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It’s Grim Up North

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I done a map regarding the fantastic 1991 single It’s Grim Up North by the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. I love this song. It is not only a great record, but it reminds me of good times. Specifically, it reminds me of good times in a bar that no longer exists called Key Largo in Lincoln. You Love Us by Manic Street Preachers also reminds me of that bar.

Anyway, here’s a link to the full map: link to the full map.

Written by Craig

May 24th, 2013 at 10:43 am

Posted in Infographics,Maps,Music


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Really not sure why, but I can’t stop listening to this at the moment. Maybe it’s because I’m so far away from home, but it makes me feel a wee bit nostalgic for England. But there’s that yobbish element to the song, too, which I’m very happy to not be around. The video, though, is still a whole big bucket of fun.

Written by Craig

May 23rd, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Posted in Music


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In the back of a car on the way back from a weekend in Oaxaca, I found my head was rotating the same melodies over and over again. We obviously know these as earworms. When the earworms changed, the next one became just as insistent. I present all five of them to you, dear reader: Primal Scream, Menudo, Los Angeles Azules, a national anthem, and Sr. Bieber.

Written by Craig

April 25th, 2013 at 9:47 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

(The) (Rolling) Stones

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I’ve been listening to Let It Bleed a lot recently. Keith’s rhythm guitar on Gimme Shelter is something I’m particularly into. I could live without the choir at the start of You Can’t Always Get What You Want, mind. Anyway, while I don’t believe in astrology whatsoever, I do have some of the traits of a typical Virgo. I want things neat and tidy. And consistent. Which is why this irks me…

Written by Craig

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Music

The White Single Album

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My friend Mark showed me something yesterday. An artist called Rutherford Chang has a thing called We Buy White Albums, where he has created a record store dedicated to buying copies of the Beatles’ 1968 self-titled album. I like this idea. And after reading about it, I listened to the album itself. I like the White Album. I like that compared specifically to its predecessor, it’s a bit of a sprawling mess. But, like most double albums, it would be a better album if it were cut in half; were it a single album. So, that’s what I’m gonna do. This is a process that requires thinking of the album as a stand alone piece of work, not as part of the Beatles’ history, where the White Album being a double album is an interesting and integral part of their career.

I guess there needs to be some limits to how I’m gonna do this. To create a single album, I’m gonna create a track list for a side one and side two. The longest side of the actual White Album is 24 minutes and 27 seconds long (side four), so that will be the time limit for my new White Single Album sides one and two. Obviously, this is entirely about my personal preferences when it comes to the White Album. There are thirty songs, and I’m gonna lose around half of them. The half that I want to lose. Plus, another good thing about the White Album being a single album would’ve been that Anthology 3 could’ve had some more interesting offcuts than the utterly horrible What’s the New Mary Jane. I’m not really paying any attention to anything else. Although, I am gonna try to keep the order the same, and I feel I should make a Beatles album out of it, not just a heavily McCartney-leaning album, as would likely be my personal preference. Spoiler alert: that’s the only reason While My Guitar Gently Weeps is getting on there.

Okay then, the actual track listing:

Side one: Back in the U.S.S.R., Dear Prudence, Glass Onion, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Wild Honey Pie, The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Happiness Is a Warm Gun

Side two: Martha My Dear, I’m So Tired, Blackbird, Piggies, Rocky Raccoon, Don’t Pass Me By, Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?, I Will, Julia

Side three: Birthday, Yer Blues, Mother Nature’s Son, Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey, Sexy Sadie, Helter Skelter, Long, Long, Long

Side four: Revolution 1, Honey Pie, Savoy Truffle, Cry Baby Cry, Revolution 9, Good Night

Thirty fucking songs. Sweet Jesus. Let’s start choppin’.

Revolution 9 – By far the easiest to lose. While I’m not against the idea of experimenting, and it’s kind of impressive that the most popular band in the world would do such a thing, fuck it: we’ve only got about 48 minutes of vinyl time to play with here, I’m not using 17% of that time including this.

Piggies, Long, Long, Long, Savoy Truffle – I like George Harrison. Honestly, I do. He’s done a lot of songs that I like. But his contributions to the White Album weren’t among his best. Two of them were utter shite. Savoy Truffle is horrible. Well done, George, you just listed a load of desserts. Piggies is worse. Dreadful song. Harpsichords and strings should’ve been left to McCartney, he was better at including non-“normal,” pastiche-y instruments on his songs. Long, Long, Long seems to me to be a few half-arsed ideas thrown together. And in this case, the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts. There could’ve been a good song in there somewhere, I guess. We’ll come back to While My Guitar Gently Weeps later.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Honey Pie – Paul McCartney is my favourite Beatle. He has that syrup-y tendency now and again, which can sometimes be endearing, sometimes annoying. It’s moderately interesting, I think, how many songs on the White Album can, when listened to as a stand alone piece of art, sound like novelty songs, or pastiches, homages to other eras of music. Ob-La-Di is novelty, Honey Pie is a music hall pastiche, Rocky Racoon has him faking an American accent. It’s not just McCartney, either. Don’t Pass Me By is kinda goofy, Bungalow Bill seems fairly throwaway, and Good Night, while lovely, is a Hollywood black and white movie song.

Yer Blues – I guess this song is better lyrically than musically. Musically, this could be any one of a million bands. It’s not a Beatles song, just a song template re-used.

Birthday – Songs about birthdays… This is being cut simply because of the sneaking suspicion that, like songs that have the word “radio” in the chorus, it’s a cynical ploy to get played on the radio a lot.

Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey – Great title. Average song. And it’s got that bloody bell going on all the time. Snip!

Don’t Pass Me By – Sorry, Ringo. I quite like this song, as it goes. And, let’s re-state this, most of the stuff being chopped aren’t songs I’d ever bother skipping over when I play the album (aside from Revolution 9 and the three Harrison songs mentioned above). Just, if we’re making a single album, we don’t need two songs with Ringo singing, and Good Night is the better song.

So, I’ve cut a third of the album. Let’s have a look at what we’re left with.

Side one: Back in the U.S.S.R., Dear Prudence, Glass Onion, Wild Honey Pie, The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Happiness Is a Warm Gun

Side two: Martha My Dear, I’m So Tired, Blackbird, Rocky Raccoon, Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?, I Will, Julia

Side three: Mother Nature’s Son, Sexy Sadie, Helter Skelter

Side four: Revolution 1, Cry Baby Cry, Good Night

Seems like it has been a lot easier to cut songs from the second piece of vinyl than the first so far. I have a decent idea of the songs that I definitely want on my White Single Album, so let’s look at those now, and leave the maybes until the end. Like I said, I’m mainly going for personal preferences here, but also keeping in mind that it should have the spirit of the Beatles and the spirit of the album itself. That is, I can’t get rid of all the slightly throwaway short songs. While only 52 seconds long, and hardly a song at all, Wild Honey Pie seems to, in a way, sum up the whole album for me: confident, successful musicians trying shit out. So that one is in.

