Thank you. I’m not the only classic Elton John fan left. I put Tumbleweed Connection on my Stylus Top 100 albums of all time for a reason; I love campy 50s-rock retreads. And now, as of today, I have a new campy 50s-rock retread-retread. I picked up the Scissor Sisters on my way into work this morning, and I’ve been grinning ever since. I can’t get enough of their cheeky disco vamps. Sure, you have to take a little Bee-Gees with your Rocket Man, and at times I swear to God it’s the stank cauldron pot for stewing up all the foul rock the 80s (i.e. Go-Gos) had to offer, but in the end it’s simply too much damn fun to ignore. I admit; I was on the other side of the fence with the Darkness. Perhaps it’s just a matter of which genre is under reconstruction. For my money, in a year that has seen several polarizing albums that receive their oppositional scores in the low digits and nigh on tens (I’m thinking Patrick Wolf’s Lycanthropy, which, for similar reasons, I’m absolutely in love with and might select as my album of the year), I’m coming to adore both the pretentious and the sick. What a year. What a year.
Some shuffling of the cards in the world of blogs lately, here’s some notables (the good, the new and the dead):
-K-Punk is running tings, boasting vibrant discussions (and comments box) on theory and popism/poptimism
Check ‘em all, lament the lapsed, but, most importantly, keep up the discourse. Lots of good reading and thinking going on out there if you’re looking for it.
Some time ago Stylus presented an article named “Summer Dubbin” and while I planned to fashion a mix of my own, the due date came and went before I felt as though I had something which might be considered finished. In an attempt to perhaps salvage that effort, a trimmed version may be found below.
Romps through feral hills hedged by branches no longer bare and balm nights spent basking in the moonlight are moments often associated with Summertime. An environment of birdcalls, watery skies and bushy puffs of green grass beckon a certain sort of response from many. Teens frolic from schoolhouses to grocery stores, restaurants and the like, while workers stare out beady office windows in a glum haze, swearing they can smell an aroma from the barbeque being held at their house ten miles away. Such is not often the hour for a music which seeks to engage ones attention, for the summer is an hour wherein we hold our engagements loosely in between our fingertips and hope the gusting summer breeze will blow them away. But, of course, this is not to say that we might not instead choose to hold on a little more tightly and watch our avant-garde tastes commingle and flap fervently in this summer air. For too long has the summer been owned by the pop beast, so come forth now chaps, lets at them!
Fennesz - Ciscassion
Black Dice - Creature
Yituey - Golondrina
Dorine Muraille - Madrague, Retour
Sogar - st.03
Asa Jang & Junray - Xylophone
The Wind Up Bird - This
Hecker - VI Retrospect
Coin Gutter - Southern Yukon/Northern BC (And Perhaps Parts of Alaska)
Kaffe Matthews - She Could
Oskar Aichinger - The Cave Of Insanity
Christopher Willits - Lichen
Basil Kirchin - Once Upon A Time
Food - Pie
Richard Youngs - Soon It Will Be Fire
So, after months of correspondence and becoming pretty good friends via e-mail, Ofer’s article finally got published at Stylus on Monday. I worked right up to the mark: in fact, between finishing the piece, bouncing around to Morrissey in amongst a throng of baying Mancunians and punching numbers into a machine for The Man, it’s been a hectic few days.
All that came to a head on Monday night, when I travelled to Manchester to sit upstairs in a Palestinian-run kebab shop with members of Jews For Justice For Palestinians and the Olive Co-op, as well as interested British activists and of course, Ofer himself.
Ofer thanked me for writing the piece (of which, a printed copy was handed round to the group), and I would like to thank Ofer in return for his complimentary copy of his new album with the Newlife Community, Wind, Spirit, for being such a patient and helpful subject, and above all, for being a such a great character.
Ofer played solo acoustic versions of songs from Alternative (surely you’ve ordered a copy now?), Cohen classic “Story Of Isaac” and some further, heated discussion of the points raised by people like him.
He travelled light: a change of clothes in his guitar case, a brief case of CDs (along with toothpaste, toothbrush and electric razor) and a trolley with a tiny amp and microphone attached. All of this enabled maximum flexibility; including an impromptu “gig” in the kebab shop itself (perhaps not the best place to bring culture), and some mid-afternoon busking in central Manchester.
Israeli-jazz-flamenco-folk-protest-singing-showmanship-humour-activism is the new rock n’ roll. Mos def.
