Music news and reviews, music videos and tittle tattle, with a lingering look at the past from Anorak. A source for rock, pop, album and live music, new releases, artist interviews and features.
BELIEVE it or not, there’s a new age of psychedelic music upon us. Not so much the re-dawning of the age of Aquarius, but rather, a bunch of snotty brats all making experimental pop-music without the need to badger you about some awful political cause.
This is music made to frazzle your brains, rattle your eyes and shake your arse.
And it isn’t just ’60s revivalism either – these bands have managed to capture the ’60s counter culture’s lightning in a bottle, but mixed it up with meths and cough syrup, to make music that can veer wildly from inyerface hooligan garage rock, to Super 8 sunshine jangly pop, to cosmic prog-pop.
WHAT is France famous for?
Well, the French are well known for amazing food and booze, not to mention being some of the finest smokers on the planet. They’re great at art house cinema, having sexy accents and as the Tour De France has shown (see? Topical), some of the most incredible countryside on the planet.
However, often derided is French music. France, we’re told, is rubbish when it comes to making tunes. Ha ha! Says the world. The FRENCH? Pop music? SHUTTUP!
France has been making some of the best, funnest music on the planet for years! Novelty records and holiday camp europop isn’t solely what France is about, so with that, let us look at some of the greatest French music ever produced over the years.
C’est une musique à nos oreilles!
So, you know all about the robots and that, when they show up, we have a good summer. They control dancefloors just like they control the weather. Here is one of their earlier efforts.
Ace singer-songwriter Camille is definitely someone you need in your life. She makes music out of her own body parts and it sounds like brilliant pop and not at all like Bobby McFerrin.
Cult favourites, Stereolab, create a special kind of hush around people of a certain age. They mixed together space-age cocktail jazz, French library electronics (more on that later) and arch 60s pop to make for one of the most wonderful bands who ever lived.
Listen. Serge is more that That Song With The Orgasm In It. SG is a proper genius and madman and France rightly honoured his death with a national day of mourning. Here’s a cut from his utterly sublime ‘Melody Nelson’ LP, which saw Serge teaming up with another French powerhouse, Jean Claude Vannier.
Without anyone noticing, Phoenix became one of the biggest bands in the whole world, headlining festivals and generally conquering the world. Former bandmates of Daft Punk (they were in a band together called ‘Darlin”), they’ve applied their wry take on the world to some of the most gorgeous pop-rock music ever recorded.
Dutronc was one of France’s first pop heroes, cutting a suave, cheeky figure in the 60s. He was a bigwig at Vogues Disques (arguably France’s greatest record label), wrote songs for others, was a mean actor and Francoise Hardy liked him enough to marry him. Jacques Dutronc may not be a household name outside of French speaking countries, but that’s the fault of the rest of the world.
A new wave of garage punk/ye ye groups exploded around Paris which were known as ‘les bébés rockers’. Les Plastiscines were one of a number of bands that appeared on the excellent ‘Paris Calling’ compilation. Soon, they’d release their debut ‘LP1′ and they never looked back.
Another one of France’s first pop-stars, Polnareff tried his hands at loads of different styles, but his most classy joint is the incredible instro ‘Voyages’.
Another of the les bébés rockers, The Hellboys were greasy, leopard print garage punk straight out of the dirty daydreams of The Cramps and Link Wray. Sadly, the lead singer Nikola Acin (a very interesting man worth looking up) died aged just 34 years old.
Britain has the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. France had people like Cecil Leuter to test the limits of early electronics and synthesizers. Some of his music is eerie and spacey… others, like the one below, is unhinged bubbling synth funk. The best bit? His real name was Roger Roger. Leuter, along with other French Library music makers helped to shape pop the world over by showing what was possible with electronic music.
Air took over the world with ‘Moon Safari’ with their retro-futuristic take on pop music. They continued slightly under the radar, by including prog and doing film soundtracks… but they’re still brilliant.