Back in the U.S.S.R., Dear Prudence, Glass Onion – All seem like no-brainers to be on there. It’s a pretty strong one-two-three start to the White Album. Wild Honey Pie we’ve discussed. Now, a Beatles album has to have a George song. Sigh…

While My Guitar Gently Weeps – Wikipedia tells me that it’s number 136 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and number ten on their list of The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs. Alright, whatevs, granddad. I understand that this is a popular song and I can see it has merits, but but BUT- I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping. Really? It’s not a song I would ever have anywhere near my top 50 Beatles songs. But, there’s gotta be a George song, and this is the least shit George song on the White Album. And, length fans, this is the second longest song on the whole album after number nine number nine number nine. FML.

Happiness is a Warm Gun – I like this one. I really like the Lennon-ness about it. It’s kinda sinister and poppy at the same time. That’s six of the eight songs on side one definitely included.

Side two’s gotta-be-on-there songs: I’m So Tired, another great Lennon song. Plus, it’s a great band performance. I love Ringo’s drumming, and McCartney’s backing vocals are fantastic. And as a smoker, I’m always gonna enjoy the Sir Walter Raleigh bit.

Blackbird – Not much to say, really. A really lovely song, and a song that sounds so utterly amazing on the recent remastered version of the White Album.

Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? – I guess this is kind of similar to Wild Honey Pie, in the sense that it’s hardly a song. But it sounds so good. The piano sounds ace, and the guitar has a nice tone. And when Paul does his “rock” voice, my brain does going into the happy.

Julia – Obviously. That’s four of side two’s nine songs definitely making the cut.

Only two songs from side three are definitely in: Sexy Sadie – a magic song with that splendid piano and the general languid rockin’ feeling. Sounds a bit stoned.

Helter Skelter – Seriously, fuck you Charles Manson. This song is way too good to have his name mentioned anywhere near it, but that so often seems to be the case. (I’ve just done it.) U2’s version, too. Urgh. Anyway, one of McCartney’s best vocals. And just a damn cool rockin’ song. The first fake end, the Sonic Youth-y bit around the 3:02 mark, the squeal-y bits, the second fake end, and Ringo shouting about his blisters. Splendid stuff.

I’ve already dismissed most of side four, but still a couple get on there. First, Revolution 1 – my favoured version of this song. I kinda like that this more laid-back version fits more with the lyrical in/out uncertainty than the more rocking single version. The unreleased “Take 20″ of this is also great. (I found it on the World Wide Internet, something I assume you could also do quite easily should you be inclined to do so.) And it’s interesting to see how this Revolution ended up spawning Revolution 9.

Good Night – Gotta have the Ringo song, right? And in a way, you gotta keep the last song on an album. I’m a big fan of last songs being appropriately placed. A song that is like a nice After Eight mint at the end of your 1970s British dinner. This one does that job perfectly.

Right then, that’s 14 songs, 41 minutes and 24 seconds of music. Seven Lennon songs (eight if we include Good Night, but I always think, even if the songs weren’t written by Ringo, they always end up being Ringo songs), five McCartney songs, and a Harrison song.

I’ve got about seven minutes of vinyl space left. And six songs not yet discussed: The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, Martha My Dear, Rocky Racoon, I Will, Mother Nature’s Son, and Cry Baby Cry. To keep the Beatles-ness of the album somewhat intact, with a more-or-less equal amount of Lennon and McCartney songs, I’m gonna have to lose The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill and Cry Baby Cry. I don’t mind losing Bungalow Bill, but I do quite like Cry Baby Cry. But, I’ve made this fictitious bed, and I must pretend to go to sleep in it. And if it wasn’t for having to have a Harrison song, this’d be on there for sure.

Four McCartney songs, of which I can choose only two. Martha My Dear, Rocky Racoon, I Will, Mother Nature’s Son.

Martha My Dear – Boing boing boing bouncy piano. Very McCartney-ish. He seemed to be showing off a bit in the later years of the Beatles. Like, look at me! I can do a song in this style and this other different style. But, minor quibble. He’s got more talent in his right foot than I have in my whole body.
Rocky Racoon – Despite the horrible fake American accent at the start, I really do quite like this song. It’s got a nice pace to it, and I love the “Her name was Magill, and she called herself Lil, but everyone knew her as Nancy” bit.
I Will – Ejected simply because it has the Frog Chorus-esque “vocal bass” all the way though.
Mother Nature’s Son – It’s clearly a very nice song, but doesn’t really do anything other McCartney “nice” songs don’t do better.

There we go, the last two songs are gonna be Martha and Rocky. 16 songs, 47 minutes and 25 seconds: The White Single Album.

Side one:
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Dear Prudence
Glass Onion
Wild Honey Pie
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness Is a Warm Gun
Martha My Dear
I’m So Tired

Side two:
Rocky Raccoon
Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?
Sexy Sadie
Helter Skelter
Revolution 1
Good Night

Anyway, this was all just a bit of fun. Were I to apply the same criticism to most of the albums — double or single — that I own, I could easily end up with a couple of thousand EPs in my collection. In reality, I’d only cut four songs (Revolution 9, and the non-weeping guitar Harrison songs) from this double album, which is pretty good going. And having listened to the edited version on my iPod today, it really does feel like stuff is missing, like the sprawling mass of differing quality songs genuinely is part of the album’s greatness. Well done, the Beatles, you were good.

Written by Craig

February 18th, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Music

The Pink Floyd

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First, I can’t stop myself calling them The Pink Floyd. Second, I can’t stop saying “The Pink Floyd” in a bad John Peel impression. Third, I love Pink Floyd. Fourth, I like making charts. Fifth, here’s a chart looking at who did the songwriting on Pink Floyd albums. I’d always known that Roger Waters kinda dominated as the band went on, but I don’t think I’d ever really realised to what degree. Anyway: larger version here.

Update: I was alerted by someone on Twitter that the Pink Floyd chart was a bit difficult for colour blind people to see properly, so I did a wee bit of research and changed things so that now it is hopefully easier to see. This is clearly quite important with infographics, seeing as though the whole point is to try and make information easy to understand. So in future, I’m gonna do my best to make sure all the charts are colour blind friendly. I can’t say I’m gonna go back and change old things, but I will make an effort to do my best in the future. If any colour blind people ever spot anything in the future that’s difficult to “read,” please let me know. Here’s the new version.

Written by Craig

January 26th, 2013 at 10:00 am

Posted in Infographics,Music

The Beautiful South vs. Los Tigres del Norte

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Los Tigres del Norte are a popular band in these parts. Although they are based in California, their roots are in northern Mexico, and they play norteño music. I heard one of their songs the other day. A song called “Golpes en el Corazon.” This is it:

Looking at the discography on a Web site about the group, the earliest mention of the song is on an album called El Ejemplo, released in 1995. Six years after this Beautiful South song…

Could be a coincidence, I guess, but damn, they sound similar.

Written by Craig

December 26th, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Music

Pop! & Circumstance

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My Internet pal, Marnie, does a site called Pop! & Circumstance. Lots of nice music mixes. She asked me to do a guest mix for her, which I was honoured to do.

You can hear it here.

Written by Craig

December 18th, 2012 at 9:39 am

Posted in Links,Music

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

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I’ve re-written the lyrics of this popular song so that they are no longer creepy, because they are really creepy.

I really can’t stay

Baby, it’s cold outside, so I’ll call you a cab so that you get home safely and don’t freeze your toes off. Thank you for a wonderful evening. Maybe I can call you, if you fancy doing something at the weekend.

The end.

