Friday, 21 March 2008

being snoop dogg

i'm a reasonable man, but on a slow day i like to imagine that i'm snoop dogg.

most of the time i'll just zone out and marvel at my 7ft frame and my freakishly large hands. sometimes i'll imagine i'm starring in my own hollywood movie, where i have to pretend to be a 1970s pimp. on the set, i have good times with my pal, big-nosed blonde male owen wilson.

my imagination is kind of limited, and there are lots of snoop dogg things i've never done, even in my head: rolling in my 6-4, for instance, or picking a fight in a UK airport. i've certainly never smoked a pound of herb, hit the studio with the bloke out of house of pain, and recorded a twang-heavy tribute to johnny cash. but i think it's a great thing to do. listen and see if you agree:

snoop dogg - 'my medicine'
(from ego trippin')

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

GMS presents: Seven Deadly Sins - The New Vatican Mixtape

the vatican is a city in the middle of rome responsible for popes, small football teams, oddly-dressed soldiers, pretty ceilings and raekwon mixtapes.

it's 2008, and the vatican has stepped its game up. it last published a list of seven deadly sins in the sixth century. since then, biggie and 2pac have passed away, australia has had an olympics, and akon has taken over the airwaves. hence versace-sporting classy-freddie-blassie-lookalike pope cardinal ratzinger has issued seven new sins to get all worked up about. some funny, some tragic. i'm not sure whether this was issued in the form of a 'papal bull', but i sure hope so.

whether you're indulging in sin, avoiding it at all costs, or inspired by an missionary urge to rid the world of it, you'll need some fine tunes to keep your head nodding while you go about your business. GMS hereby issues an accompanying mixtape - sing when you're sinning! or not sinning. enjoy!

1. "bioethical" violations such as birth control

company flow - 'population control' (from funcrusher plus)

2. "morally dubious" experiments such as stem cell research

sean price - 'frankenstein' (featuring buckshot & tek) (from master p)

3. drug abuse

gram parsons - 'green, green grass of home' (from sleepless nights)

4. polluting the environment

fu manchu - 'king of the road' (from king of the road)

5. contributing to widening divide between rich and poor

common sense - 'chapter 13 (rich man vs poor man)' (from resurrection)

6. excessive wealth

fairport convention - 'million dollar bash' (from unhalfbricking)

7. creating poverty

taj mahal - 'stealin' (live, 1974) (buy)

Monday, 10 March 2008

Album reviews - Gutter Twins, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan

who's better - men or women? my girlfriend reckons it's women, but she would say that - after all, she's dead clever. me? i've got an open mind, though the balance of male-to-female in my record collection suggests i might be a bit of a sexist.

one of my favourite men in the whole world is gravel-voiced drug-surviving grunge-crooner mark lanegan. mark has put this men-women idea to the test, by releasing two collaborative albums back-to-back. the first, under the name of the 'gutter twins', pairs him with soul-loving alcohol-surviving grunge-lothario greg dulli (a man). the second, sunday at devil dirt, is his second collaboration with breathy-voiced former belle & sebastian member isobel campbell (a lady, no less). lanegan did another collaboration last year, with a group called soulsavers. i don't know if any of them were hermaphrodites, though.

together, solo, and as part of the screaming trees, queens of the stone age, afghan whigs, twilight singers and belle & sebastian, this trio has made countless albums (well, more than twenty), many of them great, none of them at all bad. in that respect, both of these albums are winners. gutter twins' 'saturnalia' is a dense, dark mess of psychedelic blues riffs and howling, yearning vocals that sounds like a cross between exile on main st. and QOTSA's songs for the deaf. campbell and lanegan's devil dirt is a lighter affair, reprising the countrified sound and the nancy-and-lee dynamics of their debut, ballad of the broken seas. allusive lyrics and the tension between campbell's whispered vocals and lanegan's marlboro-man growl create an undercurrent of danger and mystery that prevents the record slipping into the winsome mode of campbell's solo work and her contributions to B&S' records.

on balance, saturnalia pips it. perhaps this was inevitable - as a male man i prefer noisy guitars and greg dulli hollering "whooarrghhh i'm gonna do sex" to pretty tunes and isobel campbell mumbling on. also, campbell can't quite sing, while dulli really can. but there is also a problem with sunday at devil dirt - it's precisely the same as ballad of the broken seas, without the cracking hank williams cover and the tidy title track that elevated the latter ('the flame that burns' is a half-decent williams pastiche). it attempts to incorporate some of the sparse folk of lanegan's excellent solo covers record, i'll take care of you - but rarely with much conviction. were it presented as a broken seas outtakes collection - like rufus wainwright's patchy want two - it might have worked. in its own right, devil dirt is a pale re-tread. saturnalia, on the other hand, arrives with such high expectations that it could have been a disaster or a disappointment. instead, while it doesn't quite rival lanegan and dulli's finest work - screaming trees' dust or afghan whigs' black love, for instance - it's an inspired pairing that will hopefully yield more records.

