Bush of Goats

Life's too short for empty slog. ans.

Day 12 – a song from a band you hate

Wonderwall – Oasis

(It’s a strong word, hate. I don’t know I’d really say I hated Oasis; as someone very succinctly said of Ricky Gervais’ recent call to the haters to ‘bring it’, you have to care to hate and I don’t know that I really care enough about Oasis to hate them. But anyway, hate is the rules, so…)

There was a time when I was quite impressed by Oasis. I remember seeing the video for Supersonic on the Saturday morning chart show and being impressed with how arrogant and boisterous they were; how unlike the prevailing trend (this was 1994: the charts were a cheez-rave sponsored by Lucozade) and how they seemed to make guitars matter again. But as time went by, the bravura they showed in front of camera proved to hide nothing deeper, they were that arrogant all the way down. Money, fame and attention only made them (and by ‘them’ I mean the Gallagher brothers) worse. Noel proved himself a second rate Beatles copyist, and Liam… well. Rarely has so much affection and adulation been wasted on so underserving a wretch.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the working classes – why, great-Grandfather Daddo even worked at a colliery (admittedly, he was site manager, but he still washed his hands before he had a wee) – whereas Liam Gallagher represents just about every good reason why the class system should be firmly re-established. What little stage presence he had was based purely on his evident willingness to fight anyone who could get passed his minders; over the course of a decade he had the massive chip on his shoulder gilded, feathered and sequined in an attempt to convince all and sundry of his artistic relevance, while all the time decrying anything so fey as artistry. Oasis’ appeal is/was a largely working class one I suspect: there were a lot of people for whom feelings of superstardom and power were entirely bound up with weekend drug experiences and disbelief that fit girls would be willing to screw you if you acted like you deserved it. But Oasis never did anything more with this potential: they continued to act as if they were just like the audience: lads, out for a few, with a bit sniff on a Friday and Saturday night, when they were by now so wealthy as to be able to buy huge swathes of Manchester , should they so choose. But they didn’t. They continued to stick it up their noses, piss it up the wall and spend it on Rolls Royce’s in swimming pools for album covers.

There are many Oasis songs; I don’t even hate this one the most (the one about having, ‘been around the world’ makes me want to kill dead things). I chose Wonderwall because while on the surface it was a great record, it quickly became ubiquitous and was adopted by everyone as a special anthem. It was at this point I turned on them because everyone was starting to love them and if they were who they claimed to be, they should have been The Fall and told everyone to fuck off.

These days they’re reduced to whining at one another about clothes and side projects to drum up the column inches. Perhaps they only thing that depresses me more than the Gallaghers is the music press’ willingness to give them the attention they think they deserve.

Filed under: 30 days of music

day 11 – a song from your favorite band

Metronomy – The Look

Obviously, having ‘a favourite band’ is massively dumb, but right now Metronomy are my best ones. (Them and JLS).

Eight or nine years ago, I picked up an mp3 from a music blog (can’t remember which one, and it’s probably not there anymore anyway). It was during the initial concepting phase for a bit R&D project for the BBC ID&E project (don’t bother looking for it, it’s probably not there anymore either). I started to obssess about the way the song was layered and how game-like it was. An odd refrain is clumsily played on an accordion (or squeeze box or more likely, pro-tools plug-in) then reiterated on a guitar as chords and finally stitched together with a whomping drum-loop to create an off-kilter finale. It spoke of practice, and trying again and finally, success and I began to write a game-world where this idea of practice and play were intertwined: where no matter how unlikely (in fact the more unlikely the better) you started from, youwould always make your way to a play experience. The song was ‘Black Eye, Burnt Thumb’ by Metronomy, from ‘their’ (I say ‘their’ because at that point it was only really a ‘him’) first ep/mini album ‘Pip Paine pay back the £5000 you owe’ (which I can’t help but call, ‘Pip Pan, pay back the 5 grand’). That track almost made it as the one, but in the end, this won out.

Metronomy’s most recent, Mercury nominated album ‘The English Riviera’ is a beautiful, careful, outwardly delicate, inwardly, stoic record about places, growing up and going back.