Written by Craig

December 15th, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Joy Division/New Order

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Quick, simple chart looking at the timeline of Joy Division and New Order, their albums, compilations, and singles. Full-size version here: http://www.flipflopflyin.com/jdno/index.html

Written by Craig

December 3rd, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Infographics,Music

Last Christmas

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We need to talk about George Michael. Specifically about “Last Christmas.”

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

First off, let’s assume when George Michael uses the word “Christmas” he means Christmas Day. If he was referring to the holiday season in general, it’s unlikely he’d mention “the very next day.” Unless, of course, he’s referring to the 6th of January, the day after the Twelve Days of Christmas.

It must’ve been a terrible Christmas for both George and the women in question. I suppose they might have been casually dating up until that point, then George—not unreasonably—decides to tell her he loves her on Christmas Day.

Now, if she is planning on getting together with someone else the very next day, she must’ve been on the verge of splitting up with George. I guess she might not have wanted to ruin the day, which is somewhat understandable. It’s a difficult situation to be in, especially if she was planning on getting together with someone who is in the same band as George. Awkward.

The lyrics don’t really say that, though. They say that she gave George’s heart away the very next day. I’m not sure how this is possible. Who did she give it to? A friend? Someone on the street? A charity shop?

Also, ladies: I’d be wary of a man who, one year after giving his heart to a woman on Christmas Day, is planning on giving his heart to someone else in a similar fashion this Christmas. To save himself from tears, apparently. This seems like worrisome behaviour, frankly. It’s clearly taken him a long time to get over the woman from last Christmas—and I wonder if he actually is over her, considering he’s written a song telling her this—and now with the festive season here, he’s looking for “someone special” to give his heart to again. George, man: you can’t rush things along just so that you can tell them you love them on the 25th of December.

Once bitten and twice shy
I keep my distance

Right here, I’d like to know why you’re lying, George. We’ve all seen the video: you’re in a chalet in Switzerland having a Christmas holiday with your friends, and she’s there with Andrew. That’s not distance.

But you still catch my eye

Not surprising, really. Even if you’re behaving yourself, you’ve gotta be polite. She’s your band-mate’s girlfriend. And nobody wants you to ruin the Christmas vacation.

Tell me baby
Do you recognise me?

Well, yes, I’d imagine she does: you’re the singer in her boyfriend’s band, and on Christmas Day last year, YOU GAVE HER YOUR HEART. You don’t look that different, either. Your hair’s a bit longer and it’s blonder than it was, but you still look like the same guy.

Well if it’s been a year
It doesn’t surprise me

If it’s been a year”? C’mon, George, you’ve already shown you know when you gave her your heart and that it’s Christmas again now. And the “it doesn’t surprise me” stuff comes across as self-pity, and a little passive-aggressive.

“Merry Christmas”
I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying “I love you”
I meant it
Now I know what a fool I’ve been
But if you kissed me now
I know you’d fool me again

You said you’d keep your distance. Don’t go raking over it all again. You clearly aren’t over her, you want her to kiss you again, but you’re scared that if she did, you’d be hurt again. I can understand that. But look across the room, man: she’s with Andrew now. To be perfectly honest, George, it doesn’t seem like that good an idea, you coming on this holiday. You should’ve visited your family.

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

Oh oh baby

George, for you own good, you’ve gotta stop thinking of her as your “baby.” And once again, this indicates that you shouldn’t be searching for somebody to give your heart to this Christmas. Plus, you’re in this chalet with a group of friends, and you’re looking for someone new now? Here? Yet you’ve spent a not-insignificant amount of time mooning at last year’s woman. It just doesn’t add up, man.

Crowded room
Friends with tired eyes
I’m hiding from you
And your soul of ice

I think you might have had enough to drink, George. Insulting her isn’t going to do you any favours. Plus, I imagine this is all quite awkward for Andrew, too, and if you keep on insulting his girlfriend, he’s gonna be pissed off with you.

My god I thought you were someone to rely on
Me? I guess I was a shoulder to cry on

Stop it, George. Stop it now. You’re sounding like an irrational dick. It’s not attractive.

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart
A man under cover but you tore me apart

Gibberish. Stop drinking.

Ooh ooh
Now I’ve found a real love you’ll never fool me again

Woah! What? You’ve found a real love? Who is this person? You’ve spent three minutes telling us that a) you are over her, b) that you’re not actually over her, c) you are looking for someone new, and now d) that you’ve already found a real love.

But, I guess I could have been wrong. When you said “This year to save me from tears, I’ll give it to someone special” I assumed you meant you were looking for someone. Maybe you already have someone who you are seeing. Still doesn’t explain why you’re spending so much time looking across the room at your ex and Andrew. Does this real love know about what happened last Christmas? I hope you’ve told her. Because if not, someone in this room will have told her about it, and she’s probably not gonna be best pleased about you keeping it from her.

Incidentally, in the video, there’s a flashback moment, when we see you giving her a sparkly, flower-shaped brooch. Let’s leave aside the fact that you both look exactly the same as you do in the present, and we know from the “Club Tropicana” video that you had different hair last year. That aside, why are you going back to the same place where such an awkward moment happened for both of you? You keep saying that you want to be saved from tears this year. Going back to a chalet where you were dumped on Boxing Day seems somewhat masochistic.

But I’m starting to wonder about this woman, too. I can understand that if you’re not over her, you’re gonna be glancing across the room, but she seems to be doing it back. Maybe she wants you to still like her. And that doesn’t sound good for you or Andrew. Which brings us back to the brooch. You gave it to her last Christmas, presumably with a note saying “I love you” attached to it. And now in this chalet, Andrew is wearing it on his jacket!? What the hell is going on with you people? I hope Andrew doesn’t realise the significance of that brooch, because if he does, your band is in trouble.

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special


A face on a lover with a fire in his heart (Gave you my heart)
A man under cover but you tore me apart
Next year I’ll give it to someone
I’ll give it to someone special


You keep saying “special.” It just seems bitchy. You’re telling this woman, Andrew’s girlfriend, your ex, that she’s not special. But maybe you’re right, though, George. I don’t know what to believe. You both seem a bit messed up in the head about your relationship.

Someone someone
I’ll give it to someone, I’ll give it to someone special
Who’ll give something in return
I’ll give it to someone
Hold my heart and watch it burn

Really? Obviously, you are not literally expecting anyone to hold your heart in their hands and watch it burn. That would be ridiculous. And it’s against the law. Plus, the person holding a burning heart would likely suffer severe burns to their hands.

I’ll give me to someone, I’ll give it to someone special
I’ve got you here to stay
I can love you for a day

A day!? That’s what this is all about? You just wanna love someone for one day? Christmas Day? I realise that, rightly or wrongly, it’s illegal in a lot of places, but it seems to me that a pop star like you could just go to a high class escort agency and find someone to spend Christmas Day with.

I thought you were someone special
Gave you my heart
I’ll give it to someone, I’ll give it to someone
Last christmas I gave you my heart
You gave it away
I’ll give it to someone, I’ll give it to someone

Well, thankfully, that’s over. I like you, George. You seem like a decent chap, and you’ve written some splendid pop songs. I hope you can get over this woman. It doesn’t seem healthy obsessing about her. But, heartbreak is always good material for songs, isn’t it? So at least there’s that.

