The Stool Pigeon No. 026
THIS ISSUE IS FULL OF HEROES
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Home news GALACTIC GALACTIC FUNK GALACTIC FUNK FUNK FUGITIVE SPACE FUGITIVE FUGITIVE SPACE SPACE DIMENSIONDIMENSION DIMENSION CONTROLLER CONTROLLER CONTROLLER TRULY LIVING TRULY TRULY ONLIVING LIVING ON ON ANOTHER ANOTHER PLANET ANOTHER PLANET PLANET
INSIDE Issue Twenty Six, May 2010
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HOME NEWS INTERNATIONAL NEWS ROLO TOMASSI CYPRESS HILL FOALS WARDRUNA ENNIO MORRICONE ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI FLYING LOTUS SHE AND HIM MARY J. BLIGE TAMIKREST TRAVEL PRINT MOVIES ARTS COMICS THE PENNY DREADFUL COMMENT & ANALYSIS COURT CIRCULAR CERTIFICATES FUNNIES HORRORSCOPES SUBSCRIPTION OFFER THE STOOL PIGEON REVIEW DEMOS BUSINESS NEWS CLASSIFIEDS SPORTS AN APOLOGY: Heinz
In our March 2010 edition we published a mocked up advertisement which some readers may have taken to suggest that the makers of Heinz food products, HJ Heinz Company Limited, are supporters of fascism and the British National Party. However, we accept that this allegation is categorically untrue and that Heinz are not and never have been such supporters. We are happy to correct the position and wish to apologise for any damage caused by making this false allegation. Editor: Phil Hebblethwaite (firstname.lastname@example.org) Creative Director: Mickey Gibbons (email@example.com) Advertising/marketing: Melissa Bohlsen (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks to: Cian Traynor, Hazel Sheffield, Thomas A. Ward John Doran, Luke Turner, Jeremy Allen, and Kev Kharas Published by: Junko Partners Publishing Address: The Stool Pigeon, 21a Maury Road, London, N16 7BP www.thestoolpigeon.co.uk www.myspace.com/thestoolpigeon
by Nick Johnstone Ireland’s
NorthernHamill is emailing
ANYTHING BUT A STICKY SITUATION FOR LADY CHANN
The Stool Pigeon Words by Jim Ottewill
from another galaxy, apparently. “My name is Mr 8040 and I’m the Deputy Chief Space Dimension Controller of the Tiraquon Security Council,” he writes. “My music is made in secret, far out in deep space. I like to call it ‘galactic funk’ because it’s made in space and it hits you like a funk laser cannon. My age is strictly classified to help protect my identity from astro-bandits.” Hamill writes this having turned down a phone interview. And it’s tempting to write off the 20-year-old Nordie as an indulgent ass bandit. After all, his alias Space Dimension Controller inhabits the future and sends tunes back to 2010. He also lives in a place called Mikrosector 50. That’s the human race’s new home, following an earth-destroying interplanetary war in 2259. Asked how long he’ll keep up the act, he replies: “What persona?” Yet Hamill’s eighties sci-fi techno funk is vintage, and indeed too funky to dismiss. Debut single ‘The Love Quadrant’, released last November, snagged ears. Tender murmurings from his girlfriend Kat descend to earth through a vocoder layered onto cheesy keyboard swirls. Its smooth, sentimental sleaze is reminiscent of jazz groovers like Roy Ayers. Radio sets tell of Hamill’s already substantial supply of opuses and reworks, plus a rainbow of deep house, electro and soul influences. Their common denominator: funk. “I sometimes search the Earth history database and have come to admire past producers such as Mtume, James Stinson, and Daft Punk,” he says. “Those cats really knew how to get down.” With a new EP out on Dutch label Clone, Hamill’s own earthbound activity is lifting off. The late night groove of ‘Transatlantic Landing Bay’ reveals the same early self-assurance Joy Orbison wowed you with last year. Hamill even has a signature move already, in the twanging synth jams kicking in halfway through each tune. Want to see him play? “When it comes to playing out live, I cannot disclose the location because it is usually an illegal club. I’m a galactic funk renegade who wants to get people groovin’ no matter what planet they’re from.” The space suit may not hold together for long, but you feel that won’t fuss Hamill. At 20, he’s hiding nothing; he’s just making himself laugh. The lasting impression is more Bucky O’Hare than David Bowie.
Photograph by Jodi Burian
CAN TALK,” DEADPANS LADY CHANN, CHANELLE WILLIAMS, THE NEW QUEEN OF UK DANCEHALL. SHE’S NOT WRONG. SHE WHIZZES THROUGH OUR CHAT AT BREAKNECK SPEED, HER MOTOR-MOUTH SPITTING OUT WORDS AS FAST AS THE RHYMES SHE RIDES ON THE MIC.
She’s here to discuss ‘Sticky Situation’ — a big tune made in cahoots with garage producer and Ms Dynamite collaborator, Sticky. It slayed dances last year and is now reemerging with a bassline-based pimping from Sheffield wonderkid Toddla T, and this time the raves are going even wilder. “Last year was the first time a lot of people had heard of me,” says Lady Chann, “and many of those people would not necessarily be into dancehall.” Doing the rounds with northwest London’s Suncycle crew, who have worked with artists as disparate as Sizzla and pop-rockers Texas, and of which she is an original member, has certainly helped. I first clocked her ladyship at last year’s Major Lazer Notting Hill Carnival party with Toddla. She was on the mic leading the chaos by
egging on a crowd high on sunshine and free energy drinks. “That day was just pure fun,” she reminisces, grinning. “Obviously the free booze helped. It was a never-ending line of rum, Red Bull, rum, Red Bull, rum, Red Bull. I had a gig straight after in Leeds and that’s when I felt ill — really ill. A messy business.” Her sunny demeanour can’t be dampened by meeting on a pissy Thursday eve in Islington, and not least because 2010 is shaping up very nicely for Lady Chann. Alongside her recent Dun Dem Season mixtape, which features Warrior One, L-Vis 1990, Serocee and Toddla, there’s a debut album in the pipeline. But it’s the reheeling of ‘Sticky Situation’ that’s currently turning the most heads. “Sticky heard the hook and didn’t even realise it was me singing it,” she
explains. “He said, ‘This is next level! Get in and vocal it,’ and the track worked out. But it’s weird thinking, ‘You’re the buzz,’ when it’s just little old me. What I do is normal and not ‘wow’. Those who I think have the ‘wow factor’ are surgeons or dentists. I’m just grateful to have got here.” Her loveliness in person contrasts sharply with her fiery onstage persona. We watch her at the Old Blue Last in east London where she smashes it with venomous renditions of ‘Sticky Situation’ and ‘Eye Too Fast (Fugitive Riddim)’. This lady may be well mannered, but she’s certainly no wallflower. “I’m not shy — I’ll tell you what I want and I don’t care what you think of me,” she concludes. The world of dancehall, and beyond, needs to get ready.
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Rudi Zygadlo in bid to have Mass appeal
NOBODY WANTS LONELY GALAXY By CIAN TRAYNOR
By DANNA HAWLEY Photograph by Sean Bloodworth
OUR HARRY __ Lost in space
verything is a product of circumstance, and all the character and individuality of Rudi Zygadlo’s choral-dub epic, Great Western Laymen — his debut on Planet Mu — epitomises the notion of being indebted to its surroundings. “I can see two churches from my window on Great Western Road in Glasgow,” the 21-year-old explains, “and a layman is an unordained member of the church, so that might’ve contributed some subconscious, ecclesiastical theme. But I also moved into a flat with another producer, so I learned a lot more about the mathematics of electronic music.” Rudi stands out as a romantic visionary among dance music’s featureless laptop producers. The music is bass-heavy, but orchestral swells and dramatic vocals suggest a classical enthusiast’s ear. His productions are dreamy and sometimes delicate (as on the lullabylike ‘A Room To Sing’), but also dark and haunting (‘Filthy Logic’). Drifting from the slightly cartoonish to the severe and stark, there are surprises around every bassline.
SOFT CORE TO CLUBROOT By CYRUS SHAHRAD
Broad Church “I had this idea of doing an electronic rendition of the Latin Mass,” he explains. “Throughout classical music history — from the Renaissance on — composers have been commissioned by the church to do music for Mass. So I thought it would be a good idea to do that, but with… heavy music. But, also, I couldn’t be bothered to write any lyrics, so I thought I’d just use the Latin words.” He pauses and laughs. “That didn’t actually transpire, but one of the tunes, ‘Missa Per Brevis’, is a result of that. It translates as ‘a very short Mass’.” Rudi’s happy to explain song titles, which range from quoting Mikhail Bulgakov (‘Manuscripts Don’t Burn’) to substance explorations (‘Resealable Friendship’), and he’s equally comfortable admitting that he was forced to use live instruments instead of plug-ins due to a “primitive set-up”. But mention his intriguing lyrics and you can practically hear him cringe. “I’m a bit embarrassed by them, to be honest,” he says. “The lyrics were always the last thing I did. I’d make the tune and then sulk over the fact that I had to write words for it.”
would be hard to imagine a more unlikely character behind the haunting, cinematic dubstep of Clubroot. Dan Richmond isn’t a hooded prophet of some brutalist south London housing estate, but a sensitive, well-educated son of St. Albans who is terrified of DJing and does the odd bit of bricklaying for his parent’s property business when he’s not producing music. “It’s a great place to live,” says Dan, who has just spent a pleasant Easter Sunday cycling along the River Ver with mates. “I’m not going to start pretending I’m some serious London boy. Going to grotty raves in Stratford and King’s Cross was a musical education for me, but there was something amazing about being back in the countryside half an hour later.”
They feel personal and not at all forced, I assure him. “The album did come out fairly naturally,” he adds. “None of those pieces took that long to do, which I was surprised by. I never really completed a tune I was happy with until that spree of music making.” Happenstance and circumstance being closely related, only time will tell where his second album will go. For now, he’s focusing on his live show, which he’ll be touring around Europe this spring. “It’s a completely different thing trying to re-interpret it all so that it’s club friendly,” he says. “I don’t want my set to be this relentless string of banging tunes. I want to catch people by surprise — to move in more than one way.” Much like the person behind the music.
Drum Call Back then it was drum’n’bass that lured Dan to the big city. He and his friends would crawl home with tape packs and obsessions with unnamed dubplates, and smoke away comedowns in secluded Hertfordshire woodland. But early efforts to replicate the sound left Dan frustrated: the likes of Noisia and Pendulum were introducing levels of compression and complexity that no bedroom producer could hope to compete with. Then came dubstep, which, with its structural simplicity and sense of space, afforded Dan a chance to explore soundscapes that
would have been unthinkable at 180bpm. “Drum’n’bass made me fall in love with the Reese bassline, which I probably overuse slightly. I love the way it growls, and how deep and brooding it sounds. But I’m also taking the lush pad sounds and timestretched vocals of what came before drum’n’bass. It’s the euphoric nostalgia of the old school or hardcore rooms that we completely ignored when we went raving, but which were always there in the background.” By the time Dan’s online postings came to the attention of Oregon-based label LoDubs, there was enough material for an album – the eponymous debut that was hailed as a record of the year both inside and out of the dubstep community. A subsequent mini mix for Annie Mac’s radio show and a forthcoming follow-up LP have cemented Dan’s status as one of the people lifting dubstep above lowest common denominator wobble nonsense, though he remains reluctant to ascribe too much significance to his efforts. “I probably need to work on raising my profile here in the UK, but I’m not really comfortable talking about my own music. There’s so much of me in those tunes that I feel they convey all that needs to be said. I shouldn’t have to babble a load of crap alongside that. The music should be enough.”
arry Granger-Howell is a 22-year-old north Londoner who calls himself Lonely Galaxy. “There’s a transsexual at the job centre where I pick up my dole and he/she just fascinates me,” he says. By night, his insomnia sparks him into writing bedroom ballads. During the day, he goes from pub to pub searching for part-time work to pay for a rehearsal space. “Nobody wants me. Most people say, ‘We’ll keep it on file’. But I don’t think there is a file. Keeping it on file is putting it in the bin.”
Sick Feeling Though the job centre provides pep talks to combat the effects of constant rejection, that’s not what’s eating Harry. “Three things make me sad: when your heart gets broken; when somebody dies; and when Arsenal go out of the Champion’s League. I’m not saying dying is preferable, but they all provoke this exhausted horribleness. In a sick way... I like that feeling. It’s a nice reminder that you’re alive.”
Train of Thought Lonely Galaxy was born out of one such moment. Following the break-up of his previous band, Video Nasties, Harry was on the train home from a funeral when the opening of ‘Have A Heart’ popped into his head. After uploading the song last November, the seven-minute opus went viral and soon Transparent asked to put out an EP.
Precious Metal Despite drawing from lovelorn lows, Harry is surprisingly cheerful. He’s hoping to overturn further expectations when it comes time for the first Lonely Galaxy show. “I’m 6’3” — a really big guy,” he says. “I like the idea that people will think I’m about to start blasting metal. But I’m absolutely terrified because, before these tracks, no one heard me sing in any circumstance. Now I can’t wait. That’s the thing that’s going to make me feel alive.”
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Walls duo have really good ears By Thomas A. Ward the evolution the blogosphere, Walls’ Sam Willis says: “There’s no longer the barrier of gatekeepers getting in the way of what music gets heard or written about. Blogs are an amazing echo chamber for the right kind of acts, like Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, The xx... Essentially, they provide the kind of promotion that major labels literally cannot buy. They’re forced to spend millions on getting the likes of James Blunt onto billboards.” What Sam has failed to recognise is that he is the new breed of ‘gatekeeper’. As co-ringleader of London electronic music blog and DJ team Allez-Allez, he’s part of a digital wave of producers that cut, paste, remake and push tomorrow’s acts onto a rapacious new music audience, today. The gatekeeper is the blog that subversively opens digital doors to soon-to-be-lauded acts before the printing press can even be primed. Walls is a musical collaboration between Sam and similarly inclined blog sentinel Alessio Natalizia of Banjo Or Freakout, and together the pair have embarked on a new lysergic trip into experimental electronic fields. “We definitely think of the record as a journey, but as for where
No longer a need to feel blue if you know Peggy Sue By Hazel Sheffield a band that started out with FORbarely an acoustic to strum between them, Peggy Sue sure know how to play second fiddle. They first gigged with mockney poptart Kate Nash back in 2007, just after her debut album skyrocketed to the top of the charts. Since then they’ve sat snugly down the bill under The Maccabees and Mumford and Sons, and quietly
it takes the listener? That’s a totally subjective thing for them,” says Sam. “I definitely see music as being transcendental. To me, not being a religious person, headphones are kind of my church. It’s such a meditative thing.” Their eponymous debut album, on German indie Kompakt, is an engulfing listen. Layers of synth and analogue tones radiate warmth, embracing the listener in a full digital spectrum of opulent, aural pleasure. If Walls are gatekeepers, the door they are opening will allow your mind’s eye to travel amidst its boundless ethereal pathways.
earned a place among a nu-folk elite that includes Laura Marling and Johnny Flynn. But it was only last December, four years after the support slots began, that they signed to folk-friendly Wichita for the release of their debut album, Fossils And Other Phantoms. How did it take them so long? “Partly it was to do with our situation and partly it was wanting to get loads of stuff out,” Katy ‘Klaw’ Young explains from her home in east London. “No one said, ‘We want to sign you, here’s the money, make an album,’ so we just kept doing stuff.” ‘Stuff’ included two EPs on Broken Sounds, a single on Too Pure, a contract in the US with Yep Roc and a prodigious gigging schedule, mostly for other people’s audiences. While they watched their friends tot up record sales, the UK deal they needed to make an album eluded them. Katy admits that frustration set in: “There was a small element of jealousy for a while. It definitely felt like we were getting looked over. But I’m really glad that we spent this time working out who we wanted to be.” Name changes and line-up additions happened in the interim.
Old school friends from London, Katy and Rosa ‘Rex’ Slade first started playing as Peggy Sue And The Pirates when they both found themselves in Brighton, a place Katy credits with “weird” eclecticism. They found a drummer in a fan, Olly Joyce. Over time, they all gravitated back to London. “We’re so disorganised,” Katy admits. “I don’t think we’re the kind of band that can live in different cities.” Intentionally or not, Peggy Sue chose the brambly backroads over the bright lights and big money. “When we were Peggy Sue And The Pirates we could’ve made pop music, but I’m really glad we didn’t,” Katy says. “Kate
[Nash] knew what she wanted to do, so it was fine for her, but still, it was really hard. There’s so much pressure if you’re one of those people that goes ‘boom’ straight away.” Shying from pressure has given Peggy Sue room to find their feet. Fossils And Other Phantoms is as ramshackle as its origins, swimming in discordant harmonies, croaking with hurt, and heavy on oddball instrumentation from washboards to accordions. It’s not the kind of album that will go boom any time soon. But it speaks volumes for a band ready to step into the spotlight, confident in their sound and more than comfortable as outsiders.
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
SONGBIRDS FOLK OFF WANDSWORTH, London. In this era of appalling record sales, even indies with impeccable histories are signing ‘bankers’ to help them stay afloat. A fair compromise, you’d think, but spare a thought for employees who have to work with these bands. At 4AD, news that bosses had given Oxford pop-folk bores Stornoway a deal was met with derision by staff. Being subsequently forced to hear their music was too much for one worker. “This is fucking shit!” he bellowed across the office, before slinging his laptop to the floor.
BITCHTER SCALE ENFIELD, London. Nice to see Goldfrapp back, even if this newspaper was considered too prole to be sent a promo copy of her new album to review. That was probably the label’s demand, not Alison’s, although she does have a reputation for being a bit tetchy. In fact, we’re told that in the fashion world her name is used as a figure of speech. If stylists and photographers are worried that a celeb they’re shooting might be a bit of a diva, they ask, “What’s he/she like to work with, on a scale from one to Goldfrapp?”
POST CODE KENSINGTON, London. Speaking of sending promos out, the majors have been trying some bizarre tricks to, presumably, prevent lightfingered posties from stealing and uploading albums early – like burning CD-Rs with false band names printed on them. Hence, Gorillaz were ‘Holiday Snaps 2009’ and MGMT were ‘Fish Zoo’. Perhaps they should tell their PR people to not include press releases with correct names and full information about the record in the same envelope. D’oh.
PUBIC SCHOOL HAMMERSMITH, London. All major labels seem to have moved to up-market Kensington in recent years, which might explain why they’re all about to go bust. Back in the good old days, EMI had a building over in grubbier Hammersmith, not far from überposh private school, St Paul’s School for Girls. And what did the lovely men who used to work in that office nickname the place, even though some of their daughters were pupils? Virgin Megastore.
COVER UP SOUTHWARK, London. We salute NME for re-launching with a new look and 10 different covers, especially after the arse-clenching horror show of Reading/Leeds logos and The Libertines of their previous front page. Don’t think it’s all change at the troubled mag, though. On the same day their re-design hit the streets, poor staffers were being forced to send out emails to freelancers, like, “Anyone manage to nab an on-the-hoof ‘what are you doing here?’ type Q&A with any gig-going celebrities/musicians this week?” That, people, is journalism.
INVENTIVE PRODUCER ONE DUBSTEP AHEAD
James Blake trumps rivals, or lack thereof (Words Kev Kharas, London. Photo Erika Wall)
USIC FORMS, like all things, change over time until they eventually outgrow themselves and pour past their own polite limitations into previously hidden, forbidden zones. It’s tempting to glare at dubstep’s ongoing and inevitable dissolution in 2009/10 and imagine a style arriving at its own adolescence — the next stage of a growth that began with El-B and Horsepower Production’s turn-of-the-
century spills, and has since moved on from both DMZ’s groaning and wonky’s crèche-on-meth infantilism. As all its best new producers work to find their own place in the melee, it seems as if dubstep’s growing up. There’s nothing more teenage, really, than assembling yourself, even if that ‘self’ is comprised of found bits of hero and peer personality snips. Today, auteur producers like Joy Orbison, Ikonika, Jam City and Untold seem intent on breaking away from their forebears to leave unique scents on this post-dubstep moment. Their approach to music making is what they share — a wry, competitive desire for individuality that links them, even as it precludes any overwhelming similarity in terms of sound. As such, this ‘post-dubstep moment’ is one that feels sociable rather than socialised (UK bass mingling with other dance styles like US house and juke) and alive with possibility on the cusp of a new decade’s maiden summer. So it is that we turn to James Blake, another bold colt embedded within the dubstep diaspora. Blake comes from the solitude keeping the scene fresh. Twenty-one now, he spent his early years playing piano in a room by himself, learning classical formulas and improvising along to songs on his stereo. He eschewed the reassurances and gang opps provided by scenes as a school kid, but was alerted to the “intense, aggressive emotional power” of dubstep after a chance visit to London club FWD>>. “It was someone’s birthday and everyone else left because they thought it was quite anti-social,” he recalls. “I stayed behind. I heard ‘Haunted’ by Coki and thought, ‘I’ve got to come back here. This is great.’” Traces of all those experiences remain in the electronic music Blake makes now. Keys and voice — usually his — are meticulously pitchshifted into strange, warped and abused shapes, while the derelict spaces of dubstep and its “intense, aggressive” hellion bent give tracks like ‘The Bells Sketch’ and ‘Air & Lack Thereof’ a capacity to jar a dancefloor hive-mind only Untold can rival. It’s hard and heavy in a surprising, thoughtful way — a dystopian tonic to
NOTHING GRIZZLY ABOUT 2 BEARS Jim Ottewill, London, Monday, April 12
you go out to the I fMinistry of Sound, you can never be sure of a big surprise. However, when I entered the belly of the clubbing beast, I found Raf Daddy and Joe ‘Hot Chip’ Goddard, known as 2 Bears, pissing about with Donna Summer records and a compilation of bird songs for their Ministry radio show. Obviously. These grizzlies have raised hackles among tastemakers with the recent release of ‘Follow The Bear’ on Southern Fried. The EP veers from the wobbly house of ‘Be Strong’ to their more lo-fi cover of Sade’s ‘When Am I Gonna Make A Living’ It’s upbeat, personality-filled electronica that bodes well for a future long player, expected sometime later in the year. Fittingly, the twosome met through a shared love of “talking rubbish” and DJing at the GrecoRoman label parties. “Raf kind of teaches me about house music,” Joe explains. “I’m draining him of all his knowledge.” “I’m draining him of all his hits,” Raf quips. Taking inspiration from HI-NRG gay house, the release shows off numerous claws to the bears’ mitts… including Raf’s little known voice. “It was a grey day when we were recording,” quips Joe, “but then Raf started singing and the clouds parted. A million people have used black vocalists when making house music, so why not use a big fat white vocalist?” Raf adds: “Stephen from Moshi Moshi created the name. He came up to me and said, ‘I’ve got a fantasy,’ which is how he runs his label. ‘You, Joe from Hot Chip and Joe from Metronomy as 3 Bears’. The other Joe had to drop out, so we’re down to two.” Although the pair are already well known for their day jobs, an album and festival dates should drum up more interest in the duo. You’ll hear them roar soon if you haven’t already.
the all-too-easy raver tear-outs of main room athletes like Rusko and Caspa. “I used to really dislike tear-out wobble, but I actually really like playing after that now because it makes me look really good,” explains Blake, typically self-assured and frank. “Musically, it’s total shit: not very deep at all. So as soon as you do something with some musicality, the contrast is so drastic that people listen.” That drastic contrast highlights just how fluid a term and diverse a strain dubstep’s become in its alloyed adolescence. Best to rejoice, unlike fretting parents, at every transgression and tantrum as its players develop ever-deeper, more resonant voices.
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
S I X OF THE BEST MY
Farewell then, Plant Food. Six songs to soundtrack your final days of shits and nosebleeds.
Afraid of Nothing knowing my own significence i embrace insignifecence valuing god i bask in his dark earths shadow stood naked in the doorway of truth a trapdoor that opens thru vunrability and embarisment an inadiqusey of paint and charchole in broken style and broken words
DEAD SKELETONS ‘Dead Mantra’ (2009) ead Mantra’ is plant food’s ‘Paranoid’; Meow Meow’s ‘I Feel Love’; mephedrone’s ‘Achey Breaky Heart’. As it is, this one-note, gothic tribal dirge with deranged Icelandic chanting by people obviously obsessed with the occult and drugs is already one of the best songs ever recorded. But when you see a photograph of band members dressed head-to-toe in burkas decorated with skeleton masks and swastikas, brandishing giant scimitars while standing menacingly on the lip of an active volcano, it somehow becomes even more enjoyable.
DEFTONES ‘Nosebleed’ (1995) on’t fret too much if the favourite side of your nose gets blocked up — you can always start using the left nostril instead and spill half your gear down your front. And don’t worry too much if both your nasal passages start feeling as if they’ve had quick-drying cement poured up them — your septum will split soon enough and, in the meantime, you won’t be able to tell how
much you smell like faeces, you daft Daniella Westbrook in Chinatown dipshit.
THE J.B.’S ‘Givin’ Up Food For Funk’ (1972) ou know how when you’re eight and you have this idea of how awesome it’s going to be when you get into your twenties and do drugs until you drop down dead? You know the scenario: they’re going to find your drowned body on Barry Island Beach naked from the waist down and dressed as a Nazi from the waist up. Well, that doesn’t happen with plant food. You just start smelling of faeces and have to suck off estate agents to make your rent.
LLOYD COLE AND THE COMMOTIONS ‘My Bag’ (1986) loyd Cole wrote ‘My Bag’ in the 1980s when popstars warned against narcotics while taking shitloads themselves (see Elton John). Back then if you left a cow in a glass of Coke overnight, it wouldn’t be there in the morning, and mephedrone in the modern age has similar properties. Indeed, someone
arbitrarily left a teaspoon in their stash, only to find it irreparably corroded and no good for eggs and soldiers. So how come it doesn’t rot the bag?
GG ALLIN ‘Diarrhea Blues ’ (1990) ou know how when mid-level devils finish a shift torturing apostates, blasphemers and atheists in Hell, they all go to a bar round the corner to drink some Stella, play a few games of pool and generally let off steam? This is what they listen to on the jukebox after doing a bump of meph, before spilling out into the parking lot for a brawl and then crawling home to be greeted by an angry Mrs Devil, who makes them sleep on the couch. They’ll never learn, the stupid cunts.
4 HERO ‘Mr Kirk’s Nightmare ’ (1990). Mr Kirk?” “Yes...” “Do you have a son called Robert Kirk, aged 17?” “Yes!” “I’m sorry, Mr Kirk, you’d better come down to the station house. Your son has been arrested for smelling of faeces and sucking off estate agents.”
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Words by John Doran
Lee Dorrian and his not-so-merry men, CATHEDRAL, return from a five-year absence with a psych prog masterpiece
hen the band signed off their last album in 2005, The Garden Of Unearthly Delights, with a 30-minute epic that summed up their entire output, many people thought that they had effectively drawn a line under their entire career. I mean, where do you go from there?
he Guessing Game is a gift — something to be prodded, shaken and pondered upon before a slow, meticulous unwrapping process. Their ninth in two decades is a double album which acts not just as a microcosm of Cathedral’s career as a whole, but as an epitome of the dark and arcane territory that lies between doom, prog and psych. While essentially a heavy metal band, their music is born of obsession-ridden attention to detail and an encyclopaedic knowledge of various forms of UK outlier music. Taken as a whole, it qualifies as something that, while certainly having a definable place in an obscure lineage, is not the polite pastiche of record collector rock. No, this is invigorating new music.
hat’s not to say that Cathedral vocalist and mainstay Lee Dorrian is not an obsessive record collector. We have to phone him at 9a.m. because he’s flying to Utrecht to visit Europe’s largest record fair the day before it officially opens, hoping to find elusive and dusty albums; mini-grails on an
orrian, a gentleman of metal whose soft-spoken nature belies his history in anarcho-grindcore pioneers Napalm Death, agrees to a certain extent. “After we did [closing track] ‘The Garden’, we were happy with it. I remember sitting in the studio, looking at Gaz [Jennings, guitars and keyboards] and thinking, ‘Well that’s cool, but what the fuck are we going to do now?’ It took a bit of soul searching. Was it worth carrying on? Was it worth doing another album?”
don’t deny it,” he adds. “There were times in the past when we’ve been forced into going into the studio when we haven’t been properly ready. For that to happen to us again after all this
time, we might as well just shoot ourselves, because it means that much to us to do things right. And if it took five years, then it took five years. We spent a whole year just being out of the picture altogether, not even talking to each other about Cathedral, just having a break from the situation.”
ou see, there was a way to top the conceptual idea of ‘The Garden’: record a double album that epitomised every aspect of their philosophy and sound. “I think this one closes a chapter more than the last one, to be honest,” says Dorrian. “It summarises everything that’s gone before. Cathedral has always been hard to market and hard to put in a box, but that’s fine because boxes are for bores anyway. People always try and throw things at us, like stoner rock or doom rock. But hopefully, just through our perseverance, we’ve got to the stage where it’s not so easy for people to put us into categories. I find categories really debasing. We make music as openminded people who are really into music, and we make music for people like us.”
usically speaking, there are respectful nods to bands like
Pentagram and Black Sabbath on tracks such as ‘La Noche Del Buque Maldito (aka Ghost Ship Of The Blind Dead)’, but played in a way (amped up with buzzing Moogs, phased and overdriven) that suggests you’ve never heard any metal post-Judas Priest. Or even, perhaps, as if you’re just hearing doom for the first time. Elsewhere, on the title track, they’ve resurrected their old habit of marshalling vintage equipment such as Mellotrons. But they’re not Procol Harum. It sounds more like Autechre or Boards Of Canada tackling pastoral British prog in order to score an anthem to some long since unobtainable utopia.
orrian is adamant on this point. “We’re not trying to make a record that was recorded in 1971, because that’s not what we’re about. We’re very much aware of what year it is and that we live in the here and now. We may be inspired by bands from that period, but the inspiration is more to do with the freedom of expression that those bands had rather than trying to recreate their production techniques.”
usically, it may be their most progressive (with a small ‘p’) to date, but lyrically it shows a maturity, an acceptance of life’s limitations. “I grew up listening to Discharge; there was no time for fantasy or escapism,” continues Dorrian. “That was literally just like banging your head against the wall until the wall broke. But the wall didn’t break. All that broke was your head. You have to get to some point where you can start enjoying your life and not feeling responsible for everything that goes on round you. I wanted the lyrics to be a lot more natural than, dare I say, supernatural. But, at the end of the day, I am as much into fantasy as I am into reality. Too much reality will drive you mad in the same way that too much fantasy will.”
eople who sneer at bands like Cathedral for a perceived Dungeons & Dragons aesthetic often fail to see that at their best (as here) they exist in a grand Orwellian tradition of fantastical political allegory and luxurious societal metaphor. This is an intelligent broadside against utopian destructiveness as wrought by politicians, philosophers and priests, as well as a melancholic reflection on how youthful passion for anarchism recedes from the global to the local. A gift indeed.
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Harlem are quickly earning a name for themselves as party animals. Not that they care. “Well, fuck!” bellows Curtis O’Mara. “Congratulations to us for being the most fucked-up band possible!” Although these garage brats signed with Matador last year, O’Mara decided to keep his job as a chef, just to preserve his sanity between tours. “Right now it helps me be normal. If I’m out on the road doing crazy shit, it’s good to do something simpler so I don’t have that desperate anxiety that comes without a linear day-to-day life.” Asked to elaborate on the crazy shit, O’Mara has no shortage of dope stories. “I was convinced I was trapped inside a cheeseburger. I ended up having a voodoo wedding ceremony in it with some girl I met.” Bandmate Michael Coomers, meanwhile, was increasingly pre-occupied with the cloud he noticed creeping behind him all day. “Fuck! My mom’s gonna read this and then it’s going to be all over,” he says. “She’s already read enough stuff that makes me look like the worst kid she could’ve possibly had. Although, the other day, she said, ‘You’ve turned into less of a fuck-up than I thought you would.’” The mischief began when O’Mara and Coomers hung out together as teens in Tucson, Arizona. “We terrorised everybody,” says O’Mara. “We’d drive around, run over garbage cans, pee on our friends, throw beer bottles. We took it there.” They formed various punk bands, like Teen Suicide and Smart Pussy, each one spurred by the volatile dynamic developing between them. “Sometimes we come at each other like, ‘I can’t stand you!’” says Coomers, slightly disconcerted that he’s just found a heart with a swastika painted on the back of his van. “It’s definitely got all the trappings of any good friendship. Curtis used to refer to me as being the mother and, at first, I didn’t like that. But
Words by Cian Traynor Photo by Pooneh Ghana
In their nightmares, garage trio HARLEM get trapped inside cheeseburgers, and their ultimate band would feature a talking dog.
Fast Food High
International news then I realised that mom’s the one who does all the work and dad just puts on an apron and says, ‘I’m makin’ hamburgers tonight!’ So, yeah — fuck dads, man. They’re the worst.” They went their separate ways after school, with Coomers drifting from town to town as a couch-surfing stoner, getting fired from every job he’s ever had and either growing bored or wearing out his welcome in the process. His fascination with “witchy” places drew him to various haunted tourist traps, like the sites of Jack the Ripper’s murders in London, totting up plenty of ghostly encounters along the way. “A little girl came to the bottom of my bed once after a shooting in Oakland,” he says between drags. “She told me to close the window and lock it. That one was really fucked up. Then I went to this house in North Carolina where somebody killed themselves in the bathroom. Though I didn’t know that, when I walked in I thought somebody was behind the shower curtain and pulled it back. So I went downstairs and told my friends, ‘You have a ghost up there!’ They all got bummed out ’cause that was their friend who died.” The pair eventually reunited in 2007 to start a new band where they could alternate between guitar, drums and vocals. They couldn’t afford to tour so they’d sublet roach-infested shacks between cities, picking up bassist Jose Boyer after finally settling in Austin, Texas. Armed with belting hooks and the effortless swagger of vintage R&B, their bombast erupted into 2009’s selfreleased Free Drugs ;-) and took shape with its acerbic follow-up, Hippies. But Coomers is keen to distance their sound from obvious reference-points, like the seminal 1972 garage compilation Nuggets, and bristles at any mention of ‘lo-fi’: “I’ve no idea what that fucking means. Low fidelity? Does it sound like a crappy stereo? Have you ever seen a record player that says ‘lo-fi’? You want to come listen to something on my lo-fi stereo?”
Indeed, he’s been stuck with that label since he began making music and insists that while others actively pursue the aesthetic of shoddy recordings, Harlem simply aren’t talented enough to accomplish anything else. He’s equally modest when it comes to their live show. “Honestly I think there’s far more interesting stuff on TV. Like... like... like... like... do you know how many advances have been made in TV and how few have been made in music? It’s insane. They have dogs talking and it looks like the dog is actually talking. We can’t do that. We stand there with some archaic instrument acting like we just did a magic trick. If that talking dog was in a band, that’d be entertainment. Even if the dog was just the manager hanging out back or one of the band members’ girlfriends saying, [in squeaky voice] ‘You’re doin’ great, honey!’ I’d be like, ‘This is the best band I’ve ever seen!’” Coomers is classic frontman material. He’s outspoken, funny, intelligent and temperamental, generating priceless quotes at every turn [“I’m pretty convinced the brain’s just some bullshit that’s a red herring”]. By contrast, O’Mara tears through his points with blunt force. Yet he gushes about discovering Nirvana while blasting a mixtape as a drunken teen, citing the lasting impacting it’s had on him. Recently the band’s growing taste for debauchery has made him reconsider that influence in another light. “I didn’t think it was an issue until people were like, ‘Hey man, some pretty hardy partyin’ you got goin’ on there.’ I guess sometimes you get swept away. I just love playing music. If I can keep that, I won’t be so suicidal.” When asked if he sees himself burning out or rocking on until he’s senile, O’Mara turns gravely serious. “That’s a scary question. I think about it a lot. I’m not sure which one I’d be most satisfied with. I can’t tell. I just want to be remembered as a nice guy with a pretty face.”
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
S D R I B G N SO
CUT VEINS AND SCOOPED OUT BRAINS WITH GIANA FACTORY A MOST INDUSTRIOUS GROUP
Story by BARNABY SMITH: Photograph by EMILE CARLSEN
N AN AGE of bedroom producers and the boring hegemony of sound brought about by Pro Tools, it’s always nice when someone comes along with an album recorded in a more charismatic space that is literally one of a kind — be it a warehouse, a castle, a cave or an abattoir.
To ‘record the room’ is just as important as playing the right chords. See what Bon Iver managed from a cabin in the wilds of Wisconsin, while psychrockers Dead Meadow sought out a haunted inn in rural Indiana for their last album Old Growth. For a lot of reasons, Andy Warhol’s former studio The Factory is closest to what Giana Factory have in their native Copenhagen. The trio record their intense, danceable electro pop in an abandoned factory shared with other artists. As well as the roughness, one can almost hear the quasi-Bohemian, communal gusto that they ooze on their excellent debut EP Bloody Game. The factory is not so high-tech, but it does the job. “We work in a kind of collage way,” says the all-girl band’s vocalist Loui Foo, who is backed by Lisbet Fritze and Sofie Johanne, “and spend a lot of time in the factory experimenting and trying out songs and sounds over a long period of time. We don’t really need fancy equipment. The most important thing is to catch the right vibe. Imagine an old painter, the way he builds his painting with layers of paint until one day the right Raveonettes’ singer Sharin, and proportions and the right once filled in with them when combination of colour and contrast Sharin was pregnant, leading Sune appears… He wouldn’t prefer a Rose Wagner to suggest he and sophisticated studio to a place where Loui make a hip hop record one he could pay the rent.” day. Artistically, though, Loui is Bloody Game is an attractive mess. not her sister, and Giana Factory As well as melancholic rock, there are are far from The Raveonettes. For passages of shoegaze and even one thing, Giana Factory make a Southern Gothic. Foo is devoted to concerted effort to be two things Townes Van Zandt along with more at once, as they balance reflection predictable fare like Joy Division and and melody with club-infused Kraftwerk. beats. Foo is also the sister of The “We use the club elements in our
Bullish Teenager Avi Buffalo Feels Like He’s Winging It
These Danish ladies For really enjoy making a bloody mess music as an energy tool, or to get a feeling of deep, dark disco as a contrast to softness or sweetness. Club music can seem cold, and we like cold music.” And it’s raw. On the EP’s title track, Foo sings of cut veins and open chests and scooped out brains in the name of relationship politics. And that, it seems, is Giana Factory’s main concern. “We try to picture a physical translation of heart ache. It is bloody and yet perhaps it is ‘just’ a game.”
