Stretchpants of the year Part two (Or I thought Ian Paisley was dead. No, wait, that was one of the Everly brothers. I always get them mixed up)

cool-offices-25

Our office is so modern and cool. The toilet is a bit whiffy though.

After no sleep for five days, I gorged on sleepytime, sleepynights until I became comatose. I had a dream that I was a music reviewer for a prominent magazine and I had thick rimmed glasses and I drank complicated coffees and had a bike and rode the bike and gave out to traffic and stopped occasionally to appreciate the design, the DESIGN and went to a place and ate really small food and then came back to the office and put my satchel down and stared at the pool table and decided NO and went to the fridge, got an ironic beer and put my B&O headphones on and really liked this new album but couldn’t give it a decent rating, because ratings were just stupid things that Kerrang or the like did and I was cool, look at the step in my hair, I didn’t even like fixies, I preferred retarded huge steel frame bikes from the fucking 1920s, and when my review didn’t even get published, I was like whatevs, because I’m just too fucking lazy to say Whatever. I woke up and decided someone’s gonna die tonight.

Anyway, most classic bands and classic albums originally received lukewarm reviews. If you go back and check out the NME or Melody Maker or Hot Press (Not Sounds, Sounds was great) from the late 80s you’ll be surprised by the now classic albums that were deemed just alright. I will never sleep until they all are mashed.

So, here’s more music thingys that tickled my pits last year (again, for whose benefit?).

Hong-kong-phooey

Phoenix: Bankrupt!

See, apart from their pervy president, their inner city disenfranchisement, the rise of the far right in the hearts of the electorate, the national embarrassment of their part in the second world war, their reliance on poor Daniel Auteuil to play a part in every single french movie in existence, their shocking behaviour at the 2010 World Cup, their part in the formation of laissez-faire economics, their waiters, their Gerard Depardieu pissing, their unbelievable inability to finish the job in Irlanda against the British in 1798 and their Johnny Halliday and their fucking bourgeoise, the French are pretty cool.

A perfect example of this is the cool boys of Versailles band Phoenix. Stretch first encountered this lot on the Lost in Translation soundtrack and I thought…ehh, yeah, not bad. The monstrous Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix delivered such classics as “Lisztomania” and “1901.” They’re not the kind of band that I like, but the overwhelming optimistic feeling in their music coupled with excellent musicianship and an ability to drift into cool electronica when they feel cool enough makes them really fucking annoying but likeable as well. Also, their fucking skinny jeans, slouchy but probably expensive silk shirts, their short leather jackets, their singers whiny voice… aw fuck I really probably hate the fuckers. But it kinda drags you in. Bastards.

For Bankrupt, they seemed to have dropped some Hong Kong Fooey acid. The manic “Entertainment” is a frustratingly enjoyable but annoying song and the album just flows from there. It’s a music that throws  a myriad of colours out. As their two videos to date show, they are the kind of band who like things to feel like a perfume ad. Maybe it’s a Parisienne thing, I dunno, but Jesus, models, motorbikes, Japanese people: It all feels like a travelogue for the street on which they live, rehearse and lounge. M83’s “Midnight City,” is the type of song that makes advertising people leave damp patches in their sleek grey suits, and I think that “Entertainment” also might be soon used to sell German cars, expensive after shave and even fucking Tetra Delta.

Still, a very nice album. Although I do feel that if I watched them at a festival, I might grit my teeth as really happy fans with day-glo faces and no sense of self-loathing would screech out of tune to the choruses of their songs with fat Waterford accents. Jay-sus.

maxresdefault

Boards of Canada:Tomorrow’s Harvest

I wrote a piece about this album a while ago which more or less summed up how I felt about it. Click on “Screeching for the dead” which is really fucking long. Here’s a shortened version.

Not as good as Music has the right to Children, better than The Campfire Headphase, sort of the same as Geogaddi, not as good as Twoism. Better than a lot out there.

Actually the above article doesn’t give any of these opinions. The best thing to say about Boards of Canada is that they manage to remain aloof and relevant. No PR, rare public appearances, no ego, yet a loyal and pretty obsessive fan base, bordering on the weird. The music is cult-like and there are grounds that the boys could easily ask their fans to kill themselves and some WOULD die. Justin Bieber could do the same thing, but proportionally, BOC would win out. Although Burial is now running a close second for this ideology. So in terms of potential suicides on per capita basis, I reckon Boards of Canada first, closely followed by Burial and Bieber and then Lady Gaga a distant fourth. However, listening to Robin Thicke might distort this league table and it’s possible said suicides would be changed to actual murder once the charge sheet comes in. What a bastard!

My+Bloody+Valentine+mbv+live

My Bloody Valentine: MBV

In terms of time, My Bloody Valentine were on par with the changing of popes for releasing music. Dr Funkenstein, Pope Franco has messed with this by becoming a pope who likes Gays and doesn’t like the Popemobile. Stretch wonders what Franco thought as a boy watching JP2 hairing around in that converted ice cream truck all cool like. A young Franco might have though it pretty lame and decided that it would be far cooler to wander around in a cheap piece of shit car, with no bullet-proof glass. He got rid of all the gold and appears to treat the Vatican like his personal squat. Fervent religious believers might actually think he is the devil incarnate, which may be true, as the time of the hipster Pope is upon us. What was that phrase?

vatican-pope-new-car

Da Babes gonna love did. Am I right? Yess? Am I right?

“The biggest trick the devil ever played was to convince the world he didn’t exist… and to increase the popularity of 1984 Renault 4 hatchbacks.” I think that was the quote.

Anyways, when known agoraphobic Kevin Shields left the studio after the final mix of MBV, everybody got real excited. They released the album themselves one Saturday night via the Interweb box and expectant fans lost their shit and journalists immediately tried to figure out where in their top fives of the year it would go.

The problem they all had been that the phrase du jour “companion piece to Loveless” stopped this from being whispered as a truly classic album. Which it’s not. Since Loveless, so many artists have ripped off the My Bloody Valentine sound and have made fairly successful careers themselves (M83, Smashing Pumpkins, even U2’s Achtung Baby). So, that sound is not as new as it was back then.

It’s a great album though. I listened to it a few times when it came out. Then left it a few months and went back. It became more relevant then. A true slice of indie that has been missing for years. Less beardy than its contemporaries and with a bat shit nuts leader that only rivals the Pixies for odd frontmen.

Their mind-pitch bending music may not suit a pregnant woman in the heights of morning sickness, but the psychedelic sludge that starts off MBV brings you right back to the early nineties. The tremelo arm is used more here than 1980s metal lead guitarists would and creates a warm sound. Even though “She found now” can’t compare to “Only Shallow” as an opener, it acts as a re-introduction to the band. Or, the “what the fuck did you expect?” song. From then the driving guitars kick in and Shields and Butcher’s inaudible lyrics layer over you and the mind bending begins and you get stuck in it. A beautiful album with unexpectedly cool guitar parts and a haunting feel that makes you forget that half these peops come from Irlanda. When you see posters in Irlanda of Delorentos, Kodaline and the utter dumbfuck that is Bressie, you can’t help feel Irlanda music has gone in the wrong direction these past years. The only solace is that Shields is holding the beacon for something different and special.

The standout track for me is “In another way” a joyous track with a beat laden guitar sound and tribal drums  that brings memories of “Soon.” For this song alone, the album is a little bit of a classic. Just a little.

Mudhoney

Mudhoney: Vanishing Point

Again and again AND again… They’re back, Mudhoney with Mark Arm, a manic leader who looks like the result if you put Tom Petty in a washing machine and left him on for a long spin.

When the whole grrrrunge thing started, it was easy to get carried away with it. I was about 15 and that truly is the time to get carried away with things. With a face with poppable pustules and an insatiable interest in music, cigarettes, soapbar, christmas lights, and growing my hair even greasier, the grunge thing was the next logical step.

BUT, it didn’t actually feel like a movement, because a lot of the bands supposedly involved didn’t actually sound similar. Recently, Mark Arm had a crack at bands who copied the sound at the time, and insists that Grunge was just the sound they called the sounds coming from their guitars. Grunge killed grunge, not that Cobain man. All those bands got signed, they came, they went, but Mudhoney remained and just got on with it.

And they’re still here. There is something very comforting about growing old with a band, whose idea of changing up is adding an odd horn here and there. So, Vanishing Point came out, an extremely tight album with Mudhoney at their mostest. Arm throws every possible shape you can think of, from the blistering “Chardonnay,” reminiscent of their early work, to channeling Iggy in “What to do with the Neutral” and the brilliant “The Final Course.”

Sometimes it’s good that things don’t change much. I still remember in my teens driving home with Ol Papa Stretch and Ol Mama Stretch after collecting my Auntie, a follower of Jesus, in Nun’s clothing. I forced them all to listen to Every Good Boy deserves Fudge. They all hated it so much that the car crashed into an embankment, and we were left all dazed and the stereo couldn’t be turned off or down. A GOP (Irish policia) leaned in the window and demanded to know if any of us had been smoking the aul cannabis. We all shrugged, due to concussion as Mark Arm was screaming “HEY, HEY, HEY, HEY, HEY, HEY…..Whoooo you drivin now?” The Gop became very angry and melted into some sort of liquid metal right in front of us and took the visage of the follower of Jesus in Nun’s clothing that was my Aunt. He screamed like the Nazgul and took off through Crumblin on a stolen motorbike after a young boy and a gay weightlifter. Shit, maybe that was a movie. Ha, I was bleedin baked beans! Wha? (Sorry)

CHK-CHK-CHK

!!!: THR!!!ER

The singer from this band is an asshole. Okay, let me explain. He knows he’s an asshole. A funky asshole. Danny Glover knows what I’m mean, right Danny?

“Oh yeah baby.”

Anyways, Nic Offer is the guy and at a gig, due to his short shorts, you are never more that about five to ten feet away from his penis. And the way the man dances, the penis might reach you first. He looks like Tim Curry in Rocky Horror Picture Show if his make-up was stolen and he was forced on to the bread line.

At Electric Picnic (not THE PICNIC) a few years back, they completely owned the place and Offer was an obnoxious asshole, in fact he was a genius at being an asshole. I suppose to describe !!!, you could describe them as a post-punk, dancey, funky acid band (with a fucking asshole for a singer). To me they are the antidote to the criminally overrated LCD Soundsystem. On a festival poster, they’ll always be down the list somewhere but are unmissable. A friend who doesn’t dance found himself dancing to these guys.

So THR!!!ER came out last year and served up a cocktail of damn cool funky shots into your eyeballs. The great guitar breaks in “Except Death,” the fantastic closer “Station (Meet me at the)” and the pisstake “Californiyeah,”complaining about a place where the bars close before two.  Not much music makes me want to dance these days, but privately in my small bathroom I sometimes throw shapes listening to !!! and freak out because they make you freak out. It’s probably their most coherent (from beginning to end) album and definitely was one of the highlights of that year that this is all about.

Oddly, their albums always get lukewarm reviews by reviewers like the one I dreamt about many words ago at the beginning of this mess. I don’t get it, they are brilliant musicians who know how to make a party sound and use a Crybaby like it was intended. Music reviewers should fuck off, including me. Fuck Off!!

If you missed the part one and are already bored with this one, then go to that one by clicking here:

Stretchpants of the year Part one (Or how did jennifer Lawrence get outacted by a dying French woman and a six-year-old Bayou child and still win an Oscar?)

DOWN with the kids

gfnobody-thumb-510x287-41652

Sometimes I look in the mirror and see Henry Hill in the final scene of Goodfellas. That moment when he realises the mundane future,  that expression of weariness stares back at me. I’m not old or young: I’m in the middle, the horrible middle youth. Too young to retire and give up, too old to join a band. Too exhausted even to bother with a mid-life crisis. The span between 30 and 50 is as demanding mentally as the hormonal mess of teen years, filled with the same ‘what the fuck?’ moments every morning when you open your eyes. Is this middle youth? Or something else?

Now, I’m a professional something, with a wife, child, mortgage, car loan, two dogs and a non-stick pan. I’m also an uncool, balding, cynical, wrecked shell of a human, who has finally lost control of the handlebars, looking at music reviews, wondering at what point I started missing all the new bands.  My interests aren’t represented in the media, I am unlikely to harass Joe Duffy of an afternoon, am Irish but not that Irish kind of Irish. Demographically speaking I’m from that group who drink heavily, mangle the guitar, play playstation, write, work in a demanding job and worry about money all the time. If that is a demographic.

FASHIONLESS FREAK FASHION BITCH

My dressing room of disaffection contains black t-shirts, black jeans, black boots, pretty much the same uniform since I was eight, but I was cooler then. The use of branding or logos is prohibited by a demented code I developed as a teen. Colour is always the enemy, as is self-help. I am Max Schumacher in an Anthrax t-shirt.

Why? There is nothing that irritates my soul more than when I see people with GAP or FITCH illuminating their chests. Why be a walking billboard? People are conditioned to wear clothes from the many outlet stores that have popped up because they are on special offer and some weird set of unwritten fashion dogma tells them that a little alligator on their shirt will make their peers sit up and demand to know who this fantastic character is. If you’re not going to bother then don’t. Or else become a hipster, but then again I don’t really know what a hipster is. Someone with skinny jeans, no defined muscle mass and cardigan buttons in their earlobes, right?

I do not react well to that market which feeds us. Maybe I’m William Gibson’s Cayce Pollard, who had a pathological sensitivity to logos and brands. Yet, I’m also that loser who wears band t-shirts at age 37, ha! I met a guy in the lift in work a few years back who commented on my Front 242 t-shirt, sarcastically pointing out that he used to wear such t-shirts before he stopped being angry at the world. I stared at this chinless, overweight shit and resisted the urge to punch him. Who is not angry at this world? Oh.

MUSIC HAS THE RIGHT TO PARENTS

It all comes down to my teenage obsession with music and how certain people remain consumed throughout their lives. Others choose to drop these childhood things and wear ties and jodphurs and place Dido on their stereos as it is unlikely to offend anyone. People like myself, whose religion changed after hearing Nick Cave’s “Tender Prey,” feel heartache that the underground we loved is now sponsored by mobile phone companies. We grew up with American or British punk, metal, indie, goth and dance music, not because we didn’t love our country, but because the rare Irish gems faded quickly. We listened to those influential groups long before their recent wallet-filling comeback tours. These days I can’t even listen to the amazing Pixies without a sick feeling in my stomach.

I wonder how weird will it be bringing my son to a Metallica gig when he’s old enough? A guilty pleasure since the age of 11, the thrash metal behemoth stopped being any good after 1988, yet like Fall gigs you go to see them live just in case it’s the last chance you get. The anxiety-ridden metallers are not an underground band from the Bay Area anymore, but a corporation in their own right. During their set, a few years back, I stood happily drunk and watched a man with his son on his shoulders. They were both in awe at the spectacle. Ah, one day, yes, one day, I will force my son to see Metallica and demand that he sit on my shoulders regardless of his age.  Later that night I high-fived the kid a few times until the father got uncomfortable and moved position.

Growing up we watched everything that was new and cool, tried to race ahead of hungry marketeers who needed to commodify everything that we loved and ultimately destroyed any feeling we had for it. The music marketplace annihilated itself because of arrogant executives who didn’t believe in the power of the internet. The tools of production and the ability for music to be uploaded to sites means anyone can be a musician and exist outside of the limitation of record companies.

Oddly this has meant that us middle-youthers get to experience the thrill of our youth for a second time, because the bands of my youth are either starting up again or never stopped. They know that they will make more in this era’s consumer model than in the days when they were popular and influential. This isn’t brilliant news for the current generation. Thousands of new groups fall by the wayside: burning brightly and fading away, all in the space of six months. There are too many old bands releasing event albums and headlining festivals, filling the space young acts should.  Look around now, every festival is headlined by forty or fifty-something rebels with mortgages but no cause other than the derivative output of their generation. How many new bands will be plying their trade in 20 years? They’ll be gone, but there will probably be a new Iggy album.

THE MEATMARKET TURNED VEGGIE

Depressingly evil waking moment: Apple computers have control of my body! My fingers, eyes, ears and lumpy arse have been borrowed at a price by this corporation that constantly bangs me over the head telling me, “No, we’re not a corporation, but your friend. Look how well designed our products are, look how good they go with any room in your house. Doesn’t your dog look cooler standing beside the MacBook Pro? Quick take a pic with your iPhone. Hey is that Gun Club on your iPod?”

Typical though, I am such an old hypocrite, railing against the MAN for all these years, and it turns out the MAN is a geeky fucking hipster who sees even a mess of a human like me as an integral part of his marketing strategy. Apple have since the early nineties forced their oh-so-cool products on a wanton sector of society, the ‘we didn’t have that shit when we were young’ crowd. The age profile for the highest consumers of iPhone and iPad? 30-50, my age-group.

We are willing computer and internet junkies. We don’t see the little adverts flashing through our heads. Every site we go to has a shopping basket, ‘inviting’ us to exist in a global department store. We are the ‘cooler than our kids’ generation and being hooked up to the net, it is mournful for us because we remember the time before. The time before we lost our ideals, that golden time when we ran around fields and wished we had something to stop us from running around fields. Here’s an iPhone! Look! With this app, you can not only control your bowel movements, you can control other people’s too! That’ll be 99c, please.

STUCK IN THE MEDIA OF A SHITSTORM

We are always being informed by the media that we have a unique culture. Do the people who leave comments on the Journal have culture? Those poor bastards can barely raise their knuckles off the floor to actively miss the point. Yet, these are the people who engage with media, my compatriots.

Culture can be video games; gigs; sport; Hello magazine; drinking yourself to sleep after a hard day’s work; the occasional night out surrounded by massive televisions showing footballers at actual size in bars that used to be nice; hoping you will stay alive long enough to finish the many boxsets you are watching and hating Ryan Tubridy because, y’know, he’s Ryan Tubridy.

However, the Irish Times weekend magazine seems to think that the nation is full of upper middle class people who knit their children’s clothes, then wonder why the poor itchy fuckers get bullied at school. Do these things relate to my generation? ‘What to wear when killing foxes. How to stop people killing foxes. Are foxes spreading diseases and killing livestock? Are we too quick to dismiss the ways of the countryside even if it even means the odd fox will get ripped to pieces? How to make fox risotto, with cranberries and chestnuts, YES! CHESTNUTS!’

On the other hand, I am supposed to care about Georgia Salpa, Kate Middleton, Rosanna Davison, John Terry, David Beckham, Tom Cruise, Adele, Susan Boyle, Una Healy, Gerard Kean and Simon Cowell? The question is: would Michael Collins have made this country better or if he lived would he be just another big wanker? Look what happened to Bono.

HERE’S YOUR CHRISTMAS PRESENT SON. NO, THERE WAS NO CELLOPHANE WHEN I GOT IT

While some people are out on their mountain bikes, orienteering their fit bodies around grim mountains, others are spending large sums of money in restaurants to eat chips that just don’t fit in your mouth. A few still sit around and pray to gods who have nothing better to do on a Sunday morning. But then there are those who can tell key events of their lives based on what version of FIFA football they had at the time. Alternatively they are racking up bodycounts so impressive that their Level 50 status brings them to the attention of various military dictatorships, leading to their dream job: John Cusack’s character in Grosse Pointe Blank. The only downside being the eventual marriage to Minnie Driver’s enormous head.

Teenagers of 2013 have more problems than they realise. Not only are they dealing with the adolescent nightmares of peer pressure, alcohol/drug abuse, fraping, and pus all over their visages, now they’ll have to fight for control of their own game consoles from a growing population of aging gamers who remember playing Sonic and Mario and are damned if they’re going to miss out on the latest gems on the gaming market.

Adults my age play computer games. My Dad didn’t. Your Dad didn’t! The supposedly productive hours in our lives racked up in gaming universes mean that to ignore the incredible new games and game engines wouldn’t be fair on us.  These worlds are so advanced that they transcend the divide between traditional adult entertainment of movies and television. The ability of some games like the Call of Duty series to sell more units than any traditional media is pushing them into a prominent area. Pong is gone. The games developers know that their audience are not just kids, but stressed out adults with disposable income who demand quality and the ability to shoot someone in the face.

Alan Moore, the comic artist who created Watchmen and V for Vendetta, has talked about my generation’s retreat to infancy, pointing out that we didn’t really want to take the responsibility of being an adult in the world we live in, since it’s a pretty shitty world. Middle youthers, although that label is redundant, exist in some horrific Judd Apatow version of reality – minus the misogyny. We are immature, yet have mortgages. We don’t sacrifice our enjoyment of the world in order to survive. We vote the lesser of two evils then vote them out when they become all scaly monster. The church didn’t own us like it did our parents so the guilt isn’t really there. But middle age is real, it is coming and it will be interesting to see how the market is preparing for our generation’s needs. What games will we need? Which bands will still be touring? How will we fill our days? Is it wrong to read the New Yorker on the toilet? The country is a mess, but the market is depending on us not to grow up for a little longer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (ALL YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW)

Who ever met anyone like Sean Sherlock, the Minister of State for Research and Innovation (Ministry of made up ministries)? Where did he come from? Why does he represent my interests in this internet age? He is three years older than me, looks twenty years younger and smiles like he’s telling you to fuck off. I have never met anyone like him. Maybe I could befriend Sherlock, force-feed him brandy and digestive biscuits and while holding his hair over the toilet bowl as he vomits, demand to know why he is representing me. I might just get an answer. More likely, through the tears and snot he will tell me that he has no idea why at our age I am wearing a Cramps t-shirt, smelling of rum and covered in his sick.

182870_527665477279926_395253768_nThis bunch of words I did wrote was published in the summer issue of CULT magazine 2013.

 

loudQUIETloud

 

Excellent documentary on the band’s reunion tour.

skinny pixies

shamelessly taken from broadsheet.

tá mé as mo fucking mheabhair!

Ah, I remember when he had hair…

ah, I remember when I had hair…uughh

(this would have made more sense if I could have shown the right vid)

Choice Awards: Why? Who really cares? Like everything in this Irlanda, it’s a rip off of a British institution…

This munki’s gone to heaven

It ees all coming to a head.