Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Art Of Noise A-Z Of Music: W

W is for …

… Scott Walker (Swiss Toni)

I think it would be fair to say that I like thousands of different songs by hundreds of different artists. If my iPod is any kind of indicator, then I have something like 6500 songs by 637 artists and spread across 607 albums. But how many of those songs would I say that I absolutely loved? Hmm. It’s a tough question. How many of those 600-odd artists would I say were truly great? A few? Several? Certainly not many.

For me, two artists stand head and shoulders above the rest and have dominated the soundtrack to my life. The first is easy: Morrissey was in THE BAND THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING and single-handedly rescued me from a lifetime of dodgy heavy metal (from the W’s alone: Warrant, Warrior Soul, Wolfsbane… see what I mean?)

The second artist is perhaps less obvious – well, he’s only recorded three albums in the last 22 years, for starters… Just by way of comparison, Tupac Shakur has released nine albums since his death in 1996.

Prolific he ain’t, but Scott Walker is still my hero.

I think I first became aware of the music of Scott Walker in 1993, fully 30 years after his heyday in The Walker Brothers. I suppose, if pushed, I could probably have identified ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Any More’ or ‘Make It Easy On Yourself’, but beyond that I was almost completely ignorant of the man and his music. It’s Mark Preston that I need to thank: a mature student (well, he was 25, so he seemed mature to me) on my course who used to pop up to my radio show on the university station of a Sunday evening. As well as passing pithy judgement on the songs I chose (Manic Street Preachers were always “Welsh heavy metal” as far as Mark was concerned), he would occasionally convince me to play one of his records.

I think the first Walker track he encouraged me to play was ‘The Seventh Seal’.

It’s the voice that grabs you first: a majestic, honeyed, mellifluous baritone – instantly recognisable and totally unmatchable. It’s only later that you realise that this gorgeous voice is telling you a tale of a knight playing chess with Death for his life and losing, and it’s later still that you realise that this is a story based upon the Bergman film of the same name. I was hooked.

Here’s the thing: before he started singing songs about existentialism and death, Scott Walker was a teen idol. He had been in the biggest boy band of his era and yet he chose to escape from this adulation and to walk a different path. I can’t really think of a modern parallel, although I’m told that Brian McFadden comes closest… Or perhaps Charlie from Busted.

Walker’s most recent albums make few concessions for the listener but I never get the sense that this is because he is deliberately trying to alienate his audience. I think it’s because Walker is an artist and he is chasing his muse wherever it takes him. The man has got integrity and for me that’s something to be celebrated and to be cherished. I just hope he never reads my first impressions of The Drift...

… Warp Records (Caskared)

Warp are pretty huge now, and I wish I could say I was into their stuff from the beginning, but I can’t because I was only ten when they founded in 1989 – but they still felt like a secret when I discovered them in the mid 90s. The first few bands I was aware of were Sabres Of Paradise, Stereolab and Nightmares On Wax – weirdy hard plink-plonking sounds from underground. At art-school Warp was a byword for supercool with Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Plaid, Boards Of Canada and the like being an essential part of any self-respecting art student’s playlist. Warp nights toured universities and were frequented by both the happy house crowd and the indie kids, with both factions being surprised by the other’s presence, each claiming Warp as their own. Imagine ‘West Side Story’ but with more asymmetrical haircuts and baggy band T-shirts.

One of Warp’s founding principles was to treat dance music like the indie labels did, allowing musicians to develop and to take the label in whatever the direction goes rather than the other way round. This approach has nurtured so many bands resulting in a really rich catalogue of influential acts. Warp take chances and have diversified musically – a prime example was them taking on Maximo Park (straight from my art history class).