HEAT OF KOO KOOO KITCHEN TOO MUCH FOR MOST BASSISTS TO STAND Words Hazel Sheffield a gap-toothed girl with a name like Marianne Stranger picks you up in a vintage Mercedes in the midst of a blizzard in Oslo, her scrappy fake fur taking up more space than four passengers put together, and proceeds to blast a four track demo of ragged, distorted indie nonsense while stalling at every frozen traffic light, you know you’re onto a Stool Pigeon story. We slid around that snow-covered city followed by Marianne’s croaking laughter, as she told us about Koo Kooo Kitchen: a band with a tendency to scare away bass players, united in awe of Sonic Youth and keen for bird-themed live shows... “Me and Eva [Randidatter, guitar and vocals] met when we were really young,” says Marianne. “We go way back, playing on bottles and stuff before we even knew how to play instruments. Then I fell in love with a boy at a party and he taught
me to play three chords on the guitar. Next, we hired the best bad drummer in Oslo and we’ve had a few bass players — we tend to kind of use them up. We’ve had this one for two months, so we’ve probably got him for another 10.” After a spell at a creative secondary school, Marianne went to study in Liverpool, where she realised a few things. “I learned that I couldn’t really live without Eva!” she says. “I played in different bands, but I was really annoyed all the time because the other people just didn’t get it in the same way. The way that Eva and I make music is by chance; things are very impulsive. We argue a lot like an old couple, but there are wonderful moments.” When not concocting twisted sounds with retro guitar pedals, Marianne makes sets and costumes for productions. They turned up at their first gig late with seven homemade flamingos. “We were talking about making more props, but personally I kind of like good
music for itself. We’re thinking of a big cuckoo. I said I wanted to build a massive oven and have smoke coming out of it, but then I had a think about it and decided that’s probably for another band!”
Words cian traynor
a teenager who signed with Sub Pop before finishing school, Avi Buffalo isn’t afraid of lampooning those investing in his career. He impersonates a crusty old fart whenever quoting label reps (“rah, rah, this is the single, this is the single”), and a schmoozy cheeseball when recalling the A&R’s approach (“Ayyyyyyy, I hear you’re doin’ some stuff”). But the 19-year-old Californian is entitled to sound frustrated with his development. At the age of 13, he was mentored by bluesman Joel Weinberg who would throw him up on stage every week. “At first, I sucked and had no idea what was going on,” Avi says. “He gave me a lot of tough love, showing me how to express myself in a tasteful way. Anyone can get a guitar tutor but he taught me more about the depth in using music emotionally.” Avi began practising the guitar 14 hours a day, playing in three bands at a time, including one with older R&B musicians that would rehearse late into the night, causing his grades to suffer. He recorded with Aaron Embry [Elliot Smith, Jane’s Addiction], and the later producer tipped off Sub Pop. “It threw me for a loop. My parents didn’t even believe me. I had no idea it could be this soon. It scared me because I wasn’t sure I was ready to be heard. I didn’t feel like my craft was sharpened. I still don’t. A lot of these songs are pretty old, so it’s a bummer that we’re going to have to work this record for a year straight.” The indie pop prodigy seems to have outrun his own rate of progress. Infectious lead single ‘What’s In It For?’ was pivotal in getting Avi Buffalo’s self-titled debut released, but all he hears is a clunkier, younger-sounding version of himself. “It’s not what I want to be about,” he explains. “But if we were to leave it off the record, I don’t think Sub Pop would even put it out. They heard it and were like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna do this.’ It’s hard. I’m definitely lost, musically, and I need to find a path. I’m bringing a 4-track on the road. People have told me that it’s hard to find creative opportunities on tour, but I think I can totally make it work.”
AUSTIN, Texas. Our moles usually come back from South By Southwest with a load of juicy tales, but this year it seems everyone was pre-occupied with trying to catch a glimpse of Bill Murray, who was in town for the festival. They should have searched the bars. From what we hear, he spent most of his days plying old pal GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan with booze. Bill can hold his liquor, GZA clearly can’t. By the time the rapper was due to perform, he could hardly speak, let alone stand up.
LABEL WHORES AUSTIN, Texas. One more from SXSW, and it concerns garage rockers Harlem, who are from Arizona, but now live in Austin. Keep up. In this issue, they confess to a desire to be permanently trashed, but also to not making much money from rock’n’roll. How to solve the dilemma? Knock up a $600 room-service bill on a room taken by an employee of your label, without his knowledge. We’re talking champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries… one of everything that was available on the menu.
BALLS OF FIRE OSLO, Norway. Everyone knows rock’n’roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis is a dirty bastard, and he hasn’t let up in his senior years. A promoter in Oslo who booked The Killer for a show once tells us that he demanded to be given porn at the end of the night. The promoter obliged with a DVD from his own collection, which was never returned. “Dealing with a 74-yearold redneck full of speed pills retiring to his room for a wank over Anal Acrobats 3 was quite an experience,” he says.
CRACKING UP CHICAGO, Illinois. In the last issue of The Stool Pigeon it seemed something strange was afoot with morose married couple Puerto Muerto, when the duo’s Tim Kelley gave us an exasperatingly monosyllabic interview from his bed. Perhaps that had something to do with the fact that he’s recently adopted a massive crack habit. Worse, his wife’s left him. Worse still, she’s telling the press about what an arse he is as a means of promoting their final album together.
GIMME DANGER ANN ARBOR, Michigan. It seems veteran Casanova Leonard Cohen didn’t always see quite as much action as his reputation suggests. In fact, he used to peruse the personal ads in search of single white females, according to Iggy Pop. “Years ago, some girl wrote in the classifieds saying she was looking for a man ‘with the poetic sensitivity of Leonard Cohen and the raw power of Iggy Pop’, so Leonard tried to get me to set up a three-way with her. He said, ‘Dude, we can give her both!’”
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Ex-M83 man evoking the spirit of cold wave with gothic new band Team Ghost Words Ben Graham Photograph Lionel Grasset gothic music of the Ghost is quite different — a bit eighties was always more rock’n’roll and, hmm, darker? designed as much for Sometimes Team Ghost sounds a the unholy communion of the bit like M83, but Anthony and I dancefloor as for the melancholic learnt music together, so that’s introversion of the lonely garret. normal I think.” Moving from Antibes to Paris, And though the genre itself has come in from the cold lately, its Nicolas formed Team Ghost with connections to progressive dance multi-instrumentalist Christophe music, and the degree to which it Guérin and producer/manager drew on dub, electro and krautrock, Jean-Philipe Talaga. “I’ve been ahead of other musical movements, working with him for 10 years, and I trust him so much,” Nicolas says are still underestimated. “That’s so true!” exclaims Team of Talaga. “His advice is always Ghost’s Nicolas Fromageau, when I important and we used to talk a lot suggest that ‘You Never Did about what we wanted to release or Anything Wrong To Me’, their not. He’s essential in the band. debut seven-song EP, explicitly Christophe, too, of course; he’s an updates the atmospheres and excellent musician and I hope he’ll textures of eighties goth to the compose more in the future.” techniques of 21st Century While the blissed-out barrages of electronica. “I’m a huge fan of those distorted guitar occasionally recall bands, especially the early Cure, Mogwai or Slowdive (who Nicolas Joy Division, Siouxsie, Christian names over my Ride/MBV Death… and old electronic music comparisons), their press release too — Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra places Team Ghost squarely in the French ‘cold wave’ tradition. “I’ve Tempel and Brian Eno.” Nicolas was previously a member always preferred British cold wave of M83, the groundbreaking French bands like Section 25 and Cocteau outfit (now pretty much the solo Twins,” Nicolas says. “But the band project of co-founder Anthony I prefer in that scene is Trisomie 21. Gonzalez) often credited with Their early works are fantastic! I inventing ‘chillwave’ and inspiring like it because it sounds very the likes of Memory Tapes and melancholic, and modern too.” Neon Indian. “Anthony and I didn’t Melancholic and modern? The really feel like making music description also fits Team Ghost together again,” Nicolas shrugs, perfectly. No mere revenants, when asked why he quit after their they’ll haunt all dreams in days first two albums. “I think Team to come.
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
SILENCE BROKEN ON CALIFORNIAN POPSTER’S OTHER GIG
DOUBLE-GLAZED LIFE FOR GLASSER By Alex Marshall Photograph by Laila Fish
A MOST AFFECTING TRUE STORY OF A SPACE-AGE DUBSTEP/HIP HOP PRODUCER NAMED
ST ARKEY OF PHILADELPHIA, Speaking to Starkey, aka PJ Geissinger, two things strike you: first, his boundless enthusiasm; secondly, his honesty. “I used to listen Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals,” he admits. “Some of the chord changes in Phantom Of The Opera are sick! That had a huge influence on my music. I think of it as an epic.” For most dubstep producers, citing musicals as an influence would be strange, but this Philadelphian doesn’t care about your ’nuum theory and he’s never hung out in Croydon. Still, in a climate where to love dubstep is to have your heart broken — where, for every post-dubstep mutation that renders boundaries asunder, there’s an equal-and-opposing force of boys drenched in testosterone, rubbing ketamine-shrivelled knobs raw against the breeze block of serrated mid-range — he represents a middle point; a point where aggression channels into melody, trapping song structures in the backdraft of dubstep’s swing. Taking the transmissions from the UK’s estates and steeping them in the hip hop legacy of his hometown, his 2008 album Ephemeral Exhibits introduced grime and dubstep to a global stage for the first time. But to break the rules you have to know them, so how does an American come to be literate in the language of the UK underground? The following concerns information on how this young chap from America came to ape such British forms
LIKE IT’S JUST NO THING “I was at uni in London in 2001 when stuff like So Solid Crew was really big and The Streets’ ‘Has It Come To This?’ had just come out,” Starkey explains. “So when I moved back to Philly, I kept in touch with what was going on. I heard [Dizzee Rascal’s] ‘I Luv U’ and Roll Deep’s pirate stuff and I was like, ‘This is amazing!’” Unable to keep his discovery to himself, he paired up with fellow producer Dev79 to host Philadelphia’s first ever grime party. “People talk about dubstep — they talk about big clubs and soundsystems — but we were playing this music in bad clubs with terrible soundsystems,” he says, laughing. “It was about the energy, the lyrical delivery, and the immediacy of the music. We were doing something different; it was different for Philly and it was different for the whole of the United States.” His second album, Ear Drums And Black Holes, upholds his pioneering stance while pursuing his own sci-fi muse. Starkey describes the record as “a space man being put in urban America making music for the common people”. Really, it’s about taking fantasy soundscapes and blending them with more earthly low-end concerns, hence the epic Vangelis-like synths of ‘Fourth Dimension’ engulf the horizon like a serotonin-draining rave breakdown, and ‘Alienstyles’ auto-tuned vocals are anchored to garage cadences, like future R&B at zero gravity. It’s music that triggers an emotive response from synth oscillations, teasing B-movie drama from the play-off between big drop and breakdown. It’s refreshing as hell; an outsider’s perspective that dislocates dubstep from a specific location and scene to make it sound truly universal. “I feel I have freedom to do whatever I want,” Starkey remarks, his enthusiasm bordering on childlike. “I’m just blessed that people enjoy listening to it.” written by LOUISE BRAILEY
SOMETIMES you hear a song and know exactly what the person behind it will be like. Glasser is 26-year-old Cameron Mesirow and the two 12”s she’s released so far are filled with brilliant tropical pop, all layered vocals and rattling percussion. They’re the sort of songs that have choruses about “feeling like watery gold” and “sliding back into the child inside”. You get the idea: she’s a new ager; the sort of musician who could only live in a sun and superstitionfilled city like Los Angeles and whose flat is probably filled with healing stones. When she picks up the phone, she more than lives up to that image. Within seconds, she’s saying things like, “The only ultimate truth in my music is uncertainty,” and, “I’m trying to capture that point between two feelings, y’know? Like concrete and fluid.” Later on, she even says, “I’m influenced by the dream world and how it’s affecting my waking world, but also how my waking world is affecting my dreams.” She’s a joy to talk to, but every question about her music gets a similar response. Ten minutes in and she can tell I’m struggling to keep up. “I’m sorry I’m not being very articulate,” she says, “I feel like you caught me at a moment of low blood sugar.”
Destiny Cameron actually only started making music a couple of years ago and pretty much only because she was egged on by her boyfriend, Matt Popieluch, lead singer in LA indie stalwarts Foreign Born. “He knew that I could sing and knew that I could write melodies, and just started encouraging me,” she explains. “I guess I hadn’t been met with such enthusiasm before. I also felt like I didn’t belong in the world of music [before then]. I didn’t play guitar, didn’t play piano, or flute or bassoon. I couldn’t read music. And he helped me realise: what does it matter? If I’m a musical person, I should be making music.” It’s a nice story, but as soon as it’s done, I know I’m going to have
to ask her about her music again and, unless something’s changed, it won’t make for the best copy. Fortunately, out of nowhere, she snaps out of her new age character. It happens when I bring up a song I found online called ‘Save Me’. It’s a tune that sounds nothing like Glasser and everything like Evanescence, that awful goth band who somehow sold 20 million records in the 2000s. I presumed the song was a youthful indiscretion; something she recorded while finding her feet.
But as soon as I mention it, confessions start tumbling out. Away from her laptop, her boyfriend and her songs about dreams, it turns out that Cameron spends her time in the bruising world of advertising. She’s the type of person who’ll happily impersonate another artist for cash, and who’ll happily write jingles for radio shows no matter how bad.
Copycat “Basically, for money in LA, I do these commercial singing jobs,” she says. “I’m actually a pretty decent mimic and [for ‘Save Me’] I was asked to do an Evanescence-style song. That was used for this XGames video and someone, somehow, dug up my name and put it on YouTube. Every once in a while I get emails to my MySpace page saying, ‘This is really different to the song I know you for. Where I can hear more stuff like that?’ I really think it’s time I got a pseudonym.” That doesn’t fit in with the image I had of you, I want to say, but she beats me to it. “Don’t make that the focus [of the piece]!” she says, laughing. “I’m trying to get my name out of as many of these things as I can.”
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Words by CIAN TRAYNOR
The MINAH Bird. Mariam of WILDBIRDS & PEACEDRUMS on being married to the band “If we’re going on a two-month tour, then we’re like, ‘Is this a good idea? Maybe we need a break in-between. Maybe I need to go away.’ We normally try to, y’know... I went to Japan last summer to visit a friend just to get away and do something by myself — to travel without the instruments and without Andreas. It’s just that we need to take our own decisions and not live by conventions. I mean, we’re married, but we did that because we’re kind of romantic and just wanted to give each other something. It’s not that we’re married because we want to have a family right away or have a cute house. Sometimes it’s funny because the promoter will book separate rooms for us and we’re like, ‘Yay!’ And then you think, ‘Okay, my God, we have a fucked-up relationship.’ But, in one way, it’s not fucked up, it’s just different.” As told to Cian Traynor
BELATED REBIRTH LOOKING LIKELY FOR OLD HEAD ON YOUNG SHOULDERS JOSEPH CHILDRESS Childress has made some of the best music you may never hear. After recording a debut of startling folk titled The Rebirths in 2006, Childress — the son of a minister from Colorado — up and left to hop trains across America. “I was a lonely mess; hungry and sick all the time. I don’t even remember where the album name came from. Someone just started calling it that because the only place I had my name on it was the CD-R itself.” He hitchhiked between truckstops, slept in stairwells, worked on a cattle ranch and even stumbled upon a dead body in an abandoned house. Then, after getting arrested in New Orleans, he fled to San Francisco where he lived in a car and
walked dogs through Craigslist until he could afford to rent a cupboard in a friend’s house. After playing shows with Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, Childress eventually recorded another record with Mike Coykendall [M. Ward, Jolie Holland] but this, too, has gone unheard. The problem lies in Childress’s reluctance to put himself out there. This is his first proper interview and even that took some negotiating. At a time when countless bands are scrambling for exposure, the 26-year-old sticks out like a hip hop artist uninterested in success for fear of having nothing to rap about. “I once had a meeting with a publicist,” Childress explains. “He just gave me statistics and talked
about money. It was so separated from the actual art that I got freaked out. So maybe that’s a part of it. You can feel when someone is emotionally invested in something. If it’s gonna happen, I feel like it should happen organically through a process I’m comfortable with. And if it doesn’t... I just create music because I have to. If not, I would explode.” Childress has some friends who’ve become established names in music but he feels the rigours of the industry have stagnated their output. When people are focused on being famous, he says, it’s no longer about the music — not that he thinks anyone is lining up to sign him. “I never thought that people would give a shit. I play shows and have a great experience, but then I almost feel like I fade away. Because who am I to be this type of person that people would latch on to? People tell me all the time that [my music] deserves to be out there, but I still don’t believe them.” Having recently lost his job, Childress says he wasn’t able to eat much last week. But part of him relishes turning to the guitar as a healing device. “Sometimes I feel nervous about the fact that I enjoy writing songs when I’m struggling. In terms of success, sure, I want to reach more people. It just has to be done in a way that I know I’m not going to lose anything I hold dear in being happy and creating art. That’s the best I can give you. I think it really is a roll of the dice.”
Belle and Sebastian’s Thai Sweet Potato Soup
INGREDIENTS.---1 large onion, peeled and chopped 2” chunk of fresh ginger or galangal, peeled and chopped finely 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced 875ml good vegetable stock 375ml coconut milk Juice of half a lime 4 or 5 dried Kaffir lime leaves
PREPARATION.---1. Start by frying the onion with the ginger, curry paste, and lemongrass. Fry until soft. 2. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute. 3. Add the sweet potatoes and the stock. 4. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the sweet potato is soft. 5. Add the lime juice, lime leaves (if using), and the coconut milk, and liquidise. 6. If you like it hotter, add a red chilli (seeded and chopped) at the start (along with the onion). Taken from Lost In The Supermarket, Soft Skull Press
Tallest Man On Earth working to short deadlines
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Mammoth bass from...
UFOmammut, Printed and Sold by J. Partners 44a Maury Raod Stokey. N16
Words cian traynor Photograph rachel lipsitz
B ehTinhde BTuasllhesHt aMll’asnveOlvnetEcaurrtthainis, holding a hen that, somehow, has strayed backstage. “She knows musicians play here,” he says gruffly, seemingly confused by his own words. Kristian Matsson is neardelirious, barely resembling the impish figure who normally prowls the stage, bearing teeth, narrowing eyes and volleying back heckles with flashes of feistiness. Instead he’s saving himself so he can do all that later tonight. Deadlines help him focus. It worked last year when the Swede set himself the goal of writing second album The Wild Hunt on the road and recording it in-between touring. It worked, too, when Matsson first went solo. He had been in garage bands for years but always played the acoustic guitar on the side, studying blues legends like Son House. Then he gave himself two weeks to get an act together for his debut show, choosing a stage name that would force him to come up with something special. “If the songs weren’t good enough or the crowd didn’t like me, then the name would seem stupid.” His strum-and-wail style resulted from an epiphany after stumbling across a way to channel the energy of his blues heroes without matching their proficiency. “I played a lot of finger-picking but I’m not the kind of person who can do that until you nail it because I always get ideas on the way. I can’t sit around and wait for inspiration. I just
put myself in the right position. I used to write my songs really differently and never felt connected to them.” He lets out a deep exhale. “‘Into the Stream’ came to me while messing around. Then I wrote another song with the same kind of feeling behind it and then another. Something happened. It went so quick.” Matsson has chosen two rickety old seats for the interview but already it feels like the wrong choice. Our faces are intimately close. Close enough that when a passing mention of Bob Dylan causes his entire body to flinch, I feel it too. Eye contact becomes uncomfortable, so whenever he searches my face in scrutiny, I focus on his miniature ears, his wispy goatee or those black jeans that few other 28-year-old men could squeeze into. Together we stare at the big pair of black knickers sitting atop an open suitcase in the middle of the room. Though initially guarded and selfconscious, Matsson has slowly thawed. He often distances himself from his storytelling but, once disarmed, admits otherwise. “Yeah... it’s not just fiction. I say a lot of things sometimes.” He laughs nervously. “It’s the beauty of starting a story from your life and then letting it take a turn. You play around with your own character and see what happens. Sometimes you write a song that you think is about someone else only to figure out that it’s about you. For me, it’s not that straightforward. But you keep doing it and — bam! — inspiration comes. Just like how there’s always some part of you that’s not tired. You just have to try to find it.”
rue story: A DJ acquaintance of The Stool Pigeon, entertaining a nightspot packed with hapless Hoxton flibbertigibbets, had the room raging to some of the most pointedly electro out there. Somewhat bored, he decided to lash on ‘Stardog’, a track from Italian metal troupe UFOmammut. The dancefloor emptied within seconds — not because the crowd feared the monumental riffage but because it had caused, it later transpired, one punter to defecate into his drawers. Now on their fifth album, UFOmammut are comprised of bassist Urlo, guitarist Poia and drummer Vita. Their name is a combination of UFO and the Italian word for Mammoth. “It was created to represent something heavy, mysterious and a mixture of past and future”, says Urlo. Listening to Eve, their most expansive record yet, feels like trying to swim in the dense water at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Its power, says Urlo, came from the “construction of sound layers. We wanted to experiment with making the sound bigger and bigger. Like carvers, we’ve worked on a rock to make its beauty come to light.” A heavy record demands heavy subject matter, as Urlo explains. ”I thought about the idea of Eve bringing us knowledge, her fight against her creator and the ‘escape’ from Eden.” He says they felt unhappy by the way that Eve is treated by religion. “Christianity painted her like a villain because knowledge is dangerous,” he explains. “If the people of the world could understand and open their mind to wisdom, there’d be no more religion, no wars, no pain, no fear. This is why it’s better to keep people in ignorance.” He adds that the biggest lesson we can learn from Eve is “just to be one with your mind.” It’s hard to resist doing that when you’re confronted by a band as loud as UFOmammut. It all happens, says Urlo, because ”I like to tremble when I play. Since I play bass I need to feel it in my backbone. We like to create something you can, in some way, touch. So it’s heavy ’cause it’s something you can feel on your skin.” Or, indeed, in your bowels. So, UFOmammut, you make people shit. And when The Stool Pigeon saw you live you managed to shatter a picture frame. What do you have to say to this act of vandalism? “As I said, I need vibrations. We love it loud.” Luke Turner
No comedown in sight for French techno belle Chloe louise brailey goes up must come down: the law of physics, the law of clubbing. Where so many producers find their inspiration in the quasispiritual moment of chemical climax, Chloe Thevenin knows there’s a flipside. Her 2007 debut The Waiting Room took the minimal techno the Parisian was known for and tweaked its perimeters until it took the shape of a darkly experimental album, its droning, hyper-detailed textures evoking the paranoia of the comedown, not the euphoria of the high. “I don’t feel my music is dark, really. Or maybe it is, but I don’t see it as only this way,” says Chloe, when probed about her tendency towards the half light. “My music is introspective; close to me; intimate.” A one-time student of the Academy of Music in Paris who used to produce with only a guitar and a 4track mixer before going on to score contemporary dance, Chloe ditched the introspectiveness when she found herself behind the decks at the infamous Parisian nightclub Pulp, where, alongside Ivan Smagghe, she undertook the Kill The DJ residency. Blending sophisticated French electro with the stripped-back rhythmic imperative of German minimal techno, it spawned the label of the same name and that infamous cover to Chloe and Smagghe’s mix album Dysfunctional Family (look it up, seriously). But how do you go from scoring contemporary dance to soundtracking underground clubs?
“I’ve always listened to many kinds of music, but when I discovered electronic music in clubs, I started DJing because the music was only on vinyl,” she explains. “The music I listened to when I was growing up is now inside me somewhere.” Indeed, while her techno productions have an engagingly offbalance sensibility, it’s only when Chloe is free from all restrictions that she can give herself over to these influences. Her highly anticipated second album One In Other is another richly layered, personal sounding album that marries disembodied vocals, wheeling synths and Motorik beats, with shades of folk and psychedelia among the smeared Kohl and paranoia. Would it be fair to say it’s an even bigger step away from the club music which she made her name with? “I would still love to make dancefloor records too!” she adds. “I love to make people dance more than ever.” What goes up...
SHE & HIM VOLUME TWO
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“Swedish strummer Kristian Matsson grumbles wordy, thoughtful screeds over nimbly picked guitar, with nods to Skip James and Leadbelly... his songs are jammed with enough surprises to make
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“[Carey] Mercer stands in the lineage of rock frontman as halfcarnival-barker, half-gnostic-preacher that Greil Marcus describes as the ‘crank prophet’... But Frog Eyes’ sound owes more to early Roxy Music—music that filtered out blues in favor of high modernism—as well as advertising jingles and John Philip Sousa.” —PITCHFORK
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May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Features ince the release of their debut Hysterics in September 2008, the band have played a multitude of live shows, from UK tours with Pulled Apart By Horses and Grammatics to US warm-up slots for Jane’s Addiction. Such level of work and exposure certainly seem to have had a positive impact on them. “At the time we wrote Hysterics we were very happy with it and thought we’d made the best record we could at the time,” says James. “But in hindsight... obviously when we play it live now, we play it a lot faster. This album was an opportunity to set right the shortcomings of that album, and make a set of songs that worked better.” ne of the many expansions on the album is that of Eva’s increased and ever-more-vibrant vocal range. “Instead of being in a practice room with the boys while they were writing, this time round they recorded rough demos for me and then I took them away,” she explains. “Then I would sit in my room for hours every day listening to each song. Being in my own space and doing it in my own way gave me a bit more leeway. There is a lot more contrast. Maybe I’ve been a lot more experimental this time.” erhaps the biggest risk the band took was recording the album with Diplo — someone more associated with M.I.A. and Bonde do Rolê than hardcore. If it was a risk, it has totally paid off. ames relates the story: “He mentioned our name in an interview on Pitchfork and from there arose the possibly of him doing a remix for us. I was aware he was pretty in demand as a remixer and producer, but he said he’d much rather be involved on a bigger level. He asked, ‘What are you doing for your next album?’ and at that point we hadn’t even written a single note of music. But we were made up that he wanted to work with us, so we were like, ‘Let’s just make sure it happens.’ He also said to us that it had been a different experience for him as well, working with a rock band. With dance people, he’s used to being involved with the writing process as well. People have been expecting us to come back with something other than a hardcore album, but when they ask what it sounds like I just say, ‘A Rolo Tomassi album’. That said, it’s much, much better than any other recording we’ve done.” nd when I express my relief at not seeing the band posing on MySpace wearing bright-coloured plastic sunglasses, keytars and Pabst Blue Ribbon trucker caps, like you’d imagine most people who work with Diplo would, James simply responds: “That can still happen.” That’s the look for the next album,” chips in Eva. ut you know instinctively that even if next week everyone in the known universe starts dressing like Darwin Deez or Rusko, Rolo Tomassi would blithely keep on ploughing their own unique and sublime furrow, regardless.
d an rs a t y ke d e l h ho gt Be vin m. a d u e s lb An ar xt a lo I p e S n Di AS the an M r or all TO s fo D O n p aW oh rik OL r ca J R E ke d by by an truc ds ph b r o re W togra co rd o a H Ph
OLO TOMASSI are such a nice bunch of people, it almost feels bad trying to pry scurrilous stories out of them. They’re like a walking advertisement for how good it could/should be being in a young, technically proficient, inspired, extreme and playful music-making unit. So while some bands twice their age, and with half their talent, are acquainting themselves with toilet floors in east London or trying neurotically to scrub the stench of mephedrone out of their hair and clothes after three days awake in the right clubs, Sheffield’s Rolo Tomassi — ostensibly a prog/ mathcore/hardcore/metal hybrid — seem to exist in a hermetically sealed universe of nonchalance and good vibes. heir inherent ‘wisdom beyond their years’ and the fact that they’ve been releasing never-lessthan astonishing material for over half a decade now, makes the
question of their actual ages a red herring. What people should be discussing is how easy Rolo Tomassi make this whole caper appear. Only a great deal of hard graft can create an illusion of effortlessness and their combination of Cardiacs, Locust, King Crimson, Runhild Gammelsæter, Mars Volta and Brian Eno feels so natural it’s almost as if the band are doing themselves a disservice by not acting like spoilt, pretentious avantrock beasts. They never scream: “Look what we’ve done!” e’re joined by keyboard player and vocalist James Spence, his sister and frontwoman Eva Spence and guitarist Joe Nicholson (bassist Joseph Thorpe and drummer Edward Dutton are next-door in this airy studio getting stuck into a big box of three-stripe trainers and tops, ready for a photo shoot). It’s genuinely refreshing to meet a band so utterly content with
their place in the universe and their amazing new album Cosmology refers specifically to this theme. It is, however, a slight relief when James, after 40 minutes of being really nice about people, conspiratorially reveals that they were once given some bad advice that could have seriously changed the entire nature of what Rolo Tomassi is. When we were still at school there was this girl called Carly who was an excellent singer,” he confides. “Her dad was a Rod Stewart impersonator; her mum was a Tina Turner impersonator. She had an amazing voice and she’d been raised by performers to be a performer. [starts whispering] I have to keep my voice down now… Our bass player’s dad suggested that she should join the band. This was before Eva had started singing with us. He said, ‘You should definitely get her involved; there would definitely be something in it for you.’ We were like, ‘Er, no.’”
mboldened by James, Joe chips in: “The idea was hilarious. She was basically a cabaret singer — stick thin, all rouged up — but it was suggested to us.” ames continues: “We played her birthday party once on the way back from a gig in Leeds and our set was followed by her dad doing a set of Rod Stewart songs. It was brilliant. There was no Tina Turner that night, though. But the odd thing was, they always looked like them; they were always ‘on’ and in costume. It was mental. We got chased out of their house by someone threatening to put our car window through with a brick. It was ridiculous.” is eyes glaze slightly as he imagines their original meeting: “I’m not sure what the family history is. Maybe they met and were like, ‘Hold on a second! You look like...’”
Pot The most rock of all rap groups CYPRESS HILL still smoke weed every day Words by Cyrus Shahrad Photograph by James Minchin
ike most habitual dope smokers, the only party I can recall from the last 20 years is the one at which I puffed my first ever joint. Even then the details are hazy: I remember the host, Jim Walsh, armwrestling his pretty blonde girlfriend over a surfboard. I recall a green-faced Rick Adams gulping down a pint of vodka thinking it was water and then spewing all over the garage door. And I remember the record on repeat that night, Cypress Hill’s Black Sunday, sounding better than pretty much anything I’d heard in my life. Jim built his first bong soon after. Rick entered the school public speaking competition on the subject ‘Why Marijuana Should Be Legalised’, an argument he recited word for word from the Black Sunday sleeve notes without once looking up at the audience (he lost). As for me, I began the protracted descent into cannabis-induced psychosis that would smother my teens and twenties, years spent confined to couches and the safety of computer games and in which contact with the outside world was kept to a minimum. No such fate awaited Cypress Hill, who, for a bunch of guys regularly exposed to gangs, guns and double-crossing drug dealers, remain surprisingly paranoia free. “We still smoke every day,” says Sen Dog in his laidback Latin drawl. “It’s a constant source of inspiration. From the very beginning, we wanted to be part of
the legalisation movement. We were party heads and huge Cheech and Chong fans, but we also had friends whose parents were hippies, and we’d go round their houses and they’d break shit down and teach us about what we were smoking. Not long after we met some Rastafarians who prayed for maybe 30 minutes before getting high. We were like, ‘Dude, there’s so much here we need to talk about.’ We didn’t want to just get on stage and be like, ‘Awesome, we’re stoned!’ We wanted to know our facts, and I’m glad we did, because it helped break down doors and move that old school mentality out of the picture.” But if middle class British kids believed Cypress Hill had suddenly exploded into being amid a cloud of bong smoke and a fanfare of blunted beats, they were mistaken. Sen Dog and B-Real first joined forces back in 1988 and from day one they were working on a formula that would help them stand out from the crowd. The bad cop/bad cop blend of BReal’s nasal delivery and Sen’s grunting baritone played a big part, as did their comic book rendering of the California badlands they called home. “We did everything in direct opposition to what was going on at the time in the rap game,” says Sen. “In those days everybody had their faces plastered all over their album sleeves, trying to look all gangster with gold chains and shit, and we didn’t want any of that. It was also fashionable to
rap about your culture and ethnicity and we weren’t interested in that either. We figured it was pretty obvious just from looking at us that we were Spanish, so we decided to rap about who we were and what our lives were like — just ordinary days hanging out and partying with our friends.” Not that Cypress Hill’s parties were much like Jim Walsh’s. They were more small arms skirmishes than arm-wrestling matches, more baseball bats than surfboards, and when Columbia finally released the group’s eponymous debut LP in 1991, they were clearly unsure how best to market so volatile a cultural commodity. As a result, ‘How I Could Just Kill A Man’ — the heaviest track on the album and the one with the most antisocial refrain (‘Here is something you can’t understand / How I could just kill a man’) — was slipped out surreptitiously on their lead single as a b-side to the decidedly more innocuous ‘The Phuncky Feel One’. When the flip became a huge crossover hit with everyone from ’hood rats to Harvard college kids, Columbia saw the potential, bit the bullet and pushed for the release of the equally ghetto ‘Hand On The Pump’ as the second single, complete with a murderous video featuring street beatdowns, shotgun assassinations and B-Real, Sen Dog and (producer) Muggs stalking around a decayed industrial estate. Almost overnight, Cypress Hill became America’s most wanted both
in the hip hop charts and the shit lists of concerned parents across the nation. “It was a strange time,” says Sen. “For every nine out of 10 people that loved what we were doing, there was one call into every radio show that was like, ‘You people are wrong, children are listening to you,’ and we had had a couple of shows that were picketed by Christian organisations and women’s groups. But we loved it. That sort of attention was exactly what we wanted and from that point on we just laughed off every naysayer and finger-pointer that crossed our path. We knew we were onto something that would keep people talking, and it was the best publicity we could have hoped for.” But Cypress Hill’s defining moment was still to come. In 1993 they released Black Sunday, an album as genetically modified to the smoker’s high as a skunk plant. It was the culmination of a style both musical and visual: the vaguely derivative ghetto funk of their debut had been replaced by Muggs’ eerie atmospherics and tapesaturated beats, while the album’s lyricism and imagery established the group as dark prophets of the apocalypse — a role bolstered by the video for the Black Sabbathsampling ‘I Ain’t Goin Out Like That’, which depicted them as grave diggers bearing torches and pursued by slavering devil dogs. Cypress Hill hadn’t tapped a nerve so much as mainlined a vein: the album
Shots entered the Billboard charts at number one before going on to sell 3.25 million copies worldwide. Few rap groups had enjoyed comparable crossover success. Lead single ‘Insane In The Brain’ became a stage-diving spectacle that smashed rock as well as rap clubs and later that year Cypress Hill found themselves collaborating with both Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam on the soundtrack to forgettable action flick Judgement Night. For many it was the first inkling of the direction the group was about to take in its fusion of hip hop and hard rock, but for Sen Dog it was the culmination of a process that had begun long before the first album. “We were fans of rock and heavy metal way before we were into hip hop. I remember when we were coming up with our first logo — the skull and spikes thing — we looked for inspiration to the posters we’d had on our walls growing up: The Doors, the Stones, Kiss and Aerosmith. By the time we were recording the second album, we were looking at those bands and figuring out how we could present ourselves in the same way. We wanted to have the mystique of a Jimmy Page, the rowdiness of a Keith Moon, the destructiveness of a Jimi Hendrix... We wanted to get the turntables on stage and set fire to that shit.” A college tour with Rage Against The Machine and slots at the ’94 and ’95 Lollapalooza festivals gave Cypress Hill the chance to do exactly that, and when they were
banned from Saturday Night Live for trashing their instruments and sparking a joint on stage, they cemented their reputation as a rap group capable of rocking as hard as any metal band. Not that they were quite ready to give up their ghetto roots. In 1995, they released Cypress Hill III: Temples Of Boom, widely regarded as their best record thanks to Muggs’ sparsely paranoid production and the album’s sinister, psychedelic imagery. It also served as a sparring ring for one of the most famous beefs in rap history: when Cypress refused or were contractually unable to let former friend Ice Cube use ‘Throw Your Set In The Air’ for the soundtrack to his ’hood comedy Friday, Cube went ahead and recorded his own version. The ensuing spat led to a series of increasingly hostile diss tracks from both corners, with Cube laying a lyrical beatdown on the Westside Connection tune ‘King Of The Hill’, and Cypress replying in kind on the awesome ‘No Rest For The Wicked’. Yet, by the end of the decade, the band had put battle rapping behind them and stepped onto a wider stage. Their 2000 LP Skull & Bones was a two-disc affair with one CD (‘Skull’) comprised of hip hop tracks and the other (‘Bones’) heavily metal-influenced, and featuring cameos from members of Fear Factory, Deftones and Rage Against The Machine. Tellingly, the lead single was either ‘Rap
Superstar’ or ‘Rock Superstar’ depending whether you heard it on urban or mainstream radio. Hardcore hip hop fans plugged their ears and pretended the whole thing wasn’t happening, but Sen Dog couldn’t have cared less. “We loved hip hop, we loved heavy metal, and we knew that the bands who have the most success are the ones who aren’t afraid to walk that edge and risk everything for the bigger reward. Sure, there were people in the hip hop community that wanted to talk shit about it at the time, but the alternative audiences took to it right away and before long we’d look out into the crowd and the ethnic diversity was just staggering — we were playing to pretty much every race on the planet. I think rock’n’roll definitely helped us grow stronger as artists and it served as an example to kids growing up not to be penned in by pigeon-holes in music.” It’s an attitude the group has carried with them to the present day, which sees the release of their eighth studio album, Rise Up — five years in the making and featuring appearances from Rage and Audioslave’s Tom Morello, salsa singer Marc Anthony and Daron Malakian of System Of A Down, as well as production from Pete Rock, DJ Khalil and Linkin Park’s jackof-all-trades Mike Shinoda. The latter was called in to produce the poignant ‘Carry Me Away’, which finds Cypress in reflective mode, meditating on fallen friends,
mistakes made and the dark side to the ghetto lifestyle they spent 20 years bragging about without pausing for breath. “There’s some great songs on the album, but ‘Carry Me Away’ was the track I wanted on it most. It means a lot to have a chance to tell our fans that we’re not without regret; that we made mistakes and lost a lot of good buddies on the way up. When people rap about that crazy gang life, it’s always the rowdiness and bravado that comes across, not how much they cried when their best friend got shot. That’s what makes that song so fucking special.” And while it’s a million miles away from the pump handling, hammer cocking, kill-a-man machismo of the band’s early nineties incarnation, it’s still an excuse to see them storm stages the world over and, like any great supergroup in their third decade of touring, play the tracks the audience came to hear. “Those songs — ‘How I Could Just Kill A Man’, ‘Insane In The Brain’ — I swear those tracks get a better reaction now than they did 18 fucking years ago. And it’s weird, because I think they might have more meaning to the audience than they do to us. We were so young when we wrote them — just knuckleheads on the street doing dumb shit. But the message they conveyed was one of craziness and being down for whatever, and that continues to speak to kids today in ways we never imagined possible.”
