Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 - The Beastie Boys - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #28

Due to an idea from Steve I thought I’d decide to make like a fridge and “keep it fresh.” [Oh. Good. Lord. –Ed] I realize I mostly do general retrospectives on relatively obscure albums from 30-40 years ago that are hopefully interesting but probably aren’t too relevant. For this I make no apologies: it’s the music I like. I just generally dislike modern music; I think most of the originality is gone and I can’t think of a single style of music that hasn’t been done better at some point in time. But I think just this once, on the last week of the year I should make a retrospective of the 2011 albums I have heard and briefly comment on one of them. The retrospective took me about 2 minutes because I have heard a grand total of 3 albums from 2011. I haven’t even heard the Mercury Prize-winning Let England Shake by my beloved PJ Harvey. It’s just there’s so much more music from earlier years that I’m more interested in. But fortunately by keeping the numbers down I’ve made sure that each album I’ve heard from this year has been a banger.

The Year in Review - Steven

[Warning - Stupidly long]

So there are two days left of 2011. Still time to get down to your nekkids with that special person if you haven’t yet gotten around to it (g’wan, give them a call. You lose nothing and you might get to share a bed and start something special) or pick up a ostentatiously massive Cuban cigar for seeing in the new year by breathing in some air you can see. Seeing as 2011 is pretty much behind us, it’s time to look back, past the festive glut in which I consumed roughly my weight in food and drank roughly my weight in booze and at the year in music. Yup, it’s our end of year list-stravaganza. Usually this is the point at which we bestow accolades or distribute lists to the utter indifference of everyone who doesn’t worship us as gods. We can’t be bothered doing that. So what I’ve done instead is to compile a list of records: Single songs, EPs, discographies, full-lengths and live albums that I reckon might have slipped past a few of you but in my opinion represent interesting things. I’m not promising you’ll like these records and I’m not saying I do, I’m just saying all of these picks will either do something extremely well, or do something completely new. I’ll provide links to places of purchase where possible and convenient, but a full-title Google search ought’a set you up with this wicked sounds for yourself.

"This, is a video game"

Y’know what one of the most interesting games of this console generation has been? Bioshock. That objectivist steampunk sci-fi shooter wasn’t just a masterclass in pacing and art design and a high-watermark of voice acting and creative vision up beside Half Life 2, it also featured one of the most brilliantly executed comments on the medium I’ve ever witnessed, simultaneously drawing attention to and destroying the gap between audience and fictional protagonist; similar to the videotape scene in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer in which we are made complicit in the crimes of the film’s anti-heroes by intelligent editing. The moment in Bioshock blows this out of the water. Let me preface this apocalyptic spoiler by saying: if you haven’t played Bioshock and have any interest in doing so, skip to the next paragraph, because what I’m about to spoil will (no hyperbole) ruin the greatest pleasure of the Bioshock experience. Seriously, you’ll hate yourself for reading this if you ever play it. Last chance to bail out? Spoilers ahoy? Right. Around two thirds of the way into the game’s story, you come face to face with Andrew Ryan, the malevolent and enigmatic villain and self-proclaimed leader of the troubled city of Rapture (one of the most exquisitely crafted and memorably realised settings I’ve seen in a game). I’ll spoil as little as possible from here on out. When you confront Ryan, some secrets about your characters past transpire in the conversation but most stunningly of all, it is revealed that the person who has been most instrumental in getting you to this point is in fact out for his own ends and is Ryan’s greatest business rival. The upshot? The player character has been brainwashed into obeying any instruction prefaced with the phrase ‘would you kindly’. A little flashback is given showing that you have been enticed into completing a series of tasks this way. But you weren’t, as a player you put on the game and did what your support character told you to do to progress. Your character may have been brainwashed but you were acting on your own free will... right? But that’s exactly what the brainwashed man would think too... instantly the player is made accomplice and party. As with all the most brilliant masterstrokes in storytelling, not only does this shed new light on the story, but makes you think about this in other video games and also in your own life. A real example of the artistry video games could be a shining temple of if they were less about games developers wanking off the Pentagon and perfecting new blood-splatter based interior design techniques.

T'is the season to be grumpy: My least favourite Christmas songs and why.