The videos for Warp artists have become essential viewing and they really invested in animators and film directors for the right outcome. Just to mention Aphex Twin once more, the videos for ‘Come To Daddy’ and ‘Windowlicker’ are frightening and brilliant, so much so that the former was banned from various stations. Warp naturally moved into film in 2003; their first release ‘My Wrongs #8245-8249 & 117’, featuring an incredible performance by Paddy Considine and written by Chris Morris, is as menacing and mighty as any Warp record. It won a BAFTA and is the sort of short film that could only be made with a freedom and belief from its backers.

… watching (Skif)

As much as it is sound that draws you in, we need live gigs to complete that picture, to see our heroes in 3-D flesh and get properly hectic in response to their sounds in the company (very close, and sometimes wildly aggressive elbow-flinging, company) of like minded souls. I wonder how many people have married on the basis of meeting at a gig. Furthermore, I wonder how many have divorced later citing “musical differences”. If I took my indiepop loving lady to some of the more esoteric, grimy gigs I go to, well… In these cases, of course, I just don’t invite her. Everybody wins.

When I was young, I derided the old bastards at the back for not getting amongst it, but to paraphrase, “a person who doesn’t mosh in their teens doesn’t have a heart, but a person who does as they’re nearing 30 (and beyond) doesn’t have a head, a job to get up for in the morning or an ability to assuage their fondness for little light frottage on the fly”.

So, you’ll gather, I don’t mosh so much these days, apart from when it’s Cardiacs, but I’m still fairly young in that crowd. Elsewhere, amongst the sparkly teenagers in the centre of the action, my increasingly wrinkly mush wouldn’t fit, and the rest of my body just isn’t fit. I hope said young-uns taking on my teenage baton of scorn towards the apathetic can take my pacy, slapdash hack scribbling at the back as a sign of being with them in spirit. These days, my gig-going is dictated by the desire to see something new, rather than to affirm my feelings for those bands I already know, but I can still excited by seeing the old favourites. Seeing The Magic Band certainly embossed my forearms with vivid goose-bumps.

Why do gigs have this effect? I guess it’s because we want to see it being made, to be able to look people in the eyes, just to make sure they are not faking, although I imagine being at THAT Milli Vanilli gig would have been quite memorable regardless. I think we also go with the idea that something unexpected could occur, and we want to have been there if it does.

Back to Cardiacs again, over the years at their London annual events, surprises have been a regular occurrence. One year, after going off, the encore began with a spotlight hitting two ex-members stood silently and majestically like Gilbert & George in the centre of the stage before they assimilated back into the band for a glorious quarter hour. Another year, they finished one song, dropped their instruments, support band Oceansize ran on, picked them up and played a note-perfect version of the ‘Acs ‘Eat It Up Worms Hero’, then they promptly ran off, in a hectic do-se-do, to be replaced by our heroes as if nothing had happened. Perfect.

I also love going to Fall shows just to watch what Mark E Smith does when he’s not wailing and drawling into a mic (that’s usually on a lead wrapped around his wrist and held to the side of his mouth, looking a though he’s trying to bite off a troublesome end piece of a Toblerone without spearing a nostril). Usually he’ll wander about fiddling with his bandmates’ amps or crashing down a fist on his wife’s keyboard. She once called it “live mixing”; I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so hard. The first time I saw them, at Phoenix ’96, he spent about five minutes before contributing to a song searching around in a plastic carrier bag for lyric notes before approaching the mic, screwing up the paper and tossing it on the floor. You maybe had to be there, but it was classic.

Then there are always the words of wisdom between songs. Billy Bragg is usually good value for this. One of his shows, particularly when it’s just him and a guitar, is part GMB Extraordinary General Meeting, part hustings and part stand-up show, between which is the occasional tune. Although I remember another occasion, when playing with the Blokes, that for their final encore tune of ‘Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key’, the band would finish the chorus, drop their instruments, run round the back of the stage, and then hastily pick up their instruments to do the chorus again, but faster, and faster, and this went on for a fair while. Good fun though.

