Tweet These days, I'd consider myself a glass-half-full chap when it comes to internet hype. I used to be a complete bell-end about hyped bands. Due to a stinky cerebral twitch common to people who write about music, I'd dismiss albums, bands, and - in the case of simian mobile bloggy remixy shit - entire genres, before listening. Arrogant? Yep. Cuntish? You bet. Vampire Weekend changed all that. I smugly avoided their album for ages for the sole reason that it was the number one searched album on hype machine. When I subsequently heard it and was blown away, I realised two things. 1: I was a spanner for being snobby about it because of the hype. 2: Some people would still continue to hate on a great album because it was hyped in the first place. Regardless of the hype, vampire weekend were always class live MP3: The XX-VCR The XX are the latest Vampire Weekend. They have an average age of nineteen and it's currently hard to be objective about them, seeing as most critical opinion is refracted through a monster bubble of internet chatter. Let's try though. Their sound is austere, melodic and synthy, with a girl/boy vocal trade off on most songs. So far, so ordinary. Yet, from start to finish, their debut album is crammed full of intriguing elliptical moments (both musically and lyrically) which call to mind the music of Young Marble Giants, and which contrast starkly to such overcrowded, WTF bonanzas as MGMT's debut. After the tsunami subsides, people will come back to the XX to try and fill in the weird and compelling gaps in their songs. I just know it.
Tweet Something unusual and stealthy happened to me in the barber shop earlier today. Halfway through my regular haircut the barber decided to try something new. While he was chopping off my rat's tail he whupped out a GHD and then, with nary a word, he started straightening my hair. When the warm irons nuzzled my ear I have to admit I felt a bit encroached upon, a bit violated. I wanted to pipe up and object - "keep that fucking thing away from me buddy. DO I look like Duncan from Blue?" Except I didn't, of course. I'm a sap. I just sort of tensed up and got sweaty. I glanced over my shoulder trying to scope out whether the GHD treatment was par for the course in the establishment in question. I dunno if it was or not, but by then the steam was already rising off my poker straight bangs so I kept schtum. I ran with it and soon found myself relaxing into the asymmetrically sweet 'look' the barber was working. Throughout the haircut, Iron Maiden's 'Run to the Hills' was playing over the barbershop stereo. Coupled with some laddish background banter about Millwall and West Ham fans beating the shite out of each other, this lulled me into thinking the barber was following normal blokey protocol. Sadly, he probably was. I ended up looking blokey alright - blokey like one of those thirtysomething Liam-Gallagher-a-like potential rapists who lurk in the spongey shadows of the Whelans' smoking area. Ever since I got my new 'Do, vile tabloid rumours have linked me to both Jordan and Effie from Skins Later, when I caught sight of my watery reflection in the window of Q Bar I felt sick. I flitted home to Kells like a creature of the night and I will spend most of tomorrow frotting my head up and down against an old couch to make it look normal again. Music I have a funny feeling the New Fuck Buttons album will be immense. Maybe as immense and awesome as the futuristic obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey? 'Sweet love for planet earth' was my favourite song last year, and I think Fuck Buttons will destroy all and sundry this year too. Their new tune, surf solar, is just monstrous. Monstrous. If the forthcoming album holds the line and follows suit, it will be unreal. I can only find this youtube version of said track at the moment, but it should be enough to give you the idea.
Tweet I developed an exaggerated sense of time passing at a young age. Lots of factors contributed to this pretentious concern, and in fairness it is hard to single one out. Yet, if I was subjected to the Spanish inquisistion, I'd have to throw it out there that Ken Barlow from Coronation Street was responsible for at least a half-dozen of the vicariously experienced mid-life crises I had before I hit fifteen. Who could ever forget him sitting despondently at a table, constructing a suicidal triangle from painkillers while the muffled refrain of auld lang syne bled through the wall of the Rover's Return? For modern fifteen-year-olds he probably still is a weird omen of the grave - he's been that freakishly unchanged over the years. Regardless of Ken Barlow and Jimmy White (another story, another blog) I'd say I started properly freaking about the unstoppable trajectory of time the moment I saw the youth-hungry Nazi characters crumble into skeletal oblivion during the climax of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I was ten at the time. I have an idea where a lot of this comes from. Every year, my mother looks wistfully out of the kitchen window, squints, and says "no sun again and summer's already over." This would be acceptable enough at the end of August, but she normally announces it half-way through July. You see, no mattter how sweltering the weather is, my mother's measure of when the sunny season definitively ends relies upon the second she sees a thistle seed floating past her kitchen window. One tiny seed and that's it. Summer is over, the grave is a year closer, and the circle of life has betrayed us all. I normally battle against the pessimism, but this year was so bleak and wet that I had to give in. Also, some kids exploded bangers behind our shed earlier. Floating thistle seeds, falling leaves, and mushrooms