Written by Craig

December 2nd, 2012 at 11:49 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Yesterday’s music, No.10

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Rather than type about the four albums I listened to yesterday (and there will come a day when I type way too much about how fantastic Dare is), let’s talk about the place I visited in the evening. I went with a friend of a friend’s wedding party. At a place called Salón Los Ángeles which, from the outside, doesn’t look overly impressive.

Image source: Google Street View

At the door (and in a couple of places inside) there’s a coat of arms kinda thing that says Quien no conoce Los Ángeles, no conoce México. If you don’t know Los Angeles, you don’t know Mexico. This room has a bit of an ego, it would seem. So, anyway, it’s a salon de fiestas. An enormous room with a large stage at the far end, a shiny wooden dancefloor, and some splendid neon. It’s been open since 1935.

Image source: Chilango.com

There was live music all night, some Cuban band, I think, and a cumbia band. Among the guests were several people who were really dressed for the occasion. Not sure if they were actually guests or just came with the room. Zoot suits. Amazing zoot suits. One guy’s was orange with a teal shirt and teal feather in his fedora. Another guy’s was white with red, another with a suit that had pinstripes like a fancier version of a Yankees uniform, and the snazziest of all wore black with a bright yellow sequin-covered jacket.

As I have mentioned before, I live above a salon de fiesta. So I know what a Mexican wedding party sounds like through the floor and stairwell. It was kind of fun to hear the same thing properly. I recognised lots of the songs just from hearing it from below. It was interesting to hear and see the cheering that I’ve heard. In between the bands, they played some Glenn Miller. I enjoyed that. It was nice to hear his music in the type of room that it was probably played in at the time.

When it came to dancing, though, I make a wonderful drinker. I see all the footwork and moves going on, how the men and women know exactly what to do and when, and it makes me feel like I really should learn how to dance to at least one type of Mexican music. If I don’t, I will forever be sat at a table, watching people dance.

At one point in the night, the band announced something about a rodeo. The dancefloor filled up, like it was gonna be something special. Then the band started playing “Achy Breaky Heart.” Lyrics in Spanish, and dancers all line dancing. Line dancing! And they all knew the moves. It was both wonderful and horrifying. For some reason, seeing such a thing interrupted the enjoyment of all the Latin music and dancing, the floaty way the brain can enjoy an evening; the free booze had begun to take its toll. My friends and I had a quick “are you drunk?” chat, we all were, so we bowed out, and got a taxi home.

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
Dare – The Human League
Coastal Grooves – Blood Orange
Introspective – Pet Shop Boys
Decks, EFX & 909 – Richie Hawtin

Written by Craig

December 2nd, 2012 at 10:46 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Yesterday’s music, No.9

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Of the albums I listened to yesterday, the two I enjoyed the most were those I listened to on headphones, going to and from a night out with friends. Ssss, this year’s album by Vince Clarke and Martin Gore, is really good. I hesitate to add “if you like techno” at the end of that last sentence, mostly because my interest in techno isn’t what it used to be, so I don’t really know where techno is at these days. For me, though, it’s incredibly enjoyable. I really like that two members of a band that last worked together 30 years ago got together and made an album of music of the type which a) you can hear they both love, and b) won’t hardly sell any copies. It sounds to me like Richie Hawtin and late period Kraftwerk. And it’s a good thing to listen to on the subway and walking to a friend’s house, ready for a night’s boozing.

After we’d boozed, it was gone midnight, and rather than get a taxi, I decided to walk home. It was only about a 40-minute walk, so nothing major. I think, though, I’m the only person I know who will choose to walk home. As far as I can tell, the danger of walking around in Mexico City at night is exaggerated. As is the danger here overall. Don’t do anything stupid and touristy, and you’ll be fine. Or you’ll be unlucky. So far, I’ve been fine and not unlucky. And I really enjoy walking around. I enjoy walking around at night, too. I was a bit drunk, and listened to Power, Corruption & Lies all the way home. For a long time Technique was my favourite New Order record because it was the first one I really loved. And before we go on, New Order are way more important to me than Joy Division. I don’t dislike Joy Division, but I enjoy New Order’s music a heck of a lot more. Maybe it’s because I’m not really a lyrics kind of person. I really don’t pay attention to what is being sung about very often, which, sometimes with New Order, is a good thing.

Power, Corruption & Lies feels to me like the first New Order album. I never really got into Movement as much as their other albums from the Eighties. It sounds like they’re still Joy Division, but with a different singer. Power, Corruption & Lies still has elements that can be traced back there, but it’s also got the seeds and shoots of what New Order were to become. Humour and a lightness that wasn’t present before. As I walked home, alcohol tilting my brain in a certain direction, I became convinced that Power, Corruption & Lies was the best album ever made. I was utterly convinced by it. I typed stuff into my pocket device regarding this. Waking up this morning, though, it’s not really true. That was the booze pushing it up the charts in my head. It is, though, one of my favourite albums. Definitely in the top ten. But, when I think of my favourite bands, there’s always three that come out straight away: The Beach Boys, Kraftwerk, and New Order. I wasn’t alive when the Beach Boys did their best work; I was too young when Kraftwerk did their best work; but New Order did their best work when I was in my teens. But I wasn’t really paying attention back then. I remember hating “Blue Monday” when I first heard it, when they were on Top of the Pops.

I was into a lot poppier stuff (Human League, Duran Duran, Wham!) than what these four bored-looking people in normal clothes were doing. It’s a crappy performance that does nothing to show how great that song is. I got more into them, but only in a passing way over the next few years. It wasn’t until I saw them live at the Reading Festival in 1989 that it all clicked. “Blue Monday” sounded amazing. I clearly remember having a feeling like, this is why this song is so popular! I get it now! Maybe there’s something about not being there for any of my favourite bands’ high points, maybe that’s why they are my favourites. I try to think of bands that are in my favourites that I’ve been actively aware of and enjoying contemporaneously, and I can’t really think of any. Maybe that’s it, though: not being there allows me to look at those bands differently, to view them how I want to view them, not how they are presented to me. Whatever it is, there’s something beautiful about walking home in Mexico City, alcohol in your blood stream, feet hurting a bit, and listening to “Your Silent Face.”

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
Entroducing….. – DJ Shadow
De La Soul is Dead – De La Soul
World Clique – Deee-Lite
The Singles 81>85 – Depeche Mode
The Singles 86>98 – Depeche Mode
Ssss – VCMG
Power, Corruption & Lies – New Order

Written by Craig

December 1st, 2012 at 11:28 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Yesterday’s music, No.8

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This is the blog post that I’ve been waiting to happen. The recent spurt of writing has been good, and using the idea of writing about the records I listened to as a clothes hanger upon which to hang some typing has worked pretty well. But today… I dunno, can’t really think of anything to type about, so what follows is just coming out of my head without any real thought.

I woke up with “Me and the Farmer” by the Housemartins in my head, planned to listen to one or both of their albums, then found, unexpectedly, I didn’t have them in my iTunes. So I settled for what I still think of as Paul Heaton’s “other band,” a band that were going for almost four times as long, The Beautiful South. And this is the first day since I’ve been doing this that I’ve listened to a best-of compilation. I listened to two of them: this one, and the Erasure one.

