How NOT to write about music – 116. Coldplay


A new Coldplay album has been announced. It’s a double. Twice the amount of flatulence and cack for all concerned. The only reasonable response to such a morale-sapping, life-emulsifying event is, I feel, to make a list. A list of:


Here’s the rub. Usually, when people write such lists they detail such ridiculous scenarios about how they would rather “poke my eyes out with red-hot pokers…” or “have a threesome with David Cameron and a greased piglet…” or “listen to a continuous 24-hour tape-loop of Boris Johnston proroguing Parliament…”, always ending with the phrase “… than listen to the new Coldplay album”.

This is patently absurd.

I most assuredly would NOT prefer to poke my eyes out with red-hot pokers, listen to a 24-hour tape loop of Boris Johnston proroguing Parliament, have a threesome with David Cameron and a greased piglet, nor would I rather watch the entire run of Breaking Bad, clean up all the dog shit from a weekend on Hampstead Heath, go on a dinner date with Jeremy Clarkson, punch ears in my earlobes and attach myself to a Morris Dancer’s bashing stick, get some form of incurable disease or lead a pro-Brexit rally rather than listen to the new Coldplay album. Let’s get a sense of perspective here.

Here are 10 things I would actually rather do than listen to the new Coldplay album.

  1. Listen to the new Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ album
  2. Go for a walk
  3. Listen to the new Lana Del Rey album
  4. Have a bath
  5. Listen to the new Kim Gordon album
  6. Get a haircut
  7. Listen to the new Beyoncé album
  8. Have a chat with Howard Monk
  9. Listen to the new Angel Olsen album
  10. Go to sleep


How NOT to write about music – 108. Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen

She’s overwrought.

She’s emotionally distressed. No, no no. Quit yr fuckin’ gender stereotyping.

She’s an actor, channeling whatever passions need to be channeled to make her point, drive the feeling home. Sumptuous. Driven.

She is heartbroken.

She is alone, seeking solace and exhaustion. No, no no. Quit it.

She is a performer, making great use of dynamics and interludes and dynamics and emphasis.

She is lost in reverie.

She is lost in the moment, caught in space. QUIT!

She is useless, helpless.

She is an artist, drawing upon a myriad of musical traditions and iconography, well in command and understanding the significance of certain musical palettes and textures, associations and interpretations.

She has a voice.

She does not hold back (but she does).

She does not hold back (but she does).


This is a wonderful song for those of us who never fell out of love with Julie Christie. Does it bother me that the song YouTube auto-follows this is by Coldplay? It cuts across my reverie like a cold burst of mundane reality. Yes of course, but no of course not. There are some emotions and desires and feelings and yearnings that algorithms can never hope to capture, however ‘expertly’ sculptured. There is a line of argument that holds the creative industries will be one of the last to fall when confronted with the all-encompassing AI. Here is proof, an indication. Perhaps. If proof or an indication is what you desire. This is a song for those who feel like their heart – no, not their heart, their head – is going to burst every time they step onto the 07.37 to Clapham Junction but have to keep it secret, all welled up inside. This is a song for those who can never relax, who can never have an outlet, can never let others too close. This is a song for….

The way you scream…

The way you scream like something else as a man.

The way you scream like something else as a man.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life was always this ‘passionate’? Music as desire. Manufactured rawness.

50 bands I have seen


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 – 31. Mumford & Sons


“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” (George Orwell, Animal Farm)

You may interpret the above quote as a commentary on the corrupting influence of power upon those who seek to exert it, but I have always viewed it as a metaphor for conformity, for the unchanging status quo, for the way that the more (music and) society changes the more (music and) society stays the same (with a hefty boot of extra nastiness thrown in for good measure). My favourite part of the quote is the three words at the start of the closing sentence (“The creatures outside…”).

I have heard songs by U2, Mumford & Sons, Kings Of Leon and Coldplay in recent days on Radio One and found myself unable to distinguish between them.*

Doubtless, if I decided to suspend my critical aesthetic for a moment and could view myself as a fan of any of these bands, then I would be able to pick up on the minutiae and tiny changes in guitar and vocal sound that separates one from another.

Not being a fan, I find myself unable to.