Immortal Combat As an antidote to their debut album, FOALS have turned to violence. Words by Kev Kharas Photographs by Dave Ma
can just feel the encroaching… in Britain we’re aware of our own health in a way I don’t think we have been before.” “It’s an extension of vanity,” he continues. “It gets you assessing yourself to these external standards — are you in your prime, physically, mentally, emotionally?” He throws another whisky down his neck; lights up. If Antidotes was characterised by its guitars and its rhythm — the former glimmering and interlocked like woven gold; the latter propulsive; both incessant — then Total Life Forever seems to be characterised by the decay of those fine, polyrhythmic lines. Total Life Forever
song-plans. “It’s a proper, old school HQ,” explains Yannis. “I’ve always wanted a central, physical space with its own army of people. You can’t be messed with — either artistically or physically. That place is full of weapons: swords, baseball bats, mallets… The record itself is an act of violence, almost: something carved out in the basement’s stale, sunless air. It’s a violent thing, building a record.” Like building a pyramid. “Hopefully not something we’ll entomb ourselves in,” says Congreave. Frequent references to other places blot the new album. In ‘Miami’ Foals fear the betrayal of
Things on your mind come out through your mouth. That’s just the way it is. At times it seems an overly basic relationship — ignorant, perhaps, of all the barriers, both physical (cords and cricoid cartilage) and invisible (conscience), that thoughts must pass through before they’re turned into words. You imagine men grown tired of this process are the ones to thrust gun barrels into their own throats, triggers pulled to decorate walls with thoughts forced out too soon, and in the wrong direction. A red, raw, unready mess of mind splashed on magnolia paint. Is that too crass? Yes. It’s pretty objectionable. There’s a purity
remembers Antidotes in fragments of guitar chatter, but its aesthetic seems to be that of an old aesthetic slipping away. Tracks like ‘Spanish Sahara’ and ‘Blue Blood’ arrive less guarded, and as such there’s more space for Yannis’ vocal — sung now, rather than yelped — to stretch out: soul growing in the gaps. “Those trebly, staccato guitars sound strange now,” admits Yannis. “They seem to be odd fragments of bone in the carcass of an old Foals. “It’s good, though — you’re getting to the foundation that way: to something with more weight and gravity. It feels more real. The first record was quite self-aware, so we’ve tried to
a lover in a “highly-sexed, tropical, affluent environment” where you can “smell the endless scope for getting a better mate”. In ‘Alabaster’, a girl from Villa Luz burns down the neighbourhood and kills her parents. When Foals went to Sweden to record the album, Yannis “almost got murdered on the first night”. “I went back to this tattooed Viking guy’s flat to buy weed. There were three or four even bigger Aryan guys with Alsatians, and a sternlooking woman who looked like she’d happily eat my spleen. In the kitchen, there was a plastic sheet covered in blood and 30 or 40 dead animals in this guy’s bedroom. Cheetahs, armadillos… He had loads of guns, and
of expression there, though, surely? Yannis Philippakis has a lot on his mind, if the words pouring through his mouth are to be believed. Yannis is a chain-smoker, but cigarettes can’t stop them. Yannis is a prodigious drinker, but shot glasses can’t stop them. Thoughts arrive so thick and fast it’s hard to know which avenues to explore and which to leave alone. Some talk, though, moves in circles. Yannis is unable to tear from his mind the image of a rotting whale carcass. He uses it as a metaphor for both his band’s new album, Total Life Forever, and the plight of Mike Tyson. “Making the record, there was a preoccupation with the tragedy of descent — the idea that
suddenly it became clear we didn’t share the same bloodline [Yannis’ father is Greek, his mother a South African Jew]. I bought the weed and left. I never felt more small and Mediterranean and Semitic in my life. They may as well have been drinking from skulls. It was good weed, though.” Carried in the space of this album is the time of it — the band are all approaching their midtwenties, which in itself is like making a second album. There’s a filtration of memory. Things and friends start slipping away from you. The traces of Antidotes in Total Life Forever feel representative of that — quietening echoes of the past that more subtly influence the
you have someone above normal human achievement, and then he’s just refuse. Actual refuse. What’s fascinating with Tyson is his awareness of it — he’s self-aware, articulate; he’s living in the fucking… whale carcass of his own achievement. His mind’s just shrunk inside all those huge things he used to inhabit. What does he think about now? You watch those old fights, and there’s something so incredible about being able to exist in the pressure of those moments.” Foals’ debut album, Antidotes — a poised, strange workout in math rock and afrobeat — entered the charts at number three upon its release in 2008. Does that preoccupation with Tyson’s fall from grace betray any anxiety on your part about the pressure of living up to a record that was, for an album of its kind, pretty successful? “Not as a band. Personally, it’s strange how something that was once quite small has become all-consuming. It’s the same with anything that’s ever been really good in my life. You’re thinking, ‘Is this gonna be the best it gets? Is everything after this gonna be a grey march in the shadow of some previous golden age?’ Any human aware of their own predicament would be the same, I think. Especially with something that’s affected me so physically. Touring’s withered my lungs. And I
regress to a more naïve state where the songs are primarily about expression.” If the guitar phalanxes of Foals’ debut can be read as an attempt to demarcate their own sonic territory, Total Life Forever’s relaxation of arms perhaps indicates the arrival of home ground in physical form. Earlier, Yannis, drummer Jack Bevan and keyboard player Edwin Congreave had shown me around their shared house in Oxford’s Jericho district. Total Life Forever was made here, and Foals have become physically embedded in the ‘The House Of Supreme Mathematics’, particularly its basement — an old shower cubicle turned vocal booth, walls scrawled with lyrics and
construction of adult identity. Time for musing over, it’s off to another bar, and, eventually, the home of a peddler of late night antidotes. There’s an empty glass tank on the table by his television. What’s that for? “A snake,” he says. Where is it now? “I don’t know. It escaped.” So where is it? “I don’t know.” Peering into it, I make out shedded skin and my brain laughs silently. No need for the mouth to join in, really, because it’s just so unbelievably fucking apt.
Dark WARDRUNA explore ancient Nordic spirituality and mysticism in a way that the black metal bands from whence they sprang never dared. Words by Luke Turner Image by Øivind Myksvoll he ancient Scandinavian peoples have not been well remembered by history. Written out of the discovery of America, they’ve long been painted by writers and filmmakers as worshippers of cruel deities, leaping out of longboats in horned helmets to plunder, rape and pillage. Worse still, in the 20th Century, the Nazis appropriated Nordic traditions to justify their ideology of Aryan supremacy. It’s something that Einar ‘Kvitrafn’ Selvik, singer and chief architect behind Norwegian group Wardruna, is keen to readdress. “The old gods are portrayed as silly, cartoonish figures,” he says from his home outside the northern Norwegian town of Bergen. “Nordic history has been portrayed as primitive, but what you find when you dig into it is that it’s actually very complex. For example, the old perception of time was circular, whereas ours is linear. Some of my motivation for working with Wardruna is to show people that there are some beautiful treasures lying there and gathering dust.” The dust was certainly scattered when The Stool Pigeon first encountered Wardruna at the by:Larm music festival in February. Playing in Oslo’s Folk Theatre, their heavy drones, chanted vocals, and mesmerising blasts of horns made for that rarest of things: a musical concert that was an entirely immersive, transcendental experience. Kvitrafn was raised on music, discovering metal from his brothers and classical forms from his father. His interest in traditional folk developed in his teenage years, yet his initial forays into music-making were very different to what he does now with Wardruna. He started out in
a thrash group when he was 13, progressed to various Norwegian metal bands, before ending up in second wave black metal troupe Gorgoroth in 2001. It was in Gorgoroth that Kvitrafn met Gaahl, who provides icemeltingly terrifying stares and deep, background vocals in Wardruna. In parallel with his development as a musician, Kvitrafn became increasingly fascinated with the ancient culture of the Norse people, and in particular the runes that formed their language and basis of their religion. “At some point, I became more and more interested and intrigued by ancient Nordic mystic arts, as well as the more mystical side of the runes,” Kvitrafn explains. “Rune can mean knowledge, or it can mean secret or whisper.” Although many black metal bands and players in the prolific Norwegian jazz scene have touched on the these themes in their music, Kvitrafn says that Wardruna stemmed from a frustration that “most of those artists merely scratch the surface. I felt it was a bit dismissed, and nobody was really dealing with these themes.” Hence Kvitrafn embarked on a journey to create a trilogy based on the Elder Futhark, the oldest of the runic alphabets. He used traditional instruments from Norway and beyond, alongside a methodology that attempts to delve deep into the mysteries of the Runes. “I want to give it a more ritual aspect as well,” he says. “When I started digging into these things I discovered new instruments that I decided I had to have in my project.” Some of those instruments come from the few craftsmen who keep otherwise forgotten skills of instrument making alive. “The goat horn or Bukkehorn, with its raw, moaning timbre is perhaps the most fascinating among the older Norwegian wind instruments,” Kvitrafn says, before going on to explain the Tungehorn,
the “very ancient sounding” Tagelharpe, and the Bone Flute, which he claims is the oldest known musical instrument in the world. He makes the drums himself, using deer hide. Make no mistake, though: this is no twee folk reinterpretation of the kind we’re used to in Britain — estate agents knocking back foaming ale and pretending that they’re 18th century swine herders. Kvitrafn is thoughtful when he explains how his interpretation and exploration of the runes manifests itself: “Every rune has a unique symbolic value, energy and force. That means that the given rune decides what instruments and sounds are used, and even specific dates that are appropriate for the recordings. It is the runes that make the music and I am the instrument. If I interpret the rune for the birch trees, I go out in the forest and play on birch trees. I could probably chop out a table leg and get the same sound but, consciously or subconsciously, I believe that the listener will know that it is a birch tree. Everything is done for a reason.” Kvitrafn insists that any magic or ceremony he practises around his beliefs in the ancient Nordic faith are “very personal and too subjective for me to want to elaborate”. But surely Wardruna is something of a ritual in itself? To an extent, he agrees, saying their first performance in Oslo’s longship museum was like “giving birth”, and had the audience in tears. The Wardruna sound is dense and dark, they dress in black and strew their stages with curious emblems and flags. Not surprisingly, many misunderstand them, yet Kvitrafn says he has always been comfortable with the mainstream press questioning him about connections between Nazism and Nordic culture, because it offers him the opportunity to tell them that it has nothing to do with Wardruna. “The Nazis destroyed some of the most powerful symbols of the Nordic
culture,” he explains. “Their way of using the symbols and old mythology was very over-simplified and twisted into their own agenda. My hope is that, with Wardruna, we can start not erasing this, but show people there is more to these things than that wound in history has shown us.” And then, of course, there’s the aforementioned Gaahl, a controversial figure who was imprisoned for torturing a man and apparently threatening to make him drink his own blood, though he has always insisted he was acting in self-defence. Since leaving prison, however, Gaahl has come out as gay and, earlier this year, he attended the Bergen Gay Galla, where he was awarded an accolade for ‘gay person of the year’. “I know what he has done, and I know of the childish comments in the press, but as a person he has nothing to do with right-wing views,” says Kvitrafn. Unlike fascism or our concept of a barbaric Norse history, Wardruna’s eloquent exploration of an ancient sense of the spiritual is at odds with much of the nihilism that’s commonly associated with musicians from Kvitrafn’s background. Kvitrafn himself says he hopes his music can have a resonance with all, whether spiritual or not. “Some of the things I am singing about and interpreting in the music are quite universal,” he explains. “It’s about man’s relationship to nature, our relationship to each other, and to our own divinities. It’s more about here and now — it’s not about trying to be Vikings again. It’s about bringing something old, and sewing new seeds. I think that in order to get in contact with those roots you have to start over again — you have to begin anew.” Notice: The Stool Pigeon, The Quietus and Metal Hammer will be presenting a Wardruna performance in London this summer. Details to follow on the relevant websites.
is nnio Morricone is not a slight man. He — ht heig ge a slim man — a man of avera is not slight. It would be fair enough, he but with perhaps, to say that he is unconcerned with ued plag being prepossessing; that he’s less a not is he status anxiety than most. Certainly He cio. gado big head... not a man full of brag icians probably has more right than most mus with ent cont and composers alive to be at least gs. thin of his position in the greater scheme estra orch full When you watch him conduct a neoand choir — whether playing one of his film s erou classical cantatas or one of his num g, enin deaf scores — he accepts the tumultuous, with him standing ovations that are thrust upon piness. good grace mixed with a humorous grum with e venu a After three or four encores in oe tip-t on d literally thousands of people stoo ws furro he shouting, “More, Maestro! More!” self, his brow, points at his watch, then him as is It n. retur before striding off waving, not to .” know you if he’s saying, “Come on. I am 81,
the music in time for the year in week. He had to compose in sed relea not are s film the of e som Dario ch on Sunday. So if Paolo Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci, e the scores. it to be performed in chur writ to d ione miss com am I h whic . Joffé will see that I’m Argento, Pedro Almodóvar and Roland films come you just consider Bach, you or horr of ber num a ple, exam for So, red or practically unemployed!” And all this is before discussing the hund at once and people believe that I have out ten, writ has he s work lute abso more concerts or year in one go. y of easy composed all the scores for that mong other things, the Maestro is a prett not to mention the dizzying array .” case the ys alwa not is that But he has funny guy. listening, jazz, lounge and avant pop can h whic of ples exam t grea e produced. [Som espectfully, though, this obscures the fact Crimes e continues: “You should also consider be found on the Mike Patton-compiled is still a large amount year a 13 or 12 that ic that Bach did not just compose the mus And Dissonance anthology on Ipecac.] of his of work to be produced alongside the rest pose used to com ificacy for the Sunday church — he output, especially when this prol it as is you know, his all As not ns. that reaso out t rent poin diffe to y for man e’s keen de. deca h nint his into well s inue cont used to body of work is huge and of course he seems. When it is put to him that, in cks in ning through to the 1968, he composed 38 original soundtra ! NO! NO! work right from the mor “NO s. bark stro Mae The ” Eh!? r neve t I do. This is the only one year alone he states, “First of all, I’ve or 13 cantatas evening, which is wha 12 pose com to h muc not is It t ! Tha e between me and Bach, composed 38 soundtracks in just one year about it, Bach, comparison to be mad k thin you if use, beca year one in d over both work all day and would be impossible! I have never score one cantata a however — that we pose com to used ple, exam for es etim 12 or 13 soundtracks in one year. Som
e is sprightly and energetic on stage and appears to be somewhere in the region of is. But 20 or 30 years younger than he actually self, him ies despite his size and the way he carr ss acro wide he casts a shadow that is long and th 20 the of the music of the second half g that century and beyond. It is not surprisin are you uct, when you watch him cond You . tions emo overwhelmed with conf licting sober are surrounded by adults weeping. The e. mor for and normally staid start shouting we how in What have we lost along the way ething enjoy music? Have we lost som aps? perh tial, important? Something essen pare com to gs There are certainly a few thin s final d n-en with the impact: crucial, seaso a at or, s, club between Premiership football es or push, certain concerts by Slayer, the Pixi Leonard Cohen.
of he last time I had the privilege in saw I , work watching the Maestro at of reach the for front of me a handy metaphor ic mus ry libra this jazz musician, OST writer, hit pop use, author, neo-classical powerho as he maker, devotional composer... As soon 10 the and e hinted that there would be no mor fêted n, dow or 15 minutes of wild applause died bian graphic novel author Alan Moore and Kasa to ed turn tely singer Tom Meighan immedia ss discu to e one another with mouths agap , been just had exactly how amazing the show es Strik ire Emp like 10-year-olds after watching Back for the first time.
in nnio Morricone was born in Rome a as it s wear 1928 and never left. He rica Ame to ed badge of pride that he never mov ed to (specifically, Hollywood) and never learn ably prob that speak English – two things long the in n helped his career and reputatio ed in a run. But given that he has always work which ic, mus wide field of genres, from absolute ic, mus ied appl he has always produced, to r, ucto cond as working as orchestrator as well and radio tre, and then as a composer for thea never cinema, you get the impression that he’s in ing stand his really cared that much about Hollywood.
for ince starting his career as a composer rale, Fede Il film scores in 1961 with ed on directed by Luciano Salce, he has work most dly ubte undo over 500 soundtracks. He is io Serg on work famous for his astounding Of ul Fistf A as Leone’s Italian Westerns such Ugly, Dollars and The Good, The Bad And The . He story the of but this is only a mere fraction Pier as se diver as has been utilised by directors
LIGHTNING R O T C U D N O C hn Doran listens. Jo s. ak spe E, N CO RI OR M IO N EN , The Maestro Justine Moss (Translator: Roberta Rinaldi). Illustration by
h, this character, is become time the bandit winds the watc do ld wou he g thin first the ning mor be a life and all the evening long. But if it is your job to that he who is thinking about his and gone had voice his that d afrai t do is in and has lived composer, then the one thing you mus thing a difficult situations he has been first the So e. mor any sing dn’t coul there violence, the fear – compose! You have to work and maybe y morning, through – the rage, the ever do ld wou rotti Pava like r singe t to watch. The character are some times when you don’t wan he would sing come out through this is bed, of out ng getti even re befo is it.” watch, but in a compose and you take a day off, but that tenor]: itself comes out through the for his wife [imitates histrionic ars.” to different situation every time it appe oooh, Maria! Where are you?” Just “Oo not hard it’s ts, artis ific prol of s with a lot check that his voice was still there!” is music is often rich in emotion and to guess that there’s a therapeutic element y to take quickly cuts to the core of fundamentall to his work; that if, for example, he had lar image of popu the bles resem ly bare e film of without important universal experiences. Lots an enforced year off, he would be lost him as a cantankerous interviewee. In can’t he still ” me? but to ens that, se happ t reali wha rs pose his work. “You know he’s pretty score com that on ressi imp the gets one fact, ther g without resorting to says. “When I finish off a project — whe being asked express these states of bein y tantl cons not n whe riot a h muc ple t musical cliché. that is a film soundtrack or a score, for exam t The Good, The Bad And The Ugly or Clin abou be to g goin not am I that ect — I always susp sings his way for a Eastwood. He shouts, laughs and he Maestro explains: “This actually able to do it anymore. Even if I only stop regular his le whi view inter the ugh ic thro flame depends on whether you’re writing mus very short time. I feel like my creative es him for chid ently frequ erta, Rob r, prete inter than rather singer, to with psychological complexity, might disappear. The great opera g more than she can possibly hope sayin y ever le. But that, up e ictab wok pred g he n ethin whe som that or é with clich Pavarotti, told me e. remember without breaking off for a paus his way in turn, depends on the composer and ing things. e’s of feeling things and interpret n the rudest of terms, Signor Morricon hology then he two Because if he can write with psyc career can be separated roughly into t what the half can, hopefully, tell you more abou halves as a film score writer. The first ose something experi- music is describing. If he can discl would be as an edgy, underground and a deep person, ld be different, maybe it’s because he is mental composer, and the second half wou knows exactly een or has studied music deeply, or as a renowned international star. But betw gical point of the how to use music from a psycholo these terms, which offered more freedom: music or a deep or the view. If he has a deep culture in underground and relatively unknown it also sensitivity, he may get there, but then famous and mainstream? nds on depends on where he wants to get; it depe tell who he actually is as a person.” First of all,” he begins, “I would like to my you that you have really understood t the time, from the late sixties to the say ld shou I t. abou career, which I am pleased seventies, world cinema was going through in both that I got to have my artistic career tion, creativity and say that a golden age in terms of inven halves, but let me explain further. Let’s to see this; to I used modernity. In retrospect it’s easy what I did was quite unique because avant-garde was melodic be able to spot that the tonal music, which you might call stream and some colliding head on with the main music. I used this style and sneaked in But was it easy . No leaving beauty in its aftershock. avant-garde music, which went unnoticed it feel like this tly. At to spot this at the time? Did one really realised I was doing that direc ol of creative bravery was there to stay? this time I was a student of the Scho at the not Vienna. It was a unique historical process Well actually, avant-garde music did going k cloc a or time. And this resembled Sign take over the mainstream,” gs and elf, backwards because I was taking new thin mys g about things. Morricone concludes. “Speakin adding them to very old ways of doing music when de t-gar avan used I ple, h the for exam To give you an example, if you watc nt. I wanted to in that scoring films as an experime opening credits to A Fistful Of Dynamite, the traumatic able to experiment with going deep into particular score you will definitely be this music when being a recesses of the film. And I used understand what I am talking about, kind of trauma rest of I wanted to describe a certain student of the School of Vienna and the , very difficult, of tonal — when the situation was very it. This was a mixing or a mingling . For or when something horrible had happened music and avant-garde music.” film example, when I started to score for the e I whil a s director Dario Argento. But after f course, even in his most popular work you if started hearing people telling me, ‘Ennio, — the soundtracks to the Italian Westerns music then they work. keep on writing this kind of — you can see a canny mind at s when I had that won’t call you anymore.’ And that’ Leitmotifs are subtly used in such a way music!” A good to quit with the avant-garde they become an essential plot device. A Few g example is the musical fob watch in For tand up now! You’ve just heard somethin bandit hotic psyc the o, Dollars More. Every time Brav amazing. Show your appreciation. slightly El Indio produces the watch, it plays a ther Maestro, bravo. different tune and this helps the viewer, whe state consciously or subconsciously, to judge his of mind.
e is quite keen, however, to explain such e subtleties as a quirk or just “one of thos things”.
10 If you gave a scene from a film to 10 get ld wou you different composers, , good be all ld wou h different compositions whic in film the ise acter but they would all char would different ways,” he says. “The differences mind, of state r’s be according to the compose and style l idua indiv their personality, their imagination...”
, ut when pushed, hard, he continues: “Yes the , case this in and, I do agree with you you to music that the watch makes causes place rent diffe a to transfer your thoughts every se cour of and because it is just a watch
ARIEL’ REVEN By Kev Kharas The air of mystery permeates with Ariel Pink and his band, H a u n t e d Graffiti.
“How we gonna sell this record to these morons, Ariel?” It’s somewhere around 2pm, or at least it was the last time anyone dared check, and the heat sears through an open window into Ariel M. Rosenberg’s stale Bel Air apartment. We’ve known each other a while now, introduced at one of Jimmy Iovine’s parties, and though brains are beyond boggled and nostrils blanched, there’s a familiar ease between us as we sit and soak in our clothes, hatching plans of attack for Ariel’s new album Before Today. “Who the fuck cares, man?” comes the drawled reply, finally, as Ariel rubs scum from his eyes and twirls the hairs on his effetely bloated gut. “Those saps’ll buy anything with my name on.” He burps the last part of that sentence, then wonders aloud if someone can go for more chicken. The girls get dressed. The dog keeps whining in the corner. Ariel’s new single, ‘Round And Round’, looms from the TV again so that our reality and its reality start to close in on each other. We brace like dying pilots: brows down, eyes up towards the screen, ready to hurtle headlong into whatever existential nixing our doppelgangers harbour. The cat, oblivious to this dick routine, sleeps because cats can’t break down THC once it’s in their blood. He’ll be stoned for months. Someone else in the room slurs something about giving the dog rum. “Fucking… dumb fucking dog!” Did anyone just say that? I may’ve imagined it. If you imagine another mind, can you imagine another mouth? And if you can imagine a mouth, and a mind, where’d you spit the mouthful of mind when someone gives you chocolate?
Whose teeth are these?! “Jesus fuck,” I spit, hot, white foam dribbling down my chin. “My mouth feels like it’s been sandblasted.” “Yeah, I had one of the girls take a shit in your mouth when you passed out last night.” “Oh,” I say. “I thought it was just the cocaine.” The above is a deleted scene from a movie never made — the feelgood-(then-bad) tale of a one-man bedroom cult thrust to the very apex of pop revere. Ariel’s Revenge, Act I: ‘The Early Years’ Ariel Marcus Rosenberg is born on June 24, 1978, in Pico-Robertson, a neighbourhood 20 car minutes south of Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills. He travels to Beverly Hills High School by carpool. Earliest musical memory? “Listening to Debbie Gibson’s ‘Shake Your Love’ in the carpool. Third grade. There’s nothing quite like that feeling, man — each moment and feeling’s unique, but if you wanna relive them, just go listen to what was playing at the time.” I guess it’s ‘the point’ of pop music to tether itself to certain moments in your life. “You could almost see it coming from the get-go; with what they were trying to do with pop music — to create instant memories so people could long after their not-so-distant pasts.”
It’s that attempt to turn every moment into an idyllic ‘golden age’, even if it happened last week. Personal moments get ossified and ‘trapped’ in pop songs just like they do in photographs. It’s a vain process in a way — that desire to ‘own’ other people’s time which is implicit in nostalgia. “The world’s speeding up, though. We enter the workplace as 20somethings and before we know it, we’re trapped there on the road to retirement. When we arrive, we have nothing to show for it but a handful of memories and songs that mark the time for us. And that’s supposed to keep us happy, you know?” You don’t know why you do things at that age — Ariel will put it down, later, to “senses of pride and identity” — but young Rosenberg sets about trapping his memories in sound bubbles with a lunatic zeal. His mother buys him a tape player and four cassettes (Guns N’ Roses, UB40, Def Leppard, a forgotten other) and he gets “very into metal”, his first obsessive musical love. The metal itself gets ever heavier, until one night Ariel returns 300 death metal CDs to a record store in LA. There are shifts through death rock, industrial, punk and noise before Ariel returns, after a stint as “your typical hipster record store jerk”, to… pop. “I could finally appreciate pop after hearing how it commingles with all the experimental stuff,” he’ll explain, later. Ariel’s Revenge, Act II: ‘Getting Naked With Pop’ Listen to Ariel’s music and you’ll hear the sound of pop turned inside out. The tussle between him and pop is present in all his music — a career’s ‘love interest’. The Doldrums, an album recorded in 1999 and released in 2004 through Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label, gives pop a particular-
ly torrid time — it twists its blood, spits it back out as a mewling harlequin baby. In tracks like ‘Among Dreams’ and the stunning ‘For Kate I Wait’, Ariel sees pop’s quest to annex vast swathes of history and engages himself in a personal fight against the false dawn of every obnoxious ‘golden age’; every ossifying, empathy-desperate, homogenous and banal ‘big hit’. Why? To preserve his own experience: to confirm his own existence. His weapons are hints at pop’s dystopian future. ‘THINGS A DRUNK MIGHT ARGUE ARIEL PINK’S MUSIC HAS IN SOME WAY ‘PREDICTED’, AND LET’S NOT KID OURSELVES, WE ARE ALL DRUNKS.’ 1. The shattering of the music industry and, subsequently, of mass, musical empathy (i.e. ‘generation-defining’ hits by ‘icons’) except in rare cases (i.e. ‘Umbrella’ by Rihanna). “Because Ariel makes generationdefining hits most of his generation will never hear.” 2. The lonely auteur’s retreat to the bedroom with cheaper production equipment and the internet. “Because Ariel has recorded several hundred songs at home on cassette since 1996, and on many he ‘plays the drums’ with his mouth and armpit. Because if he sang ‘Jules Lost His Jewels’ in the street, he’d get beaten up.” 3. The death of the band, subsequent to point 2. “Because Ariel Pink has a band called Haunted Graffiti now. This is merely an exercise in the perverse.” 4. The birth of post-generic pop, as stylistic codes and scene etiquettes start to collapse. In solitude and band-less, the ambiguity of private ideas,
S GE thoughts and feelings are conveyed more acutely, without dilution. ‘Love Songs’ no longer emerge from ideas of what ‘Love Songs’ should sound like — they are re-attached to the physical and emotional sensations people recognise as clues of ‘love’ (i.e. vague, warm feelings somewhere between gut and rib) rather than the fossilised, catch-all label the word itself has become. “Because Ariel Pink writes songs that defy easy emotional categorisation. As such, they offer a more intimate and intuitive empathy.” 5. Pop’s embedding in previously hostile styles as the ‘threat’ it poses wanes and tribes start to disintegrate – e.g. lo-fi’s ‘noise/pop’ dichotomy. “Because Ariel Pink’s ‘pop hooks’ still tend to be buried in the mix, even if they’re clearer on Before Today.” 6. A perceived slackening in the average human attention span. “Because Ariel Pink writes songs that themselves seem to want to grow into three or four songs.” 7. A fetish for dying technologies, which in 2010 means vinyl, VHS, cassette, Polaroid. “Because everyone always talks about how Ariel Pink’s music sounds like fickle AM radio transmissions carried on the breeze.” “Do they mean the actual sonic tapestry that is AM radio, as opposed to FM? Or AM Gold? I don’t think anyone’s listened to music radio for decades, but I see what they’re saying. Making the music, I definitely had a connection to that — to the past, and with turning the limitations of the 8track into its strengths. So the music suits the gear, as opposed to someone saying, ‘That’s gonna sound great when we can hear it properly.’ “That’s where I get all haughty and start to consider myself a composer — I mean, yeah man, I’ve really thought about these things. It’s a mixture of inexperience and foresight, maybe. If people say it sounds like AM radio,
AM radio it is, man. Half-baked memories… I remember songs where, without wanting to, I’ve just effortlessly plagiarised something. It’s hard not to these days.” Ariel’s Revenge, Act III: ‘Getting Somewhere’ By 2009, Ariel Pink has spent a decade on his knees, reissuing albums recorded years hence, “living life in reverse”, getting “booed everywhere” by live crowds who “don’t even hide their contempt”. It’s time to move on. “Petering out some guitar, picking my big toe and trying to sync all the edits into place on cassette? To keep doing that would be a huge fucking headache. I can’t even really get myself into the same positions I used to when I was a limber kid. I can’t crouch without my knees screaming in pain. All those earlier records were done barefoot on the floor — on my knees the whole time. I don’t know why I couldn’t just put a cushion under my ass.” There’s a cushion, of a kind, inflating beneath Ariel’s ass now, though. “It seems like there are so many artists nowadays jiving with the same things I’ve been.” I assume you’re talking about people like Washed Out, Toro Y Moi? “I’m not just talking about the ‘chill-wave’, ‘glo-fi’ thing,” he says, without mention of either term by me. “I mean people like MGMT and others who just happen to be crawling up the indie charts or whatever, which is good fortune on my part.” Does it feel like others are stealing your thunder? “I enjoy it. My five minutes have come and gone and I feel pretty out of it, in terms of knowing where the kids are at and all. I feel like a ‘hip dad’ suddenly, which is weird. But I’m satisfied with my litter.”
As more pups gather around Ariel and the extent of his influence becomes clear, boos turn to cheers and label interest grows. Ariel’s Revenge, Act IV: ‘Money, Girls, Coke and Chicken’ Ariel’s Revenge, Act IV: ‘Reality’ Alas, Rosenberg wasn’t reserved a place in the bloated, major label, rockpig pantheon. He signed in 2009 with UK independent label, 4AD. “Several years I’ve been trying for an actual record deal, so yeah, I feel the pride of accomplishment, but I’m still poor as shit: poorer, actually, in the short-term.” If it were hypothetically possible for Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti to be a mainstream radio band, like MGMT, is that something you’d like? “No, no, listen: I like being able to run back into my little cubby hole and… letting the air of mystery just permeate. I feel plenty acknowledged — way over-acknowledged — for just about everything. The industry’s fickle and the law of averages is stacked against everyone, MGMT included. I’d like enough critical acclaim to not have to be in everybody’s faces — just eke out a living as I come through town for the hundredth time. I’m not really availing myself to any other career, so I may as well make something from what I’ve been doing all my adult life. Not much else I’m good at.” With cleaner production, real-life bandmates, a soft-rock sound and studio expertise, is Before Today an ‘I’M HERE’-type announcement? “It’s quite puny. If I had it my way, it’d be a quadruple album or something: a whole new statement of intent. But it’s a grand enough statement for the likes of me, I guess [laughs]. A step in the right direction for someone primarily known for making shitty-sounding records.”
You’ve said you were a “maladjusted” youth. How did that manifest itself? “In my unflinching obsession with music to the total dismay of everybody in my family. I was ready to be a zero, without even being too romantic about it. I’m still a zero, but a zero that’s picking himself up — I’m not cool or anything; just a dysfunctional boy trying to get myself into the world. My parents aren’t singing the same tune they used to now I’ve been signed. I got my revenge.” You’re cool to some. A lot of people are citing you as an influence. You don’t feel like The Fonz at all? “No, I do feel like The Fonz. I feel like a cartoon character 99 per cent of the time. I feel like an adult in a child’s body. I wasted my childhood away. I put a lot of bets on what I did, and actually came out the other end. I still don’t know what to feel about it. I’m happy I’m not yesterday’s freak-folk; that I have a record deal and fans. I’m enjoying it while it lasts!” I think it’ll last. I think people will look back at what you’re doing now and see you like they see Joe Meek. “Those are all parallel realities, man. In some alternate universe, I’m John Lennon; in others, I’m Hitler. So I’ll settle for Joe Meek. Give me a nice little op-ed piece a couple of years down the line. I hope I won’t have shot myself by then.” Do you think they’ll ever make a film of your life? “No, I mean, Joe Meek? Man, that’s a tragedy. I’m not a tragedy. Maybe it’s not a tragedy – I have no idea. I have no idea.” Ariel’s Revenge, Act V: ‘Post-Reality’ ?
Soul Soul Position Position In his his own own words, words, Los Los Angeles Angeles In super-producer FLYING FLYING LOTUS LOTUS is is super-producer on some some psych psych shit shit for for real. real. on Words by by Cyrus Cyrus Shahrad Shahrad Words Photograph by by Dan Dan Wilton Wilton Photograph e’s a sense among those attending Brainfeeder at Fabric that they are less participants in a club night than privileged witnesses of a mass movement in electronic music. It’s a feeling bolstered by the way the cast of DJs resemble a clan of twisted superheroes: the butter-wouldn’tmelt cuteness of Tokimonsta, whose rumbling dubstep shakes the galleries, and nerdy-looking nice guy Nosaj Thing, whose Akai MPC box transforms him into a headbanging harbinger of bass-fuelled destruction. Then there’s Daedelus dressed like an Edwardian dandy; floppy haired Austrian synth wizard Dorian Concept looking like a pro snowboarder on acid; and the mighty Gaslamp Killer, who storms around the stage sweeping his Sideshow Bob curls from his eyes and screaming obscenities at the audience when he isn’t queuing up a genre-hopping slew of sonic horrors.
it’s the appearance of Flying Lotus that sends the audience into its most heightened state of hysteria. After all, this is the man who became one of the most sought-after remixers on the planet following the 2008 release of his formidable Los Angeles LP, and who has since worked with everyone from Kelis and Kanye to reclusive dubstep legend Burial. It was FlyLo himself who set up the Brainfeeder imprint, initially as an outpost for the more aggressively leftfield cuts of his progressive producer friends. And it’s FlyLo who has become a suitably unsettling figurehead for the psych revival
currently decimating his LA hometown, sending kaleidoscopic shockwaves across the world and — for one night only — taking the roof off London’s favourite superclub. eet the following day in FlyLo’s t-shirtstrewn room at the London Bridge Hilton, windows open and towels stoppering doors to prevent alarms being set off by the blunts he rolls with authentic Phillies cigar skins and bitty Brixton weed (he hates the aftertaste, but likes the way it connects him with Brixton, which is the only place in London he gets “the authentic black experience”). We’re ostensibly here to talk about his new LP, the Sun Ra-channelling, interplanetary odyssey Cosmogramma, but it’s hard not to view this latest offering in the light of that same psychedelic resurgence currently turning scores of West Coast kids onto DMT and LSD at raves in disused LA cinemas. All of which sounds a little like history repeating — albeit history filtered through a Roland TB-303 running in parallel with a Yamaha Tenori-On.
hink it’s becoming a worldwide thing,” says FlyLo, real name Steven Ellison. “But I think the psychedelic history of LA made it the natural epicentre for this whole movement. I see all these older cats on the streets looking at what the kids are doing now, and there’s this glimmer of recognition in their eyes. They’re like, ‘Okay, so it’s all going down again, only this time with computers.’ I don’t know where we’re heading with it, but it’s been
an incredible experience, and it’s allowed us to push the music in directions none of us ever thought possible.”
uch, it’s increasingly difficult to stamp FlyLo with the hip hop tag you’ll most likely find his albums lumped with in mainstream record stores. While he admits that he and his friends still have that “hip hop swagger” — that it’s the genre he first got into, and the one he’s most comfortable identifying with — he’s become increasingly frustrated in recent years with hip hop’s creative limitations and refusal to expand. Perhaps more appropriate comparisons can be made with the jazz movement to which Ellison has family as well as musical ties: his great aunt was the late Alice Coltrane, and his saxophonist cousin Ravi Coltrane makes an appearance on Cosmogramma alongside a roster of jazz luminaries, including bass virtuoso Thundercat, violinist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and harpist Rebekah Raff.
ple pigeonhole jazz as a self-contained musical form, but the whole idea of jazz was initially rooted in breaking out of pigeonholes and realising whatever vision the artist had in mind. And there’s an unhealthy emphasis on instrumentalism; on traditional musicianship. I see all these incredible players who can’t fuck with computers, and all these incredible computer people who can’t do the musician thing. What I want is for those two worlds to meet
in my little universe.”
hat extent, Cosmogramma serves as a supercondensed, 45-minute sketch of Ellison’s inner landscape — from the sweeping harps of instrumental opener ‘Clock Catcher’ and the amputated synth chops of ‘Computer Face // Pure Being’, to the lilting Laura Darlington collaboration ‘Table Tennis’, which features the sound of table tennis balls dropping sequentially in the background. It is, in Ellison’s own words, the record of his dreams, a term no doubt meant to be taken literally as well as figuratively. This is a man obsessed with the idea of lucid dreaming; who recently told Rolling Stone magazine that he’d had a dream in which he and Thom Yorke had met in a bar, only to then wake up and discover an email from Thom asking if he’d support him on his solo tour.
e and FlyLo first met after Annie Mac suggested Ellison for a remix of Radiohead’s ‘Reckoner’, and they remain close. Thom was reputedly at last night’s Brainfeeder event (apparently that was the reason Gaslamp played ‘Everything In Its Right Place’) and he himself makes an appearance on Cosmogramma, lending his mumbled musings to the haunting ‘…And The World Laughs With You’, a track penned during the depression that followed the death of Ellison’s mother last year.
t was one of the hardest tunes for me to make, on a personal level,” he says. “I felt
so disconnected from people after my mom passed away. People would say, ‘It’s okay, you’ll be fine, everything’s going to get better.’ But the truth is that I didn’t know if that was the case. I was freaking out — really losing my shit. At that point, the only thing that made any sense to me was the music. If I didn’t have this album to channel myself into, then god knows what would have happened.” that Cosmogramma is a consolation record in the mould of Clapton’s ‘Tears In Heaven’. Instead of wallowing in worldly despair, Ellison has chosen to free-float off into a surreal inner universe, indulging a fascination with the untapped chambers of human consciousness that is clearly more than some passing fad.
ot of people talk about infinity and the implications of inner space, but it’s something I’m pretty serious about exploring in both my music and my life in general. I’ve had some things happen to me on this planet that were pretty extraordinary — lucid dreaming, out-of-body experiences — all of which happened on some sober shit. I don’t feel I could explain that stuff in words even if I wanted to, but making a record like Cosmogramma helps me understand it, and if it allows other cats to get a taste of the things I’ve experienced, then that’s cool. If not, hopefully they can just chill and enjoy listening to it. Either way, I’m definitely on some psych shit for real.”
