount of depth this past year, and as far as I could tell, most MP3 bloggers appeared safe from legal action because of the ephemeral nature of most download links, because of their disclaimers about asking for removal of MP3s, and because of the fact that as long as they posted only a few MP3s, and not full albums, they were operating under the following “fair use” clause of the Copyright Law:

“Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.”

As evident through the above bloggers’ stories, this safety net has been torn from under us. Now there are talks of blogs disappearing and/or going underground (ie: email subscription services), but what I fail to understand is what record labels hope to gain by attacking MP3 blogs. Have they heard of torrents? Is it because it’s easier to target a bunch of relatively small static entities rather than massive networks whirling around the globe? To treat MP3 blogs and their offshoots as though they’re the same as the P2P filesharing frenzy started by Napster in the late 90s, is utterly ridiculous. There are so many flaws in these actions on the part of both major record labels and Google, but I would like to point out a few pertinent ones.

Firstly, how can archaic copyright laws be applied to drastically new developments in technology? How can you steal something whilst leaving it with the person you “stole” it from? This process is one of cloning, not of physical products leaving one spatial location to be in another. And after being in academia so long, I know the copyright law well enough – of course you can’t photocopy a whole book, but you can definitely copy portions that you need for your studies. The reason why this analogy doesn’t quite work is because photocopying a book would be a lot more time-consuming than downloading and burning an album or several. But I would like to point out the fact that research and epistemological processes have been built upon the foundation of citation. You cannot write an academic piece of literature without references, citations and examples from previous works to bolster your argument. Well, MP3s are bolstering our arguments. We are not plagiarizing entire books, we are providing our examples. Consider our MP3 links to be inside quotation marks.

Ideas and art do not spring from a vacuum. This is the civilized world that literacy ushered in. Once thoughts and information could be recorded for reference, they could be easily used to continue building on, generating a sense of progress. Science and technology themselves couldn’t have gone anywhere without the free flow and dissemination of information. Knowledge generates knowledge, and by preventing access to ideas and cultural artifacts, big businesses are only killing civilization as we know it. However, when you take a look at the history of communication, we are merely repeating it. When the printing press became more widespread, copyright laws were created by those that feared losing power, and restrictions were placed on who could produce printed news and books, but eventually, progress broke the elitist hold and the presses were opened again. This is not to say that censorship isn’t alive and well and that “free” societies are actually completely free and democratic.

In the current state of the world, it is becoming increasingly apparent that information is the new power, not military. Wars shall be fought with information and gathered intelligence – knowledge is indeed power. Chomsky and Herman’s Propaganda Model makes the point that journalism is greatly shaped and filtered by restricting means of production and communication to only those who have the financial means to do so. These filters are firmly entrenched in the world of journalism, so much so that they tend to be invisible to most people. I suggest you read Manufacturing Consent to illuminate this fraudulent concept of freedom of speech. My worry is how these filters will eventually find their way from the world of “official” journalism to the world of “unofficial” journalism. In some ways, they already have. For those without the money for a computer or high-speed Internet, MP3 blogging wouldn’t be an option in the first place. But soon the privileged, but non-elite people who maintain MP3 blogs could be silenced, too. If more of the financial elite get control over the Internet and its applications, the supposed freedom of online communcation and creation will completely disappear. My only hope is that there will continually be innovative people one step ahead, using their individual brains and sources of knowledge.

The issue here is primarily MP3s – I highly doubt blogs that merely discuss music without free downloads are being targeted in the same way. In many ways, MP3s are art, but they are also literally encoded information, so by stopping bloggers from using a few samples, music labels are obstructing the flow of information and attempting to curtail individuals thinking for themselves. Music fans are gaining power through being able to sample before buying, so record labels need only fear if their artists aren’t good enough to convince people to purchase their product. It’s hard to believe that the people in charge of the music industry have any business acumen at all with the absurd strategies they’re using. These strategies include the hidden Copyrighting Board Private Copying Tariff on the prices of blank audio cassettes and blank CDRs.

