Life Just Bounces don't you get worried at all. (A weblog of music and otrogenerica)

Saturday, 27 June 2009

"Crap, horrible week": RIP Steven Wells, Michael Jackson

i'm not going to bother writing much about Michael Jackson since everything there is to say in the entire world has already been said, except: there goes a man so huge that when he died, he broke the internet (for a bit). Needless to say hip-hop, for one, would be massively different without him, both in terms of the amount of people he literally introduced to music and the amount that borrowed a bit of his, as this dizzying – and still incomplete ("where's The Tamperer feat. Maya?" frets Action Andy) – sample map demonstrates. Here's Large Pro juggling "Human Nature" on the closer to Nas' own classic ' Illmatic, and another prematurely deceased talent in the form of J Dilla cutting up The Jacksons' "All I Do is Think of You".

mp3: Nas — "It Ain't Hard to Tell"
mp3: J Dilla — "Time: the Donut of the Heart"
mp3: MJ tribute mix by DJ Premier

Anyway. No. The main point of this post was/is to pour a little liquor out on the digital kerb for Steven Wells, a name known by a lot fewer people than that of Michael Jackson, but in his own way, a pretty influential guy himself. Ubiquitously known as Swells, he was the NME's Last Good Hack, a legendary byline name whose work could consistently be relied on to inspire fury, paroxysms of laughter, or a reaction located precisely between the two, as he spewed his characteristic CAPS-LOCK-AND-LOTS-OF-EXCLAMATION-MARKS-ATTACK-ATTACK!!! vitriol all over students, vegetarians, right-wingers, pompous musicians, shit bands, sell-outs, whiners, homophobes, affluent self-pitiers, wankers, Daily Mail readers, and anyone else that failed to meet his exacting standards. His writing was a frantic and hilarious intravenous caffeine drip of expletives, neologisms and hyperactive sincerity, and he would never settle for sub-par musical pabulum just because it was the only thing around, no matter how often the editorial policy of the publications he wrote for dictated exactly that.

i stopped reading the NME when there was no longer anything in it whose unworthiness didn't make me really cross (around the post-Strokes "every band will play ball-achingly tedious contrived retrogressive garage-rock crap and be called "The Somethings" wilderness), so i didn't know Swells was ill until very recently, and i didn't know he'd died until i saw it on Wikipedia's "Deaths in 2009" page (some pseudonymous fuckbag subsequently tried to get the article deleted as non-notable because they couldn't bothered doing a single iota of basic fucking research, an attempt which was met with the contempt it deserved, though if i'd known about it while the discussion was active i would almost certainly now be banned from Wikipedia).

It was shocking and unfair to me to conceive of such a force of nature being laid low so young by a horrible disease. The same is broadly true of MJ – he was 50, Swells, 49 – but while Mike arguably hadn't really made any good music for the last 15 years, Swells was on top form up until virtually the day he passed. The names attached to tributes in the comment section of his last column in the Philadelphia Weekly — a column which, a day prior to Jackson's own death, ended a career in music writing spectacularly with the line "Me? I blame it on sunshine. I blame it on the moonlight. I blame it on the boogie." — tell their own story. Writers and co-conspirators, both those who had written with him of old and those that say he also inspired them to want to become writers: the likes of David Quantick, Kitty Empire, Everett True, Mary Anne Hobbs, Steve Sutherland, Mark Beaumont, Tommy Udo, Dominik Diamond, Stuart Bailie, Alex Needham, Cath Carroll, James McMahon, Alexis Petridis, Hardeep Phull, Ben Myers, and current NEM editor Conor McNicholas all pay tribute. Musicians, too: Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant probably being the most famous, but also his former flatmate Jon Langford, Peter Hooton from The Farm, Swells favourites Napalm Death, Gold Blade's John Robb, old-time stage-sharer Attila the Stockbroker, Clint Mansell and Daniel Wylie. Gareth from Los Campesinos!, a band Swells loved to rip to shreds in his print, also posted a truly classy tribute on their blog. And Everett True has compiled a pretty much exhaustive list at his own blog.

Swells wrote his absolute arse off, and to a pissed-off, disaffected 14-year-old music obsessive he was often the coolest writer in the world. It was only in reading the samples of his work quoted back in tributes that i realised how much of my own style i've bitten/inherited from him. i'd seriously file him alongside the likes of Brautigan, Bukowski and Lester Bangs in the group of people that instantly made me want to write when i read them.