Klub Des Loosers
French hip hop usually means people lazily linking to MC Solaar. Of course, MC Solaar is great, but seeing as he’s guested on Missy Elliot records, he doesn’t need further promotion. So here we are, with Klub Des Loosers, who really should give you the bug to find more French rap.
You may remember Oizo as being that guy who gave the world Flat Eric with the Levi’s ad which included ‘Flat Beat’. However, Oizo is one of the most innovative, ferocious music producers on the planet. Check out the incredible, jarring, cut and paste jackhammer that is ‘halfanedit’.
Missed out your favourite French song or band? You know where the comments are.
WHO wants to hear David Bowie’s isolated vocals for Ziggy Stardust? We do. And you should, too.
Spotter: Brain Pickings
MOSTLY, The Beatles are not a live band.
Sure, they cut their teeth around Britain and Germany for years, before blowing everyone’s brains out in Australia, Japan and America, but when people think of the Fabs, it is all about the studio.
We’ve seen endless documentaries with George Martin talking about ‘the boys’ and the madcap studio ideas they had (Lennon wanted to be swung from the ceiling, trying to recreate the sound of a thousand monks of a hillside, slice tapes and throwing them in the air to stick them back together again, and all that great stuff), but on film, their live prowess has been somewhat neglected.
Liverpool Empire 1965
And now, Ron Howard – a long term Beatle nut and Academy Award-winning director, has been tasked to direct and produce an authorised, as-yet-untitled documentary about the touring years of the Fab Four.
RECENTLY, the BBC rated the most influential artists in Radio 1Xtra’s Power List. The “UK’s leading black music station” (their words) gave the top honour to Ed Sheeran, who you might recognise as being absolutely not-black and not really making black music.
Wiley, number 16 in the poll, went nuts, accusing Auntie Beeb of representing a “backwards” music industry in Britain. “We influence a man and all of a sudden it turns he has influenced us… Lol,” he wrote.
That’s called Columbusing.
WHEN you think of children being in bands, you immediately think of the Jackson 5 or Hanson. They’re slick, pro-outfits that have been tutored and taught within an inch of their lives.
That’s not to say they’re bad in any way, but they’re basically making music by adults, aimed at kids. The youthful joy is there, but what about the abandon and awkwardness which makes children such a fascinating prospect?
WE’RE getting to a special time in rock ‘n’ roll where the pantheon of Peter Pans is looking more mortal than ever. The music of the babyboomers is finally creaking with age.
Lennon, Joplin, Redding and Gaye all had the decency to die young, thereby making them immortal. The babyboomers did not feel worried. We’re the rock ‘n’ roll generation! That’s exactly the kind of exciting thing that happens to us! I HOPE I DIE BEFORE I GET OLD, MAN! Just like Keith Moon! Just like Brian Jones!
All the while, the rest of rock ‘n’ roll survived and got old. Just For Men, Facelifts and increasingly younger partners plastered over the cracks in the wall.
Then everyone started dying of old age.
Initially, Syd Barrett and Arthur Lee left and the babyboomers (and their kids) all felt bad, but brushed it all off with “well, they had a pretty crazy life! It was always going to catch up with them at some point! Shine on you crazy diamonds!”
And now everyone is dropping like flies. The sheer volume of dying rockstars over the past decade has been astonishing. Not a week goes by without someone tweeting RIP to one of their favourite musicians dying. They’re all in the 60s and 70s now. They’re old. There’s no escaping it.
This week, Ramones drummer Tommy Ramone shrugged off his mortal coil, leaving zero original Ramones left. Even punk is getting old. No-one is safe.
Of course, there’s a good number of rockstar legends knocking around the circuit, such as Mick ‘n’ Keef, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, but there’s something gnawing at the back of fans’ brains about their idols.
They’re nearly dead.
This weekend, fans in the UK watched Neil Young roll back the years. The sad fact is, that is statistically likely to be the last time they see him in person. Neil Young may have said that it is better to burn out than fade away, but fade away he will – he’s not got long left.