are all well and good; but, in this time of climate change, the scummy crack of a banger is probably the most reliable indicator of seasons on the turn. The clinching harbinger of Autumn 2009, however, was the drunken daddy longlegs I spotted skittering comically down the toilet handle 'cos it has no real brain and someone left the bathroom window open. That was autumnal, but also sad. Here is a seasonal album cover by Jans Jelinek. It is easily one of my favourite album covers of all time. It is so teeming and mulchy, so old yet so alive. Even the fungii on the tree look jurassic. There is a touch of the fantastical or the fairytale about this image in spite of it likely being a recent, arty nature photo snapped in the black forest or somewhere. MP3: Jan Jelinek-Universal Band Silhouette The music on the Kosmischer Pitch album is a deep hybrid of glitchy, downbeat techno and kosmischer Krautrock, with the emphasis on techno. It is by an artist called Jans Jelinek who pioneered a lot of glitch-driven music under the 'Farben' moniker. On this record, Jelinek wraps barely recognisable krautrock samples in a swarming, crawly, avant-garde film of glitches that belies its own warmth. Once it lets you in it is a comfort blanket of sound, it is organic and welcoming - albeit in a weird way - just like that greeyeeheen cover art. Lithiummelodie 1, from the same album is a stunning example of his strange, living and almost botanical samples. MP3: Jans Jelinek-Lithiummelodie 1
Tweet Wot's Hot MP3: The Field-The More that I do (Thomas Fehlmann Remix) This heart-stopping Thomas Fehlmann remix of The Field's 'the more that I do' turned up on the Kompakt Total 10 compilation. Fehlmann takes a resonating chime from the unspooling sample at the end of the original production, then uses it as a gorgeous focal point from which he spins an entirely new progression for the track. Heady and soft; like err...a soft head? MP3: Neon Indian-Deadbeat Summer MP3: Neon Indian-Should Have Taken Acid With You Neon Indian. Sounds like some dilettante trust-funder's loft project over in New York doesn't it? Well, it is - as far as I can make out. His/her/their EP, Psychic Chasms, is the object of slavering, unchecked praise all over the 'net. In fact it is so cool that lots of people who tried to lick the EP are in hospital in America right now, getting it surgically removed from their tongues. For what it's worth, I am really enjoying the synthy sounds of the Psychic Chasms EP. It's a zonked concoction of brightly-painted ingredients which are muddled, rinsed, and manipulated in such a way that they bleed into a disorientating aural brainfuck. Yet the moreish melodies and satisfyingly chunky undercoat of hip-hop stop the songs from disappearing too far up their neon rectums. A repeated lyric of "should have taken acid with you" in the song "should have taken acid with you" will probably be a key deciding factor in other people's judgements of whether to love or hate this whole bag of calculated weirdness. Analogue just piloted a classy new web-based music TV show. It features Adrian Crowley (recently signed to Chemikal Underground - woop!), Final Fantasy, and some terrific editing. Really impressive stuff. Wot's Not Knee-high socks: Girls what are you fucking thinking? For once Prada are wrong this season. Navan: Cultureless void of a town. Excreted from the back of a shopping centre. About to be rendered obsolete by the M3.
Tweet There was a great piece in yesterday's Irish Times about 'Heritage Trees'; trees from around the country which deserve to be conserved for one reason or another. I'd like to link to the original article but, weirdly, it's missing. Hmmmm, maybe a conglomerate of shadowy D4 hoteliers and Carlow quantity surveyers against trees destroyed it? Well fuck that for a game of shitty old golfers, 'cos it's in the google cache right here. Quick, hug them while they are still 500 hundred years old. The article caught my eye because there are, and sadly were, a lot of trees around home which rear up in my mind's eye a lot. The best of these is a gigantic old beech in the centre of a nearby golf course. I see it every other day as the bus from Dublin pulls into Kells. It's a freakishly sculptured looking tree. A regal deciduous, it stands completely isolated from its pals in Headfort, which is the nearest old growth forest. The trees it grew up with were obviously felled to make way for the golf course. I like it most in Winter. Then, its perfectly dendritic dome of a skeleton is cast bare against frigid skies. It looks like a Platonic ideal of a beech tree, or at least a reference-book illustration of exactly how an old beech should look in winter. The stark beauty of that tree soothes my mind in preparation for the cheap, ritzy lights of the Headfort arms hotel, the neverending sodium flicker of McKeown's filling station forecourt, and all those other racy illuminations in county Meath's answer to Reno - Kells, the little town that never sleeps. Meep Meep! The autumn meteors (the perseids) are streaking overhead as I write this post. I could tell you that I'm watching them now as they etch trails across the urban night. I'd be talking through my hole though. All I can see is an orange street light, low clouds, and a Nissan Primera parked across the road. MP3: Joanna Newsom-Emily Regardless, let's imagine we can see them and reflect on meaningful music which references space. Here is a mysterious Joanna Newsom song which remarks upon the winter meteors (the pleiades) among a zillion other tangled symbols and allusions. Her older sister Emily is an astronomer, so I can imagine that the wonder communicated in the earlier verses is borne out of nights spent stargazing with a sibling.