September 2008

When I first heard Jay Jay Pistolet, reviewing the other song from this single no less, I took an immediate dislike to him. His voice was the major factor, it sounds like he’s doing a bad impression of Truman Capote with a comedy giant lollypop in his mouth, and it certainly isn’t your usual dulcit folk lilt. On the more upbeat “We Are Free”, it just didn’t work for me, and I didn’t listen to him for a few months.

How wrong I was to do this. I read about “Holly” elsewhere (I forget exactly where I’m afraid) and decided, as I had it to hand, to pop the CD back into my trusty laptop. The quiet strums of guitar, the occasional plink of the high register of a piano and Jay’s vocals fit together perfectly. His lyrics tell the quietly heartbreaking story of the eponymous Holly, with some wonderful little uses of language (“And whilst I’ve always dreamt of making it in Hollywood/But I know if she’d a second chance then Holly could“) it’s all just an onslaught of distressing loveliness.

I can’t think of any more verbose way of summing up the song other than that I can assure you it’s beautiful. And that’s hopefully all that matters.

Jay Jay Pistolet – Holly

In a flurry of boxes of boxes and shopping bags, I have officially arrived at University. Fresher’s Week has nearly come to an end, my room has become a semblance of normality, my timetable is ready to be obeyed and I may even cook real food soon. In the words of Arthur Dent, it’s all rather confusing really.

The Music – Welcome To The North

PS. Maybe it’s my late leap onto the blogging bandwagon (score one for double alliteration there) but I have yet to hear a single song by TV On The Radio. Can anyone suggest one that might help me understand what all the fuss is about?

Well tomorrow I leave on a three year adventure, up to the vast, mysterious, unconquerable (thank you Mark Corrigan) land of Newcastle. In the spirit of leaving, not wanting to leave AND Newcastle, here’s Maximo Park.
Maximo Park – I Want You To Leave
Maximo Park – I Want You To Stay

Another piece of information that’s dawned on me is the fact that never again (OK, for the time being anyway), will I have to wear uniform – school, work or otherwise – which is an unusual source of joy for me.
Bloc Party – Uniform

A worrying fact for me at the moment is my money situation. Or lack of it. If you live in Newcastle and you see a dishevelled, 6’2″, long-haired youth attacking your bins, I can only apologise in advance.
Barenaked Ladies – If I Had A Million Dollars

I’ll admit, after a year off travelling and doing shift work, I am starting to think I’ll remember very little of the things I’m supposed to have learned already, and with the apparent constant supply of alcohol that Uni provides, it might just stay that way.
Nine Inch Nails – Head Like A Hole

Amongst the questioning eyebrows, semi-sarcastic questions of whether we’re living together and all the general annoyances that go along with it, I’m so happy to be going with Cat, my beautiful girlfriend. And, just to set the record straight, we decided to choose our first choice uni separately and, by happy coincidence or pure synchronicity, we both chose Newcastle. So there.
Jack Johnson – Better Together

Well, I feel a little more connected now. I’ve been formally accepted by the wonderful Hype Machine, and may actually have an audience beyond the three people who may or may not be interested in my scribblings (love you guys!). Here’s a lovely, and topically named, piece of indie-art-punk.

Dartz! – Network! Network! Network!

Inspired by my little diatribe earlier, I felt like listening to some hip-hop. Sure, there’s a whole heap of crap around at the moment but the genre also includes some of the best lyricists around. Here are some of my favourite tracks. Disclaimer – I’m White, Middle Class and English. I will sound like an idiot when talking about this. I probably already have done. I’m sorry.

Outkast – Roses
Now go on the raw sex, my AIDS test is flawless
Regardless, we don’t want to get involved with no lawyers
And judges just to hold grudges in a courtroom
I wanna see your support bra not support you!

They’re not inspired but they sure sound catchy in context.

CRS – Us Placers
Lifestyles of the broke and famous
Let you know how crazy this game is
Look at all the new beautiful faces
At home supermodel, Myspaces
Long for their shot on the TV screens
American Idol never seen these dreams
Just last week they want to see ID
Now they got you in VIP, huh?
How many people almost famous
You almost remember what they name is
Like “Hey, didn’t you play in..? No it couldn’t be, quit playin”
I try to keep that balance
After MTV that’s a Real World Challenge Back on that train
Never to be heard from again…

Now here’s Kanye on form, along with Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell, this song from the Can’t Tell Me Nothing mixtape is just awesome, not least because the background sample is from Thom Yorke’s, “The Eraser”.