The only song i can think in which Steven turns up (and i didn't even think of it, to be honest; that was Will from Explainin' the Cosmos, ta Will) is Helen Love's "Long Live the UK Music Scene": "Johnny Cigarettes and Steven Wells – don't get upset, your paper will still sell". i was never quite sure what the band meant by this line, but perhaps that's fitting for a man who embodied "Sometimes right. Sometimes wrong. Always certain".
mp3: Helen Love — "Long Live the UK Music Scene"

Sleep well, mate, and thanks for everything.

Poem i stole from the comments of his last Weekly piece:
“i'd die fo' me country
says a patriotic dickhead
well go ahead
you make me sick
slash your wrists and slash the statistics
'the number unemployed fell today
200,000 bled away
then they were stripped cold naked
shaved their heads
stopped the thrashing of severed nerve endings
by boiling the buggers in sterilised lead
stacked them by bunkers in dumb grey ranks
introducing the human sandbag
a major donation to the nation's salvation
the sandbag that rots
and absorbs radiation'

this depression won't fade away
it'll trickle in streams
down blood clotted drains
one way
or another”

LJB June mixtape

Potential for listening in a forest clearing: high. Dedicated to: Steven Wells, IZ the Wiz & Michael Jackson.

1. Shibusashirazu Orchestra – "Honda Komuten Theme" (Shibuboshi, 2004)
2. Deadweight – "Re-Runs" (Stroking the Moon, 2003)
3. Frank Zappa – "We Are Not Alone" (The Man From Utopia, 1983)
4. Delusionists – "Supa Lyrical Excursion pt.2" (The Prolusion, 2009)
5. Warcloud – "Get Right" feat. Crisis (Nightmares Resurface, 2008)
6. tUnE-YaRdS – "JUMPINGJACK" (BiRd-BrAiNs, 2009)
7. Gentle Giant – "Wreck" (Acquiring the Taste, 1971)
8. Ani Difranco – "Marrow" (Revelling/Reckoning, 2001)
9. Prolapse – "Deanshanger" (The Italian Flag, 1998)
10. Cloud. – "Rewritten" (Self Law, 2009)
11. Cloud. – "Take Money" (Self Law, 2009)
12. NoMeansNo – "So Low" (All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt, 2006)
13. Asa-Chang & Junray – "Parlor" (Senaka EP, 2004)
14. earthtone9 – "Walking Day" (arc'tan'gent, 2000)
15. Ivor Cutler – "Barabadabada" (Jammy Smears, 1976)
16. The Monsoon Bassoon – "The King of Evil" (I Dig Your Voodoo, 1999)
17. Osibisa – "Think About the People" (Osibisa, 1971)
18. Horace Andy – "Do You Love My Music" (In the Light, 1977)
19. Marilyn Roxie – "Nearer (Interlude)" (New Limerent Object, 2009)
20. Belly – "King" (King, 1995)
21. Plone – "No Drums" (second album, unreleased)


1 No mixtapes in months beginning "M". It's uhhh a... religious... thing. Yeh.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

#7: Monkey Power Trio — "Lest We Be Misunderstook" (Monkey Power Trio, 2007)

Usually i hate bands with animal-featuring names. Whether it's for the smart-arse wackiness of Horse the Band and their ilk1 or the total dearth of imagination (musical and general) usually signified by animal-naming ("Rob, we're called Sonic Death Monkey… If Laura and her bourgeois lawyer friends can't handle it, fuck them. Let 'em riot." Yeeeaahhhh.) or the fact that seemingly every other indie hipster darling of the last few years is called something Bear. Grizzly Bear, Minus the Bear, Panda Bear — ok enough bears now thanks.2

So it seems highly unlikely that a band called Monkey Power Trio would dodge that bullet, but dodge it they do, mostly by virtue of the comfortable slacker Zen and slight sense of wrongness they exude — for a start, there's five of them (of course). They never play live, and only assemble one day every year "to create works of inspired genius" — i.e. brainstorming and recording a complete new set of songs that are given away on their web page as well as in limited physical runs.

Lest We Be Misunderstook documents their 2007 meeting, the thirteenth of the band's "career". Of the experience, they write:
"There was time in their annual musical exploration to stop and taste the earthly delights of J. Alfred Prufrock's juicy peach, but there was also time to study world religions, from Buddha to the Bible, through hard rock melody and harmony. And, going even deeper into their shallow understanding of life, the band stands on the edge of Toccoa's cliffs and blinks into the fathomless abyss of mythical monsterhood.

