How NOT to write about music – 88. Sleepy Kitty

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Here. Have some of this. Some good old-fashioned rock’n’roll from 2015. A bit late. I admit (and WARNING contains an ex-member of Harvey Danger) but… uh, I like it.  Like a cross between Holly Golightly and The Wolfhounds, although I am of course aware that making a statement like that says far more about me as the interpreter than it does about the intentions of the band.

Great voice.

The Toronto Star has it that “fans of such ’90s femme-rock luminaries as the Breeders, Juliana Hatfield and Veruca Salt, as well as sardonic present-day rock chicks like Courtney Barnett and Laura Stevenson, will find the duo very easy to love, while ascendant garage-rock kingpin Ezra Furman and His Boyfriends are fans and friends”, but that sounds like damning a band with faint praise rather than a serious appraisal (and is also casting the net too wide).

Two comments:

  • Why the need to use the phrase “femme-pop luminaries”. There is only one female member of Sleepy Kitty (and one male).
  • Courtney Barnett? Really? Only heard a couple of female performers, have we?

Bob Boilen of NPR holds that Sleepy Kitty are, “Bright colorful and relatively analog, with leanings toward The Ramones or ’60s girl groups if Brian Eno had taken up the production. Good fun!”

One comment:

  • Love the use of the phrase ‘relatively analog’, although not quite sure Ramones would have sounded like this if Brian Eno had taken up the production. Surely they would have sounded more like U2?

Nice to be reminded of this, though:

Brooklyn Vegan describes them as “a grungier, more layered Best Coast.”

One comment:

  • This St. Louis duo are at their least engaging when they sound like a “grungier, more layered Best Coast”. Far better something ancient like this, even if it is a direct rip of a song I can’t be bothered to put my finger on.*

Black Book says that, “unlike some other image-conscious groups, Sleepy Kitty’s music speaks for itself”.

One comment: 

  • Nice to have music that “speaks for itself”. Sigh.

Photography by Erin Brown, and nicked from the band’s Facebook page. Apologies in advance if the photographer would rather I do not use it.

Here is an interesting story about recent troubles facing the band.

*Oh, wait. Pavement, duh.

How NOT to write about music – 87. Little Mix

little-mix-bounce-back

OK. This is interesting.

The more I try to bring this into focus, the more it squirms away. I experience music via the Radio One Breakfast Show much of the time, and in that context, this song is a delight – every time it starts up I think to myself, oh good they’re playing an old one from Destiny’s Child, or perhaps En Vogue, or The Spice Girls even. All great cultural cornerstones for me, guaranteed to make me happy and put a little spring into my wrist as I turn the steering wheel fractionally to the right to avoid to safely pass yet another bloody cyclist treating the country roads of East Sussex like they are his own personal gymnasium.*

Incidentally, a glance at the video clearly indicates the intended audience for Little Mix. I do not have a problem with this. Music is universal unless you choose to make it otherwise. Also, I try to avoid video.

When I first heard this song, I was underwhelmed, but the more I do not concentrate on it, the more it grows on me. I already know that in five years (10 years, two months) time if I hear this song again by chance, a small pleasure circuit in my brain will light up and I’ll be like, “Now, who is this again…?” Hear it enough times now, and it might even stick with me that it’s Little Mix channeling Soul II Soul (a song that Little Mix had never heard of before it was brought to their attention by their songwriting team) and I’ll be able to momentarily show off my limited knowledge of pop music 2019. Like I say, this is neither here nor there. If I don’t concentrate on this song I really like this song. And if I do? Well, nadir.

*Note for Facebook users. This does not mean I hate all cyclists, far from it. I am a regular cyclist myself, five days a week, only drive the car at weekends. I am very aware of the power imbalance on the roads. Just that there is a certain type of cyclist who uses the roads near where I live – cycling in packs, using the road for races and for exercise only, as their own personal gym – that can be an irritant. Doesn’t mean I target them, though – after all, they are only a minor inconvenience. I dislike car drivers far more – and most pedestrians too, now I think about it. I particularly hate the car and lorry drivers at the big traffic lights crossing near Fulham Broadway station. 

How NOT to write about music – 86. Morrissey

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Morrissey, 2019. He is oh so wrong:

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Why do you come here?
And why, why do you hang around?
I’m so sorry, oh I’m so sorry

Why do you come here
When you know it makes things hard for me?
When you know, oh, why do you come?

