Archive for the ‘music’ Category
Romain Gavras directed the ginger genocide video for MIA’s ‘Born Free’. He subsequently expanded this idea into the truly terrible film Our Day Will Come. So let’s ignore that and watch his badass video of MIA’s ‘Bad Girls’ instead:
I’ve mentioned my love of Girl Talk before and it hasn’t gone away. ‘Feed The Animals’ and its follow up ‘All Day’ are never off my iPod and are invaluable in the gym. As I have been running along like a hamster in an underground bunker where I am forced to watch Loose Women with the subtitles on, I’ve often thought what a good soundtrack these music collages would make for a piece of contemporary dance. Turns out Wild Combination had the same idea and produced Girl Walk. Here is the first chapter:
So, if you ever see me on the streets of London, that’s what I’m doing on the inside.
I’m probably late to this party but I’ve just discovered BRAT Productions. Most of his productions are above average mashups featuring cheesy Seventies rock but this combination of The Eagles, Lamb and American Beauty is rather special:
(This post was delayed from last month because I couldn’t work out how to embed Vimeo videos so the party is even later. I still can’t centre align it. Bah.)
The shortlist for the Mercury Music Prize was announced yesterday and it was a bit of a damp squib. Not that it doesn’t contain a lot of good music but I can’t remember a more conservative list. As coincidence would have it, I have been absolutely rinsing the xx album (one of the shortlisted twelve) this week. It is the most immediate album I’ve heard in some time, an accessibility that isn’t at the expense of depth. It is also one of the most sensual. I remember someone telling be that Soulvaki by Slowdive was their favourite make out album at college and this is an album very much in that mold. You picture half-closed blinds, tiger-striping a room with morning light, full ashtrays, lethagy and lust. Regardless of this – and the fact the xx are bookies’ favourite – I will be sticking a fiver on Laura Marling.
Jackson Browne – I was raised on Browne but he is too Seventies, too California, too rich hippy to have endured. So Glastonbury should have been the perfect place for him. He didn’t draw much of a crowd though. Still, a nice enough way to spend Saturday morning, although I was glad I had a copy of the Guardian. And ‘I am A Patriot’ no longer sounds like much of an antitode to patriotism, particularly in this surroundings.
Imogen Heap - I’m a casual fan of Frou Frou and Heap herself so I thought I knew what to expect. When we arrived, however, she was leading the crowd through quite the most tortuous sing-a-long I’ve ever heard. Nah, mate.
The National – A massive buzz about them leading up to Glastonbury and they sort of delivered. That is to say, they put their all into the performance, even if it didn’t necessarily collect at all times. (I should note at this juncture that where you are stood and who you are stood with has a massive influence on this so all judgements should be taken with a pinch of salt.)
Shakira - Pop is always welcome as far as I’m concerned. Shakira doesn’t really have the tunes though; Michael Eavies, if you are listening, get Beyonce to headline. She was still great though, even if it was only with the singles like ‘She Wolf’ that you could proper get into it. And to be honest, the eye candy was not unwelcome either. Hips don’t lie, indeed.
Kelis - We arrived fifteen minutes late and fifteen minutes after that there was still no sign of her. Instead Mr Jamm continued his DJ set by playing a series of not very classic classics. We sacked it off…
The xx - …in order to see The xx, just across the way. By this point we had the wrong mindset and just listened from outside the tent. Which wasn’t ideal.
Pet Shop Boys - I don’t remember anything about this set. I am told I fucking loved it and sang along to every song.
The Hold Steady - Another of my dad’s tips. I struggled down to the Other Stage to get some breakfast and caught most of their set. I think it is time to accept that I just don’t like The Hold Steady.
Teddy Thompson – He’s a rum one, Teddy Thompson. A great voice, a decent guitarist, acceptable but forgettable songs – all this would be fine if he wasn’t such a sour bastard. I know some of it is stage persona but still. Keane were playing immediately after and for one horrible moment it looked like we would be trapped there by the influx of bed-wetters at the end of Thomson’s set. Luckily we escaped.
Grizzly Bear – Must do more research.
MGMT – I had been going to see the Blues Band, Richard Thompson and Loudon Wainwright on the Acoustic Stage but in the end decided to stay with my crew and stay electronic for the evening. The sound was a bit weedy but that is no excuse for for the weediness of MGMT themselves. The crowd loved the old singles but were otherwise pretty indifferent. They have also got ridiculous speaking voices. To top things off, someone tore off half my big toenail during this set which was unpleasant and messy.