In the end, the needle is stuck in a crackling groove, and our unused nurdles end up swirling in the Pacific gyre right along with our thoughtlessly used-up polymer shopping bags, neither floating nor sinking, breaking down in sunlight, swirling into the marine soup, and entering the food chain."
What this means i have no idea, but it gives you a convincing taste of their appealingly ridiculous schtick. The four songs on LWBM recall the likes of Presidents of the USA, Sebadoh, Camper Van Beethoven and other 90s grunge/alt. antiheroes, both in the shambling guitar chug and daft humour. So supremely laid-back lead track "Hit It with a Bible" proclaims "Satan is my rival / Evil's my Kn-ivel3 /rock'n'roll revival / humanity's survival", but the band slyly undermine the high drama of the lyrics by delivering them as if heavily tranquilised. It sounds like it'd be appropriate listening on awakening in a clearing in the woods near a lake on a sunlit spring morning — perhaps unsurprising, given that it was all conceived and recorded in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia. "Slow, fast, whatever — when you speed up, we'll speed up. Let's go" says one of the group at the start of "Juicy Peaches", neatly summing up the easy-going ethos.

Of the other songs, "Kraken" adds falsetto backing vocals to the jovial menace of a less arsed Shellac, while closer "Buddha Sings" sounds like it borrows from the teachings of the Enlightened One himself ("in the dark night, make your own road / perfection is deadly / in the richness of black pain you will find your own home"), only to back them with an incongruous upbeat country-rock jaunt.

This isn't music that's likely to change anyone's life, but it's not like they mean it to. Rather, MPT's importance lies merely in the fact that they exist, impelled by nothing more than the desire to make daft music for their own amusement once every year, and maybe catch a couple of listeners along the way too. It's a refreshingly modest ambition amidst the din of everyday self-promotion.

Happily, the whole thing is available for free listen/download!

mp3: "Hit It with a Bible"
mp3: "Juicy Peaches"
mp3: "Kraken"
mp3: "Buddha Sings"

Part of an over-amibitious ongoing series wherein i attempt to review every new (to me) record i hear this year (or until i regret this decision or am overwhelmed by circumstance). See also: Philip Jeck; Magic Lantern; Bălănescu Quartet; Rainbosws; Zan-zan-zawa-veia; Wavves.

1 In case someone confuses them with horse the animal, yeh? Oh wait, no, cuz that'd never actually happen.
2 Wandering Bear is the exception because of the dope CYE reference. OK?
3 Pronounced to rhyme with "Bible", natch.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Ba da ba da ba da ba DA DA!

Rooster morning call 'too loud'

Rocky the rooster has ruffled a few feathers in a Hampshire village with his early morning wake-up calls.

Neighbours living in Marchwood complained to environmental health officers about his loud cockadoodledos.

Owner Paul Wilton has had to black out the windows of Rocky's home to keep him quiet or face a fine of up to £5,000. [BBC]

mp3: Ivor Cutler — "Cockadoodledon't"

PS: Oh hey! Life Just Bounces is now on Hype Machine. Feel free t'drop by, follow us, etc.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Fake motivational posters are so over...

...but i still couldn't resist this (sorry).

MP3: Wolf Eyes — "Stabbed in the Face"

Saturday, 13 June 2009

"What are you listening to, tomasz?"

...why, this stuff of course! (Just a brief glance at some current rotationals.)

Because the only excuse i need to rinse a new Germlin album is possessing a copy.
mp3: "Graves II (feat. Kania Tieffer)"

Ornette Coleman
He's curating this year's Meltdown festival and the line-up looks worth selling a kidney for. There's a show where Ornette, his current quartet and special guests Bill Frisell and the Master Musicians of Jajouka will play "material from his groundbreaking album The Shape of Jazz to Come and music inspired by it". Holy fucking shit. If i could secure tickets to see that, i'd probably literally jizz in my pants. But because realistically i probably won't be able t', i've been going through the whole of the stunning 6-disc Beauty Is A Rare Thing box set on Spodify instead (link). Also, anyone else reckon he looks a bit Stringer Bell-esque in that picture?
mp3: "We Now Interrupt for a Commercial"

Everyone's favourite Top 40 industrial has-been Trent Reznor recently tried calling bullshit on Prince Rogers Nelson, saying "if you have a hundred great songs or a thousand, how about picking a few and putting them on your record that you've put out because your last several have sucked".