‘The English Riviera’, as envisaged by the devon tourism and  marketing board, comprised Torquay, Brixham, Paignton and Torbay and was mocked and ridiculed at the time (if you lived in Devon, you’ll remember how everyone who came on holiday did so with a ready made quip about it, ‘hardly being the French one’.) And it stands now as a vast elephant of hubris and English failure.

But was it a failure? Should it be? Should we automatically dismiss the past, when we tried hard to be something we maybe weren’t quite? Looking back with cynicism and dismissing those periods when we might not have been quite as cool or looked quite as good as we thought we did is the default reaction. (It’s called post-modern, yeah?) But Metronomy have struck gold by doing exactly that: sharing the teenage diary; grasping that uneasy embarrassment and looking again, refusing to be ashamed and therein getting practice to make perfect. This is an album that will stand next to your teenage self,  put its arm round their shoulder and say, ‘hey awkward teenage kid with a walkman on a bench in the rain, don’t let them get you down. Don’t give up. Your hair looks terrible right now, but you are worth it. Those bigger boys, the one’s who sneered, ‘Did you read it in a big book? Maybe it was them who were scared; maybe that’s why they’re giving you the look. You’ll escape, you’ll find the gold elsewhere, But for now, let’s enjoy sitting on this bench in the rain, eh?’.’This town, this town… it’s the oldest friend of mine.’ Metronomy are post-post-modern: they mean it.

Metronomy – The Look

Filed under: 30 days of music

day 09 – a song that you can dance to – Heatwave by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas

I can actually dance to pretty much anything (as I am actually an awesome dancer) but this is a song that is designed from the ground up to make anyone dance, no matter how leaden footed they consider themselves to be. Try listening to this on headphones, walking along, and I bet after those first few bars you’ll break into a little skippety hand clap on your very own black n white soul train highlight.

Martha Reeves & The Vandellas – Heatwave

Filed under: 30 days of music

day 08 – a song that you know all the words to – Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan

I was tempted to insert a modern ‘hit’ into this gap, as I’m struggling to find somewhere to fit something by current faves Metronomy, Jo Mount is truly a genius songwriter (not to mention arranger and composer) but I’ve managed to fit them in elsewhere (stay tuned, song fans!) Seeing however as this entire endeavour is mostly an exercise in showing off, I thought I’d choose my party piece (I don’t get invited to many parties these days. Go figure!). Haven’t done it in a few years, so some of the lines might be out of order – and there is obviously no point me checking, because I’ll then be tempted to change it.
It’s an interesting song this one; I’ve heard Bob Dylan lambasted recently for (amongst other things) writing lyrics that only work when sung; that when written down, hold no value as ‘just’ poetry.
That might be true in some instances, but there’s some brilliantly fleet imagery and great one liners in here:

Johnny’s in the Basement,
mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
thinkin’ ’bout the government
A man in trenchcoat
badge out straight off
says he’s got a bad cough
wants to get paid off
look out kid,
it’s somethin’ you did
God knows when
but you’re doin’ it again
Better duck down the alleyway
Get yourself a new friend
man in a coon skin cap
and a pig pen
wants 11 dollar bills
but you only got ten

Maggie comes a fleet foot
face full of black soot
talking bout the heat puttin’
plants in the bed but
her phone’s tapped anyway
many come and many says
they must bust in early May
orders from the DA
Look out kid
don’t matter what you did
you better walk on tiptoes
don’t tie no bows
and keep away from those that hang around the fire hose
keep a clean nose
and watch the plain clothes
you don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows

aww, get sick get well
hang around the ink well
ring bell hard tail (?)
If anything it’s gonna sail
try hard, get barred
get back, write braille
get jail, jump bail,
join the army if you fail.
look out kid
your’e gonna get hit
by users, cheaters
six-time losers
girl by the whirlpool
is looking for a new fool
don’t follow leaders
and watch the parkin’ meters

Get born, keep warm
learn to dance, short pants romance
get dressed get blessed
try to be a success
please her, please him
twenty years of schoolin’ and they put you on the dayshift
ah look out kid,
they keep it all hid
you better jump down a manhole,
light yourself a candle
don’t wear sandals- you can’t afford the scandal
don’t wanna be a bum
you better chew gum
the pump don’t work ‘cos the vandals took the handle.

go on, test me:

Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues

Filed under: 30 days of music

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