Wednesday, 28 March 2007

sea of cortez

who in the hell needs six versions of neil young's epic anti-colonial axe-monster 'cortez the killer', good, bad and indifferent? a galactic mystery to which no solution is provided here. but, like herpes and blogging, there's a lot of it about. maybe r. kelly and lil' wayne will get up on the remix.

wikipedia is particularly good on this song, describing how in singing about the aztecs, neil young "explicitly acknowledges, before and after some guitar work, both human sacrifice and the immense human toll of building their pyramids". such things come easily before and after some guitar work.

neil young - 'cortez the killer' original!

built to spill - 'cortez the killer' indie!

marissa nadler - 'cortez the killer' ethereal!

slint - 'cortez the killer' unexpected!

sunroof - 'cortez the killer' instruMENTAL!

dave matthews band and warren haynes - 'cortez the killer' masculine!

more fun:

buy zuma by neil young
buy live by built to spill
buy slint
slint live in kentucky
buy marissa nadler
buy sunroof
buy dave matthews

Sunday, 25 March 2007

summer here, kids

The clocks went forward in This England today. In the words of Arab Strap, it’s officially summer. Imaginatively, then, here’s some Nordic doom-rock.

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – ‘Patio Song’ (from Barafundle)

Arab Strap – ‘The Girls of Summer’

Stevie Wonder – A Place in the Sun (Italian version)’

Ghostface feat. Raekwon and Slick Rick – ‘The Sun’ (unreleased Bulletproof Wallets outtake)

Truly - 'Hot Summer 1991' (from Fast Stories ... from Kid Coma)

More fun:

Buy Gorky’s
Buy the Strap
Buy Stevie
Cop that Ghost ish

Buy Truly

Thursday, 22 March 2007

'97 mentality


Exhibits D, E & F

Backpacker time, people ...

After a particularly fertile few years for mainstream and hardcore in the mid-90s, by 1997 I found the beats were getting a bit stale, and the suits a little shiny. Life After Death and Wu-Tang Forever were classics, but they weren’t Ready to Die or Enter the Wu-Tang. CNN and Big Pun kept it grimy, but they weren’t Nas, Jay or Mobb Deep. Along comes a lot of hipster-friendly indie-rap, much of it released on Rawkus Records, who put out the first Soundbombing comp in ’97.

I remember a lot of arguments back then weighing up the relative merits of Jurassic 5, Company Flow, and Black Star. Here are three classics to reignite that debate (not necessarily all from ’97, mind):

Company Flow – ‘End to End Burners’

Black Star – ‘What’s Beef?’ (live on the Dave Chappelle show)

Jurassic 5 – ‘Jurass Finish First’ (from Quality Control)

Come 2007, I think Co Flow won. J5 went off the boil and just split up (Passion of the Weiss has a nice tribute here). Mos Def continues to put out stinkers and feature in SUV ads. Kweli occasionally hits the mark. El-P’s about to release the album of the year, and is beefing with New Rawkus. But in 2007, I don’t know who, if anyone, would be the equivalents. The underground’s alive, thanks to the internets, but does anybody have the clout of these three, or of Rawkus? Little Brother? Lupe Fiasco? Only Jibbs, I think. Only Jibbs.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

... are coming to town next week. and it seems they have the budget for videos now. still riding round in a hooptie, though.

ukulele orchestra of great britain - 'wuthering heights'

more fun:


more youtube

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

John Cale live, Oxford Zodiac, 19 March

"The legend who can still go" (c) All wrestling commentators

It's staggering to think that John Cale recorded the first Velvets album forty years ago. Tonight he sets out to prove that he's invented / dabbled in / mastered every genre since then (except maybe crunk), and that he's got the stamina and the chops to rival any of his descendants. His surly stage presence and deep, stiff, sometimes inexpressive voice allows an impressive musical sleight of hand. Under his nonchalant guidance the set jumps (almost) seemlessly from gut-punching rhythmic blues-rock to close-harmony indie-pop, than across to the keyboard for spiralling dub reggae, an almost nu-rave cover of 'Heartbreak Hotel', to proggy improv, folky punk, then back to the guitar for a chugging, muscular workout that outdoes anything on the last Queens of the Stone Age album. Only in the encore does he touch the Velvets back-catalogue, with 'Venus In Furs', but thrilling though that it, he quickly betters it with a rousing 'Chorale' ("written on New Year's Eve in CBGBs," he says).

