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Archive for December, 2014

 

AND SO HERE WE COME, to a time of consumerism and a mythical figure from a frozen land who is on the dole 11 months of the year. If Christmas is getting to you, relax, put on your slippers, tuck into a chocolate ginger, stick the music mags in the recycling bin and wallow in the Ultimate Guide to 2014 … Porky’s choicest cuts of the past 12 months, in no particular order. Oink oink.

Bill Pritchard: A Trip to the Coast Pritchard 1

We said: Bill Pritchard, English eccentric extraordinaire, the Midlands equivalent of Morrissey and the Go-Betweens with songs about “tea on a Friday morning” and “watching the sun leave the sky”. A pleasantly endearing record that my local library saw fit to buy.

Morrissey: World Peace Is None of Your Business Morrissey

We said: There are snippets of The Smiths, and of Morrissey in his embryonic solo days, but I can safely say this is a typical Morrisssey album, scathing, insightful, illuminating, occasionally humourous, but rarely dull. I’m trying hard to think of other albums released this year, or the past four, that would elicit the same emotions. I fail. Morrissey is an enigma.

Bis: Data Panik bis

What we would have said: Bursting with juicy, punky, in-yer-face, indie disco floorfillers, bis return after a sabbatical or a dozen, with an instant masterwerk that keechs all over their wannabe pretenders. Bouncy, pacy, sparkly, cutting edge and contemporary … if bis were a football team they would be Glasgow Celtic FC.

Gold Medal Famous Free Body Culture (Powertool records)

Gold Medal FamousWe said: Agitating for a vote against the odious National Party at this year’s election, You’re So Outrageous tackles the affronts against the constitution the ruling junta (surely democratically elected government? – ed) has carried out, by using urgency in parliament to push through bills deemed essential, and thus avoiding public scrutiny. Using a hypnotic dance beat and eerie vocals, Gold Medal Famous prove there’s a way of make a political point in this drab cultural era. Free Body Culture, named after a German nudist movement, is varied, playful, angry, and esoteric; it is the band’s finest effort yet.

xBomb Factory: No NO

We said: There is no escaping our dark world, where the worst type of unemployment is the unemployment of the mind. “They’re on the sofa, my life is over,” is the eerie revelation of how the Idiot Box has taken over. NO is not an easy ride, but it is a fulfilling one. The clatter can be overwhelming, and the bleakness stultifying. But I often felt like that after the Gang of Four’s Entertainment. Among the anger and the cynicism is a manifesto for a better lifestyle and an empowered mindset, the two precursors for a better world. Free your mind and your ass will follow someone once sang (it wasn’t Justin Bieber).
Towns: Get By

TownsWe said: Get By doesn’t fit in with the terribly pompous and, quite frankly, staid British music scene of the moment. For one thing, there’s a bit of a swagger about them; not for them the mean and moody look, with songs about lost love and how their beard is growing because they’re too miserable to trim it. There’s a lot of guitars, and effects, and yes that old chestnut, shoegazing is being trotted out by lazy, hazy journalists. Is it 1990 all over again? Well yes, to an extent but it could also be 1967.

Pete Fij and Terry Bickers: Broken Heart Surgery Broken Heart Surgery

We said: It’s Porky’s personal desire for an album to be upbeat, jaunty, to contain songs I can hum or whistle along to while making breakfast; so slower, more intense tracks like Sound of Love don’t quite catch the ear in the same that Breaking Up would. But one man’s meat etc, and I know a man in East Anglia who would say the exact opposite to me.

Broken Heart Surgery is a touching critique of modern love, noting the distractions technology and communication can have, removing some of the personal aspects of an affair. It’s written in the manner of the mood swings that love brings and takes, but often with delectable irony.

The Moons: Mindwaves

The MoonsWe said: Mindwaves is an attempt at the Great British Album, hence the deft psychedelic touches of Syd-era Pink Floyd, the overblown orchestration, reminiscent of ‘about to call it quits’ Beatles, and, of all things, glam rock. Fever begins with a rehashed riff from a long-forgotten Sweet single, and Heart and Soul oozes Ziggy Stardust period Bowie, with dutiful drops of mash-up-the-beats Kasabian circa 2004. There’s something for everyone.