When I went to see Whigfield deliver a PA (about eight years after the fact) at the University of Surrey out of curiosity while visiting a mate, she finished her set by essentially offering her non-vocal charms to any willing freshers. As I say, you never know what you are going to get with a live gig, and that’s why I keep on going.

… Watford (Jez)

If you could choose anywhere you like, where would you like to have been born? Maybe you’re from Liverpool and you grew up immersed in the legacy of The Beatles and regularly went upstairs at Eric’s. Perhaps you are from Manchester and smile at the reminiscent memories when you hear New Order and try to remember those sweaty nights at the Hacienda. Even London, dizzy London, any era is home to pop history, from the 100 Club to The Good Mixer and beyond. Bloody hell, even Wigan is the stuff of music legend.

However, my home town doesn’t possess such a legacy. Well, not in my eyes anyway. Watford has a population of around 80,000; not small, but not the bright lights and the deep smog. Suburbs have often been a hotbed for talent; not Watford though, at least not in my opinion. Unless you count Elton John, George Michael and, ahem, Geri Halliwell. I don’t really. I like some of George Michael’s stuff but it doesn’t say anything about a time and place that I know. I can understand why he’d want to forget the place though.

There was only one club worth going to, the New Penny. Dark, dingy, smelly and full of atmosphere. It was our holy grail, but it didn’t produce one decent band, and I’m including the bloke out of Gene picking his nose by the bar. It was razed years ago to build a shopping centre which sometimes features in ‘EastEnders’.

Perhaps Watford just wasn’t meant to produce a thrilling, vibrant band who encapsulate a fleeting feeling. Perhaps the coffee table music it has so effectively produced is actually representative of the area. Or perhaps, there’s a garage somewhere in Watford where some scrawny little kids are about to enliven people’s lives. Just perhaps.

… The White Birch – Codeine (Ben)

In the last ever episode of ‘Father Ted’, Craggy Island Parochial House becomes a temporary refuge for Father Kevin, a suicidal priest whom Father Ted and co are charged with nursing back to full health. Eventually cured of his depression by Ted playing him ‘Theme From Shaft’, Kevin leaves for the mainland on a bus with a big grin on his face – a grin which drains away when the bus driver opts to put on Radiohead’s ‘Exit Music (For A Film)’. The truth is it could have been much worse for poor Kevin; it could have been Codeine.

As is the case with so many bands, Codeine’s story began in New York around 1989 when bassist / vocalist Stephen Immerwahr, guitarist John Engle and drummer Chris Brokaw got together to record a demo. And what a demo it was: a nine-minute-long version of ‘Without You’, the Badfinger song made famous by Harry Nilsson. You know the one: “I can't live if living is without you / I can't live, I can't give any more”. The band’s choice of cover was both a (perhaps inadvertent) tribute to the song’s co-writers Peter Ham and Tom Evans, who both hung themselves, and a clear statement of intent, encapsulating what Codeine would be all about: absence, emptiness, despair.

That demo was enough to persuade Sub Pop to sign them up, and in early 1991 the Seattle label released the trio’s debut LP. Frigid Stars is ten tracks of unrelenting misery (well, nine – album closer ‘Pea’ is a bit of light relief, relatively speaking), and it’s brilliant. As the band’s name might suggest, it sounds like they’re playing under heavy sedation, or you’re listening under heavy sedation – or both. The sheer weight of the songs is staggering, the slow motion power chords raining down on your head as Immerwahr delivers his lugubrious lines spoken word style. ‘Cave In’ and its crashing chorus is the highlight: “This is a cave in / I’d said I’d stay”. Bleak doesn’t come close.

But, of course, by the autumn of that year they and their album had been forgotten about amidst the feverish excitement surrounding another threepiece who’d been given their big break by Sub Pop.