Doubtless, the pigs and men seated around the table quaffing and having it large on the back of the animals’ labour view themselves as individual entities, each with their own distinct idioms and quirks. Their self-illusion is irrelevant to both me and the animals however, faces pressed up close against the glass, vision clouded by smoky condensation. The four bands are impossible to tell apart – not just because of the production, music and overwrought vocals – but also due to their bombastic, narcissistic, flatulent, diarrheic sweep of emotion, their astonishing lack of empathy. Pigs and men braying together.


Mumford & Sons is shit.

Do not believe the hype. Do never believe the hype. My life over the last decade has been swamped with people spouting crap like “I don’t want to say Mumford & Sons is shit because it ain’t up to me to tell others how to live their lives”. No. I lie. Mumford & Sons are like the folk-rock equivalent of Nickelback: NOT ONE PERSON WILL STAND UP TO DEFEND THEM. Damn straight. Some shit is so shit, pallid, fake (spiffing, waddling, arrogant, talentless, entitled, cancerous) that not even the most benighted benevolent generous hapless hipster can be seen to be leaping to the rich fucktards’ defence. It’d be like speaking up for Jacob Rees-Mogg at a convention of actual people, defending fracking. Say it loud, say it clear, scream yourself hoarse so even the fuckwads controlling this nation’s media cannot misconstrue it: MUMOFRD & SSONS IS HSHIT

I can’t even fucmking type straight thery’re so fuckghubngh sghit.

They’re a beardy bland comfort zone for people with no meaning in their lives, and no expectations beyond the promise of a new M&S advert come Christmas time, a predigested retro sweep of mawkish sentimentality and cultural appropriation emotion whose primary concern is not HOPE but… nothing. Less than nothing. Shit. Less than nothing. Shit. Mumford & Sons is shit. You don’t need to be a Harvard Scholar in semantics and political rhetoric to theorise this, you do not need to be a marketed-to sheep stuck inside with your collection of Netflix downloads and Instagram selfies to say this. You don’t need to be a crow, you don’t need to be powerless. Mumford & Sons is shit. You do not need to listen to their music – in fact, DO NOT listen to their fucking music – to say this, or listen to stadium after stadium of their increasingly pitiful fans, just read the apoplectic commentary from those who think they’re Making A Statement by coming out against them, the yawning insipid praise from those whose idea of a varied and worldly musical taste means including a Bumford & Cunts song on their playlist of Coldplay, U2, Kings Of Leon and all the other pig-shit bombastic music.

Look at the way they look. Not so much rock stars as an exercise in self-containment (how many times can you look at a picture of those smug Tory cunts, before you go punch a wall?). Mumford & Sons is shit. How many times do I need to say this before you start listening? Hey, why not start listening? Just cos you’ve only heard a handful of songs in your life does not mean that no alternatives exist. Mumford & Sons is shit. Do not be scared of the crowd. The crowd is wrong, often. Mumford & Sons is shit. The idea of listening to their music drives me to extremes of… jesus. Whatever. 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.

Mumford & Sons is shit. Bullshit. They are the shit in the middle of the bullshit. Their emotion is not theirs. It’s empty, big washes of guitar-driven bombastic shit. Mumford & Sons is shit. The smuggest toddlers in a romper room crammed full of vacuous Tory bastards and the entitled rich. Useless shit that pervades the world with the smell of uncritical acceptance. Smiley shit. Bouncy shit. Bearded shit. Mumford & Sons is shit. They are one more commodity, just one more commodity. Shit. Less than nothing. Shit. Lifestyle choice for the folk who think life has no need of choice. Shit. An approximation of music that does not bother to capture the spark that makes music so magical, so special. An approximation of an approximation. The boys from the rich town up on the hill three counties over with a bottomless trust fund and an entire trailer van full of mummy’s silver spoons.

… of an approximation.

I eat at home. My nights are filled with anger and (occasionally) children. Mumford & Sons is shit. And that shit is everywhere.


Don’t click on the video. You will not like it. It will not enhance your life. The song is a meaningless mishmash of flimflam and mawkish emotion, with all the obvious dynamics in all the obvious places. Click on the link beneath the video instead.

LINK: Neil Kulkarni on Mumford & Sons

*Entirely true.