Why do you telephone?
And why send me silly notes?
I’m so sorry, oh, I’m so sorry

——————————–

Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking
When I said I’d like to smash every tooth
In your head

Oh… sweetness, sweetness, I was only joking
When I said by rights you should be
Bludgeoned in your bed

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Morrissey, he’s oh so wrong, 2019:D95MBK1WwAESJlz2

Addenda:

I still love this song (and this live performance in particular), but there is going to come a point soon when I hear it and think ‘Farage’, when I hear it and I think ‘Yaxley-Lennon’, when I hear it and I think “a boot stamping on a human face – for ever”, and I will no longer. Maybe I will still love it – after all, it is largely for the audience and the performance that I love it now. I certainly hope so. It is heartbreaking to have moments this special, so magical eroded so callously.

Related posts: Morrissey is shit

50 bands I have seen

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Always worth a re-post.

1. Coldplay
2. U2 (four times)
3. Kajagoogoo
4. The Stereophonics
5. The Wonder Stuff
6. New Kids On The Block
7. Alanis Morissette (twice)
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers
9. Sunny Day Real Estate
10. Bryan Adams (twice)
11. Ani DiFranco
12. The Vines
13. Martha Wainwright
14. Veruca Salt
15. Blood Circus
16. Muse
17. The Smashing Pumpkins
18. Modern English
19. Pop Will Eat Itself
20. Pearl Jam (four times)
21. The Eurhythmics
22. The Mission
23. The Smiths
24. Cosmic Rough Ryders
25. Suede (twice)
26. Blink 182
27. Easterhouse
28. Garbage
29. Paul Weller (three times)
30. The Cranberries
31. Foo Fighters
32. Rush
33. After The Fire
34. The Nymphs
35. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin
36. Spiritualized
37. Elbow
38. Bloc Party
39. Ryan Adams
40. Gene Loves Jezebel
41. Kylie Minogue
42. The Close Lobsters
43. Skrewdriver
44. Swervedriver
45. Silverchair
46. The Farm
47. Dubstar
48. The Verve
49. The Cardiacs
50. Linkin Park

The bus got snarled in the traffic outside the Suncorp Stadium in Paddington.

All of a sudden, a great feeling of despair overcame me. Line upon line of sun-basted young people wound their ways round the forecourt of the Stadium, for no apparent reason other than the fact as they were there they might as well be doing something. People leaned out of car windows. People were smiling. A big neon sign flashed by the side of the road NO STOPPING but it didn’t feel like these shiny happy (sweaty) people would care about such strictures. A couple of blocks up, police cars were hanging loose. As the traffic intensified, so did the feeling of hopelessness. I quickly flicked between songs on my iPod – The Shangri-La’s killer album ’65, Dexys’ ‘Incapable Of Love’, even The Thin Kids – but nothing seemed to rid me of it.

It was like I was watching my Coldplay album review made horribly real:

REVIEWED IN PICTURES Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto (Parlophone)

I took to counting my blessings. I couldn’t think of any. The way this traffic was solidifying around the bus, it felt like we would be dragged inexorably into the vortex of despair that was the side road leading onto the parking spaces for the Suncorp Stadium and we would be forced at Bible-point by smiling Mormons to buy scalped tickets for Coldplay at a couple of hundred bucks apiece. I prayed aloud to Bangs.

A couple of seconds later, the traffic lights moved on and we continued on our journey.

The whole affair had taken up 120 seconds. The longest two minutes of my life.

Stuck in traffic outside a Coldplay concert in Brisbane

How NOT to write about music – 85. Asea Sool

Asea Sool

I know full well that NO ONE is going to click onto this blog entry – if it ain’t Bruce Springsteen or Joy Division, it ain’t worth a damn – so I thought I would take the opportunity to reprint a thoroughly under-researched article I wrote a few months ago for a French print fanzine.

Oh, wait. First, the music. I do not deny I do not know even the first thing about Asea Sool, even who recommended the band to me. I just know what I love, and I fucking love  this. “British rock’n’roll, US delta blues, French chansons and Georgian folk,” they reckon – and that sounds about right. This music has got this otherness that is so hard to fake (very nice scream, too) – sure, I can hear elements of British and American rock and pop music in this duo’s other songs, but to me that is the least interesting aspect of their sometimes unhinged, often contrary sound. And that is why this next song is my favourite. That, and its untrammeled infectious energy…

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Five songs sung in French that I like, by Everett True

I do not claim these songs to be the greatest.

I do not claim these songs to be representative of my favourite songs sung in French (surely, I would bring in more music from the 1950s and 1960s for that?).

I do not claim these songs to be representative of my taste, in general.

I do not think these songs fill a void.