 

The Primitives: Spin-O-Rama Primitives

We said: The opening title track sets out its stall early: pounding riffs, gorgeous vocals and the sound of a band glad to be together again; there’s hints of Crash in the pace and jollity of it all and it shouts for attention from the roofs. Hidden In the Shadows has the trashy, edginess of one of the 1986/87 singles, complete with frenetic verses and a rousing chorus. This is pop at its finest.

 

Trick Mammoth: Floristry (Fishrider records)

Trick MammothWe said: The opening tracks, Baltimore and Pinker Sea, have Millie Lovelock’s dreamy voice at the forefront, but by the third Adrian Ng is sharing vocal duties, and takes on more of such responsibilities as the album progresses. It’s a combination I am unsure of; Lovelock alone gives a breathy atmosphere to Baltimore; Ng’s soft but forceful timbre is apt for Days of Being Wild, but sometimes I am left with the feeling that he should be doing this, and that she should do that, and maybe both of them should be doing the same thing. Or differently.

Trick Mammoth are strong believers in love, happiness, the beauty of flowers, the glory of youth and a deep devotion to music, and its role in the hearts and knees of the world’s pre-middle agers.

 

 

 

 

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BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. Ha The Unclear’s album apparently came out in September but my postie only dropped this off last week with a hand-written note. Just in time for Christmas, of course. Ha The Unclear

Bacterium, Look At Your Motor Go is the debut (under this name after two as Brown) from a band which I could ascertain before doing a Google-y that they were from Dunedin. Yes, the old Dunedin Sound syndrome, a curse and a blessing at the same time, a badge of respect and a pigeon hole. But New Zealand’s southernmost student city is often its most creative and there’s a sense of history and an independent strain that burns within the modern musical scene.

Michael Cathro’s strained vocals drop-kick over the whole werk, and he’s joined by brother Paul on bass, Theo Francis on guitar, and sticksman Ben Sargeant. The name is an anagram for A Lunch Hater. Or maybe it’s Hale Crath Neu. Maybe you can come up with another one.

Though now imprisoned in Auckland, they know where they come from: opening track Corstorphine provides images of state housing and “rugby league played on the field by the chip shop”, and occasionally someone will get stabbed. Once We Were School Kids (Drunk on Youth and Friendship) continues the stresses and enjoyment of growing up in a small city: “bum-puffing cigarettes out the back, near the skip behind the school.”

85, meanwhile, lopes over to the opposite age scale, Cathro taking on the role of a pensioner finding her age overbearing. “I’ve hated my husband now for forty years”, she has outlived one of her three children, and her faith is waning.

If all this sounds like an album that permits people to reminisce about their lives, Mortality (A Million Years Ago) throws a mini spanner in the works by taking a Tardis back to last year, to an age when humans were culturally diverse, and had individual character traits.

The word diverse can apply to Bacterium. There’s an antipodeon feel to it, but equally there’s elements of Albion, and I can detect hints of the Kooks throughout. You can take that as a compliment if you wish; or a slur depending on what mood you may be in.

Buy this album from here .. http://hatheunclear.bandcamp.com/album/bacterium-look-at-your-motor-go

 

 

 

 

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EDITH PIAF famously had none, and various other people over the years haven’t either. Those who claim they have no regrets tend to be celebrities who have had a successful career, and perhaps made some money along the way. A charmed life indeed.

Many of these irritating people will go a little further and state something along the lines of that if they could have their life again, they would change nothing. The sheer impossibility of such an event clearly washes over these people, but it is just a brazen statement to deflect attention from their mistakes and missed opportunities. It is, after all, human nature to reflect on what we did wrong, or didn’t do, whether a small or big matter. Porky still lashes himself for not buying that 5:30 single for the price of a pint of milk, or not picking up a free Plimptons cd in a Glasgow record store. It doesn’t matter that he had never heard of the band, they could have been as good as I, Ludicrous.

Regrets are only natural and we all pick up on things that we could have done or said, or not done or said. Did we need to shout so loudly about the photocopier not working, did I marry the right person, should I have taken that job in accounts, maybe I could have saved five bucks by going into the next store for those low alcohol beers??? Oh man, the questions our minds raise are endless. And irritating. So enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.

Now let’s have an earful of that caterwauling Frenchwoman …

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WHEN THE CRITICS SAVAGE their prey, they often hit the mark. I can think of oodles of stinkers that took a nasty uppercut from a pissed-off hack, and it was delivered for all the right reasons.

But sometimes the scribblers took umbrage at an album that went on to sell millions, and rank up there in the all-time greatest album lists. The thing is, they might actually have had a point. Here we look at some of those floggings written at the time of release that are now generally regarded as out of touch.

