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

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Song of the day: #36 Sweet Female Attitude – "Flowers"

Attended a Noah's Ark-themed fancy dress party in Leeds on Friday, dressed as Noah himself (this basically entailed wearing a removal company delivery blanket from the back of a car, a belt made from plaited twine and some awful open-toed sandals, with shorts and t-shirt beneath for modesty). At one point i needed to go to the shops and had to debate with myself whether to go in full costume and risk either looking like a weird religious cultist, or possibly catch a furious beatdown if misinterpreted as taking the piss out of religious garb; or take off the robe and risk looking like the kind of man who wears open-toed sandals. Eventually i decided that bad style was preferable to possibly inciting a religious riot through comical misunderstanding, and left the robe behind. Still don't know if i made the right choice.

Anyway, the party was going pretty well and i kept the costume on for what i consider a heroically long time. Later on, about 30 people all seemed to turn up at once, most of whom weren't making any attempt to wear a costume, and the vibe started shifting from "Noah's Ark theme" to "regular house party with a fucking weird guy standing around wearing a sack". It was like Keith Richards in the 70s getting a complete change of blood or something. i finally bailed after most of the animals removed their face paint and i started getting the stinkeye from more people who had arrived and who apparently had no idea there even was a fancy dress theme.

But anyway, i digress a bit. Part of the crew-of-30 that arrived later included one guy who took to the decks, threw out all the Serious Bro Music For Serious Bro Parties soundtrack (= drum'n'bass, pretty much) that had prevailed before (a welcome relief for me, cuz honestly that shit bores me beyond death) and instead starting throwing on wedding party anthems like Hall & Oates' "Maneater" and Bobby Brown's "Two Can Play at That Game". One thing he dropped early on in his set was today's SOTD. i'm pretty sure when this came out i found it pretty annoying, but hearing it again i'd forgotten what a good pop record it is, despite the duo behind it doing that annoying thing where their artist name is taken from their obvious musical or personal 'selling point' (c.f. Gangstagrass; Drums and Tuba; Buke and Gass; every shit dance troupe or boy/girl group on Britain's Got Talent).

i've always liked the skipping rhythm patterns of UK garage and the way that they manage to be swinging yet urgent at the same time, added to which "Flowers"' technique of micro-cut vocal samples only seems to have got more relevant over time. Basically, a great pop tune. And, pleasingly, it turns out Sweet Female Attitude were from Stockport! Result. Now, if you'll excuse me a contrived Bill Brysonesque ending, i'ma go and listen to's UK garage station for more turn-of-the-millennium action.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Dischord Spotify playlist

Now that my American readers (i know there's at least, like, 3 of you) have access to Spodify too, i feel less bad about sharing playlists and stuff on it. Now if only the people at the far, far superior could sort it so you can use it outside the States (i managed 2 glorious days on there before the geoblock).

But anyway yeh, until then, here's a Spotify playlist featuring virtually the entire Dischord Records disc(h)ography, in order. For some reason, The Snakes records aren't on there – a minor shame, as a bit of relentlessly daft novelty pseudo-rap would balance out a lot of the relentless seriousness of the rest – and some of the split-label releases are also missing. But that's still a good 4 solid days' worth of hardcore, punk, and good indie rock. Dig in...

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Why i hate the "27 Club".

Someone in my comments section asked if i was going to do an Amy Winehouse tribute post. The answer is probably 'no' in terms of a straightforward/regular tribute, basically because i've been away this weekend, and by now everything i would want to say has been expressed better by others. i did, however, want to do a brief post about the pernicious myth of the '27 Club' – the apparently ominous cluster of musicians dying at the untimely age of 27.

Something of a minor cultural industry has built up around this idea – there's a graphic novel,1 a film, a website,2 a truly crappy t-shirt,3 and article after article after article after dummkopf article. A huge amount of the media coverage of Amy W's death has included some kind of reference to this construct, which I find troubling for a number of reasons. So, briefly, here's why i hate the 27 Club.