I’m a fan of best-ofs. That wasn’t always the case. I still am to a great extent, but I used to be more of a music snob. And the idea of best-ofs used to rub me up the wrong way. One should hear songs in the context the artist had designed them to be heard. Singles are an artificial way of hearing music. Those songs are supposed to be heard as part of a collection of songs written and recorded during a period of time. That, of course, is horse shit.

It’s the album that’s (mostly) a fake concept. A musician writes a song. Can be two minutes or five minutes or 20 minutes, but it’s a song that starts, middles, ends. Then when he or she has a bunch of them recorded, that’s an album. The album is a great idea, I love it, but it’s just a convenient way for record labels to sell something first and foremost. And this is the great thing about best-ofs: we get no rubbish songs on there just because they were written around the same time as the few good songs. B-sides are (were?) b-sides for a reason: they were the crappest songs written and recorded during the album sessions. And, while it’s a massive generalisation, you can say the same about three or four of all album tracks. I’m not talking about albums like Pet Sounds or What’s Going On, albums which we have collectively appreciated for being great works, but there are very very few albums which couldn’t have at least one song removed without the overall thing being affected adversely.

I’ve bought a couple of other Beautiful South albums in my life. I can remember virtually none of the non-singles from those albums. I always got the feeling that when a band was described as a “singles band,” it was said with a slight sneer, like they weren’t substantial. Fuck that. There’s 14 songs on Carry On up the Charts, and all but a couple of them are fantastic songs. There’s a lot more enjoyment to be had with that album than any of their proper records. Similarly with the Erasure best-of. That one is an absolute cracker. And Erasure, looking back with an, at times, faulty memory, possibly the first time in my life that I actually noticed a gay singer using the word “you” all the time instead of being specific about gender. It’s nice to be inclusive like that, and it’s kind of clever in a way that back then sexuality wasn’t talked about as openly as it is nowadays, but it’s kind of sad that there’s probably still a great chance that a gay singer is lunikely to have massive hits and sing lyrics about a “he.”

For a moment, let’s just pause, sit back, (and in my case, listen to it again as I type), and reflect on how absolutely lovely “A Little Respect” is. Such a pretty song. One of the 100 best songs of my lifetime. (This is something I really should write down one day. I’m so wont to say it’s this, it’s that, but I don’t really know. Perhaps this is in the top 50, or maybe it’d be number 101 on my list.)

And here, embedded in the page for your enjoyment, is my favourite Beautiful South song, “Prettiest Eyes.” I’m such a sucker for a pretty melody and lyrics about the sort of couple one would love to be half of.

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
Carry On up the Charts – The Beautiful South
Storytelling – Belle and Sebastian
Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
About A Boy – Badly Drawn Boy
Pop! The First 20 Hits – Erasure

Written by Craig

November 30th, 2012 at 8:30 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Yesterday’s music, No.7

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A good day yesterday. A good, productive day. The lack of bothering to choose music to listen to makes it apparent to me that my brain was occupied. I started with one Bruce Springsteen album, and listened to four more. That’s not choosing music, it’s letting the Bruce Springsteen section of iTunes keep going after the end of one album. A few notes on Bruce Springsteen. When I was fifteen or so, I never really formed it as an actual thought in my head, but I kind of viewed him as a cool, American, uncle who I’d never met. The first album I got was Born in the U.S.A., obviously. I don’t remember ever hearing of him before that. I don’t really think he was that popular in the U.K. before that. The second album of his that I bought was The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. I seem to remember his first two albums were a bit cheaper than the others at the time. It seemed so different to me than Born in the U.S.A. But it became and remains my favourite Springsteen album. All the details made the United States seem both normal and exotic and the same time.

The reason I was occupied was I was working on the Beagle Channel drawing that I mentioned the other day. To save you going back and reading that, I started a drawing in November, 2009, worked on it a little that day, and used the mountains I’d drawn in the banner at the top of Flip Flop Flyin’. The intention was always to do a 360˚ panorama of all the mountains visible either side of a section of the channel near Ushuaia, in Argentina. The northern side of the channel is Argentina, the southern side is Chile. I went there in 2008. My memory of the place, as with most places on the trip I took that year, is that it was simply lovely. And it was. When I look at the place in my head, though, it’s a small, ordinary town in an extraordinary location. But, I think of my time there fondly.

Blog posts about Ushuaia from the time:

I took a boat trip to look at seals and to go to one of the islands in the channel. I took lots of photos, but just tourist photos, I had no plan. A year or so later, though, I thought about the pixelly panorama thing. I had a root through the photos and found that I more or less had photos of every section of coastline that could be seen from the island and/or Ushuaia town. I got excited, and worked on it for a little, and didn’t bother doing any more. In the space I’d allocated for the full panorama (over 3,800 pixels in width), I’d drawn 14.4% of the mountains. And there it sat in a folder for three years. On Tuesday evening, I did some more, bringing the total up to 25.6%. And yesterday, I really rocked it: 72.5% of the mountains are done. Barring any accidents or power cuts, I should finish it today.

I’m still undecided, though, on how to present it. I could play it safe and present it naturally, with daylight (first example), or with slightly-exaggerated moonlight (second example), or the one I’m leaning towards, with a totally-unrealistic pink sky (third example).

The one thing I really need to stop doing is referring to it as “the Beagle Channel drawing.” It had a name before the pesky Europeans turned up, and, apparently, the Yámana people who lived there called it “Onashaga.” Which is what I will probably call it once it’s finished because it means channel of the hunters, which is a lot cooler than being named after an admittedly lovely dog breed.

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
Darkness on the Edge of Town – Bruce Springsteen
Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen
Born in the U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen
The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle – Bruce Springsteen
#1 Record – Big Star
Grand Prix – Teenage Fanclub
Songs from Northern Britain – Teenage Fanclub

Written by Craig

November 29th, 2012 at 8:46 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah,Music

Yesterday’s music, No.6

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No Marvin yesterday. Didn’t feel the need, and goddamn it, I’m not gonna listen to it if I don’t want to. The main thing of note yesterday was that I listened to one album twice. Got to the end, and started again. The new-ish Dexys album. The last Dexys Midnight Runners album, Don’t Stand Me Down is one of my favourite records. It’s a beautiful piece of work. I even liked the Kevin Rowland solo covers album My Beauty. But, it’s thirteen years since that solo album, and 27 years since a Dexys album.

That’s a long time, isn’t it? It can be an odd experience as a fan when a band you like puts out a new record. It seemed like such a long time when we were all waiting for the second Stone Roses album. But, really, five years between albums doesn’t seem that long now, does it? A three year gap these days seems pretty normal. And five is just a couple more, isn’t it, maths fans? But, I suppose with Dexys, nobody is talking about them, they’re not in the music press regardless of their absence, like the Stone Roses seemed to be during their five years. With the Stone Roses, it was like waiting for a bus that you know will come at some point, but the act of waiting is a very front-of-your-brain thing. With Dexys, I wasn’t actively waiting. Maybe there’ll be a bus at some point, but, the radiator is on, and I’m quite happy sat here in my living room watching Trading Places on DVD.

It would be wrong to talk about time between records without taking about Kraftwerk, of course. Seventeen years between 1986’s Electric Café and 2003’s Tour de France Soundtracks. Seventeen years and the occasional rumour that something was going on. That seemed like a long time, but, it’s nine years now since Tour de France Soundtracks and that hardly feels like any time at all. Time is all stretchy and interesting.