 

Led Zeppelin — Led Zeppelin

By John Mendelsohn of Rolling Stone Led Zep

“In their willingness to waste their considerable talent on unworthy material the Zeppelin has produced an album which is sadly reminiscent of Truth. Like the Jeff Beck Group they are also perfectly willing to make themselves a two- (or, more accurately, one-a-half) man show. It would seem that, if they’re to help fill the void created by the demise of Cream, they will have to find a producer (and editor) and some material worthy of their collective attention.”

This review pissed off Jimmy Page so much he refused to speak to Rolling Stone for many years.

 

The Rolling Stones — Exile on Main Street

By Lenny Kaye of Rolling Stone Stones

Exile On Main Street spends its four sides shading the same song in as many variations as there are Rolling Stone readymades to fill them, and if on the one hand they prove the group’s eternal constancy and appeal, it’s on the other that you can leave the album and still feel vaguely unsatisfied, not quite brought to the peaks that this band of bands has always held out as a special prize in the past. Hopefully, Exile On Main Street will give them the solid footing they need to open up, and with a little horizon-expanding, they might even deliver it to us the next time around.”

‘Vaguely unsatisfied’ is perhaps not the harshest words dished out, but this is The Stones and they weren’t often give a back-handed slap.

 

 

Neil Young – After the Gold Rush

By Langdon Winner – The Rolling Stone (boy, did they have some real rottweilers on the staff back in the day). Neil Young

“Neil Young devotees will probably spend the next few weeks trying desperately to convince themselves that After The Gold Rush is good music. But they’ll be kidding themselves. For despite the fact that the album contains some potentially first rate material, none of the songs here rise above the uniformly dull surface. In my listening, the problem appears to be that most of this music was simply not ready to be recorded at the time of the sessions. It needed time to mature. On the album the band never really gets behind the songs and Young himself has trouble singing many of them. Set before the buying public before it was done, this pie is only half-baked.”

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

By Ben Edmonds – Rolling Stone Floyd
“Wish You Were Here is about the machinery of a music industry that made and helped break Syd Barrett. Their treatment, though, is so solemn that you have to ask what the point is. If your use of the machinery isn’t alive enough to transcend its solemn hum — even if that hum is your subject — then you’re automatically trapped. In offering not so much as a hint of liberation, that’s where this album leaves Pink Floyd.”

 

Lou Reed — Berlin

By Stephen Davis of Rolling Stone Lou Reed

“ …. Berlin takes the listener into a distorted and degenerate demimonde of paranoia, schizophrenia, degradation, pill-induced violence and suicide. … There are certain records that are so patently offensive that one wishes to take some kind of physical vengeance on the artists that perpetrate them.”

The Ramones: The Ramones

By Steve Morrissey (aye, him), Melody Maker July 1976 enhanced-buzz-10425-1348238921-9

“The Ramones are the latest bumptious band of degenerate no-talents whose achievement to date is to advance beyond the boundaries of New York City and purely on the strength of a spate of convincing literature projecting the Ramones as God’s gift to rock music.

“They have been greeted with instant adulation by an army of duped fans. Musically, they do not deal in subtlety or variation of any kind, their rule is to be as incompetent as possible.”

Young Stephen Patrick Morrissey may have missed the point perhaps in reviewing this, but I have to admit that I find the Ramones debut somewhat disappointing though I accept why it is now highly regarded.

Morrissey’s hope that their debut “should be rightly filed and forgotten,” has not been followed through.

 

And finally, one from one our own archive, a review I am extremely proud as it truly slayed a sacred indie cow. There was blood.

The National: Trouble Will Find Me

Headline: A National Disgrace National

“It seems an appropriate time to pierce the bubble of a band who have seduced cloth-eared critics and music fans forced to feast on a steady diet of tripe and cold chips for years now.

Now, we have to endure another round of half-considered reviews, as critics become immersed in the stupifying thought-process of ‘never mind the quality feel the width’.

Listening to Trouble Will Find Me is a turgid exercise in self-flagellation. The proverbial terms paint and dry are most appropriate as singer Matt Berninger punishes the ears. I Should Live In Salt is a monotone dirge that remains at the same pace throughout. Another uphill stream, Demons, would be ideal for a road trip along a straight motorway with a 30km/h speed limit for its entirety.”

 

 

 

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