• Firstly, it's not a sodding club. None of its "members" filled out an application. Many probably didn't even know about it. It's a retroactive cliche applied by Rock Trivia Buffs, a smug insincere trumpeting of a stupid factoid, often for people who don't care about the subject matter beyond the superficial, and by same. Consequently, it reduces all that was great, fun, profound, meaningful, stirring, and/or important about those artists' work to the level of a cheese-wedge question in a game of Trivial Pursuit: Rock Edition™.

• It demotes complex, difficult, diverse lives down to just one detail, the coincidence of their shared death age, making no distinctions between each. But Kurt Cobain shot himself. D. Boon died when a van he was in, driven by someone else, crashed. Janis OD'd, Brian Jones drowned. Robert Johnson, Freaky Tah and Mia Zapata were murdered. What the hell do these have in common, beyond a number? It just feeds rock(ism)'s dumb obsession with The Canon in the worst possible way.

• It's as meaningless and arbitrary as, say, a "list of musicians still alive at 35". If "list of musicians still alive at 35"or "list of musicians who died at 27" were proposed even as Wikipedia articles, they'd rightly be rejected because of this. (Except, of course, in the 27 Club's case, it's now been discussed so much in 'reputable' sources that, head-shakingly, it does indeed have a legimitate Wikipedia article, as linked above.)

• Perhaps worst of all, in the case of the 'Club' members who perished self-destructively instead of completely accidentally, it shores up those other shit myths of tortured artisthood4 and "live fast die young",5 as if early death were something to aspire to, as if art or passion or any of the other great things about the work of "Club" "members" were only valid for the young. As if Ornette Coleman, 82 years old and still regularly blowing groups half or a quarter of his age off stage, isn't cooler than a pretty 27-year-old corpse. Sorry, but i'd rather Amy, Kurt, whoever, had lived.

And it's also the totally disingenuous way it's ominously, fearfully spoken of ("the curse of 27") in hushed tones by the same people whose "who will be next?" speculation (tabloids, gossip sites, internet snipers, record labels, promoters) often helps it become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And the way that once that prophecy is fulfilled, the same people are just as quick to turn it round as a marketing gimmick for themselves as mythmakers or "Experts", behind a mask of "concern" or "sorrow" for the latest victim they're solemnly pretending to care about.

So yeah. If you buy into the narrative of the 27 Club, please stop. The world already has all the trite awful shit it needs.

RIP Amy.

1 "The 27 Club Now Includes Amy Winehouse", trumpets their website's new header proudly. "The 27 Club Experts predicted Amy's death in The 27s, this 2008 book". Well done guys! Must be nice to be so insightful.
2 "Depending on your preference, The 27s is a pop culture phenomenon, a weird curse, or a statistical anomaly" – or, in fact, none of the above.
Bearing a misquote of the Neil Young lyric quoted in Kurt Cobain's suicide note.
"The price for membership was more than he could handle", groans the tagline of The 27 Club, the myth's 2008 filmic incarnation. Or a quote from random American rehab centre co-founder quoted in one of the predictable Forever 27 articles linked to above, theorising, on the basis of nothing, that Amy herself may actually "have secretly wanted to be part of the 27 Club". Riiight.
5 "You know, death was always funny to me before. It was funny to all of us. I heard Joey say a thousand times "live fast, die young and leave a pretty corpse"... It was always "Oi, dead boy, this one's for you, I'll see you when I get there, motherfucker. And now I'm not even sure there is a there."

Friday, 22 July 2011

Song of the day: #35 Jacques Greene – "Another Girl"

House producer Jacques Greene's been getting a lot of play recently for some Radiohead remixes he did. Can't front, Thom Yorke's obviously got some good taste. Because Radiohead remixes still have a bit too much Radiohead in there for my taste, i prefer the 20-year-old Canadian's original stuff, and "Another Girl" is a sublime highlight.

