Wednesday, 25 April 2007

'97 mentality


Exhibit H

Oh Word has posted a provocative piece on the emasculation and incorporation of rebellion by the major labels in the last ten years. They pit the Wu, BIG and DMX against Kanye, Jeezy and 50, and Marilyn Manson against My Chemical Romance and (I think) Fall Out Boy.

These are selective examples, of course: you could make the case the other way around, or challenge the whole thesis, as a lot of the commenters do. But it's worth pointing out - after all, it's the old corporate story: 1957>1967 for rock'n'roll and country, 1967>1977 for psychedelia, pop and soul, 1977>1987 for punk, disco and reggae, 1987>1997 for dance and indie.

And so it is for rap and metal (Fred Durst being the exception - keep it real, Fred!). My man Double S will back me up when I recall how in 1997 the police would hassle you for wearing a profane Marilyn Manson t-shirt in public. Yeah, times was hard on them streets for a middle class white schoolkid. These emo kids got it easy, for real. They don't even know they're born. Which some of them weren't in 1997...

Arcade Fire - 'Rebellion (Lies)' (Live at Vegoose, 1995)

Bob Marley and the Wailers - 'Rebel Music' (Live at Hammersmith Odeon, 1976)

Coming up on Galactic Mystery Solvers:

Nick Cave, Grinderman, Bill Callahan, Dirty Three, Low, Papa M, Faun Fables, Magnolia Electric Co., A Silver Mt. Zion, Cat Power, Spiritulaized, Joanna Newsom, Yann Tiersen, Alan Vega, Einsturzende Neubate,. Sally Timms, Nina Nastasia and the Only Ones LIVE. At Butlin's.

RIP Alan Ball

Just a quick R.I.P. to Southampton and England legend Alan Ball. Will be pouring out a little liquor and hollering ballinnnnn' in his honour tonight. Peace to all the (football) gods and earths.

BBC news link

Monday, 23 April 2007

Vanishing Point > Death Proof

so, quentin tarantino is this guy who makes excellent mixtapes, and strings them together with a few half-baked ideas and cool-looking images. if he had any sense in his head, he'd be a music blogger, because music bloggers make loads of money and get hot chicks doing exactly that. right? but instead, he's just an above-average movie director. the loser.

anyway, his latest effort, death proof, pays homage to early-1970s existentialist road movie vanishing point. which is commendable, because vanishing point (known in germany as fluchtpunkt san francisco, amazingly) is the greatest movie of all time, and has the greatest movie soundtrack of all time - combining funk, soul, gospel, country, bluegrass, acid freakouts and hard rock - all hosted (in the film) by dj super soul, who is ever so slightly cooler than dj khaled.

back in the day - the day before ebay, amazon and all this filesharing on the internets, that is - i spent many an hour searching for a vinyl copy of vanishing point. i never succeeded, though i did find copies of pacific ocean blue and the elvis presley seance along the way. but thanks to the good folks at harkit records, it briefly became available on CD and is well worth seeking out.

here are three choice cuts to listen to while driving your muscle car into a bulldozer in nevada:

bobby doyle - the girl done got it together

mountain - mississippi queen

kim and dave - nobody knows

(note - that's kim as in kim carnes, after leaving the new christy minstrels and before finding solo fame)


primal scream - kowalski (from vanishing point)

ultrasound - kurt russell (from 'best wishes' CD single)

more fun:

death proof
buy vanishing point OST
buy vanishing point
buy primal scream
buy ultrasound

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

corner wars

For Pancho, read the corner

“HBO’s” the Corner was a mighty fine mini-series, if hopelessly depressing docudramas about crack addiction are your cup of tea. Much like its creators’ next project, the Wire, but without Omar, Bubbles or cops reading porn and cracking jokes.

But who has the best take on the corner, through the medium of song? Is it Common, with the Last Poets, Kanye West ‘on the beats’, and new verses by Scarface and Mos Def? Or is it Clipse and the Re-Up Gang? My vote goes to Common, as it’s good to hear Scarface and Mos Def trading verses out of the blue. Clipse’s bleak re-working reminds me of Biggie subverting Chuck D’s message for 10 Crack Commandments’.

Common feat. Scarface, Mos Def, Kanye West & The Last Poets – ‘The Corner (Remix)’
(from Cool Common Collected)

Clipse – ‘The Corner’ (from We Got It 4 Cheap Vol. 2)

More fun:

On the subject of Scarface, The Smoking Section has commenced its Geto Boys week.

Buy Cool Common Collected

Clinton Sparks has posted We Got It 4 Cheap Vol 2 on his site. Get it 4 free.