LCD Soundsystem - This, on the other hand, was not at all weedy. You know what I said yesterday about older artist not needing to me cool? Well, that doesn’t apply to James Murphy. This was a sort of evil twin version of Hot Chip’s set and, in its own way, just as good.
Orbital - I’ve seen Orbital, you’ve seen Orbital, everyone’s seen Orbital. And yet the pull is always there to see them again. This was a classic set right from the opening track of ‘Impact’. They are a funny pair – the one motionless in a suit, the other gurning in a vest – but together they are fried gold. But then up pops Dr bloody Who. There is no escape.
My fifth Glastonbury and an absolute blinder. I’d had my money’s worth by Friday night and the next three days were a free bonus. It was also bigger and fuller than I remember from even a couple of years ago, there are just so many stages. Here is what I saw:
Bang Face – We got there for early evening on Thursday and the place was already rammed; Wednesday is apparently the new Thursday. Having humped all our gear across the site and then set up, it seemed like a good idea to get on Glastonbury time quickly since I was still calibrated to London. And what better way than to plunge into a rave? It was everything you would expect from a Bang Face night – sweaty, wrong and full of inflatables – although people were clearly holding a bit in reserve.
Rolf Harris – After a night of raving, this is the perfect way to ease into Glastonbury. Obviously it was pretty cheesy but he is such a showman that it is impossible not to smile. Despite looking slightly frail and not being in full voice, he had the huge crowd eating out of his hand. It was also the first time I’d ever heard ‘Two Little Boys’ which seems to be some sort of crime according to my peers.
The Stranglers – I didn’t actually see them because the time on my printout differed from the actual timetable. However, everyone says they were shit. So there is that.
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – A pretty self-explanatory name. They actually went off after their first song due to some sort of equipment snafu. At which point Shlomo came on to keep the crowd warmed up. It worked. He’s a beat boxer but he also uses a sampler to catch the sounds he is producing live with his mouth and throat and then layer them to create a whole song. I probably prefer his pure beatboxing but this is definitely growing on me too (it was slicker and more lively than when I saw him last year). It was certainly far better than the funky noodling that was herald by the return of the band to the stage.
Snoop Dogg – Like a chump, I’d been thinking of skipping this on the grounds that he would only disappoint. I know, I’m an idiot. If Rolf is a showman, Snoop is a superstar. He is a man so charismatic that he turned Julie Bindel into a gangsta rap fan which tells you all you need to know. Towards the end he was joined by Tiny Tempah who you would have thought would be cacking himself at meeting a hero in front of 80,000 people but actually acted like he owned the place. Which he did for the duration of ‘Pass Out’ thanks to the largesse of the Doggfather.
Vampire Weekend – They are a band who attract a lot of antipathy for tediously familiar reasons relating to the Art School vs Working Class Hero divide. I love ‘em, in short order they have produced two albums will no filler at all (well, except maybe ‘Blake’s Got A New Face’). We get a fair chunk of these songs here and it is great stuff. If Vampire Weekend don’t have a particularly developed live presence, it is still sexy and euphoric and, by the time they have finished their set, they have given their all.
Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood – I was just having dinner opposite at the Thali Cafe when they came on. We’d been tipped off that they were the mystery special guests but that didn’t alter our plans to go and see Hot Chip instead. Still it was nice to hear a couple of songs off The Eraser before we left, it is just a brilliant album. Oh, and the thali was great too, even if they had just run out of poppadoms.
Hot Chip – They are a band you tend to think of as producers rather than performers but this was a storming set that showcased a group who are clearly very used to play together and also fucking love it. It was, in a word, tight. However, in another word, it was also loose, a rolling, seamless mixtape played live. They then took it to the next level by bringing on a steel band. This performance finally gave me the key to unlock their last album, One Life Stand, transforming something which can seem bizarrely happy-clappy into something which is genuinely emotionally effecting.
Broken Bells – This was my dad pick of the day and certainly looked good on paper. Unfortunately, the couple of songs we heard on the way to see The Flaming Lips sounded like Richard Ashcroft at his worst.
The Flaming Lips – I had heard their live gigs were good but I still wasn’t prepared for this. It is not the theatrics (although they are welcome) but the connection with the crowd. I don’t think it is overstating the case to say that Wayne Coyne is a messianic figure on the stage and their set was simultaneously immensely playful and gravely serious. Like Hot Chip, this was passion allied to a weight of age and experience which is often lacking in younger bands. There are more things than being cool. I cried as they when they closed the set with an extended version of ‘Do you Realise?’ (my wife did too but then she cried during ‘Two Little Boys’ so she doesn’t count).