The kind of murky, subaquatic synths that have been voguish lately combine with an ace late-90s UK garage rhythm that's as funky as it is propulsive, and best of all the whole thing's topped with the kind of anthemic looped soul-ish vocals that sorta recall the breakbeat hardcore era building to a euphoric climax. Antoin, who put me on to this, has already called it as song of the year, and while i've got a few possible candidates for that title so far, "Another Girl" is definitely up there.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Song of the day: #34 Xrin Arms – "Xr World"

Been meaning to do a post about Xrin Arms (pron. "You're in Arms" or i guess "Urine Arms", if you like) for ages now, and the release of a new video for "Xr World", the first track to be released off his long-awaited Human Hallucinogen album, seems like a good time.

Xrin is the one-man project/alias of Anthony Vincent, originally from California but more often found spreading his caffeinated gospel all over the States on tour. He's also found the time to release over a dozen albums in the last few years, whether solo as Xrin Arms and Goldz Field, together with frequent collaborator p.Wrecks, or part of the group Heavy Barrelz with Wrecks and Guttah Face.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of XA for the uninitiated is his wildly contrasting musical styles: basically, you're either going to get swaggering, gritty hip-hop or ferocious, balls-out, electronic-inflected grindcore/digital rock, both of them topped off with Anthony's unmistakeable self-harmonising singing style. (i'm sure i've seen him explain the seemingly unusual mix of styles by saying it's like having two kids and loving them both equally, but i've forgotten where i saw this.)

Anyway, if "Xr World" is anything to go by, Human Hallucinogen seems like it's going to be great. An inscrutably beshaded Xrin drops rhymes to camera over a claustrophobic beat as slow and heavy as a hijacked steamroller. The accompanying p.Wrecks-edited video has unsettling images of desert skulls, cockfights, grainy porn slivers, crosses, sinister clowns and vomiting, which i think you'll agree is all you really need from a music video.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Song of the day: #33 Rakoth – "Fear (Wasn't in the Design)"

Gallopy ridiculous Russian Lord of the Rings/Robin Hood forest metal. Too many amazing/terrible bits to enumerate. You'll have to pick your own favourite.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Song of the day: #32 Michael Bell-Smith – "Chapters 1-12 of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet Synced and Played Simultaneously"

Can't remember if i've ever blogged this before, but it's one of those things i cannot get enough of, and have to share on Facebook, etc., with a regularity which has got to be pretty annoying for the people that i'm friends with.

Brooklyn-based video artist and semiotician Michael Bell-Smith took advantage of the fact that each installment of celebrity micturator R. Kelly's bizarre R'n'B opera uses the same beat and mixed down all the extant episodes (at the time, there were twelve) into one hyperdense, abstract expressionist, over-Kellied morass.

For me the best bit is at 2:45, when the heavy snare drops and suddenly you have 12 incredibly animated R. Kellys all screaming at each other.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Song of the day: #31 Rufus Harley – "Acknowledgement (A Love Supreme)"

"i think this is the first time I've ever seen a brother playing bagpipes and wearing a kilt!" exclaims someone in the comments. Rufus Harley was the first jazz musician to adopt the Highland bagpipes as his instrument of choice. Here he plays a great version of Coltrane's "Acknowledgement" off the classic album A Love Supreme, interpolating a little bit of "Greensleeves" along the way (and why not). This 1987 performance is from a live DVD of Harley and the Sun Ra Arkestra (which i haven't got, but would very much like to see).

Working as a Philadelphia maintenance man, the young Harley became fascinated with the bagpipes after watching JFK's funeral procession, but couldn't find anywhere in town that had any to sell him. Eventually he had to travel to New York, where he found a set in a Jewish pawn shop. Apparently he used to practice piping in his apartment to his neighbours' great ire, but when the cops turned up after noise complaints, he would quickly stash the pipes away out of sight and ask the officers, "do I look like I'm Irish or Scottish to you?" He also played with Sonny Rollins, Laurie Anderson and The Roots, among others.