Secondly, it seems mad that record labels haven’t learned from their first go-round in which they fought the very technology that affected the future of their industry/commodity. Now, they’re fighting the future of music publicity. It’s like reaching for the bail bucket on the Titanic. The removal of MP3 blog posts is a pyrrhic victory for the music industry and a classic case of the music industry gnawing on the hand that feeds it. To attack people who have provided disclaimers and expired links, is an exercise in futility and ends up infringing on the property of others. And these others are the “real” music fans -the ones who actually buy music and go to live shows as opposed to the casual music fans who don’t care whether they get all their music from torrents and who will likely never be the target market for excessive music buying.

It appears that Coxon of To Die By Your Side could have been targeted because he wrote a critical review of Cold War Kids’ latest album. Well, I did, too – here. And perhaps one of the reasons I haven’t had my post removed yet is because I’m still flying under the radar and not generating huge traffic. I, like most other bloggers, have had plenty of positive feedback from the artists themselves, who are happy that their art is being exposed to the public by people who are just as passionate about it as they are. Unlike the music industry, and to an increasingly greater extent, the music journalism industry, many MP3 bloggers view music as art, not as strictly a commodity. If the music industry is so in tune with the laws of capitalism, they should recognize the moment when a business has to adapt or die – that moment has already come and gone, but the industry has found no viable solution for itself; thus, industry people busy themselves by bullying those that can’t feasibly fight back so that they can feel proactive rather than the lumbering retroactive people they are.

Fear generates fear. The obsolete middlemen in the music industry are fearing for their livelihoods, and are thus using fear tactics upon both blog hosts like Google and MP3 bloggers. I refuse to be fearful. If and when it comes to sounding my last post, I, along with other music fans, will find a new way of communicating because the process that literacy set in motion cannot be stopped. If we are to be viewed as shoplifters, then all I have to say is: Shoplifters of the world unite and take over.

Shoplifters Of the World Unite – The Smiths

Can the Haves Use Their Brains – McCarthy

26
Oct
08

Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and…Well, Friday I’m in Love: Weekly Mix #40

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…Halloween. Well, technically not until this Friday, but I had to post this mix in time for it, especially since you’ll be needing it whether you’re throwing a party, carving a pumpkin or four, handing out candy, or decking the halls with blood. Halloween is one of those fantastic times when people can speak truths about themselves through the masks and costumes they wear and when people who celebrate the spirit of Halloween year-long are accepted heartily by the masses. As one who loves the darker side of life, it’s a very fun holiday.

Admittedly, I’m not really one for horror films – as a child, I never watched them, and as an adult, I wasn’t really drawn to them as a genre. However, I have always been drawn to a Tim Burtonesque style of darkness – when I was a child, I loved Beetlejuice (both film and animated series) and Nightmare Before Christmas. As I grew, I fell in love with Edward Scissorhands, too. In addition to Tim Burton, I loved the first The Addams Family film as a nine-year-old. So, perhaps I love the dark and creepy reality of suburbia instead of hack and slash gore. I suppose I also rather enjoy the campier, wacky darkness like that of The Rocky Horror Show (I’ve only had the opportunity to see it performed live once, but I went all out to dress up for it). And finally, I also love the wry witty sort of darkeness like that of Edward Gorey, where small children are masticated by bears and strange men in long fur coats lurk in dim Edwardian corridors.
I stopped Trick or Treating when I was 12 or 13, but I have some fond, and some rather cold, memories of going door-to-door with my little bag. The rather irritating thing about having Halloween in a cold climate is the fact that you usually never get to wear the same costume you wore to the Halloween school party when you go out at night – you may risk hypothermia. So, while I was Pippi Longstocking at school (probably the best costume I ever had), I could very well end up as a Mexican man in a sombrero and heavy wool poncho at night. I was a variety of rather unconventional choices, including Merlin, Robin Hood, and on the last night I ever went Trick or Treating (to take a smaller child around with my friend who babysat her), the sadistic girl from The Clockwork Orange-like gang in the relatively obscure film Class of 1984. The last time I dressed up at all for Halloween was for work a couple of years ago where I donned enormous black angel wings, a black wig, and my friends’s ginormous platform boots with spikes – it was the most impractical costume in the world, especially when you have to navigate escalators and bookshelves all day, but I think it was one of my better ones as well. I haven’t quite thought what I’ll do this year as I help to hand out candy, but considering the fact several people call me Wednesday Addams and Emily the Strange on a regular basis, I could just do either of those. We’ll see.
Because I love Halloween so much and because I happened either to have and/or find a lot of appropriate music, this mix is pretty massive. Hopefully there’s something for every ghoul – there’s classic, there’s downright silly, there’s campy, there’s typical, and even some not so typical (I hope there are a few less predictable ones anyway). We’ve got some soundtrack songs (Nightmare Before Christmas, Ghostbusters, Tales From the Crypt theme, Do the Hippogriff, The Addams Family Theme, The Time Warp, Magic Dance, Nanageddon), some classic oldies (Monster Mash, Purple People Eater, Clap For the Wolfman, Don’t Fear The Reaper), some gothy masterpieces (Bela Lugosi’s Dead, Release the Bats, Halloween, Every Day is Halloween), some danceable tunes (Thriller, My Vampire, Vampire, Ghosts), and some newer novelties (Hip Deep Family, If I Only Were a Goth). Since this mix is a three-hour one, I’m only posting half of them for individual download and then the entire mix in a zip file. The mix is called Anglopunk’s Bloody Good Halloween Mix. Enjoy your treat bag.