Well, leaving aside the obvious pot/kettle/racial-epithet action of Trent Reznor saying anyone's last several albums have sucked, the fact remains that Prince, as a Jehovah's Witness, is required to spend as much free time as possible going door-to-door trying to save people's souls, which has to be better than spending all your spare time dicking about on Twitter and sucking off tech bloggers till they do a feature crowning you King of Revolutionary New Distribution MethodzzzZzZz™. And even if you don't buy that for an argument, Prince's back catalogue still pisses on Rez's from a great height.
mp3: "7"

Shock G
The received wisdom is that Shock G's solo set Fear of a Mixed Planet was a stunning album that got slept on harder than a showroom of Sealy Posturepedics®. For once, the received wisdom is absolutely on-point. This record should have outsold the majority of rap released in 2004.
mp3: "Your Sun iz a Pimp" feat Humpty Hump & K-Lien

Jon Poole
Speaking of masterpieces no-one knows about:1 16 Zappa covers, one Cardiacs/Wildhearts alumnus,2 one rubbish drum machine, a couple of guitars, a bass, a synth, voices, and — since it was all done on a four-track recorder — probably one of history's biggest bouncedown tallies.
mp3: "Dog Breath"

Frank Zappa
Cuz you've gotta go back to the source; cuz we're going to see Zappa Plays Zappa in a week and it's going to be outrageously ace; and cuz there are 79 albums and counting to get through and i only own about six. Current selections: Sheik Yerbouti, Uncle Meat, the Cheap Thrills and Son of Cheep Thrills comps, Freak Out!
mp3: "Peaches en Regalia"

And not even his own stuff either! Mainly just interstitial material, announcements and informative chat as i progress through the archives of his ace Theme Time show.

Found the special edition of This Is Hardcore on Spodify. The extra material on the second disc is nothing amazing, but the album holds up well despite the unfair critical panning it got at the time.
mp3: "The Day After the Revolution"

Marilyn Roxie
("if aphex twin was american and a CHICK")
Distressingly productive American lass who puts out lush electronica/soundtrack/VGM-informed synthscapes as well as teaching Japanese and the history of rock, blogging prolifically and, for all i know, probably composing the odd symphony and constructing a beautiful palace of pebbles in her lunch hour. And her most-played group on is The Fall. i'm mildly in love.
These plays are for both some old records, and her new one, Non Limerent Object.1
mp3: "Drift Along/Distortion"

Primarily while researching this gig preview for Amsterdam Event Guide, which ended up getting taken down anyway due to Nathan Williams' inability to handle his drugs. Nice one, Nathan!
mp3: "California Goth"

Tom Waits
Bootleg live on Coffee Break Radio Show, WMMS, Cleveland, Ohio, December 3rd 1975.
mp3: "Nighthawk Postcards (on Easy Street)"

Super Furries
A favourite of Joe Germlin, appositely enough. i've always thought that, while their albums have a tendency towards slight slumps in the middle, SFA were one of the very best singles bands to have ever existed. Proof can be found in Songbook: The Singles, Vol. 1, where at least every other track is a classic. Although, having just said that, i've also been listening all the way through to Mwng, which i find their most consistent and cohesive record and which also closes with the simply beautiful "Gwreiddiau Dwfn/Mawrth Oer Ar y Blaned Neifion" ("Deep Roots/A Cold March on Neptune").
mp3: "Gwreiddiau Dwfn/Mawrth Oer Ar y Blaned Neifion"

So my rap group 30KB are playing at Kendal Calling festival (second time lucky! last year we were meant to be playing one of the tent stages at the same festival, but got fucked over by intra-promoter-ial P'n'B (politics'n'bullshit, that is)). Anyway, i'm probably missing the point of the exciting modern-day festival line-up, but the thing i'm most looking foward to seeing at said fest is the 1997 revival on day three with Ash, Idlewild and Cornershop. Wow, it's like being fourteen again! i dug out When I Was Born for the Seventh Time to celebrate and am even currently sporting my fetching beige WIWBft7T t-shirt.

Joe G.3 says they've also got a new album out that sounds "Moog-y, Bolan-y, glam rock, with sitars and trombones", which sounds intriguing, to say the least. The only slightly jarring thing about this festival appearance is their spot on the bill, below Emmy the Great (cute, but musically nothing to write home about) and The Rumble Strips (who?). But hey, at least they're on there.
mp3: "Candyman"

Shitloads of songs about coffee
And versions of "Love Will Tear Us Apart".1

1 Of which more later.
2 Though both were in the future at this point.
3 Jesus, Joe, how many times do you wanna be in this post?

An alternative three-click rule.

How about this?

