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

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Why i didn't win a radio award.

Back in 2005–6, i co-presented a radio show on Glasgow Uni's Sub City station with Lachlann Rattray (aka half of Gay Against You1, aka art wizard Cliff Lipp). Our show was called Fisting for Compliments, except for the first week we were on air while the radio station was still debating whether to let us use the name Fisting for Compliments, when we temporarily used the name 2 Guys from Kabul.

We played just about anything we could think of. There was a definite emphasis on dysfunctional indie spazz, but we found room for hip-hop, jazz, punk & metal, more straight-ahead indie-rock, noise, dance, Bananarama, country, spoken word, plunderphonics... pretty much anything we wanted or loved. We were really into the freeform ethos. Between songs we would mostly deploy non-sequiturs, wordplay and eyebrow-raising in-jokes, rave enthusiastically about the music we were playing, mock the limitations of the radio station's equipment, mock the people who emailed into our show to complain, mock the foibles of university current affairs, mock people in the news, and read out stuff we'd found interesting on the internet. Along the way, we also got to interview Andy Falkous from McLusky, and Tim Smith and Kavus Torabi from our all-time heroes Cardiacs, who were immensely nice.

The first series shows were an hour long and went out incongruously on a Thursday morning. The second series expanded to a full two hours and went out on Saturday night (since i'd moved away from Glasgow by that point, and had to drive 250 miles up there each week). Generally we would pick half the show's music each, and play alternate selections by each of us, or occasionally blocks of two records each. We had a variety of special features: "The Iron Fist" (fairly frequent), a two-record block of the week's most offensively harsh or noisy records, "The Pleasing Sandwich" (less frequent), a series of very short tracks played in quick succession and themed around popular sandwich fillings, and the very sporadic "Black Sabbath Songs Sound Better When Played By Somebody Else". Anyway, we started off pretty amateurishly and got better at it as we went along.

We were still pretty surprised when station management told us we'd been nominated for a national Student Radio Award. Who, us? Surely we took the piss and alienated people too much, and played way too unfriendly music? Apparently not. We were nominated in the category of "Best Entertainment Programme", which we thought was pretty strange, since we'd always considered ourselves a specialist music show. The radio station said no, our eclecticism meant we couldn't be considered specialist in any type of music. We argued that the eclecticism was the speciality. i still think that (a) we were completely right about this point; and (b) we would probably have had a better chance of actually getting an award if we'd been in the "Best Specialist Programming" category. Needless to say, we didn't win, of course. Then again, i recently rediscovered the following sound file, a short showreel we had to submit to the Student Radio Award judging panel to give a flavour of our show, and listening to it again, you can maybe kind of see their point.2

Nonetheless, these shows were one of the most fun things i've ever done in my life. Along with this showreel, i also found six complete Fisting for Compliments shows, which i'll be posting up here in the coming weeks. i've also got a lot of MiniDiscs3 from the period (onto which every show was recorded live), so with any luck, i'll be able to get hold of an MD player and some kind of digital nutcracker device which i can use to extract even more shows from those.

mp3: Fisting for Compliments – "The Best of... Chat"

1 The other half of the same group, Joe, would sit in from time to time, too.
2 Not sure what my Chris Morris bite at the end is all about whether it was conscious or unconscious, or indeed, what purpose it was meant to serve. Doesn't really work at all in any way i can see. Weird. Oh well.
3 The nineties Betamax.

Friday, 19 February 2010

"Don't be evil" my arse.

Google has decided to start nuking music blogs without any warning (in spite of leaving up whole-album-download blogs, revoking people's AdSense accounts for criticising Scientology, collaborating with Chinese state censorship until someone went after their own servers, and all the rest of it).

It's a suitcase nuke. See what i did there? (from — aaargh! National Terror Alert)

If we disappear, you'll know where. But if we do, we'll be back. Stay tuned.

mp3: Mano Negra – "Letter to the Censors"

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The LJB extra-curricular Valentine's Day mixtape

Since Valentine's Day and #VDay are still trending on Twitter – at least, in New York City, where i've set my trending topics – and since walking around Sainsbury's the other day yielded no overheard conversations but those of gigglers chatting about what various friends' lovers did or didn't buy as Valentine's presents, and since compiling it was vaguely emotionally draining and since i haven't posted it yet, i present the LJB extra-curricular Valentine's Day mix.

