Thursday, July 30, 2009

My new favourite website

I've been busy with, er, life so I haven't much time to blog but I'll be updating properly soon. In the mean time, check out my new favourite website.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ipod face

I think I have explained before that I have two ipods: iplod, my 60gb library on the move for long trips and guypod - the day to day going to the gym shuffle filled with guy music to make me run faster.

These days I mainly use guypod because it just fits into my pocket and is a nice distillation of up tunes to get me through the day (generally punk, rock and metal). However, I have noticed a strange new behaviour that is slowly taking hold over me. It started with gentle head rocking while listening to certain songs. I think that's ok to be in your own little world and bopping along.

But then I started to noticed my head started to go the full on head bang when certain heavy bits of songs would kick in - just one or two but a head bang nonetheless. Fortunately, it looks more like a involuntary head spasm than a cue for me to jump up on my seat on the bus and play air guitar.

But it gets worse: I started making what I would refer to as ipod face where I scrunch up my face (guitar solo style) during some of the heavier rock moments on guypod. These facial contortions probably make me look like I'm having a stroke when I'm on the bus to work each morning but as is the case with public transport, everyone pretends to ignore the crazy person.

This problem reached its apex this morning when walking down King Street, I was listening to this new Superchunk song which I love and during the chorus I started singing... out loud... in the middle of the street. Fortunately, it was peak hour and no one could really hear me but still...

I feel like I'm one step away from walking down the street with a transistor radio to one ear while screaming at young people that aliens run the planet. That being said, I'd much rather risk dementia than have to listen to the dull beat of someone else's ipod or worse, inane mobile phone conversations the morning. Don't these people know I must be alone until at least the first cup of tea or 10am? (whichever comes first).

So if you see a crazy man on public transport, banging his head, singing and playing air guitar to his ipod, it's highly likely to be me. It was bound to happen - just accept it...


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Guitar zero

Strange, I can play real guitar but I'm way too unco to play guitar hero... Hopefully, one day they'll release keytar hero and I'll be able to play that...


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Makes me proud to be Australian...

fail owned pwned pictures

Eddie Maguire strikes again...


Monday, July 13, 2009

The worst band in the world are returning to Australia...

The last time I heard a song by these idiots was by a cover band across the street from the bar I was drinking at in Hong Kong. This was my reaction...

These guys are more of a threat than terrorism, isn't there some kind of immigration policy to stop them? Think of the children... what about the innocent children?


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hunting Season

Remember, popular artists can turn unpopular in a heartbeat (Ryan Adams, Bright Eyes, The Strokes), so you would be best to stick to the following statements: “I love the Arcade Fire,” “I still think the Montreal scene is the best in the world,” “I would die without Stereogum or Fluxblog“* and “Joanna Newsom is maybe the most original artist today.”

*-do not substitute Stereogum for Pitchfork, as this is one of those things that used to be cool, but is now not cool.

This pithy bit of commentary on indie music comes from Stuff White People Like - a website that sadly confirms I am 80% cliche. The reason I bring it up is that Katie's blog has got me thinking about my relationship to music and I have a confession to make - I hate all the cool indie music at the moment.

Now don't get me wrong, I have often fallen behind the cool barometer and I have never been into fads (that whole brit indie shite a while back like Bloc Party and Kasabian was appalling and Vampire Weekend sounded like a Talking Heads cover band) but the current crop of bands that Pitchfork and Stereogum are going weak at the knees for sound like crap to me. I think I am, gulp, getting old.

This pains me because I buy and listen to a lot of new music. I have a philosophy that I hope that I have yet to hear my favourite album of all time - that it's somewhere unheard or not even made yet. Recently I've found myself going back to the warm climes of bands I've always liked. There's been a lot of Bob Mould, Superchunk and Mogwai. Of the newer bands - I've come very late to the Death Cab party (about five years after they were cool) and the Future of the Left (who are made up of McLusky members and sound just like, well, McLusky - and that's when I'm actually not listening to McLusky or Death From Above 1979 who sound kind of similar).

Some (actually, many) would argue that I have terrible taste in music (I won't argue) and while music is subjective, I have often failed to appreciate the artistic merits of some bands. But it's the current crop of animal bands that are hot at the moment that I have a problem with: Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, Deerhunter etc... I just think they are unlistenable twaddle and I'm declaring hunting season OPEN on animal bands and the fevered hysteria that follows them.