Before I started to work in [supermarket employer] I used to enjoy quite a number of Christmas songs. Now, however, entering into my 4th Christmas in work I’ve come to truly loathe most of them. They get played constantly in work on repeat and when I’m in the store for 9 hours I have the joy of listening to each of the songs about 10 times. Plus I get a bit of overtime over Christmas, so this might be 3 or 4 times a week. It’s ruined a few Christmas songs for me completely (I used to really like Fairytale of New York; it’s still a good song but I just can’t listen to it) and made me realize how hopeless a number of others are. I’m not quite at the point where I’m filled with utter contempt towards Christmas but I can see myself getting there pretty quickly. Of course, being a Christian I appreciate the importance of the season from a religious point of view. However, many other aspects of Christmas are now detestable to me;  snow and ice now drive me crazy, I hate how X-Factor now appear to own Christmas, I hate the fact that I usually have exams after Christmas so I can’t even get a proper break, and of course I hate the Christmas music.  I still have a few favourites (Mike Oldfield’s In Dulci Jubilo, Run-D.M.C.’s Christmas in Hollis and The Beatles Christmas Time (Is Here Again)) but going through would be less fun than my least favourite ones – I rave about so much music on this blog; it’d be nice to let rip into some awful music for once.

Happiness is out of business EP - Wine Women and a Song or Two Originals

T’is the season to be jolly, as many plastic po-faced adverts have made me very much aware. But I’m not in the Christmas spirit. Working as I do in retail (that is, stacking shelves and making them look pretty so that you ungrateful sods can have as many different kinds of Ryvita as you could possibly desire) I get to see the ugly commercialist face of Christmas at its very worst. Quibbles over five pence difference on a receipt, full blown shouting matches between strangers over minor Christmas dinner extras, screaming kids; you name it and I’ve probably had to endure more of it than any rational human could ever ask. There’s also the fact that we all become corporate whores and produce millions of tons of CO2 to light our stupid little trees (my tree is carbon-friendly and has no lights). Not to mention it is the very deepest darkest winter and gets dark about fifteen minutes after it gets light meaning I often miss the sunlight completely if I’m working or in uni. If it’s a toss-up between this and those long languid summer evenings where the booze flows quietly and inexorably like you’re bathing in it and the sun never seems to set. Sunglasses and tees and long evenings sitting in the sunshine beat ice-bitten midday-light grocery runs in any universe. But some people like it, they tend to be extremely vocal and organise things I have no choice but to go to so the hell with it, here I am going to introduce you to my own personal Christmas misery EP for your listening displeasure. I’ve picked a coupla miserable sounds to really drag your spirits down if you’re sitting around the house on the 25th having inserted into your face in the last four hours more food than it would at any other time be socially acceptable to metabolise in a week, or that new years day hangover that feels like somebody with hobnail boots dancing on your shallow grave (well, maybe for you, I’m a drunk and thus am immune). In the same style as our Summer Sounds Samplers I’ll give you a rundown of the sounds in my trademark barely-legible manner and then the playlist at the end. As with before, I wasn’t significantly married to the idea to create actual copies (corporeal or otherwise) to distribute but feel free to make your own cd. If there is interest here, the next round of creations might be put into a playlist on YouTube so you can hear it. We’ll see, leave us a comment or send us an email if you’d like to see that happen.

At Carnegie Hall - The Dave Brubeck Quartet - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #27

A live concert is a truly wonderful thing. It allows you to see an artist at their most creative; unconfined by the studio, feeding off the energy and enthusiasm of the audience and generally allowing their music to go in many weird and wonderful directions. It’s also a chance to see an artist at their most naked. I mean, they’re only human, they’re nervous about making mistakes and they’re eager to please their audiences. In the best of cases, the combination of these two leads to a thrilling combination of unpredictability and excitement. The unfortunate drawback of live albums, however, is that no matter how much they try they can never quite replicate the feeling of actually being there. Gaps between songs, fade-outs, songs out of order, songs from different shows may all be pieced together and presented as one disc. However, with this incredible album, not a note has been changed from the live performance. Dave Brubeck’s seminal jazz quartet got up in front of a packed Carnegie Hall on February 21st 1963, played the performance of their lives, and all 1 hour 43 minutes is here, in order, across 2 discs. That, my friends, is something truly special.

Bongripper of the 'Burgh - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #31

“When somebody really has something to say, and I’m not saying verbally necessarily, but emotionally; it comes out of the music and just hits you. That’s heavy music to me, it doesn’t have to be loud guitars, even though I love loud guitars” Jack Endino
Alrighty, last night I saw Jackal Headed Guard of the Dead, and they were superb – up there with the best live shows of the year. I did have a piece knocked up about Liturgy’s new album (Aesthetica, go check it out before the end of the year, you won’t regret the trip) but this has kinda bumped that sucker out of position. To do a little housekeeping, next week we got something special (don’t ask me what it is ‘cause I ain’t written it yet) because we’re celebrating the winter solstice birth of our lord the baby Jebus, so something to do with that; and after that it’ll be some sort of end-of-year-list-a-thon where critique outlets guff out lists like so much waste paper to the utter indifference of readers and musicians alike. Without further adoo, on with the Jackal Headed Guard of the Dead live at Bannermans 15/12/2011 review.