Willed into existence by Twitter (2 votes 'yes' to 1 vote 'only-if-you-include-samples-of-Hugh-Grant': sorry Katy, this way i still have a clear majority but without having to find and watch a Hugh Grant V-Day film), lovingly selected and haphazardly mixed by me. i mainly just included love-themed songs that i love (however tangential the theme). There's a pretty even blend of euphoric, adoring, heartbroken, funky and inappropriate on there.

i originally did this cuz i couldn't decide what song to send to Jesse Darling for her Diskjammy Collaborative Mix #5 on the theme "Anti-Valentine".1 You should also check that out, it's brill.

Papa M – "Arundel"
The instrumental sound of awaking next to a loved one.

Lou Reed – "Romeo Had Juliette"
"Betwixt, between the East and West, he calls on her wearing a leather vest, the earth squeals and shudders to a halt..."
Shakespeare's star-cross'd lovers transplanted to late-80s Manhattan.

Elliott Smith – "Alameda"
"Nobody broke your heart: you broke your own..."

Andre 3000 – "Happy Valentine's Day"
"Could be an organ donor the way I give up my heart..."
i'm very interested in the sudden switch from "Happy..." to "fuck that..." in this song. Unexpected.

Bingo Gazingo – "I Love You So Fucking Much I Can't Shit"
"The whole world a toilet bowl..."
Pretty self-explanatory.

Otis Redding – "I've Been Loving You Too Long"
"Don't make me stop now / No baby, I'm down on my knees / Please, don't make me stop now..."
Absolutely emotionally flooring.

Smog – "To Be Of Use"
"Like a spindle / Like a candle / Like a horseshoe / Like a corkscrew..."
Brilliant balance between deadpan hilarity and quiet, wistful sincerity. An anthem about the desire to belong for no-self-esteem-engines everywhere. And that pedal steel was surely played by an archangel or at least a minor cherub.2

Joanna Newsom – "Cosmia"
"I'll sleep for the rest of my days if you're gone away again..."
i swear the placement of this next to old flame Bill Callahan in the mix was a serendipitous accident. Jo makes me swoon like a 60s teen drowning out the Beatles at Shea Stadium.

De La Soul – "Jennifa Taught Me (Derwin's Revenge)"
"Positions, muscles flexed, Dove was lost in a Ghana hex / Passed her test, felt her teddy, Jenifa, oh Jenny..."
For such a dirty song, this is actually really sweetly innocent.

Meat Loaf – "Paradise By the Dashboard Light"
"Ain't no doubt about it, we were doubly blessed / Cuz we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed..."
There may be better songs about praying for the world to end so you don't have to break your promise of eternal fidelity to a girl you fibbed to in order to lose your cherry to her in the back of a car, but i can't think of any. Attn. hipsters: Bat Out of Hell still shits on the vast majority of your mp3 collection.

Ani DiFranco – "Shameless"
"I'll take off my disguise, the mask you met me in / 'cuz I got something for you to see..."
Wide-eyed lovers-against-the-world jam.

DJ Shadow – "Backstage Girl" feat. Phonte Coleman
"I mean, I told her straight up, you know, I got a significant other. Sh-she ain't care. She said for tonight I just wanna be your insignificant other. What?! God-DAMN!"
God-DAMN indeed. Phonte is such a smooth bastard.3

Gang of Four – "Anthrax"
"These groups and singers think that they appeal to everyone by singing about love because apparently everyone has or can love, or so they would have you believe anyway, but these groups seem to go along with what, the belief that love is deep in everyone's personality. I don't think we're saying there's anything wrong with love, we just don't think that what goes on between two people should be shrouded with mystery."
Aha! The cynicism we ordered is here!

Pharoahe Monch – "The Light"
"It was like the earth twisted around her / She shifted the ground I was like, "Ohhhhh.. SHIT!" / She's off the hook..."
The "little bit a thug-slash-B-boy gentleman" makes puppy-dog eyes over a gorgeous Diamond D beat. Pleasingly, he still never drops the polysyllables, as in the fantastic third-verse couplet "we kissin' and we wrestlin' - sexual confessions / I never lack a pack o'prophylac', I learned my lesson".

The Get-Up Kids – "Central Standard Time"
"I said I minded distance / But distance owned us from the start / It's every song. It's every song..."
One for anyone who's ever loved anyone a long time or distance away. The VFW reference in the first verse also raises the interesting prospect that one or more party might be moving away from the other to go to war.

GWAR – "Fuckin' an Animal"
"Damn hard on the knees!"
Yeh, i suppose it's a bit of an odd one out. But i needed it to temper the misery and wistfulness a little. As a bonus, i find this song way, way funnier than i reasonably should. In a kind of massive facepalmy way.