This is Halloween – Danny Elfman

Ramalama (Bang Bang) – Roisin Murphy

Monster Mash – Bobby Pickett and the Crypt Kickers

Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley

Clap For the Wolfman – The Guess Who

Abracadabra – Steve Miller Band

The Time Warp – The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Halloween – Siouxsie and the Banshees

Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus

Release the Bats – The Birthday Party

I Put a Spell On You – Arthur Brown

Halloween – Sonic Youth

Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

I Was a Teenage Werewolf – The Cramps

Transylvanian Concubine – Rasputina

Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) – David Bowie

Date With a Vampyre – The Screaming Tribesmen

Do the Hippogriff – The Weird Sisters

Vampire Racecourse – The Sleepy Jackson

Waiting For the Wolves – Daisy Chainsaw

Faces & Masks – The Cherubs

Vampire Love – Ash

Frankenstein – New York Dolls

Tales From the Crypt Theme

Nanageddon – The Mighty Boosh

Magic Dance – David Bowie

I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow

My Vampire – Soho Dolls

Vampire – Paul St. Paul and the Apostles

For Halloween – No Kids

Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.

Ghosts – Comateens

Thriller – Michael Jackson

Every Day is Halloween – Ministry

The Addams Family Theme

All Cats Are Grey – The Cure

Skeletons – The Sound

Lycanthropy – Patrick Wolf

Please Mr. Gravedigger – David Bowie

Graveyard – Public Image Ltd.

Theme For a Witch – David R. Prangely and The Witches

Waking the Witch – Kate Bush

Bat’s Mouth – Bat For Lashes

Hip Deep Family – The Tiger Lillies

If I Only Were a Goth – Thoushaltnot

Weekly Mix #40 (Megaupload)

24
Oct
08

Touched By the Hand of God: New Order Reissues

New Order is one of my all-time favourite bands (as most of you would already know); in fact, I was a fan of them long before I knew about Joy Division. And now on November 11, Rhino is going to reissue 2-disc collector’s editions of their first five albums: Movement, Power, Corruption and Lies, Low-Life, Brotherhood, and Technique. As much as we can all get jaded about special editions and re-releases of old material, I always get excited about the bands I really care about, and admittedly, I usually purchase the special editions in the hope of getting some previously unreleased material. There has always been something particularly magical about New Order for me – it’s like they managed to craft songs that connected with me on some perfect, heavenly level of aural bliss. I couldn’t have asked for more than songs like Ceremony, Blue Monday, Temptation, Age of Consent, True Faith and Bizarre Love Triangle.
While Movement definitely still contains vestiges of the Joy Division sound and attempts at preserving Ian Curtis’s vocal style, on Power, Corruption and Lies, New Order found a new place to stand, creating the record to break all records, Blue Monday, in the process. All of these double disc editions of New Order’s decade of brilliance are remastered and feature non-album singles, b-sides and remixes. The exact tracklistings are as follows:

MOVEMENT
Disc One
1. Dreams Never End
2. Truth
3. Senses
4. Chosen Time
5. I.C.B.
6. The Him
7. Doubts Even Here
8. Denial
Disc Two
1. Ceremony – 12″ Version
2. Temptation – 12″ Version
3. In A Lonely Place – 7″ Version
4. Everything’s Gone Green – 12″ Version
5. Procession – 7″ Version
6. Cries and Whispers
7. Hurt – 12″ Version
8. Mesh- 12″ Version
9. Ceremony – Alternate Version
10. Temptation – Alternate 12″ Version

POWER, CORRUPTION & LIES
Disc One
1. Age Of Consent
2. We All Stand
3. The Village
4. 5 8 6
5. Your Silent Face
6. Ultraviolence
7. Ecstacy
8. Leave Me Alone
Disc Two
1. Blue Monday – 12″ Version
2. The Beach – 12″ Version
3. Confusion – 12″ Version
4. Thieves Like Us – 12″ Version
5. Lonesome Tonight – 12″ Version
6. Murder – 12″ Version
7. Thieves Like Us – Instrumental
8. Confusion – Instrumental

LOW-LIFE
Disc One
1. Love Vigilantes
2. The Perfect Kiss
3. This Time Of Night
4. Sunrise
5. Elegia
6. Sooner Than You Think
7. Sub-Culture
8. Face Up
Disc Two
1. The Perfect Kiss – 12″ Version
2. Sub-Culture – 12″ Version
3. Shellshock – John Robie Remix, 12″ Version
4. Shame Of The Nation
5. Elegia
6. Lets Go (From Salvation)
7. Salvation Theme
8. Dub Vulture
BROTHERHOOD
Disc One
1. Paradise
2. Weirdo
3. As It Was When It Was
4. Broken Promise
5. Way Of Life
6. Bizarre Love Triangle
7. All Day Long
8. Angel Dust
9. Every Little Counts”
10. State Of The Nation
Disc Two
1. Bizarre Love Triangle – 12″ Version
2. 1963 – 12″ Version
3. True Faith – Shep Pettibone Remix, 12″ Version
4. Touched By The HandOf God – 12″ Version
5. Blue Monday ’88
6. Evil Dust
7. True Faith – True Dub
8. Beach Buggy
TECHNIQUE
Disc One
1. Fine Time
2. All The Way
3. Love Less
4. Round & Round
5. Guilty Partner
6. Run
7. Mr. Disco
8. Vanishing Point
9. Dream Attack
Disc Two
1. Don’t Do It – 12″ Version
2. Fine Line – 12″ Version
3. Round and Round – 12″ Version
4. Best & Marsh – 12″ Version
5. Run 2 – 12″ Version
6. MTO
7. Fine Time – Silk Mix
8. Vanishing Point – Instrumental, 12″ Version
9. World In Motion -Cabinieri Mix, 12″ Version
For those of use who weren’t lucky enough to be around or old enough at the time of these albums’ first release and didn’t have the opportunity to collect the 12″ versions, these reissues are a worthy investment. They tell a story of a band finding a new voice that ended up being equal to, but different from their original voice. I’ve always regarded their achievement as pretty amazing, especially considering the fact that most bands can never repeat the legendary status they once had – even more so once their lead singer is gone. They’ve rightly taken on mythical status alongside their former label, Factory. And they’re also one of the only bands to survive being included on a John Hughes’ film soundtrack.
In honour of the reissues, Rhino is running a contest where you can win a bass signed by Peter Hook. A pretty remarkable prize – a perfect reminder of the signifcance of Hooky’s bass throughout New Order’s career. The pioneers of post-punk moved on to become pioneers of electro-dancefloor anthems, always retaining an original sound and going on to influence droves of bands. Be prepared to get reacquainted.
21
Oct
08

The Life Trajectory of a Pendulum: stanleylucasrevolution’s Evolutionary Sunset Call

It begins with some feedback and vocal samples and loops intermingled with a rollicking Old West beat like some psychotic, schizophonic Ennio Morricone. The track is called Wasteful Youth and it builds the faithless foundation for the rest of the LP. This fantastically experimental, existential album is the sophomore effort from yet another musical project shrouded in mystery: stanleylucasrevolution (SLR) from California. Released on Stroboscopic, the record is titled Evolutionary Sunset Call (which keeps reminding me linguistically of Sister Feelings Call) and these songs are ostensibly created by a terminally ill, fictional character called Stanley Lucas. Both the enigmatic set-up and the dark material refract from the heart of this album to create a 21st century world completely bent out of shape, but in doing so, it finds redemption and safety in the darkness. Mixing fuzzed out beats, glam rock, warped psychedelia, country-blues, and electronic effects, Evolutionary Sunset Call is like a pendulum, heavy with self-doubt and fear, being driven by inevitable laws of perpetual motion and futilely knocking its battered essence against other identical pendulums, all the while hypnotizing you with its incessant tell-tale heart.