The babyboomers are going to watch every single one of their idols die. The Woodstock Generation… the Mods… the dadrockers… for the first time in their lives, they’re faced with the very real possibility of every single thing they like turning into compost before their eyes. And with them will go their own youth.
We’re in the middle of rock music’s retirement, with only bands like The Black Keys, Jack White and Arctic Monkeys still clinging on to the old fashioned idea of ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ to be played in huge stadiums, revering the blues.
This all sounds desperately negative, but if you want to cherish these acts, do it now. Watch their final flings and roll around in nostalgia because, like it or not, the people who invented the teenager, the people that shaped what popular music could achieve, are all this close to joining the choir invisible.
Magazine will beatify these men and women, but soon, they’ll stop being in the present, and soon become very much of the past. And that, for the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, is incredibly exciting indeed.
THERE’S quite the kerfuffle in musicville, after it turned out that a number of wealthy musicians were ferreting their money away in tax avoidance schemes.
Lazy people are vomiting into their hands about how awful it all is, while even lazier fans of said bands are saying “CUH! LIKE YOU WOULDN’T AVOID TAX IF YOU COULD!”, despite the fact most people can’t, don’t and wouldn’t.
All four members of Arctic Monkeys, George Michael, Gary Barlow, Katie Melua have been named as hiding their millions from HMRC.
WITH the Tour De France in full swing, nearly killing riders with wet cobbles and craft ale enthusiasts thrilling at the warring riders like teenage Hollyoaks fans, it got us thinking about cycling music.
Of course, the great music to cycle to is anything Kosmiche from Germany. Neu! albums are pretty much designed to sound like streamlined engineering, powered by human muscle.
However, we’re not talking about the things you’d listen to while powering your pedals (besides, you might not want to ride around with earbuds in, for fear of being hit by a combine harvester or something), but rather, the songs dedicated to those that cycle and the magnificent machines themselves!
There’s surprisingly few songs about bikes (seeing as they’ve been around for so much longer than cars and planes, which have endless ditties in their honour), but we’ve waded through them, missed off ‘Daisy Bell’ and the terrible Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Katie Melua numbers, and found some gems!
Have a listen and do add your own in the comments.
Tomorrow ‘My White Bicycle’
Ace British psychedelic band, Tomorrow, made one album and saw their guitarist running off to form Yes. However, while they were around, they made this tribute to the free bicycle movement that took place in Holland in the ’60s. Please note the cute bell ringing sound effect.
Kraftwerk ‘Tour De France’
The greatest tribute to cycling comes from Kraftwerk, and Ralf und Florian are total and utter cycling nuts. During one Manchester show at the Velodrome, when they played ‘Tour De France’, the Team GB cyclists appeared and everyone got a bit emotional.
Pink Floyd ‘Bike’
The Syd-era of The Floyd loved whimsy with an edge. They took mundane things and made them B-movie. ‘Gnome’ should be nice and it isn’t and, likewise, ‘Bike’ is a pleasant ditty with a knife between its teeth. Please don’t ride a bike with a machete in your gob, thanks.
Tom Waits ‘Broken Bicycles’
Rainsoaked Tom wouldn’t write a song about a perfectly functional working bicycle he’d just bought for loads of money from Evans, which leaves us with this dollop of pathos.
Junior Reid ‘Poor Man Transportation’
Junior Reid is one of the finest voices in reggae and provides this lovely paean to the prole’s best vehicle.
Vivian Stanshall ‘Terry Keeps His Clips On’
When Stanshall wasn’t causing mayhem in the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, he was… well… causing havoc all by himself. And here, we have the wonderful nonsense of ‘Terry Keeps His Clips On’.
Deerhoof ‘Midnight Bicycle Mystery’
One of the more unusual bike songs, but that’s Deerhoof in a nutshell. They’re mental. And we should cheer from the rooftops about bands like this because we need their shade in the light of commercial rock.
Ballboy ‘Olympic Cyclist’
This song does exactly what it says on the tin and is wonderful for it.
Livingston Taylor ‘Bicycle’
This is the most straightforward bicycle song in music history, even down to the cutely dull description of what his helmet is made of.