Square Meal. Zooey Deschanel of SHE & HIM has found something unusual in her mange tout. And, get this, M. Ward’s crêpe has only the subtlest hint of lemon. Words by CIAN TRAYNOR
warning appears in the inbox: She writes all music and lyrics, Him just produces and arranges. Assuming otherwise is a misconception best avoided. Normally this would suggest difficult interviewees, but it’s hard to imagine indie’s platonic sweethearts being anything other than easygoing. You can sense it in their seamless pairing: she’s the cutesy Hollywood starlet who grew up in showbiz, he’s the soft-spoken, intensely private songwriter who forbids photography at shows. Together their wholesome duets channel American’s golden age of pop, replicating its timeless qualities with a saccharine finish. In a dimly lit Marylebone hotel, M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel are munching on lunch ordered in from Wagamama. Ward resembles a freckled Johnny Depp, with streaks of grey flaming around each ear and his boots looking like they’ve been subjected to prolonged kicks of frustration. He’s well-known for getting interview fatigue before you can press record, treating each question like an invoice to worm out of. Yet he steps up gamely to the first subject, enthusing about how to make a cover version sound like an original and how David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ is over-produced. But a chill drifts in from the opposite side of the table. Deschanel does not look impressed: a faux-pas has been committed. As if on cue, Ward takes off his glasses, pockets them in resignation, and shuts down... until Deschanel spots something suspicious in the edamame. Ward springs forward as if discovering a bomb under the table. “Serious?” He scrutinises the beans in alarm before sending his manager out to fetch a lemon crêpe, retiring once more. “I just pulled something strange out of my mange tout,” says Deschanel, happy to take over. “That doesn’t faze me: I will still eat the rest of it.” She proceeds to trot out the banalities with mediatrained shrewdness, steering the conversation to underline who does what. “There are boundaries. I write alone. So that’s that.” Vol. 2, as with its precursor, was a long-distance collaboration where Deschanel wrote songs in the middle of the night during film productions and emailed tracks to Ward for polishing. The uncanny similarities between their songwriting styles, she explains, are due to a shared love for classic pop acts like the Everly Brothers. But if that really is that, surely she doesn’t need Ward for interviews and photo shoots: the two things he seems to loathe more than anything. Pressing for an explanation is difficult. So far
Photograph by Jamie Simonds
Ward has remained curt and vaguely disdainful; always shrugging, yawning or holding his head in exasperation, spewing fragmented sentences, like “Because the songs were so good. Next question.” Songs are not up for discussion either. “Better to show, not tell,” mutters Ward. “We don’t like to give interpretations to people.” Deschanel agrees. “I won’t be doing VH-1 Storytellers.” With shoes off, hair tied, a baby blue cardigan to match her bulging eyes, Deschanel resembles one of those dolls that plays back a pre-recorded inanity when you pull their string. Anything that veers from staid territory is batted away with: “I don’t know how to answer that question... It makes my mind go blank.” One unquotable stock answer follows another until the most interesting thing at the table is the sight of Ward carving up his crêpe with chopsticks. When asked if he prefers working in the background, such as with Jenny Lewis or Monsters Of Folk, he mumbles in a disinterested monotone: “Yeah, no, um...um.” “Obviously, Matt, I don’t want to answer this question for you,” Deschanel interjects, “but I feel like it’s all fun.” “I’m very lucky to have a great... uh... job,” adds Ward. “Um... I love She & Him because I can just focus on guitar and arrangements. I love that perspective.” Is that because you find it more comfortable? “I don’t know... It’s something that takes me back to when I first started playing guitar. I never used to sing. I just played guitar into my 4-track. It was my first instrument, and, um, I live a good life. I’m good right now. You know what’s funny about this crêpe, though? It didn’t have any lemon or powdered sugar. I think it was just a plain.” Oh. “Like, it had the subtlest hint of lemon. Could you think of a crêpe that was like that before? Probably with lemon curd or something, right?” Eh? “Okay, it’s lemon juice. There’s lemon juice there, but normally, in France anyway, there’s like lemon curd or... preserves. But there wasn’t in there.” Okay. “I think there was lemon juice in it. Anyway... that’s going off the subject.” The blockade is in force. So what does Ward not want us to know? Matthew Stephen Ward grew up in Ventura County, California to a Mexican mother and American father in a Baptist household where his older brothers and sisters jostled to control the
radio. He started recording when he was 16 and, not wanting to wake anyone up, learned to sing quietly. He studied English at Cal Poly, moved to Portland with a handful of college pals and married a writing professor in 2001. Ward gave a tape to Howe Gelb (whom he was a big fan of) after a show and Gelb released his debut, Duet for Guitars #2. After five well-received albums he met fellow Californian Deschanel in 2006 during the making of The Go-Getter and together they recorded a song for the film’s closing credits. The actress had been writing country pop songs for years and though encouraged by her family, it wasn’t until she “found the right person” in Ward that she felt ready to launch a second career. But they share another, lesser-known mutual interest: Twin Peaks, the surreal TV series by David Lynch and Mark Frost. Ward has been a long-time Lynch fan, occasionally burying references in his lyrics, while Deschanel’s mother acted in the show. “My dad directed three episodes, too,” she says. “I was kind of obsessed with it, even when I was nine, because it’s so good.” “Best TV show ever,” grunts Ward. When talk turns to the annual Twin Peaks festival, where hardcore fans flock to the show’s setting in rural Washington State, Ward pipes up, his attention stolen back from checking emails and reclining ever further under the table. “Well yeah, I went to one of ’em...” For a moment, the mask slips. Then, realising he’s revealed something, he backpedals furiously. “I mean, I just happened to be in the area... I’m not that crazy about it that I’d go out of my way.” At this point, Deschanel sits up on the armrest of her chair, her legs swinging apart, vying for attention. If it wasn’t for those leggings, it’d feel like an outtake from Basic Instinct. Ward, meanwhile, holds a crumpled napkin to his mouth as if trying to knock himself out with Chloroform. Okay, time to wrap it up. But not before one last attempt at understanding Ward’s reticence. For years, he only played support slots. Even with a strong following and several albums, fans frequently had to go to someone else’s show to see him. Sometimes they still do. But why? “I don’t know...” There’s a glint in his eye. He thinks about answering. We’re almost there. You can sense it. A wry smile creeps in; a hint of recognition. He opens his mouth, holds his breath. “I just like working with talented people.” The wall crashes down again, bringing silence with it, until Ward chuckles awkwardly. Showing, maybe, but not telling.
R&B SUPERSTAR MARY J. BLIGE IS REALLY, REALLY HAPPY AT THE MOMENT
Words by Garry Mulholland Photograph by Anthony Mandler
“It was our idea but Bono just, you know, confirmed it.” Mary J. Blige is talking about covering Led Zeppelin songs, and she’s… laughing. Actually, giggling. With girlish joy. This is a phone interview and I’m beginning to suspect that this happy-go-lucky name-dropper is an imposter. What have they done with Mardy J. Blige? Who is this Merry J. Blige they’ve stuck me with? Because, to the 40 million-plus people who’ve bought a Blige record at some point over the last 19 years, MJ is The Diva Of Doom. As an abused child and a wayward adult, she’s been through some horrible shit, and she’s talked about it, and sung about it, with relentless honesty, on benchmark Blige albums My Life, No More Drama and The Breakthrough. Her soulful R&B back-catalogue is like an epic novel’s worth of feminine agony and gospeltinged survivalism for the self-help generation. There have been some party hits like the sensually funky, Dr Dre-produced ‘Family Affair’ and her ‘You’re All I Need To Get By’ duet with Method Man, but girlish giggles and all-American positivity do not play a major part in the muse of Ms Miserable J. Blige. The major reason that I’m so confused by the jolly and confident woman plugging her latest album, Stronger With Each Tear, is a personal one. I interviewed MJ face-to-face back in 2001 for the No More Drama album and found it one of the most disorientating interview experiences I’ve ever had. She was incredibly sweet and adorable, but sweet and adorable like an abandoned kitten. Despite having just hooked up with Martin ‘Kendu’ Isaacs, the manager and future husband (they were married in 2003), whom she credits with transforming her life, she still seemed like a lost soul, woefully illequipped for the celebrity life thrust upon her with the release of her massively successful and influential, Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs-produced ‘hip hop soul’ 1992 debut LP, What’s The 411?, at the age of 21. I came away feeling sorry for her. So a half-hour phone interview where I’ve already been told twice by PRs that I’m not allowed to ask questions about her private life doesn’t seem too promising a scenario. Not that I need to ask about the well-documented Nightmary J. Blige years. Raised in Yonkers, on the border of the Bronx, her early life was defined by watching her jazz musician father beat her nurse mother, sexual abuse from another family member when she was just five, and constant physical battles in the streets. At age 17, she made a tape of herself singing an Anita Baker song at a DIY recording booth in a shopping mall that somehow found its way to Uptown Records president André Harrell. She was immediately signed by Harrell, but spent three frustrating years singing back-up before she and Combs invented modern R&B on What’s The 411? Completely unprepared for the sudden adulation, MJ lapsed into a proto-Winehouse period of alcohol and drug addiction, gaining a rep for bad behaviour at the expense of journalists, photographers and various award ceremonies — even doing one concert in London where she was so out of her box she could barely stand. At the same time, she was in an abusive relationship with K-Ci Hailey of boy band Jodeci, quickly followed by another with an unnamed man who tried to kill her. Her next step in dealing with her mounting money problems was to appoint notorious former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight, of all people, as her financial adviser. Blige bottomed out in 2000, met Kendu, found God, extricated herself from the likes of Knight and Hailey, and began the long, slow climb out of her addictions. It was 2005’s The Breakthrough album that marked the new, damaged-but-defiant MJ — clean, sober and more successful than ever. Since then, she’s become pop royalty, duetting with U2, collecting awards by the bucketload, singing at Obama’s inauguration and becoming an allAmerican philanthropist on a number of charity records. She also has her own pro-women charitable foundation FFAWN (The Foundation For the Advancement of Women Now — stop
sniggering, you cynical bastard, you). But despite our heroine’s astonishing journey from fuck-up to role model, I’m still expecting grudging monosyllables, wary suspicion and the full Moody J. Blige experience from this latest encounter. Instead, I get a mixture of Oprah Winfrey, Tigger and The Laughing Gnome. It’s amazing what a shot of happy marriage, religion and presidential patronage can do. But more Obama later. Let’s get back to Zep. Ms Blige has chosen to bookend her new album — with its upbeat, stronger first-half and tearful second-half — with covers of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and ‘Stairway To Heaven’. ‘Stairway’ is obviously irredeemable, but the version of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ is a blast — a noisy, ludicrous trash-fest that stands as the most enjoyably tasteless thing she’s ever recorded. So, why is The Last Soul Diva slumming it with Led Zeppelin? “Well, because… we had done U2. We did Sting. We did Janis Joplin before in my career, as far as rock’n’roll tunes I wanted to attack and cover. We were all sitting around with the CO of the record company, Jimmy Iovine, trying to figure out what special rock’n’roll group we could do… and everyone came up with Led Zeppelin. And I was like, ‘What about Led Zeppelin?’ I was listening to the radio one morning and ‘Stairway To Heaven’ came on. I can’t even describe the feeling that came over my body — probably the same feeling that came over my body when I heard it as a kid. But it was very nostalgic. I was like, ‘Wow, I know this record!’ And it just felt so good. Right away I said, ‘This is it. This is the record that I’m gonna cover, right here.’ So, fast forward to my anniversary party, and Bono came. We spoke to him about it: ‘Do you think it’s a good idea that we should cover ‘Stairway To Heaven’?’ And Bono’s my uncle; he’s like a family member. He said, ‘Hell yeah you should cover ‘Stairway To Heaven’! And you should do ‘Whole Lotta Love’!’ Ha ha ha!” I ask her if she knew ‘Whole Lotta Love’ from her childhood. “No, I didn’t know that one. And I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is the most incredible…’ These are my exact words: this is the most incredible thing I’ve ever heard. In-sane! In-credible! Hur hur! God, it gave me the goose bumps and made me wanna spin my head around and shake my hips and go crazy. HE HE HE!!!” Unlike the other Big Divas — Whitney, Mariah, Celine, etc. — MJ’s voice is imperfect, untutored, raw. She sings from the heart, the gut and the church. There are few power ballads in her oeuvre — the street and hip hop is always present, right alongside the Aretha, Chaka and Anita Baker moves that remain her primary influence. If you think you’re allergic to US corporate R&B, may I recommend a listen to Reflections, her 2006 ‘best of’, which shows off the highlights of her deft balance between agony and ecstasy, sacred and secular, pop high concept and the deep and humble self-immolations that make for great soul music. And once you instinctively grasp the drama and danger of the hits, then move onto the albums proper. Advertorial over. Lord knows, she don’t need the money. MJ co-executively produced the soundtrack to mega-hit child abuse movie Precious. She must have been proud of playing some part in its success… “Extremely proud, because I feel like it’s a film that’s very important to see. I knew it was going to be the Slumdog Millionaire of this year, because the bottom line is this: it was uncut; it was super honest. And things that are super honest and raw like that… the timing is perfect for them. It was time for Precious, the same way that it was time for us to have a black president. I never had a doubt that Obama was going to win. I knew he was because it’s time — time for change and time for people to see something honest like Precious. People wanna be free. Even Hollywood wants to be free.” You sang at President Obama’s inauguration. What was that like?
“Now, I tell you, I was so nervous. It was the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life and in my career. Ha! But then Michelle and her kids, they gave me this look, like, ‘You nervous, but we’re fans. And we love you.’ They smiled at me and all the nervousness went away.” Have you spoken to the president? “Well, I saw them at the Christmas In Washington event. And we got a chance to talk and hug, him and I. And this is the most downto-earth president we’ve ever had, probably. He’s so amazing, him and his wife.” He’s had some difficult times since the euphoria of the election victory. Do you think he’s doing a good job? “I think he’s doing a great job, considering he was handed a bunch of rubble that had been building up for eight years.” The timid, suspicious person I met nine years ago wouldn’t have made emphatic statements about politics and the legacy of George W. Bush. Do you think you’ve changed a lot in that nine years? “I know I’ve changed a lot. But I’m still not… I don’t go deep into politics. I just support our president and respect our leader. But, absolutely… I’ve changed immensely.” You’ve launched a charitable foundation to help abused young women called FFAWN. Can you explain what the foundation does? “We opened the first Mary J. Blige Center For Women in Yonkers where I was raised, because that’s where I saw the bulk of every kind of disastrous abuse that could happen to a woman. And there’s another initiative we’re doing with a group of girls and a school called The Harlem Children’s Zone. A childcare programme, parental teachings, a GED class. For women that are victims of domestic violence, we have an open forum for them to speak, and for all of us to get together and help them through. So it’s basically what I’ve always wanted in my life. And its about the music, too, ’cos these are the women who say to me, ‘Mary, you saved my life through this song. If you didn’t make that song I’d be dead.’ That kind of stuff.” One of the questions I asked you back in 2001 was whether you thought you were a feminist. You said, at the time, that you didn’t know what the word meant. Do you know now? “Or that I’m just for women, 100 per cent? Heh! That’s what it means, right? So the bottom line is, I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist, but I would say I’m for women. And the reason why I’m for women is because I love the men of the earth, and I have to make sure that we’re straight, you know? If we’re straight we can help them. But if we’re not, we can’t. We can’t stop them from leaving home and… I’m not trying to save the world. But what I’m trying to do is say that, if we get it together, maybe a lot of them will get it together. Right?” Fair enough. But another reason why I think you’re a feminist icon has been your career-long refusal to go hoochy. “HA HA HA HA!!! Hoochy! HA HE HE!” Yeah, alright, laughing girl. I’m not that funny. You know what I mean, MJ. There’s a lot of pressure on black female singers to get their kit off, stick their arse into the nearest camera and do soft-porn. But you won’t find one MJ video or photo shoot like that. You’ve never sold sex… “I’ve been very strong about that, even since my first video, which was ‘Real Love’. I fought with Puffy tooth and nail about what clothes I’m gonna wear. To this day, I just don’t feel comfortable showing more than what I’m supposed to, as a woman. I just can’t get into the whole nudity thing. To each his own. Do what you want. But I’m not doin’ it. HE HE HEE HEE!!!” So you’re watching MTV and the latest video by a really successful black female artist comes on and she’s humping the floor and fellating the mic. Are you sitting there thinking, “To each his own? ” Or are you
feeling kind of disgusted? “I kinda feel a little sad, because I feel that they’re giving in to the stereotypical thing. Everybody’s nude on the floor humping. What makes you different? What makes you stand out? It makes me sad to see that. Especially when you can sing.” You’ve always been very open in public about the bad stuff that’s happened to you, and things that you’ve done. Why didn’t you just cover up like everyone else? “Because I started a movement with all my fans on the My Life album. I reached out to them for help in writing those songs and it turned out that they needed the same help I needed. So, after that album, there were people coming up to me saying, ‘Please! Don’t stop talking! Don’t stop doing what you’re doing! You’ve helped me through this, you’ve helped me through that.’ And I was like, ‘I was trying to get your help! HA! So that’s why I do it, ’cos so many of ’em depend on me to come up with some kind of theme to get them through their life.” Have you ever met Amy Winehouse? “Never! Ever, ever, man. And I think she’s amazingly talented!” If you did, and in the light of your own welldocumented struggles with drugs, alcohol and rubbish men, what advice would you give her? “If I could I would say, ‘You’re killing yourself. And you’re just such an amazing lesson from God. You don’t even know how important you are to us. We love you.’” Awww. Are you reading, Amy? MJ loves you. Now get your arse off the sofa and your nose out of whatever it is you’ve rammed it into and MAKE A FUCKING RECORD. Anyway, Ms Blige has dipped some tentative toes into movie and TV acting. I ask her if she takes acting as seriously as music and get a surprise big announcement of a project that was first mooted way back in 2005. “I think it’s becoming a major part of what I do. I don’t just wanna be, ‘Mary J. Blige — the singer who got the movie because she’s a singer.’ I wanna do the work so they can look at me and be proud of me.” Anything major coming up? “Yeah, the Nina Simone biopic is really happening. Oh my God, I’ve got my work cut out for me!” So, hang on, you’ve got the lead, right? “Yes! I have to learn French… and learn how to play piano. HA HA HA!!! You know what? I have this strange feeling that I’m gonna be able to pull it off. I have to. It’s do or die!” My time is up. And I feel strangely happy for the new, improved Princess MJ. Don’t know why — she’s rich beyond our wildest dreams, hangs out with Obama and Bono, refers to herself with the royal ‘we’ and is a fully committed member of the corporate pop set who ain’t gonna be raging against any machines anytime soon. A perfect case for resentment and sniffy dismissal. But, the woman was abused aged five, had a parade of asshole men do everything in their power to beat the life right out of her, and… she overcame and won. I think this is a little more inspiring than some indie band’s lifelong struggle against writing a decent tune. Plus, Mary J. Blige will never entirely lose that black cloud, no matter how much better her life gets. So my last question is about the new album sleeve. Despite the set including a bunch of party tracks, and being called Stronger With Each Tear, and showcasing a cover shoot involving Ms Blige looking ultra-chic in various designer threads, she still looks really sad on the cover. Like someone killed all her puppy’s puppies, in a land far, far away. Will we ever see the ‘Mary J. Blige Gets Happy!’ album? “Yeah! You will! HA HA!!! It’s just, you know, on top of everything… I’m naturally a very melancholy person. I mean, I love to laugh now. I really love a good laugh. But my entire existence is very melancholy. I don’t know why. HA HA HA!!!”
Tuareg To A Bull dom music e e fr e th in t n e s There’s dis the so-called , T S E R K I M A T of n’. ‘sons of Tinariwe urner Words by Luke T ter Weber e P y b h p a r g to o Ph
at all the other ce and respect th en nd pe de in alise that n I first visited important to re y,” he says. “Whe t’s jo “I en s el. an lev ali M ep e story I had r if you de ence on us ali, I found that th y. It didn’t matte such a big influ M s em of en h wa e ut th en so e ed riw th er na consid man… Ti s wasn’t true. our daily ossa holds up a sang about child, a young told by the Malian a en ey , be th an s m ay e USMANE Ag M wo us alw a ca were plains. be or country, so songs were mself as a boy, nger,” Mossa ex enthuses. “Their said, ‘We are a po da s he ay in ,” s es alw nc wa photograph of hi ey rie Th ne pe everyo we can’t hills or ex really like y truck on a ng for things that llages, hid in the r lives. It was pulling a tiny to why are you aski ple abandoned vi a mirror to ou t eo ou “P e ab rmac on th . ta g , in of nd cs lk t sa ni ta ou golden ere were cli xt to you to Algeria, string across provide?’ But th meone sitting ne sed the border so e os th cr ’t know ay , dn pl es di to us we nt ho adobe ment that my.” led me to wa Behind him, low the roads, invest of the Malian ar ur reality. This h yo it ac lt re it must fe ich d I e . wh an th ng in ht to so d cede in was not rig join in their ent was signe d green bush re in the north. This itar, so I could 1992, an agreem gu In as a e ns th walls and the od e tio to th bi s w ht am urse I have nt granted rig much as theirs.” co where I first sa me as is rn Of s . ng ve hi ge so go “T an an my y. ch s ali sk the M a young Saharan is desire to s were wa to a guitar from ove all that is th at these promise musician, but ab Mossa had access eg but, feeling th e ar th Tu . in light,” he says. t 06 e Tuareg nt rs th 20 me in wo of ru d s e e problem the one inst volt reignite in 1985, when th communicate th e after hogging being kept, the re ag t ch no en lt, Mossa was born Fr vo a bre su e by th r h roug en paid fo world.” the epicentre of cades swept th ge, which had be to the rest of the “My village was inues. drought in de of the sic with that rahim Ag villa mu ion Ib e , nt te or rs people,” he cont pl at de e en ex lea th dd to e hi ile But wh “We are a O. “We used use one of th NG ca rk . be these wo sa d e Saharan Africa. e os an ar M th y s tr ho on ue d there,” contin alians ask, ‘W tions focused uld sit there an M m sa wo ni of fro I ga d me lot or an ca r, a “A ws ita ng ne gu ha world’s e and Are they words, the miles to the Ba ey Algerians? andon their hous Tinariwen, the ia, thousands of people? Are th family had to ab out songs by I y . “M at ria wh plight of Ethiop a ge ots of the g Al ro ng tin e vi rn th ha h is that ted by adap nt to southe ng climate was Arabs?’ The trut rhythms. I star ve to Libya. I we my mo fit my west the changi to back for st ld s mo ho go rd wo es a’s re ric and cultu retching the and authoriti ct on one of Af Tuareg people already knew, st e Malian army Th th the catastrophic effe e wi th lly le, fu op pe ars. Hope on.” ey were Mossa’s thousands of ye uation.” ge in deep suspici sit to lla vi a ed ah — nd is ancient tribes. Th all te en a sh in be ng In y ha all — have en and d never re g that Ag Ba , thought to success of Tinariw In fact, Mossa ha r It’s worth notin of tte eg be ng nomadic Tuareg ar r isi re fo Tu ra ll we e a e we th to e will be believing ther rsial figure in estock from well Tamikrest ther be a musician, eg deeply controve ar as Tu n driving their liv e ow th s hi of by many of r the cause s. interest.” rgency, even seen ways to furthe of thousands of year s to become a ngwriter insu ossa defends so M s, ief aware that some ch les t, he rt ris st ve ita fir ambition wa gu Ne y . r, “M ist ge Mossa says he’s le: em sin op tr is pe ex sa eg d an ar g ise Mos in Tu , ra do st y s is re an ha a ik s m ng ly Ta s’ succes e are hard what Ag Baha sert blues group the southerner lawyer, as ther te m: “I supported at ca hi r th vo fo s and leader of de e it ad pe g ag an ho in gu d be do lan d an nt he isn’t riwen, at I coul ashek, the ancie it’s not banditry; awareness of Tina yers. I thought th e to who sing in Tam we re because richer. He law the upheavals st me all re co ik th be m mikrest’s messag d wi Ta Ta t an . lp bu le le he op pe op this might elf to rob pe for the cause, le. ms ib hi the en ss of th e Tu ar eg in be e po e d th im pl ha of eo me at “P al of Mali. the rights th udies, it beca the 2008 Festiv spread the rest following my st s doing it to get me wa ck e sa ac e ba , “discovered” at th pe at aw e do he ok th d e Br ul iv ris people in g to rece at music co Eckman and Ch arts are startin ised to Tuareg And I realised th om e pr ts es en Desert by Chris th d te em s, ra re s.” ye bo ag ng h r lla ying, ‘O d to write so various othe ans who have co from Europe sa thing, so I starte m cords of 1992 and g ac fro u in yo m American musici h e co id ut do be as t Yo c ha e s ni So bands ar influence respected. W the Bad Seeds, funny Tuareg Asked what at haven’t been n to with the likes of sic of Tamikrest, d of the world cy. In fact, th en mu ra e e pi th th e we should liste ns til to yb Co in un t ma nt ait an l, Gr . successfu Tinariwen we nt us to do? W ley wa ar M and the Willard b ed rn Bo ?” tu d ty re an he Knopfler come a reali impressed that them,’” he says. ossa says Mark these things to be Eckman was so Marley’s words, ople’s plight M st ’s de bu t for pe od re mean he feels s to ik hi rs m of de Ta s un e es y uc od But does this “I never reall Mossa’s awaren de r ma te it to Af ric a to pr af at t th ex Tamikrest l nt rfu co s so powe about how much to a musical but the music wa e’s optimistic was first put in er o th wh l album, Adagh. at oo , achieve th St en e e ca riw gu Th u could ar areg groups n gr ou p Ti na ean that while sense to me.” Yo h. and other Tu ag he ar in g Tu ar eg st Visa problems m Ad a ain of future ag m e ch on fro th , lli mu st on ’s spirit in “To be hone an act of rebe out over Lond some of Marley rmed in 1979 as ve, politically? fo g oo un gr Pigeon is looking a e yo sadly. vi lik us of bys to du sa lot g a in a’ possess me,” Mossa rnment. “A ite, Mossa is talk Tracks like ‘Aich ’ve frightens the Malian gove e ey th th palatial hotel su e since y on th d wh ge ile e of an ex se ni’ you can is music of nothing has ch Ge rm an y, ba se while in ‘Amidi ople created th ite “Honestly pe sp on de : 63. Sk yp e fr om t ’m gs 19 Ye “I in in ”. th h. o en ag on Ad s of Tinariw s. “It was tw Tuareg rebelli el that released been named “son itar,” he explain lps the first gu ye — e Glitterhouse lab se e its d th th an n’t d el ca wi an m I n’, t ho ali M of ‘Tamiditi not left me, bu s fo r yo ur et, compared to the glorious feel lle’, Hope has on e ha nd , bl ue d Ti w an on another plan of ne ite rt id le se g ‘T ab de fu y e ain a oz th a sust the wo r your family, sa ys th ro ug h the beginnings of d handclaps, or homesickness fo de se rt ,” M os sa . But it was an music is directed ay t’s aw es ession that we’re n kr pr ke mi im ta e Ta th at en Mossa says th to life. I have e life that’s be d th d ke an cigarette smoke. as ’s s ds sa os en wa er than M I fri f t, us end. “I ding all your in circles rath the 1985 drough towards one serio o about persua uld turning als d Four years after wo an it up up m, se ea ro ke dr eg wa sert to ose and my ard.” ar later, the Tuar others in the de , moving forw sum up my purp mother died. A ye vernment the em.” tain the freedom go th ob to an eg g ali ar in M en Tu e e pp th th ha st to help se what is in rebellion again nariwen on a be rn to their reali ossa related to Ti re forced to retu M we g le un op yo e pe e Th th and eg were ys. “All Tuar wandering wa
10 YEARS OF MUSIC WE LOVE To celebrate our 10th Anniversary we have a number of vinyl releases for Recordstore Day and a series of birthday parties.
BRIGHT EYES “Fevers & Mirrors” LP
BLOC PARTY “Silent Alarm”
FIRST AID KIT / PEGGY SUE
Our ﬁrst ever release on vinyl for the ﬁrst time. Die-cut sleeve & 180g vinyl.
Bloc Party’s debut album repressed on 180g vinyl with a “Little Thoughts” 7".
Split seven inch featuring a song each from two of the most acclaimed albums of the year.
SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO “Attack Decay Sustain Release”
THE CRIBS “The Cribs”
YEAH YEAH YEAHS “EP”
The Cribs’s debut album on vinyl for the ﬁrst time ever. Includes a CD featuring their 9 original demos! 180g vinyl.
The classic debut single, and our ﬁrst top 40 entry, back on vinyl for the ﬁrst time in years.
The SMD debut back in print for the ﬁrst time in far too long! On 180g vinyl.
All releases are limited editions and can be found in your local independent record shop on Saturday April 17th. See www.recordstoreday.com for more details. Please support your local record shop! We could not do it without them.
Friday 14th May THE GREAT ESCAPE FESTIVAL. Wichita party at Life, Brighton. PEGGY SUE SKY LARKIN GOLD PANDA DAM MANTLE
Friday 21st May STAG AND DAGGER FESTIVAL. Wichita party at The Old Blue Last, London. SKY LARKIN FRANKIE & THE HEARTSTRINGS COLD PUMAS DAM MANTLE
Wednesday 26th May PRIMAVERA OPENING PARTY. At Apolo, Barcelona LOS CAMPESINOS! FIRST AID KIT PEGGY SUE DJs: Les Savy Fav & Wichita
Saturday 10th July LOUNGE ON THE FARM. Wichita / Moshi Moshi stage Bands from both labels and beyond.
A FOUR DAY PARTY AT THE GARAGE, LONDON. Monday 12th July TO BE ANNOUNCED VERY SOON
Tuesday 13th July FIRST AID KIT PEGGY SUE And a special guest
Wednesday 14th July THE CRIBS SKY LARKIN LOVVERS
Thursday 15th July Special guests to be announced soon FRANKIE & THE HEARTSTRINGS VERONICA FALLS
plus special guest DJs each night.
4BUVSEBZ+VMZUIt4.%13&4&/5%&-*$"5&44&/t.BUUFS -POEPO Wichita host the second room. Line up to be announced soon.
PEGGY SUE “Fossils and Other Phantoms”
LOVVERS “Strangers” / “Tragedy”
CD and download Out Now
Seven inch and download 26th April
The Guardian - 4 stars NME “spooky, sexy, dark folk” 7/10
A fantastic, brand new song and a Wipers cover!
COMING SOON: KELE “Tenderoni” single and “The Boxer” album.
friday 30 april rokia traoré and sweet billy pilgrim
saturday 1 may lee ‘scratch’ perry
friday 7 may the passion of joan of arc
an genius, innovator, madm que colston hall is reggae’s most in this uni rry pe lee – l sica mu on adrian utley g issi hin mm pus co an artist ential father ﬁgure and inﬂu g pin (portishead) and rare boundaries while kee musical trailblazer. his p) the at s ition trad lian will gregory (goldfrap her ma shows are some of the live en est driv gu l tarcia forefront of her gui entric and thrilling plus spe uably most ecc sicians perform their mu ile wh and bluesy music. ‘arg him tch ca . around ssic new score for the cla the most exciting, most he’s still touring. . sic mu ﬁlm n nt ca sile afri 8 live 192 thrilling : £25 doors 8.30pm, tickets show around.’ time out 8pm, tickets: £17, £5 .50 £17 : ets 8pm, tick
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May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Words by Huw Nesbitt Photograph by Andrew Childs
eath throes of the Estonian winter in late March. It’s Friday lunchtime, and the city is filled with exhaust-soaked snow banks and the sting of a brisk sea-salt wind. I’m in room 548 of the Nordic Hotel Forum, gaze fixed on the giant red Coca-Cola sign on the building opposite. My laptop tells me that no editors could give a shit about this festival. I take a crap with the toilet door open. BBC News 24 says that Russia and America are set to sign a new nuclear disarmament treaty. I take another vodka miniature from the mini bar and go back to bed. I arrived last night on a plane from Gatwick loaded with British press and industry types. We’ve been flown out on a free ticket (flights, four star accommodation, breakfast, restaurants, rare red mullet, cognac, canapés, music…) to explore a showcase festival thrown in the Estonian port town capitol of Tallinn. On the top floor of the hotel, there’s a swimming pool where they pump house music that you can hear underwater. Can you believe it? I’m a bum in real life; a perennial part-timer. Some call it freelancing; others, panhandling, moonlighting. When the minibus ships us in from the airport, the Brits set about the lobby like wolves, scrounging for cigarettes, wi-fi and beer. But duty free at Tallinn’s airport was closed and the hotel bar isn’t open. Everyone is clucking. It’s an indignant display — bags strewn over the foyer, passport wallets abandoned on tables, check-in the last of intentions. The hotel staff are running scared. Around every corner, there’s an English Hun, howling for booze. One of the organisers steps in and a waitress brings out four bottles of white wine and a tray of lager. The group’s attention turns to other things: women. The evening’s summit: we’re all in a neon club populated by schoolgirls. One of the industry types has gone off with three blondes from St. Petersburg and a geriatric with a colostomy bag is left babbling about £3.50 blowjobs in the strip bar opposite. We never see him again. Back in 548 and the BBC newsreader continues: “It’s a historic day for international relations…” “Fuck you,” I think, and switch off the TV. I’ve missed my hook. Hours of writing feature ideas to editors pissed up the wall. The Russia-America angle would have been perfect. Washington and Moscow have been squabbling over the ex-Eastern Bloc for years. Capitol Hill even funded the Ukrainian and Georgian revolutions in the early 2000s through their ‘Fund for Democracy’ — a piggy bank for pro-NATO Balkan rebels. Estonia is part of this equation; always in NATO’s pocket. Mother Russia is about as popular in Estonia as Hitler in London’s Stamford Hill. In 2007, the Estonians triumphantly removed a Soviet statue commemorating the ‘liberation’ of their country by the USSR in 1940. (Russian academics still maintain Estonia’s government welcomed the Soviets during World War II.) Putin’s nationalist youth wing react by threatening Armageddon and subsequent, crippling cyber attacks on Estonia’s digital infrastructure are traced from behind the old iron curtain; facsimilied relational effluence, different era. One of the acts I wanted to catch tonight has exploded among the ex-pats: Maria Minerva, an anaemic, waifish lo-fi solo artist. I listened to her MySpace page before leaving the UK and heard bleak, raw electronica, webbed like a fishing net caught on a
OR, GETTING BLOOD OUT OF ESTONIA.
drowning European voice. None of the other journalists or PRs or agents had bothered checking out the line-up, so they follow me down to a medieval bar in the heart of Old Tallinn, and leave just as quickly when things go wry. Maria’s never played live with this set-up. It’s just her and a lofty guy on stage, staring at a bank of equipment and a laptop. Her voice is strained, nervous. He’s not even using a click track. One song starts out of time, and the exodus begins. Shame: if the wolves had stuck around they could have watched her play the same tune with confidence and elegance as an encore. No second chances. Drank too much for the rest of the night and ended up on my own — a lone lush, seeking native English tongues. Find none, so hang out with a 23-year-old mother of two called Kristina who communicates exclusively through offensive hand signals and shots of vodka. Later, she makes me watch her friend’s band, Honey Power: postSoviet Daydream Nation embossed with New Order sheen and naïve Pavement grit. After that, I stumble around like a wild piss artist knocking people’s drinks over. The night felt like a constant apology. Eventually,
I find myself in the lower intestines of a techno club, then in the toilets being sick, then in the queue for the bar fondling a Parisian girl with black hair and nova pupils, then in a taxi back to 548 to snort sachets of powdered Red Bull as a substitute for harder substances and a preamble to rough sex. Saturday morning: go for a walk around town. Blue skies flanked by white nimbus; the translucent cross in the city square remembering Estonian independence as a cheap annex of socialism in 1991; Teutonic churches; sugar cube buildings; Hanseatic modernism; skateboarding kids. I wander to the docks to watch the Finnish gulf disappear to Helsinki. I explore the crumbling concrete carcass of Linnahall adjacent to the ferry port: the underground national music hall that the USSR built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics designed by Raine Karp, an Estonian born monumentalist. Its epidermis looks like a distended low-rise Mayan sacrificial pyramid; a half-mile stretch of icecovered steps shaken from their aggregate, and shattered grey concourses leading to nothing. The place is being rotted intentionally, but apparently it still hosts the odd gig. This year Estonia is hoping to join the Euro;
next, it’s playing dame to the European Capital of Culture. Linnahall will not figure in the celebrations. The Soviet legacy in Estonia is despised. Linnahall, like Lenin’s remains, are being left for the public to pick over, but without the preserving agents; a decaying cadaver, evidence of the brutal days under the hammer and sickle, and an old phantom guiding the country’s drive for an authentic Western European capitalist future. Saturday’s remainder became a horrendous blur of free bars, Vana Tallinn (local hooch, coffee liquor), and rabid antics. Two bands filtrate the alcoholic torpor: Badass Yuki, a goth noise duo in Rock Café, playing psychedelic drone flashing with the fin de siècle glam of Lou Reed. Another, Opium Flirt in a huge venue with complimentary lager where I blacked out halfway through a set that sounded like the phantasmagoria resurrection of Frank Zappa as heralded by demonic synths, trudging wires, buried vocals, possessed guitars... A friend has video footage of the blank periods. Too incriminating, apparently. Barbiturate begging. Fists directed at camera lenses and fellow Huns. A broad-shouldered Finnish girl punching us out in a nightclub. I remember nothing.