Codeine stumbled on in relative obscurity. Mini-album Barely Real was released the following year, featuring ex Squirrel Bait and then Bastro member David Grubbs on piano. Then Brokaw jumped ship (more on him in three weeks’ time…), and Immerwahr and Engle had to audition for a new drummer. Engle commented: "It was like stepping on kittens. It was really hard watching them try to play at our speed”. Eventually Doug Scharin was recruited, their first outing with him on board being the single ‘Tom’ which again featured Grubbs, now of Gastr Del Sol and this time on guitar.

1994 – incidentally, the year when Mariah Carey released her own saccharine-coated take on Nilsson’s ‘Without You’ – saw the appearance of The White Birch, on which there’s even more of a sense of the songs gradually unfolding and unfurling in space. Silence is as important to the texture as sound. As dissonant guitars howl and fade, the yawning gaps between drum beats are so lengthy as to become abysses and to make you wonder whether Scharin has nodded off.

The song titles – ‘Vacancy’, ‘Washing Up’ – hint at a very domestic mundanity. But “vacancy” refers as much to an existential condition as to an empty room-to-let or an unfilled position. And the ominous piano and unsettling chorus of ‘Washing Up’ – “Things keep washing up” – suggests it’s not about the misery of doing the dishes. Perhaps the simple title of the opening track sums it up best: ‘Sea’. The White Birch is barren and threatening, and you’re never quite sure what lurks beneath the surface – but it nevertheless has a stark and mysterious beauty that’s quite unforgettable.

The White Birch was Codeine’s last record. Almost without realising it, it seems, they broke down and drifted apart. Perhaps the weight of the songs finally became too much. Scharin went on to play with Rex, June Of ’44 and HiM (NB HMV shop assistants - the jazzy post-rock outfit NOT the goth band), and Codeine passed into legend.

And legendary they are. Together with Galaxie 500, Low and Bedhead they were founder members of the “slowcore” movement that has proved so influential on the likes of Mogwai and post-rock.

So, if you’re not acquainted with them, check them out. Just don’t do it if you’re a fictional Irish priest and have just recovered from a bout of depression.

… The White Stripes (drmigs)

So I'd well and truly taken my eye off the ball with all matters music, even though my flatmate Herr Nash was a muso, so too Captain Vinny (the landlord), and Damien across the road, and Caskared around one corner and Funky Si around the other. I was dabbling in music, but only dabbling, and then I heard this:

"I was watching / With one eye on the other side / I had fifteen people telling me to move / I got moving on my mind / I found shelter / In some thoughts turning wheels around / I said 39 times that I love you / To the beauty I had found / Well it’s 1 2 3 4 / Take the elevator / At the Hotel Yorba / I'll be glad to see you later / All they got
inside is vacancy

To be honest, ‘Hotel Yorba’ hit me square between the eyes. It sounded so fresh. Puppy like enthusiasm followed, as I was eager to share this great find - only to find out that yes they had all heard it … six months earlier when it had been released. It reminded me what else I'd probably been missing too. But not to worry, I'd discovered me something good, and what followed was a near obsession with The White Stripes for a good year or so.

What I really like about the White Stripes is the rawness to their music. It very much follows the “do what you need and no more” principle that I respect. It mainly does this by letting the various components of the music be prominent during their playtime; and that includes the silence. I love the bit (1m 52s) into 'The Union Forever' where all that is needed is a beat, so all that Meg does is tap her drumsticks together for 29 sec. Simple, and effective.

The style they default to is for all instruments to play synchronously on the beat, with silence between the notes. When the bass guitar does dominate, it’s often only for a verse or two, then it's back to the stock top hat abuse. It's as if they've listened to some thrash metal, and when the song has got right to the end, when all the musicians are slamming their instrument for all they're worth, Meg and Jack and gone "That's it, that's the sound we want! Let’s base our music on those last four notes".