The Bouncing Souls ‘BMX Song’
Bicycle songs aren’t all commuting and aerodynamism – The Bouncing Souls were all about popping wheelies and buying bikes that are less practical and more fun.
Julie Doiron ‘When The Breaks Get Wet’
A lovely, plaintive song which paints a picture of riding through drizzle. A wonderful snapshot.
Dukes of the Stratosphear ‘Bike Ride To The Moon’
Neo-psychists, Dukes of the Stratosphear were XTC in disguise where they got to play with the dressing up box. Here, they ape Floyd and take a bike ride to the moon. Worth checking those guys out.
THE Insane Clown Posse are an odd bunch. For starters, they think magnets are powered by witchcraft or something. And their fans? Well, their fans are VERY devoted (seriously – they make fans of The Smiths look like rational, reasonable people without a worrying neediness that burps out of their every pore).
As such, the ICP and their Juggalos are well known.
They’re so well known that the FBI started sniffing around them. Were Juggalos violent and mental and doing all manner of criminal stuff. Probably, but only as much as any group of people who come under any bracket are able or willing to engage in criminal activity.
ROCK biopics are always fun, even if they’re not always good. There’s been mixed movies, from The Runaways to The Doors, from Ray to What We Do Is Secret. Even the crappy ones are still worth a look because, even if the storytelling and acting is lousy, at least the music will be great.
And so, we’re looking down the barrel of a Jimi Hendrix biopic and there’s a lot riding on it.
Why? Well, Hendrix was a smooth, fascinating character with a preposterous talent and a gentle soul – that’s not easy to capture. Moreover, Outkast’s brilliant Andre 3000/Benjamin is playing the title role. There’s no-one on Earth who wants this to fail.
LESS than ten years ago, bad album covers suddenly became a “thing”. Sure, there had always been people like me: longtime vinyl enthusiasts who cherished these unholy creations; but, it took the Internet to really generate a widespread appreciation for the “bad album cover”.
So, as the years went on, and collectors far and wide shared their vinyl oddities, a few particularly bad ones rose to the top. To say they went viral would be a stretch; however, it’s safe to say certain albums gained notoriety. Unfortunately, we only had the covers to mock. The actual recordings remained a mystery. You could only imagine what they sounded like, since the owners of these rare gems generally didn’t share the recordings.
But now we have YouTube, where no stone in the vast pop culture landscape gets unturned, no matter how obscure. At last we can not only look, but also listen. So, come along and take a tour through some well-known bad album covers and get a taste for the music they hold. Be prepared: it’s often breathtakingly disappointing….
EVEN though you may have guessed it from his permanently surly face (he’s too cool to smile), Jake Bugg has said he hates music festivals.
And who can blame him? It is filled with people who like watching white men with dreadful haircuts play backward facing dadrock who are too cool to sm… wait a minute!
The pint-sized miserablist said:
“I hate music festivals so much, but obviously to be this high up on the line-up and to be playing [at Glastonbury] is a privilege,” he told NME. “But the actual experience of festivals I could really do without.”
IT is always nice to watch someone successful make a fool of themselves. It isn’t their fault we’re all pathetically jealous, but they’ve got such nice and unusual lives, it is pleasing to find out their stuttering bozos like the rest of us.
Robbie Williams gave a glimpse into how ordinary he can be while embarrassingly breaking a fan’s arm after he fell off the stage during his gig at Newcastle.
HERE’S a thing.
Arctic Monkeys frontdude Alex Turner, and Rascals pal Miles Kane, have stopped work on their Last Shadow Puppets careers to concentrate on… wait for it… a superhero film.
This is a joke, right?
ROCK music is in a weird place at the moment, but thank god for metal. Metal is single-handedly dragging rock music’s lifeless body through the streets, refusing to let it die.
Despite what the Arctic Monkeys say, with their meandering dadrock, metal is the only form of rock that is eschewing all the pouting and posing and charging headlong into everyone with a windmill attack.
And death metal band Unfathomable Ruination have got just the thing to prove how serious metal takes the cause.