Elvis Costello – "I Want You"
"I want you / No-one who wants you could want you more..."
Bitter, obsessive, seething, wounded, mantric, amazing. Maybe the definitive third-wheel unrequited love song. When he sings "it's the thought of him undressing you" you can practically hear his eyes narrowing.

BOB – "Convenience"
"Then she rides, far away, motorway, can't keep her at bay / I have seen lights turn green just for her convenience..."
Someone on YouTube called this "one of the great lost pop songs of all time"4 and noted that it should have been massive, which means that we have at least one documented case of someone on YouTube being completely right about something. Glorious swoony headrush of a song.

Belly – "King"
"Baby, I can't fake it..."
The bit when she whispers "healer" after the sung "i'm your faith" is pretty sexy.

Bright Eyes – "June on the West Coast"
"And I wouldn't have to bring up my so badly broken heart and all those months I just wanted to sleep / And though spring, it did come slowly, I guess it did its part: my heart has thawed and continues to beat..."
Conor Oberst may have the heartiest sleeves in the room, but he does a nice line in quiet optimism when he wants.

Djali Zwan – "Love to Love"
"Misty green and blue..."
From the Spun soundtrack. Low-key and sweet except for the guitar solo, which is bombastic and overwrought and still rather sweet. It helps that Paz Lenchantin takes the lead and that Billy uses his inside voice instead of his coffee-grinder voice. Come to think of it, i've just realised this is also the mix's second appearance of the highly underrated David Pajo.

Frank Zappa – "Love of My Life"
"Stars in the sky, they never lie..."
The consensus is that FZ hated love songs, that any part of his oeuvre dealing with the subject is obviously designed to mock the cliches of the style and the gullible saps that buy into it. Bullshit. Exhibit A is this Ruben and the Jets track, a ridiculously romantic doo-wop pastiche that sounds no less than entirely sincere. Couples who share Zappa fandom have been known to pick "Love of My Life" for their first dance. Also worth a mention is Bob Harris' stratospheric falsetto backing vocal, so impressive that at one point he gets a round of applause for it.

Gene – "Speak to Me Someone"
"For I know your taste / and I can supply..."
i always felt Gene's pegging as a kind of cut-price student Smiths was unfair. This song alone predisposes me to like them more than anything featuring pious overrated whingebag Morrissey.

Jenny Owen Youngs – "Voice on Tape"
"It's a funny world where machines could replace people..."
Another one about missing someone who's (a way) away, i think. Regina Spektor on scene-stealing answerphone vocals.

Kanye West – "Love Lockdown (Bean Butler rubdown)"
"I'm not lovin' you the way I wanted to..."
Joe made this and it's ace. Squelchy funk and heartbreak, more like.

Martha Wainwright – "Bleeding All Over You"
"You moved up North, you've got a farmhouse / There's cowshit in your brain and love in your heart / I'm in the city and I'm trapped between two buildings and having to start at the start..."
Another unapologetically bitter song for the love of your life who preferred some other jerk.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – "(Are You) The One I've Been Waiting For?"
"Outside my window the world has gone to war..."
The whole parent album is Nick's love opus and possibly even his magnum opus. This understated ballad may or may not be about PJ Harvey.

Leonard Cohen – "So Long, Marianne"
"I'm standing on a ledge and your fine spiderweb is fastening my ankle to a stone..."
Well it wouldn't be a love compilation without something from Laughing Boy, would it?

Zombina and the Skeletones – "The First Kiss (Cuts the Deepest)"
"In between days, only at night, I took his love, he took my life. Somehow my dress became undone; the moon stared down in disapproval like a dead man's head forced into a pitch black drain, weeping stars to illustrate a glittering release from pain, from my loveless life..."
Macabre black-humour concept pop that transcends its schtick by virtue of being basically really wistful and lovely.

Todd Rundgren – "Can We Still Be Friends?"
"Memories linger on / It's like a sweet, sad, old song..."
Well? Can we?

1 One of these songs eventually did make it to that mix courtesy of me.
2 It was actually the appropriately-named Ken Champion.
3 And The Outsider is a criminally underrated album. Shits on The Private Press.
4 Although he actually said "one off the", admittedly.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Desert Island Dicks — "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (AMP007) (single)

If you're one of the many who have found legitimate reasons to despise Feb. 14th, the noise miscreants in Desert Island Dicks have released a Valentine's Day single that might pique your interest. Nothing the Dicks do ever seems to be straightforward, so it was a fairly safe bet they weren't going to buy into the standard hearts-and-flowers template, and here they don't disappoint.