Don't get me wrong, the music is passable but I just find it depressingly derivative. I know music has to come from somewhere but you can add to a canon rather than unimaginatively replicating the past or taking its worst elements and turning it into a living, breathing parody. I have spent quite a bit of time exploring these bands looking for the nooks and crannies of melody that would make me love them; trying to find the lyrics I'd make mental notes of and ponder at odd moments during the day; and wanting riffs that make me swoon or better, play air guitar. And I have come up with nought.

So I have decided in my esteemed wisdom that I am not old or past it but these bands are just not my thing (ie crap). I'll snooze through this period of cool and hope that the next wave of music that we're supposed to love are in fact, lovable. Wake me when it's over.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Soundtrack of Your Life 2: The Sequel

Last year I did this Soundtrack of your life exercise on my old blog. At the the time, I was bummed that itunes had somehow picked out the one Natalie Imbruglia song out of thousands in my collection so I thought I might do it again. Here again are the instructions:


1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool - first songs only

Opening Credits
Waking Up
First Day of School
Falling in Love
Fight Song
Breaking Up
Life is Good
Mental Breakdown
Getting Back Together
Paying the Dues
The Night Before the War
Moment of Triumph
Death Scene
Funeral Song
End Credits

For me tonight, it went like this.

Opening Credits: White Palms - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Waking Up: Cuerpo Celeste - Murcof
First Day of School: 25 Minutes To Go - Johnny Cash
Falling in Love: Sandstorm - Peter Gabriel
Fight Song: Fountain - PJ Harvey
Breaking Up: Fuck You - Lily Allen
Prom: Mountaintops - Cat Power
Life is Good: The Big Ship - Brian Eno
Mental Breakdown: Take It And Run - Dropkick Murphys
Driving: Car - Built To Spill
Flashback: One - Johnny Cash
Getting Back Together: For Tonight You're Only Here To Know - The Distillers
Wedding: In The Cold Cold Night - The White Stripes
Paying the Dues: Exit Music (For A Film) - Radiohead
The Night Before the War: My Dick Is This Small Because It's -40 Degrees F - 1-Speed Bike
Moment of Triumph: Moe Luv's Theme - Ultramagnetic MC's
Death Scene: Seal Jubilee - Bat For Lashes
Funeral Song: Disaster Button - Snow Patrol
End Credits: Sour Times - Portishead.

This is the actual outcome of the exercise with no meddling for songs I don't like (1-Speed Bike really have the worst song titles). Nice line up with the waking up, breaking up, driving song and getting back together. Night before the war and moment of triumph, not so much. Anyhow, this is the new soundtrack to my life story... until I do it again next year...


Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Everybody kind of rags on Pitchfork these days as being too cool for school and a bit pretentious but I still like reading it. I have some reservations about some of the appraisals of some bands (for example, I hate the animal bands: Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, Deerhunter etc...) but on the whole I'm ok with it. Recently, they've started a series of interviews with different artists called 5-10-15-20 which I'm really enjoying. The artists chart the most influential or their favourite songs for every five years of their life. I started thinking about this and its an interesting thing to do to think of the year and the songs that shaped you. So I thought I'd write mine up even though its slightly wanky and I'm not famous - but indulge me for a second. It just goes to show that I grew up in an age before Nirvana broke.


Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds: I have to admit this is more of an unconscious choice based on a conversation I had with my Mum ages ago. While I grew up with one ear trained to the Beatles, ELO etc... from my parents and the other on the Jam and the Clash from my sister, my Mum said she distinctly remembers me dancing around to Elvis and LOVING it when I was little. To be honest, I don't remember this at all but I like to think that even at that early age I loved Suspicious Minds... Because let's face it - it's pretty awesome.


Ray Parker Junior - Ghostbusters: When I was a kid I had an unreasonably vivid imagination and it was largely fed by movies and TV. So it stands to reason my favourite songs came from movies and I loved the Ghostbusters theme (I think my parents still have the 7inch at their house). I don't admit this very often but the very first tape I bought with my own money was the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack because I loved the Axel F. song. Anyhow, I figure this song established not only my long term love of movies but my love of Bill Murray.


Phil Lynott and Gary Moore - Out In The Fields: By the time I was fifteen I had become obsessed with playing guitar and had a new found love of dodgy metal bands (I'm talking Def Leppard, Ozzy, Dio etc...) Top of the heap for me was Gary Moore, an Irish guitarist, who was terribly sincere and let's face it, total crap but he could play the guitar like a demon. I give myself points for this song because Phil Lynott is on it (Gary Moore was briefly in Thin Lizzy) but really, there's no excuse. Gary Moore later reinvented himself as a blues guitarist and basically denied the existence of every album he'd made in the 70's and 80's. Whatever gets you through the night Gary...