Paradise and Lunch - Ry Cooder - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #26

I love vinyl. I’m a pretty avid collector of records, (or as avid as a 20-year old in the era of digital music can be) having about 65 to my name now. Some were bought, some were given to me by a friend and some I nicked from my Dad’s old record collection. I love the thrill of going into second-hand record shops (Which are sadly scarce in Northern Ireland) and sifting through the dusty sleeves as a gold miner in a Californian stream; searching insistently through the mire till I find that one speck of gold. Music seems to have lost its value to me; albums are available as downloads with no real album artwork to speak of and the sound is cheapened by listening to it through tinny headphones or laptop speakers. Nothing to me sounds so good, or feels so right, as listening to a needle sliding along those crisp grooves to produce a deeply full and resonant sound. I guess it’s a combination of the two of these reasons that’s made me love Ry Cooder’s Paradise and Lunch even more than I would already have. I took it from Dad’s record collection a while ago, having been familiar with Ry Cooder through his recordings with Ali Farka Toure, The Rolling Stones (see Lick My Decals Off, Baby! No. 7) and his soundtrack for Wim Wenders’ masterpiece Paris, Texas. The fact that it used to belong to my Dad obviously gives it a history, and planning to listen to it through his fantastic speakers gave me great expectations for this listening experience. But despite my high expectations, Paradise and Lunch managed to completely surpass them. I’m still reeling a little bit from the impact it had on me.

Never die a silent death - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #30

Well the awful Christmas give-an-xbox-game-to-someone-to-celebrate-the-not-birthday-of-someone-who-probably-never-existed-in-the-first-place period is upon us once again and I’m feeling a little heavy, so I dug out this one from the bowels of my computer. I’ve been sitting on it for a while and I’ve been working on a big project that ain’t yet finished so here we are. Sometimes you gotta try a little extremity, and that’s what Nails provide. As Bob Stanhope put it, don’t eat the mushroom stem and see colours; eat the whole bag and see God”. The music is at least as violent, straightforwardly brutal and stripped down as the name Nails would suggest. Nails spectacularly and yet with indifference cast off many of the notions that plague extreme metal these days; the desire for extreme and completely needless speed and technicality, there are no acoustic introduction songs that are as necessary as a soft drink at a beer festival. All of these completely unnecessary accoutrements are thrown down around Nails’ feet in favour of short, powerful songs, sludgy production and some of the most instantly catchy and immediately satisfying riffs of any metal releases for quite a long time. Nails take the distinguishing marks of the grindcore genre and make them into features and strengths. Nails songs are short, often not reaching the two minute mark, but for grindcore they are pretty long; Nails understand that the briefness of a song needn’t separate it from quality instrumentation, but also know that an extremely short song can make for a powerful statement. For being a grindcore band, and a pretty obscure one too, it was surprising to me just how accessible and enjoyable it was on the first listen, I guess riffs are just a universal language.

Definately Maybe - Oasis - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #24

It’s hard to imagine now how massively influential and refreshing Oasis’ first album must have been in the mid-90’s.  When I think of Oasis, I think of Noel and Liam Gallagher’s constant bickering, the band’s arrogance, their regression into self-parody and their spawning of a generation of annoying little twats who think they’re cool because they can play Wonderwall on an acoustic guitar. They may have gone from musical giants into a self-indulgent carnival troupe with hoards of brainless fans, but one thing you can’t take away from them is their initial impact on the music industry. When Definitely Maybe came was released in 1994 it took the critics and the public by storm, and rightly so. Definitely Maybe is Oasis’ first and greatest contribution to music.

They showed us magic - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #29

WARNING – Contains extreme, graphic and prolonged nostalgia from the start. Readers of a cynical disposition may wish to skip to the actual ‘review’ part of this review.
Live in Glasgow 28/11/11
Photo c/o Vikki Nye
As we’ve explored, ELO were the first band that taught me music wasn’t shite; Pure Reason Revolution were the first band I loved. The Dark Third was the first PRR record I picked up and I was absolutely stunned. I’m sure a full retrospective in my trademark on-the-edge manner will be in the works shortly, possibly as a Christmas treat... Anyway. Today, PRR for me, die. They die for us all on the 30th of November, when they play famous London nightclub Heaven. This is the farewell tour. After that, they will disband. Like the Mayans, we will be left only with what they have already created. There will be no more Pure Reason Revolution albums. Like so many other gone-but-not-forgotten astral voyagers they leave those of us interested in these things forever asking: Did they make their masterpiece? I know they made several, but how many more could they have concocted? Alas, to compensate those few of us still interested in killer music, they are embarking on a UK tour which will be over by the time this has gone up; and they have released a new EP, with several old tunes given a new lease of life and one new one; which is great.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...