Forgive this correspondent for his oodles of free time, but we have more news that might tickle your fancy. NYC rapper NAS, he of the wise, cogent urban narratives, is already busy hyping his forthcoming Double-LP, set to drop September 26th (take THAT, Jay-Z!).
The first single, “Thief’s Theme”, which rides a sample of Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”, is already receiving substantial radio airplay. The video features an out-of-shape, flamboyantly gold-toothed NAS wandering around NYC sporting all varieties of masks. If you’re beginning to think this sounds awfully familiar, rest assured that “Thief’s Theme” distinguishes itself from Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” by shirking the B&W cinematography and kicking Rick Rubin to the curb. See? It’s completely different.
If this track is any indication (and since this is NAS we’re talking about, it probably isn’t), the Double-LP should be a must have. Dental bling aside, NAS has been the understated of the two NYC rap moguls, earning his stripes not through press releases but through his music. And there’s no denying his talent. For some time now, NAS has been NYC’s deftest tongue-flicker (sorry Sandra Bernhard). To quote the new single: “The fiend of hip hop has got me stuck like a crack pipe”.
As most of you know, Fiona Apple’s anticipated third LP has been shelved by execs at Epic Records, though the title track, “Extraordinary Machine”, has spilled onto the net and can be readily downloaded. Listening, I’m struck by two things:
1.) This is SO cool. Jon Brion obviously cut this track in the same mold as his quirky Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack. Pings and chimes abound. Fiona sounds great, as always, finding rhymes where none have a right to dwell, all the while reminding one of a diva in some 1950s Hollywood musical. The way she clips short the syllables in the word “Extraordinary” makes me fall in love with her all over again (Damn you, P. T. Anderson! I’ve got initials too, you know.)
2.) I can TOTALLY understand why Epic is taking so long to sponge the shite out of their shorts. How do you convince radio-stations to play a song like this? Can’t you just hear the marketing department scratching their collective melon over this riddle?
Pimply sub-associate: “I think there’s a retro station in Austin that would play it.”
The leaking of the title track (was it Brion’s camp that let it slip?) might put some pressure on the Epic cronies to give the people what they want (see point #1) or merely serve as evidence in support of their “our hands are tied – she’s a nutter” position (see #2). In this duel, we’re predicting Apple to end up the victor. Seeing that her LA art camp is so tight and pretentious, this sort of callous corporate treatment will only serve to galvanize her position.
Whatever happens (or doesn’t happen) count on Stylus to keep you updated!
My review of Dodgeball was a very cautious recommendation of a movie that never fully embraced its nature. The not-so-subtle apologies by the writer/director for lack of coherence and the general unoriginality of the jokes made Dodgeball less likeable. That film is like midget porn: maybe it’s funny, and maybe you liked it . . . but you’re certainly not proudly confessing either of those truths. But Anchor Man? That’s just some sweet lovin’ whose praises you can sing from the mountaintops.
Basically Anchor Man does exactly what any film should when Will Ferrell is involved, it gives him an endless string of excuses to be as weird as he can. No plot needed, no backstory aside from a two-sentence intro of each character, no apologies. You take the preeminent comic genius of the last 5-10 years and turn him loose, it’s that simple. Throw in a very strong supporting cast (Steve Carell is amazing), and you have a recipe for pure gold.
Despite sitting directly in front of a young lady who was perhaps the single most annoying audience member in my 20-some-odd theater-going years, Anchor Man rates as the most fun experience I’ve had at the movies EVER. Usually a reserved chap, I couldn’t contain out-loud laughs for the majority of the runtime. This is what you’ve been waiting for if you’re a Will Ferrell fan. Elf showed promise, his small characters in other stuff showed how funny he could be in films, and now Anchor Man delivers the goods. I strongly believe this should and will be mentioned in the same breath as Airplane when the lists of great comedies are compiled, A-Mazing. I’m Kevin Worrall, and you people stay classy.
Rhetorical Question of the Day: Just how addictive is the new The Hives single “Walk Idiot Walk”? Shrouded in secrecy, the new album Tyrannosaurus Hives drops on July 20th. Word has it that new record label Universal ordered the monochromatic Swedes back into the studio after hearing the fruits of their first efforts. How does “We need more singles, boys” translate to Swedish? Anyway, if “Walk Idiot Walk” is, indeed, the end result of some uptight, tone-deaf record label suit, it’s fine by me.