i don't know how much this proves, or whether the battle of the sexes has advanced at all as a result. my instinct is that it hasn't. but the accompanying press photos do emphasise an important point: chaps like to be photographed drinking together and frowning, but with a lady you can have a nice baked potato without any difficult questions being asked. how's about some mp3s and links?

gutter twins - 'god's children' (live)

ekko has the full live show - featuring the whole album and some older tracks:

saturnalia - full stream

isobel campbell and mark lanegan - 'come on over (turn me on)' (from sunday at devil dirt)

campbell & lanegan 'rambling man' (careful, though - it's dead rude!)

Ramblin Man
Uploaded by websil

gutter twins myspace

buy saturnalia

isobel campbell myspace

buy sunday at devil dirt

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Album review - Ministry - 'Cover Up'

If I’m not out on the corner, I’ll usually be up in my kitchen, kicking back with my life partner, maybe eating some porridge while sitting on my inflatable exercise ball. More than likely some tunes will be blasting out of the 4” speakers on my Dell laptop with Intel Pentium processor, as Windows Media Player lines them up. There sure are a lot of albums to choose from, but if I’m looking for something we can both get along with, something that complements the view out the back door to the garden and the bird-feeder, chances are I’ll be playing Cover Up, the new covers album by veteran industrial rockers Ministry.

Truth be told I haven’t been checking for Ministry since the halcyon days of Psalm 69 and Filth Pig in the early-to-mid-90s, but the track-list of this new long-player got me fiending for sure. It bears a striking resemblance to Heavy Metal: Superstars of the Seventies, a brilliant vinyl compilation, on the Warner Special Products label, that I picked up at a car boot sale some years back. It’s an intriguing compilation, from a period when Warner’s roster was getting big enough that it felt like coining new genres and targeting niche markets - fans of countrypolitan, critically-approved easy listening, Woodstock acid-folk and heavy metal in particular. The compilation drew together under the ‘metal’ bracket a motley group that included the likes of Dr. John, Eagles, Yes and Delaney & Bonnie alongside more conventional names like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Hendrix.

Cover Up shares two songs with the aforesaid compilation: T-Rex’s ‘Get It On’ and Golden Earring’s incomparable ‘Radar Love’, the pinnacle of Dutch civilisation. They also take on the Doors (‘Roadhouse Blues’), Deep Purple (‘Space Truckin’) and Sabbath (‘Supernaut’), all of whom appeared on Heavy Metal. Mountain’s ‘Mississippi Queen’, ‘Lay Lady Lay’ and the Stone’s ‘Under My Thumb’ also get snarling, hi-NRG re-workings. Throughout the album, Ministry’s ability to drum really fast, to play super-distorted shredding guitar solos, and to snarl and shout remain undimmed. Unsurprisingly, ‘Space Truckin’ makes an appearance.

This is a gloriously, unrepentantly stupid album: the closing cover of ‘What A Wonderful World’ recalls Joey Ramone’s swansong version, and rivals it for pointless indulgence and celebration. Apparently, this is also Ministry’s swansong after twenty-seven years of unpleasant single-mindedness. A fine way to go out.

Ministry – ‘Radar Love’

Golden Earring – ‘Radar Love’

Buy Cover Up


Friday, 7 March 2008

Album review - Tindersticks - 'The Hungry Saw'

If I’m out on the corner hustling, or just walking around town with a chip on my shoulder, looking for trouble, I like to crank up my 40GB iRiver E-140 series mp3 player. Probably I’ll be playing an album that fits my mood – or that takes that mood and amps it up to the power of ten, or even to the max. Something true and bad-ass like The Hungry Saw, the new album from Nottingham’s Tindersticks, would fit the bill.

Tindersticks are O.G.s in the maudlin string-laden embittered-indie game, and wrote the rulebook for young hoppers like Absentee and the National. They recently lost some members due to internal beef, but that’s not addressed on the Hungry Saw. Instead the three-piece asks you to walk a mile in the shoes of mumbling baritone-voiced singer Stuart A. Staples. Trust me – it ain’t pretty. Staples is on some grown man business from the get-go as he airs out past regrets, loves, and losses. On the title track he even goes one-on-one with the Big Man himself – by which I mean the Devil!