After the opening track, the first song with proper lyrics included in the liner notes, Brand New Way, swaggers in with a bit of old-time glam fashion and brash piano. As the narrator sings “I’ll find a way to a brand new way,” you get the feeling that it’s a lot like what an alcoholic person would tell him/herself when he/she is drunk. The following song, We Still Love Them, is the song most explicitly about the state of today’s world: “a new suit, desk, shave and a handshake/you give your money to the company/we stand divided and the nation’s hollow/everyone knows that dying’s free.” To accompany the articulation of the barrel rolls of emotion, blues bass and electric organ push the pendulum back and forth in its suspended rut. The first of many musical interludes, Le Batteur is a propulsive font to refresh you for further grit and disturbed mental states that come with New Stone 40. When the narrator sings “won’t you change my life?,” there’s a fantastic slide into a minor tone that connotes a resigned desperation, and the chorus swings along as the voice reminds you of both Ziggy Stardust and Bon Jovi’s cowboy wanted dead or alive. Consultation Valley Ruse begins with fantastic electronic beats and the vocals take on a rich deepness over a disco falsetto backing, which end up sounding more eerie than funky. Conversely, interlude (Intro in C) sneaks in sideways with squeaks and hesitant rhythms before giving way to Insatiable and its tanoy-inflected vocals addressing a female character with further expression of forward motion that goes nowhere: “maybe will you finally change your life?/and come out at night/doing all those things though they don’t even amuse you.”
With its tribal rhythms and swirling, spinning pinwheels of sound, I’m Trusted in the Sea (Outro) takes you over the rickety bridge to Two Ways, which repeats the vocal sample “What’s the matter with you, thought you were asleep” as though someone left the TV on late at night while an old film was on and the picture is rolling through infinite static, slowly driving you mad in some wakeful nightmare. The track continues in a subdued manner that smooths the frayed nerves created by the sample. The music takes a more upbeat, vindictive tone with Sacred Sons and the strong anthemic tones break through and smother the chattering feedback for a moment of triumph and peace. The narrator declares, “I need to hold the flames, I love to see the light/the darkness comes berating the sunset turning it back to night…I want to touch the skin of everyone whose failing inside/I’d love to be the one there that comforts you in the middle of the night,” becoming a messiah to the nighttime underworld. But the pendulum swings back with the quiet bluesy guitar in Mourning Star (Outro). With the coming of morning, the manic self-importance withers under the sun’s glare as the narrator recognizes his reality anew, taking you into the next track called Downhearted. The wobbly, muffled vocal effects in Downhearted makes it sound like the narrator is drowning in his own sorrow and self-pity, but at the same time he’s fighting with the breath he has left, leaving his own Rock ‘n Roll Suicide note. The album concludes with the instrumental Happy Sun Day, which uses violin-like sounds to rouse you from the mire of the previous breakdown, only you don’t know if it’s to wake you or to serve as a wake.

As a whole concept, Evolutionary Sunset Call, tells the story of hiding in a darkness that you come to despise, where you wait out life changes and wish you could be brave enough to live after the sun rises. You can and should buy Evolutionary Sunset Call at Cd Baby. This one-man revolution is perfect for those who have ever regarded one of those perpetual motion toys in someone’s office and felt an infinite sadness.

19
Oct
08

Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and…Well, Friday I’m in Love: Weekly Mix #39

It’s that time again – cover versions. This will be the fourth weekly mix featuring covers, so I estimate there will only be one more covers mix for the year. Since creating these collections of covers I realized something that I probably should have figured out by now: that I gravitate towards covers of artists I already like, meaning I have multiple covers of David Bowie, The Smiths and New Order songs above and beyond covers of other artists. It only makes sense, mind – why would you enjoy and/or notice covers of artists you don’t particularly like or recognize? And the likelihood is that the artists you already love are inspired by other artists you love. Of course there are also just some artists that were so prolific and memorable that they get covered more than others on a regular basis. At any rate, with this mix, there are four covers of David Bowie, two covers of New Order and one of The Smiths. I’m a creature of unshakable habits and predilections.

