Archive for the ‘Almost Weekly’ Category

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Almost Weekly #5

February 3, 2007

Rebellion (Lies) – The Arcade Fire (live at Porchester Hall 3/2/07

It begins with feedback, drum crashes and bleak, stuttery lighting. The audience, worked up already by a blistering rendition of ‘Power Out’, can feel what’s coming, as the wall of sound ripples through the crowd. The band are lost in the notes, each bringing this terrible beast of noise to order, and slowly something begins to take shape.

A solid drum beat thumps out a heartbeat rhythm as the guitars strike up riffs familiar and welcome but still possessed of the urgent quality they had on that first listen so many months ago. Win is a huge presence, impassive and massive, commanding attention with his stature where his petit wife Regine demands it in her sylph-like stage presence, lost to drama and lyrics. You can get spend all night in their eyes. But there’s still the rest of the band, eight more tonight, who comlete the sound, making it multi-faceted, almost chaotic.

Richard screams into the megaphone while violinists twist in the stagelights, as three hundred people shout ‘Lies’, all of us gripped by a hands-in-the-air absorption. “People say that you’ll DIE!” it’s defiant, daring the authority to tell us what we can’t do. We can’t stay up for five days and spin a yarn and live like lunatics? Then fuck you. We’ll do it, and we’ll do it prettier than you, and we’ll create art that excells yours twice over, and by the time we go to sleep we’ll have an army – which will beat yours.

Clap Clap

People writhe and bounce as the songs begins its close, the insistent beat reviving bodies weary but impassioned. If anything we’re even more worked up by the final strains of piano and viola, ready for more…

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Almost Weekly #4

January 28, 2007

Almost Weekly is what I want to do for the next year to try different types of writing while thinking about a song or a gig or an album. Much more narrative based than my normal reviews and blogs, it’s just a way to wind down. This week I have been very thinly spread, and haven’t had time to think about blogging. Ellie’s Birthday was awesome, dissertation, work and exhaustion less so.

But this week I got published elsewhere. Internet music site SoundGenerator.com saw some of my writing courtsey of Thamala, who sent them my stuff to see what they thought. They liked it, and these are the first, hopefully not the last, pieces of writing that a third party who doesn’t know me, let alone me, have published online.

And I think that’s a bit exciting.

The Good, The Bad and The Queen
The Colour

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Almost Weekly #3

January 18, 2007

Over and Over – Hot Chip (covered by Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly)

Nambucca is once again rammed with its dispossessed punters. Malcontent punks, narcissist scensters and the meek and fey rub shoulders, straining for glances around the hairspray queens and dust-jacketed Princes. The heating’s clearly been on all day and people are shuffling onto the gig floor to join the cameraderie of Frank Turner’s album launch. Everyone knows everyone, and those you don’t know you recognise. We’ve all got a friend in here tonight, and those that don’t are making them through a creeping haze of beer-pump-fizz.

Mr Turner’s rallied all to his cause. We ARE definitely going to hell, and we’re swapping stories now because we’ll have a few too many to while away the hours of Dante’s Inferno. His friends onstage are doing the same, and it’s genuinely charming to be in Frank’s gang for the night. Sam ‘Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly’ Duckworth ambles onstage to applause and whistles. To some he’s a friend, to some a bit of an idol, to all he’s another in the tag-team of acoustic minstrels celebrating the pressed plastic that unites punters and pals tonight.

His last song is a cover version. Something magical happens. Simple chords, woven with a simple instrument, creep through the crowd to recognition and smiles. Charmed, we’re sure. The air is hot and thick, groggy to a man, woman and fan and drunk on goodwill we’re transported to summer. The song was ubiquitous once, we know all the words, our hips have bopped and our necks have bobbed. Over and over and over and over. It’s summer again. Before my eyes Bestival sits, a crowd tribal in its aproproation of fancy dress and colour soaks up the sun and sound of a basin-turned-home. Over and over and over and over. Laid back, head on the cushions in my room having a listen to the song coming from the jammed car on the street below. Laid Back, I’ll Give You Laid Back. Stood Up. In Panic. Full dancefloor, lost to alcohol and the eyes of pretty girls in fancy dress of a different sort. Tap the foot, throw the shapes. Like a Monkey With a Miniature Cymbal. Don’t lose the fuzzy bass-line whatever you do, synths dictate your pace, everbody’s building to the climax that just won’t come. The song doesn’t end, it carries on because how can you finish something so pure? You can only make transistions. Mix. Now Temptation. Now Song 2. Now Rebellion. Then Over and Over by Hot Chip.

