Dear Everyone, Taking out of focus, grainy, poorly lit, black and white photographs of a flower growing in a car park with the £600-off-the-shelf-digital-SLR-with-thesubstandard-factory-issue-lenses-that-your-sociallyconscious-upper-lower-middle-class-parentsspoilt-you-with-so-the-other-pretentious-childrenin-your-first-year-photography-group’s-parentswouldn’t-see-you-with-a-real-camera-requiringany-skill-thus-thinking-that-their-means-are-asmeagre-as-they-actually-are… does not make you a photographer. I am informing you this on behalf of our good friend; the internet, as it is getting extremely uncomfortable being saturated with flickrs and photobuckets of truly terrible photography masquerading as artistic, when in all actuality they look like they were taken by some form of rodent on ether. If you do however decide to continue subjecting us to these visual records of… well, absolutely nothing, here are a few pointers to remember: • That setting on the camera with the big ‘A’ on it actually stands for Automatic. Not ‘Awesome’ or ‘Always use this setting’. • Framing your subject off centre does not make the picture edgy. Think rule-of-thirds, not ruleof-subject-out-of-shot. • Your picture will never mean what it does to you, to everybody else. Just because the dew on a buttercup evokes the memory of that drunken night you let your floppy haired boyfriend feel you up to you, it almost certainly won’t to anyone else.
• Blurry will always be blurry. Not different. Not Interesting. Not expressive. Blurry. • There is a huge difference between emotive lighting and complete underexposure. • The little coloured numbers on the casing of the lens do actually mean something. You might want to look into that. And the final and most important thing I implore you to remember: •
Black and White does not equal ‘Art’.
So to all the amateur Man Rays and Nan Goldins out there reading this, although I’m sure this is nothing to dishearten you from your snap happy gathering of pointless images of everything, yet somehow absolutely nothing. I encourage you to continue, as I am a fervent proponent of any form of self expression, no matter how self indulgent it may seem, as long as it is for yourself. It’s the dreadful poseur nature of photography that particularly incurs my rancour. So I do urge you to go forth upon your learning curve, in the digital world it’s not as if you’re wasting film. But please, consider some of what I have mentioned when you do before continuing to engorge the internet with this fauxtography before it swells up to a point where it just bursts and the thick black sludge of terrible photography, porn, memes and a million forgotten myspace pages all flow out of all our computer monitors, completely ruining everyone’s carpets.
Oxford, city of dreaming spires, Inspector Morse and too many cyclists, also (and most importantly) responsible for some fantastic bands over the years (Radiohead, Supergrass, The Mystics… more recently Stornoway, Foals and Jonquil) amongst them a band who had the songs and the talent but due to a series of unfortunate incidents only ever had one brief dalliance with the charts (back in early 1997 when their single “Monday Morning” scaled the dizzy heights of number 37 for one week) They Could’ve Been Contenders pays tribute this issue to Oxford’s best kept musical secret… The Candyskins. Whilst I like to hide behind my Fall bootlegs and namecheck obscure mid ‘60s garage rock bands I also like nothing more than great guitar fuelled pop music, nothing flash, nothing fancy, just great songs with killer hooks, The Candyskins had these in droves, across their 4 studio albums (“Space I’m In”, “Fun”, “Sunday Morning Fever” and their final album “Death Of A Minor TV Celebrity”) were at least a dozen hit singles in waiting, unfortunately
the likes of “Submarine Song” “Freedom Bus” “Wembley” “Mrs Hoover” “Hang Myself On You” and “Somewhere Under London” all sank without trace. So what went wrong? A series of things really, A dispute with Geffen Records (who initially signed the band) which prevented them from recording for over 18 months (before Geffen fired the band), the more sympathetic Ultimate Records who signed the group then went bankrupt before being able to release what would be their final album 2 weeks before their American label also went to the wall. The fact their sure fire top 10 single “Car Crash” was being lined up for release when Princess Diana met her maker in 1997… need I go on? In late 1999 the band finally called it a day with the various members drifting into day jobs and other bands. The Candyskins have regrouped occasionally for gigs since then (infact I’ve booked them to play a gig in Oxford this very month). Where to start? Well all the Candyskins albums are available through the usual second hand online stores and generally for only a few quid, 1997’s “Sunday Morning Fever” is their best and most consistent album. The Candyskins….. they should’ve been contenders.