N.W.A. – Express Yourself
I’m expressin’ with my full capabilities,
And now I’m livin’ in correctional facilities,
Cause some don’t agree with how I do this.
I get straight, meditate like a Buddhist
I’m droppin’ flavour, my behaviour is heriditary,
But my technique is very necessary.
Blame it on Ice Cube… because he says it gets funky
When you got a subject and a predacit.

My favourite opening lyrics from any hip-hop song, it’s just all so well put together – the flow of the rhythm carries you thoughout, and every verse has another part to enjoy.

Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip – Development
I remember hearing Mos Def rhyme the alphabet
I just sat there in silence

As a sign of respect

I knew what I had to do

And that’s what happened next

I rhymed the periodic table
To stay one step ahead
Hydrogen is number one
Cause hydrogen is what puts the shine in the sun
Through nuclear fusion and when it’s done

It leaves element number two
Helium is the second lightest gas that there is

So we use it in balloons we give to little kids

Then there’s lithium often used to treat mental problems

Beryllium don’t conduct electric currents, it stops them

Boron can be used to make things harden

And that smoke that’s coming out of your exhaust, carbon

Carbon is arguably the most important element

And nitrogen in the air is almost eighty percent

The rest of the air is mainly oxygen

And fluorine is the lightest of the halogens

OK that’s enough teaching
I ain’t trying to bore ya
I’m just trying to be a positive role model for ya

I’m sorry, I know that’s a lot of words, but I just couldn’t cut Mr. Pip’s awesome lyrics. Nor could I resist putting more of his work up, I just love it, it’s the best kind of hip-hop, intelligent music, lyrics with something to say and an altogether good feeling about it all.

This is only a little thing, but I want to get it off my chest. As much as I enjoyed the older music of Mr. West, I can’t for the life of me understand how anyone can like “Love Lockdown”. It’s repetitive, his lyrics aren’t up to their usual standard, and frankly his singing voice isn’t a patch on his usual drawl. I’m not going to post it, but if you must listen, go on The Hype Machine, there are several thousand links, you won’t miss it. Here’s some proper hip-hop from a brilliant producer and a bearded poet. Maybe Kanye could follow suit. Please?

Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Fixed (Demo)

There comes a time in every blogger’s life when you have no inspiration whatsoever. And that’s what the shuffle function was created for. Here’s another three random cuts of my iTunes library for you to mull over.

Pull Tiger Tail – Mary Jane
As much as I loved their older stuff (see here for example), I never quite took to PTT’s newer singles, before they fell apart due to label tyranny. This was their last (and possibly last ever) release, and sums up, for me, what went wrong for them. Unlike their earliest stuff, it just lacks the punch, the energy, that made them special. The vocals seem a little laboured, and everything seems a little Athlete-y in places (not to say I don’t like Athlete, I think their first album was awesome, it just isn’t right for PTT). That being said, this is an enjoyable song, just not their best work.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Wet Sand
Ah the Chilis. The first band I ever saw live. Of course, this wasn’t actually released at the time, the whole Stadium Arcadium period was the beginning of my slight loss of faith in them (along with the colossal damp squib that was their 2007 Reading set). I mean, a double album? Really? Not only is it lazy, it’s just too long and full of filler. However, I do like this song. Antony Kiedis’ vocals start off all “Under The Bridge” and then grow with the music to a funky crescendo of an anthem ending, and John Frusciante’s solos never fail to bring a warmth into my soul, remembering all those times I idolised them.

Friendly Fires – Photobooth
I know it’s nothing new, and it’s all been said before, but Friendly Fires really are brilliant aren’t they? I haven’t heard their album yet (annoyingly), but I just haven’t heard a song they’ve done that I haven’t liked yet. This early single is a prime example. Straddling the lines between pop, dance and indie effortlessly, it’s just perfect. There are enough lyrics for it to interest me, but there’s enough repetition and a prominent bass line to make it perfect for dancing to. Just amazing.

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