The asset of this format is versatility. They have the license to explore beautiful gems like 'We Are Going To Be Friends' alongside the more structured raw-rock pieces such as the awesome 'Seven Nation Army'. However, the danger of this format is that with each new song they become a pastiche of their former selves. Indeed, criticism that their format is tired has been levelled at their later work. But I don't subscribe to the argument that they are past it. 'My Doorbell' on Get Behind Me Satan is a great song, so too is 'Little Ghost.' They still have variety and originality. And what better rebuttal than to offer the alternative, Jack's new project, The Raconteurs. For me, The Raconteurs offer little of the imagination and flair that The White Stripes offer (even if their website is geektastic). No, forget what it was like to hear The White Stripes for the first time, and just enjoy their music for what it is, raw imaginative rock.

… ‘The Wicker Man’ soundtrack (James)

I am not normally a great lover of movie soundtracks. There are some exceptions: John Barry had some spectacular moments, Ennio Morricone had plenty. Honourable mentions are due to Popol Vuh’s beautiful soundtracks to Werner Herzog’s finest movies, especially ‘Heart of Glass’ (‘Coeur De Verre’), and Michael Nyman’s scores to the Peter Greenaway’s 80s output are essential listening in my book. I recently heard Stanley Myers’ soundtrack to ‘Sitting Target’, which, when it gets going, is truly mighty (even though it is only 20 minutes long). However, if I was to pick a favourite it would have to be Paul Giovanni’s soundtrack to the cult-classic (a term unusually justified on both counts), ‘The Wicker Man’.

I am going to assume that you have all seen the movie. (If not, stop reading this now and go and watch it.) You will all be familiar with the film’s unease as Sgt Howie is drawn in on Lord Summerisle’s fateful wild goose chase. One of the underlying features of the film is the inversion of the orthodox Christian as intrusive, backward and insecure, contrasted to the freedom and earthy joyfulness of the pagan Summerisle.

The soundtrack captures this latter mood perfectly. All the tracks – especially the number of faux Scottish folk songs that populate the album – are playful and literally full of the joys of spring. The opener ‘Corn Rigs’ regales us with a tale of seduction amidst bales of corn and barley. This is followed by ‘The Landlord’s Daughter’ – a tune that begs you to sing along in this paean to the aforementioned. This is a song made all the more discomforting in the film by the joining in of her father – the landlord himself. ‘Gently Johnny’ gives the account of a boy’s first time, and the enthusiastic tutoring of his mate. And so the soundtrack goes on.

One might be forgiven for dismissing the album as a folksy smut-fest – something akin to the cast of Bagpuss singing Kevin ‘Bloody’ Wilson songs. Two things separate it from this fate. First, the care and diligence in the construction and arrangement of these songs. No song demonstrates this more than ‘Willow’s Song’. The lyrics are predictable – “Oh, how a maid might milk a boy…”, but it is the music that lifts these sentiments from mere pervy-folk to serendipitous beauty. The tender acoustic fingering of a simple chord progression, the increasing beat of the rhythm, the delicate yet insistent violin, along with lyres, recorders and bassoons, all create a tidal pull of seduction - a piece of sensuous beauty that only the cold-blooded could resist.

The second quality that makes this album stand out is the slow march of darkness. As sure as summer is followed by winter and birth is followed by death, these songs of reproductive bliss are followed by the mournful yet exultant ‘Sumer Is A-Cumen In’. This processional march, based upon a genuinely traditional piece, is slow and ponderous, and remains so even when the beats quicken. It breaks into the song towards the end, which has a malevolent deliberateness about it despite the pastoral imagery it evokes. This is enhanced by the heavy bass drum and woozy bassoon, before it culminates in Sgt Howie’s realisation of his fate and his call on an absent saviour. Knowing the end of the film just adds the shock of this finale.

A good soundtrack should evoke the spirit of the movie it is born from. ‘The Wicker Man’ achieves this perfectly. And so it is my favourite. Although I wonder what might have happened had the letter for the week been G and my eye alighted on ‘Grease’…

… John Williams (Paul)

A couple of months ago, I was driving up the A1 to Newcastle when a piece of music came on the radio.