Particular highlights of this compilation include Nico’s surprisingly upbeat cover of Heroes, Charlotte Martin’s delicate version of Bizarre Love Triangle, the haunting JJ72 interpretation of It’s a Sin, and one of the best songs that OK Go could have covered with Damian Kulash’s voice…The Lovecats. This mix is called Old Habits (And Artists) Die Hard. Stay tuned for next week’s Halloween megamix.

When Doves Cry – The Amplid (Original: Prince)

I’m So Excited – Le Tigre (Original: The Pointer Sisters)

Suffragette City – Frankie Goes to Hollywood (Original: David Bowie)

Fame – Duran Duran (Original: David Bowie)

Heroes – Nico (Original: David Bowie)

Stand and Deliver – The Young Knives (Original: Adam and the Ants)

Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others – Supergrass (Original: The Smiths)

Telegram Sam – Bauhaus (Original: T.Rex)

Dropout Boogie – The Kills (Original: Captain Beefheart)

Sound and Vision – The Sea and Cake (Original: David Bowie)

The Lovecats – OK Go (Original: The Cure)

Be My Baby – We Are Scientists (Original: The Ronettes)

Just – Nickel Creek (Original: Radiohead)

It’s a Sin – JJ72 (Original: Pet Shop Boys)

Windmills of Your Mind – Colourfield (Original: Noel Harrison on The Thomas Crown Affair film score)

When You Sleep – The Antlers (Original: My Bloody Valentine)

Teenage Lust – Oliver North Choir (Original: The Jesus and Mary Chain)

My Girl – The Jesus and Mary Chain (Original: The Temptations)

Bizarre Love Triangle – Charlotte Martin (Original: New Order)

Blue Monday – The Cloud Room (Original: New Order) / (Alternate Megaupload Download Link)

Sweet Dreams – Bat For Lashes (Original: Eurythmics)

Run to Your Grave – Slow Club (Original: Mae Shi)

13
Oct
08

The Dark Stuff: Why Do We Love It So Much?

On February 1, 1995, Richey Edwards checked out of the London hotel he was staying at with James Dean Bradfield and effectively disappeared. Two weeks later, Edwards’ Vauxhall Cavalier was found abandoned at the Severn View service station, but his body has never been discovered. It’s a story that’s taken on mythological status, not only among Manics fans, but among music fans in general. Is it because he just vanished? Or because of his self-conscious genius and brilliant creation of the Manics’ ethos? Or because he’s yet another tale of tragic self-destruction? I think it’s a potent combination of all three that elevates him into such a rock star status. Apparently, rock ‘n roll is, at its core, a risky lifestyle of testing limits both physically and mentally while pushing creative boundaries at the same time. At least that’s the conclusion I come to after reading The Dark Stuff, a book that collects several of Nick Kent’s pieces on specific musicians, who are generally considered self-destructive geniuses.

Kent’s subjects include Brian Wilson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Syd Barrett, Neil Young, Kurt Cobain, Iggy Pop, Roy Orbison, Prince, and many others. In fact, not all are geniuses, but more in the iconic camp (ie: Sid Vicious). (However, all are male, which may speak to the historical male-domination of rock music or to Kent’s own biases – I’m not sure.) Of course Kent’s style is a mixture of elevated, verbose descriptions, which evoke both the magical and real, and the down-to-earth criticism you would be capable of if you had lived with these “rock stars” for their daily lives. In his introduction, Kent states that this book should serve as a “warts-and-all celebration of the driving essence that is rock ‘n roll,” and that it explores the “triumvirate of ego, drug abuse, and self-absorption that preys so relentlessly on the creative mind.” And he’s right about these three factors and geniuses of any type. What made me start thinking was how interested music fans are in people like this. I know I’m interested because I set aside all other books while reading this one cover to cover in a few nights.