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
top volume Pigeon writer Garry Mulholland’s book on rock’n’roll movies is anything but a swindle
here’s an interest to declare: Garry Mulholland writes for The Stool Pigeon. Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find him head-to-head with Mary J Blige. He’s irritatingly talented, and proves it whenever he appears in these pages. With Popcorn, he proves it again — a hundred times over.
An unabashed populist, Mulholland writes list books. In This Is Uncool, he named the 50 greatest singles since punk and disco. For Fear Of Music, he switched his focus to albums. Popcorn simply reviews 100 rock movies in chronological sequence. These aren’t all great movies. Plenty of turkeys are included because of who they star or what they say. Mulholland transcends the consumer-guide format with his energy, pithiness and biting insights. Gems of description abound. At one point, this Who fan troubles over whether Keith Moon was “a hilarious maverick or the world’s most irritating office clown”. He summarises the plot of The Doors thus: “Twat stops shaving and dies.” He only needs four words to skewer Jonathan Rhys Meyers’s turn in Velvet Goldmine: “That bloody immovable pout…” His assessment of Mariah Carey’s fanbase, within a review of Glitter, is far lengthier, but worth quoting. There are, Mulholland speculates, “women who, after a hard day of being called ‘Pramface’ or doing some shitty job for a fraction of what a man would be paid for doing it, like to relax with the warbly romanticism of Ms Carey’s pop-soul, and imagine that they are beautiful and wealthy and having their hearts broken by some gorgeous swine in a tux, rather than the bloke farting next to them.” You don’t have to agree with this to laugh and marvel at it. The author grew up with glam, disco, punk and an aversion to hippy culture. At times, this informs his judgement, as when he gives The Band a righteous booting within a review of The Last Waltz. Equally, he can spring surprises: witness his benign, thoughtful piece on Woodstock. There’s no pigeonholing him. His writing isn’t flawless, of course. He uses superlatives with farcical frequency. Purple Rain has the “best rock movie soundtrack of all time”, Stop Making Sense is “the finest concert movie ever made” and virtually every other film in the book offers the best or the greatest or the worst something. There are other irritants. While thinking aloud, Mulholland sometimes jumps from one viewpoint to its diametrical opposite. Occasionally, his argument grows terminally confused, as when The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle is labelled “cowardly, brave and provocative”. And, like every other music journalist of his vintage, Mulholland is prone to Using Capital Letters for No Reason. These are mere quibbles. Mulholland makes you want to see every movie he reviews, to find out if they could possibly be as good or bad or vivid as he has portrayed them. Early in Popcorn, he writes about 1950s British movie Expresso Bongo and why it makes him “deliriously happy and furious”. He leaves no option but to immediately order the DVD. Expresso Bongo stars Cliff Richard. Niall O’Keeffe
Mulholland on The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975): “It’s hard being what you really want to be and few of us have the guts for it. There’s something in Tim Curry’s performance that encapsulates the truth of deep sexual fantasy… the idea that someone so sure of themselves and what they — and you — want will coerce you into doing terrible, degrading things with your mind and body that make you feel free of life’s mundane compromises — but with no physical pain or psychological consequences. What this androgynous, undiscerning and perennially amused sexpert looks like or has between their thighs is irrelevant, really. They’re there to release the willing victim in you, and someone too pretty or straight is incapable of that. And the reason why Rocky Horror has tapped into that shared frustration for so many people for so long is because it’s far too silly to force you to dwell on the darker implications of either your sexuality or the lack of freedom you’ve settled for. It congratulates you for getting as far as wearing suspenders, but doesn’t require you to actually rebel. Perfect… “TRHPS is often referred to as a horror or sci-fi spoof, but it’s a send-up of pretty much everything. Especially (1) repressed sexuality and straight couples; (2) stage musicals; (3) bawdy sex farce; (4) pretentious rock musicals like Tommy. The year of its release is interesting, too. The originators of London punk are always quick to name their influences as intellectual underground stuff like the Velvet Underground, Guy Debord and Situationism, Cabaret, antiNazi artist John Heartfield, the New York Dolls and hardcore gay porn. Yet, in the very year punk kicked off down the Kings Road, here was a subversive comedy with a cult following where everybody dressed in fetish-wear, wore Alice Cooper fright-mask make-up and sang songs based on up-tempo versions of glam or 1950s rock? Uh-huh.” Popcorn: Fifty Years of Rock’n’Roll Movies Garry Mulholland Orion Books
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Winnebagos RED Velvet Film-making has had its fair share of grumpy and studious auteurs over the years, but the news that Lou Reed is to join their ranks will surely have Mike Leigh quaking in his loafers. Indeed, ‘Laughing Lou’ makes Oliver Stone look like the Farrelly Brothers. Reed’s film, Red Shirley, is about his 99-year-old relative and premiers at the Visions du Reel festival in Nyon, Switzerland in late April. It features original music by the former Velvet Underground man. How we’ll chortle.
Black metal myths thrown on the scrap heap by new documentary
HORNE Aplenty When Matt Horne isn’t being unfunny with that fat lad, he is something of a serious actor, and he’s recently landed himself the role of Jon Moss, Culture Club drummer and former boyfriend of Boy George. James Corden could have possibly muscled in on the role of big-boned backing-singer Helen Terry in the forthcoming BBC drama, but didn’t. Boy George will be played by the unspeakably willowy and gorgeous young actor hunk Douglas Booth. I’ve actually turned in the course of writing this. Seriously. Phwoar!
REEL Talk Adrian Utley of Portishead and Will Gregory of Goldfrapp have collaborated on a new score for the 1928 classic La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc. The film, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, will be screened at Bristol’s Colston Hall on May 7. Dreyer’s dead now, though, so he won’t be going. The negative reel of the influential movie was believed to have gone up in flames ages ago, a bit like historical martyr Joan herself but, bizarrely, it turned up again in 1981 in the cupboard of a Norwegian mental asylum. Sacre bleu!
GREEN Room Haruki Murakami’s celebrated novel Norwegian Wood has been adapted for film by Oscar-nominated French director Anh Tran Hung. Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood provides the soundtrack, based on a composition he performed with the BBC Concert Orchestra at the corporation’s Maida Vale studios last month. While most rock star types spend their spare time on tour jacking up and deflowering jailbait, Greenwood prefers to sit in his room making extra-curricular compositions. To think what Mötley Crüe could have achieved.
Words BRIAN J. SHAW hen murder, arson and satanic w o r s h i p transformed O s l o ’ s underground black metal scene — once just a handful of bands, a shop and a basement record label — into an international scandal, it gave rise to a marketable trend entirely at odds with its origins. Furthermore, the media’s sensationalist portrayal of a series of Norwegian church burnings in the early nineties spurred ill-informed copycat bands into aligning themselves with black metal’s newfound but misunderstood notoriety. With new documentary, Until The Light Takes Us, directors Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites attempt to address the imbalance between ideology and legend, having spent years in Norway earning the trust of black metal’s ‘second wave’ pioneers. “Mayhem, and other bands of the
genre, pretended to be Satanists as part of their all-out attack on society’s values,” Ewell explains. “The media took it all at face value, which immediately caught the attention of the nation’s youth, who then formed metal bands, became ‘Satanists’ and burned down churches. They recreated something that never existed. It’s beautiful in a stomach-turning way — the power that misrepresentation can have.” The documentary is principally a portrait of both Mayhem’s Varg Vikernes, then still serving a 21-year prison sentence, and Darkthrone’s Gylve Nagell, who are both given an opportunity to speak without external commentary. Despite their obvious budget constraints, the filmmakers have been criticised for a clumsily shot, unfocused work that fauns over its subject matter and fails to challenge the likes of Vikernes on the more dubious aspects of their testimony. “Do you need to be told that
murder and homophobia are bad?” says Aites. “Do you think the people who are going to the cinema want to hear me stop the interviews in the middle and say ‘Hey, wait a minute now! You can’t say that! Murder is bad!’ We don’t make films for the lowest common denominator. If some truly, deeply unintelligent people managed to — obviously through no fault of their own — see the film and now believe that murder and homophobia are fine, then I really have underestimated the intelligence level of the film-going public, and duly apologise.” Thankfully, Ewell is capable of explaining the pair’s intentions with level-headed composure. “It’s about telling a story without being pedantic,” she says. “I can’t stand a film that hits me over the head with a perspective. We prefer to play to a smart audience. There is quite a bit going on in the film: subtexts about simulation and simulacra, identity ownership in a mediated era, power
and control, culture and identity, anticonsumerism and broken narratives. We get absolutely puzzled letters from people asking us why such and such was in the film and others tell us that it reminds them of Baudrillard and left them reeling with emotion. The sort of filmmaking that interests us is the kind where the film is only one part of the conversation and engages the audience to make connections and mull [it over].” Regardless of how the film’s structure has been received, its examination of cultural suppression, its counteractive sub-culture and subsequent commercialisation is undeniably fascinating. Few music scenes have seen their ideologies and aesthetic mutate into a sinister mythology that, as Ewell puts it, is “both symbolic and utterly real”, compelling even cursory spectators to learn more. If nothing else, the film’s extensive, candid interviews with black metal’s fallen stars provide an opportunity to do just that.
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Cuckoo Cuckoo Bonkers film further proof that Animal Collective do the funniest things. ANIMAL COLLECTIVE’s new ‘visual album’, ODDSAC, is the result of four years of trying to marry their kaleidoscopic pop with images just as vibrant. Though the film is entirely without plot, it plays out as a series of musical and visual motifs intertwined to disorient the viewer with jarring, hallucinatory hiccups. “It was never envisioned as anything per se,” says director Danny Perez, “but rather to be able to develop and evolve as my mood and desires changed,
which is something that’s easily influenced by receiving pieces and sketches of songs for years while tweaking the edit. It was a consistent back and forth where the video and audio influenced each other. Some scenes were cut precisely while others developed up until the last minute.” It’s an abstract, dense and erratic trip that lasts for just under an hour, bombarding the viewer with deformed creatures and glittered faces, many of whom struggle through tedious
tasks that feel like they’re taking longer than they should. But apart from seeing the band members in animal costumes, it’s the score of all-new songs from Animal Collective — some of which qualify as their poppiest yet — which has made this a highly anticipated and heavily guarded release. Perez has not been shy about accosting bootleggers he has caught during screenings and refers to those only interested in audio rips of the film as “vultures”. For the director, who
was behind the videos for Animal Collective’s ‘Summertime Clothes’ and ‘Who Could Win a Rabbit’, ODDSAC is intended as a work of sensorydriven musical theatre where the soundtrack cannot be separated from the film’s world of monster marshmallows and torch-wielding villagers. Given the evocative nature of Animal Collective’s music and the likelihood that the band’s vocal community of fans would only hatch their own imaginary scenes if left alone with the
songs, perhaps this is understandable. But Perez also admits that he didn’t consider the band’s audience until there was an explosion of interest following Merriweather Post Pavilion, by which point ODDSAC had taken form and there was no turning back. “I want people to be able have their own experience and memories,” says Perez. “Lucid dreamers tell me of ODDSAC stirring childhood memories long lost; sober people tell me they feel like they’re on drugs
afterwards. It’s all good and just as interesting to me.” Brian J. Shaw
UK premiere, May 13 With director Danny Perez, and members of Animal Collective
Institute of Contemporary Arts The Mall London, SW1Y 5AH 020 7930 3647 ica.org.uk
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
The Stool Pigeon
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
The Stool Pigeon March 2010
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
OR, CHEAP AND NASTY TALES FROM THE VAULTS OF THE STOOL PIGEON. Number 1
One New Penny
THE LURID MYSTERY OF A HUNGRY GHOST. BY LAURA DOCKRILL
CHAPTER 1. FOYER AND SON, A SMALL FUNERAL DIRECTORS, WAS PATRICK’S EMPIRE (THE REAL FOYER, STANLEY, HAD DIED YEARS BEFORE). PATRICK’S SON WAS TRAINING TO BE A BULLFIGHTER IN PORTUGAL SO WASN’T AROUND TO HELP HIS FATHER WITH THE BUSINESS. THAT LEFT THE YOUNGEST CHILD, ETIENNE. ETIENNE HAD, APART FROM ATTEMPTING SUICIDE EIGHT TIMES IN HER NINETEEN YEARS ON THE PLANET, SPENT MOST OF HER TIME AVOIDING HER FATHER’S FUNERAL DIRECTORS, PARTICULARLY AS A MEMBER OF STAFF. ‘Are you sitting comfortably?’ Patrick began. ‘Yes,’ said Etienne. ‘Margaret’s dead.’ ‘Why are you telling me?’ ‘I need you to work.’ ‘Not again,’ she grumbled.
‘Before you begin to whinge, you won’t be doing any cleaning this time.’ ‘What, then?’ ‘Front desk.’ ‘Front desk? That’s even worse. People will have to see me.’ ‘Yes, well, you’re probably the most alive of us all. Please?’ ‘Starting when?’ ‘We open in five.’ Margaret had been the receptionist. She was employed way back when Stanley was still around, and she was older than the brickwork. It would be wrong to say that Patrick had been glad to see her go, but working with Margaret was like going to the hairdressers, only to find the hairdresser needed a hairbrush more than you. So Etienne, against her own will, fitted snug into that title of ‘Son’ and her father was rather pleased with himself in his efforts to reinstate the missing piece of the family puzzle. No. 8. Age 19. Overdose, 27 Nurofen.
THE PENNY DREADFUL
The phone rang. ‘Hello, Bumblebee.’ ‘Hi Mum.’ ‘How’s it there?’ ‘Dead.’ ‘Are you working hard?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Talking to you.’ Etienne itched her scarred arm, irritated. ‘Look, is this important because I kind of just want to go and slit my wrists?’ ‘Oh, you spoily sport, I was only having fun. I’m proud of you, working, earning money. Now you can save up for that car you’ve always wanted.’ ‘Yeah, if they actually still make cars.’ ‘What do you mean by that? Look, I told you we don’t have the money to buy you a car. We didn’t have it before, we don’t now. Why do you always have to take, take, take? Why is nothing enough for you? Surely your friends aren’t still living with their parents, and their fathers getting them jobs! I’m sure they don’t…’ No. 7. Age 19. Self-strangle with tie. Etienne slammed the receiver into the cradle. She knew she would suffer later for hanging up on her mum. Why did you have to go and die on me, Margaret? she thought. Procrastinating, Etienne read through a few parlour catalogues to pick, like a bride choosing a wedding dress, a coffin. Her death had to be perfect. Sometimes she visualised it. The people in her life who had dicked her over… how stupid they would feel when she was gone. Then they would be crying, wouldn’t they? They would be the sorry ones. There it was, The Nightingale, by far the best coffin in the catalogue. Maple woodturnings, a hand-carved design of flowers and birds, and inside, the detail. Lined with a 1500-thread Egyptian cotton sheet. ‘The base is the latest technology of comfort and design. Unlike your loved ones, the memory foam will never forget you. The Nightingale includes a free iPod and, with the luxury of the inserted speakers, you can allow your loved ones to create you a personalised playlist to make sure you are sent off not only in comfort, but in style too.’ A shout came from her father’s basement. ‘ET-I-ENNE! I need you to go out and get me something to eat, I’m starving down here.’ ‘What do you want?’ ‘What are you going to have?’ ‘A bottle of vodka,’ Etienne griped. ‘Ha! You wish, my girl. Go to Mario’s, they do good pizzas, get me one and whatever you want for yourself. Take money from the float.’ ‘Take money from the float,’ she imitated in a mocking tweet. She went to the drawer and took out £20; £5 would be her pay for being her father’s slave, she decided, although he would never know that. That was £5 closer to The Nightingale, £5 closer to hell. Etienne sprawled out on the counter of Mario’s waiting for the pizzas; her arched back crooning like a long scruffy stray cat, her Converse splitting at the rubber-like hinges. Her jeans were ratty and tattered at the bottom and carried a constant trench of road sludge with them. The coat she wore had been shoplifted from New Look. She hated it there and wouldn’t normally bother going in except her next-door neighbour, Marianna, was the store manager and was a total knobend, so that made it seem a good idea. Etienne could be a pretty girl if she tried — she was when she was younger — but she had given up. She had dark circles under both eyes and her skin was spotty and scattered in scars from attacking the spots at any given moment. She had two nose piercings, which started off reasonably attractive but were now groggy and infected. The studs grew out of her plant pot of a nose as mossy and as green as weed.
No. 6. Age 18. Threw self down set of stone stairs. ‘Good afternoon-a, Hibiki,’ Mario said. Mario is fat and old, but he makes a good pizza. Etienne stood up to peek at who had just walked in. ‘Hello Mario,’ Hibiki said, smiling. Straight teeth, as square and as flat as a set of bathroom tiles, they radiated round the pizza place like a newly fitted chrome kitchen. As he settled, he pulled a tiny speck of fluff off his suit jacket and placed one superb hand onto the counter. ‘I hav-a for you-a, one-a moment-a please-a.’ Mario bagged up Etienne’s pizzas and handed her a chubby fistful of toothpicks. ‘Seize-yoo later,’ he called and Etienne begrudgingly left the shop, her head peering back as stiff and as distorted as a hairpin. He was beautiful; absolutely mind boggling hot hot hot. How were people born like that? To look that good? He made her hairs static, stand on end, sparking. Her body fizzed up like she was bottled water about to blow: psssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. How had she not seen him before? How had she just let him slip through her fingers like sand? ‘Hibiki,’ she whispered to herself back at the parlour while pulling apart the slices of pizza. ‘Hibiki’, she said again. ‘Hibiki, Hibiki, Hibiki.’ She laughed, crimpling flabby folds of pizza into her happy face and amazed at the incredible man she had set her eyes upon. She imagined him being born in a special place, a mountain maybe? Or by a waterfall in an enchanted Japanese garden? His father a philosopher, his mother an artist? She typed his name into Google: Hibiki: green tea… Hibiki: sushi restaurant… Hibiki: character in Capcom’s Street Fighter… No. 5. Age 17. Consumption of homemade poison. At 5.25 p.m., Mrs Foyer beeped her horn dramatically outside the front. Within moments, a disgruntled Etienne flopped out of the shop and into the back seat. Patrick followed her, locking the door behind him. ‘So, moody bee, how was your first day as a working gal?’ her mother asked, peering at her daughter through the letterbox of the rear-view mirror above her. Etienne poked her tongue out at her mum, folded her arms and looked out at the grey streets before groaning, ‘Fine.’ And that was when she saw him, Hibiki, walking down the road, finer than the best ending to any ending of any excellent play; the ones where the audience stand up, and some cry, probably. So beautiful. His walk was long, effortless strides, smooth and rolling, and seeming to go on forever. His arms, perfect for scooping up puppies, bunny rabbits, friends’ babies… maybe even a baby of their own one day? She was getting carried away, but who fucking cared? ‘That’s him!’ Etienne shouted, jabbing the window. ‘That’s who?’ her mother barked. ‘Hibiki!’ Etienne squealed with excitement, and the car rushed past leaving Hibiki behind. CHAPTER 2. ‘You’re not on stage, Bumblebee!’ her mum mentioned as the three of them piled into the car the next morning. ‘What do you mean?’ Etienne asked. She felt more attractive than ever. ‘All that eye gear you’ve got on, that’s obviously what you were working on when I called you for breakfast.’ At the desk, Etienne researched Japan on the internet. According to Wikipedia, it is located in the Pacific Ocean and has a nickname: ‘Land of the rising sun.’ ‘How fabulous,’ Etienne exhaled before sucking in all of the luxury again. ‘Dad!’ she blurted down the staircase, ‘I’ll go and get the pizzas now!’ She reached for the float. ‘No, I don’t want any junk food today, darling. Your
mum says I’m getting a tum; says it’s driving her nuts. Why not get us a salad from the café?’ Etienne felt the way a potato feels when it is forked all over its tired, starchy body before being roasted in a hot oven for ninety minutes, a tank of salt rubbed in each of its wounds. She was hurt, disappointed and regretful that things had had to turn out this way. ‘I’m getting pizza,’ she spat. But she wasn’t. Patrick already had his coat on and was halfway out of the door. ‘Need a bit of fresh air,’ he said. Etienne swallowed. Hard. Played air drumsticks with two biros for a bit. Then the door opened. ‘Hibiki,’ she mouthed, her jaw ajar, swooping, dysfunctional. ‘Hello, is this a beauty parlour?’ he asked in the most elegant, softest Japanese accent. His eyes hit hers, drugging her into a robotic lull. His bottom lip quivered as though even he was afraid of his own attractiveness; as though it was too much for even him to handle. ‘Err … no,’ Etienne snorted, clumsily. ‘Why?’ ‘I just assumed it must be, seeing as you are such a beauty.’ Etienne knew it was the cheesiest line she had ever heard, but it was Hibiki. Hibiki. She tried to focus, but her mind was straying. ‘The Nightingale comes in a range of colours, or why not get your loved ones to illustrate your coffin to make it special for you?’ ‘What is your name, Bumblebee?’ Hibiki asked, popping her bubble of escapism, his eyes as persuasive as the cheeky village larrikin. ‘What?’ ‘“What”? That’s an unusual name,’ he charmed. ‘No, sorry, Bumblebee… it’s just my mum, she calls me… whatever. Etienne.’ ‘French. Classic. It is astonishing.’ He kissed Etienne’s hand and then, as peculiar and as outrageous as it was, right there, in the reception of Foyer and Son, Hibiki leaned in and kissed Etienne fully on her stunned lips. Somewhere in the world a sack of sugar was split, the grains ran free. As their relationship grew, Etienne became clingy, ugly and grotesque. She knew her behaviour was clingy, ugly and grotesque, but the more she knew, the worse she became. Hibiki was disappointed with Etienne for attempting to take her own life; he found it to be selfish and upsetting. He was even more frustrated when he discovered her obsession with The Nightingale coffin. This perverse nature made him feel awkward and uncomfortable, but Etienne promised she would pack her habit in. Besides, as depressed as she was, she felt she had something to concentrate on now. She had something to love. She lost a lot of weight during her desperation and would sink into self-indulgent, self-loathing pitiful pits any time Hibiki left her side. She drained him, mugged his energy. Like an addict, she wanted — needed — him constantly. His night shifts didn’t help either. She would cry for him when he left her, ring his mobile sometimes twenty or thirty times until she got an answer. With her family, she was difficult and cagey, answering questions with short stubby words that sat like carrot tops on a chopping board. Useless, throwaway. At work she was grumpy and blue. Neglectful of her responsibility, she shadowed at a window, hopeful and hopeless. ‘I’m worried about you, Bumblebee,’ her mother mentioned, concerned. ‘This Hibiki, he’s awfully lovely, a true gentleman, however… perhaps he isn’t good for you.’ As odd as it was, and as surprisingly as it came, Etienne agreed. ‘You’re right,’ she said. ‘He is not.’ The next time she saw him, she told him so and, as odd and as surprising as it came, he agreed also. The break was just as difficult as their relationship. Achingly long conversations were had over the telephone. It was depressing for everybody involved. Etienne and Hibiki decided to not see each other again.
THE PENNY DREADFUL
No. 4. Age 16. Consumption of rat poison. What with all the shifts she had begun to work, there was plenty of money to be earned, and plenty of money to be stolen from the float. She knew it was wrong — that it was selfish — but it was a small price to pay really, wasn’t it? Once her father realised that she had gone the way she had wanted to, in style, he would understand. How could he not? And Hibiki, how he would rot with sadness and guilt when he knew she was finally gone. It wasn’t long without him around before a delivery came. The Nightingale arrived in a wooden trunk, like a beast arriving at a zoo. Patrick peeped his head round. ‘Ooh, expensive. That must be The Nightingale,’ he acknowledged. ‘Must have hit a gold mine, eh?’ He winked at Etienne, oblivious that he had just spent £9,000 of his own money on a coffin for his only daughter. The horn beeped outside the front and the two of them lugged the coffin into the car. No. 3. Age 16. Bath with television. No. 2. Age 15. Hit by car. After dinner, Etienne’s parents curled up on the sofa and watched Jamie Oliver. Patrick called him ‘Joliver’ for short, which always made his wife happy. Etienne came down the stairs. Tonight was the night. It had finally arrived. ‘I’m going out,’ she said softly. ‘Okay. It’s late though, Bumblebee.’ ‘Yes, I know.’ ‘It’s not to see that bloody Hibiki, is it?’ ‘No! No, he’s well out of the picture. I’m going to meet an old school friend,’ Etienne insisted, and headed for the door. As she cupped her hand around the latch, she retraced her steps. Her eyes began to leak and the lump in her throat sat fat like the egg of an ostrich. ‘Bye,’ she managed, and left for real this time. The rush of relief she felt when her copied key sank into the lock was unforgettable, and an overwhelming wash of uncertainty swamped her when she fumbled about the shop at night, in the dark, alone. No. 1. Slit wrists in bath. Ambulance came too quick. Fuck this. She didn’t want to switch the window lights on because she didn’t want to be disturbed. With trepidation, she made her way down to the basement. Her father’s certificate framed on the wall made her want to sob her heart out. Here, she felt safe enough to bring in some light. She ran her hand up the wall, found and felt the switch and then… A noise. She froze. Her heart stopped. Irrational. Work it out, Etienne, she thought. For once, be logical. This noise, it wasn’t a water pump, a furnace, a heater, a pipe… Of all the noises, what was this noise — this grunting, gurgling, swishing, sopping, soaking sound of nastiness? It sounded at times like a mop rinsing in a fudgy bucket, at times like a collection of crunchy celery sticks being snapped, and throughout like a toothless lummox gorging himself on something sloppy. How ridiculous, that when you are about to kill yourself, you can still feel fear. Surely nothing matters now? She flicked, in one touch, the light on. The sight — this sight — is a rarity and not easy to describe in a clear and understandable way, so let me tell you, slowly and digestibly. His feet, long and corny, eased out of his shoes like a flopping, oversized sandwich filling, pointing outwards, sloppy. Then his long legs stretched up and blue, rotting in places and with patches of dog-like hair in clumps. He was naked from the bottom down, but his manhood, not
that it mattered at this point, was covered by a tearshaped bulging stomach that sat spotty and speckled, the skin over-taut and throbbing like a bruised, bloated testicle with a bellybutton of a cashew. The base of his spine protruded in jolting knobbles, like the ridge of a fattoothed comb. The shirt he was wearing, roughly done up, was dirty and tainted and drenched in a deep red mess. But the most noticeable thing about this creature was his long pokey neck, which looked as though he had been tortured, stretched like an elastic band. It was whiplike, eelish, long and spindly. Sprouting hairs and warts decorated it. And finally the face. In agony, it cried, eyes the size of mug bases, and haunting. Needy and empty, they sat, white and hollow. Sucked-in cheeks, shady, skeletal and ridged. Then came together these lips — old lady, smokers’ lips — stitched together and presenting the tiniest mouth you ever did see, as small as the head of a pin and as much use as one too. But above this, above all of this — the long legs, the big belly, the cringing mistake of clothes on top and nothing on the bottom — was what was going on. Wrapped inside this monster’s claws were chunks of dead flesh that, in areas, were porridge-like in substance and, like a damp cake, they fell apart in the clutched clasp of its eater. Blood in each nail and all over its teeth thickened the plot. Etienne looked the monster right in its eye. But before she could even scream, she saw somewhere in that most horrible face attributes of Hibiki. And before she could even say his name, he began to scream himself. It was an awful moan, so heinous and disturbing it could have flooded us all into darkness — even you reader, yes you, it could have jumped out of this story and troubled even the likes of you. ‘HIBIKI?’ He stood dumb and nodded. Etienne ran over to see what he was ravishing at, only to find a platter of what was left of a bloody, deceased body. ‘Margaret.’ The word tumbled out of Etienne. Hibiki’s body shifted into a slightly more presentable version of himself. He evolved, scooping together his destroyed monstrous self and cried. He punched whatever he could, threw whatever he could find, kicked whatever was there and screamed. The Nightingale — the elephant — watched, silent, amazing. She wanted to bathe in it. Finally, after a slip of silence, empty air floated and whispered up and out of the basement and Etienne began to speak. ‘What are you?’ ‘I’m trapped. I’ve been cursed.’ ‘Cursed, why?’ ‘It’s complicated…’ Hibiki threw off the question like it was a hair on a jacket. ‘More complicated than this?’ she asked, focusing in on the line of bones, teeth and bloody hairs strewn across the work surface. ‘I’m not who I said I was.’ ‘You don’t say…’ Etienne mocked. Hibiki now looked closer to his former self. How wonderful he was, his Adam’s apple slotted back into its terrific position, his chiselled jaw blade-like, cutting and so mesmerising it hurt. ‘I’m dead.’ ‘I am too,’ Etienne said, pleased. ‘I’m dead too.’ She put her arms onto his blood-stained forearms. ‘No,’ he replied sternly, shaking her by the shoulders. ‘I really am dead.’ And he lost his eyes into his skull and replaced the kind sparkly eyes with those hollow haunting puddles. ‘This is my hell. I have to pay for my abuse; for the stupid things I did as a kid.’ ‘What? Stupid things? What do you mean?’ ‘Drugs, stealing, laziness. I didn’t appreciate life. I was
a waste. Never satisfied, like you… difficult, hard work. When I died from an overdose thirty-three years ago, I was made into this, so I’d never be satisfied again.’ ‘So that means you can eat corpses?’ Etienne breathed in the stifling, sticky sweetness of the blood and vomit that rose in her throat. ‘It’s one of many vile characteristics of a hungry ghost.’ ‘Hungry ghost?’ Etienne choked, pushing the vomit down, trying to understand. ‘Look it up on Wikipedia like you do everything else,’ Hibiki snubbed and began clearing himself up. ‘Look, I hate this, okay? I hate my life. This is not an easy form of upkeep. I am desperate, I eat what I can, when I can — road kill, old food from anywhere…’ ‘Mario? He helps you, doesn’t he?’ ‘He gives me old food. Don’t be like that. I saw the way you looked at me, and Mario, he knew where you worked and I thought…’ ‘You thought, “Oooh, she must have access to a few dead bodies. She’s like a McDonald’s, only with dead people, I’ll make her fall in love with me.”’ ‘No. I fell in love with you!’ he snapped. Etienne felt homesick. How she longed to crawl inside her coffin and lie safe, like a snail. She wanted to immerse herself wholly in the memory foam, allow the selected music to fall on her deaf, dead ears and die and die and die. Into a heap he fell, broken and eaten from the inside out, suffering. Etienne bent down to him, plucked the jaw of Margaret up off the basement floor, smiled and said, ‘I see you left the hard bits.’ Weak and exhausted with disgust, she dragged her feet slowly. The tears in her eyes dried up, her head heavy. She climbed up into the coffin. Hibiki watched her, heartbroken. She crossed her arms over her chest and closed her eyes. ‘I’ve never felt so at home,’ she laughed, hysteric with satisfaction. Hibiki came over to the death bed and peered into the coffin. ‘I want you to be the last thing I see,’ she added and allowed Hibiki to put his long, wonderful hand over her nose and mouth, and hold hard and push. Etienne struggled, kicking, fighting, elbowing, her eyes sinking into Hibiki’s in long, hard deep stretches. The green of her eyes focused harshly — so harshly it ached — and everything she had known and loved and lost seemed to hurt so much and remain. Until nothing. Stillness, as though she had been stroked by a brush of tranquillity. She was placid and at last it was over. The green in her eyes faded, like the splatter of champagne when the bubbles stop working. EPILOGUE. Etienne visited Foyer and Son now only in her parents’ horror dreams. She came, appeared in the faces of strangers and was gone, fluttering away, always ungraspable. Sometimes she came as a child — calling them, inviting them to play — but they never met her, and never could quite catch up with her little springy legs. Once, a noise was heard — a funny rustling downstairs in the basement — followed by a whimper. Patrick, led by his torch, went to investigate and found the remains of a deceased customer lying mangled on the work surface, ribcage open like a castanet. Foxes were common in the area, more so since their little girl had gone, and a couple of them could well have snuck in through the rubbish chute. He must get that seen to.
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Comment & Analysis When a fool has made up his mind, the market has gone by
SON OF DAVE I had just slipped past the night watchman by the Proud Rock Poster Gallery using a simple old blues trick I learned in the mean streets of Westernville: a whisky bottle, a rat and a hockey stick make a perfectly timed mini-explosion. I jumped the wall and crept along the old horse stalls of Camden Market (London, Europa). For the good of mankind, I needed to find out what happened to the druid who once sold his magic theremins and sixties’ Camden vibes. But then, from out of the shadows, stepped a figure I didn’t expect. The tall trees in a forest can’t grow without the wood lice and toadstools below. It’s just so with a market. A good market can’t thrive without its car stereo thieves and lunatics. The big banks in the city would never exist without the desperate poor and hookers on the outskirts of town doing all the ugly jobs fixing bankers’ plumbing.
I had returned to the dead and barren Camden Market to find what had become of the druid, but little did I know what a sinister spell had been cast on those London horse stalls which held him prisoner and had turned Camden Market into a souvenir stand for Satan. Bebo the Impaler is a cruel landlord. He’s supposed to have won the market in a Mayfair card game and has transformed it from eccentric chaotic beauty to a knickknack shopping mall in only a few short years. First he doubled the rents, then he tripled them. And when the stall holder is deeply invested and starts to bleed, 10 per cent is taken of his or her gross. Much of the market is forced to be open seven days a week now instead of two. It’s become the fourth biggest tourist attraction in London. Not sexy. Bobo’s rages are much talked about (though this paper cannot be responsible for false rumour; please don’t break my legs, Biffo). The traders put up with his threatening and bullying. He works the market like a plantation. One busy Saturday afternoon, with many witnesses, he is said to have yelled at a stall owner who left a shopping bag in the aisle: “You think this is your market? This is MY market. I MADE this market. You will do as I say or I’ll burn your fucking stall down!” Think about that. Would his henchmen crush my pelvis like they did the old fruit and veg wagons if they caught me? I
snuck under the cameras and past the Cyberdog bazaar. Way out west in America, the markets have almost completely disappeared. They talk of a free market society, but if a cat who’s down on his luck can’t take some busted crap or lousy batteries into a market and sell ’em, how’s he supposed to get a leg up? If you need a special licence to sell garbage, what poor-ass dude is gonna pay and apply for that licence? VAT for old, scratched 45s? Forget it. If there’s no free market at the bottom of the food chain, then the businessman gets rich, forcing everyone to work in his malls that sell cheap Chinese imports. Aww, balls on an anvil, this commie moaning ain’t gonna rescue rock’n’roll from BooBoo and his casino friends, is it? The figure stepped out from the shadows. I saw his face then. Liam Gallagher advanced, waving a busted pint glass at me. “Liam, it’s me, Son of Dave, I’m on your side,” I whispered. “I need to find the druid. Only he can fix my theremin and return the spirit of Camden to the kids.” Liam coolly eyed me and said, “I can’t find any very ironic parkas anymore. Market’s fucked. I’m not having it.” We went silently to where the old druid’s cave was. Feeling along the wall, now sealed over, Liam got the idea. “D’ya think there’s something hidden here, like?” “Yes,” I said. “You aren’t nearly as dumb and grumpy as you pretend to
be on television, are you?” “Exactly, it’s all an act,” he confided, and suddenly his hand caught on a loose brick. I thought to myself, “How in cross-eyed Mary can those neopolitan puffer-jacketed arrogant tit tourists afford to pay 275 quid for a sixties Burberry mac? They’ll never wear it! It doesn’t bloody rain in their country! We have to get to the bottom of this mystery.” Liam slid the brick out slowly and the wall started to slide. “We need help, it’s too heavy,” I said as I threw my modest weight behind it. But Liam was on his iPhone, and almost instantly we were silently joined by a small army of British indie legends. I blushed with honour as I found Jarvis to my left and Graham to my right. Together we stormed into the hidden tombs of Camden. The steam and heat from the tunnels hit us. Deep in the horse alleys was a secret ironworks. No ventilation, an evil stench and the aged love generation squinted at us with sunken, desperate eyes. The artists, leathermen and vinyl dealers of the old market had been imprisoned here, deep under the rail tracks, and forced to make the huge metal horse sculptures which crowd the tacky market outside. Oh, the terrible suffering to indulge one mad man’s fantasy! And behold, the druid! Jarvis bowed and spoke for all of us: “Great druid, we have missed you. Camden has missed you, and the music is
dying. We need your dodgy theremins, your holy eccentricity and your weird spaceship sculptures to keep our British identity. Let us free you from these chains and take you to a better scene. The Truman Brewery in Brick Lane is where the kids are now. There’s still some room up on the third floor.” Just then, what seemed like half the Israeli mafia surrounded the entrance to the caves. Bricks and bottles began to fly. Much of nineties’ British music history and one blues pervert would be trapped in this tomb forever if they sealed us in. Luckily, the new iPhone has an application for dialling telephone numbers. I quickly called the late night Marathon Bar around the corner and, at my command, the most brutal bunch of smelly drunks imaginable came stumbling to our aid. Caught in the middle, the henchmen didn’t stand a chance. Nothing could defeat the doubly unpleasant force of British rock and Camden drunks. They ran screaming into the bloody night. We liberated the old Camden craftsmen, but we couldn’t reclaim the market, because it’s privately owned by a’holes. They’ll never own the free spirit of rock@roll™, however, not even if they buy The Stool Pigeon and align it with the new Sony/EMI/Clear Channel/NME merger. Hmmmm. I feel another ad coming on: Rolling Indie Magazine? RIM? It would need some Qatar investment... or the Scientologists.
LMAO, I wouldn’t mind taking a bit of that from Mark Owen!
