Too Cool To Dance
This isn't my first #2, it's actually my third. I wrote up one towards the start of February that was a 'Best of January' comilation of reviews and I lost it to a power cut. I wrote up a second #2 last week but didn't get time to actually put it up before I went away for a week. Now, I've come back, looked over what I'd written, and hated it. It was alright, I guess, and I'm gonna use some of it, but in my travels, I aquired a few 'zines wherever I could, and they were so good, it's pushed me to do more than a thrown together collection of 'reviews' so here's Fanzine #2.3, I guess. Some of the other stuff's gonna go up, but I dunno, I wanna do more with this.
PHONOGRAM: A EULOGY
Every good thing must come to an end, and while I've been able to bear the end of comics like Planetary, Ant-Man and MI:13, and regretfully accepted the demise of bands like The Long Blondes and The Rakes, I refuse to believe that Phonogram is over. The first thing I ever wrote for this website was a love letter to the series disguised in a 'review' and I always find anyway to mention it in any conversation. It's one of my all-time favourite pieces of fiction, up there with The Road, Fight Club and Lost in my eyes, but why? Phonogram speaks to its readers, scratch that, Phonogram speaks to me more than anything I've ever read, watched, listened to or seen.
Issue #2.2, about the way one song can just utterly cripple you due to negative connotations. I cringe whenever I hear 'Dominoes' by The Big Pink, a song I love, and I can no longer stomach anything by Maximo Park. The first series has the concept of Memory Kingdoms, where you take a trip to the past via records, and I'm sure we've all done. What Phonogram does with its 'Music as Magic' premise is that it takes the metaphorical and makes it physical. Phonomancers use songs for spells and magical rituals? Well, is that any different to me listening to 'Lisztomania' by Phoenix before I go out with friends? Is it any different to listening to your favourite band when you feel down, or a boxer coming to the ring to a certain song or countless other examples of music used in some sort of ritualistic fashion?
The comic sets up throughout its two series that there are two types of people. You're a Phonomancer or you're not, but it takes the very final issue to say that that's wrong. There's no seperation, someone who has a stack full of Pavement B-Sides isn't any better than someone who has a more, mainstream taste. Music is Magic because it's there for everyone, so go find your favourite song, crank it up, and perform a spell of your own.
TOO COOL TO DANCE
I went to two gigs this past week. I saw Japandroids in Leeds and the day after, I saw Los Campesinos! in London. These are two of my favourite bands, and I go to gigs more often than not, to express my love for the music that band makes. A gig is the only place (besides your bedroom) that you can really express everything the music makes you feel, and that's why it's my favourite pasttime. Los Campesinos! was a fantastic gig, it was their largest ever headline show and it was packed full of avid fans spitting every word back at the band, I was right up the front, jumping, dancing, singing and all around just freaking out, because I love Los Campesinos! and at any other time or place, such displays wouldn't be socially acceptable. Japandroids' gig was a different matter on the other hand. It was a great gig, don't get me wrong, I had a fantastic time, but I was stood right at the front and all around me, no-one was moving, no-one was singing or dancing, they were all just sat there with a beer in hand nodding their heads occassionally. That just pisses me off, it's not like Japandroids don't make music you can't get a bit physical to, it's furious, breakneck, balls-out rock. I can understand if you're not a massive fan, maybe you have a passing interest in the band, and that's fine. I saw Fuck Buttons in March, and I'm not a massive fan, so I sat at the back and appreciated the show while people up front really got into it. It's gotta be annoying for bands as well, putting all that energy and passion into your music, to look out to a crowd of people all nodding their heads every now and again. Music is a passionate art, people aren't going to judge you for showing some passion every now and then! As for that Japandroids gig, I danced and rocked and sang every single word, regardless. Japandroids are a fucking good band.
LEGENDARY BAND I'M LOVING
I feel I talk about 'new music' or at least the concept of 'new music' a bit too much sometimes. Recently, I've been accused of eventually falling out of love with stuff when it gets too popular or too old, so I thought I'd rectify that by talking about a legendary band every month. True legends, ones that'll never go out of taste. This time around, I'm gonna go with the always popular Joy Division.
Recently, here in Manchester, a new nightclub was opened called FAC251, I can't say that I've been yet, but it's got people talking about Madchester again, a period in the late 80s and early 90s where Manchester was the musical mecca of England and everything was centered around the Hacienda nightclub. I bring this up because with everyone talking about how good Manchester music is, was and always will be, it's reminded me how much I fucking hate Manchester's musical output. Oasis? Shit. The Stone Roses? Shit. New Order? Shit. The Happy Mondays? Shit. The Courteeners? Shit. The Smiths? Alright, but nowhere near as great as everyone says. I find them inoffensive at best and intolerable at worst. I say this, because when I think of great Manchester bands, I can only ever think of The Buzzcocks, Magazine and Joy Division, and what with Joy Division being the one I know the most about, let's talk about them.
I'm not interested in talking about Ian Curtis' personal life, troubles with depression and epilepsy and eventual, unfortunate suicide. That's all been talked to death. Although it's unavoidable sometimes when talking about their bleak sounds and bleaker lyrics, when I talk about Joy Division, I want to talk about how good the music is. 'Disorder' from 'Unknown Pleasures' is one of the greatest Track 1's ever, 'Interzone' is punker than anything those Sex Pistol hacks could ever crap out and 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', while slightly overrated, is still genius.
That piece got away from me a bit, didn't it? Maybe I should just write something about how awful Manchester music is. Next time, baby.
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Romance is Boring
"So let's talk about you for a minute." Such a brilliant opening line, and as I read in another review and I'm totally stealing, every song is firmly wrapped around the first person 'I' which is an interesting point in itself (To give credit, I believe it was Matthew Sheret who I stole it off.) First track 'In Medias Res' sets the tone, fiercely delivered, even in its quiet moments, it's brutal. It ends with the line "If you were given the option of dying painlessly in peace at forty-five, with a lover at your side, after a full and happy life, is this something that would interest you? Would this interest you at all?" is such a perfect Los Campesinos! lyric, outwardly morbid, but on inspection, rather sweet. It gives way to track two, 'There Are Listed Buildings' a complete change in tone, LC! in full singalong mode, but still painfully honest, a diary of failings and desperation to the jauntiest of melodies. Title track 'Romance is Boring' reveals the album title to more mean 'Romance CAN BE Boring' rather than the definitive, more a tale of an an individual Romance than the abstract concept. It's a theme that runs through the album, 'We've Got Your Back' has the key lyric, and possibly my favourite on the album "I've learnt more from toilet walls than I've learnt from these words of yours" and the beauty of Aleks Campesinos singing "Just let me be the one that, keeps track on the moles of your back" on 'I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know' show both sides of romance, the bitterness of the end and the sweetness of the beginning where even the little things matter hugely. The album highlight has to be 'A Heat Rash in the Shape of the Show Me State or: Letters From Me To Charlotte' where lead singer and chief lyricst Gareth is on his finest form, twisting the words to his whim and having a great time doing so "Her frequent public displays, of sisterly affection, they left her feeling safe, left him with an erection" is a hilarious lyric, although you get the sense that maybe this one time, Gareth is hiding behind third person pronouns, but if so, you love him more for it. I can't talk about a seven piece band without mentioning the music, and it's beautful. In my opinion, it all revolves around violinist Harriet, her strings tie the frantic pace of the other intstruments together, they make the songs more cohesive, just listen to 'The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future' where her strings are utterly vital, starting off in the background, before crashing down all around the vocals and becoming the centrepiece of the entire song. It's a fantastic album, flawed in places, true, I'm not a MASSIVE fan of 'Who Fell Asleep In' and it's not a modern masterpiece like I proclaimed These New Puritans to be, but it doesn't matter. It's a personal record, you'll either get it or you just won't. It's personal to me, it's vital to me, everything about it matters so very much to me as an individual, and that's why my score seems so biased, because it's my column and it fucking is biased.
Listen to: A Heat Rash in the Shape of the Show Me State or: Letters From Me To Charlotte, Straight in at 101, We've Got Your Back
WHAT I'M TOTALLY BUMMING RIGHT NOW
I think I'll go with a different title for this each instalment, at least until I find one I like. This is that bit I talk about the three tracks I can't get enough of right now.
#1 Yeasayer - Ambling Alp
When I first heard this song, I didn't listen to anything else for at least 4-5 days. My love's died down a bit, but it's nowhere near extinguished, this is a fantastic record, around four minutes of sheer joy and optimism. When all the music drops out and it's just the vocals, damn, that's just magic. Pure and simple.
#2 Los Campesinos! - Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks
This is an oldie off the first album, but due to an event at a recent gig where I ended up sharing a mic with the lead singer as he thrashed around the crowd to close the show, it's popped back up on my iPod as I relive that glorious moment. The sountrack to the single greatest moment in my life.
#3 Animal Collective - In The Flowers
Just over a year old, I'm just coming to love this, the opening track to the magnificent 'Merriweather Post Pavillion' has one of my favourite "moments" in a song. When the whole song crashes down with after "If I could just leave my body for the night" and the subsequent delivery of the following lyrics. Once again, magical. Makes me want to burst into dance in the middle of the street on the way to work, like all good songs should.
Let's hope this Issue #2 sticks, eh? I'll hopefully have something special for #3, but don't want to talk about it just yet. Peace out.
"One blink for yes. Two blinks for no. Sweet dreams, sweet cheeks, we leave alone."