Tuesday, 15 December 2009

sunn is funn. O))).

if i was to interrupt this blog for a spot of how's-your-father, chances are i'd head to the stereo and stick on some sunn o))). those guys know a thing or two, i can tell you. they mostly hail from the good ol' USA, which we all know is the land that invented loving--just ask philip larkin, or the president of the united states.* we all like to have fun, don't we--as long as it's safe. and sunn's blade-hatted laser-fingered mind-goblin singer attila csihar is no different. but don't take my word for it. i'll give the last word to the boys in the band. the band sunn o))).

*I didn’t say his name because he might change, and then I’d look like a ninny.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

gigsplurge 25: tompaulin, vigilance black special & servant, november 2000

Tompaulin, Vigilance Black Special, Servant, Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, 30 November 2000

Finishing off the year with a trio of gigs GMS' gang booked at the Bully. Haven't a clue about Servant.

Vigilance Black Special were second only to the Workhouse amongst the Oxford bands of the time. Rarely, for a local outift, they sounded like grown-ups: dark Lee Hazlewood soul mixing with a countryfied take on Henry's Dream-era Bad Seeds. They now live dotted around the country, but are "keeping the band going", I'm glad to hear. Perhaps they might keep the band going in Oxford sometime soon.

The idea was for promising Peel-types tompaulin to be introduced by Tom Paulin--the sort of personal touch you'd expect from imaginative types like GMS et al. Sadly, the self-parodying Keats-misunderstanding late-night lit-pundit (who is surprisingly huge in person) sold us down the river for a date with Mark Lawson and that lot. He missed a cracker: tompaulin were likened to Belle & Sebastian at the time, but unlike a lot of imitators, they preserved the wit, range and occasional bile of B&S, while also being imaginative and versatile in their own right.

I hope they won't mind me nicking a lump from their myspace page: interesting stuff, in the context of this series:

Tompaulin formed in a bedroom in Blackburn, Lancashire in 1999. We loved records and wanted to make our own. Our first single was self-financed and released on a local label, Action Records. We had never even played live when 'Ballad of the Bootboys' sold out in a week. We borrowed some money and recorded another two singles with our friend Vinny Peculiar in Liverpool. 'Slender' and 'It’s a Girl’s World' also sold out very quickly. We were in the NME and all the music papers, and everyone contacted us wanting to sign, represent, remix and re-define us. We didn’t have a clue what was going on. Simon didn’t even have an amp. Vinny used to lend us all his stuff.

We signed to Uglyman Records in a pub in Blackburn. Guy Lovelady was the only person who came to Blackburn to see us and we were fed up with going to London every week. So we signed and made an LP, 'The Town and the City,' with him. It got good press and favourable radio play for the single, resulting in two Peel sessions and a gig at Glastonbury. More people came to see us live and we continued to receive great press and reviews, except we were surrounded by people who talked about units and strategies, features and angles and while all this was going on, the world went Strokes and White Stripes mad.
Our manager told us we were finished.
We didn’t feel finished.

We contacted Jim Reid from our beloved Jesus and Mary Chain records and went in the studio and recorded a new EP.

'Give Me a Riot in the Summertime' did very well for us, the Guardian Guide said we were on to something and we thought so too. We compiled all our singles on a CD we called 'Everything was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt.' Chris Roberts, writing for Uncut called it, "A revelation."

With the money we made from that we bought a small studio of our own and recorded 'Into The Black.' We asked Jim Reid back, this time to sing on 'Seams.' The Clientele, Ben Lurie (JAMC) and loads of other people came in to hang out and help and we had a good time recording it, despite the downbeat tone of the record.

Mojo and Uncut gave it four stars and all the usual press loved it, except the NME who ignored it.
The record label said, "Can’t hear a single."

We were fiercely proud of 'Into The Black' and decided to start playing live after two years off. We toured Germany and Scandinavia to sold out shows and came home to headline a sold out 'POW! To the People' mini-festival for Track and Field at the Barfly in London.
Then we split up.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

the basics

60s stuff. appalling interview. 80s stuff.

gigsplurge 24: six by seven, december 2000

21st birthday spent with the punishing indie-drone misanthropy of six by seven. 30th birthday later this week, to be spent in the company of fuck buttons. if you've come here for damascene moments, the exit's that-a-way. if you've come here for lil' wayne, be my guest. underrated band that sounds like spacemen 3 of the decade?

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

gigsplurge 23: queens of the stone age etc., november 2000

Queens of the Stone Age, Snake River Conspiracy & Backyard Babies, Astoria, London, 23 November 2000

Live venues enjoyed mixed fortunes across the decade. Increased revenues from live music masked a shift in the balance of payments in favour of the bigger venues and bands. In Oxford, half the small venues already mentioned have folded, ceased promoting new bands, or re-emerged under new management. In London, the Astoria was the most high-profile casualty.