MISS PRUDENCE TROG February 12 The dirty, dirty, dirty, dirty rotten bastard. My faith in men had barely returned and then John Terry goes and gets his best mate’s girlfriend pregnant behind his buddy’s back. Typical! I’m so glad Fabien Capella has stripped him of the general’s armband; I just can’t believe he’s still allowed to play for Great Britain. I don’t think it’s because he’s a famous footballer, you know. Men see an opportunity or an opening and away they go with no thoughts or concerns about the repercussions, especially when that opening happens to be neatly-trimmed and between the long, gorgeous legs of a French underwear model. Soccer stars are paid millions every day and what sort of an example do they set for the little boys that go and see them and buy the squad shirts, programmes and rattles? They follow their bad examples, get the imitation earrings and black the windows out of their TR7s with boot polish. Plus they think that any woman who doesn’t
look like Louise is there to be used like a cheap tom. Footballers have absolutely no morality whatsoever. I know this first hand having had sex a few years ago with two Cheltenham Town players in the back of a Honda Accord. They were perfectly charming when they were plying me with Bacardi Breezers in the hospitality tent at the V Festival. But their gentlemanly conduct soon went out the window when those windows in question were all steamed up and they were banging my orifices like a couple of Weebles in a storm. One of them had the audacity to eat some melted cheese nachos and a punnet of onion rings doused in ketchup while he roasted me from behind, and he thought I couldn’t see him munching on a KFC chicken-wing and licking his lips just as he splooged all over my back. When they’d both finished themselves off, they high-fived each other and dropped me off at a Texaco garage on the A40. I had to hitchhike back to London with a ripped gusset stinking of man fat. It’s not like I didn’t enjoy myself but, for fuck’s sake, have some manners. February 20 That dirty, no good conman exboyfriend Enrique came around with more money he owed me. He skulked up the garden path with his crashhelmet on and deposited the envelope through the door hoping I wouldn’t be looking out through the curtains, which I was. Then he went on his way, back-firing down the street on his fizzy while I gave him the finger. I don’t know what I saw in him! He’s such a wretch! The whole
thing depressed the hell out of me, so I bought a tub of cream and watched endless episodes of Sex And The City. I’ve watched that boxset around 47 times now. It makes me happy, because it makes me think of my three best friends in the whole world. I love my girlfriends so much and we have a lot in common with the main characters. They say I’m like Samantha -— a strong, confident woman with a high sex drive. Demelza is like Carrie — always writing blogs and buying shoes, and her face looks a bit like the skull of a donkey. Miranda is my dear friend Miley to a tee — ginger and a bit of a lezzer on the quiet. Charlotte is definitely my other best friend. Her name escapes me, but I’ll remember in a minute. March 11 Oh my fucking Christ, I’m in shock! Not little Mark Owen as well!? Little Orville Mark, the Take That cutey with the sweet little voice and those ickle dimples, cheating on his beautiful fiancé right up to the moment they got married! I loooooooved Mark Owen. Bad, bad Mark. No, no, NO! Mark, how could you? I don’t think I will ever recover from this caddish betrayal. With all these celebrities on the make, I do have to wonder why none of them have tried banging me. I’d stoop as low as de Burgh, I reckon, though I’d probably draw the line at Lloyd Webber. Do you think these celebrities like to get caught in the act, though? Ashley Cole had a beautiful wife at home but he just couldn’t help himself, could he? And Vermin Kaye? I love him on Family Fortunes, but now when I see him
saying he’s surveyed 100 people to ask them their favourite pejoratives for French people, I’ll wonder if he’s got a question card in one hand and the other one in his pocket stroking the old chap on the sly. And you have to wonder who else is doing the dirty. Jeremy Clarkson, Paxman or Vine? Beadle before he died? Bill Turnbull? I definitely reckon Bill Turnbull. He looks like a right dirty bastard to me. March 14 OMG! Not Howard Donald as well!? I think I might just go out and throw myself in front of a car. If it was Gary Barlow I’d understand it, ’cos he’s a minger and needs to get it where he can. Anyway, who’s to say he won’t be next? My world is shattered! March 17 George Michael makes me laugh. The singer has apparently been using his iPhone to cruise in Australia. It’s nice to know he can cottage with technology these days, because back in the nineties, he’d pop to any dirty toilet, drop to his knees in piss and whip his Wham Bar out for any Tom, Dick or Harry. But the longer he spends outdoors looking for sex, the less likely he is to crank up a bifta and crash his car into a school or nunnery in North London. March 28 All this bad energy in the media is making me twitchy. Negative PR will have to cope without me for a few days. I think I need to get away to the country to sort my head out. April 1 I’ve taken myself off to a health farm in the rolling Leicestershire
countryside for a week away from the infidels! It’s nice to kick back and be pampered and stop having a nervous breakdown. I did some yoga today for the first time in over a decade. My body aches all over and my downward-facing dog is a fucking disgrace. I’ve booked myself in for a facial tomorrow. Not that sort of facial, you dirty-minded bastard. April 2 This is the life. No fuss, no hassle, detoxing and being looked after. I had a massage earlier and dropped off in the chair. April 3 Okay, I’m bored out of my mind now. April 4 I’m bored out of my fucking mind. GIVE ME SOME GLUTEN! I tried to smuggle a bottle of Jack into my room but one of the assistants caught me. They’ve confiscated it until I leave. April 5 This morning, I escaped. I managed to steal my JD away with a bent up coathanger over the reception desk when nobody was looking. I also went into the laundry room and stole 16 towels to make up for the money I threw away on that insane fucking prison. I stumbled down, whisky dripping down my front, and got picked up by a lovely, professional man called Gavin who dropped me off at the station, but not before he whisked me back to his place for a quick knee-trembler. As I lay there clutching the headboard and biting his pillow, I must say I felt a pang of guilt looking at the picture of his wife and kids on the bedside table.
Comment & Analysis
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Breathe it in, I’m coming
NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL A HUNG PARLIMENT
This major year for music gets my vote of confidence
GARRY MULHOLLAND issue, the esteemed Stoolie
Lastmandarins allowed me to
lecture all you jaded young things about how brilliant music is in 2010, especially when it comes to albums that you apparently won’t buy anymore because of your trendy loadsharing tweety-blogs and whatnot. My reward for performing this overdue public service was getting depicted as smug former Tory Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Now, while I was secretly quite flattered to be associated with one of the leading opponents of Nazi appeasement, he was also an out-of-touch toff tosspot. So which discredited Tory PM is it this time, eh? Ted Heath? Sir AlecDouglas-Bloody-Home? No, you wouldn’t. Not… John Major. I mean, I may be somewhat befuddled and fond of warm beer and district nurses on bikes, but… sex with Edwina Currie? Well, insult me all you like, but nothing will shake me from the important task that I have undertaken to perform, like pointing out that the surprise gem of the double-month is the second album by 2007’s ruined-by-hype mockney
chanteuse Kate Nash. My Best Friend Is You is streets ahead of her dodgy debut, packed full of proper tunes in eclectic styles, lyrics that occasionally veer toward John Cooper Clarke levels of profane poetry and vocals that make her come off like a less pompous Scroobius Pip with added bunny boiler appeal. More shocks come from Ash, whose singles compilation A-Z Vol. 1 reveals a veteran band who’ve decided to become a smart and stylish pop group in their dotage. The Best Stool Pigeon-unfriendly Debut award goes to one Diane Birch, a stick-thin and Bambi-eyed American-Zimbabwean white soul laydee who happens to be good enough to remind you of Laura Nyro and Hall & Oates on her Bible Belt set. There’s far too much folk at the moment. Or, at least, there’s far too much ‘folk’ at the moment, as the media are doing an ‘indie’ on the word and applying it to any bunch of knackered hacks who go acoustic. But proper folk release of the month is gorgeous second album Of Flight & Fury from Brighton quintet The Miserable Rich, which is like Tim Buckley with beautiful string arrangements and without the overrated self-indulgence. Of those who still choose to plug their guitars in and be unfashionably indie rock, top marks go to Avi Buffalo and Gloria Cycles. Brighton’s Cycles find a way to make post-Franz Ferdinand pop spiky and vital on debut Campsite Discotheque. Buffalo, aka Avigdor ZahnerIsenberg, is a scarily precocious 18year-old singer-songwriter-guitarist whose somewhat whiny voice can’t dim the Californian Dinosaur Jr-onGatorade majesty of his eponymous Sub Pop debut. Meanwhile, the
reliably Byrdsian Nada Surf do the covers album thing on If I Had A HiFi and make it count, giving janglesand-harmonies makeovers to faves by Depeche Mode, Kate Bush, Arthur Russell and The Moody Blues. Yes, The Moody Blues. No, not ‘Nights In White Satin’. Yes, I’m glad too. Now stop interrupting. Mademoiselle Caro & Franck Garcia make gorgeous, melancholy electro-pop for Ben Watt’s excellent Buzzin’ Fly label. The Parisians’ new album Left is like Massive Attack and New Order jamming in a miserablist bar in Düsseldorf; a deep, warm bath of disco tears. While we’re on the subject of Euro electronica and what one dance mag wag cruelly but accurately dubbed ‘dad house’, the third album from Stuttgart duo Tiefschwarz is a sumptuous thing indeed. Chocolate features a tune called ‘Home’ featuring one Daniel Wilde on vocals that sounds like Scott Walker doing deep house, an idea so perfect it’s making me itch. Acid Washed by Acid Washed and Galaxy Of Nowhere by Mondkopf are also ‘trad’ electronica — exquisite analogue synths making mainly instrumental music influenced by Kraftwerk, Vangelis, Chicago and Detroit. Both are from France, where they seem to be able to do this sort of thing while smoking insolently and contemptuously shrugging. Up north, them weird Icelandic types attempt to compensate for destroying our entire economy by giving us the second and quite spectacular album by Hjaltalín. The septet have created a huge, freewheeling orchestral soundscape on Terminal, which makes that whole ‘its like blah-meets-buggerlugs-oncrackacid!’ shorthand very, very hard indeed, because it doesn’t really
sound like anyone else. Likewise, the equally snowbound Canada’s Caribou alias Dan Snaith describes the concept behind his third, excellent album Swim as “dance music that sounds like it’s made out of water”, which renders me entirely redundant. From the small, strange world of altrap come Yes! and Bedford Park, the best albums yet from keeping-itsurrealist veterans K-OS and Mike Ladd’s Infesticons respectively. But it’s rock’n’roll, of all things, that wins the day. I got sent an invite to a Facebook group called ‘Where Have All The Rock Bands Gone?’ t’other day. If I was lifeless enough to respond to pointlessly grumpy social networking groups, I would have sent them new stuff by Eddy Current Suppression Ring, The Black Keys and The Hold Steady and sat back, all self-satisfied, for at least four minutes, before going back to my porn. Having written about The Eddies and The Keys in other places, let me wax lyrical about Heaven Is Whenever, the fifth and possibly best Hold Steady album yet. They used to be Springsteen-meets- Hüsker Dü. Now they’re that and the Stones, and doo wop and girly choirs, and a place where gnarly street poetry and power ballads and punk guitars and elegant grandiosity can all hang out and get drunk over crazy girls who ruin your life but are just too perfectly imperfect to get over. The Hold Steady have created their own universe-cum-secret society where riffs fix everything and even John Major might be redeemed by the cleansing power of real rock’n’roll. And if you’ve spotted that that’s one hell of a spurious analogy contrived to bring this column full circle, then you’re clever enough to deserve The Hold Steady in your life.
KNOWING my impending schedule will become ludicrously punishing in the run up to the General Election, I’m writing this column last year. For those reading this right now in the urban dwellings, we will be right in the mix of the campaign. For those situated in harder-to-reach backwaters who’ll probably get their hands on the paper some time in 2012, yo! I am your Prime Minister. Please, there’s no need to curtsy, I’m still good old Dave, lover of The Smiths and ting. Nothing has changed, aside from the fact that the BBC is operating out of a cupboard on the Goldhawk Road and Ofcom has been smashed. We’re living in a Big Society now, where crime has been vanquished and the financial crisis has been put to the sword. It’s just you, me, Uncle Rupert, and all the happy souls living in a blue Utopia. Christians and Muslims are getting along. Those Muslims who haven’t been deported, anyway. I’m scribbling this in a B&B, and my delectable wife Sam Cam is here trying on dresses she’s purchased from Marks & Spencer, a solid British institution where she’s always brought her sartorial finery, being down with the common lady. She even buys her knickers at C&A, so she knows which way round to put them on. When I booked into this bed and breakfast and said I’d be sharing with Sam, the owner pointed to a sign on the wall which read: ‘No gaylords’. Outrageous! There’ll be no room for that kind of homophobic bunkum in the Big Society. Prime ministers need to multi-task, and as I write this I’m laying out the party’s economic policy nattering to Gideon on the IM. George is so funny, but I shan’t repeat the joke he just made about Monsieur Sarkozy. Naughty man! We intend to announce swingeing cuts that will hit the electorate extremely hard. Then we’ll promise to defer that hardship for at least a year. Then I’ll say that parties that promise efficiency savings are conning the electorate. Then George will argue that a proposed rise in National Insurance by the government is a ‘tax on jobs’. Then we’ll promise efficiency savings to the tune of £11bn. Then all the big business leaders like Paul Walsh of Diageo and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou of easyJet will sidle up to our bumholes for a proper, lung-busting sniff. Breathe it in, boys! Utter genius. We’ll do a Margaret and push up VAT, stiffing the poorest members of society. We’ll all be taken care of in the Big Society, only some will be taken care of more than others.
Comment & Analysis
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
The Stool Pigeon GOING BEGGING Poker, Phil, it’s like poker The last issue of The Stool Pigeon was decidedly snarky, particularly these leader columns, and I regret that. I published an email exchange between Pigeon writer/Quietus co-editor John Doran and Elizabeth Sankey of Platform magazine and the band Summer Camp, which was unnecessary. As a way of apologising and trying to be more grown up, John and I are taking Elizabeth and the publisher of Platform out for a sushi lunch in Stoke Newington. How media is that? To ensure better sleep patterns after this issue of The Stool Pigeon hits shopfloor corners, I’m writing these columns with more than an hour to go before we print. Much has happened since the last issue and I probably ought to have something sensible and inoffensive to say
about everything. Um, we published a couple of lovely books, spectacularly failed to launch the paper in Norway, had a fifth anniversary party, forgot that Dick Dale was playing at The Luminaire and, perhaps most alarmingly, got in trouble with the long arm of libel law. My dad reckons it’s a miracle that we’d never before had one of those phone calls that forces you to completely drop all that you’re working on: “This is ______ from ______, a company of solicitors representing ______.” It’s true that we’ve thrown punches over the years, often just for the hell of it and sometimes to see if anyone could be bothered to throw one back. No one did, not really, and it made me feel so… lonely. As all emo kids eventually
realise, when you scream “Please hate me!” you actually just want to be adored. Now I feel bizarrely proud and gooey, like the paper’s lost its virginity or come of age. And, in some deranged way, it was actually really fun dealing with that curious species of human being: lawyers. Example 1. Me: “Oh! I get it — this is like chess.” Lawyer: “Poker, Phil, it’s like poker.” Example 2. Lawyer: “I’ve put your case to the libel team here and we’ve thought of the best plan of attack.” Me: “Great. What’s that?” Lawyer: “Grovel.” Treasured readers, I’m embarrassed to admit that we had no other choice, or we would have lost you forever.
HOLDING OUT The brain’s just some bullshit that’s a red herring In his piece ‘Music magazines are agonisingly boring things to read’ — the first story in his book that we’ve just published — Son of Dave writes: “If you’re reading this [The Stool Pigeon], you are an optimistic sonofabitch, but I think you’re looking for knowledge in the wrong place, my friend.” It’s a fair point. Music magazines or newspapers are hardly repositories of life-affirming information and I’ve always excused that by saying, “It’s show business!” However, there are moments when you, or one of your writers, interviews a musician and they do say things that are exhilarating and powerful. I had this experience when speaking to Gonzales and I was
devastated that no one wrote in to say that the Q&A I printed had changed their life, as it did mine. Young people, you need heroes and I’m honoured to make a suggestion, gleaned from the pages of this issue, of someone worthy of your worship — Michael Coomers of the band Harlem. There are quotes in Cian Traynor’s piece on page 9 that are brilliant, like: “I’m pretty convinced the brain’s just some bullshit that’s a red herring.” In fact, I was so overjoyed by what this man has to say, I asked Cian if he had any outtakes from the interview that he couldn’t fit into his story and I might enjoy reading. Oh boy, he did! Example 1: “I feel like, when I hear that song ‘Yakety Yak’, I’ll see
some anamorphic creature kicking over a dad’s dinner plate and running off to go party with their half-zebra, half-human, half-elephant, half-punk rocker friend.” Example 2: “I don’t think of myself as a musician. I mean, it’s the only thing I know how to do. I don’t know how to cook. I can’t fix a car. So if the world lets me and people still dig what I do, I have to do something to pass the time between trying to get laid and sleeping.” Example 3: “I think I’d like to be remembered for jumping in the way of a bullet in front of a bunch of school kids. And then having really cool last words, like, ‘Homework sucks!’”
HIGH JINKS By JUPITER, a large Parsnip has grown from my Forearm I love it when you get a chance to snigger at serious issues, just as I did when I saw this priceless (and genuine) headline/by-line combo: “Vienna Boys’ Choir caught up in sex abuse scandals. Roger Boyes, Berlin Correspondent of The Times.” He he. And then there’s plant food, which the whole nation has been going bat-shit crazy for, especially since the media and government gave it the kind of marketing push that must have given makers of the drug in China the shock of their frigging lives. Whether it’s through God, by jumping out of a plane, or boshing a load of penis-shrinking, gurn-inducing, nose bleed-causing fire dust up your hooter, people like getting high. Fuck all any government can do about that and it’s no surprise that the people who
walked or were fired from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (big ups Prof. David ‘Off His’ Nutt) are the ones who had the most interesting things to say about the meow meow debacle — about the mass criminalisation of youth; the danger of putting narcotics in the hands of street dealers; the Orwellian power of the red-tops to initiate government drug policy... I’ll admit to gassing myself listening to old, knackered ravers calling up 5 Live saying they’d done three-gramme lines and still gone to work the next day, but no one nailed the whole hysteria quite as superbly as legendary tweeter Dr Samuel Johnson. May 17, 4.48am: “Intrigu’d how a Plant-succoring Powder is a potent Narcotick. I shall send a Houseboy for a Burlap of Meow Meow.”
4.49am: “Inspir’d by the empirickal Example of the Royal Society, I shall endeavor to try this Meow Meow.” 9.46am: “*ach!* ’tis more potent than any SNUFF *tchoo!* ’tis most ACRID unto the Taste.” 9.56am: “< + I love Thee * & I wish to dance Strip-The-Willow • # * By GOD, is that Admiral BYNG before me?” 9.58am: “High (adj.) most blissful Condition of heighten’d Sensibilities, succor’d by th’ambrosial Meow Meow.” 9.59am: “I wrote for Luck / They sent me Thee / I did send Juice / you gave unto me Poison.” 11.50am: “By JUPITER, a large Parsnip has grown from my Forearm.” May 18, 9.12am: “M-Cat (n.) potent Narcotick that can both succor a Plant & plant a Man in the Ground.”
letters to the editor The Stool Pigeon, 21a Maury Road, London, N16 7BP email@example.com
SIR, I have been a fan of your newspaper for a number of years — it has always been a fantastic vehicle for introducing me to new music; the comics are excellent, disgusting and surreal; and the look of the paper is excellent too — really innovative and very stylistic. Your most recent edition, the 5th anniversary special, was no different. I particularly liked the Yes-No comic by Luke Pearson. For me this sums up the exact feeling I get whenever I attend ATP or go to one of the more beardstroking nights here in Brighton. However, I would like to have a little moan. Essentially, I would class your paper as left-of-centre. That is, it does not deal with ‘mainstream’ music, but music that functions on the periphery of the mainstream. There are frequent features on little-known musicians and I’m sure these groups/bands, etc. rely on music press like The Stool Pigeon to spread the word about their music and gain the recognition they deserve. So, pray tell, why do you have such a disparaging view of bands that send demos in for review by yourselves? I am in no doubt that a) you receive a whole load of demos and b) you receive demos from bands who have not had the foresight to check your general ethos and have just sent something in regardless. However, if you’re going to the trouble of listening to these demos, then wouldn’t it be more useful for all parties involved if you actually reviewed demos that your readers might actually be interested in? For a magazine that should be looking to embrace new and unknown artists, starting your demo review page with “Let’s get this over and done with, then” sends out the message that you really don’t give a rat’s arse about interesting and independent music. And then there are the reviews themselves... “Milk are the sort of people who believe in ghosts but look at you funny when you spell God with a capital ‘G’. Their music is OK.” Or… “Scottish people and rap go together like Uri Geller and lightning bolts.” Seriously, what does this even mean? At best it’s nonsense, at worst it’s complete drivel and an absolute waste of time, paper, ink, etc. It tells me nothing except that the reviewer is lazy and cretinous and has a dim view of music that hasn’t been verified elsewhere beforehand. As a paper that should pride itself on good quality music reporting, I hope that the complete dismissiveness of the reviewer towards all musicians reviewed on the demo page is an embarrassment to yourselves. Either review musicians that we the readers want to hear and give the artists their due by providing representative
review of their music. Or just don’t bother. As quite frankly your attitude at the moment stinks. RUSSELL ARNOTT Brighton SIR, The Stool Pigeon is a bastion of learning. Seriously! Most of it is crappy learning, to be fair, but some of it’s actually good. Then there’s the occasional scary-ass-thoughtprovoking-making-me-unstable-withfear type of knowledge that rears up. Mostly this happens while scanning your personal ads, the Horrorscopes and, yes, the letters to the editor. I need to know whether this is a reflection of the Pigeon’s readership (sleepless asylum dwellers?) who are magnetically drawn towards the paper for some reason, or whether you’re the only publication unwilling to filter out the nonsensical and often alarming voice wafting up from society’s nether regions. Really, I need to know. It’s keeping me up at night. DANIEL, Bristol SIR, what I’ve learned recently is that there are two basic types of penis. There are ‘growers’ and there are ‘showers’. I did not know this, and I’m a guy. A shower is a penis that is pretty much the same size when hard or soft. What you see is what you get. A grower is a penis that starts small but grows bigger when the blood gets a pumpin’. It’s like a magic trick! Fun for all. I didn’t know that wangs had two different growth strategies. Why would evolution do this? What benefit is there to having one type of penis over the other? It’s crazy! Nature, you are a madhouse! DECLAN, Via email SIR, my friend wanted to say sorry for yelling “Pervert!” really loud by your window. He didn’t think you could hear and it was kind of weird that we could see right into your office, through the barred window, a ripped postal bag as a makeshift blind, the mad, cackling figure by a computer screen. Either way we just wanted you to know that we think you’re creepy, not a pervert. LOUISE, Stoke Newington HELLO, I am Ali Can Servi. You had forgotten to send to me issue of 24. Would you like to send to me issue of 24? Please send this issue because it is missing. ALI CAN SERVI Turkey
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Court Circular ERYKAH BADU FINED FOR GETTING HER GRASSY KNOLL OUT NEO-SOUL diva Erykah Badu has been charged with disorderly conduct after stripping for a music video, which was filmed on the hoof in Dallas, Texas, inspired by Matt and Kim’s similar promo ‘Lessons Learned’, shot last year in Manhattan. As it transpires, Matt and Kim had permission to film and enlisted a crew of extras for their mini-movie, but Badu played by her
individual.” That, my friends, is art. Erykah shocked unwitting street spectators out walking the children in Spiderman outfits and sucking on Zoom lollies, especially at the point she whips her knickers off to reveal her grassy knoll. One eye witness in particular, Ida Espinosa, seemed to be mortally offended by Erykah’s big naked ass,
own rules, and has been charged as a consequence. Pressing on regardless of retribution, she falls to the pavement stark naked at the spot where John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. A voiceover at the end of ‘Window Seat’ speaketh the words: “People are quick to assassinate what they do not understand… this is what we have become... afraid to respect the
and snitched to Texan rozzers who ordered Badu to pay up $500 to avoid any further action, complaining that she’d “disrobed in a public place without regard to individuals and small children”. No doubt Espinosa will sue Badu for multi-millions of dollar for affronting her sinless, virgin eyes, because America is stupid like that. Jeremy Allen
PU R P L E PA I N
Up Before The Beak PAINT Job N-Dubz have been up to no good again, opening fire on fans... with paint guns. Dappy and Fazer were apparently splattering one another outside the O2 Academy in Newcastle when they decided to get all Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen on a crowd of locals. Most were loving being autographed, but clearly some were upset they’d have to go to JJB Sports in the morning to replace their best outfits. Police said the Camden bruisers were “very apologetic and handed the toy guns over voluntarily”. Yeah, they shat themselves.
Prince sued for Dublin no-show despite telling promoter to “chill”
RELAND’S had its fair share to contend with in recent times, what with the economic meltdown, paedophile priests and the death of Stephen Gately, but none of these cataclysmic tragedies has impacted on a nation quite like the terrible snub dealt by diminutive superstar Prince in 2008, when he failed to materialise for a show in Croke Park, Dublin without a word of explanation. Usually you By JEREMY ALLEN can’t get rid of Jehovah’s Witnesses, nail Prince’s peach-and-black colours but Prince bucked the Kingdom to the mast were cunningly circumHall trend, phoning in at the 11th navigated by the singer who hour (well, two weeks before) apparently turned a business meeting leaving swathes of folk sobbing into an impromptu dinner party uncontrollably into their stew. It before floating off on a funky cloud wasn’t so much a raspberry as a anterior to any boring legal hokum raspberry parade. kicking off. It transpires he didn’t The cancellation precipitated sign anything prior to his pull out. action from purple-faced promoters, The-artist-formerly-known-asMCD, against his Royal Purpleness talented may face financial hardship and his US agents William Morris as a result of his lackadaisical Endeavor Entertainment. When commitment to his job. Not unlike informed of MCD chief Desmond his top chum Jehovah, Prince moves Dennis’s anger, the Minneapolis in mysterious ways, but unlike the munchkin is reported to have said Almighty, Prince isn’t above the law. “tell that cat to chill”. Mr Justice Peter Kelly could clearly A representative from the agency see why the cat wasn’t chilling, admitted in court that Prince was exempting William Morris from any somewhat flaky when it came to punitive measures while ordering business dealings, complaining of the Squiggle to cough up 2.2m euros to futility of trying to get him to commit cover lost revenue. to anything. The agency’s attempts to
NOEL LOOKS BACK IN ANGER IN FAN TWATTING CASE JEREMY ALLEN
HEN he wasn’t inflicting bloated guitar tedium and toothless six-form lyrics on our ears, Noel Gallagher spent most of the 1990s moaning. He moaned about Blur, he moaned about Oasis, he moaned about Manchester City, he moaned about his rubbish wife, he moaned about Liam, moan, moan, ruddy moan, ad nauseum... I only bring this up, because now it
appears the little ray of sunshine has really got something to bleat about. Oh, how we laughed at that YouTube clip (current views: 2,026,311) where an over-exuberant fan invades the stage in Toronto then clatters the unsuspecting Oasis guitarist to the floor with a mighty wallop. You weren’t standing on the shoulder of giants then, eh Noel? Liam’s Jumping Jack Russell routine following the assault is even funnier. However, capricious laugher at the
misfortune of others can often make one feel guilty after the event, and so it is with dear Noel, who says he may “never really recover” from the attack. Noel claims the incident was akin to being “hit by a bus”, poor lamb. He insists he was left in severe pain from broken ribs for up to eight months after British-born Danny Sullivan threw the guitarist into a set of monitor speakers, his only crime being the writing and
performing of What’s the Story (Morning Glory)? And maybe some moaning. After some careful deliberation we’ve decided this probably only befits a severe flogging and a walk to the 24-hour garage to get cartons of Rubicon Guava and four Chunky KitKats out of his own pocket. Sullivan’s sentencing has been deferred to April 22, after the Judge overseeing the case rang in with a dicky tummy.
TAFF Justice A new lead into the death of Welsh belter Dame Shirley Bassey’s daughter, Samantha Novak, may cause police to reopen an investigation, 25 years after she was found in the River Avon. Bassey has always suspected foul play, telling The Guardian last year: “If she’d jumped off the bridge, all her bones would have been broken.” A woman whose daughter was murdered in 2001 by her boyfriend has written to police, suggesting the same man might have been involved. In fact, she’s been doing that for years but dozy coppers have only decided to take her seriously now.
ROCKY III Kid Rock has been found guilty of assaulting three fans outside an LA hotel in 2006 with the help of two nails members of the Boo-Yaa Tribe. Well, he wasn’t going to start on anyone with Joe C in toe now, was he? Sadly Rock’s mini-me sidekick died in his sleep not long after the incident, probably rendering that observation unfunny. Bite me. Rock and the Boos claimed they’d unwittingly been caught in a fracas, though M’lud saw through their web of bullshit and fined them $35,000.
CHERRY Picked Lord Lucan may yet turn up raggedytrousered, complaining of having to drink his own piss for 36 years down Josef Fritzl’s well, but stranger things have happened. Once. However, Johnny Marr got his cherry red 1964 Gibson SG back, a decade after it disappeared into thin air following a show at the Scala, London. Suspicious Denmark Street guitar-techs tipped off pigs when the highly-prized axe came in for a restring and polish. Enfield porch-climber Stephen White laughably sobbed: “There’s a victim here. I can’t reconcile myself with the behaviour of that night.”
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Announcements Please email us your announcements firstname.lastname@example.org
MR SIMON COWELL & MISS MEZHGAN HUSSAINY. The engagement is announced between Simon, karaoke tycoon, and Mezhgan, American Idol make-up artist. MR MARK FEEHILY & KEVIN McDAID. The engagement is announced between Mark, Westlifer, and Mark, former V member.
Marriages RYDER — RYDER. On March 6, Happy Monday Shaun wed long-term partner Joanna to the surprise of family and friends at the christening of their daughter Lulu in Worsley.
Births VOCKS — VOCKS. On Thursday February 4, to Sara, occupational therapist, and Olaf, singer, a boy, Franz Alois. COLE — GIBSON. On Tuesday March 2, to Keyshia Cole, singer, and Daniel Gibson, NBA basketball player, a boy, Daniel Hiram Gibson Jr.
Divorces The divorce is announced between CHERYL COLE, ‘singer’, and ASHLEY COLE, footballer.
KATHRYN GRAYSON, Star of musicals, b. 09.02.1922, d. 17.02.2010 DAVID SOYER, Cellist For Guarneri String Quartet, b. 24.02.1923, d. 25.02.2010 BERNARD COUTAZ, Harmonia Mundi founder, b. 1922, d. 26.02.2010 NATHAN SCOTT, TV and film composer, b. 11.05.1915, d. 27.02.2010 LARRY CASSIDY, Section 25 singer, b. 1953, d. 27.02.2010 BOBBY ESPINOSA, For El Chicano keyboardist, b. 29.04.1949, d. 27.02.2010 TOM ‘T-BONE’ WOLK, bassist, b. 1951, d. 27.02.2010 JOHNNY ALF, father of bossa nova, b. 19.05.1929, d. 04.03.2010 LOLLY VEGAS, Redbone lead singer, b. 02.10.1939, d. 04.03.2010 RON BANKS, original member of The Dramatics, b. 10.05.1951, d. 04.03.2010 MICKY JONES, singer/guitarist of Man, b. 07.06.1946, d. 10.03.2010 LESLEY DUNCAN, British songwriter, b. 12.08.1943, d. 12.03.2010 ROCKIE CHARLES, soul singer, b. 14.11.1942, 12.03.2010 JEAN FERRAT, French singer-songwriter, b. 26.12.1930, d. 13.03.2010 G BABY, Brooklyn rapper, b. 1988, d. 13.03.2010 CHERIE DECASTRO, The DeCastro Sisters, b. 01.09.1922, d. 14.03.2010 FRED ‘RON’ LUNDY, New York DJ, b. 25.06.1934, d. 15.03.2010 JOHNNIE HIGH, country music promoter, b. 01.05.1929, d. 17.03.2010 CHARLIE GILLETT, radio DJ, b. 20.02.1942, d. 17.03.2010 FESS PARKER, cowboy records, b. 16.08.1924, d. 18.03.2010 SEAN STEWART, HTRK bassist, b. 06.02.1981, d. 18.03.2010 MARVA WRIGHT, blues/gospel great, b. 1948, d. 23.03.2010 JIM MARSHALL, rock photographer, b. 03.02.1936, d. 24.03.2010 JOHNNY MAESTRO, doo-wop singer, b. 07.05.1939, d. 24.03.2010 JOHN CIAMBOTTI, Clover bassist, b. 1942, d. 24.03.2010 PETER HEROLZHEIMER, jazz musician, b. 31.12.1935, b. 27.03.2010 HERB ELLIS, jazz guitarist, b. 04.08.1921, d. 28.03.2010 CARESSE HENRY, pop manager, b. 1966, d. 31.03.2010 MIKE ZWERIN, jazz musician/critic, b. 18.05.1930, d. 02.04.2010 GRACIELA PEREZ-GRILLO, Latin jazz star, b. 23.08.1915, d. 07.04.2010
JAQUES HETU, Canadian composer, b. 08.08.1938, d. 08.02.2010 JOHN ‘JAKE’ HANNA, jazz drummer, b. 04.04.1931, d. 12.02.2010 DELMAR ‘DALE’ HAWKINS, rockabilly pioneer, b. 22.08.1936, d. 13.02.2010 DOUG FIEGER, leader of The Knack, b. 20.08.1952, d. 14.02.2010 LEE FREEMAN, of the Strawberry Alarm Clock, b. 08.11.1949, d. 14.02.2010
Carol Clerk (O’Brien), a Belfastborn music writer who was a key staff member on the Melody Maker for two decades and wrote a score of critically and commercially successful books, passed away on March 13 after a year-long battle with breast cancer. Music hacks are often seen as either journalists who write about
rock’n’roll, or rock’n’roll writers. Carol Clerk was the epitome of the latter. While an intelligent, pretty and diminutive woman, her drinking, smoking and swearing would more traditionally have been associated with a shovel-handed docker than writer. However, she had a gift for seeking out and accentuating the positive aspects of the lifestyle while robustly rejecting the negative, like the drugs, nihilism and self-pity that others sadly succumb to. This led her into some amazing scenarios including one assignment that saw her and Finnish glam rock band Hanoi Rocks get thrown out of and then banned from Israel. Carol was an inspiration to many young writers and provided a link to a fast disappearing world, not just of glamorous foreign trips with megastars, but that of old school professional values; the kind that saw her declared PPA’s Journalist Of The Year in 1985 for her coverage of Live Aid. John Doran CAROL ELIZABETH CLERK, rock journalist and author, b. 15.10.1954, d. 13.03.2010
MALCOLM McLAREN Malcolm McLaren, impresario, recording artist and fashion designer, has died at the age of 64 from the cancer mesothelioma. Best known as the manager of the Sex Pistols, McLaren was one of the most polarising figures to impact the styles and sounds of the late 20th century. He was raised by his grandmother in London and, while attending Harrow Art School at 18, met designer Vivienne Westwood. In 1972, the pair opened fashion boutique Let It Rock (later renamed Sex) in Chelsea, selling Westwood’s fetish gear and t-shirts featuring McLaren’s situationist slogans. On a trip to New York , McLaren talked his way into managing the New York Dolls. The band broke up soon after but McLaren was spurred into assembling a new group, the Sex Pistols, based on his boutique’s clientele. In the 14 months they were together, McLaren took credit for orchestrating their notoriety. After forming the band Bow Wow Wow, McLaren attempted a solo recording career. 1983’s Duck Rock scored top 10 hits with ‘Double Dutch’ and ‘Buffalo Gals’. He later blended funk and orchestra on the 1989 album Waltz Darling, penned a song for Kill Bill Vol. 2 and coproduced the 2006 film Fast Food Nation. He is survived by his son, Joseph Corré, founder of Agent Provocateur. Brian J. Shaw MALCOLM MCLAREN, svengali, b. 22.01.1946, d. 08.04.2010
SPARKLEHORSE ENDS HIS DARK NIGHTS OF THE SOUL folk songwriter Mark Linkous, who recorded as Sparklehorse, has committed suicide at the age of 47, having produced just four albums in 15 years. The musician was in Knoxville, Tennessee to visit friends, who informed police that Linkous became upset after receiving a text message while drinking in the early afternoon. He then slipped out the back without telling anyone before shooting himself through the heart with a rifle. Born in Arlington, Virginia to a family of coalminers, Linkous was a selfdescribed “juvenile delinquent” as a teen. After finishing high school, he moved to New York to form the band the Dancing Hoods, who then relocated to LA in search of a breakthrough. But two albums later, it became clear that his fragile sensibility was ill-equipped for the rigours of the industry, and Linkous returned to Virginia, disillusioned and depressed. Yet when former Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery left his eight-track recorder with Linkous before going on tour with Cracker, the tortured songwriter took the opportunity to reinvented himself as Sparklehorse. A demo found its way to the president of Capitol Records who quickly signed Linkous to a record deal. The resulting Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot (1995) impressed Thom Yorke so much that he invited Sparklehorse on tour with Radiohead the next year. However, it was after the London date of that tour that Linkous overdosed on a cocktail of Valium, alcohol and anti-depressants.
By the time he was found in his hotel room, the circulation to his legs had been cut off for 14 hours. When medics attempted to move him, Linkous suffered a heart attack, dying for two minutes. Despite initial fears that his legs would need to be amputated, Linkous recovered after several operations and a lengthy stint in a wheelchair. Reassured by an outpouring of affection from fans and peers, Linkous was inspired to record Good Morning Spider in 1998 and It’s A Wonderful Life three years later. Despite its warm critical reception, the latter made little commercial impact and Capitol dropped Sparklehorse, causing Linkous to announce his retirement from music, and sink further into drug addiction. Following a five-year hiatus and a redemptive move to North Carolina, Linkous began working as a producer for the likes of Daniel Johnston and Cardigans singer Nina Persson. Reinvigorated once again, he released 2006’s Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain, produced by Danger Mouse, with whom he linked up with again in 2009 for the star-studded, multimedia project Dark Night Of The Soul. Despite a delayed release following legal entanglements, Linkous appeared uncharacteristically positive about the album and was reportedly nearing completion of a new Sparklehorse record before his death. He is survived by his wife, Teresa Linkous. Brian J. Shaw MARK LINKOUS, singer-songwriter, b. 09.09.1962, d. 06.03.2010
...apparently the label sold 23 cds at the launch gig so they’ve booked an ‘NEW MAPS OF HELL’ ad in the next stool Folkpoptastic debut pigeon album OUT NOW !