These songs are simply representative of a desire to turn around some written copy for a friend and knowing that I could never properly research a request like “name my favourite five songs sung in French” (the field is too vast, and my knowledge too limited) I figured it might be better to play to the galleries once more and name a handful of songs that are no so well-known. Except, perhaps they are in this context? Who knows.

THE LIST

  • Michel Polnareff – Love Me Please Love Me
    There is so much that exists within the canon of pop music that I cannot even begin to dream of. There is so much to dream of.
  • Elli et Jacno – Main Dans La Main
    I’m sure it says reams about my age and the year this particular video and song were made, but I find both the song and the way the woman dances oddly alluring. And when I say alluring I mean sexy. Clearly, this is how sex – back when I was a 19-year-old virgin – was defined for me: a tight shiny skirt and a disinterested woman dancing in a way that may or may not be construed as provocative, but she doesn’t care either way, and haircuts that belonged to Moonlighting or somewhere. Noah Taylor shades on the dude. And a clear Serge Gainsbourg influence (not that I would have known that at the time). I guess that’s what happens when you spend your late teens reading superhero comic books. Sigh. As the comment beneath the video on YouTube states, “Every fine woman should also have a rectangular sheet of paper to dance on”.
  • Alizée – J’en Ai Marre (Tubes D’un Jour)
    When the French do pop music, the French really do pop music. Ravishing, in a way the Pet Shop Boys often were. I was infatuated with this song in a way not seen since the heady days of ‘Bonnie And Clyde’ (which is not sung in French, hence disqualified). P.S. the first comment underneath the YouTube video made me giggle uncontrollably for 20 seconds.

Short aside here, but did Nina Simone ever sing anything in French? I know she did. I’d have Karaocake in this list except she sings in English. And I’d have Ruth in here except this list has been limited to a ridiculously short number. Can we include Pascal Comelade’s ukulele-and-balloon instrumental version of ‘I Can’t Control Myself’? Not sung in French but not sung in English either. At the very least, please can we mention his early band, the Young Marble Giants-influenced Fall Of Saigon?
Please?

  • The Wendy Darlings – Elucubrations
    The Wendy Darlings understand – probably not by design, certainly not by committee – what once made Ramones, Comet Gain, Heavenly, Lesley Gore, Shonen Knife, Prolapse, Ramones, Pastels, Skeeter Davis, Buy Off The Bar, Pounding Serfs, Camera Obscura, Concretes, School, Loves, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Huggy Bear, Lulu, Pee Chees, Orange Juice, Ramones, Michel Polnareff, Kenickie, Undertones, Les Calamities, Television Personalities… so great. That petulant glee. That grandstanding twenty-something (thirty-something, forty-something…) refusal to face up to the facts and get on with life, the bounce behind the casually thrown away yeah yeah yeah’s, the laconic grace behind hitting the drums stand-up, the irresistible slide into bratty nostalgia, that schoolyard stomp and schoolyard blam, the ringing jangling guitars, the Phil Spector drums, the boy-girl boy call siren, the laughter, the ennui that exists behind every kid-less Sunday, the late rising, the turbulence, the joy of discovery and rediscovery and discovery, eyes still wide open even though the world keeps telling you to close them, close them tight shut, the voice of adulthood vainly trying to admonish but totally ignored, Brighton beach in the early hours of the morning, racing around Olympia throwing snowballs at fire hydrants, the falling apart and laughing…
  • Sugar & Tiger – Henri /Noël Christmas
    I’m a sucker for a certain type of continental power pop. Full throttle. A little bit Chin Chin, a little bit Die Toten Hosen, a little bit Elli et Jacno. Rama lama. Solid. A beating heart. Songs start, continue, end. Listener left with MASSIVE GRIN on his face. Typing CAPITAL LETTERS.

The purest encapsulation of everything I LOVE about pop music RIGHT HERE. God, I want to see all these artists and performers play live SO MUCH.

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Here is some Asea Sool again. I was going to throw in a compendium of comments left on my ‘Ed Sheeran Is Shit’ YouTube video but then realised no one would see them.

And here. Have a little bonus Crayola Lectern as well.

This post has something for everyone, except Bruce Springsteen fans. It’s a right fucking shame no one is going to click on it.