The other end of that is too many records. I used to quite like Ryan Adams. Saw him live one time in a church in Berlin. Lovely, it was. But: too many albums, dude. I just couldn’t get to know a record before a new one came along. Looking at Wikipedia, he’s done thirteen albums since 2000. And the time that I was into him, he did eight albums between 2000 and 2005. When he put out three albums in 2005, I kinda gave up after the first of those.

Blah blah blah, all in all, it seems like one album every 18 months to two years would be just about perfect. There: sorted out the music industry. Next!

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
Electra Heart – Marina & the Diamonds
The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do – Fiona Apple
Arular – M.I.A.
Red Apple Falls – Smog
One Day I’m Going to Soar – Dexys

P.S. The new Dexys album is pretty good. Enjoying it.

Written by Craig

November 28th, 2012 at 10:38 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Yesterday’s music, No.5

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Brains are great. I love how certain things can conjure up memories. Stuff you’d forgotten about. Sometimes in Mexico City, there will be a whiff coming from the sewers. A nasty smell, but a smell you get used to after a while. I could be walking somewhere, get the whiff, and right there, my brain double-clicks a memory of being in Chiapas, on my first visit to Mexico. The first time I smelled that Mexican sewer smell. I like the sense memories. When something comes back that you can’t fully describe. and music is very good at that sometimes. I’ll hear a record that reminds me of the coldness of my un-radiated childhood bedroom in January. And Josh Rouse’s album, whenever I hear it, makes me think of peacocks. Just peacocks. And if the image in my brain has to be expanded, it’s peacocks on a chilly, sunny day. I had a look through a bunch of old photographs to find out exactly why and where those peacocks came to be associated with Nashville, and that album came out the month before my ex-grilfriend and I took a day trip to Wörlitz, a town about an hour and a half southwest of Berlin. And there, in Wörlitzer Park, were peacocks. Here’s a couple of photographs of the ‘cocks, and one of Billy checking a ‘cock out.

Similarly, the Elbow album will always bring back the coldness of standing in Battery Park, New York, looking out at the Statue of Liberty in December 2008. Everybody already loved that album by the time I bothered to listen to it, and it seemed to fit my trip to New York perfectly at the time.

The Grizzly Bear album is an album I don’t particularly like. But yesterday, I figured I’d give it another go. Still a bit unimpressed. Some good songs, but overall, it’s just not for me. And it reminds me entirely of the first time I listened to it, in my room in Berlin at the end of 2009, starting work on a drawing of the mountains that surround the Beagle Channel. Part of that drawing ended up being used in the banner at the top of Flip Flop Flyin’. The idea was to draw a 360˚ view of the mountains. Every last one of them. This is the space I’d allocated in the image for those mountains:

And this is how much I’ve done of it. I never got beyond that part of the drawing that was used on FFF. But, listening to Grizzly Bear has reminding me that I should finish it. I’ll be working on it today, in fact.

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Nashville – Josh Rouse
Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now – Justin Townes Earle
Blue Horse – The Be Good Tanyas
Sweet Heart Rodeo – Dawn Landes
The Seldom Seen Kid – Elbow
The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do – Fiona Apple
Veckatimest – Grizzly Bear
All Quiet on the Noise Floor – Jason Falkner
It’s Heavy in Here – Eric Matthews
The Lateness of the Hour – Eric Matthews

And, yes, I did copy and paste the title of the Fiona Apple LP.

Written by Craig

November 27th, 2012 at 11:24 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Yesterday’s music, No.4 (or Yesterday in Mexico City)

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Well, Sunday was interesting. Before we get to the interesting stuff, though, let’s talk music: forever, forever, ever, forever, ever?

I was reading an amusing account of Rihanna’s recent flounce around seven North American and European cities to promote her new album on Popjustice. It’s worth a read. In the account, the writer mentioned a Swedish pop group called Icona Pop. I am not as up on my Swedish pop music as I should be. So I Internetted around a bit, and found a place that was streaming their six-track Iconic EP. I have since found out that I am totally behind on this, but damn shit, their song “I Love It” is utterly fantastic. I listened to that one song a ton yesterday. I’m listening to it again as I type these words. Just in case you are out of the loop like me, here’s the YouTube thing:

While we’re on the topic of ace pop music – and really, is there any type of music as good as really good pop music? I’m all over some Pink Floyd, but gimme a “Holiday,” “Better the Devil You Know,” “Never Ever,” “Push The Button” any day of the week – here’s a couple more that I’ve been listening to recently. First, Sky Ferreira’s “Everything is Embarrassing”:

And here’s the amazing amazing amazing so-damn-awesome “Losing You” by Beyoncé’s sister, Solange Knowles.

Incidentally, “Dirrty” by Christina Aguilera was number one in the UK this week ten years ago.

And while she’s damn hot in that video, she looks even better nowadays:

Right, let’s get on with it. I should first explain a little about my living situation. I live in a strange building. There’s a salon de fiestas directly beneath my apartment, and on the ground floor, an out-of-business restaurant. The function room can be annoying at times. There are often parties on Friday and/or Saturday, but on the whole, it’s tolerable because they usually finish at 2am and there’s plenty of Fridays and Saturdays when I’m not even home at that time. But this Saturday night’s party didn’t finish until gone 2.30am, which would not be a problem were it not for the regular thing that happens every Sunday morning: a church group. You don’t see many black people in Mexico City. I see more if I walk down the stairs while the church group is arriving or leaving than I will the rest of the week. Not sure where they are from, but they all speak English, and the service is English. The leader of the group is always yelling “Jeeeeeeeeeeee-zus!” They aren’t particularly loud, apart from the first 30-45 mins when they have a drummer and they sing some songs. So, if I’ve been out, I’m woken up, without having had enough sleep, by Christians. Does nothing to make me feel any warmth towards the church, quite frankly. So: late party noise, six-ish hours sleep, early church noise, and then a mid-afternoon party going on upstairs. My upstairs neighbours are complete and utter cunts. I’m sorry to use that word. I’m not actually sorry, because I can’t think of another word strong enough. We need one, actually, that doesn’t apply negative vibrations to a slang word for vagina, don’t we? We need the strongest swear word to be one that isn’t about a female body part.

So anyway, they started having their party which was a little frustrating, so I upped and went to Starbucks for a bit (see previous post). When I came back, I saw about fifteen people arriving. Sigh. That means this is a proper party, not just a loud gathering. It felt like my cue to go out for the evening, and hope that, being a Sunday, it wouldn’t go on too long into the night. So I went out, to a place called Tortas Jorge. It’s a nice place. They usually have a guitar player singing all night. There’s loads of bullfighting posters on the walls. And the service is terrifyingly slow. But, you can sit down at a table, mind your own business, and have a few drinks. It’s nice. So, I did just that: had a few drinks, had a torta, listened to the man singing, wondered exactly how young the girl across the way was, who was caressing a man who was knocking on sixty years old (she couldn’t have been more than 22 or 23). Generally, a pleasant Sunday evening. I left there around 10pm.

With the optimism of a Belieber asking for a retweet, I walked down my street towards my apartment. From about 100 metres away, even though the lights from the apartment were dim, I could still make out figures on the balcony, and from about 50 metres away, I could hear the thud-thud-thud of music. Of course it was too much to hope that it would be over, regardless of the day of the week. So I went to a bar in my neighbourhood that I’d walked past, but never been into before, called Micheladas el Camellito.

