Thursday, 16 May 2013

You've been putting up with my shit just way too long

I take joy in small things.

[Insert Tyrion / penis size joke here and get it over with.]

That aside, I take joy in the way Runaway by Kanye West is used in the new trailer for the third Hangover film: 

Let's take a moment to celebrate, too, the fact that the original song opens with twenty seconds of the same piano note:

That's all I've got, except that this week has not been a great one for Mr West Mr West Mr - by himself he so impressed I mean damn did you even see the test you got Ds motherfucker, Ds - Rosie Perez...

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Songs of Sadness

This is kind of an addendum to today's Sundown Six in some ways. I've been trying to put together a review of The Staves' album for a couple of days now, but it's not happening. This is primarily because of dissonance but also, in some ways, because of the sadness of some of the songs; the primary example being the recent much-6music-played Facing West:


Which I'm sure has been mentioned on this blog before.

At first listen it has a kind of Jack Johnson surfiness and a Mumford-and-Sons folkiness that they're quick to – arguably – distance themselves from in intervals, which might be a good idea, because Mumford and Sons. But just on a basic skim-listen lyrical analysis, it's a song of sadness;

Sing me a song / Your voice is like silver and 
I don't think that I can do this anymore

I'm guessing, and only guessing, that it's basically a breakup song.

Equally, there are songs that evoke a true sadness in me – and, perhaps, only me – and, equally, pieces of music that do the same. Before we get into that, let's have a bridge song between now and sadness:

So first up on my list – for now – is Field of Poppies.

This is, as the video suggests, taken from Civilisation V. (I know this makes two game soundtrack videos in a row, but bear with me here.)

The music in Civilisation V is context-sensitive, to a degree. Certain soundtrack elements play at certain times to denote actions taken or things going on in the world. As the title might suggest, Field of Poppies tends to play during wartime and – in my experience (and, I'm slightly ashamed to say, extensive experience) – it comes on at a point during a war where the initial bombast of sound and fury and patriotic passion and let's-go-kick-some-ass! has passed over, and all you're left with are lines and lines of virtual troops dying to defend or expand your borders or protect your cities / take an opposing city. 

It also plays in the aftermath of a nuclear detonation, so, basically, it signifies a heinous loss of (virtual) life and, for me, it's always a cue to step back and think – Talking Heads style – My God, What Have I Done?
It's a sadness in a piece of music, basically.

The next one is a new one to me, and slightly disingenuous.

I've not played Bioshock Infinite, but I've absorbed a ton of information – and, arguably, the story itself – through, say, TVTropes and Wikipedia and video gaming websites. But in this instance, not knowing enough about the context makes this song... I don't know, 'feel' just that little bit sadder. 

All I can do in this instance is speak from a music-listener's point of view -

- And let's not forget, in this game-music-centric post, that this is supposed to be a music blog -

That music doesn't necessarily need its original context to be sad. Another example, same source:

Soundtracks can prove more prevalent in terms of sadness-inducing music, because that's what they're there for – to provoke an emotional response. One of the best examples for this, for my money – and if you disagree, the joke's on you, because, skint – would be Hoist The Colours, but this one does need context:

(You might have to clickthrough on that one.) 

I have a soft spot in my heart for cripples, bastards and broken things songs that are designed to be sung when your back is against the wall and it could be, very really, very nearly, the end. 

Let's wrap this up for tonight, though; I can give you a non-conventional example.

This is not, by anybody else's standards, a song of sadness.

But for me it's the saddest song in the world.

When I hear it, I hear loss, and worry, and the ultimate concern that the person you love doesn't love you back quite as much, and that the only person for you in the world will one day have moved on, taking their sway with them. 

It's a song of need, where that need can only be satisfied by one person, placing them in a position of power that means they can break you whenever they want to. It's almost a song of begging and anguish and the fear of rejection and dejection.

To me.

Oh, sure, I could have gone with this kind of business:


But that's not sadness, to me. Not right here and not right now, anyway. There's sadness, and then there's grief. 

Sundown Six: May 15th 2013

Today's six are inspired by Phonogram, the single best comic I've read in the last ten years or so.

(But that's a different article.)

Not a strict playlist, because that'd be more than six songs, and You've Got To Have Some Rules, Tony. 

But a representative sample, nonetheless. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Sundown Six: May 8th, 2013



And This: 

Are here because they remind me of this time last year. 


Is here because it reminds me of this time this year. (Also, the official video apparently can't be played via Blogger. OMG this is just like Nazi Germany / Orwell's 1984 blah blah fishcakes.)


Is just here. 

And this: 

Is here because I've had the riff from Do Wah Do in my head for weeks, but Foundations is infinitely better in song terms. 

Friday, 3 May 2013

Obsessed with the Mess

As you may have seen, this week's Sundown Six – I was going to go with Sunset Six, because, sibilance, but there's apparently an Australian Film called that, so good for them was lovingly handcrafted and picked by the wonderful Tex Ranger.

(Guest pickers are going to be a regular feature from now on, so if you would like to be one, get in touch.)

I asked Mr Ranger this week because, out of perhaps everyone I know, he has the most amazingly diverse tastes in music and the will to seek out the interesting stuff.

This is what I miss. 

And it's why this blog was created, with the intention of addressing that.

So it got me thinking.