Its closure was initiated by populist Mayor Ken Livingstone, but caused only a minor ripple of nostalgic protest. Its rivals had more obvious qualities and friends in higher places: it could not be defended as part of a community's musical heritage like Camden's striking Roundhouse; nor was it among the elite of Newsnight Review crossover venues like the ICA, the Barbican or the RFH--attacks on which would have the boradsheets editorialising on cultural decline; nor was it even a particularly nice venue, like the Brixton Academy or the Union Chapel. Yet it performed a key function in the career cycle of a certain class of band. The Astoria's claim was to be the biggest toilet venue in Britain: hosting bands with an NME buzz, one-and-a-half hit singles, and a shot at the big-time on the back of a national tour.

It felt, too, like an overgrown indie boghole. A strange, dank smell. Sticky floors. A shitty 'Star Bar' covered in cack-handed, unsettling portraits of Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon, in which errant members of Three Colours Red could be spotted sipping warm lager from plastic pint pots. A weird tension between indie drudgery of weeknights and the second-rate pop acts booked for the G.A.Y. nightclub on weekends. Unfortunates flyering in the rain for nightclubs offering, appealingly, "indie / metal".

For all the mediciocrity of the venue, I'd seen some great gigs there: Pavement in their pomp in 1997; Machinehead playing heart-punchingly loud in 1998; Mogwai lifting the roof off in 1999. This gig was not among them, but it was sort of archetypal of what I remember about the Astoria. All three bands were typical fag-smelling "indie / metal" nightclub fodder. Backyard Babies were a 'glam / sleaze' metal band from Sweden, who wore sailor hats and leather and said lewd things into the mic. They didn't have any tunes, or any redeeming sense of humour, and hence weren't the Darkness. Snake River Conspiracy fulfilled the "indie / metal" quotient: Kerrang pin-up lady singer, flabby industro-metal blokes, laughable cover of 'How Soon Is Now'.

Queens of the Stone Age would go on to produce one of the best records of the decade, and to assemble one of the best live bands I'll (eventually) write about here. But in 2000 they were the familiar Astoria headliners, one-and-a-half singles in, nearly there. The Astoria gave them a big stage--the sort that they'd eventually fill with Mark Lanegan's howling vocals, Dave Grohl's irrepressible drums, and Josh Homme's weird, sideways take on stoner rock. On this night the skewed funk riffs broke up the flow; Oliveri and Homme never gelled; the band poised uncertainly between indie and metal, lacking the confidence and swagger to forge their own sound. The Astoria was a staging post: rarely the scene of triumphant victories, never an all-expenses-paid consumer experience, but consistently interesting and engaging as a place to watch the music scene change.

the basics

rural pursuit. portly grunger.
beer labelled beer.

the basics

all the basics. and then some.
"a pot from spaho ahmetovic".
goose towel.

Monday, 7 December 2009

the basics

lariat. arm drag takedown. spinning toe hold.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

the basics

blurry stuff. big hair.
rocking out in a warm coat.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

the basics

darkened room. space nymphs. worried look.
ground control geek hat.

Friday, 4 December 2009

gigsplurge 22: penthouse & monkey island, november 2000

Penthouse, Monkey Island, Oxford Point, 11 November 2000

The New Rock Revolution which the NME heralded at the start of the decade promised to re-inject sneering, swaggering, snotty rock'n'roll attitude into a directionless music scene. Of course, it did nothing of the sort. Beyond a few good debut albums, the scene opened up new possibilities for hair-care salesmen, mobile phone companies and teen drama scriptwriters, while closing down opportunities for rockers too sick, ugly or funny to market.

Penthouse (renamed Fifty Tons of Black Terror after legal action from wealthy pornographers) were far too nasty a proposition for selling leather goods to pre-teens. By which I mean they sounded like the Jesus Lizard dressed as the Bad Seeds playing Pussy Galore records in a dustbin. As did Monkey Island.

I miss these guys, and fellow travelers like Groop Dogdrill and Gallon Drunk. But I get a rare pleasure from reading the names of bands they moved on to (via Gin Palace's Penthouse page):

Jon Free is now playing in GIN PALACE, plus does occasional stints with Country Teasers and London Dirthole Company (ex-Headbutt).
Charlie Finke
now fronts THE CESARIANS , featuring ex-members of Gretschen Hofner, The Auteurs, Monkey Island and even Christian Death!

