Saturday, April 30, 2005

Packed out

I think it was New York London Paris Munich that was speculating the other week about how this wave of bands who play guitars, often in an angular fashion, and yet have chart success doesn't have a catch-all title yet, and you have to say whoever wrote it has a point. The Strokes/White Stripes/Vines lot were the New Rock Revolution, and before that was an encyclopedia's worth of group groupings stretching right back to Dreampop and Stuart Maconie's attempted Lion Pop. Maybe this is why the Franz And Beyond brigade have yet to really break through as a proper British musical movement to the wider populace. Post-post-punk seems most apposite, but it's horribly ungainly and would put people off.

But... what of the Brit Pack? This was a term invented in autumn 2003 by the NME with a big group photo, used only by them for about six months and then quietly disposed of when they realised nobody else was using it. We were supposed to come to all these fresh as every band they picked out as your next big thing was yet to release a full scale single, which isn't unusual for the modern NME, but you could tell they were really running with this in its early stages. So, what became of the likely lads? This is what Conor McNicholas and co reckoned 18 months ago, and where we perceive them as up to now...

The Glitterati
They say: "Glam rock with Cooper Temple Clause haircuts"
We say: Released joyless debut album this week to little effect, despite videos shot in LA. Science still finds it impossible for listeners to judge haircut effects.

The Open
They say: "'A Northern Soul' via Walsall, Wolverhampton and Liverpool"
We say: Well, fair play to them from, like, coming from places. Actually sounded like Oasis getting completely the wrong end of the La's stick. Have disappeared. Anyone remember The Burn? The Crescent, then?

The Ordinary Boys
They say: "Classic English pop a la Blur, The Jam and The Kinks"
We say: Well, they've certainly heard Blur, Jam and Kinks records. Actually making classic records like theirs is quite another thing, reminding me of nobody so much as the JoBoxers. Now appear to have turned into a poor man's The Beat. Without Saxa.

They say: "Some are calling them 'the new Coldplay'"
We say: The emergence of Chiefs, K and Party, B have ensured the phrase "bands like Coldplay, Keane and Snow Patrol" has disappeared from the Word clipboard of every newspaper music journalist in the country.

Kid Symphony
They say: "Move over Hawkins - there are new codpieces in town"
We say: Wasn't there a Britpop refugee in these? Lumpen glam with the requisite amount of 'danger' (ie scantily clad woman in video). Must have been a tax loss.

They say: "Newcastle's grimiest noiseniks"
We say: From all that competition, of course. Ian MacKaye should be interested. Or suing. It's not the stuff of massive hits, but the album's full-on goodness. Singer sports cap, glasses and big curly hair, as if three frontman wrongs do after all make a right.

They say: "Screamadelica-era Primal Scream meet The Specials"
We say: Specials? Where? Countesthorpe's own now look like the proper New Oasis without really trying, but with listening to records made after 1972.

They say: "Think The Carpenters and The Beach Boys if voiced by The Bee Gees"
We say: Don't quite see the Gibb thing - is there a track of theirs featuring faux falsetto? Presumably nobody at the NME at the time had heard of the Byrds.

My Red Cell
They say: "Like four borstal kids who spent their release money on records by The Clash, The Datsuns and a case of Special Brew"
We say: Kids, ask your dads who the Datsuns were. Occasionally exhibited vague semblances of keeping one tune going at once, hamstrung by a singer keen on the faux-psychotic vocal register as if he were really Roky Eriksson. Isn't. Have also disappeared.

Eastern Lane
They say: "The Pixies duelling guitars with The Strokes"
We say: Which should make them tunefully full-on, not that they are, given they sound a touch like the Strokes, as many bands started to do before Take Me Out destroyed the lot of them in one minute flat, and nothing like the Pixies. But then, neither did King Adora, who used to go on about them a lot. And they were shit.

Well, two, three if you count the Ordinary Boys' stealth top 20 singles, potentially four out of ten ain't bad for launching a new movement. But it's shot itself in the foot already - we know what, to use the dread word, Britpop sounded like as the touchstones were all from round about the same place, whereas here you've got reheated glam and LA harmonies next to each other. Maybe not having a qualitative title is best so that when this era is redefined as backward musically in five years or so nobody gets put down as "ah, they were Brit Pack, weren't they? BRIIIIT PAAAAAAACK!"

Actually, we heard Alan McGee call it the scene of Death Disco recently, but that was more likely to be self-promotion.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Missing In Artwork

No doubt the A&R and promo departments at XL have spent the last couple of weeks organising meeting after meeting to determine how M.I.A. failed to sell enough copies of the much hyped and very well received Arular to achieve a top 75 place. Might we suggest it's something to do with this:

It actually looks worse in the shop, where you can't properly make out the artist name. And this from an art college graduate who does her own design!

Bit of a shame, actually, as it's a wonderfully flowing, forward thinking album, like Neneh Cherry produced by Dizzee Rascal. Many of the tracks eschew keyboard lines and the like and strip down to distorted, insistent beats taking from all over the dancehall and bhangra-inspired place in a fashion that quells any thought that the contributing likes of Steve Mackey and Richard X might be taking their inspiration second hand, over which Ms Arulpragasam is by turns coy, straight talking, quasi-cynical and almost off in her own syntax. The much vaunted political angle is really an analysis smokescreen, a sideline of passing cross-referencing intrigue - after all, it's most likely more people know her backstory than have ever heard her music - that has tended to overshadow the clever, completely contemporary things she has to say, as much musically as lyrically. But if we're still factoring politics into it, what a time to bring the multicultural melting pot to such a boil.


A repository for some of the most noteworthy STN posts:

Songs To Learn And Sing
Noughties By Nature
Fifth birthday celebrations

A Friendly Chat With..../The Nation Favourites
Jeremy Warmsley, March '06
Fyfe Dangerfield, Guillemots, April '06
Gareth Parton, producer, June '06
Andrew Dost, then of Anathallo, June '06
Gwenno, the Pipettes, July '06
PC Rae, Truck Festival organiser, July '06
Emmy The Great, August '06
The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, August '06
Katie Harkin, Sky Larkin, February '07
Max Cooke, GoodBooks, March '07
4 Or 5 Magicians, March '08
Dananananaykroyd, June '08
Johnny Foreigner, June '08
The Wave Pictures, July '08

Celebrity Muxtape Playlist
Jeremy Warmsley
A Classic Education
Sky Larkin
MJ Hibbett
Gossamer Albatross
2011 reboot
Jen Long

The Music That Made...
Superman Revenge Squad
Swanton Bombs
Joe Gideon And The Shark
The Phantom Band
Rose Elinor Dougall
Napoleon IIIrd
Dan Michaelson
Pagan Wanderer Lu
Ice, Sea, Dead People
Wake The President
Camera Obscura
Internet Forever
Lucky Soul
Broken Records
Projekt A-Ko
David Cronenberg's Wife
Stars And Sons
Slow Club
Stairs To Korea
The Kiara Elles
Frankie & The Heartstrings
Her Name Is Calla
Allo Darlin'
Mat Riviere
Screaming Maldini
Mitchell Museum
Jesca Hoop
Standard Fare

Always Check The Label
Fortuna Pop!
Song By Toad

UK blogger albums of the year poll results

An Illustrated Guide To...
Billy Bragg
The Go-Betweens
Luke Haines
The Fall
Elvis Costello
Half Man Half Biscuit
My Bloody Valentine
Belle And Sebastian
The Specials
Ian Dury
Dexys Midnight Runners

The Primer
60s girl groups
Joe Meek

STN reviews of the year

STN albums of the year

STN singles/tracks of the year

STN posts of the year recap

Festival reviews
Summer Sundae 2005: Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Truck Festival 2006
Summer Sundae 2006: Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Summer Sundae 2007
End Of The Road and Truck Festivals 2007
Truck 2008: Saturday, Sunday
Indietracks 2008: Saturday, Sunday
Summer Sundae 2008: Friday, Saturday, Sunday
End Of The Road 2008: Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Indietracks 2009: Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Summer Sundae 2009: Friday, Saturday, Sunday
End Of The Road 2009: Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Latitude 2010
Indietracks 2010
Summer Sundae 2010: Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Green Man 2010

Notable posts of the ages
The Brit Pack two years on
Help: A Day In The Life
Smash Hits folds
When You Wasn't Famous analysed
The forty greatest opening lines
C86 in memoriam
Phonogram comic
Mika hype
Mark and Lard's Graveyard Shift
Ten years of indiepop cultdom
How not to write a review
Beth Ditto's NME cover
Accents in modern pop
Be Here Now
Radio 1 As It Is: Moyles, Whiley, Bowman, Mills, epilogue
In Rainbows
The techniqe of blogging
The Brit Box
BBC radio's most played
The problem with the music press
Absolute Radio
BBC radio's most played II
The nature of start of year hype
Discourse 2000
Now That's What I Call Music 1
A further history of Now!
The 1989 Brit Awards
Festival value for money/price comparison
Football in, of and around music
BBC Sound Of
Genres of the decade
Class Of 2010
A Classic Education at CMJ 2009
The strange death of the singles chart
The cult of the 'unsigned band'
The cult of the 'unsigned band' (television version)

Sweeping The Nation: A mission statement

Actually, I'm not sure you can have a mission statement for a music blog. It's writing. About music. In a satirical style. With comment on the music news of the day, mentions of new and old songs, live and recorded reviews, audience participation, plus here a singles chart review on Sunday evenings. There will be little beating around the bushes, but probably quite a bit of prevarication. We know our place. This isn't one of those blogs that pretends it likes Uniting Nations. However, The Paddingtons can equally bugger off.

One thing this isn't is an mp3 blog.

Apart from this one.

Spearmint - Sweeping The Nation