When I stopped being a music journalist – well, a 'music' 'journalist', and that's important, but we'll get to that later – it was around 2003. (Oh, sure, I hung on and tried to keep it going, but, kids, we were still pretty much in the Physical is King era, so it was a matter of begging things from recalcitrant but occasionally understanding record companies for review).

Then I gave up. I'd still buy albums from the local HMV – now sadly departed, and now and then I'd go on a 'how much can I get for £(X)' trawl, which yielded some interesting stuff (and here, Asobi Seksu, I'm looking at you) but, to be honest, my heart wasn't really in it.

Now, way-back-when, there were nascent file-sharing networks. I remember Napster, and Kazaa, and maybe even LimeWire, but I had the same mental block about using them then as I would about torrenting now; call it stealing, call it copyright infringement, call it what you like and try to justify it if you want, but it's theft. If you think I'm a moralist with a stick up my arse and a misunderstanding of technology, then that's your right, but there's something to add to this:

Being A Moralist Restricts Your Choices.

Because I don't like the idea of taking without paying – I know, right? - and, concurrently, because I'm stoney broke – my music choices are restricted primarily to what I can afford after everything else. Considering that I'm a recovering DVD addict as well with occasional relapses and, technically, a gamer, and things get difficult therein.

Youtube, then, is currently acting as a kind of methadone for an addiction that went away on its own ten years ago – withered and atrophied because of issues of access. So is Spotify, but here's the main problem with moving from zero access to untrammelled access; my brain can't cope.

I've been to the USA a few times, and I love it there. Everything's bigger and wider and wonderful, and there's much less reserve in people than here in Britain.

But every single time I've been, one thing would cause my brain to crash to a confused bluescreen of cognitive dissonance; the amount of choice in everyday life you have to contend with.

Just buying breakfast was a problem – once you narrow it down to one item out of the fifty or so, then there are fifty options to go with that item, and fifty ways to do it. Refrigerators are filled with hundreds of drinks of all shapes and sizes and dietary options. At one point I was presented with over a hundred ice-cream choices and settled on orange and licorice because my brain had actually shut down. Now, to your everyday Joe Citizen, that's just a fact of life; you pick something and get on with your day. You have something you like, maybe, such as puerco pibil. You just sort it out and move on.

Even with experience of living in London, and all the choices that could come with that, my brain simply stopped working. (Much to the confusion of the other patrons, I might add.)

I faced a similar situation when I realised I wanted to get back into music; my brain is having trouble wiring itself to cope with the fact that if I can't find it on Spotify, then YouTube will probably have it, or iTunes, or Amazon. There's even a specific cachet about finding something you can't buy on MP3, for me, such as Elizabeth and the Catapult, who I had to track down on CD from – shock – America.

So having shut down my music brain – or, at least, put it in safe mode – when I re-awoke to this brave new world that has such downloads in it, and streaming, and videos, and access, and free, free, free – it was the equivalent of trying to watch a hundred TV channels at once when all you want to see is re-runs of Bullseye.

In Transmetropolitan, the equivalent is people revived from cryogenic stasis however many years into the future and then pushed out the door into an unrecognisable world; their brains go into shutdown just to cope with the new reality in some way. There's no help for them, no therapists or psychologists or programs of gradual exposure, because the future doesn't give a fuck.

That's how it felt, and still feels, to some extent, because there's a concurrent problem; I'm starting to feel that wonderful feeling that I'm assuming comes with getting older (if not necessarily any wiser) where, frankly, new concepts and technologies and programs make me slightly fearful, if I'm honest, in that at any one time I'm never entirely sure if I'm understanding what's going on, and suddenly the rug's going to be pulled out from under me.

I'm sure this happens to a significant proportion of every generation – although there's a corollary, in that the number of people in older generations just getting on with it and learning this new Skype malarkey (and I've only discovered that in the past month or so) is just as high as those who don't want any of that high-faluting fandango of a farrago of nonsense. Shenanigans.

So now I have all the choice in the world as to finding new music. I just have no idea how to use it.

Thursday, 2 May 2013


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Sundown Six: May 1st, 2013

This week's selections chosen by Tex Ranger of LiveFi:

(1) Death From Above 1979, Turn It Out

Album opener to the band's debut (and solitary LP of original works), the song kicks so hard the sensation on your eardrums can be described somewhere between a blitzkreig and "OMFG"....and it doesn't give you a moment to breathe. An astonishing piece of blistering noise.

(2) Battles, Ice Cream


Nonsense math-rock scholars Battles' lead single from their second LP 'Gloss Drop' feels every bit of summer as it's title hints towards. I love the over-use of exhalation and grunting in this one.

Vocal-percussion: You're doing it right.

(3) The 2 Bears, Warm and Easy

A fantastic tune to kick back with a beer in the sunshine. The synths wash over you like the warm, sexy rays and cooling breezes of summertime. Lovely jubbly.

(4) Hermitude, HyperParadise (Flume Remix)

Flume is beginning to make a bit of a splash in the music pool. Here's a tasty little piece by his hand from last summer.

(5) DJ Premier (Feat. Rakim, Nas & KRS-One), Classic

Look at that line-up. All artists involved have pushed the boundaries of hip-hop in one direction or another to create iconic sounds and styles of their own. No more to be said. Instant classiqué.

(6) Pomrad, Pomslap

The Belgians do make things other than chocolate you know. Here's my favourite export I've found so far...

With thanks to Mr Ranger. LiveFi broadcasts your event Live on your website, providing a turnkey live steaming production service for the music industry. For more information, please visit