We never could work out what to call it really, but now we have! Our monthly night at Riffs Bar will henceforth be known as ‘CLUB THE RAGDOLL’. To celebrate this re-branding, we’ll be taking over the Saturday at this years Riffstock Festival. Riffstock is a 4 day event at Riffs
Bar that sees local and touring bands playing all day, across two stages. It happens over the bank holiday at the end of May, this year falling on the 28th to the 31st. On Saturday the 29th, CLUB THE RAGDOLL will be bringing you all day DJ sets, plus live music from the likes of The Dacoits, Disco PieRats and loads loads
more. We’ll bringing you a full blow by blow account of all four days of the festival on www.ragdollmagazine.co.uk. We’ve got a million ideas of how to make CLUB THE RAGDOLL bigger and better than ever this year (the suggestion of violence and capital letters in the name is just one of them), but perhaps you have some ideas, or maybe you have a band/dance act/mime troupe that would like to play? Talk to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
WORDS BY JENNIFER PURCELL of stackedtotherafters.blogspot.com I’m afraid that last night I was one of those annoying audience members who seemed to laugh earlier than anyone else. I’m sorry! It’s just that The Department of Smelling Pistakes was just my kind of show and I’d now like to think of Angus and Toby as my two new best friends. I’m not sure what they’d make of this, but I got the impression they liked performing here! The show told the story, or tried to tell the story, or didn’t want to admit to the story or... oh, it’s all getting confusing... basically there was a depressed Russian worker who wasn’t quite sure of his job description who was being inspected by a familiar yet mysterious inspector. Confused? Well they were too, mostly
because they were never quite sure what the ‘Party line’ was and whether they were, at any given time, in line with it! The was made all the more ambiguous due to misunderstandings arising from their grammatical incorrectness. For example, a politically incorrect adulation followed the simple remark, ‘Your original’ rather than ‘You’re original’ when passing by the fax machine. “Yes! You noticed it too! I am original, aren’t I?” You may recognise Angus Barr from previous shows at Bradon Forest. We had Publick Transport’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Office in 2008 and he has also toured with Gonzo Moose. His wonderful ‘rubberness’ always leads to some hilarious performances and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many facial expressions... especially when it all sunk in about the nose in his sandwich! This contrasted perfectly with Toby Davies’ über serious Party member, whose unfaltering dedication to the unknown task at hand was executed to perfection. From the moment he walked on stage, you knew to be wary of the character, and there was no hint of a sense of humour... even when his ‘a coo’ line (in reference to a story he was reading) was mistaken for a sneezing fit... “a coo, a coo, a COO!” He he... very funny. We’re looking forward to seeing Angus again in just a few weeks. Gonzo Moose return with Is That A Bolt In Your Neck? after the last show sold out. It’s Friday 30th April if you want to reserve yours early. Hopefully it won’t be too long until we see Toby again. Those guys are funny! Catch them while their touring. You won’t regret it.
WORDS BY KYLE HO
LLOWAY Like cockroache s, the Queen an d Keith Richards; some things just refuse to die. Ska-Punk is one of those things. Every time it seems to wane, a band lik e New Riot comes along and gives it a muc h needed face lift. The interesting th about this band in g though, is that in stead of coming from the expected sunny shores of south Californi a or Miami Beac h, that these hail from… Swindon. Taking the traditional values of the genre as lai d down by bands like Less than Ja ke and Catch-22 and ad ding their own pe rsonal twist they someh ow manage to le behind the nega ave tivity and angst that most local bands seem to carry around with them. They’ve ju st recorded an alb um called Riot.Sleep .Repeat and they ’re currently touring the UK with vete ran punkers [spunge ]. So check them out for yourself at http: //www.myspace .com/ newriotuk or fin d them starting the party near you throug hout April.
WORDS BY MARIE LENNION Chocolate! Daffodils! Lambing! No, not giving you the heads up on a new post nu-rave electro outfit, I’m talking about Spring, and the optimism and excitement this new season brings. At BBC Wiltshire Introducing, optimism is a helpful ism, especially when we hear about an adored band who are soon to be providing earfood in the shape of a new album. An album aims to have more ‘radio friendly songs’. What does that even mean? It means, that Old School Tie, the nicest boys in Malmesbury are condensing their epic 6 minute tracks into something more instantly manageable. Cue fears from those who remember the old school days of endless instrumentals, bubbling atmospheric soundspheres and structure-less wonders… are they morphing into Radio One friendly pop? The band’s gig at ‘favourite venue’ The Victoria last month proves otherwise. Old School Tie were as exhilarating, inspiring and wonderfully irregular as always. Admittedly shambolic in places, but in those moments the brothers’ chemistry is made visible, which adds to the entire experience. On March 18th, us at BBC Wiltshire Introducing had the privilege of playing the final version of Promises for the first time anywhere. And our verdict? When the album comes, you’re in for a treat that no Easter egg will rival. Do some cartwheels to them – www.myspace.com/oldschooltie. Away from the rolling hills of Wiltshire, my latest musical obsession is Local Natives. Thank you 6music for the introduction (while we’re hear, thank you 6music for your existence generally, where on earth do we go now?). So, Local Natives. Hailing from somewhere sunny in the US, their sound is charming, inventive, and instantly memorable pop. Think Arcade Fire’s howling collective choruses with more brightness, and the harmless fun of Belle and Sebastian. Go and buy Gorilla Manor. What a perfect way to welcome the sun.