July 2010

I have a strange relationship with hip-hop. As a firm lover of lyrics, it appeals to me due to its innate focus on “the words”, but often disappoints with its almost constant reliance on a narrow set of themes and even shorter set of musical influences. Last year, Mos Def bucked that trend with The Ecstatic, an incredible album brimming with socially conscious lyrics and topped off with a genuinely surprising attention to instrumental detail. Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about Big Boi’s new album, Sir Lucious Left Foot The Son of Chico Dusty, and most of it has been very, very positive (you may even have noticed yours truly getting a little worked up over the first official single, ‘Shutterbugg’ not too long ago). The focus seems to have been on its inventiveness, both musically and lyrically.

But for me, barring a minority of songs, this album may be inventive in terms of hip-hop, but it never truly innovates. As an explanation for that pedantic differentiation, this album often introduces musical themes seemingly alien to the norm – the laid back Stevie Wonder groove of ‘Turns Me On’ for example – but never actually surprises me with its ideas. The fact that I can attribute the sound of that song to Stevie Wonder prooves this in part; that isn’t simply a lazy journalistic comparison – it could be a sample of an obscure song. Even worse, it rarely breaks through out of the shackles of hip-hop lyricism – Big Boi may have a flow better than most, but he still sticks to rigid themes of women, money, drugs and general chest-beating boastfulness.

There are a couple of exceptions, but whilst it seems that Sir Lucious Left Foot might be the character ready to break hip-hop out of its rut, he simply makes the rut wider and seemingly harder to get out of.

Big Boi – General Patton (YSI)

I’m glad I didn’t say hello when I saw him in an airport now. Bastard.

So let’s begin where we left off shall we? I really can’t be arsed with a full day-by-day review of Glastonbury this year, sufficed to say it was brilliant, apart from the near intolerable heat. I made many a wise choice throughout for once, opting for The Flaming Lips over Gorillaz which turned out to be the best stage show I’ve ever seen (as anyone who’s seen them live will attest to) and risked huge disappointment by heading to The Park Stage whilst Mos Def was on because of an unsubstantiated rumour that Radiohead would be playing. Luckily, it soon became wonderfully substantiated (well, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood played anyway).

That weekend also acted as a watershed moment for me as it became the first time I’d ever felt like a proper journalistic ponce after I managed to “network” with both artists and other bloggers. First, I met Matthew from Song, By Toad at the Meursault performance, who I managed to babble incoherently to – I actually became starstruck by a blogger, which strikes me as a little pathetic, but will hopefully act as a compliment to him. The next day, I bumped into Tom Williams of him & the Boat fame. I’d watched them earlier at one of their seemingly endless string of performances and, after he realised I wasn’t a creepy stalker or drug-peddler, his eyes got a little less wide and he turned out to be as likeable a fellow as his emails have suggested to me. Finally, I made yet another correct decision in watching Grizzly Bear (victorious) over the England team (defeated), and ended up behind two of the girls from Mountain Man, who actually recognised me. Unfortunately, it became clear that this wasn’t because my fame had spread far farther than I had reckoned for, but because they’d seen me simultaneously singing and spilling chocolate ice cream onto my prized Johnny Flynn T-shirt in the front row of their performance earlier. Nevertheless, they were absolutely charming and provided added entertainment when one of them suddenly realised that their cousin was on stage. As a member of Grizzly Bear.

The moral of the story – talk to those in the business. They all seem very nice.

Meursault – Crank Resolutions (YSI)
Tom Williams & The Boat – Train Station Car Park (YSI)
Mountain Man – Buffalo (YSI)
Dartz! – Network! Network! Network! (YSI)

This year, I did something I’ve never done before – I forgot my mum’s birthday. Usually, I would never do such a thing; I’m quite good with my family’s birthdates, so is my dad and I’m too scared of disappointing anyone to not remind myself. Except, it seems, now. And, what with being on holiday and enjoying America’s oppressive heat, I’ve gone and done it again. Music From A Green Window is two years old, but I missed its birthday by a couple of days.

For those of you who read this blog regularly (and I know there are some of you, my blog stats page tells me that), you’ll have noticed my posting get a little scattershot this year, and I can’t promise that that won’t continue, but I still get a lot of pleasure from writing in my own little corner of the web here. I’ve always loved sharing my favourite music, learning more through simply listening, making connections between bands and sounds, and most of all, discovering new music (whether that be new for me personally or genuinely boxfresh bands), and I can’t see me stopping that on my own pretentiously-named blog anytime soon.

So thanks to everyone who reads, writes or creates in this wonderful world of music, and keep coming back to MFAGW – I’m only going to get older and wiser!

This Is Ivy League – Celebration (YSI)