Musically, this is Tindersticks’ most stripped-down and intimate release: it has little of the expansive dissonance of Golden Era ‘sticks (circa 94-00), the for-the-ladies seventies-soul stylings of later releases like Simple Pleasure and Can Our Love, or the barbed lyrics of their most intense work. At times the band comes across as slightly reserved, and they only cut loose and break the five-minute barrier on closing lament ‘The Turns We Took’. But this also works as a good introduction to their core sound: the deceptively-breezy ‘Flicker Of A Little Girl’, the barely-there reminiscences of ‘The Other Side Of The World’ and the building tension of 'Boobar' all take it right back to the essence, while simultaneously raising the game on their pale imitators. (B)

Tindersticks – ‘The Other Side Of The World’

Buy The Hungry Saw

Myspace (where 'The Flicker..' is streaming)

Previously on GMS:

Swing incongruity with those pesky Tindersticks

Sunday, 2 March 2008

jeffrey lewis and the mountain goats in pop-art collabo triumph

here's some fun: inter-textual fun, that is!

cartoonist, troubadour and indie-rock historian jeffrey lewis is currently touring with rap-loving blogger john darnielle's illustrious lo-fi outfit the mountain goats. a profitable relationship in itself, but jeffrey has also drawn a cartoon accompaniment to the goats' new album, heretic pride. above is one page, but it's too small, so you need to go here and ch-ch-check it out. here.

did you do that? right. jeffrey and the goats recently got two of the lousiest, stupidest album reviews i've seen of late on the web 2.0. this account of heretic pride by the NME is about the least informative nincompoopery i've ever read, and that includes max gogarty's blog (i'm not sure whether this review on DiS is intended as an arch rebuttal - i'd like to think so). and this onslaught on jeffrey's clever, witty, enjoyable 12 crass songs by pitchfork makes me want to pen a privately-published pamphlet exposing the fallacious logic of its author.

far be it from me to ruin the credibility of two promising young websites like NME and pitchfork by unleashing the full wrath and cultural authority of GMS upon them. i know the awesome power this blog has. it gets comments and everything, occasionally. with great blog comes great responsibility, etc. etc. reader, pitchfork and NME are sometimes okay, and they like indie rock. groovy times! but hear ye, hear ye: jeffrey and the mountain goats are good, as are the albums what they make. get it? got it? good. now for some fun: PAY ATTENTION.

here's 'sax rohmer part 1' by the mountain goats, from heretic pride. as jeffrey explains, sax rohmer was the pulp author who invented fu manchu. not the band, though! the chinese fellow.

here is jeffrey lewis telling the legend of the fall. not the season or the film or the albert camus book, though! the manchester band.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

hope springs eternal - Hope Of The States, that is!

i, for one, highly approved of military-get-up-wearing, politically-righteous, americanophile post-rock ennio morricone fans hope of the states. until they went all sh** and split up. but at least iliketrains have sort of filled the gap they left. apparently their violinist is now lightspeed champion's violinist. there's a thing!

but wait! according to some people on the internet, ex-members of HOTS have imaginatively named themselves palace. watch out guys - will oldham doesn't mess around! remember what happened to jeffrey lewis.

palace have a myspace page, which comes with the territory. it also comes with some interesting songs - obviously demos, and not quite good, they combine the sort of awkwardly-theatrical joy divisionisms that pulp used to do in the 80s, with jagged buzzsaw guitars that sound like early sonic youth covering ministry. can i have a job at NME now?

the myspace page has no info on it, so maybe the people on the internet are lying. in which case, maybe this is just a half-hearted plug for a potentially-interesting myspace band. can i have a job at drownedinsound now?

while i'm at it, other members are in the equally-ungooglable troubles, who play vocal-free folk-inflected stuff, somewhere between godspeed and beirut. in the world of myspace, troubles are friends with josh t. pearson from lift to experience, whom i missed at the last all tomorrow's parties festival. how's about that? it looks like they have an album coming out. it's called 'wolf'. i reckon i'll be "checking" for it.

don't let that be the end of it! apparently blocks is also part of the HOTS diaspora. i know: the name fills me with confidence and joie de vivre too. looks like blocks is the vehicle of HOTS lead singer sam herlihy from the photo, though he's got some polythene in the way, so it's hard to tell. is he a sex person? should someone be helping him out? anyway, he's doing electronica now, and i can't be having with that. shout-outs nonetheless. if you're up on electronica, give it a listen and let me know if he's nailed it.

palace myspace page

troubles myspace page

blocks myspace page

more fun:

hope of the states - 'enemies/friends'