10 Most Read Entries on How NOT To Write About Music (June 2019)

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1 (1) How NOT to write about music – 27. Television Personalities
I have been aware for as long as I can recall that music has provided me with a sense of belonging, a sense of community and sharing, give and take. And if that no longer exists then surely that is my fault and no more and no less than I deserve. Music scorns me like a former lover. Back when I knew Alan McGee and Dan Treacy in the early 1980s the music provided a palpable sense of belonging, clubs like (Alan’s) Living Room at the Adams Arms and (Dan and Emily’s) Room At The Top (Chalk Farm Enterprise) providing a living community of outsiders, bloaters, the braggarts and the bullies, the shy and the emotional, the Sixties obsessed guitar freaks and the psychedelic losers. Alan gave me Dan, Dan gave me Marine Girls and so much inspiration in his own personal, heart-torn songs – no separation between performance and performer, much as Dan attempted to insert some. Amazing fucking pop songs.

2 (7) How NOT to write about music – 31. Mumford & Sons
Mumford & Sons is shit, Cath Kitson folk shit, Occado Levellers shit. Shout it from the tops of night buses and at office parties. Waistcoat-bothering, fake folk dinner party shit. Slumming shit. Tweed clad, Morris-dancing jizz wizard shit. Tripe shit that needs to be sellotaped to a Frisbee and thrown into a fire shit. Mumford & Sons is shit. They make Bono sound restrained. They make Billy Corgan shine with integrity, Ed Sheeran shine with an inner fire, Trump dance the media with rascal grace. They put the grey into perspective.

3 (-) ET’s 30 favourite songs of 2018
1. Suburban Death Twitch – A Layer of Fat and Mold
One dear friend saw Brighton’s Suburban Death Twitch perform recently and found himself dismayed and more than a little angry that such casual, soulful brilliance should go unrecognised. He has little recourse to publicity like many of us, so he used what he could. He bought a copy of their new EP for me, knowing that I could not fail to love this beautiful, soulful music (like a general scouring in the area that involves ABBA’s break-up albums, the mould at the back of your fridge, half the towns of Hastings and St Leonard’s, the three-point acerbic harmonies of The Roches, the wayward belligerent swagger of Band Of Holy Joy#metoo, friends that still cannot grasp why half their world seems to give up soon as they have a steady revenue and a person, any person, to fill the void, and so forth).

4 (-) How NOT to write about music – 43. Bikini Kill
How did you hear about riot grrrl?
“Oh jeez. So long ago. I used to travel to Olympia whenever Sub Pop flew me out to Seattle – it was one of my great, secret pleasures: turn up there, sleep on Calvin Johnson’s floor at The Martin (first time I visited there, I even recorded a single with Calvin and Tobi Vail in the garage at Tobi’s parents’ house), berate him for the Skrewdriver poster on his wall, drink hot chocolate and go to all-night dance parties, and delight in the fact alcohol didn’t seem to exist in Olympia. How little I knew! My early friends there were Nikki McLure, Calvin, Al Larsen, Lois Maffeo and Tae from Kicking Giant. I delighted in visiting the K warehouse – which was in a tiny apartment above a garage shop or something right near the Capitol Theatre – and avariciously buying up every last cassette and fanzine and seven-inch single Calvin was distributing, on Melody Maker expenses.”

5 (2) How NOT to write about music – 26. Kristin Hersh
I want to write about Kristin’s new album but the music keeps intruding, in a way music rarely – if ever – does when I am attempting to write about it. Full immersion. The way the music and guitar lollops and loops and curves, and throws off sunshine and charm (NB: stolen from press release), the way her voice sounds wise beyond understanding, the way a pink birthing ball is resting over there by the torn-out fireplace, the shallowness of my breathing, the tears splattered across my car’s windscreen… I find myself unequal to the task. She’s not.

6 (-) How NOT to write about music – 51. Ryan Adams
Some of us have always hated Ryan Adams. The following is reprinted from Music That I Like, 2017.

7 (3) WORLD EXCLUSIVE! Live review of ‘fake’ metal band THREATIN at Camden Underworld
Surely, this is of interest? We were there. “Three people show up and one of them’s a music journalist! Jammy bastard! What are the chances of that?” Quite high, actually. It’s what we do. As keen metal fans here at How NOT To Write About Music, we posted this report a couple of days ago – but no one paid attention. So here it is again: whether the band is ‘real’ or not is not of importance to us here at How NOT To Write About Music. To us, they were real when they played. What is far more important is the question: does the band rock? And trust us, like you’ve never trusted a music critic before: this band… well, read for yourselves.

8 (-) How NOT to write about music – 48. Billie Eilish
I have this on constant repeat and it races round my head on a loop of delight and discovery. It is playful, it teases but it is also maudlin and it depresses. It is conflicted, confused. I love conflicted, confused. That is my main jam in life. Feeling conflicted. Such a natural pace and rhythm and timing. The way it stops and then jolts awake. The way it jolts awake and then screams silently and then stops and then runs away and then loops around once more. The way it falls asleep. The Way It Keeps You In The Dark. We all fall asleep. We all feel excited and depressed and maudlin and charged simultaneously. We all like to be playful with our darkest spirits. We all crush. We all crash. We call crush.