PRESENTS KILIMANJARO & FRIENDS BY ARRANGEMENT WITH PITCH AND SMITH PRESENT
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THE ALBUM BLOOD AND FIRE RELEASED MAY 17 • THE SINGLE, ‘LOVE TURNS TO HATE’ OUT 10 MAY W W W. E I G H T I E S M AT C H B O X B L I N E D I S A S T E R . C O M Kilimanjaro by arrangement with the Agency Group present
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The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Images Groups News
CAPE BRETON GIANT
ANOTHER SCOTTISH MAN MOUNTAIN WHO CHARMED HER MAJESTY QUEEN VICTORIA
ngus MacAskill is recognised as the largest and strongest true giant to have ever lived. He was born in 1825 on the Isle of Berneray, Scotland. His family emigrated to Nova Scotia and settled in Englishtown, Cape Breton Island around 1830. MacAskill’s status as a ‘true’ giant hinges on the fact that he was free of any growth abnormalities. Other than his huge size, he was normal. He stood 7’10” tall and weighed 41 stone. The palm of his hand was nearly a foot wide and his shoes measured 19” in length. He was also known for incredible feats of strength, like when he lifted a 2800lb ship’s anchor to chest height, and once carried a full-grown horse over a four-foot fence. He performed alongside Tom Thumb (pictured) at Windsor Castle for Queen Victoria while working for P.T. Barnum’s Circus. She gave him two gold rings and declared that he was “the tallest, stoutest and strongest man to ever enter the palace”. After a long showbiz career, MacAskill settled back in Englishtown where he ran several businesses until his death in 1863.
Rocky’s classic hip hop covers
If bands re-forming is what they want, let’s get Nirvana back together for next year... they rocked!
LL COOL J BAD (Bigger and Deffer)
SECOND LP, RELEASED IN 1987
That dude died, buttmunch Huh huh, oh yeah, his guitar hit him on the head on MTV. That was cool, uh huh huh
No, dumbass, the one who wore dresses shot himself That liar had a gun?
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
2010 GENERAL ELECTION SPECIAL* Here’s a special selection of political party campaign broadcasts. Just apple c, apple v.
A party political broadcast from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages play an election fundraiser.
Linton Kwesi Johnson the great Independant Intavenshan.
The Conservative Party as seen by Not The Nine O’Clock News in 1979.
CELEBRITY B A R B E R
Images Groups News
D AV Y J O N E S
“Take off that helmet and let’s see what we can do for ya, sonny”
A TO B
WORDSEARCH THE POLITICIANS ARE OUT AND ABOUT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL THROUGHOUT THE UK, SO IT’S FORMS OF TRANSPORT THAT WE’RE AFTER. CAPITAL LETTERS ONLY. Zion TRAIN Mystery JETS The Blue AEROPLANES The CARS Led ZEPPELIN WINGS Wooden SHJIPS MOTÖRHEAD
Red LORRY Yellow LORRY S-EXPRESS YACHT Crazy HORSE Part ROCKET Brian FERRY BRMC The B52s
Bombay BICYCLE Club Drive By TRUCKERS Death CAB For Cutie BMX Bandits Velvet UNDERGROUND I Like TRAINS Gloria CYCLES SPITFIRE
C W B
N M C
one-footed. And breathe in that blessed air. This is your time — romance, intrigue, danger and fun. It’s all there for your perusal, Aquarius. xx
Your Stars With Mental Marvin
GEMINI MAY 22 - JUNE 21
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT ORDER THEY COME IN, I JUST FEEL THIS SHIT”
LIBRA SEPTEMBER 24 - OCTOBER 23 Mental Marvin sexing you up! Comin’ at you so ’ard through this paper, my woody could burst through the page. With Sting (during his African period) on and joss sticks providing the atmosphere, I’m now bashing my truncheon furiously against your forehead. The forehead is a much-maligned and left-out part of the sexual union of the modern couple — in olden times, it played a role almost as important as shagging. The third eye, i.e. forehead, was a direct link between the physical and spiritual world, when engaged. Spring forehead willy bashing rituals usually took place at Beltane (springtime) in birch forests to bless the trees for superior flex for their bows and arrows. The people who
Uranus is back pedaling into areas of possible new gains for you. In what, I couldn’t say. Could be a build-up of puss in your nipple, for all I know. didn’t practise forehead arousal were considered unwise, thus the ancient saying ‘you can’t see the wood for the trees.’
CAPRICORN DECEMBER 23 - JANUARY 20 You know I just took some pijls and I was thinkimg wmu are like so special and… er… fuck’s sake, more like special needs! This is a shambolic disgrace — don’t go sending texts to people you fancy, or you are too shy to contact when coherent. T’will do you no favours in your pursuit, young spirit.
AQUARIUS JANUARY 21 - FEBRUARY 19 Get out in the great yawning nature of spring with a loved one, whether male, female, two-footed, four-footed, or
Note: I propose to the Astrological Society something which I think I have discovered. I risk being struck off the astrological list for this, but I must take the risk for it is of the greatest importance. I think I have found a new star sign: Cheddar. Until I know more about this mysterious
SCORPIO OCTOBER 24 - NOVEMBER 22 I followed a pretty lady — I saw ’er from afar. Lord knows how she looks in daylight, but by moon she had no par. Funny to think that, that fateful day, I thought I’d found my dear as I followed her beckons through old dark wood beyond the marsh and mere. It’s nice to think they searched for me on golden morn, blue ’n’ crisp. But I was just a travelling man, seduced by will-o’-the-wisp. Tread carefully, Scorpio – spring can bring change in ways you may not expect.
CANCER JUNE 22 - JULY 23 Sir Gawain, or the hawk of May as he’s known in ancient
Welsh, is the intuition or spark which connected Camelot to nature — he is robin redbreast, the spring sacrifice. He gave his head willingly to be cut off by Lord Bertilak, the Green Knight. And Arthur was set a similar task by another mysterious night at King Uriens: ‘What do women desire most?’ Sir Gawain once again took the forfeit and married the old hag who gave Arthur the answer. In return, he finds her a husband. The old hag on Sir Gawain’s wedding night changed into a beauty-like blossom from a winter ravaged tree. She was under a curse, too: she could either be hot stuff at night and a hellish hag by day, or vice versa. ’Twas up to Sir Gawain to choose. On pondering the quandary, Sir Gawain remembered the answer to the original knight’s riddle: ‘Women desire their own way.’ Sir Gawain told her to choose herself. This set her free and the curse was lifted. It’s all in there, Cancer!
LEO JULY 24 - AUGUST 23 Come ye ’round the Maypole dance, we’ll twist and twirl and chase romance. Blossom
new sign, write into The Stool Pigeon if you never felt at home in your original star sign and never thought of yourself as a cheeky Aries. Maybe you’re really a Cheddar. Let me know. You could hold the key to the mystery of my new discovery and blow the astrological world apart.
wind blows a special tune I hear, spin ’round Maypole — kiss me dear! Let your hair down, uptight Leo, and have some maypole action this coming weekend!
PISCES FEBRUARY 20 - MARCH 20 Was the wind of gentle spring that blew my dear friend to another… ’Twas the joy of righteous spring… that’s how I lost my lover.
TAURUS APRIL 21 - MAY 21 The ancient Italian pagan god Faunus resonates powerfully in you, Taurus — a creature of regeneration. Lounge back and let the fruits of spring appear in their own time as you sip a fine Puglian red and rest those winter-frosted hooves on a clump of buttercups.
VIRGO AUGUST 24 - SEPTEMBER 23 After last month’s powerful Virgo full moon and now the coming of spring, you find you’re not feeling the seasonal change as positively as you should. Pluto is crossing the great western pulsars near the nebula of Andromeda Alpha Proxy — damn it! Terry’s fucking given me chamomile,
raspberry and honey infusion! I fucking told him. Terry, that shit clogs up my third eye.
SAGITTARIUS NOVEMBER 23 - DECEMBER 22 Hot stuff lookin’ at me across the station — hot stuff, can it be me? Hot stuff we talkin’ now, walkin’, getting in d’ rockin’ chair for free! Hang on, dear lord in Narnia, what’s wrong with this picture? We have moved out of retrograde with Saturn, which means romance will be able to spread its finely laced wings. Our intellects will come alive through the wafting of these wings — a shit train of wondrous creativity will save humanity from devolution… Wake up, poet! Wake up, artist… and get down to your local for lechery with beauty, wit and style… Dazzle the common lesserspotted Gaga tart or the indie snotlet with your brilliant verse. They in turn will blossom like an unwatered flower! Every romance will be your masterpiece.
ARIES MARCH 21 - APRIL 20 Slag.
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The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Sound & Vision Box Shot
DVD Choice ONDI TIMONER (Dir.) We Live In Public Dogwoof
Dig! director Ondi Timoner follows up her infamous portrayal of The Dandy Warhols and Brian Jonestown Massacre with another years-in-the-making documentary — this time examining how ego conquered privacy during the dawn of the internet. Web entrepreneur Josh Harris was a one-time millionaire who built his fortune from launching chat rooms and interactive streaming video platforms during the mid-nineties. He was hot property during the dotcom boom, leading no one to bat an eyelid when he began showing up to business meetings as a demented clown named Luvvy. Nor did anyone question the online pioneer when he unveiled his next invention: reality television. Harris poured millions into an art performance project entitled Quiet, which put 100 people in a neofascistic commune beneath downtown New York, broadcasting the ensuing chaos 24 hours a day for a month. But in his proto version of Big Brother, there are no evictions or walkouts, no presenters or censorship — just an open bar, a well-stocked firing range and plenty of tears in the interrogation room. Once the participants have been stripped of any sense of individuality, it doesn’t take long for things to go awry and the authorities intervene just as the number of nervous breakdowns begins to mount. Yet Harris wastes no time in launching his next experiment: he and his girlfriend move into an apartment crammed with cameras, broadcasting their life together 24 hours a day. Every argument, sexual encounter and bowel movement is followed by a trip to the computer screen to interact with viewers. But the couple’s inevitable break-up forces Harris to continue solo until his audience dwindles. As the dotcom crash of 2001 arrives, the tycoon’s credibility takes a similar nosedive, leaving him without money, friends or investors. We Live In Public makes for uncomfortable and compelling viewing. By charting his trajectory from Midas touch to meltdown, it not only gives this pathological exhibitionist another shot at notoriety, but serves as a harrowing reminder that Harris’s Orwellian vision of the online world remains firmly on course.
J DILLA STUSSY DOCUMENTARY, ONLINE STORYVILLE: RISE UP RAGGAE STAR,
BBC4 To coincide with the launch of a limited edition J Dilla tshirt created by Stussy, the brand has put together a black and white documentary paying tribute to one of hip hop’s most influential producers. The online piece features contributions from Mayer Hawthorne, DJ Houseshoes, Peanut Butter Wolf (founder of Stones Throw Records) as well as DJ Rhettmatic and J. Rocc of the Beat Junkies, all reminiscing about how they first got hooked up with one of Dilla’s beat tapes. The retrospective covers the Detroit producer’s mercurial rise from the early Slum Village material onwards, gradually drawing a community of ‘Dilla heads’ that would anticipate his every move. Though Dilla’s partner in crime, Madlib, does not feature, the documentary’s most touching segment is the way it highlights what made their dynamic special, picking apart the complexities of their collaboration through nostalgic anecdotes. The final and third part of the film focuses on Dilla’s eventual relocation to LA and the liberating effect it had on his output, prompting a more simpler direction in style. Years of crate digging had attuned his ear so sharply that he could pick any record and make a beat out of it, be it the Bee Gees or Vincent Gallo. He’d effortlessly map the loops out in his head before dropping fully fledged tunes in fifteen to twenty minutes — even during his eventual hospitalisation for thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rare blood disease. By that time the demand for Dilla’s infectious instrumentals was great enough to warrant a release of his beats all by themselves, with Donuts ultimately serving as a goodbye letter comprised of un-replicable sounds, turning a living legend into an immortal influence. By following three Jamaican musicians desperate to be plucked from obscurity, Rise Up Reggae Star provides an insightful look at the present-day state of reggae in its motherland. Each hopeful has a unique story to tell: Turbulence is the fiercely determined, street-smart youngster from the ghetto; Ice is dancehall’s upper class, wannabe gangster; and Kemoy is the beautiful but naïve country girl with a voice that could break your heart. Together their stories help to flesh out the bigger picture of the bustling underground reggae scene they’re desperate to keep afloat in. Five years in the making, Rise Up delves into its participants personal lives so deeply that it becomes as much about their individual plight as their musical talent. Ice seems to get ahead despite his cringe-inducing pretentiousness; Turbulence’s tough upbringing leaves him with the impression that he is a natural philosopher; while Kemoy slips from being a certain star in the making to a young mother forced to relinquish her dreams. Though there is no narrative thread or explicit message to the film, the unfolding stories behind its recurring characters are deftly assembled into a remarkable snapshot of ambition and creativity. Brian J. Shaw
Also out now... THE KINKS
SAM TAYLOR-WOOD (DIR.)
The Freak Out List
MATTHEW ROBISON (DIR.) We Fun: Atlanta GA Inside/Out MVD Visual
What looks, at first, to be an absorbing career insight into one of the UK’s finest acts is sadly one of the worst music DVDs ever made. A tin-pot production aimed at a docile American TV audience, it’s sloppy, confused and edited blind. Rare sixties archive film is clipped to almost nothing to allow for endless stretches of dull nineties live material; commentary is intermittent and insincere; and — here’s the best bit — the launch menu loops just once before the DVD simply turns itself off. To have cobbled together a disc so appalling in every aspect is actually quite an achievement, though this amateur nonsense is recommended only to media companies as an example of what not to do to a cherished legend. Nil pigeons.
Matthew Robison’s close-up look at Atlanta’s indie rock scene focuses on garage delinquents playing uncompromised music on their own terms. While the film features interviews and performances by Deerhunter, the Black Lips, King Khan and Mastodon, it also hints that this could be Anywhere, USA: i.e. an artistic community within a state capital that disregards the outside world so as not to feel inferior. But as one observer puts it, when there’s a term for local bands being unable to break out despite their talent (‘A tlanta syndrome’), this is also a place where dreams go to die. That may be the case for some of the lesser-known acts here, but as the woman shooting fire out of her pussy proves, they’re out to get their kicks regardless.
Maybe it’s something to do with emotional attachment or nostalgia, but Beatles’ films, like football films, are nearly all risible. Here’s a movie that pleasantly surprises. Nowhere Boy concentrates on the bad, young Beatle John Lennon’s borderline Oedipal obsession with his errant mother, Julia, played by the always excellent Anne-Marie Duff. Lennon’s troubled upbringing, living with his matronly Auntie Mimi and yearning for his hallowed scarlet matriarch has been welldocumented, and first-time director Sam Taylor-Wood, better known as a conceptual artist, efficaciously conveys the hurt, emotional upheaval and, eventually, the loss with genuine skill and a surprising lack of frippery. The pace is slow but effective, making it a drama perfect for a Sunday afternoon. Aaron Johnson get the rascally Lennon about right, too.
Forty-four years after Frank Zappa listed his influences on the inside sleeve of debut album Freak Out!, this documentary attempts to pick apart their impact on a career that went on to span over 60 records. Sadly it begins with a poor imitation of ‘Son Of Mr Green Genes’ as a backing track, signifying an unlicensed, unauthorised release that’s likely to sink the heart of any dedicated Zappa fan. With few noteworthy contributors (including former Mothers Ian Underwood and George Duke), a dry, rambling analysis from music historians quickly drains Zappa’s output of its vigour. By doing so it hampers any illustration of the maestro’s love for doo-wop, R&B and Edgar Varese, meaning this would have worked far better as a compilation of Zappa’s inspirations instead.
You Really Got Me
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
THE FALL Your Future Our Clutter Domino
You should know by now why The Fall are the greatest English rock band of the last 40 years. If you don’t, we politely suggest the onus now lies on you to find out why, rather than have us draw you a diagram and throw in some (laser accurate) John Peel quotes. Their 28th studio album is just more evidence that the band are going through their third imperial phase. The first was one of narrative lyrical genius coupled with thuggish, art-informed post punk. The second saw them as unlikely Top Of The Pops stars with guyliner, Armani sweaters and brilliantly infectious pop. Their current revivification, which started with 2000’s The Unutterable, has included Imperial Wax Solvent, Fall Heads Roll, the Von Südenfed project and arguably the two best live line-ups of the band to date, continues apace with Your Future Our Clutter, their first album for Domino. And it seems that their new record company has been cracking the whip (recent live backdrops have read ‘What Domino Want, Domino Shall Have’ and on ‘Bury’, Mark E. Smith barks, “A new way of recording! A chain round the neck”). Perhaps this refers to the fact that while Smith thought the album was ready for release last autumn, his new paymasters did not share his enthusiasm. And while one can only imagine how much it must have pissed off Smith to have his album returned for reworking - that simply doesn’t sit easily with his group’s fearsome work ethic - it has undeniably resulted in one of the best-sounding Fall albums for a long time. It’s a shame they weren’t signed to Domino for Reformation Post TLC, in fact. This shift in attitude in and around the group is summed up by ‘Bury Pts. 1+3’. The track starts as a deliciously lo-fi, dictaphone-quality demo, all needles in the red, then ragged studio recording, through to glistening chrome monster. Elsewhere there is the galloping “country and northern” of ‘Cowboy George’ which, if I’m not mistaken, has a sample of Kanye West’s ‘Stronger’ cheekily woven into it. The Fall, then: still harder, faster, stronger and better than your favourite band. JD
THE BLACK DOG
Music For Real Airports
A meat-and-two-veg trio originally from Detroit (now Brooklyn) whose take on The Stooges, Sonic Youth and classic psych rock is always powerful. In their own way, they’re actually quite arty, but never at the expense of being ferocious and loud. Album three doesn’t piss around with the formula. There are long, wig-out tracks, sharper attempts at Dinosaur Jr-like college pop and, once again, they get it absolutely spot on. Truly a band for people who aren’t pussies.
Flying is perhaps the most illogical pursuit our bodies and minds are put through, which is why Brian Eno’s lullaby to air travel, Music For Airports, can be seen as incongruous. The Black Dog, by contrast, handle the emotional baggage and complexity of air travel with a record that combines hours of field recordings, disembodied voices and electronics. The result is a perfect reflection of those nowhere places where deep anxiety and a sense of humanity coexist.
The other night I dreamt that Black Francis was one of the sperm from Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex* (*But Were Too Afraid To Ask). He was waiting in line to be shot straight out of David Duchovny’s cock right into some hapless waitress’s ovum. Whatever. This is his sex album; it follows a now-long run of excellent solo albums, and if this is how well he performs when he’s getting some, then we should all be happy.
As Day Follows Night
The ARIA Award-winning Australian singer steps out on her own following the end of a personal and songwriting relationship for this, her third album. Devoid of the electronic and unusual instrumentation of her previous work, As Day Follows Night focuses on strong melodies carried through by the dusky tones of Blasko’s soft vocals. Production by Bjorn Yttling (Peter, Bjorn and John) completes this break up album with a playful, orchestral flourish.
These nine songs and 40 minutes of deceptively danceable electronica follow Dan Snaith’s nine song, 40 minute Andorra. There the similarities end, as Swim does away with woozy, West Coast-inspired psychedelic influences in favour of squirming, dancefloor rhythms and sparser fuzz. Where Andorra laid itself out in sun fields, Swim inhabits a twilight zone of strobe lighting and hard, refracted sounds. Progressive and impeccably put together, Swim spells big things for the Canadian.
To get a sense of the Casady sisters’ mystical fourth album, picture a meditation workshop for wayward toddlers. In the background, one child is having a piano lesson while another toys with a music box; then there’s a brat flicking between new age radio stations as another kid drowns some chipmunks. A beguiling dynamic, perhaps, but then that’s what this avant-garde sister act specialises in. Sadly, this time it’s a flat-sounding concoction that fails to convince.
Reviews by Jeremy Allen, John Doran, Phil Hebblethwaite, Garry Mulholland, Huw Nesbitt, Hazel Sheffield, Cian Traynor and Luke Turner.
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM This Is Happening DFA Recordings
The third and, according to James Murphy, last LCD Soundsystem album is a bold attempt to round-up all of LCD’s past achievements and Murphy’s musical obsessions. No matter where you end up standing on the material, you will agree that no album has sounded as good as this in 20 years. The LCD mix of electronics,
rock instruments and loose punkish vocals has become the essence of the art-rock less-is-more aesthetic... stark and tough, yet rich, warm and full of sonic detail. First, the villains of the piece. Murphy’s always loved his EnoBowie-Iggy-Reed art-glam, but ‘Somebody’s Calling Me’, ‘All I Want’ and the single ‘Drunk Girls’ labour under an obsession with duplicating the seventies Berlin sound, right down to the Frippertronic guitars, mumbled croons and studied Euro-alienation. It’s all very clever, but proves little except that Murphy makes a much better Murphy than Bowie.
But thankfully the best of This Is Happening blows the Berlin tributes away. ‘One Touch’ is an essay in dark disco dread. ‘I Can Change’ is pure synth-pop and boyish romantic yearning. ‘You Wanted A Hit’ cruises on a glistening Yellow Magic Orchestra-esque synth motif. ‘Pow Pow’ is the nearest thing to a traditional LCD tune, while it’s fitting that closing track ‘Home’ should revive the bass and rhythm pattern of ‘Losing My Edge’. The lyrics of ‘Home’ are designed to sound like a fond farewell, and the punk-funkmeets-acid-house noise backs two chords full of optimistic chants and
pretty synth undulations. The best band of the 21st century should end on a creative high, particularly since much of Murphy’s waspish humour has mutated into a wistful form of angst. Of course, he could be bullshitting about the winding-up of LCD Soundsystem, but I suspect the Berlin pastiches are a sign that Murphy is eager to find a different vehicle for his caustic yet concerned worldview and unmatchable ability to channel the best of art-pop past. Until then, This Is Happening is exactly what we’d hoped for - another, effortless, best album of the year. GM
THE BLACK KEYS
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE
Forgiveness Rock Record
Monster Head Room
There’s no reason why the soul or spirit of a recording studio should rub off on people who record there it’s just a building after all. But frequently when bands or artists do set up in supposedly sacred spaces, wonderful things happen. Bill Callahan cut his masterpiece, A River Ain’t Too Much To Love, in Willie Nelson’s Pedernales studio in Texas and here The Black Keys have done something similar, by stepping into the hallowed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama. There are actually two celebrated studios in Muscle Shoals and this is the newer one, famed for its allCaucasian, super-tough studio band and for hosting sessions by the likes of Wilson Pickett, the Stones, Staple Singers, and Aretha Franklin. Realising that the grungy, bluesy two-piece thing would lead them straight down a cul-de-sac, The Black Keys went classic rhythm’n’blues with their last, Danger Mouse-produced album and they’ve expanded on that idea here, with equal success. Album six begins with a gospel-style banger called ‘Everlasting Light’ that front-dude Dan sings in falsetto, then they move onto John Lee Hooker-like boogie, scorching trad rock, vintage soul... The album never gives up. Track nine of 15, ‘Ten Cent Pistol’ is a superbly swampy blues; it’s followed by ‘Sinister Kid’, which evokes the watertight funk of The Meter from nearby New Orleans This record is a triumph in every way: tight as a nun’s proverbial, varied, clever and further proof that they were never a cut-price White Stripes. In fact, as Jack White gets sloppier and more flatulent, these two boys from Ohio have found deep focus and real flavour. There just isn’t a wasted moment on here. PH
Broken Social Scene’s eponymous second album, released in 2005, marked the highpoint of a wave of Canadian indie that exploded in the last decade. It embodied the dizzying frankness, co-operative ethics and sprawling reach of a trend that swept Feist, Arcade Fire, Stars and others up in a hurricane of international success. Like with every high, the comedown was nasty, and nearly spelled the end for the laissez-faire collective. Five years later and they’ve reshuffled their hand to reveal a new six-member core, with post rock royalty John McEntire on production duties in place of their formative producer David Newfeld. The result is a placebo. Forgiveness Rock Record strings together 14 tracks with little regard to cohesion, plumping for the notion that so many lengthy, safe pop songs equates to a lengthy, safe career. Evolution is critical at this point, especially after their half-hearted hiatus, yet rather than try anything exciting, they’ve squeezed out characteristically noodling, layered melodies and lathered them up with a snug finish that feels about as gritty as Johnson’s baby shampoo. Even the old BSS at its most anthemic (‘Superconnected’, ‘Stars And Sons’) has nothing on new member Sam Goldberg’s ubiquitous power chords, not least on ‘Meet Me In The Basement’. Wherever they deviate from the comfort zone, the results are hardly any more endearing, as in the self-conscious, falsetto disco of ‘Chase Scene’. There was always a winking self-indulgence to Canadian indie, but never did it sound this nice. These are big, cosy songs, lacking in the aural scattiness that made this band, and ultimately making for a soporific listen. HS
Crafted as a mixtape that emulates an acid trip, Monster Head Room is a lysergic symphony that flits from naïve sunshine pop to seventies country rock, replicating the best kind of auditory hallucinations along the way. Oddly enough it’s comedown moments ‘The Void’ and ‘100 Years’ that provide the highlights, but whenever the angel voices and garbled sounds threaten sensory overload, these Sacramento stoners shepherd you through the chaos before ending on a warm, fuzzy high.
You’re on a yacht off the coast of Miami. It’s 1987 and there’s a balding dude who moves badly, singing songs about not getting girls. His music is pre-taste music - soft rock and electro soul that every bone in your body insists you should hate. He plays a Donald Fagen track as an encore. You’re better looking, but chicks are all up on his shit. Home alone now, you do the rest of your coke in a single line and wank your cock to a bloody stump. You can’t come.
Third and final instalment of hip hop producer Mike Ladd’s wildly imaginative Infesticons project and, my god, it’s been a long time coming. Its predecessor - from fictitious rival crew The Majesticons (look this shit up!) dropped in 2003 and, in some respects, the chronic delay actually works with the concept. The war is over and no one cares anymore. As straight battle records, though, there’s no doubt that The Majesticons won. Beauty Party dumps all over this.
KONONO NO. 1
Assume Crash Position
Imagine Einstürzende Neubauten if they’d grown up in Kinshasa rather than West Berlin during the Cold War and you’re on the way to understanding the brilliant Konono No. 1. Like Neubauten, this 25-yearold group deploy the detritus of modernity alongside heavily modified instruments to create an intense, percussive sound. Yet as this latest release proves, they’re masters at capturing the light with what they have, and sending it in flickering Morse to your feet.
There’s something noble about Jamie Lidell entirely shunning his techno past and continuing to plough away at something many people find risible: blue-eyed soul. His last album took quite a kicking and, in retrospect, it was a bit naff. Compass is far more ambitious sonically, as befits a man who was once a gear-head. When it works, it’s jarring, odd yet smooth. Trouble is it doesn’t work nearly often enough. Too frequently he sounds nauseatingly lumpen.
Another year, another lost bunch of young men. “Feeling like I don’t belong,” opens Male Bonding’s lead singer. Hang about, you lads are from Dalston and model your dress sense on Al Pacino’s undercover turn as a dustman in Serpico. Hardly Wilfred Fucking Owen, then, but this album has guts belying the bourgeoisie malaise: haunting vocals, tin drums panging at 1,000 MPH, touches of tropicália and jams so heavy they’ll drive your track bike under the 149.
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Few bands have produced a second album so bewildering that bloggers felt compelled to write a phoney 10/10 Pitchfork review on April 1, with a sign-off asking, ‘Is this the most controversial rating in the history of Pitchfork?’ Yet such is the furore surrounding MGMT’s Congratulations, which has prompted more navel-gazing than
their label could have dreamed of, given that it’s been widely snubbed. The confusion seems to have arisen from the fact that, on the basis of three stand-out singles from their largely average debut album, MGMT were heralded as the deeply ironic mouthpiece for a generation paralysed by wilful apathy, dreaming of the stars but waking up in stained sheets. From there, expectations ballooned, creating a situation in which the duo could do little but flounder. This time round the wilful insouciance that once made MGMT such a profitable prospect has turned into some kind of
Kierkegaardian nightmare. First, they said they weren’t releasing singles, then they announced that the LP would be preceded by the outrageously cramped, camp and obscure ‘Flash Delirium’. Then they publicly apologised to Spinner for releasing a rubbish pretend single. Now it seems everyone’s lost the ability to tell their elbows from their assholes because they’re too busy trying to work out whether MGMT have concocted a deliberately ridiculous album, so post-modern no one could ever get it. The truth is much simpler. ‘Time To Pretend’ and ‘Kids’ were written in 2005 for the ‘Time To Pretend’ EP,
long before anyone knew who Goldwasser and Van Wyngarden were. Chances are, two college kids got lucky with a couple of hits. Today, with a blank cheque in front of them and hopes running high, they’re doing the best they can to produce something interesting and have ended up with an album bloated by half-realised ideas which - from the 12-minute drudgery of ‘Siberian Breaks’ to limp eulogy ‘Song For Dan Treacy’ - attests to a crisis of confidence. In the absence of substance, they’ve fallen back on their old friend irony. A fading gag, and one that’s unlikely to survive a third airing. HS
MATTHEW SAWYER & THE GHOSTS
How Snakes Eat
Upset the Rhythm
Yet again the most unlikely collection of people, in exactly the wrong place, at exactly the wrong time, have chosen to reveal to us why the concept of good taste in music is absolutely bogus. We need to be reminded at regular intervals that having peer-approved, cool taste in tunes is the death of invention for all but a discerning few. It is a shame that this or no other record will ever kill off the idea of a set-in-stone, unfuckingtouchable musical canon. (James Murphy may be the exception rather than the rule, but even he built a career on nervously mocking his self-image of a tastemaker with ‘Losing My Edge’.) Three years ago, no one would have predicted that 10CC would suddenly become a hip name to drop and that is exactly why one of the best albums which will come out this year has been made by a slightly uncool bunch of 10CC obsessives and not Rusko, with his silly keytar or any number of Animal Collective copyists with eBay-bought loop pedals. When Ryan Olson explored his passion for 10CC’s ‘I’m Not In Love’ (surely the Rosetta Stone of glo-fi or chillwave) with Zach Coulter and Adam Hurlbert of neoafrobeat unit Solid Gold, the project quickly took shape, and the act of worship is sealed with a gorgeous, smack-addled-soundingyet-dead-serious cover of Godley & Creme’s ‘Cry’. There are many notable guests on this stunning ‘blue eyed R&B’ project including Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Rhymesayers but the real star is the production job, where hyper compressed drum fills become gun shots and a sax morphs between free rage and coke-blind smoothness. A revelation. JD
The grand dukes of dreary return with another slow-burning ‘grower’, continuing a trajectory of albums that require increasingly repeated listens with every passing release. Now a decade into their career, it’d be foolish to expect The National to have lightened up a touch. In fact listening to High Violet’s darker shade of pained, it’s almost impossible to imagine. Opening track ‘Terrible Love’ packs all the weight and finality of what would be a sure-fire album closer for almost any other artist. But it’s a stirring introduction nonetheless, thrusting you into the album’s mosaic of drinker’s remorse, lovers’ quarrels and a cynic’s self-loathing. Matt Berninger’s vocals and Bryan Devendorf’s drums sit so prominently that it feels like they’ve been intentionally paired off together; Devendorf’s percussion thundering home the singer’s brooding fatalism at every turn. The rest of the instrumentation is so superbly subtle and lightweight that it buoys the album’s flow, offsetting the unrelenting stream of sullen sentiments such as “I don’t wanna get over you” and “I don’t want anybody else”. In that regard, High Violet has neither the fury nor the flippancy that kept previous efforts Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers and Alligator somewhat varied. Instead its sustained, concentrated despair feels like taking a long walk in the rain: to some, this represents a gratifying if not indulgent opportunity for reflection; but to others, it’s a wearing excursion that will inevitably leave you feeling down, dour and drained. CT
Rusko’s putting the pop into dubstep and other forms of blokey, bassy music. He was also signed up to do a bunch of tracks for the new M.I.A. album. These are good things. But then he named his debut LP O.M.G! Hmmm. Then you watch him prancing around with a mohawk, a keytar and three pairs of sunglasses on his noggin in the video for lead single, ‘Woo Boost’. There’s nothing else you need know. The man is clearly a terrible, terrible cunt.
While it feels a bit like taking sweets off a retarded child attacking Dan Treacy, it is equally important to resist yet another Television Personalities revival with extreme vigour. Anyone with sense will invest in this genuinely beautiful, fragile and intelligent album by his former drummer - a man who understands where the border between interesting and kooky is; as well as that betwixt careworn and unlistenable.
Unpolished talent seems to be en vogue at the moment and while this is a far cry from The Stooges’ early offerings, Trash Kit’s shoddy, atonal ditties are not without their charms. Riffs skittle sloppily across the fret board, yelps are substituted for lyrics, and almost every track is coughed up in under two minutes. Though the album is far tidier than their live show, this trio of face-painted garage hussies could do with some sharpening.
MGMT Congratulations Columbia
THE VERMIN POETS
Moshi Moshi Singles Volume 2
Poets Of England
Becoming a Jackal
Further evidence that London indie Moshi Moshi do the hard work so the majors needn’t. Florence, The Drums and Friendly Fires all started out on the label, and two of those three have songs on this enjoyable 2008-2010 singles comp. Their tracks aren’t the best on here, though. Cocknbullkid’s ‘I’m Not Sorry’ still sounds fresh, and the deep house of Diskjokke’s ‘Rosenrod’ provides a timely reminder that the Moshi boyz do more than just clean indie pop.
Billy Chyldish presides over record #897 and, like others, it won’t sell but it’ll be clasped to the bosom of devotees. Neil Palmer from the Fire Dept is the driving force here, correctly pointing out that Bukowski was gifted but also a bad example and a douchebag. Chyldish fumbles along industriously on bass. He’s no Paul McCartney, or, to paraphrase John Lennon, he’s not even the best bassist in The Vermin Poets. Whatever, it’s a joyous racket.
Already a contender for debut of the year, Conor O’Brien’s softly sung, cathartic hymnals have all the focused intensity and racing momentum of Patrick Watson and Conor Oberst. Though the image of a jackal stands as the album’s central motif, its storyteller bears more resemblance to a pupa in metamorphosis: regenerating, shedding, then emerging from a cocoon. It makes for a fully-formed, darkly cohesive whole where every song feels welllived in, yet endearingly fragile.
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Demos CHAPTER XXVI. LET’S GET THIS OVER AND DONE WITH, THEN. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something hugely dispiriting about professional rock outfit 33Revolutions. I think it’s the singer, one of those macho-pansies from Essex whose eagerness to show us that, yes, tough guys have hearts too! and they can break! ultimately just betrays the fact he thinks we’re all idiots. You’re not blowing any minds with that combo, man. I’m sorry. The world has bigger chaoses to throw at us than muscles and tears. Is this getting too deep? Chaos doesn’t even have a plural. In summary, there’s a reason people stop listening to Incubus around the same time they realise what sex is. W W W. M Y S P A C E . C O M / T H I R T Y T H R E E R E V O L U T I O N S
If Mark E. Smith had been born in a swamp and started a garage-rock band it wouldn’t have been very good, The James Dean Syndrome. W W W. M Y S P A C E . C O M / T H E J A M E S D E A N S Y N D R O M E
to a party. W W W. M Y S P A C E . C O M / C I R C U S O F I N V E N T I O N
I reckon The Lucid Dream will prove to be this issue’s best dirty rock band. Pretty lithe, pretty alive. Tolerable, definitely. W W W. M Y S PA C E . C O M / T H E L U C I D D R E A M 0 8
Scottish nerds A Torn Mind boast about uniting the spectres of every other nerd band to have inflicted themselves upon music in the last 30 years — “The Mars Volta, Thrice, Dream Theater, Genesis and Pink Floyd” — presumably in the hope that once all those influences are conjured they’ll combine to form some kind of Transformers-style Mega-Nerd robot that will help them kidnap women and kill their dads. You’ll never get away with this nerds, because you are nerds. W W W. M Y S PA C E . C O M / AT O R N M I N D B A N D
I’ve made a private vow not to quote demo press releases. It’s like stamping on fish in a barrel. It’s tempting here, but all you really need to know is that The Shindig Addicts are another band that like Incubus and, well, you know what they say — ‘any friend of Incubus’ is a friend of mine paedophile’. W W W. M Y S P A C E . C O M / T H E S H I N D I G A D D I C T S
Sometimes you just can’t argue with whimsy. So what if Fire Stations sound like they’re scared of teenagers and they probably couldn’t fight their way out of a leper colony. This is very pretty. Has that nice night air about it, you know what I mean? One of those nights you only have to wear a t-shirt while you’re drinking beer outside on the window ledge.
Audit Control have an awful name, they can’t dress themselves and their singer does that low-in-the-throat Ian Curtis thing that’s as rife as you’d expect it to be among new UK acts, as The Dark Forces continue to twist Joy Division into this generation’s Beatles. But you know what? When that vocalist — Scott Caudwell, I think his name is — sings, “The past becomes a solitude, as we understand mistakes,” I believe him. I believe him. W W W. M Y S PA C E . C O M / A U D I T C O N T R O L 1
Among all the standardly modest, affable, ultimately pointless words Adam Wilson-Hunter sent through with his CD, one claim shone like the sun in a coal mine. Adam has, he says, “the finest live band in the world”. Either Adam’s lying, or that live band are being paid a lot of money in exchange for spending every Wednesday night bored shitless in a pub somewhere in Clapham. W W W. M Y S P A C E . C O M / A D A M W I L S O N H U N T E R
HAHAHAHAHAHA! Mahavira tried so hard to make rock music with “progressive and Asian overtones” that they bought guitars that didn’t have any frets, went to music school and grew their hair into ponytails, but still — still! — they somehow ended up sounding like Nickelback. And Incubus. Are Incubus the ultimate unsigned band? If so, who signed them? A paedophile? W W W. M Y S PA C E . C O M / M A H AV I R A B A N D
“Female fronted by a charismatic and fiery Mancunian, punk and blues-inspired band, Starecat has released their first single next month”. Starecat’s grammar twists my mind in ways their stale rock music never could. W W W . M Y S P A C E . C O M / S T R I K E R M
Wreckhead riffola. W W W. M Y S P A C E . C O M / L A S S E B R A W N
Lavender Ticklesoft may have a name like a public school porn star, but that only serves to add to his cosmic hip hop’s ultimate awesomeness.
W W W. M Y S PA C E . C O M / F I R E S TAT I O N S
L A V E N D E R T I C K L E S O F T . B A N D C A M P. C O M
Take Aim Fire’s polite indie pop is the sort of thing I can’t imagine I’ll ever really have any use for, but like hankies and Karcher pressure washers I’ll probably come around to it one day. No one really envies the man with the Karcher pressure washer and the hankies and the polite indie rock though, do they? I get the impression it’s important to be envied once you’re older than 40.