Or you can tap the body of the acoustic guitar a little too hard, as Duckworth does, cutting short memories that you’ll revisit again, some summer future, in a field, on a floor, in a club.

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Almost Weekly #2

January 10, 2007

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Dig Your Own Hole – The Chemical Brothers

Sunday Morning I wake up, my head’s almost burst with the pressure of grotty man-cold and I’ve not had quite enough sleep once again. I face a second day of moping or a spotaneous ‘getting over’ of my cramped up brain and at this stage the day could go either way really. I look at my bedside table, the CDs poised to cascade in an avalanche of broken cases and scratched discs. Fuck that. Rooting in that disater-in-waiting for something vaguely cheery is unfathomable, and at this stage it’s all complex songwriters and elaborate New Folk, interspersed with Hangover-period Britpop, all about as cheery as you’d expect in this grotty state. That just won’t do.

And so to the vinyl. 7inch discs are ranked along some of my favourite LPs, but the the idea of changing track after track doesn’t appeal; I am not in a singles club kind of place this morning. And then I remember the Fopp bag kicking around by the bed-side. Shiny, shrink-wrapped and stark, the Black and White profile of a girl’s face has always fascinated me. It’s one of the most striking album covers of the 1990s, and certainly the best among Tom and Eddy’s beautiful collection of graphics. Piercing the shrik-wrap is a pleasure, and the double-gatefold reveals sparse liner-notes and crisp photographs. Side A is placed on the mat, the arm clicks on and the turn-table spins. After a few seconds delay the tiny pop of the needle cliking into the groove can be heard and the 33 revolutions per minute begin.

Dig Your Own Hole is one of my all-time favourtie albums. It’s the most refined and fully-realised of The Chemical Brothers albums and rich in texture. ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ sets the template for mid-90s pouplar dance music, all of the bleeps and whistles of rave but tempered with a radio-friendly hook that never sweetens or softens. The only pause for breath comes in the beautifully positioned silences that end with a bass-punch to the spine. And so it goes: ‘Setting Sun’ spits fire and makes my spine hot, burning little messages of depravity into my pupils. ‘Electrobank’ launches in so many directions that the mind doesn’t know which instrument to latch on to, while the body opts for all. ‘It Doesn’t Matter’ sounds like my futurist nightmares born into sound.

When the acid-trip two-part closer of ‘Where do I Begin’/’Private Psychedelic Reel’ lollops into my senses I feel every Sunday morning through time creep up on me at once. Tiredness and elation, and summer outside despite grey clouds and heat-less rooms. The songs never fail to turn me out and wring me dry, at first through Beth Orton’s sympathetic refrain, later from a Formula 1 fuelled emotional car-crash of beats and love. And I start a beautiful week with a beautiful mind.

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Almost Weekly #1

January 1, 2007

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The New Year – Death Cab For Cutie

Fizzling pop in a two-pace dissection of pomp and circumstance. And fireworks. I’m on top of Alexandra Palace, and suddenly words just melt into the background. Looking out accross South East London, higher than anything I can see except surrounding trees and the Exhibition Centre behind me. Things slow down, the crump of fireworks near and distant a constant rumble. Calanders begin to change, and what was a sporadic lightshow of premature revellers becomes London On Fire. I feel like I could sit here forever. Flashes can be seen for miles and behind the tree-line, to the West, the centre of London is an indistinct white flash that changes the landscape.I start, somewhat inexplicably, laughing. In my head I’m sometime else, and the city’s falling to ruin. Slowly torn apart by sound and fury every brick turns to dust and the lights are creeping closer. I can believe I’m stood on top of the end of the world and it’s so pretty that I don’t care. Millions of people below feel exactly the same, all stopping for a few minutes. Nobody, for now, is thinking about the future, just about the moment.

And when it all slows to a stop nothing will have changed. You will feel exactly the same as you did before, promising yourself not to make the mistakes you couldn’t see coming, to take more of the opportunities you squandered, and to leave in last year those pieces of the puzzle you tore and stained, only to do exactly the same thing by the time the Earth crosses this patch of space again. But that’s okay. Because, when this pretty light show fades, all that has changed is a number, and with it the chance not to make mistakes, not to squander opportunities and not to be trapped by what you don’t like of yourself. Just like every other day.