If i told you it were a gay bar, and you had a peek inside, you wouldn’t be shocked by my description. It wasn’t a gay bar, though. There were no women in there, just a few tables occupied by dudes. A late middle-aged dude in a sweater sat on his own near the back, and two pairs of husky dudes sat at separate tables near the front, and a couple of guys sat outside in motorcycle leathers. The walls were black, the lights were red, the music was trance-y, and the TV was showing the Packers-Giants game. I ordered an Indio. They had no bottles, so it would be “barril.” Fine. Half litre or a litre? I guess I’m gonna be here for a while, so litre, por favor. It came in a plastic cup, the sort you get at sports events or concerts. The beer was shit. And I was starting to get a headache. Could do with going home. The game had finished, so the bar staff had fired up YouTube and we could see what they were choosing on the TV screen. Sound and picture quality: not good. It was nearing 11pm: no way the party will be over. But the bar was grim. Colour photocopies of caricatures stapled to the wall: Bono, Michael Jackson, Will Smith, Tom Cruise, Lady Gaga, Mr. Bean, Barack Obama.

Then things got interesting. One of the pairs of husky dudes got up to leave. They stood for a while outside near a parked taxi. And then they got in. One of them in the driver’s seat. As he pulled out to drive away, he rammed into the car parked in front of him. As it happens, a bar employee was stood outside smoking while it happened. They had a wee chat through the driver’s side window, and being a nosey bitch, I went outside to “have a cigarette.” As I lit up, the car pulled away, and the barman ran down the street thumping on the window for as long as he could keep pace. One of the other husky dudes from the bar came out. As did the other barman. This barman grabbed his keys, and opened the door of the car that had been rammed. The husky customer grabbed his keys, too, and went to his car. They both sped off. Like, way too fast. TV car chase fast. It was kind of thrilling to watch. It didn’t happen at the time, but for the sake of this re-telling of events, let’s just pretend that the “Starsky and Hutch” theme tune was playing in my head as it happened.

The other barman and husky dude stood around talking, peering down the street in both direction, and I went back inside to finish my beer. The sweater man coughed. Then cleared his throat. Then I heard him spit on the floor. Then I heard the sound of chunks being blown. He’s not-? Is he? He is! He was sat there, throwing up all over the floor. No attempt what. so. ever. to get to the bathroom. I couldn’t smell it, but it still made me retch a little just knowing it was there on the floor a few metres away. I glugged down beer a bit too quick. Didn’t taste good. Thankfully, to distract me from vomitty man, the husky dude and the barman’s cars came back around the corner and parked outside. And so did the taxi. At this point, I got money out of my wallet, put it on the table, and got ready to leave: I don’t want to be a part of a bad Mexican scene.

And this is the amazing thing: everyone was really calm and amiable. When the cars pulled up, I was half expecting the taxi driver and his pal to be dragged from the car, taken out back and given a good going over. Didn’t happen. The taxi driver was all, hey sorry about that. The barman whose car had been pronged was all like, whatevs. The husky dude came back inside to get his beer, caught my eye, and we raised our beers towards each other and “salud!”-ed. He went back outside and told his husky pal about what happened. I didn’t hear it, but could see his arms indicating a pincer movement. The vomiting guy got up, struggled with the one step in the bar, and stumbled out into the night. I asked the barman for the bill, and if his car was okay. He told me it was fine, in a manner that sounded like, “yeah, we do this all time.”

I walked home smiling, desperate to write this all down. The party was still going on, so I put on my big headphones and listened to Daft Punk. It’s 1.30am right now. The party died down about an hour ago. There’s still house music going on, and there are still loud shoes clomping around, but sleep is definitely possible. Good night, y’all.

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Stankonia – Outkast
Iconic EP – Icona Pop
Since I Left You – The Avalanches
Pesents Author Unknown – Jason Falkner
Congratulations – MGMT
Let England Shake – PJ Harvey
Homework – Daft Punk
Discovery – Daft Punk

Written by Craig

November 26th, 2012 at 1:39 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Yesterday’s music, No.3

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I messed up the order a bit yesterday. I woke with “Reptilia” from the Strokes’ second album in my head, so listened to that one before What’s Going On. The Nik Kershaw album… I loved that when I was thirteen. That record was a present from a friend of my father’s. He was working in a town called Skegness, a town on the coast of Lincolnshire, about an hour away from Lincoln where we lived. Can’t remember whether it was a work-related connection, but he was friends with an Indian family. I remember going there once. They had a nice house. And the daughter, Varsha, who I guess must’ve been in her twenties, bought this album as a present for my sister and I. And she wrote a greeting on the front of the record sleeve. In blue pen, on Nik’s face. At the time, that was a real bummer. I was very particular about my records. Plus, the thought of having to share one with my sister was horrifying. It was incredibly nice of her, though. As with a lot of pop records from the 1980s, it hasn’t aged well once you get beyond the singles. “Wouldn’t It Be Good” is still amazing, a really lovely song. “Human Racing” also holds up, mostly because it’s a well-written song with a pretty melody. That time in music, that time when we were all waiting to be obliterated by a nuclear war, was pretty good for catchy, slightly-melancholy, pop songs.

I have kept a thought in the back of my head that if I ever meet a woman who loves Nilsson’s The Point! record, I would be a fool not to woo her and spend the rest of my life with her. Hasn’t happened yet, but there’s still time. I own three copies of this album. It is my dream – a dream I will never realise because I don’t have the patience – to draw and animate a new version of the The Point! The original is great, but it’s so of its time, as, I guess, is the story; a story that, apparently, Nilsson thought of whilst high on acid looking at some trees. It’s such a lovely story, wiith some heartbreakingly lovely songs, that it could really do with being popular again, and somewhat egotistically, I reckon I could do it. But I never will. The idea is filed away in the folder in my brain with all the other too-much-work ideas.

Here’s the full original animated movie, narrated by Dustin Hoffman. Watching it will enhance your Sunday. And the rest of your life.

Title TK isn’t the best Breeders record, but it’s got “Huffer” on it, which is aces. Not got owt to say about the David Bazan album (I bought it from him after his show in Berlin a few years ago, and he seemed like a pleasant chap). Or the Bill Callahan abum. Or the Gillian Welch album. Underworld, though: of course I’ve got stuff to say about that puppy. Beaucoup Fish is a stunner. Not a bum song on there. I was pretty into the Tomato aesthetic at the time as well, so it was perfect. “Jumbo” is, of course, the best song. Can’t hear it without thinking about my friend John. There’s one moment in the song near the end, five minutes and 47 seconds in, when it has broken down, and there’s a little shuffle-y bit of drums before it kicks back in. John and I both love this moment of the song. One time, around the time when they were touring this album, they played live at Brixton Academy. We went along, took what people take when they go to see Underworld, and danced the night away. There was one point in the night, though, when my legs gave up on me, so I sat down at the side, back against the wall, dancing in my head. There was a woman in front of me who was really going for it. She had delightful calves. And because of my heightened state, I leant forward, tapped her on the back, she leant down, and I told her she was a great dancer. She smiled so big at that point, thanked me, and told me she was studying to be a professional dancer. I smiled back, probably did something dorky like a thumbs up, and she got back to dancing on her legs, and I got back to dancing in my head. It was a beautiful moment.