The xx – Walking up the hill, dazed from what I’d just experienced, I did catch the tail end of this set. It sounded quite good. Did I manage to see The xx properly when they played a different stage later on in the festival? Tune in tomorrow to find out.
A couple of Philip Glass-related events I would like to go to over the summer but unfortunately will miss.
Icarus at the Edge of Time is a futuristic reimagining of the classic Greek myth set in outer space, based on a stunning book by the world-renowned physicist Brian Greene. Featuring a brand new score by Philip Glass, this European premiere is performed live by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Marin Alsop with a cutting-edge film by Al and Al. Discover the boy who challenges the awesome power of a black hole and the unyielding forces of Einstein’s general relativity.
London premiere of Philip Glass’s sweeping score, performed live by Kronos Quartet to the chilling American cinematic classic Dracula (1931), starring Hungary’s Bela Lugosi as the world’s most popular vampire.
One thing I won’t be missing is Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the Troxy in December. GSYE at the Scala in 2000 was the best gig I’ve ever been to and I am proper excited about this.
Since hearing about Hawksmoor a couple of weeks ago I have been obsessing about steak. I had a meeting in town yesterday and since it went well and I was then going on to the BSFA yesterday, I thought I would treat myself. Unfortunately, Hawksmoor is in Whitechapel but helpfully Gaucho has branches across London. You may well have walked passed one, they look a bit like a serial killer’s batchelor pad: black glass and cow hide. More like Gauche-o, amirite? The meat is the thing though.
It was an interesing experience as it is not at all the sort of place I would usually go; it has the air of a private members’ club, complete with paramiltary staff, and the clientele stank of business lunches with a fair smattering of tourists since this was the Picadilly branch. I managed to navigate this unnatural environment pretty well, although I was slightly phased when my waitress queried whether I wanted to see the meat tray. Er no, I don’t need to eye up the meat or have it pimped to me, just bring me 300g of ribeye, bloody as hell. And this I duly received. Marvellous.
To accompany my plate of meat, my waitress steered me towards potato puree but, despite liking this, I am always put off by the name this always sounds so much less appetising than mash. Instead I went for a potato cake (okay, the fact it had chorizo in it may have also helped tip the balance). I should have taken her hint though as it was completely indifferent, apart from the couple of mouthfuls when it was much too peppery, and accompanied by some similarly pointless salsa verde. Equally disappointing was the bearnaise sauce. Now this is the king of sauces and was nicely done but for a £2.50 supplement I expect a jug or a boat rather than one of those tiny ramekins pubs serve ketchup in these days. (I won’t give Adam Roberts the vapours by saying how much the steak was.)
Over at the Antelope – which I can’t help but think is a ridiculously incongruous venue for the BSFA meetings – I was pleased to see that they had Bengal Lancer on tap. Fuller’s have only just introduced this IPA but it is by far their best beer. Alas, it is only seasonal. Anyway, the actual event was a discussion of the BSFA shortlist between Damien G Walter and Graham Sleight, two very engaging panelists (Martin McGrath unfortunately had to pull out). The City & The City emerged as the clear winner of the novel category and it was noticeable that it was the only novel that the audience picked up for discussion. Despite some scepticism in the room, I really think this has to be not only the favourite for this award but a highly likely candidate for the Clarke and the Hugos. But please, let’s not get bogged down in whether it is SF or not.
Walter also raised an interesting point when he said that several of his favourite books of the year – for example, The Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi – weren’t eligible for the award because they haven’t been published in this country. I get the general impression that over the last decade we have seen an increasing divergence between what is being published in the US and what is being published in the UK. At the same time, as Walter pointed out, the internet has increased both the availability and discussion of US published books in this country. I can’t really articulate this but I do think there is an increasing tension here.
I am what a cynic might suggest is a rare breed: someone who has complained vociforously about the planned closure of 6Music and is also a regular listener. I bought myself a DAB as a Christmas present back in 2002 and once I found the station I never left, it is literally the only radio station I can listen to for more than five minutes. (From time to time, my wife is allowed a couple of minutes of the Today programme but, in its own way, that is as rage-inducing as the worst of Radio 1.) Without 6Music the airwaves will be very bleak indeed, I know because I own a device which simulates the experience. I call this “my car”.
So I’ve already written a complaint about the spurious rational for its closure and I’ve completed the consulation on what the BBC should actually be doing. Today though I’ve been reminded of this travesty all over again by Adam Buxton’s lovely protest version of Changes by David Bowie and this brilliant act of sabotage.