De facto Dicks spokesman #12 (none of the others are ever identified) offered this explanation:
The single in question is a two-track cover of Joy Division's now-iconic "Love Will Tear Us Apart". Each Valentine's Day, many thousands of people may feel compelled to buy V-Day paraphernalia as a de rigueur activity rather than as a sincere expression of romantic feeling (notwithstanding whether said feeling is present or absent; this is irrelevant). An ironic flipside to this coin is "Love Will Tear Us Apart", a song expressing a contrary, somewhat fatalistic view, yet which a large amount of groups learn to play, and produce their own version of, ostensibly as a kind of alt.rock "rite of passage", and again, not necessarily representative of the feeling behind it.

We have produced two versions of the same record by way of commentary on this phenomenon. The first version, subtitled "consecutive mix", is sampled from 103 existing versions of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by a variety of stylistically divergent artists. Each cover version is represented by a one- or at most two-bar sample, which are reassembled mosaically in the order of the original song. The second, subtitled "simultaneous mix", simply plays all 103 versions at the same time.

It is hoped that the published studies will provide some directions for future research in the area of culture and management styles.

"Studies show that when a given norm is changed in the face of the unchanging, the remaining contradictions will parallel the truth."

Written by Curtis, Sumner, Hook, Morris.

Artists sampled (in order): Joy Division / Vitamin String Quartet / Magick / Scapula Elevata / Chuzpe / Hanky Park feat. Peter Hook / Flowing Tears & Withered Flowers / Bis / Jah Division / Broken Social Scene / Everyone's a Crook vs. ILS / The Blood Divine / Complete Stone Roses / Clock Strikes 13 / Nordloef / Evelyn Evelyn / Michael John / Albert Kuvezin & Yat-Kha / Trance to the Sun / Rebecca Hancock and the Prison Wives / New Order / Hawksley Workman / Last Days of Radio / Paul Young / Ecstatics / Dahmnait Doyle / In the Nursery / Boy Division / Bloom 05 / Nouvelle Vague / Swans (red version) / Ortzroka / Rodolphe Burger / Kaycee (Gus Gus mix) / Fall Out Boy / The Cure / Invisible Limits / Squarepusher / Slapper / Die Art / Cienfuegos & Mimi Maura / The Sky About to Rain / The Diary / V/Vm / Jose Gonzalez / Kiki & Herb / Sensifer / The Shanes / Pribata Idaho / Amadea & the In-Betweeners / Eon Blue Void / U2 / The Real Bang / Kismet / Philistine / Calexico / Kvinton / Peltz / Michelle Darkness / Honeyroot / Dumb Blonde, Dead. / Poon Up! / Ian Field / Final Virus / Swans (black version) / Tiger Baby / Mike Relm / Testament / Red House Painters (live) / The Motion Sick / Tea Party / The King / Schulz / Lispboston / 10,000 Maniacs (live) (allegedly) / Jenny K Jones / Even Vast / P. J. Proby / Jansky Noise / Nerina Pallot / Itty Bitty Kitty Titties vs. Big Fat Cat Tats / Oysterband / Simple Minds / Morten Abel / Ghost Parade / Susanna and the Magical Orchestra / Stanton-Miranda / Pixeltoy / Jarboe / Albanopower / The Parsonage / Brothers Past / 12:24 / Unbroken / Worm Is Green / Slumber Party / The Carnival of Fools / Opium Den / World Wide Spies / Acrojunk / djstranger / Wundergraft / Philip Boa & The Voodooclub

Production by Desert Island Dicks.

Artwork by Lachlann Rattray for Dreamguts.

Desert Island Dicks 2010. Experiments can go down as well as up.

Make of that what you will, i guess! Happy V-Day.

mp3: Desert Island Dicks – "Love Will Tear Us Apart (consecutive mix)"
mp3: Desert Island Dicks – "Love Will Tear Us Apart (simultaneous mix)"

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Review of a review: Pitchfork's take on RJD2's "The Colossus"

If music wants to be free, as the more share-happy quarter of modern culture would have it, then reviewers of albums can perhaps serve as benevolent jailers, emancipating artworks from the dank gaols of obscurity with the skeleton key of communication. It is with this noble purpose in mind that we should consider Patrick Sisson's recent assessment of RJD2's The Colossus album for popular internet periodical Pitchfork Media, which represents a worthy example of the role.

With a substantial 660 words in five paragraphs, Sisson assuredly achieves his goal of reviewing the most recent record by the Columbus musician. He deftly emphasises the contradictions of art through his repeated placement of opposing concepts in introductory paragraphs – independence/retrospection; ambition/repression; confidence/reticence – embodied in the snappy final description of the album as “a forward thinking look back”.