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
Room on Fire – The Strokes
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
McLemore Avenue – Booker T & the MGs
Human Racing – Nik Kershaw
This is a Pinback CD – Pinback
The Point! – Harry Nilsson
Title TK – The Breeders
Curse Your Branches – David Bazan
Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle – Bill Callahan
Time (The Revelator) – Gillian Welch
Beaucoup Fish – Underworld
Into the Great Wide Yonder – Trentemøller

It is, by the way, entirely a coincidence that for the first three days of doing this, I’ve listened to twelve albums each day. I’m happy about the coincidence, though, because it fits into the three-by-four grid nicely.

Written by Craig

November 25th, 2012 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Yesterday’s music, No.2

without comments

I figure this is possibly a good way to keep up the recent spurt of writing. I like writing, but sometimes I just can’t be arsed. And once I get going, I feel like I should keep going, keep pushing along. So, with the lack of daily baseball podcasts to listen to at this time of year, it makes a wee bit of sense to listen to music and maybe write about it. After Thursday’s day-long enjoyment of album after album, I did the same thing yesterday. Once again, I began with What’s Going On. Figured it could be good to start with the same record and see where it took me. In a way, it took me to a similar place as Thursday. Then, it was Blue Lines by Massive Attack, today a vaguely related album: Raw Like Sushi by Neneh Cherry. That album’s best song, “Manchild,” was co-written by Robert Del Naja, and the album was co-produced by Cameron McVey, who also co-produced Blue Lines. The album as a whole hasn’t dated particularly well. Still enjoyable to listen to, but aside from a few songs, mostly for nostalgic reasons.

I’m already coming across a problem with writing about these albums: how do I do it without just saying “it’s great”? Got to try to avoid that. Got to push myself to go beyond that and see what my head can come up with.

Even though Morning Dove White came out before I met him, it always reminds me of an old friend called Darren. He loved One Dove, especially their singer, Dot Allison, and who can blame him? We worked together at a record distribution company in the late 90s. It was a beautiful time. The music industry in the UK seemed to be going great guns. People still went to record stores and bought records and CDs. And we’d get awesome bonuses if the records we were distributing reached their targets (£100 bonus for getting this record into the top ten, £500 bonus if that record gets to number one; that kind of thing). Best of all, though, was the atmosphere in our part of the building. We did telesales. Not telesales in the sense that we were calling random people about double-glazed windows; we called the same bunch of record stores every week. You get to know people on the other end of the phone, and generally, it was an incredibly enjoyable job. You’re talking about music all day: what’s not to love? I was there for three-and-a-half years, and I’m still friends with many of the people I worked with. In a way, it was too much fun. It was my first office job, and no office job could have a hope of living up to it.

Dancing comes back to me when I hear certain records. If I listen to the Happy Mondays, I find myself shuffling around in that late eighties/early nineties white British man way. And listening to either of the first two Prodigy albums has a similar effect. If I walk to the kitchen, I won’t walk, I’ll end up doing some ridiculous rave-y hoppy skippy dance all the way. And it’s not just when I’m on my feet. If I’m sat at my desk, my work rate slows significantly. My hands are too busy dancing to hold a mouse or do keyboard shortcuts.

When I worked for the aforementioned company, I had the chance to go to the offices of the record company that released the Gravediggaz’ second album, and briefly met the two members of the group that weren’t RZA or Prince Paul. I forget their names. I’m useless in such situations. They were just two dudes, but, really, what the heck of interest did I have to say to them? And why would they give a shit about what I had to say? I can’t remember what I actually did say, but I can be fairly certain it was a whole load of meaningless nonsense.

I’m at a point in my life, I think, where I’m finding it pretty much impossible to sing along with David Bowie songs without slipping into a bad impression. And there’s a certain amount of Rolling Stones songs where I’m pretty much doing an impression of other people’s impressions of Mick Jagger. It’s strange that Let’s Dance was Bowie’s biggest selling album. Beyond the first three songs – “Modern Love,” “China Girl,” “Let’s Dance” – it’s not overly consumer-friendly. I can’t help but imagine that a lot of the people who bought this album after hearing those singles were probably quite disappointed with the remaining five songs.

I saw Brendon Benson live in Berlin in 2003. I think the venue was called Magnet. I remember enjoying it, but I don’t remember much of the event other than it was the night that the Iraq War started. The next day, on Viva – a German MTV-ish channel – instead of the usual happy smiley VJs, there were serious-faced VJs, sat around wearing CND t-shirts, discussing war with German teenagers. That’s nearly ten years ago now, but the images from that first night of the war are still really fresh in my mind. I’ve had very little hardship in my life. It’s been a relatively normal life so far. There have been a few small earthquakes that have rocked Mexico City since I’ve been here, and the first time, I was like a baby. It didn’t feel nice at all. And the aftershocks for the next couple of days weren’t fun either. It was difficult to sleep. The rumble of a big truck going down the street would nudge me awake: is it another earthquake? I would be so utterly terrified and crying and useless if a war were to happen in my city.

Jason Falkner is one of our time’s most underrated musicians, I think. He’s written and recorded some wonderful solo records, and he’s also been involved in lots of other great things. He was in Jellyfish, he’s worked with Jon Brion, Paul McCartney, Air (he sang on “Radio #1″), Eric Matthews, Beck, Aimee Mann, Ben Lee, Daniel Johnston, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Glen Campbell, and he co-wrote five of the songs on the Brendon Benson album. He is aces. If you have babies, and you wanna get them enjoying the Beatles early on in their lives, you could do a hell of a lot worse than buying Falkner’s two Bedtime with the Beatles albums, on which are his instrumental versions of the band’s songs, arranged as lullabies.

The last song on Jason Falkner Presents Author Unknown is called “Untitled” (YouTube). It’s one of my favourite ever songs. It’s incredibly beautiful. For about two minutes it goes along, being all lovely, with a few strings coming in here and there, and pretty much exactly halfway through, it shifts into a fully string-laden coda (not sure if that’s technically the correct word) with the same two lines repeated over and over again: You may not have been able to change the world/But at least you changed my world. I was listening to this album a lot when my mother’s second husband died after having had cancer for a while. My relationship with him wasn’t always wonderful; he was, after all, not my father, and that was a difficult thing to get my head around for a while. But he was a good man. And when he died, those two lines from the end of Jason Falkner’s song went through my head a lot. Like most of us, he wasn’t important in the grand history of the planet, but he was important to the people who knew him. Which is pretty much what we can all hope for, really.

And on that somewhat sombre note, here’s the names of the albums pictured above just in case you don’t recognise some of them. Left to right, top to bottom:
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Raw Like Sushi – Neneh Cherry
Morning Dove White – One Dove
Space Is Only Noise – Nicolas Jaar
Actually – Pet Shop Boys
Music for Jilted Generation – The Prodigy
Queens of the Stone Age – Queens of the Stone Age
Niggamortis – Gravediggaz
Viva! La Woman – Cibo Matto
Let’s Dance – David Bowie
Lapalco – Brendon Benson
Presents Author Unknown – Jason Falkner

Written by Craig

November 24th, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Music