I make Segment the sixth decent band in this issue’s pig pile. If you’re reading, Russell Arnott: this is what all the hate’s been for. Spare the rod, spoil the child, or something.
Nice, pastel-coloured, Durutti-for-children solemnity from JJ Bull. Lovely, until the harmonica comes in and the lyrics get more literal. W W W . M Y S P A C E . C O M / J J B U L L
W W W. M Y S P A C E . C O M / T A K E A I M F I R E M U S I C
Miraculously, our next band’s line-up consists of a reformed killer called Ictus Fareskull, a mad scientist known as Hector Dionisio, a thief named Gravo, Laurence Vane the artistocrat and Barrone the revolutionary. Together they are ‘Fearless Vampire Killers’, unless they’re going by their pseudonyms, cunt, cunt, cunt, cunt and cunt.
W W W. M Y S PA C E . C O M / S E G M E N T M U S I C U K
W W W. M Y S P A C E . C O M / S A V A G E F U R S
Designerbabies is possibly the worst name any band sending out press releases could ever dream up, because if you do get any press, all it will consist of is a bunch of contrived, spermrelated metaphors implicating the people you’ve been ripping off (i.e. YOUR HEROES) in some grotesque, X-rated misen-scène. ‘Sounds like Patrick Wolf and Pugwall smearing cum in Brandon Boyd’s face.’ You see? It’s a honey-trap for lazy hacks, except there’s no one around to police us, so all you’re gonna end up is fucked. If I went to see Kidnapper Bell live, I could probably do that dance people like me do with their hands in their pockets for a couple of minutes before finally admitting to myself that I’d rather be 15 again crying to Blink 182 records.
Look, Long Road Ghosts, at what was intimated above — if you feel the need to spend a shit-tonne of money putting an elaborate ‘PR package’ together, it’s probably because you’re trying to compensate for the dull, generic music you’re making. How can I communicate the value of surprise? Imagine if somehow we reached a point where we’d figured out how to turn the oceans clear as crystal and drag the rest of the universe into our living rooms and all we found was a couple of old pennies and some biscuit crumbs. No underwater race of alcove people. No aliens for Prince to fuck. No photograph of God. Now substitute ‘couple of old pennies and some biscuit crumbs’ for ‘your music’. Imagine how much of a disappointment that’d be. You can’t, can you?
W W W. M Y S PA C E . C O M / K I D N A P P E R B E L L
W W W. M Y S PA C E . C O M / L O N G R O A D G H O S T S
W W W. M Y S P A C E . C O M / D E S I G N E R B A B I E S M U S I C
Conflict Diamonds are too desperate to be sexy. W W W. M Y S P A C E . C O M / C O N F L I C T D I A M O N D S
Circus Of Invention are a party band no one will ever invite
It looks like Savage Furs spent about £100 and three days putting together the package they sent and I couldn’t even listen to them because their CD almost made my computer explode.
REVIEWS BY KEV KHARAS
Send your work of genius in through one ear of The Stool Pigeon and straight out the other. Address at front. Please mark the envelope ‘Demo’.
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Business news New bill to foil leechers Good
All a bit of a Blur at EMI
By Jeremy Allen
Online crackdown passes Parliament LIONEL CAKE
controversial Digital Economy Bill has been pushed through Parliament, and nobody seems happy, bar a bunch of doddery, dusty old pigsin-wigs and “shady cash-grabbing [music industry] cunts who have tricked weak, out-of-touch politicians in order to ‘protect their outdated business models’,” to quote CMU. Following so shortly after the calling of a General Election, apparently the voting was poorly attended and opponents of the bill found themselves in the unfamiliar territory of cheering on creepy right-wing dog’ead John Redwood, who asked the speaker: “is my honourable friend of the opinion that never before has the House been asked to take the second reading of a big, contentious bill, the Finance Bill, and committee stage and all remaining stages of another big, contentious bill, the Digital Economy Bill, on the same day, with lots of other business tabled as well? Is that not complete chaos?” The code is a mess, say critics, and many believe it will be unenforceable by the time the legislation actually kicks in 2012, by which time everything is likely to have changed given the rapid acceleration of technology. A three-strikes-andyou’re-out policy will be thwarted by Internet Service Providers like TalkTalk, whose chief Charles Dunstone has said he will stringently oppose the ‘draconian’ measures. The UK doesn’t have any constitutional problems as encountered by rabid Luddite Monsieur Sarkozy, and those that hoped the European Union might kibosh the bill as an infringement of human rights will be disappointed. The EU says that as long as the code is carried out in accordance with “European Directives on subjects such as copyright protection, Internet Service Provider liability and privacy and in a way that is consistent with principles of administrative law,” it will give the measure its backing. But what does that actually mean? “What a debacle,” said Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock, who is incensed at “measures to allow disconnection of individuals from the internet, for undefined periods of time, web blocking laws, all with no real scrutiny and limited debate.” “A group of Labour rebels — with Liberal Democrat support – put forward a few amendments to try to test the Bill. Within two and a bit hours, the debate was shut down, and the Bill proceeded without dealing with any of the substantive issues.” Don’t you just love democracy?
news has been in short supply at EMI for what seems like an age, and the word that Blur are back in the studio recording their first material in eight years with all four original members will buoy some, though whether it’ll impress investors to the tune of £120 million is fairly unlikely. Blur are hastily putting together a UK-only seveninch vinyl single for Record Store Day on April 17, limited to 1,000 copies. It’s not going to save the record industry, but it’s a nice gesture all the same. This £120 million is the estimated equity injection the group will need from investors at Terra Firma if it is to avoid falling into the hands of
Citigroup, which will likely cut it up into fleshy bits like a poor little piggy that’s been to market. The record company breached covenants on a loan from Citi in March, and has until mid-June to convince 75 per cent of investors at Terra Firma to part with yet more cash. When Guy Hands bought the recording behemoth in 2007, it was for an eye-watering £4.2 billion, though the business is now valued at £2.2 billion, below the £3.3 billion owned by Citigroup. Expect to be showered in music industry offal and sausages this summer. “Pouring in more money requires a leap of faith from investors,” says Hester Plumridge, journalist at the Wall Street Journal. “If they say yes now, they may be asked for another £120 million in 2011. Yet if they
decide against committing more money, Terra Firma will likely go elsewhere to raise it, diluting investors’ interests. Or if lenders take over, investors would be effectively wiped out.” Malaise at EMI has spread through the organisation like a particularly aggressive disease, with artists like Lily Allen threatening to quit music out of frustration, and now even chief executive Elio LeoniSceti has decided to walk after a relatively short time at the ailing label. Life was much easier when he was pushing Cillit Bang at highflying household cleaning products firm Reckitt Benckiser, and the decision to leave has dismayed many, who considered the Italian a safe pair of hands. Arrivederci, it’s no longer one on one...
THE MARKETS as they stood on 12/04/2010 EMI 6 Month Share price UK£ 200 180
BAE 6 Month Share price UK£ 200
Universal slashes the cost of CDs, doesn’t stop them from being shit
By Jeremy Allen
vuncular TV presenter cum sex-machine Frank Bough not only kept us in the dark about his murky personal life, disguised in that cuddly jumper and Garfunkel haircut,
Share price UK£ 500 400
but he also told us compact discs were brilliant, when they were, of course, shit. That was the 1980s. Last month Universal Music agreed to lower the price of CDs significantly, after sales dropped 16 per cent last year. So we got the CD, when everyone knows a SodaStream would have been far more useful. Or a slinky. Back in the days of Thatcher — Breakfast TV, consumer shows, Tomorrow’s World — all of them hailed futuristic metal objects as the best thing since sliced vinyl, revolutionising our leisure time. We were told they stored recorded sound digitally and even used a laser! What’s more, you could apparently cook an egg on a CD in a microwave without harming its molecular structure. You couldn’t scratch it, you couldn’t burn it, you couldn’t incinerate it, beat it on the head or drive a stake through its heart, for the compact disc was indestructible. This fallacy became the word and swiftly the general public was wowed, chucking out their flawed, commonplace, one-groove plastic, which proves only one thing –that journalists did about as much research back then as they do now. It wasn’t quite in the same league as that long-awaited apology to the Australian Aborigines by Prime
THE NUMBERS High Low Stock
Price Change Yield P/E
45.07 14.57 AppleC
Minster Kevin Rudd, but Universal’s willingness to knock down the price of a CD (in the US at least) to between $6 and $10 is surely an admission in itself that CDs are, and always were, bollocks. On the other hand it could be argued that this ‘experiment’ may breathe life back into a moribund
music media. Though the record industry isn’t faring as badly as you may have been led to believe. Music sales were down just 0.6 per cent year-on-year in terms of volume in 2009, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association, outperforming videos and games, apparently. And video games, no doubt.
41.09 25.01 Dreamworks $42.45 +0.32
442.38 31.41 Easyjet
281.25 225.25 EMI
304.1 -2.90 Google
42.54 20.10 MGM
18.87 12.64 Motorola
22.53 17.89 Phillips
34.30 23.17 Reg Vardy
47.25 17.75 Sanctuary
248.95 19.31 Somerfield 197.00 0.0
4,400 3,590 Sony
Topps Tiles 201.75 +1.25
189.15 32.22 Vodaphone 118.00 +3.25
16.95 15.23 Warner Grp 20.17
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
BBC RADIO NETWORK LISTENING FIGURES Network BBC Radio 1
Average Hours Per Listener 9
Rotten Apple Total Hours
BBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio Five Live Five Live Sports Extra BBC 6 Music BBC Radio 7 BBC Asian Network 1Xtra
7.3 1.7 5.5 6.1 5.2 5.6
A 10 per cent tax on cider which was opposed by those Somersetian Sandinistas, The Wurzels, has been thrown out of parliament soon after it was announced, as Alistair Darling caved into the might of the Ooh-Arr-Aye. The subversive guardians of scrumpy issued a press release immediately after the budget and planned to rerelease ‘I Am A Cider Drinker’ in protest. The Tories decided backing the hay-munching West Country militants was a vote winner and kicked out the proposal, motherfuckers. Next month: Jethro overturns the Digital Economy Bill.
Bros Grim Snitching on others seems to be in vogue right now, with bum-lick school kids checking up on their teachers and filming them with surreptitiously concealed iPhones. Now the record company Warner Brothers has got in on the act, offering student interns the opportunity to spy on messages boards to check if they’ve confessed to their cyberchums that they’ve digitally teefed the new Flaming Lips offering. Then they lag them up. Warner paranoia has also spread to the withdrawal of all musical content from Spotify. You’ve been warned.
Red Ink Pious fuckwit Bono has been dubbed America’s worst investor by the financial website 24/7 Wall Street, which was agog at some of the punts his company Elevation Partners outlaid. The US private-equity group apparently couldn’t hit a fiscal bull’s ass with a financial banjo. This, remember, is the same hapless Bono who runs the charity Red, surprisingly not named after its bank balance status. The analyst commentating said Elevation had been involved in “an unprecedented string of disastrous investments which even bad luck could not explain”. Bono certainly moves in mysterious ways.
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
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May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
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The Stool Pigeon, 21a Maury Road, London, N16 7BP
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The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Sports NEW YOUNG PONY CLUB / KOROVA, LIVERPOOL
Hot to trot but New Young Pony Club tail off in Liverpool
Intimate gig at 100 Club confirms it’s still good to get leathered to Suede’s old material
By SPOONBOY Photo SAKURA IZUMI
SUEDE / 100 CLUB, LONDON
ACK in 2007, New Young Pony Club seemed to epitomise the lust for glamour-infecting indie pop. In the wake of electro genre-definers like Ladytron and CSS, anyone with cheekbones and a robotic backbeat was guaranteed the support of the tragically hip. To be fair, this London foursome were always performers, not androids. Constant touring in support of Klaxons and the aforementioned CSS won them a fanbase that they’ve maintained for this UK-wide headline tour. Driven by Sarah Jones’s whip-tight drums, the band deliver a pulsating electro barrage. Vocalist Tahita Bulmer works the stage with an informal ease, bonding with the female element of the crowd during ‘Lost A Girl’. The best bits are when it suddenly gets ravey, Tahita pogoing as the band pumps out dancefloor phatitude. This is definitely no eight-legged pout machine. The only problem is the lack of anything resembling a tune. I mean, this is supposed to be pop music, right? The metronomic Casiotone backing offers little scope for anything more than de rigeur half-spoken ‘electro girl’ vocals. The Friday night Korova crowd do their best to sing along, but for anyone not four pints deep, this is an experience of teethgrinding monotony. In a parallel universe there’s another version of NYPC. They spice their dance-pop with a little punk and ska. They’ve nailed the art of a good tune. And they just HAPPEN to be gorgeous. It sounds too good to be true. And until Prof. Stephen Hawking comes up with a way for us to access all pop potentialities, it is.
By JOHN DORAN I lived in Manchester during the innocent first months of Britpop, Suede were the guitar band of choice among the ranks of the rave new world generation. House music’s second wave crashed across the rainy city, and ecstasy was busy sharpening the vision of the habitués of the doomed Haçienda, the lively Sankey’s Soap and the welcoming Paradise Factory. Donning the chemical visors was not just advantageous to a good night out, but close to necessary for living in the city full stop. A mind glowing with possibilities could see romance, beauty, drama, a chance of escape (both physical and psychological) where there was little or none. This was just before the IRA accidentally improved the fortunes of the city for good. It was pretty fucking dark before the dawn. It still felt like you were taking your life into your own hands walking home from clubs that were run by thugs towards houses that were always being turned over by violent chancers. Suede, although from London, were the ideal band for the time and the place. Their trick was to be a great psychedelic pop band when nearly everyone else wielding a guitar was embracing conservatism. Pulp talked a good game, but it was clear that they were pretty much suspicious of the rave lifestyle, as ‘Sorted For Es And Whizz’ revealed. Oasis declared themselves to be rock’n’roll stars and, sure, they came from our ranks. But they looked like they were fresh from an afternoon in a Wetherspoons and their music suggested the ingestion of nothing stronger than a few pints of lager top. For better or for worse, the rest of Britpop was only really fit for the student discos and meat markets in town. With Suede, the form and the substance became a combined aesthetic. They looked and sounded how we felt. Many post-club nights would end with this listener turning to liquid crystal, pouring off the couch, across the floor and merging into the carpet pattern as the sun came up over Longsight and Suede glinted from the speakers. They’re back for the first time since 2003 and it’s heartening to see that Brett Anderson has taken his Bowie adoration to the logical conclusion – out of drug addiction and madness, and into health food, exercise and a regimen of vocal protection. They work hard through
an intro that includes ‘She’, ‘Trash’, ‘Filmstar’ and ‘Animal Nitrate’, but it isn’t until the gothic grandeur of ‘Pantomime Horse’ and the b-side brilliance of ‘Killing Of A Flash Boy’ that it becomes clear that this is one of the best gigs this hallowed London club has ever seen. Dormant MDMA receptors are electrified back into jagged life. Thankfully, they’ve not invited the bad tempered original guitarist, whose Mike Read haircut and passion for Jeff Beck licks have been rejected for the chubby but cherubic Richard Oakes instead. The group are embodied by the beautiful Neil Codling who adds heavy additional guitar, like muscle under leather. Even ‘She’s In Fashion’ is rescued and rebuilt in blissed-out, languid and Balearic glory. For those of us who kicked the habit years ago, it has been beautiful to relapse, coming up and coming down with Suede once more.
Hunx And His Punx pleasingly looser than an amyl arsehole HUNX AND HIS PUNX / THE CAMP, LONDON By JEREMY ALLEN Francisco’s gayest band have attracted the hip media-mafia to a venue on London’s City Road, a stonesthrow away from Hoxton’s mean streets, with its shirts, vomit and Unilever street vendors. Charmingly named The CAMP (City Arts & Music Project), the venue itself, with its sweaty concrete walls and dubious acoustics, is anything but camp. Filling it with Hunx And His Punx, out on yet another night of alcohol-sodden debauchery as part of an extensive European tour, is like waving a giant fairy-wand, however, transforming it in a jiffy into one of John Waters’ wet dreams. “I hope my pants don’t fall down,” lisps Hunx (and really, he does have a lisp, I’m not stereotyping). “I haven’t wiped my ass for three days.” Reviewers are often prone to declaring how tight a pop combo is when they’ve run out of things to say, so conversely it has to be said, Punx are loser than an amyl arsehole, and they’re all the more charming for it. Punx themselves are of indefinable sex — seemingly women dressed as men dressed up as women again, with the giant bassist resembling a bewigged Wayne Rooney in a leopard skin print blouse. The world needs bands channeling the Ronettes and Ramones, with a little bit of Pedro Almodóvar’s Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón thrown in for good measure. On the night that Malcolm McLaren died, it seems fitting somehow to see a punk band that aren’t corporate, careerist shit covered in bad tattoos. Sleazy glam was never quite so sleazy.
RICHARD GRIP HIPSTER TIPSTER He’s always on the hunt for a steamer IF YOU followed my advice and whacked a pony on pony-faced Gaga cleaning up at the Brits then chances are you’ve bought a speedboat by now. I told you I was the king and I’d kill it. I am Richard Grip, the hipster tipster, I love the Arsenal and this week I’m well into the wrestling and monster truck driving. I know my Pistols from my Gunners, my Vengaboys from my Wenger’s boys and I definitely know my Arse from my Elbow. I wrote that in the last issue, but repeat something often enough and it will eventually become funny. Anyway, enough about the Shit Awards already, this month it’s all about the 45th Academy of Country Music Awards. You’ve got to love those gun-totting, Bush-loving, whisky-drinking, sister-shagging, deep-southern, six-fingered freaks. My Gran loves the sound of the steel pedal and a chick with the hiccups, but then my gran is a fucking deaf whore! The smart money is on Taylor Swift, who is not just good for mending your trousers when you’re in a hurry, she’s also a dead cert to win Best Video, unless of course Beyoncé suddenly takes a surprise country direction, shoots Jay-Z with a blunderbuss, marries her cousin and pops out a kiddie in the county jail where she’s forcefed country sausage and made to drink charcoal-mellowed yellow. That would be one of the best videos of all time! Taylor is surely a cert to beat off Kenny Chesney (though exwife Renee Zelweger might beg to differ) in the Entertainer of the Year award, and back Taylor for Top Female Vocalist of the Year while you’re at it. What I’m saying is, put your dick on Taylor, bwooooooy! The most hotly poised contest this year is Top Vocal Duo, which pits Brookes & Dunn against Joey + Rory. What do you mean you fancy Brookes & Dunn to take this coveted accolade? Are you out of your cotton-picking mind? Joey + Rory are fresh as a fresh, exciting... Oh Christ, I can’t keep this up. I mean really, who gives a toss, aside from a few inbred bumblefucks from Arkansas who believe Barack Obama was born in Tehran and is out to destroy the United States from within with pinko healthcare measures and kamikaze islamofascists in light aircraft. Leave them to shoot at the metal birds, why don’t you? I’m off to burn the fucking Bible. Peace!
Vinnie Who - Fredrick Klingnberg
THRILLS AND CHILLS AT SCAN NORTH BY NORTHWEST
SHOWDOWN BY:LARM / VARIOUS VENUES, OSLO, NORWAY Words by Phil Hebblethwaite
Altaar - Brian Cliff Olguin
Katzenjammer - Helge Brekke
Pigeons to Oh, bastard luck. It’s already cost over £500 to ship 40 bundles of Stool them release to £650 g staggerin a g demandin are the port of Oslo and now customs but we — a massive surprise. Everything we do here is done on a wing and a prayer, to plans making were we when s, Christma before customs call did we did check this; on the bomb by:Larm with papers, to confirm the levy. “You’ll be charged V.A.T. on January value of the goods,” we were told, which wasn’t going to be much. Then, if you’re news great — weight by pay to has everyone 1, customs suddenly decided shy of importing diamonds, but a meagre 40 bundles of Stool Pigeons weighs just half a tonne. also Norwegians obsess over music in a very similar way to the British. They we drink too much and have a cruel sense of humour. For those reasons mostly, has Pigeon Stool The country a Norway, in paper the thought we’d try and launch 2005. As a got on well with ever since we first went to Oslo’s Øya festival in August starting point, by:Larm, a kind of Scandinavian South By Southwest, seemed Scando perfect — every music nerd from every corner of Norway, and the other by a change countries, hits Oslo for three full days of carnage. But we’ve been foiled in the import rules, and now our arses are bleeding chocolate milk. The We have a party planned with a killer line-up. We may as well enjoy it. e conferenc alled wooden-w party’s labour old the — venue salen gorgeous Samfunn hall — is ours for the night and Altaar begin by filling it with thunder. of mind. Contemplative, resonant, necrotic doom… just the thing to suit our frames a show and spreads power their of word but them, watch Hardly anyone turns up to the following night in the roof-top Stratos bar is, like eardrums, bursting. and the Denmark’s Oh No Ono, with their brilliant skewered pop steal our party, paper the first night of the festival. They end up on the front of the by:Larm daily because next morning and deservedly so. Our headliners, Ungdomskulen — picked on aren’t — d hammere are people the when especially they’re a band of the people, Old Grey form. “They sound like an amalgamation of every band that ever played play an Whistle Test,” someone quips. Sounds about right. It’s galling to see them night. In incredible set in London a couple of weeks later as part of the Ja Ja Ja Oslo, they flopped. it, but Friday night and we get jacked. We run after the little bastards that did on they creep away into the night. The next morning, in daylight, two policemen have could we that thief another of pursuit in are car patrol a and horseback too, who tripped up as he charged past us. Some Norwegians are thuggish drunks, just the can kick over a table of drinks and not give a fuck about doing so. That’s outside. freezing way things roll when it’s awesome. You can read about Wardruna elsewhere in this paper. Awesome. Truly party. a find We up. pumped seriously Saturday on nce performa We leave their Altaar - Brian Cliff Olguin up Beer, almost frozen by being kept outside in -20°C temperatures, keeps turning from a magical room next to where a DJ is playing tracks from that excellent is like the Lindstrøm & Christabelle album. It’s the end of the three days and this and best house party you’ve ever been to. There are maybe 50 or 70 people here sleep a I leave. I when 7am It’s too. ed, slaughter is Everyone dancing. everyone is a bit, then get turfed out of the hotel. Killing time before flying home, I see a discarded kebab. It’s wrapped in the ‘Charlie Parker Handyman’ strip from luck. bastard Oh, . Pigeon current issue of The Stool
Oh No Ono - Helge Brekke
Let’s Hear It for
Why? Performing and Entertaining at... Heaven, London.
protagonist Yoni Wolf WHY? arrives onstage halfskidding as if pushed, like Wile E. Coyote trying to stop at a cliff edge. He’s been relinquished of his keyboard duties tonight in his band’s new five-piece configuration and takes the opportunity to embrace the role of frontman instead. He prances and poses, teetering with stiff-limbs while rhyming purposefully in that reedy voice of his. He comes across as a super confident super nerd with a distinctive, boyish gait, never missing a beat as he prowls across the stage. Yoni Wolf is a chap completely at ease with his own awkwardness. The new WHY? line-up places the three brightly clad core members out front, with guitarist Andrew Broder and bassist Mark Erickson borrowed from Anticon labelmates Fog - “to make us look good,” Wolf quips. But the expanded live set-up doesn’t herald an Eskimo Snow-heavy set. In fact, WHY? lead the sold-out crowd by the hand through wellknown highlights from Alopecia and Elephant Eyelash, before carefully slipping in the first new song as a prefix to ‘The Vowels, Pt. 2’. When more new material arrives, it’s carefully bookended with set staples and crowd pleasers. ‘A Sky For Shoeing Horses Under’ provides context for the mathy, Glass-like arrangement of the show’s highlight, ‘Against Me’. WHY? play it safe rather than risk losing the crowd with a set of gloomy, unfamiliar new numbers. Tonight is largely about giving the audience what they want. That said, there’s no ‘Crushed Bones’, no ‘Waterfalls’, and no ‘Gemini (Birthday Song)’. But it still feels like a mini greatest-hits set. This combined with the fact that they’ve not really had any mainstream hits, per se, underlines the quality of their oeuvre. For WHY?, every song is collectable, every lyric quotable. Yoni’s semi-abstract rhyming is compulsive listening and skips through intelligent arrangements, played perfectly a talented ensemble. They close on a searing version of ‘20th Century Pop Song’, a duet from Wolf and Broder’s cult 2003 side-project Hymie’s Basement. A rarity is greeted with a roar, and rightfully so - tonight’s show is probably as close as this inappropriately named venue will come to living up to its name. John Rogers
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
LONDON ZOMBIES FEAL REAL WORTH KEEPING AN EYE ON FEAL REAL / CLANG@CATCH, LONDON NIALL O’KEEFFE eyes have it. When Feal Real frontman Bill Trible raises his head from the drum-pads he’s been pummelling and launches into the vocal of ‘London Zombies’, he peers out into the audience, his eyes dancing with excitement and intensity. He’s dancing too, as two bandmates conjure itchy funk while a third flails at an electric guitar. The latter gent has frontman envy, but it’s Trible who holds the attention: Trible and his mad, staring eyes. This is Feal Real’s second gig, and their first without belly-dancer accompaniment (YouTube it). Before Feal Real, there was Real Feal, a duo consisting of Trible — who’s also in Infants — and Luca Zoo Franzoni, the robe-wearing guitarist. With the name change, the line-up have expanded to include a drummer and a synth operative. All adhere to a dress code reminiscent of The Beta Band’s fondness for flowing tunics and tribal head-wear. The Feal Real sound, meanwhile, evokes Mancunian indie dance pioneers A Certain Ratio, albeit with added paranoia and the benefit of the digital revolution. MySpace tune ‘Theogen Disco’ is typical, all crashing percussion and confident, portentous vocals. Tonight’s set is brief but convincing. After it climaxes with a dizzying barrage of beats, Feal Real exit the stage in triumph and spend the rest of the night hugging each other, dancing to the other bands, getting the drinks in, making a night of it. The light pours out of these guys.
THE TEMPTATIONS, FOUR TOPS, THE DRIFTERS, THE THREE DEGREES / THE O2, LONDON
REACH OUT, WE’RE STILL JUST ABOUT THERE Words by Jim Delirious Photos by Jackson Smith
HERE’S NOT MUCH ATMOSPHERE OUTSIDE THE O2 BEFORE THIS MOTOWN SHOWDOWN: no one drinking beer, no t-shirt sellers, nobody at all, actually. It is early, though — just gone 7pm — but we’d been told to arrive on time. Four groups on the bill tonight and house lights go up with military precision at venues like this. Still, where is everyone? This might be something of a geriatric tour featuring four classic bands with only a few original members still breathing, but surely their songs hold some resonance in the public imagination? We creep inside expecting to see walls of free seats. Instead, we realise it’s a sell out and we’re the last to turn up. The Three Degrees are halfway through their set and everyone is gripped. It’s immediately… surreal. I’d spent hours online before this gig trying to work out who exactly is in the Three Degrees these days. No dice. It’d be nice to know, but maybe it doesn’t matter. Their performance is about hearing someone — anyone — sing the songs and of course they finish with ‘When Will I See You Again?’ The place erupts and it’s not even 8pm yet. There’s a sluggish house band on stage who hang around for The Drifters, all of whom but one look like they weren’t even born when ‘Saturday Night At The Movies’ was first released. To audible gasps of horror, they begin with a neo-soul arrangement of ‘Dance With Me’. Thankfully, whoever these session singers are then slip into trad. doo wop. They do ‘Under The Boardwalk’ suits. They boogie with synchronised What just happened? What did we and when they depart the stage, they moves. It’s like hip hop never see? And would we have seen do so with the band. happened, but it’s bizarrely anything if each of these bands Oooh! A new house band. And a engrossing. Daughters dance with didn’t have at least one link to the person everyone recognises: Abdul their mothers; mothers dance with past? I think it was fun, but it was ‘Duke’ Fakir — Four Tops original their mothers. This music is deeply like watching a dude from a group member and a stone-cold dude. At impregnated into the British psyche. play in his own tribute band. last some atmosphere, and some Otis Williams is the only surviving Thoughts turn to Berry Gordy, introductions, too. Levi Stubbs’ son member of the first Temptations line- mastermind of Hitsville USA, father has been recruited and takes pride of up. You dream that he’ll remember of all this music. Eighteen thousand place since his father died in 2008. how awesome his band was in the Caucasian English people still lovin’ Suddenly we’re rocking. The new very early seventies when they those songs in 2010. I watched them band have punch and everyone smoked tonnes of pot and cut more than the singers. Their eyes knows every astonishing song: ‘Baby Psychedelic Shack. But that’s not were closed; they didn’t care. They I Need Your Loving’, ‘Reach Out’, what tonight is about. They sound danced, though. Everyone danced. ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Love’. great, but they sound great playing… And no one threw a punch on the They’re dressed in classic soulman ‘My Girl’. tube ride home.
May 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Besnard Lakes coast to glory
PROGRESS The Stool Pigeon at
DAD ROCK CAUSES WAVES IN LONDON
Stag & Dagger
By Cian Traynor.
BESNARD LAKES / CARGO, LONDON THE BESNARD LAKES’ live show has two gears: steadily burrowing towards sweeping climaxes, then gently coasting in the occasional moments of respite. Taken together, this is post-dad rock: all the grandness of crescendo-building instrumentals dressed up with the strident thrust of foot-tapping power pop — the kind that consistently shows up alongside ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’ on driving compilations such as Drive! Vol. 4. You can sense it by just glancing at band leader Jace Lasek: the bell-bottom jeans, the cowboy shirt, the perm-like mane and old school Aviators. Or as he puts it himself tonight: “I always look like a child molester. For better or worse.” Though there are fewer band FACTORY FLOOR / COSEY CLUB, THE I.C.A. LONDON members on stage than during their By Luke Turner 2007 tour to promote The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, they Studying the disciples of Cosey seem all the tighter as a four-piece. Fanni Tutti, who pack out today’s Yet just two songs into the set they exploration of the artist and one risk overshooting themselves by quarter of Throbbing Gristle at the playing the aforementioned album’s ICA, won’t tell you why Factory standout track, ‘Devastation’, so Floor are currently outplaying every early on, but it sets them up nicely on group in Britain. The Dark Ones nod a trajectory sustained by the likes of along, intently appreciating a new shoegaze number ‘Glass Printer’ and industrial generation. No, the answer the aptly titled ‘And This Is What We comes running past them to the front: Call Progress’. At each stage the three lads desperate to be as close to peaks and meanders are emphasised this arpeggiator clamour and drums by the band’s frequent immersion in a blasted out by a backlit man whose thick fog of dry ice and the occasional arms jerk like levers engaged in wall of bowel-shaking feedback. nefarious manufacturing. Pushing through the crowd, these three Assured Performance converts wear check shirts, Burberry A refreshing lack of sound difficul- caps and white trainers. Their eyes ties in the main part of the set allows bulge, their hands slice the air, they for a clear and assured performance. sweat and gurn. At the end of every... But within that clarity, repetition, (not song, every 10-minute, meticushortcomings and comparisons lously constructed build, plateau, become increasingly noticeable. break and drop), they stop their Kevin Laing’s concrete, motorik frenetic dancing, applaud, holler and drumming is all forearm rather than ask just what the hell is this, the finesse, making it harder to forget immersive power of this darkest of that seventies Detroit rock influence, raves. For it’s almost a mistake to whereas Lasek’s shrill voice (often think of Factory Floor as a band in considerably higher than his wife the conventional sense. When they’re Olga Goreas’s) forces comparisons lit like this, all two tones and sudden with the harmonies of fellow married flashes, they feel more like a creature rockers Low, as on ‘The Living with a black, mechanical soul. Skies’. Thankfully there’s just Mounting Tension enough momentum behind the twogear dynamic to plough on through The tension between the three wave after wave of expansive members onstage sets the crowd on crescendos. edge, and the sound that blasts from After the show Lasek and Co. the ICA’s astounding PA is a perfect, found their way to the open laptop of unified assault: drums, sticktheir press officer to leave a battered guitar scree, machines and fragmented, tongue-in-cheek vocals whipping, cajoling, forcing message announcing that anyone the crowd to move, or stand who had a problem with the show dumbstruck with jaws dropped. “Dig deserved to get their cock kicked in. a hole in the ground, throw us in and They have a point. As this was let us rot,” they intone on the exactly what any Besnard Lakes gruesome beauty of ‘Wooden Box’. listener would have expected. No Six feet under, the earth above more, no less. would still be moving.
WE BE CLUBBIN’ AT THIS YEAR’S STAG & DAGGER FESTIVAL. WITH OUR PALS, NO PAIN IN POP, WE’RE TAKING OVER A VENUE, NO LESS
HERE’S THE DEAL...
Photo by Sam Collins
London trio wipe the floor
“I WOULD HAVE HELD YOU WHILE YOU BARFED” Sports Correspondent Ben Graham, at The Prince Albert, Brighton.
With Stanley Brinks, it’s all about the silence, and the spaces between the notes. Which is just as well, given the brief, intermittent power cuts that plague this evening.
hey don’t faze Stanley, though — he just keeps going, elongating his pauses, singing through the darkness, allowing his high, fragile voice to carry the weight. Stanley is Andre, formerly of Herman Dune, now out on his own — and that really does mean on his own. On his new album, however, he’s backed by a full band, The Wave Pictures, and while I love their Velvet Underground chug, and the Modern Lovers push-me-pull-you of that record, after tonight’s solo set I’m beginning to think that giving Mr Brinks a backing band is actually doing him a disservice. Standing before a packed house in a faded Hawaiian shirt, Stanley/Andre sings almost exclusively about girls and relationships. Balding and tending to grey, he nevertheless radiates a very European sexiness, which is to say mature and realistic, and not in thrall to outdated English or American stereotypes, macho or fey.
And when, on ‘It Could Have Been You,’ he sings, “I would have held you while you barfed / I would have looked all over the bar for your gloves and scarf,” there’s not a female present, I think, who doesn’t feel a pang of empathetic regret along with the unnamed subject of Stanley’s serenade.
Slightly Zany Throughout, chords are muted, strings strummed open, and by the sixth song in Stanley’s singing a cappella, pausing only to play a mournful clarinet solo. It’s not just the power cuts that make his songs seem darker when sung live and unadorned; the humour that, on record, seems slightly zany now turns wistful and bitterly ironic. When he closes with a cover of Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy,’ the yearning melancholy of this eighties pop classic transfers perfectly over to Andre’s own oeuvre. Like the rest of his set, it’s received with a hushed silence that only emphasises the joyous applause which follows.
Stag & Dagger turns three this year, promising another line-up swollen at the seams by acts still warm from the oven of hype. The venue-hopping extravaganza will hit London on Friday 21 May before heading north to give Glasgow a once over on Saturday 22. As usual, there are more impressive acts on the bill than is possible to conquer in one evening. Those lax on planning will be pleased to hear that The Stool Pigeon have stepped in with a cherrypicked line-up at 93 Feet East.
THESE NEW PURITANS
1. The Southend-on-Sea natives are taking
their music very seriously with this year’s much-lauded second album, Hidden . Frontman Jack Barnett’s early admission that he’d been playing with bassoons was explained by a record doused in severe brass and woodwind arrangements. Its live incarnation has a formidable reputation for haemorrhage-inducing walls of unholy sound.
A GRAVE WITH NO NAME
2. AGWNN’s Alex Shields might look like he
belongs in a nineties alt-rock band from the States, but any remnants of a grunge obsession are thoroughly strained through his own special brew of dense fuzz. Shields once professed to “focus more on what’s missing than what’s there”, but the mind boggles as to what he’s left behind on album Mountain Debris, a forget-me-not scrapbook heavy on fragmented nostalgia and openly collagist with influences.
3. Christopher Curtis Smith hails from
Rosemead, California; a small town where he seems to have created music by absorbing an entire record collection and letting those influences seep through a skin of noise. Two albums, Death Control (2009) and Life Control (2010) filter and obscure nostalgic melodies by The Beatles and The Velvet Underground, proving that pop’s lifeline runs deep through the latest trend for lo-fi.
The Stool Pigeon May 2010
Back in fashion
Loch out, it’s...
NEW YOUNG PONY CLUB
1 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 19 20 21 22 23
1&6 2 3 4 5 6 14 15 16 17 18
See 17 down Albini, from Big Black and Shellac (5) Paul Buchanan's favourite Blue river (4) How the Beatles flew in from Miami Beach (1, 1, 1, 1) Percussive Brooklyn four piece on Moshi Moshi (5) In The Day (Supergrass) or For The Sky (Jackson Browne) (4) Johnny, Smiths guitarist (4) Developing 1967 psychedelic Hollies album (9) Ben, Mavers or Scratch Perry (3) Cooking song from the Lemonheads’ Lovey album (5) Hit for Cream partly written by George Harrison (5) The New Pornographers wrote one from an Occupant (6) Me, ______ and I, 1989 De La Soul single (6)
Jason Molina's kind of Company (8, 8) Russian, Rhianna's hit was a gamble (8) New York band who got up to Antics in 2004 (8) Stephen Malkmus's ATP curators (8) Motoring Kraftwerk single (8) See 1 down Lou Reed's kind of Underground (6) In _____, Nirvana's final studio album (5) Ben Chasny requires six of these for admittance (6) Where Katell Keineg's new album can be found (2, 3, 7, 6) The Who has this kind of Matter in 1966 (5)
XIII Solutions: Across 1 July Flame, 5 Labour, 6 Crosby, 8 Adored, 9 Skream, 11 Jim, 16 Hollis, 17 Lashes, 18 Robert, 19 Sunray, 20 Stereolab. Down 1 Jebloy, 2 Louder, 3 Afrika, 4 Easter, 5 Liam Maher, 7 Yo Majesty, 10 Lif, 12 Alibis, 13 Fierce, 14 Casual, 15 Cherub.
Crossword No.XIV compiled by Ed Mugford 22
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The Stool Pigeon Fifth Anniversary Books
The collected writings from our longest-serving columnist, Son of Dave.
The best Stool Pigeon stories from the last five years.
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Spring 2010 Issue featuring interviews with Mary J Blige, Cypress Hill, Foals, Ariel Pink, She & Him and Ennio Morricone.
Published on Apr 21, 2010
Spring 2010 Issue featuring interviews with Mary J Blige, Cypress Hill, Foals, Ariel Pink, She & Him and Ennio Morricone.