The highlight is undoubtedly the spare apostrophe in the fourth-paragraph “it’s”: a daring and provocative move sadly destined to be overlooked or, worse, interpreted as a typing error by the untrained eye. Such subtlety is characteristic of a writer from whom we can expect huge things in 2010. (8.1)

mp3: RJD2 – "A Spaceship for Now"

Originally written for Sanctuary.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

A short guide to post-music

In the crazy world of modern music hackery, it seems almost impossible to move without bumping into a genre prefixed by the word "post". But what do all these terms really mean? Fear no more, for i have compiled a jargon-busting compendium.

• Post-punk. The original 'post-' genre, post-punk began when original punks decided they wanted to get stoned and listen to hippy music after all. Dub influences and a fourth chord were duly added.

• Post-rock. In theory: a diverse fusion of non-rock compositional elements, including jazz, reggae and electronic, played with traditional rock instruments. In practice: kind of the blood group O of music, you can pretty much call anything post-rock and the awe of your companions will mean no-one will be able to challenge your mad skillz. Congratulations! You may now write for an online hipster periodical of your choice.

• Post-hardcore. A term used by bands who want to play emo, yet also retain credibility from Serious Rock Publications. Usually achieved by adding a second, shoutier vocalist.

• Post-metal. Much like metal, but with all the testosterone and dubious lyrics about wizards replaced with brooding instrumentals and 20-minute song lengths. So, an improvement, obviously.

• Post-jazz. Completely indistinguishable from normal jazz.

• Post-alService. Pioneers in writing songs by mailing each other individual instrumental parts and then combining them afterwards, a fact far more interesting than their actual music.

• Post-Secret. Not so much a musical genre as a popular website. (Can I stop now?)

Picture: The notorious NME cover featuring Godspeed You! Black Emperor (the rhesus negative of music). This wasn't one of their all-time failures, as conventional wisdom has it now; it was actually one of their all-time successes. If only they could see that.

mp3: P.I.L. – "Rise"
mp3: Labradford – "P" (YSI)
mp3: Drive Like Jehu – "Caress"
mp3: Neurosis – "Burn"
mp3: Ornette Coleman – "Space Church (Continuous Services)"

Originally written for the Sanctuary newspaper, who got into some rather excellent trouble this week for a piece taking the piss out of those awful, tawdry commemorative crockery collections, which was obviously spun into a "how dare these callous bastards mock the dead!"-type controv-orgy by the increasingly Daily Fail-ish Telegraph.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

LJB January mix: Songs i Sing at Work

This is what i'm laughably calling my January mix, despite it being already ten days into the following month. But hey! In my defence, it's been hectic, and then i was away for a week from the end of January, but believe it or not, the mix was made in advance. i just failed to upload it, for whatever reason.

Anyway, i have started working in the office of a cheese factory (don't laugh, fuckers). We don't have a radio and i assume i'm not allowed to listen to music off my phone either, so here is a brief selection of songs i have been amusing myself in singing (or rapping, or sometimes drumming) along to. As a result, it's a bit more song-based than normal, as having to entertain yourself musically in an office doesn't allow for much jazz or wistful ambient soundscapery or drum programming (although Kraftwerk make the cut, as always).

i asked Tjinder Singh if there were written lyrics to "7:20 a.m. Jullander Shere" (or any of the other non-English songs), as otherwise i have to sing along in kind of ridiculous munged approximation of what they sound like. He replied thus:

so yeh: cheers to Tjinder, for inspiring me to come up with some implausible cod-Punjabi of my own.

Next month's mix will be dedicated to the mighty art of the trumpet solo. If you've anything you wanna hear on there, leave me a comment on here or hit me up on the Twitter.

1. The Weakerthans – "Watermark"
2. Sleater-Kinney – "One More Hour"
3. J Dilla – "Reality Check" feat. Black Thought
4. The Wildhearts – "Woah Shit, You Got Through"
5. The Flaming Lips – "Bad Days (Aurally Excited Version)"
6. Kraftwerk – "Autobahn"
7. Aesop Rock – "Dark Heart News" feat. Rob Sonic
8. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – "Oliver's Army"
9. Rufus Wainwright – "Gay Messiah"
10. Tori Amos – "Hey Jupiter"
11. El-P – "T.O.J."
12. The Rolling Stones – "You Can't Always Get What You Want"1
13. Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band – "Candle Mambo"
14. Cornershop – "7:20 a.m. Jullander Shere"

[no others yet cuz it's only February...]

1 Wow, this section of the mix just got extremely lovelorn. Honestly didn't notice that at the time. Happy Valentine's everyone