Friday, January 30, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


If you go here you can, for "One Week Only", watch the video footage that goes with Kraftwerk's "Minimum-Maximum" live double-CD. Swoon as people who look like elderly public servants or middle managers perform some of the most beautiful and cutting-edge music ever made. Be amazed that "Autobahn" sounds even better now than it did in 1974. Weep for lost opportunities, i.e. not having taken the opportunity to see them play in Melbourne when they toured in what must have been 1982 or 1983. Give thanks and praise to the Internet.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Portrait of the artist as a figure on a record cover

Except that I don't own an Underwood.

(Aside: the first song on the album, "Linoleum", was co-written by, and features the impeccable vocals of, David Sylvian. I don't know anything about the record other than that.)

The Coast

Me, having fun doing things I would not normally be doing:

1. Eating oysters.

2. Taking on nature, specifically the incessant might of the surf, armed with just board shorts, sunscreen and the occasional use of a borrowed boogie board. (I now can only hear out of one ear, which is very disconcerting, but a small price to pay.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Song of the day

"Baila Sin Petit", by Ricardo Villalobos. It might be, at five minutes, the shortest Villalobos track known to man, but I can't get it out of my head. The vocal snippet belongs on David Byrne's collection of new-old French music, "Cuisine Non-Stop"; the music is pure Villalobos. I would not hesitate to describe it as "very cute".

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Silver lining?

If the global economic collapse turns out to be as severe, and as long-lasting, as it is giving every sign of being, in ten years time we will all be slouching around, with our arses hanging out of our trousers, and feasting on boiled cardboard. But there might be some unexpected good news, too: as the wheels of industry grind to a halt, so too will emissions of fossil fuels. Perhaps not to zero, but by a fairly significant amount. Maybe even enough to stem the seemingly unstemmable tide of global warming.

The only way out of such an economic trough is by way of government spending, in particular spending on large infrastructure projects. And, as I have said here before (and as has been taken up by Thomas L Friedman, amongst others, but remember You Saw It Here First), it's not rocket science to figure out that the best use that such funds could be put to is re-engineering the world's economies so that when the upswing comes (as it always does) it can take place in environmentally sustainable ways. Roll out the solar panels. Dig those geothermal pipes. Hoist those wind turbines. Et cetera.

You know, it just might work.

50 most important songs, revisited

The list up to now:

The Chills, "Pink Frost".
The Go-Betweens, "Cattle and Cain".
Television, "Marquee Moon".
Propaganda, "Dr Mabuse". (Ah, but which version?)
Donna Summer, "I Feel Love" (12 inch).
The Passions, "I'm In Love With A German Film Star".
Brian Eno, "1/1".

The recent additions:

Gerry Rafferty, "Baker Street".
D.A.F., "Der Mussolini".
Buzzcocks, "Ever Fallen In Love".
Kate Bush, "Wuthering Heights".
10cc, "I'm Not In Love".

No surprises there, I'm sore. I mean "sure".

Friday, January 16, 2009

A few words about "Alight Of Night", by Crystal Stilts

Way back in 2008, I found myself getting all hot and sweaty over a band called Crystal Stilts, on the strength of a six-song EP that was only available by download from the inexplicably successful (or so I assume) business model that calls itself eMusic. What I liked about these songs was that they embraced the idea of "lo-fi", not as a defined genre or commercial strategy, but in the sense of "we recorded these songs as quickly as we could and on whatever shitty equipment we could find because we knew no other way and we hope you like them anyway". Which, if this was 20 years ago, I would have happily stood in some sweaty Brunswick Street hotel watching them night after night, and fanzining them to death. Also, there was something almost tangible connecting them to the two competing strands of the kind of Flying Nun records I liked from those times, at one end populated by the Jefferies brothers, and at the other by the melodic likes of The Clean, The Bats and The Chills.

But it is now 2009, and Crystal Stilts have released an Actual Record, on an Actual Label, made with Actual Money, and most of the magic has been lost in the process. In trying to stay the same, they seem to have lost what made them special (like, or so I'm told, what happened to Hong Kong after the handover). What was affecting now sounds like affectation. They often make me think of The Clean with a hangover, which is not something I would necessarily want to listen to.

There is one song, the final one on the record ("The City In The Sea"), which suggests one possibly fruitful direction for them to go in. It drifts along on languid guitars that do what they did on the third Velvet Underground album, which is to say, it sounds more Galaxie 500 than Flying Nun. But even if they do decide to catch that train, I suspect that I won't be riding it with them, if only because I can go back to those Galaxie 500 and Flying Nun records any time I want, and that's good enough for me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What It Is

Douglas Wolk writes, blogs, runs a record label, and has an abiding interest in comics. We seem to share an enthusiasm for the work of Kevin Huizenga. Here Wolk publishes a wonderful four-panel strip by Kevin that conveys, without words, the essence of live rock music. Most of us have experienced this more than once in our gig-going lives. It may or may not have been at the Apollo. That's just the title of the strip. Or not "just".

My plan has always been to write at greater length about why I love Kevin Huizenga. That is still my plan.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Free music!

Head on over to Aquarium Drunkard, and specifically to this post, to download a CD-R's worth of outtakes from the sessions that produced David Crosby's solo LP "If I Could Only Remember My Name", released in 1971.

An impenetrable fug of marijuana haze sits atop these performances, evocatively transporting you to the valleys and canyons of California at the start of the Seventies. The sound quality is excellent, as is the music. Crosby, of course, is responsible for "Triad", which demonstrates that he is both (a) prodigiously talented musically, and (b) psychologically suspect.

Monday, January 05, 2009

T-shirt of the day

Vibrant gold on a black background. "Peng"-era Stereolab image, sitting above "Mars Audiac Quintet"-era lettering saying, simply, "Stereolab". I have envy.