They are going to play a gig in an air-tight, soundproof cube until they run out of oxygen. That’s right. They’re going to play until they can’t breathe anymore and their hearts start doing weird things.
GWAR, the greatest band in the whole universe, have had a rough time of it, with key members of the group shrugging off their mortal coil to join the choir invisible.
However, things must continue and they’ve had a truly magnificent idea – GWAR BAR!
Gwar are looking for $50,000 through their Indiegogo page to open their own “gourmet junk food’ restaurant, which will be called, tremendously, ‘Gwar-B-Q’.
And the fun doesn’t end there, as this video will show.
The band promise that their establishment will “change the dining experience in much the same way that Gwar changed the concert-going experience (well, maybe, without quite as much mess).”
INDIE. There’s a funny word. In music terms, it used to mean ‘signed to an independent’ label. That meant bands signed with Stock Aitken & Waterman would be in the weekly indie charts. However, at some point, ‘indie’ meant ‘a specific type of rock music’.
Indie credentials have never really been clear, but basically, what it seems to mean is this: Bands comprised mainly of white men or women, playing with one or two guitars, a bass, a drumkit and possibly a keyboard player – throwback 50s/60s haircuts preferred.
WHEN Wu Tang first exploded on the scene, they were smart, funny, dangerous, brutal, angry, fierce and not exactly entry-level hip hop.
However, after a dazzling run of solo LPs and the classic Wu debut ’36 Chambers’, they soon became rap royalty and no-one could touch the RZA, the GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah and the M.E.T.H.O.D. Man.
MOST people who don’t like gays are religious, or at least, religious sympathetic. They think homosexuality goes against nature or some kind of cosmic order.
Some are violent or abusive toward gay people, because presumably, they feel the need to serve up justice because they don’t believe their god is up to the job, cometh the hour. The inherent weakness of deities must be a constant concern for the praying sorts.
Or, maybe it is something to do with deities being into homosexuality?
Elton John reckons that Jesus Christ would approve of gay marriage. In an interview with Sky News, Sir Elton added that he’s meeting up with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to try and improve Russia’s gay rights record.
YOU may have missed it, because she’s so tragically dull, but Lana Del Rey recently said she was tired of living and basically glamorised singers who had died too young.
She said these words in the Guardian, which she then refuted by saying she was lead-on. The Guardian then published the audio of the conversation, which shows she wasn’t.
And that’s the long and the short of it.
However, saying you want to die; that’s catnip to anyone with a passing interest in outrage. A series of op-eds have appeared and everyone is tying themselves in knots. The real winners are Lana Del Rey’s publicity drive for her new album and The Guardian, who find themselves in a minor ‘NME/Richie Edwards/4REAL‘ scenario.
ROBERT Popprer presntes the world’s greatest dem o tape cioompilations. He explains:
In the late 1980′s, my cousin gave me a cassette that instantly became an obsession of mine. It was a tape, compiled by a UK record company – and made purely for internal use – featuring the worst songs they’d ever been sent from the thousands of demo tapes they received each year.
There were no details of any of the ‘artists’, and it’s all quite mysterious, but as someone who has heard loads of terrible demo tape complilations, this one is definitely the best/worst. Get ready for the dullest rendition of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, a spooky lady singing about ‘Alfreston’ while playing the organ, and the genuinely terrifying end track, ‘All the People With the Money’. By the way, I lost the tape years ago and thought all hope was lost, until my buddy Peter Serafinowicz found it last week in a box in his office. We celebrated with a listen and a good ole sing-a-long. Hope you guys sing along too…
You can see more wodnerfuyl singers in the World’s Got Talent archives.
DO you know this man seen at Glastonbury, looking sorrowful stood in the rain?
What is he looking at?
THERE’S been a lot of talk about Terry Richardson lately. Basically, a number of models have said that he’s a sexual predator, to which the celebrity photographer dismissed.
And now, pop starlet Sky Ferreira has defended ‘Uncle Terry’ in a long post on her Facebook page.