Tim Cedar
went on to found the uber-heavy PART CHIMP, and primal electro-droners DIE MUNCH MACHINE

Esme MacDonald
has a new band called, laughably, 'THE HORN'. He sings and plays bass in this band. He tells me Lunasound ('home of the has-beens') are going to put out an album by them next year...

Graeme Flynn
left the band in June '99. He is currently playing in an outfit along with Jim Jones from Thee Hypnotics. Previously called BLACK MOSES, I have it on good authority that they have changed their name to the (rather presumptuous) 'LICENSED TO DESTROY!!!'

Thursday, 3 December 2009

the basics

pouch for the tie.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

gigsplurge 21: the workhouse, caretaker, union kid, november 2000

The Workhouse, Caretaker & Union Kid, Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, 11 November 2000

Great music inspires great writing.

Local rag Nightshift on the Workhouse: "a sonic cathedral of sound".
Drowned in Sound on Union Kid: "dynamics which can be best described as dynamic ... But when Union Kid are sad, their music is sad. As you listen to the heartfelt lyrics and the music has been slowed right down, you can almost feel a frown coming on."
Skippscage--apparently--on Caretaker: "The sound of Caretaker tonight was fat - really fat - no… phat!"

Of all the nights our outfit organized at the Bully, this may have been the most enjoyable, in that it was Peel-tastic, short, and headlined by Oxford's greatest band.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

the basics

2CV. leggy blonde. playing the trombone on a bridge.
"i'm not a astronaut."

gigsplurge 20: digital hardcore records, november 2000

Alec Empire, Nic Endo & ec8or, Oxford Zodiac, 7 November 2000

Listening to Atari Teenage Riot in the late 90s was like hearing the Wu-Tang Clan five years earlier. Not nearly as good, of course, but in both cases the music sounded like the work of dangerous, unpredictable nutters whose live shows might descend into violent mayhem in the blink of an eye.

For the Wu, this proved deceptive. Travelling to see them in Brixton, GMS fully expected to be run out of town like a common pygmy, only to find a crowd far friendlier than most indie gigs. Atari Teenage Riot, though, courted confrontation, inciting trouble if it didn't find its way to them naturally.

A worthy stance, perhaps, against far-right agitators in the German techno scene, or against heavy handed police on the Continent; and always wedded to a thrilling amount of noise and righteous energy. But in Britain their confrontational approach always seemed blunted. At the LA2 in 1999 they had goaded ageing punkers until one pushed Alec Empire off a speaker stack; in a support slot at Brixton Academy, they had offended Foo Fighters fans with a barrage of white noise; on record, Empire had pre-empted Dangermouse by flaunting copyright and tearing up Elvis records. Amusing enough, and always worth the asking price; but the band might have sought out some more threatening, less conservative targets: Eastbourne on a Sunday would have been a place to start.

This gig--a showcase of DJ sets, preaching to the converted--abandoned even the confrontational posture. Frustratingly, enigmatic frontman Carl Crack skulked by the t-shirt stand all night, while Nic Endo tortured a small black box, Alec Empire showcased his burgeoning nu-metal inclinations from the DJ booth, and one of them other ones--ec8or, I'm thinking--provided a tidy set of chaotic techno. An intruguing, occasionally brilliant band tailing off not with a bang, but with a really really loud whimper.

why women make good money for such a finger

GMS welcomes and encourages commenters. By heck, our posts exist to spark discussion, maybe even to challenge your preconceptions. Isn't that, at the end of the day, what the internet is about, reader?

As a genre, our favourites are Portuguese men selling electrical goods, and Americans preoccupied with the End of Days (not the film, the real one).

Regular readers will be keen to know more about the engaging Japanese conversation currently underway in response to provocative November post, 'join me on a magical journey'. Our faithful Japanese correspondent, Dave, has provided the following translation:

Married woman
H socializing with their wives, of course socializing practical-minded and OK! Here are their wives to taste erotic frustration. Immediately met, a young wife, celebrity, Mature, SM wife, secret, six more women want to play Please select from one genre

Side business
Million - 5 per day offers you can get a side business. Female celebrities nymphomaniac the next man he met on the Internet people are lying about eating with the power of money. Why women make good money for such a finger

H Checker
H Checker everyone to enjoy! Only the hidden answers to your questions in a simple frequency H is known to tea! Now try to diagnose Chau Muttsuri like him more than once Bale

The recent trend away from home message boards, and wrote many messages are runaway girl is walking around the Internet cafes, etc. stay. They are going to stay as soon as the men he met at the bulletin board at the house I have no money. Why even write you back an answer

I'm not sure where this conversation is going. But isn't that, at the end of the day, what the internet is about, reader? Don't click on the commenters' links, though: there are pictures of naked ladies!

Here's Shonen Knife, obviously: