Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Sorry I’ve been crap at blogging lately. I’ll try to be better. Here’s a short one to keep things ticking over… recommendations always appreciated.

CURRENTLY LISTENING TO:

Yuck – ‘Yuck’

Very taken by Yuck’s album… like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, it’s totally derivative but the songs are GREAT. Bits of the Pixies, Pavement, Sonic Youth… and a great name for a band, too.

CURRENTLY READING:


Jonathan Safran Foer – ‘Eating Animals’

Only about halfway through, but it’s very good so far. This guy wrote one of my favourite books in recent memory, but this is a non-fiction account of how and why he decided to become vegetarian when his son was born. It’s not preachy in the slightest, but let’s just say that some of the cold hard facts about the ins and outs of the meat industry makes me extra-glad I’m a veggie.

CURRENTLY LOOKING FORWARD TO:

Primavera Sound 2011 – can’t bloody wait. Belle & Sebastian, PJ Harvey, Interpol, Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes,

Also:

Going to see Spamalot for the first time. Should be good!

Also:

The new series of The Apprentice started last week on BBC. Goodbye, life.

CURRENTLY WANTING:

Morrissey – ‘Very Best of’ on vinyl

€29.99 on vinyl in Tower Records! €29.99!! *weeps* Come to me, payday.

CURRENTLY WATCHING:

Game of Thrones [HBO series]

My boyfriend is in the midst of the series of books that this new HBO series is based upon, and says despite the premise (it’s set on the fictional continent of Westeros in medieval times, with a lot of gory head-choppings, mythical demons, fancy suits of armour, incest, bonking and inter-dynasty politics), it’s not something that a World of Warcraft obsessive would watch. With the added fact of Aidan Gillen starring, that’s good enough for me. Just three episodes in and it’s simmering quite nicely. Christ, even Sean Bean is good.

What’s on your radar? What’s currently floating your TV/musical/comedy/film boat?

Read Full Post »

1. Because MCA has survived the cancer that put the band on hiatus and the Beasties are back, with their long-awaited new album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (the album’s original release was put on hold after his diagnosis). And after the disappointment of To The Five Boroughs, it’s brilliant to have them not just in fine health but back on musical form. ““Oh my God, just look at me / Grandpa been rapping since ’83” raps Ad-Rock, but he still sounds as fresh as ever. Hot Sauce Committee is a gloriously funky, funny mix of yappy, fluid rapping, great samples, innovative sounds and filthy beats that will have you shaking your booty around your kitchen and put a strut in your step as you listen to it on your iPod. At least, it will if you’re me. You can listen to it here and dance around at your desk.

Oh, Ad-Rock *sigh* Your yappy rhyming skills are only equaled by your attractiveness

2. Because they’re living proof that being a sexist idiot in your youth (the on-stage cage dancers etc) doesn’t mean that you can’t grow up and learn something. In fairness to the Beasties, they were already rapping against domestic violence (“Why you got to treat your girl like that?”) on Paul’s Boutique, back in their ‘To All The Girls’ and ‘Hey Ladies’ days (I love ‘Hey Ladies’, by the way. It is awesomely funky, it’s more silly and fun then sleazy, and how can anyone not like a song with the line “Beatnik chicks just wearin’ their smocks”? It’s one of my favourite Beasties songs) but as time went on they became more and more actively engaged with spreading a feminist message, both in their songs  (“I’m gonna say a little something that’s long overdue/The disrespect of women has got to be through/ To all our mothers and our sisters and our wives and friends/ I want to offer my love and respect to the end” rapped MCA in the fantastic ‘Sure Shot’) and in their public appearances – Ad-Rock used their 1999 MTV Award win to speak out against sexual violence at music festivals rather than engage in the usual industry backslapping. Oh, and he’s married to Kathleen Hanna, one of the most significant American feminist voices of the last two decades and an awesome musician in her own right. Funny feminist boys FTW!

3. Because Ad-Rock is still ridiculously attractive. I’ve fancied him since I was about 12 and saw him in Smash Hits, back in the Licensed to Ill days. Of course, I’d love the Beasties even if he weren’t so very easy on the eye and would never reduce anyone to their physical charms alone etc etc, but still, I’m only human.

4. Because they are genuinely, properly cool, in a way today’s Morrissey-circa-1987-haired hipsters can only dream of. This is because they are unafraid to be both very smart and very goofy. They may be in their 40s now, but they have no interest in trying to be (sigh) down with the kids – they’ve stayed confidently true to their own idiosyncratic tastes. They’re also keen to share their ridiculous jokes and passions with the world, rather than hoarding them up for themselves in a poncy elitist fashion.

5. Because, as part of this sharing of the love, they gave the world the word mullet to describe the horrendous haircut that previously had no real name. Having written a song about the infamous ‘do and its fans, ‘Mullet Head’, they expanded on the topic in the second issue of their sadly shortlived magazine, Grand Royal. I still have my copy of this issue, and the mullet piece is very, very funny.

6. Because, as the promotional video they made to celebrate their return shows, they still don’t take themselves very seriously.

7. Because they created, with Spike Jonze, what is still possibly the greatest music video of all time. I’ll never forget you, Nathan Wind (as Cochese).

Read Full Post »

In today’s Guardian, several music critics write, sometimes very movingly, about the songs that can bring them to tears. It’s a subject most of us can relate to, including me. Many songs have made me cry over the years; I’ve cried to Nick Drake, Tim Buckley, the Velvet Underground, REM, Palace, Bonnie Prince Billy, Mazzy Star, Johnny Cash, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Kristin Hersh, and countless others – indeed, there are few artistes who haven’t made me bawl at some stage. But the ones that stick in my memory at the moment are the ones that got to me last year, just after an old friend who was just a few months older than me died very suddenly of what was either an aneurysm or a heart attack (the post mortem couldn’t reach a conclusion). Everyone who knew him was stunned by his death, which didn’t seem quite real, like all sudden deaths. A day or two after he died, I was trying and failing to work so I went for a walk in my local park, listening to Hot Chip’s then recently-released album One Life Stand. And less than a minute into the third song, I found myself crying.

A pulsating dance song doesn’t seem like the sort of thing to bring on sobs, but this song did. It was the lyrics, particularly this section: “Nothing is wasted, life is worth living…There is a day that is yours for embracing, everything’s nothing, nothing is ours…”

I think what set me off was the “nothing is wasted” line, the idea that even if someone is gone there was a point to them being here, that their lives weren’t wasted, that everything goes to nothingness in the end but that’s okay. Anyway, tears started trickling down my cheeks as I walked along, but I didn’t stop walking. As the synthy strings soared, I somehow felt uplifted as well as sad, as if all that was needed was just to keep marching along to the beat. The combination of the bittersweet lyrics and melancholy dance music was, it turned out, just what I needed.

It wasn’t the only song that made me cry around that time. The day after my friend died I was listening to Charlotte Gainsbourg’s IRM on the bus on my way in to meet fellow stunned and bereaved friends for a drink, and half the songs on it made me tear up. ‘In The End”s sweetly sad melody combined with the words “who’s to say it’s all for the best in the end?” had me turning away from the person sitting next to me so he wouldn’t see how red my eyes and nose were.

It says something about both those songs that when I was checking those Youtube links and listened to them again, they still both made me cry. And yet, in a weird way, like a lot of the songs that make you cry, they made me feel strangely better afterwards.

What about you? What songs bring you to tears?

Read Full Post »

Polystyrene was just a teenager when she became the singer in punk band X-Ray Spex. In 1977, they released their classic single ‘Oh Bondage Up Yours!’ and played on the same bill as bands like The Buzzcocks and Wire.  After struggles with her mental health, Poly opted out of music. She has spent the last two decades writing, occasionally resurrecting X-Ray Spex for reunions and finding solace in her Hare Krishna faith. She has just released a new solo album, Generation Indigo, produced by Youth, which features guest appearances from her sister, her daughter Celeste and Viv Albertine of The Slits.  Watch the video for her latest single, ‘Virtual Boyfriend’.

EDIT: April  26th, the Anti Room are very sad to hear the news of Poly Styrene’s death. She was an important figure in 1970s punk and an inspiration many women in music. RIP Poly.

What’s the first record you ever bought?

My Sweet Lord by George Harrison.

What’s your favourite smell?

Rose oil.

Have you ever had a nickname?

Poly Styrene!

What is your favourite room in your house?

My bedroom.

What are your guilty pleasures?

Chocolate.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

That cancer unknowingly crept up on me.

Who is your closest female friend?

My daughter.

Do you have any tattoos or piercings?

No.

Where would you most like to live?

Where I am now, by the sea.

Who was your first kiss and where did it happen?

Can’t remember!

What’s the most unusual question you’ve ever been asked?

The last one you just asked.

What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

A hotwire cutter that cut through polystyrene.

What is your favourite word?

LUV.

Who was your first love?

Falcon.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what might you have become?

A secretary.

Is there a book you’ve bought several times as a gift for someone?

Gopi Gita.

What happens after we die?

Our soul leaves our body and reincarnates, or gets a complete spiritual form.

What female historical figure do you admire most?

Right now, Florence Nightingale.

Sum yourself up in three words:

Optimistic, Happy, Bubbly

And finally… What are you anti?

War.

What are you pro?

Peace

Read Full Post »

    Lady Gaga is a Madonna fan. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has a) heard her new, predictably controversial single, a catchy homage to Madge by way of a Vogue/ExpressYourself mash up or b) looked at her, at any point since her explosion onto the music scene.
     

    Don't go for second-best, baby...

    To be fair, Gaga isn’t the only young pop starlet to wear her Madonna inspiration on her sleeve; the grand dame of pop music, Madonna’s influence spreads far and wide. It is almost impossible to avoid comparisons with her if you are female, vaguely edgy and playing the pop music game. This can’t be good for the self-esteem of those concerned because to be brutally frank, there is but one Madonna and she is force of nature.

    I was too little to appreciate Madonna’s ‘old school’ hits the first time around. My poor mother refused point blank to let me put the Immaculate Collection on my Santa list. I do believe were her exact words on the matter were, ‘why would you want to listen to that wan?’ She may or may not have blessed herself for good measure.

    It wasn’t until university that I got my proper introduction to Madonna. Oh sure, I knew the songs – who didn’t – but beyond that, I never gave Madonna a second thought and certainly not in terms of feminism, until she popped up on a course I was taking at university about subverting popular culture.

    At first, I was dubious. To me, Madonna was as mainstream as Adidas tracksuits and cups of tea. She was just another bubblegum pop star who made millions and liked to take her clothes off. So what? But as our lecturer encouraged us to scratch the shiny often very sexy veneer of Madonna’s music, something began to emerge, something that made me spend what little money I had on the Immaculate Collection (CDs were not cheap at the time and illegal downloading was the stuff of fantasy) which I listened to on repeat for a month. In short, I fell in love with Madonna. Here are 3 reasons why:

    Sick of hearing songs about female ‘empowerment’ that involve buying things, crying about lost loves and using your booty to get his attention? Then you need Express Yourself, the message of which is simply: value yourself as a human being. Expect your partner to do the same. If he can’t, you’ll be better off alone. (Don’t expect this one to feature on a rom-com sound track any time soon)

    Who says a pop song can’t be serious? Case in point: Papa Don’t Preach. Plenty of pop songs are about sex; very few are about the realities of sex gone wrong and even fewer again are about a young woman facing up to a difficult situation in a world that just does not want to know. The lyrics are as relevant now as they ever were which sadly says a lot about how far we haven’t come.

    On occasion, you might like a bit of sexy music but not obviously sexy music where the singer is shrieking about LOVING SEX, especially with WHIPS, CHAINS, TENNIS BALLS or whatever you might have lying around the house (Rihanna, I’m looking at you). Justify My Love – a song so sexually charged it will have you aching and blushing at the same time, without a tennis ball or whip in sight.

    In terms of subverting popular culture, you could type about Madonna all day long from Sex to the Blonde Ambition Tour (Marilyn but with muscles) and her pop star status aged fifty-something. Likewise, the many gems on the Immaculate Collection are worthy of repeated listening and consideration (sorry Mum!). She has released many albums since, whose merit or lack there of is certainly up for debate.

    The final Madonna moment I’ll leave you with is from the album Music, released in 2000, 10 years after the Immaculate Collection. Gaga et al would do well to remember that while performance art can be fierce fancy and wild, often what is most powerful and sometimes most shocking is using a deceptively simple pop song to hold a mirror up to our grubby world and telling it like it is. Just ask Madonna.

    Madonna/ What It Feels Like for A Girl

    What’s your favourite Madonna moment?

    Mary McGill likes to talk. Thankfully, she gets to do that most nights, hosting i102104’s talk show. She also likes to write, read, travel, listen to music, speak French (badly), laugh a lot and look on the bright side of things – most of the time.  She believes tea is the balm of life and if you make her a nice, strong cup, she’ll love you forever. You can tweet Mary here @missmarymcgill

Read Full Post »

Cast your mind back, if you will, to 2009. Right from the outset, the last year of the noughties was being dubbed ‘The Year of the Female'; a clutch of young musicians in possession of the X chromosome were being corralled into a makeshift scene, solely because of their gender. Of course, I can’t play the saintly onlooker and chastise my fellow music journos for their laziness – I’m sure I was as guilty of buying into the fuss surrounding acts like Florence & the Machine, La Roux, Little Boots (above) and Lady Gaga, at the time. (Little Boots, by the way, was one of the worst interviewees I’ve ever had the misfortune to have a phone conversation with. Twice.) The thing was, though, that most of those acts were largely pop/electro-pop oriented. Just two years on, however, and the landscape has tilted in favour of musicians with a rockier demeanour.

Look at the BBC’s ‘Sound Of…’ poll, for example; for all intents and purposes, the taste-making list drawn up by UK industry figures is redundant. New music is there to be discovered and recommended, not coldly thrust upon you by a group of anonymous people cherry picking a list of the bands that are being buzzed about most deafeningly. However, some of the female names on this year’s longlist seemed to demonstrate the shift away from pop music. There’s Warpaint, for example, the LA four-piece that channelled the gloom of the much-missed Organ with their excellent debut last year. Esben and the Witch, a female-fronted Brighton trio, so impressed Matador Records that they became the first British band to sign with the label in five years.

Anna Calvi

The Domino Records-signed Anna Calvi is also currently frantically propelling journos and bloggers thesaurus-wards in search of new adjectives to describe her brooding, guitar-led indie-rock. Personally, I don’t really get the fuss – but maybe I need to give the album more time, see her live (she plays Dublin’s Workman’s Club on February 23rd), or just banish the niggling ‘sub-PJ Harvey’ notion clanging around my head every time I listen to ‘Blackout’. But there are worse artists to ape, of course.

Harvey herself also has a new album out on February 11th, by the way. ‘Let England Shake‘ impressed me from the first listen; it’s her first ‘solo’ record since 2007’s stark ‘White Chalk‘, although her frequent collaborators John Parish and Mick Harvey are as omnipresent as ever. It’s a slightly barmy (one track drops in a triumphant fanfare riff at random points) and completely original offering. Harvey doffs her hat to no one.

But what does this supposed shift away from danceable floor-fillers mean? Is it just a case of swings and roundabouts? Do women with guitars wield more influence as ‘serious’ musicians? Have we finally seen the last of Florence ‘I’m 24, really, I am’ Welch‘s many re-releases of ‘Lungs’, or is she waiting to pounce with a fake ID and a follow-up at any second? Will anybody care about Gaga‘s latest wacky stage show if her next album is rubbish? Will La Roux‘s Elly Jackson lose the source of all her powers if she chops off her quiff for album number two? Feck knows. I’m just glad I don’t have to interview Little Boots again.

Read Full Post »

Joan as Policewoman is Joan Wasser, who, after the death of her boyfriend Jeff Buckley, began to sing and write songs with some of Jeff’s band in a project called Black Beetle. Since 2002, she has played under the name Joan as Policewoman (a reference to the 70’s cop show) and has toured and collaborated with musicians like Rufus Wainwright, Antony and the Johnsons, Lloyd Cole, Sparklehorse and Lou Reed. Her fourth album, The Deep Field, is released here on January 21st and she plays Dublin’s Button Factory on February 10th.

What’s the first record you ever bought?

Axis bold as love by Jimi Hendrix

What’s your favourite smell?

Cardamom

Have you ever had a nickname? Yes. 
my brother couldn’t say J so he called me “Doanie” instead of “Joanie”
and it caught on with the rest of my family.
 I was called “Spaz” in elementary school because I had so much energy
. I’ve had so many nicknames since then that I cannot even remember
 – nor do I wish to remember
.

What is your favourite room in your house?

I only have one room because I live in a loft, so every room.

What are your guilty pleasures?

What does that mean? The idea of guilty pleasure is ridiculous! Isn’t every pleasure only amazing? As long as it isn’t hurting anyone else – does my love for Mariah Carey constitute as guilty?

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am pretty transparent so it’s hard to answer – 
maybe that I am always struggling to be more transparent.

Who is your closest female friend?

God.

Do you have any tattoos or piercings?

Yes, seven tattoos
.

Where would you most like to live?

In New York City, where I live.

Who was your first kiss and where did it happen?

Carmelo Lugo during recess in 2nd grade

.

What’s the most unusual question you’ve ever been asked?

I don’t know if I would know what unusual means.
 I have to admit I don’t blink at most questions.
 Maybe the question above.

What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

This christmas I got a car stereo and felt like a teenager again.

What is your favourite word?

“Yes”.

Who was your first love?

Music

.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what might you have become?

Tow truck driver

.

Is there a book you’ve bought several times as a gift for someone?

Rumi poems

.

What happens after we die?

If I knew that, I would have a best-selling book.

What female historical figure do you admire most?

Rosa Parks

Sum yourself up in three words:

I love you.

And finally… What are you anti? What are you pro?

I am learning to keep my mouth shut at certain times
 and this is one of those times.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 41 other followers