Buy The Corner

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

'97 mentality


Exhibit G

Ten years ago The Source was well-worth buying, chiefly to find out what crazy concepts No Limit Records and the Pen and Pixel studios had come up with for their monthly shedload of new albums by artists from the durrrrrty south. My favourite featured a pineapple made of gold. I forget who the artist was. Big Tymerz? Young Bleed? The send-up on the inside cover of the Black Star album was also brilliant.

Stupid they may have been. But while Pen and Pixel are still on their grind, I can't think of a recent rap album cover that's grabbed my attention in the same way. Come on, present-day rappers: more exploding obelisks, piles of shiny coins, uncomfortable-looking women, Doric columns and things on fire, please!

Here's "cat loving gangster" Louis Theroux, getting the full P&P treatment in his documentary on gangsta rap. His visit to Master P's house in the same episode was equally bizarre.

More fun:

Previously on '97 mentality

Pen & Pixel homepage

The Hyena on the worst (i.e. best) rap album covers of all time

Monday, 16 April 2007

Midlake live, Oxford Zodiac, 13 February

Wow. Midlake are a philosopher’s stone of a band. Elemental. Pure. They’ve discovered the matter from which all mid-paced US indie rock originates. Think Mercury Rev without the sense of wonder. My Morning Jacket without the arena-sized sound. Smog without the dry humour. Pavement without the Fall. Guided By Voices without the drunken chaos. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah without the oddness. Spoon without the … what was Spoon’s remarkable characteristic again?

They seem like nice guys, and keep their hair neat and their beards trim. If I caught them at a festival, in the middle of the day, all loaded on cider, I wouldn't mind them at all. Best of luck to them. Next time I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy and wonder what band is soundtracking that but where, y’know, nothing much is happening and stuff? That’ll be them. The world is yours, Midlake. Don’t get too excited or nothing.

More fun:

Midlake at the Hype Machine

Saturday, 14 April 2007

pancho vs pancho

for kramer, read pancho

here you go: who is the best alt-country favourite covering an old country tune about mexican dudes called pancho who may or may not be (a) mexican revolutionary pancho villa (b) tennis favourite pancho gonzales?

bonnie prince billy & tortoise – ‘pancho’ (don williams cover)

gillian welch – ‘pancho and lefty’ (townes van zandt cover)

no funny business, pancho

more fun:

since it’s "the fourteenth day of april, the day that is ruination day", here’s one more cover version mythologizing the old west from gillian welch:

gillian welch – billy (bob dylan cover)

coming up on galactic mystery solvers:

midlake live! excitement literally coursing through the veins.

Friday, 13 April 2007

in accordance with the rules....

so it turns out that pete doherty and carl barat got together onstage in hackney yesterday. as a british music blog, GMS is under obligation to post a youtube thing of carl doing a tapdance, and a link to NME's embarrassing blog. just don't do it too often, lads - mick foley and ric flair flogged the life out of the 'old adversaries come out of retirement one night only' angle years ago.

by complete coincidence, i listened to the second libertines album this morning, for the first time since it came out. as i'm probably the only person on planet earth to have performed this task, it is my solemn duty to report that it still sucks.

more fun:

in brighter news, ekko has posted another cracking A to Zee, on MF Doom

oh word's cam'ron piece deserves another link

Friday, 6 April 2007

always a lonely weirdo...

i'm off on cross-country adventures for a few days. here's an early birthday present for my favourite regular visitor.

neutral milk hotel - 'april 8th' (live in new york, may 1996)

Thursday, 5 April 2007

lil' wayne and the ukulele orchestra of great britain: together at last!

the bootleg of The Drought 3 that's currently doing the rounds won't settle any arguments over whether lil' wayne is or isn't the best in the game. but it's got plenty of the usual barmy similes, one-liners and croaky southern slang, with not too many useless skits or clumsy guest spots.

there's less of wayne's new jamaican accent than i'd expected, which is a shame. and while he still hasn't got round to covering 'cortez the killer' yet, here's his take on gnarls barkley. only nine months late:

lil' wayne - 'crazy' (gnarls barkley cover)

pitchfork referred last week to wayne's "sentimental-absurdist kurt vonnegut phase". SMH @ pitchfork, i think. are their writers competing for a spot in idolator's pick of the fork feature?


linked tenuously by the concept of kerr-azy cover versions, here's the setlist for last week's ukulele orchestra of great britain gig. it speaks for itself, so no review. but if you ever get the chance, see these guys, and take your parents, grandparents and kids.