Sugar - The Act We Act: Two major things happened between 15 and 20 for me. Firstly, Nirvana broke and I think anyone who underestimates this event is an idiot. There were a few 'alternative' bands I was conscious of before Teen Spirit went blitzkreig (mainly Pixies, Jane's Addiction, Faith No More) BUT this was a land ruled by Poison, Motley Crue and Guns N' Roses - Phil Collins was on the cover of Rolling Stone and everybody loved Mariah Carey. Nirvana smashed all that and while mainstream music is intrinsically lame - indie, alternative, whatever you want to call it became the staple diet for a new generation of music lovers.

The second thing I discovered in that time was Bob Mould. I taped his Live at the Wireless performance off JJJ (I still have the tape and still listen to a cd version of it) and discovered a whole new world of music. Bob was a member of Husker Du and when I fell in love with his music I was obsessed with his first solo album Workbook. However, Bob formed a three piece in the early 90s and released the album Copper Blue which I can say with authority is the one album I have listened to more times than any other. I used to take 24 hour bus trips with a tape with Copper Blue on both sides and listen it non-stop (no exaggeration). I have avidly followed Bob since that time. The Act We Act is the first song on the album and when I hear those opening chords, I still get chills.


Radiohead - Karma Police: 25 was the year I moved to Sydney and I remember a lot of Superchunk and PJ Harvey but I was still in an OK Computer hangover from the year before. I was quite obsessed with them for a few years and listened to this, The Bends and Kid A non-stop (but they kind of lost me around Hail to the Thief).


Queens of the Stone Age - Go With The Flow: Between 25 and 30 I found the one band that rivaled my love for Bob Mould. Queens is this beautiful amalgamation of rock and punk which is swinging, sexy and raw. The other great thing about them is that the albums are really complex with a lot of layering and interesting arrangements - I spent a lot of time listening to them on headphones wrapping my head around the production. At their heart is just excellent musicianship with a kind of primal instinct for melody and attack. Sure they're un-pc but I love 'em anyway...


Death Cab For Cutie - Marching Bands of Manhatten
: My friends, I have a confession. I just checked my Last FM and its clear that the band I've embraced the most since turning 35 is Death Cab For Cutie. I had a few other choices for this period (Mogwai, Cat Power, Future of the Left, Iron and Wine) and I was frightened about putting Death Cab down in writing because to be honest, I always thought they were a bit fey, a bit meh, and a bit shit. But a very good friend of mine got me hooked on the album Plans which I have listened to compulsively for the last six months or so. I am a sucker for both good pop songs and sad songs and this band have somehow melded these two elements in a very addictive way. I also think that Death Cab are masters of what I like to call the 'moment' song. By that I mean that a song is kind of ok and then there is some little twist or moment in it that just makes it special. So, I hate to admit it but I am a late comer but proud lover of Death Cab. Whether I'll be listening to them in a year is another story but for right now, they're just right.


Monday, July 6, 2009

We were promised jetpacks

Greatest band name I've heard, urm, today. The song kicks in nicely at the end...


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Idle hands

The other day I bought this book which basically challenges you to treat your life like one big artistic experiment. It's kind of cute and one of the first challenges is to wander around your neighbourhood and catalogue the sights, sounds and smells along your trip.

I tried this today but I kept getting distracted because it seemed every second car passing me by was blasting the hits of Michael Jackson. Seriously, people, if I was going to choose a period of time to time travel to it would definitely NOT be 1987 (mainly because that's what I looked like in 1987 - what happened to my gaddamned hair?!).

Look, I get it - I know he was big, I was there (although I was never much of a fan). I remember when the Bad video premiered on TV, it was a prime time television event. Admittedly, this was 80's New Zealand where there were only two channels and an episode of Coronation Street would probably qualify as a 'premier' television event but nevertheless MJ was big news. I'll even admit that those early songs are cool and never fail to get people over the age of thirty drunkenly dancing in embarrassing ways at parties.

I'm not going to begrudge anyone their love of Michael Jackson as I'm a revisionist of the highest order (that's why I love Lost Highway) but really this hysteria has gotten a little out of hand. As of June 24, Michael Jackson was slightly creepy and a bit of a joke because - well, you know why. That he died the next day doesn't change that fact - he doesn't suddenly become the King of Pop again all sins forgotten. The death of anyone is sad and I'm sure his family are devastated as any relative would be but the tragedy that was his later life can't be erased so simply - well, not in my mind.

Look, I don't know, I didn't know the guy but one thing his death has perpetuated is troubling - more Richard Wilkins on television and frankly, that's a bigger concern to the health of our world than the death of a faded pop star.

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