"A user of a website who gets frustrated and leaves if they can't find the information they desire within three clicks is the kind of indolent, spoon-fed scumbag that should be ridiculed and told to grow a fucking attention span, rather than pandered to by ineffectual, moron-enabling web designers."1

: Ice Water — "Click Click" feat. Raekwon

1 'Specially since the three-click rule is a total canard anyway.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Out From Animals w/30KB — "Skeletons" video

Out From Animals — "Skeletons (demo mix)" feat. 30,000 Bastards

Footage from two old Disney shorts: The Skeleton Dance (August 29, 1929, the very first Silly Symphony) and The Haunted House (December 2, 1929); and from Fleischer's Betty Boop vehicle Minnie the Moocher, which also features the earliest-known footage of Cab Calloway and his orchestra. Edited by Action Andy.

Today's post brought to you by "my company has blocked access to YouTube but, unfortunately for them, have also forgotten to look up what a proxy server is".

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

30KB live in Manchester with Out From Animals this Thursday

Yes indeed! My hip-hop group 30,000 Bastards guested on a track by our mates/co-conspirators Out From Animals. It's called "Skeletons", and it's largely themed around, well, skeletons innit:

Lyrics (rap bit):
[AcheZen Pains] in a dark, dark land there was a battle of discovery
worth alerting vertebrates amidst the skullduggery
our delicate presence, ephemeral essence hereditary
heavenly bodies battle minds to find their legacy
[MC Diss-1] i got calcium for skeletal development, i'm in my element
boneyard dweller with the carcasses of elephants
Diss-1 the handle, bone-fracturing vandal
pull skeletons out of cupboards, reveal scandal
[A] There's agony even in an adamantium anatomy
atrophy envelops all our rich tapestries
guaranteed till my life's switchblade cuts in
my heart's on my sleeve under ribcage cufflinks
[D] ... no time for surveying the landscape,
cower at the power of a bone-crushing handshake
let Out From Animals educate you with tones
cuz nobody gets a body without starting with bones

Aaaaalso we're going to be guesting with OFA to perform the track (and maybe dick about on stage a bit while they play the rest of their set) at Manchester's Solem Bar (part of the Student Union) this Thursday as part of the Pangaea Festival (poster below). Come along and holler and flap!

Monday, 8 June 2009

How rebellion gets co-opted.

Top to bottom:
Prince Harry chills on the cricket pitch in a Che Guevara shirt;
I love the Clash!" Blair rocks out;
artwork by devil-may-care guerrilla rule-breaker Bank$y sequestered behind protective glass, Brighton, UK.

Monday, 1 June 2009

i did a satire


Public relations guru Max Clifford has a new client - in the form of Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe.

Mr. Clifford, previously known for his work with such cultural luminaries as Jade Goody, O.J. Simpson, celebrity pig onanizer Rebecca Loos and some non-entity that falsely accused Neil & Christine Hamilton of sexually assaulting her, is set to jet out to Harare next week to sprinkle his personalised brand of PR magic on the beleaguered Zimbabwean president.

OK! magazine are believed to be preparing a special "At Home with the Mugabes" pull-out, with appearances on Loose Women, Paul O'Grady and Come Dine With Me to follow.

Some critics have expressed surprise about the link-up in the light of Mr Mugabe's track record of running his country's economy into the ground, slashing the life expectancy age to among the world's lowest and having his political opponents beaten for sport.

But in a statement yesterday Mr. Clifford said: "The treatment Mr. Mugabe has received in some quarters of the media has been very unfair. He's been greatly misunderstood. Basically he just wants the chance to show the world the 'real him'."

Mr Clifford is said to be sidestepping Zimbabwe's current economic crisis, which has seen inflation reach 60 sextillion percent and citizens having to use $100 trillion banknotes to buy everyday goods, by receiving his payment in human souls.

— Originally writ for Manchester's satirical student monthly The Sanctuary.

Camu Tao: remembering one year on

Shockingly, it's now been a year1 without redoubtable producer/MC/singer/Jukie Camu Tao. i'm sure my feelings on hearing the news of his death, a couple of days after my birthday, coming completely out of leftfield — cancer? 31 years old? dead? There must be some mistake. — are shared by a lot of Jux fans.

Camu's Jux labelmates, including Aes Rock, Cage, and El-P have also been remembering, posting brief anniversary reminiscences on the Jux webpage. Aesop talks about a horrific/hilarious-sounding album the two of them improvised one night (and has even uploaded one track to his MySpace). The most affecting, though, is from El, who describes how, even when Camu had hardly any time left, he was still hatching schemes to get his beefing comrades to patch it up.

It brought a lump to throat, and also really made me wish i'd met Camu in person, however briefly. Read the story about the table and you'll see what i mean.

The 2dopeboyz blog has put up a commemorative mixtape to mark the anniversary; its twenty tracks ably illustrate the talent he took with him. R.I.P Camu.

1 More like a year and a week, actually, cuz of my trademark lazy slag tardiness.