"Da da da dah dah, di da di di dah, di da di di dah, di da di da. Da da da dah dah, di da di di dah, di da di di dah, di da di dah..."

Suddenly the A1 isn't a road winding its way through North Yorkshire, it's a trench on the side of the Death Star, and I'm whizzing along in my small Nissan X-Wing. That piece of music captured my imagination and took me to another place, allowing me to enjoy my journey north that bit more for a few minutes.

The composer of that piece of music, and a whole raft of others, is the most successful composer of film soundtracks in movie history. His name is John Williams, and with 45 nominations to his credit to date, he is second on the all-time Oscar list to Walt Disney.

A list of his work can be found here, but for me the two that really stand out are the aforementioned ‘Star Wars’ theme, and this one, which I hear every time I swim in the sea:

"Da… dum... Da… dum... Da dum, da dum, da dum, da dum, da dum, da dum, da DAH".

… Wir Sind Helden (Pete)

… and other German bands. Wait! Come back! With the World Cup rapidly approaching, it's about time someone stuck up for German music. You see, despite what you might have been led to believe, it's not all about the 'Hoff making it to #1 (for six weeks running) and men in oompah bands quaffing beer at the Oktoberfest. Honest. In fact, there are quite a few good bands out there.

The first few time I DJed in Berlin I had the occasional request for German indie bands. My initial reaction to this was similar to that of Dr Statham in 'Green Wing': "Hmmm? What? German? Music? Hmmm?", and to stick on another Stone Roses record. But thanks to a fellow DJ and a like-minded colleague I was shown the light. So for the bolder of you out there, here's a brief introduction to a few German bands.

The first band I came across was Sportfreunde Stiller, the Munich threepiece, whose output is admittedly hit and miss, but have came up a with a few songs that are simply genius. 'Heimatlied' is one, while 'Wunderbaren Jahren' is the organ-driven and most happiest piece of guitar pop since The Supernatural's 'Smile'. Intrigued, I wanted to know more.

I was next introduced to Wir Sind Helden; led by the slightly delectable Judith Holofernes, they're the archetypical Berlin band. Youngish, energetic and part of the "Szene". Their best song to date is 'Aurélie', 3m 33s about a French girl's hunt for a German boyfriend in a city of confirmed singletons that blended Strokes-like guitars with a wit rarely seen elsewhere, the UK and USA included. I like to think of them as a sort of German Rilo Kiley.

However, Wir Sind Helden are very much newcomers compared to the highly influential Tocotronic, the last band I'll mention for now. In existence since 1993, they're very much the grandfathers of the current German indie scene, but nevertheless dislike being included in any musical movement such as the so-called "Hamburg School". This might be simplifying matters somewhat, but with their downbeat but original (in a good way) and constantly developing sound, I regard them as a sort of German Blur, although some of their song titles hint towards a humour that Damon lacks. I can highly recommend their eighth album Tocotronic.

So there you go, if you've got a spare tenner and / or you're feeling adventurous, you know what to look for. I'll save my thoughts on German hip-hop for another day though. Lucky you.

… www (Del)

We all knew the deal. Musical revolutions, one roughly ever 11 years. ‘55 was rock ‘n’ roll, ‘66 was psychedelia, ‘77 was punk, ‘88 was acid house, and then... nothing. At the turn of the millennium, every minor twist on an established genre was seized upon by the music press as THE revolution, the new new, but it was all false. Everyone scratched their heads, looking around in bewilderment as 2000 came and went and anticlimax became the norm. But everyone had missed the real revolution that snuck in without the industry's permission and changed music in a way only comparable with the birth of rock ‘n’ roll itself nearly 50 years beforehand.