1. running wild (marilyn

2. silver machine (hawkwind)

3. misirlou (dick dale)

4. plagiarism medley: life on mars (david bowie) / my way (frank sinatra) / for once in my life (stevie wonder) / substitute (the who) / born free

5. hot tamales, they’re red hot (robert johnson)

6. ying tong tiddle ine po (spike milligan)

7. anarchy in the uk (sex pistols)

8. slave to the rhythm (grace jones)

9. the good, the bad and the ugly (ennio morricone)

10. theme from shaft (isaac hayes)

11. leanin' on a lamppost (george formby)

12. psycho killer (talking heads)

13. ricky don’t lose that number (steely dan)

14. miss dynamitee (ms. dynamite)

15. rock around the clock (bill haley)

16. teenage dirtbag (wheatus)

17. whistling solo

18. respect (otis redding)

19. g.w.f. handel medley: fly me to the moon (tony bennett) / i will survive (gloria gaynor) / memories / autumn leaves / killing me softly (roberta flack) / hotel california (eagles)

more fun:

ukulele orchestra homepage

lil' wayne drought 3 page

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Mike Love not war

Grand Daddy IU, getting his lean on

First up: if you've landed here via Berkeley Place, Passion of the Weiss, or Idolator, welcome. "Mad props" to those guys for the links.

Further to my previous post about rap and rock: here's an unlikely but rather fine collision between golden age hip hop and the Beach Boys. Who's responsible, you ask? P Diddy? PM Dawn? Dr. Eugene Landy? All wrong: it's mixtape impresario Mick Boogie and 13th-century Venetian merchant Marco Polo! 'Veteran' from their excellent (and free) Newport Authority mixtape, puts together Cold Chillin' MC Grand Daddy I.U. and 'Good Vibrations'.

Grand Daddy I.U. - 'Veteran'

Just don't anybody tell Mike Love. When it comes to lawsuits, that boy don't play.
Common got all his ideas from Mike Love

Mick Boogie and Little Brother And Justus For All is also worth your time
Grand Daddy IU homepage
"I can even find it in my heart to love Mike Love"

Monday, 2 April 2007

Bright Eyes 'Cassadaga' vs Wilco 'Sky Blue Sky'

Music, as everybody knows, is a big competition. So who’s made the best hotly-anticipated easy-listening indie album with scrutiny-inviting lyrics from a prolific, troubled frontman of Spring 2007? Is it Bright Eyes, with Cassadaga, in which Conor Oberst gets more political than ever, over rollicking roots-rock from his current backing players? Or is it Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky, in which Jeff Tweedy finds redemption and comes to terms with his personal demons through 70s AM-radio rock and skronkly guitar solos? At GMS, we believe that music is not only a competition, but that it is reducible to scientific evaluation. So, ten essential categories, marks out of ten for each.

1. Opening lines
A crucial chance to set the tone:
Bright Eyes gets his Fanon on: “Corporate or colonial, the movement is unstoppable. Like the body of a centrefold it spreads.” Big, yes. Clever? Clunky. 4
Wilco: “Maybe the sun will shine today. The clouds will blow away.” Aaaaah – Wilco! A clear winner. 8

2. Alliteration
The secret of good poetry is alliteration, or assonance, or consonance, or whatever.
Bright Eyes: ‘The Soul Singer in the Session Band’. Dude is a poet! 9
Wilco: ‘On and On and On’. Points deducted for repetition. 5

3. Subliminal shots at Jay
Too many bands are covering their own weaknesses by calling out Hov.
Bright Eyes: “
Hey, where have all the dancers gone? Now the music doesn't play. Tried to listen to the river but you couldn't shut your mouth. Better take a little time to level out.” Conor, please leave it alone. Don’t throw rocks at the throne. 1
Jeff Tweedy is on some laid-back ‘Beach Chair’ middle-aged ‘ish here. No shots at Jigga. 10

4. For the ladeez
Ladies: my Mercedes.
Conor used to hold it down for the honeys with a couple of r’n’b bangas on every album, and those big round eyes of his. But now he’s more interested in fiscal policy. Ick! 0
Jeff Tweedy’s a nice chap. No more troubling references to thumping girls like on Summerteeth. He even calls his sweetheart’s mum for advice about the washing. Aww. 10

5. For bumping in the whip
Bright Eyes’ ‘Four Winds’ is clearly a street anthem, with its ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’-style violin hook. But the rest is a bit overwrought for getting your drank on in a hooptie. 4
Wilco, on the other hand, are on cruise control, sunroof down, wind breezing, guitars ringing. Drive slow. 9

