Wednesday, September 22, 2010


It is an indictment of the cyclical nature of popular culture that one of pop music's greatest qualities is its curationism. We subject ourselves to endless rehashes of the past while convincing ourselves that it's something new. This would usually be seen as a bad thing; for the seasoned pop connoisseur, however, it provides an excuse to dig deep in the influences of your latest love.

Some bands are greater than the sum of their parts. The eighteen-year-old me would be horrified to know that actually Super Furry Animals weren't all that. I'm sure, however, that some of the greatest pleasure in being a Super Furries fan was exploring the music that they liked: Love, Dr. Octagon, Roxy Music, The Beach Boys. It stimulated exploration, giving focus to otherwise aimless time poring the record shop racks.

The rise of the All Tomorrow's Parties and the Meltdown festivals in the UK celebrate this curationism, where bands will book their influences to play. Some of the bands with the highest curational value, Massive Attack and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, have curated Meltdown, providing previously dismissive younger listeners with improbable exposure to Gong and Motörhead.

Usually, a band who are curatively very good are very interesting, probably because they have a wider palette from which to produce their patchwork pop music. Saint Etienne would be a great example of this, mixing obscure Sixties and Seventies pop with contemporary electronic dance music. Saint Etienne are as good at curating the present as they are the past.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Blowing all rules pertaining to jazz absolutely OUT of the water is fab, fab, fab, fab Alice Coltrane, of whose albums I think any number is permitted, but maybe just leave one as a download to avoid having a full back-catalogue.

That track 'Paramahansa Lake' from Huntington Ashram Monastery is so amazing it almost gives me synaesthesia.

My boyfriend would probably be too busy watching quixotic all-female musicals to get really into Alice Coltrane, but I did recently send him three of her albums and I'm confident that they will make him more attractive.

Anyway, do we need to think about moving with the times and starting Embarrassing Downloads, or shall we remain purists to the core?

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ghosts of the Great Highway by Sun Kil Moon is one of those albums I should have embraced at the start of the year when I first got hold of it, not to mention when it was actually released several years ago. It's lovely. I wonder if it's the kind of thing I will tire of, but at present I can't get enough of the 'Carry me Ohio' track, to say nothing of the other great ones.

It would be nice to see this on somebody's 'Recently Played' list on iTunes, now that nobody seems to bother buying CDs anymore.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Freedom '90

George Michael's Listen without prejudice is a good album and is totally fine to own. You'd probably want to stop there, but no excuses need be made for owning, enjoying and actively playing that album.

It's not overtly camp, so doesn't interfere with the ABBA or Elton John quota. At the risk of generating pure disagreement, I think lyrically there is something quite honest about the album. It has undercurrents of loss, sadness, regret and heartache.

Having said this, I wouldn't want to see Faith in any rack, because if somebody thinks "I want your sex" is an appropriate phrase to sing within earshot of anybody, one probably doesn't need to get within earshot of them.

Probably more dissection of that shady 1990 - 1995 musical period needs to occur.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Electronica update

Electronica can be pretty sexy, as long as one is discerning and doesn't get too caught up in genre-warfare. It is very easy to point out blatantly obvious mistakes in this domain, so I'll try to focus this post on how you can GROW your attractiveness with a few select purchases.

In essence, it would be a good idea to get hold of these relatively recent releases:

The Field - From here we go to sublime
Flying Lotus - Los Angeles
Lucky Dragons - Dream island laughing language

These albums are all intriguing in different ways. They establish interesting atmospheres and moods, and play with unexpected directions and sounds.

Better yet, what these little gems will do is enable you to make connections with wonderful people. Forget what other small coincidences may crop up ("Oh my gosh, I LOVE *insert rubbish TV show or whatever here* TOO! How FUNNY!!"); if you realise one of these albums is a shared interest, you'll know you've FOUND your life partner and can start drawing up marriage contracts right now, or non-heteros can figure something else out if you live somewhere backward, like Australia, where same-sex unions are not adequately recognised.

The songs may also recall days of dancing in forests in the summertime, or dust clouds at Rainbow Serpent. Neither of those things are especially bad in my opinion, but each to their own.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Crash and burn, all the stars explode tonight

There's really nothing all that wrong with liking Courtney Love, even if some people regard her as the Yoko Ono of Nirvana. I mean let's face facts: 'Malibu' is a great song. Yes I know Billy Corgan wrote it, and members of Hole played the bulk of the instruments, but Courtney gave it the Grrrr.

And Frances Bean is endlessly fascinating.

I'd be more than happy to see a copy of Celebrity Skin in anybody's collection.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Post Rock - do not exceed the stated dose

I find the most interesting thing about Godspeed You Black Emperor are their song titles. Their pieces are dull in general, with only the occasional track that makes you go, "Finally! Something interesting." They aren't difficult, just boring. They are, in essence, a 25% efficient Tortoise, minus synths and electronics which aren't necessary to produce interesting music, but I find Tortoise infinitely more interesting with them.

Trans Am are OK but patchy - perhaps the Beach Boys of post rock to Tortoise's Beatles. Labradford occasionally show signs of excess but are generally welcome in any collection.

To Rococo Rot are better than the name suggests and their very presence signifies that the potential lover may have a superior intergalactic intellect and should be cherished, especially if their cerebral nature is counterbalanced by something akin to pre-1976 Rolling Stones, Charles Mingus, Otis Redding, or something just energy and soul.

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Grizzly Bear and The Dirty Projectors

Lately I've been telling anybody who will listen that Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest and The Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca are fab albums.

Because they are.

They're fab and they're sexy. As winsome as any consumer item hatched by a Danish design studio or French fashion house (especially if the French fashion house has a Japanese designer). You know, things you can buy to make yourself more attractive within the current cultural context.

I'll admit that these albums might up the 'excess' component of your collection, but not to the point of 'vainglorious excess' I wouldn't think.

Part of the appeal is how unclear the pronunciation of each title is. You and your date can giggle over it, and speculate, which will lead to all sorts of hand holding and wonderful, shared moments.

The first song on Veckatimest is my current favourite and I think it would do many relationships a world of good to get on board.

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