The backing band does a fair job of keeping up with the stylistic changes, only occasionally causing Cale to wince as they lose the thread of his keyboard ramblings. It's a long, slightly exhausting set, covering his entire career, and mixing a couple of 'greatest hits' ('Ship of Fools', Jonathan Richman's 'Pablo Picasso') with new material and obscure choices. It's hard to think of another band with this much breadth and versatility, except perhaps the Mekons. So long as he keeps on pouring it all into one set, peers are thin on the ground.

John Cale audio here


Buy 'Circus: Live'

Monday, 19 March 2007

Bright Eyes & Jake Bellows (Neva Dinova) live, Oxford Brookes, 18 March

Conor Oberst can't talk to crowds. The man's just been on tour with Springsteen and REM. Now he's starting off on a world tour for 'Cassadega', aiming consolidate his position as a generational voice of emotional discord and political dissent. He's got an audience desperate to embrace his broad-appeal, folky emo-pop, from skinny-jean peroxide teens to middle-aged folkies. He's assembled a permanent Bright Eyes line-up whose hard-playing multi-instrumental cosmic americana takes Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue as its inspiration. In support, he has Neva Dinova frontman Jakes Bellows, who wins the crowd over with his amiable banter and budget Neil Young-isms, even though his backing band, sundry Bright Eyes members, have never played these songs before. In spite of all this, Oberst can still kill the mood stone dead with a few words. "Thank you ... it's been, erm, a nice time ... for us."

The gig's perfectly decent - the most consistent I've ever seen them, though certainly not the best. It takes in a variety of Bright Eyes material - 'June on the West Coast' from 'Letting off the Happiness', 'Laura Laurent' from 'Lifted', 'We Are Nowhere...' from 'Wide Awake', alongside plenty of 'Four Winds' and 'Cassadega'. But it all sounds the same - same intensity, same volume, same tempo, same instrumentation. This would work if Oberst could carry off the populist appeal of Sprinsteen or REM, or even if he'd done a Chris Martin and taken lessons in singing and self-deprecating humour (no Coldplay, btw).
But he's still the prickly, confrontational frontman who can't really sing. Previously, this sense of danger at least livened things up - winsome folk-pop one minute, impassioned ranting the next, pop to the bar and before you're back he's decking the drummer (well, not tonight - she's a girl). Without danger, intensity or musical variety, you've got a talented countrified bar-band aiming for the middle of the road, undercut by sameness and an unlikeable frontman.

The Rolling Thunder approach works on record, where deft production can handle the fussy lyrics and overloaded instrumentation. 'Cassadega' will sell, and I'll be buying. But as a live act, however poor his new record is, I'd take one Willy Mason over ten Bright Eyes.

More fun:

Bright Eyes - 'Everything Must Belong Somewhere' (live, Washington, 2005)

Buy Bright Eyes
Buy Neva Dinova

Saddle Creek homepage

Coming up on GMS:

John Cale live!

Thursday, 15 March 2007

the louisville sluggers

the slint-curated all tomorrow's parties festival a couple of years back was one of the best ever - part of the reason being that slint invited all their mates, meaning every bar band and supergroup in louisville, kentucky turned up. quite a scene you got there, man.

here's the latest lousiville supergroup, dead child featuring dave pajo, members of anomoanon, shipping news and the for carnation, brian macmahon's brother and a bloke called dahm. best of all, they sound like iron maiden. awesome.

dead child - 'angel of the odd' (live)

and here are the mighty slint, live in kentucky last year:

slint - 'good morning, captain' (live)

more fun:

slint homepage

dead child homepage

full live sets here

buy slint

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

i got tha hook up

Grandmaster Flash and (three of) the Furious Five. Shivers down the spine stuff. Raheim's verse is excellent. Melle Mel is pretty good, and looks like his arms are about to explode. The middle rapper (Mr. Ness? Kidd Creole?) drops the ball, though.


Nice work as ever by Kwaya Na Kisser: Sparklehorse: Live at Fingerprints Records, Long Beach, CA., Feb 8 2007.

Andrew WK: "I love tourists. They're excited about everything." Link

Aquarium Drunkard has news on the new Duke Spirit covers EP, which sounds excellent.

Coming up on Galactic Mystery Solvers:

Ramblous musings on 'Sky Blue Sky' by Wilco: hint - blogger likes Wilco.

Bright Eyes live review: will Oberst carry on his beef with the late great John Peel like last time?

Friday, 9 March 2007

'97 mentality

1997 > 2007

Exhibit C

R.I.P. B.I.

Monday, 5 March 2007

new release round-up

Big day for album releases - a flood, if you will: here are the ill-considered thoughts.

Three generations of clattering smack-head goth-punk howlers go head-to-head: long-faced Dickensian art-school NME faves the Horrors release their debut, ‘Strange House’; facially-foliated mid-life priapists Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos resurrect the Birthday Party with a knowing wink under the Grinderman soubriquet; and mummified punk/grunge/stoner progenitors the Stooges unveil their first original studio album in over three decades with ‘The Weirdness’.

The GMS vote is always going to go to Nick Cave, and Grinderman feed that uncritical appetite in the best possible way. Dumb fun. (A-) The Horrors are surprisingly good: the buzzsaw Cramps guitars, carnival Hammond and Addams Family melody lines are all in place, while whatsisface growls appropriately, and with enough conviction to lift this out of its strict genre limits. (B+) Why anybody would buy the Stooges’ embarrassing mall-punk effort over these two is a mystery, but in case you were considering it, don’t. (D)

Arcade Fire’s ‘Neon Bible’ is also out today. Haven’t changed my opinions, haven’t stopped playing it incessantly either. Very nice. (A-)

Patrick Wolf’s ‘Magic Position’ is much better than his live show. I preferred ‘Wind In The Wires’, but this is just as accomplished. Reminds me of Tears For Fears without the po-faced twattery. (B+)

If we ignore the Kaiser Chiefs, maybe they’ll go away. (D)

Then again, people have been ignoring Idlewild for a while, and they’re still plugging away. ‘Make Another World’ is more of Morrissey’s lyrics sung through Michael Stipe’s loudhailer. They’re pretty good at it, mind: this is one of their most consistent efforts. (B)

Explosions In The Sky’s rollicking post-rock template ain’t broke, and they haven’t fixed it on ‘All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone’. Well-constructed and pleasing in its marshalled bombast as ever, I still find them a bit contrived. Listen to The Workhouse instead, people. (B-)

I avoided !!! first time round, stung by bad dance-punk experiences with Radio 4 and the Rapture. Their second LP, ‘Myth Takes’ doesn’t do much to change my mind: it frequently seems to be on the verge of something good, but always ends up messy, irritating and uncertain of its own agenda. Reference points, as ever, Happy Mondays, ‘Housequake’ by Prince, some pun on ‘party politics’. (C)

El-P’s ‘I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead’ isn’t out for a couple of weeks, but from the leaked promo, it’s very very very good indeed. The all-star cast of guests complements rather than distracts. Early Album Of The Year contender. (A)

Consequence’s ‘Don’t Quit Your Day Job’ is also out at some point soon. I know he got there first, but his flow is too close to Kanye West’s for my liking. Like Kanye, he seems unclear whether he wants to be conscious, flossing or gully, to use the parlance. Better production than ‘Food and Liquor’, worse verses than ‘Blue Collar’, then. (B-)

More fun:

Several of these streaming over at

Sunday, 4 March 2007

old school new school

the current glut of mixtapes and diss tracks made strictly for the internets in a matter of hours results in a lot of forgettable crap out there. but occasionally there's a danger of genius slipping under the radar. three up:

the game - 'soundscan'

this was overshadowed by the sheer magnitude of game's 100-, 200-, 300-bar diss tracks, and by the royal rumble of all remixes for 'one blood'. it's also dated by its initial focus on the first-week sales for lloyd banks' 'rotten apple' (yeah, i had to google that title). but worth remembering, if only for the first couplet - why did he need 300 bars when he can destroy banks that fast? plus i'm all in favour of people putting 'kingdom come' beats to better uses than jay-z did.

jim jones feat. stack bundles & j.r. writer - 'ballin' on xmas'

dipset are usually the embodiment of worthless over-production, and 'a dipset xmas' is execrable. but here they outdo themselves in boneheaded clownery, elevating the track into (intentional?) comic genius. if stack bundles never does anything else of worth in his life (and chances are he won't), his first verse will never stop getting played chez GMS. jones' ad-libs are as stupid as ever, and j.r. writer thinks it appropriate to make amends for "i grab a ho ho ho / and make it rain-dear" by doling out homophobic threats in a christmas song. priceless.

ghostface feat. raekwon & lil' wayne - 'run part. 2' (from the 'broiled salmon' mixtape)

no shortage of ghost and wayne in '06, but that's no reason to overlook this update of the best track on 'pretty toney', featuring both rappers, plus an above-par raekwon verse. wayne doesn't quite top jadakiss' awesome verse on the original, but good nonetheless. plus i like how he says "ayo ghostface". ayo wayne.

more fun:

captain's dead has queens of the stone age live in '05.

culture bully has ian svenonius interviewing will oldham.

buy game
buy jim jones
buy ghostface