6. Overall commitment to realness
Both score pretty highly here.
Oberst is looking up from his adolescent navel and taking on this imperfect world, while Tweedy bears his soul about the troubles and small victories of life and love in middle age. Bright Eyes aim big and don’t quite make it. 7
Wilco are more humble, but also more rewarding. Plus, I hear that Tweedy still visits the ‘hood when the cameras aren’t rolling. 8

7. Number of instruments used
No indie band is worth my respect unless they cripple themselves financially by paying to take a farfisa player on tour.
Bright Eyes run the show here – more instruments than songs! 10
Wilco are hardly trying – the songs are all stripped back and simple, as are the lyrics. Just a few points for a couple of blazing guitar solos from Nels Cline. Jeff could even play these songs solo. 3

8. Solutions offered to the war in Iraq
In 2007, western leaders are reading Pitchfork and logging on to to work out what to do next.
Bright Eyes offer a lot of political angst. But how much ice would this wordy bluster cut with a military man? Maybe you’re putting them off? 3
Wilco are done with being angry. The (blue) sky is (sky) blue and they’re opening themselves up to love. It’s nice. Can’t we all just get along? 6

9. Swearing
I never swear, but I love people who do.
Conor said a swear and reckons he’s done it with a lady. Bonus. 10
Jeff did not say a swear. 0

10. Degree of Springsteen influence
Bright Eyes sound very Seeger Sessions with their political country-folk revue steez. 8
Wilco go the Steely Dan / Television route instead, but pull it back with the line “
I remember my mother’s sister’s husband’s brother working in the goldmine full-time,” and a reference to blue jeans, plus general ‘Tunnel of Love’-era redemption themes. 4

Overall scores

Bright Eyes Cassadaga 55

Wilco Sky Blue Sky 63

Wilco are your winners! Take Bright Eyes away and dispose of them at once.

More fun:

Most of Cassadaga on the hype machine
Buy Bright Eyes

Most of Sky Blue Sky on the hype machine
Buy Wilco

Sunday, 1 April 2007

if you're rocking, don't rap. if you're rapping, don't rock

So here’s today’s Galactic Mystery. I like rap. I like rock. Ergo, collaborations between rappers and rock groups ... blow goats. If I exempt the few half-decent rap-rock groups like the Beasties, RATM and Biohazard (yup, you heard, Biohazard got a mention), there seem to be three categories of collaborative dross:

(i) the well-intentioned but hopelessly embarrassing (Run DMC and Aerosmith, NERD and Spymob, Sonic Youth and Chuck D)
(ii) the curious, dated, comical and slightly naff (Ice T & Body Count, the whole Judgement Night soundtrack)
(iii) ass, plain and simple (Jay-Z and Linkin Park, Jay-Z and Lenny bloody Kravitz, Ordinary Boys and Lady Sovereign, Fall Out Boy and Kanye West, Limp Bizkit and Xzibit)

Can anyone suggest a collaboration that, like, totally RULES?

I can think of just one – a track which is, in itself, a Galactic Mystery: ‘Greyhound’, by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, featuring Killah Priest, remixed by GZA. It works, largely, because GZA and Priest pay almost no attention to the content or context of the original (had they heard of JSBX, I wonder?), instead creating a dense, paranoid picture of religious fundamentalism and apocalyptic violence.

Why is the greatest rap-rock collaboration of all time hidden away on a Jon Spencer remix EP, and on volume 2 of patchy Wu Chronicles series? More bafflingly, why is it (as far as I know) GZA’s only solo production credit? Presumably, if you’re an incredible MC with a hotline to E.Z. Moe Bee, RZA and Muggs, not to mention hundreds of subsidiary Wu producers, there’s little reason to spend time behind the boards. Maybe he just put his name to it, and got a lackey to produce. But this soupy, claustrophobic, grunged-out oddity is as compelling as most of the beats on Liquid Swords or Grandmasters, and far more interesting than anything on GZA or Killah Priest’s other solo LPs.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion feat. Killah Priest - 'Greyhound Part 2 (GZA remix)'

Moby also had a go at remixing the (excellent) original. He turned the guitar up, and played keyboard along to it. Well done, Moby.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - 'Greyhound Part 1 (Moby remix)'

Buy Jon Spencer

Buy Killah Priest
Buy Moby

More fun:

In looking up all things Killah Priest, I found the greatest movie ever made

Over at Berkeley Place Ekko has a mighty fine Mark Lanegan solo show from 1995.

Coming up on Galactic Mystery Solvers:

Cassadega vs Sky Blue Sky - there can be only one...

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain LIVE