Mp3. I first heard the word at a friend's house while I was still at school in 1998. Being interested in computers and music and using the two together on my Amiga, I already knew that storing sound files in CD quality on a computer used a hell of a lot of space. But my mate had a library of tracks sat on his hard disk. "How did you do that?", I asked him, and then, being even geekier than I, he blinded me with science... "They're compressed, it's a new way of encoding music as mpegs so it's about a tenth of the size, like with jpeg files" "Oh... Cool". And forgot all about it. I didn't own a PC. What did I care?

A year or so later, at uni, I did get a PC. And I started to care a lot. Trouble was, making mp3s was time-consuming and slow, ripping the audio off a CD and then compressing it. It could literally take hours. But then you had a library of all your tracks, instantly accessible. Pretty nifty! So far, so geeky. The music industry correctly assumed it was just nerds like me showing off, but then someone went and invented Napster. And everything changed again.

Music theft was rife, people swapped songs freely across international borders and respect for CDs and copyright disappeared. Nothing seemed sacred. The formerly inaccessible or unavailable was almost instantly downloadable. On a slow 52k modem connection, it could take 20 minutes to get a track. Then the internet got faster... and faster... and faster... And the music industry crapped itself and ran to the courts. Metallica sued their own fans. Manics drummer Sean Moore got banned from Napster for downloading his own record. Everyone in the biz resurrected the "Home taping is killing music" mantra from the 80s, blew the dust off it, and used it as an excuse to drop all the shit bands they'd signed at the height of Britpop absurdity. But it wasn't until Apple launched the iPod and then iTunes that it really broke out of college dorm rooms and into the mainstream, and by then it was more or less legit. Most normal people were too lazy to take the convoluted routes to get the track illegally for free, they just paid for it. The industry had more or less tamed the beast.

But not without changing the way we buy, and even the way we think of music forever. The single, long dead, has been reborn, with Gnarls Barkley storming to #1 on downloads alone, and, more importantly, staying there. As I write this, it's still atop the UK Singles Chart. On the flipside, albums are becoming less important, as the fillers are being left on the virtual shelf. Music distribution is more democratic, with sites like MySpace giving unsigned and obscure acts a place to be heard. People are becoming more eclectic in their tastes, sticking their mp3 player on shuffle at letting chaos theory decide what they hear. The revolution was not in the music, but the means of production, and it has hugely effected the way we consume the music we love.

And, for me a real sad note, the mix tape is dead. A CDR just ain't the same...

* * * * *

Thanks to Swiss Toni, Caskared, Skif, Jez, drmigs, James, Paul, Pete and Del for their contributions this week.

Tune in next week for what should be some fairly inventive pieces...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jez: I can relate on the home town thing. Rugby, 60 000, no decent venues survive more than a couple of years, but the place did produce Spiritualized and Spacemen 3.

10:28 am  
Blogger Ian said...

"The Seventh Seal" = tuuuuuuuuune

And I guess I should finally buy that Codeine record sitting in my local, huh?

6:19 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

Ian: Yes.

9:42 pm  
Blogger Del said...

Jez, I'm a Watford boy, too! And the one ray of light is that post punk geniuses Wire formed at Watford art school. So good in fact their Outdoor Miner record was nearly my selection for this letter. Check em out, it'll make you feel better.

There's also the fact that Rob in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity grew up in Watford. Again, comforting, but I'm not sure why...

9:59 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooh- liking the sound of this Codeine... they seem to have just passed me by (I suppose I was probably listening to Nirvana as well..) but I am entirely persuaded by your enthusiasm, Ben..

10:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to be fair to German hip-hop, it's no worse than any other hip-hop in that the majority of it is absolute rubbish but the occasional track is good (Jein by Fettes Brot being a good example). Actually, the same could apply to German music in general: mainly tosh but with some good bits.

I can't believe someone got through a piece on German music without mentioning Kraftwerk though...

11:19 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Herr Nash...Kraftwerk were taken care of here:
(I don't mean in the Tony Soprano sense)

11:02 am  

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