8 (-) Pete Shelley R.I.P.
First band I ever saw.
The initial incarnation of Buzzcocks (and yes, I’d include ‘Spiral Scratch’ in that, and the three final singles) is about the most perfect incarnation of a pop group ever.
Greatest run of seven-inch singles in the history of pop music.
Greatest run of albums ever.

God damn. Pete, you were so special.

10 (5) Everett True’s 10 favourite albums of all time* … and one that changed his life
This is reprinted from my Brisbane website Collapse Board, originally written for an Australian publication that never ran with the article. My original intro pretty much covers it – to this list of omissions I would now add most obviously Beyoncé (Lemonade, duh), but also St Vincent, some gospel (this, for instance), Blind Blake, Metal Box (PiL), more ska and bluebeat for sure, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and dub reggae circa late 1970s, Talking Heads, Undertones, Tunabunny, Little Mix, some female grime (this, for instance – or this), my own stuff, Miley Cyrus (seriously), The Cramps, The Saints, The Go-Betweens (but also this!), The Roches’ first two, Daniel Johnston and so forth.

THE NEXT 10
11 (-) How NOT to write about music – 79. Bikini Kill
12 (-) How NOT to write about music – 33. Muse
13 (4) How NOT to write about music – 25. Salad
14 (-) How NOT to write about music – 78. Bruce Springsteen
15 (-) How NOT to write about music – 72. Tropical Fuck Storm
16 (-) How NOT to write about music – 80. Radiohead
17 (-) How NOT to write about music – 67. The Membranes
18 (-) How NOT to write about music – 35. Buzzcocks
19 (-) How NOT to write about music – 75. Morrissey
20 (-) How NOT to write about music – 58. Michael Jackson

…from which I can extrapolate, my blog is slowly (very slowly) picking up readers. So thank you for that.

How NOT to write about music – 84. A Certain Ratio

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I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand,
Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?

How NOT to write about music – 84. Joy Division

No, fuck it. This is still How NOT to write about music – 84. A Certain Ratio

No apologies. I want you to step outside the boundaries.

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This is the true heart of darkness. An unrelenting gaze, inward-turned. Hopeless, relentless. No relief, no let-out. Building and building. Terrifying. Bleak. Helpless. No light enters. No light escapes. Murder on the dance floor. A psychic dance hall. All that is left is disbelief, the aftermath. I try to catch some memories, but jealousy just creeps back into my mind.

Increasingly, I find myself listening to collections of early acr cassettes and singles on the train up to Clapham Junction. The volume is too low and fails to blot out the outside world (“reality”) but even if the volume was 1,000 times louder and shattered my eardrums it would still fail to blot out the outside world. All the talk right now is centered around one of A Certain Ratio’s better-known late 1970s contemporaries – and that’s nice, it’s always good to see the one linear version of history reinforced time and time again by the same people (what’s the matter, didn’t Topping kill himself?) – but this is the music I return to, time and time again, in my futile attempts to blot out the world. I wish I could.

I only wish I could.

This is the true heart of darkness. An unrelenting gaze, inward-turned. Hopeless, relentless. No relief, no let-out. Building and building. Terrifying. Bleak. Helpless. No light enters. No light escapes. Murder on the dance floor. A psychic dance hall. All that is left is disbelief, the aftermath. I try to catch some memories, but jealousy just creeps back into my mind.

The band’s two founder members (Simon Topping and Peter Terrell) left in 1982.

Unknown Pleasures is a great album sure, but it isn’t even the greatest album on Factory Records.

———————-
As I look back
my murky past
was packed but
I know nothing I can do about it
I tried to carry some memories
but jealousy just creeps back into my mind
I work all day
I drink all night
My life is just an angry blur
———————-
A home, I’ve always wanted a home
I’ve always wanted a home of my own,
I’ve always wanted a home.
A wife, with eyes of green
And soft white skin,
To bear me a child.
I’ve always wanted a child
A child, who is good and strong
That would never go wrong
I’ve always wanted a child
I was present at my child’s birth,
I was there, to see him open his eyes
I always wanted a child.
His back, his back is coarse.
And his legs are bent,
I’ve gone over to my wife.
You’ve given me the wrong child
I don’t want him to die in the home that I own
I don’t want him to die
I don’t want him to die,
In the home that I own.
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