I once read that the reason Sylvia Plath’s work was so signifcant, and why the works of other manic-depressives were also significant, was the fact she was able to experience the absolute extremes of human emotion and then describe them aptly. The average person has a much smaller range of human experience – sometimes they’re sad and sometimes they’re happy, but neither of these poles take hold of them and alter their mental state so totally. Perhaps the reason I (and others) am fascinated with music idols like Iggy Pop, Syd Barrett and even Brian Jones is because I feel like they all might have been mad in one way or another, and madness is one of those anomalies in society that can be taken as either threatening and undesirable or as special and superhuman. The ideas of what madness means has changed over time from rather non-threatening to an abominable deviation to problems with brain chemistry, thus the ways of dealing with madness have shifted from allowing mad people to roam free to incarceration to now some more politically correct incarceration. I’m of the belief that, like Nietzsche’s madman, crazy people sometimes have the ability to see beyond what everyone else sees, and that makes them valuable to society. It’s no secret that many of the best musicians or songwriters are a little nuts, but at the same time, there are several who are iconic without being particularly talented.

Sid Vicious and Brian Jones come to mind when I think of music icons with no hugely discernible musical talent. In fact, their deaths had no effect whatsoever on their respective bands and came as no surprise to their bandmates or the world. It’s like they were the epitome of living fast and dying young, and their personalities and images were so oversized that they became rock martyrs, and subsequently, the subjects of many books and films. This mythology, as Kent notes, can often be linked to the Narcissus myth – these beautiful and charming rock stars know that others admire them, and eventually they can’t stop believing in their own singularity and myth nor can they stop destroying their own beauty by their tunnel vision. Being singled out as superhuman or otherworldy can play havoc with self-esteem, whether you deserve the accolades or not. Probably even more so if you don’t deserve them.

What I’ve come to understand through Kent’s book and my own observations is that artistic genius seems to go hand-in-hand with some conflicted self-image issues, meaning vanity and ego mixed with insecurity and self-doubt. This superiority/inferiority complex creates a neverending cycle of self-love and self-hate that ultimately causes a seemingly incomprehensible self-destruction: “normal” people can’t understand why people who have it all – beauty, talent, success – would want to keep harming themselves and testing their limitations, often perishing in the process. Yet we all watch it like a trainwreck and pore over their life stories like scholars of the doomed. We want to put all of our hopes and insecurities onto one magical person that acts like some totem for the extremities of the human condition – someone who is more than we could ever be, someone who has the ability to tap into something beyond us. We, as humans, love myths and can’t stop creating them, and so we continue to do so in the 20th and 21st centuries – these rock stars become our Greek gods and goddesses, Robin Hoods, and Gilgameshes. Their stories become both legend and parable.

Unlike the subjects of Nick Kent’s book, no one knows what happened to Richey Edwards – he didn’t overdose and die, he didn’t blow his face off with a shotgun, he didn’t take too much acid and end up languishing in his mother’s house, he didn’t live through trial after trial to a ripe old age of self-reflection and redemption, nor did he continue on making art, mediocre and sometimes brilliant, until a natural death. He just went missing. In many ways, he trumps them all because his genius even manifests itself in his exit. Without a body, Richey Edwards becomes both immortal and incorruptible. And like King Arthur and so many other messianic figures, he always has that potential of returning when his followers need him most.

Self-disgust is self-obsession, honey, and I do as I please. – Faster, Manic Street Preachers

Such beautiful dignity in self-abuse. – 4st 7lb, Manic Street Preachers

Paint It Black – The Rolling Stones

Archives of Pain – Manic Street Preachers




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Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

TV on the Radio w/ The Dirty Projectors (2009)

Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave

Photobucket

So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun

Photobucket

Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head

Photobucket

Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away

Photobucket

Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners

Photobucket

Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away

Photobucket

You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender

Photobucket

I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding

Photobucket

You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black

Photobucket

Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

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Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb

Photobucket

Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape

Photobucket

Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

Photobucket

And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning

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My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it

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Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love

Photobucket

We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

Photobucket

Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south

Empty

Running on

Bravado

As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different

Photobucket

LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell

Photobucket

Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are

Photobucket

You must let her go

She's not crying

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Baiting

Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times

Valentines

Hating

Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone

Whipcrack

Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't

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So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need

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The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest

Photobucket

Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know

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No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more

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All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids

Photobucket

Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome