Wednesday, August 06, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Seven hours early edition

As the issue with Beyonce (a-list sexy) is removed, the new Elle replaces it. Britney in little black pants. And the Britney haters aren't happy. Apparently this is derivative, see? "Christina was photographed in her knickers with her arms crossed over her breasts" wails an email list, apparently in the happy ignorance that, just maybe, it was Chris who came up with this pose, either.

It's a quick voyage around the UK this week, as Sound Nation and Product come our way. Sound Nation is Welsh and free; despite enormous levels of funding (lottery, Edinburgh council, the arts council) the Scottish Product is a paid-for title. Obviously, the difference can be seen in layout and paper quality, but it does make you wonder what Sound Nation could do if it had half as much support from the public purse.

It is a magazine with a lot of ideas - very gossipy, a fruit-cake chunk of practical advice and a healthy interest in the industry as well as the music itself. It also has a wordsearch, which you don't get enough in the pop papers these days. And an interview with Guto Pryce of the Super Fury Animals - "Phantom Power isn't about doom and gloom - it’s about the way those thigns seep into your everyday life. Musically, though, it's probably our happiest album." You can probably still get them to send you a copy (of the magazine, not the album - www.soundnation.net )

While SN is hugely patriotic and supportive of its local scene, Product isn't quite so much. Ironically, there's a piece on Radio in Scotland which complains about the lack of homegrown, alternative music shows, and yet the edition it appears in, the Music Issue, has given the cover to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Yes, they're a fine looking band, but there isn't even an interview with them inside, and with all that funding sloshing around, there must be more than a few local acts wondering why they couldn't practice what they want the local radio to do, and support a local artist.

The YYY piece itself is a bit weak, too - to try and cover the fact that their cover stars won't talk to them, they, erm, interview The Black Keys instead. Not surprisingly, the Keys are a bit bitter at being given a platform, only to discover that they're there to discuss Karen O instead of their own music. Victoria Segal calls Karen O "the anti-Blondie" into the bargain, which doesn't make a great deal of sense (it's supposed to mean that when Karen dances around with duct tape on her tits, it's because she's in charge, whereas when Debbie Harry poses in a pair of white shorts - with, ahem, her arms crossed over her breasts - she's being manipulated by men). Even if you agree with it, does this mean the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are the anti-Debbie Harry, or has the sloppy Dad's error of confusing the singer with the band been replicated in the hot hot heat of the moment?

Michael Faber considers whether lyrics can be treated as poetry - "we tend to be convinced that the first half-decent lyricist we stumble across is a poetic genius. Are we always wrong?" he frets, giving a quick nod to the usual types (Nick Cave) and asserting that Patti Smith and Janis Joplin are polar opposites (obviously something about Product which makes the writers look for matching oppositions everywhere). In the end, he decides that, yes, it's okay to treat lyrics as poetry. Providing it's Chuck D.

In an experiment, visual artists are encouraged to produce responses to musical stimuli. Beagley and Ramsey suggest the Bee Gee's staying alive is two men with combover wigs holding onto naked plastic men with scary cocks. (Actually, everyone knows that it is actually Tim Brooke Taylor wearing pants with a carrot on the front).

Hannah McGill turns in a splendid review of Barney Hoskyn's The Sound and The Fury, a forty-year trawl through rock journalism. She takes issue not so much with the book itself, but the belief at its heart that pop now is nothing - "a snack between meals" - churned out for kids who know nothing of its past and just want some quick kicks. "Thrill crazed teens with no respect and no sense of history aren't the enemy of pop music. They're it's source and its target audience." Splendid. This single review makes the magazine worth its existence, and you hope that the writers of the other chin-strokey pieces in it read and carry the lesson with them for the next music issue.

Oh, and there's a wonderful free Chemikal Underground CD with Arab Strap and a Cha Cha Cohen video on it, too. And a Bay City Rollers piece.

Why, it's pondered, do the Bay City Rollers lack any sense of charm when viewed with the distance of years? It’s concluded that its because their failings were lumpen rather stylish; they didn't even manage to make themselves seem sinister like the Stones did. But who - really - cares about the Rolling Stones these days?

Keith Richards is on the front of the NME.

We wonder when the last time Keith Richards was on the cover of the NME was? We're guessing not for these last twenty years - or "as long as we've been reading it", we realise with a sinking heart. This, people, is the 'Rock Decadance' issue (or 'summer filler', which wouldn't be so bad if we didn't have autumn filler, spring filler and winter filler too).

News is lead off with The Strokes playing Casablanca - Julian looking like a man with some teenage skin, it has to be said as part of a festival. "The Strokes blew everyone else away" said a Strokes fan, unsurprisingly. There's a pull-out poster section comprising lots of Strokes pictures, which is fine if you like that sort of thing.

The coverage of the Robbie shows try to make it something we should be interested in (The Darkness did play, after all) but this means they have to give space to Kelly Osbourne. "Not everyone's here to see me" admitted Kelly, which is half right, except for the mistaken impression it gives that maybe some people had gone these because the squealing haircut from the Doritos advert was on stage. The nme review seems to be strangely brown-nosing too - it doesn't actually say "Give us an interview and an extra 10,000 copies" but it points out what a stinking hypocrite Williams is before saying "but he admits it, so we don't seem to mind" as if that makes it any better. Alex Needham also seems to think that the Americans might have trouble with Williams' cultural references - "like karaoke" - which suggests that Needham has never seen the episode of the Simpsons where Homer thinks he's going to die and Bart and Lisa sing Shaft. Or the Sesame Street Karaoke Video. Or Disney Karaoke. Or... Having made our point, we'll move on.

Jack White admits "I can't do anything creative" - although only because of his bad finger. Apparently the way its broken has meant the healing process is moving bones apart rather than knitting them back together, and so he's having metal screws put inside his hand. Ewww.

NME attempts to leap onto the Popbitch otter bandwagon by establishing a forest to be a haven for wildlife. They want you - the reader - to pay for it. (Yes, yes, we know, but times must be hard at AOL Time Warner if they want the readership to underwrite the cost of their promotional work).

Pete Libertine has started a new band. They're called, um, The Libertines. It has to be, apparently, because he's got the name etched on his arm so that's that, then. The paper asks him if he's taking hard drugs and - after wittering on for a long time - he points out that he's not taking heroin there and then. He's not very well, is he?

Turbonegro do the CD: Ozzy Osbourne, David Crosby, Dennis Wilson and Fleetwood Mac. Hmmm. Well, they are shock rockers, and you'd have to agree that's a bit of a shock.

"We hear you're mates with Interpol" kicks off the Stills piece - to their eternal boredom. "We don't want to be known as Interpol's mates..." which is a bit ungrateful. The 'pol are, after all, the band with the press connections in the UK.

Keef confirms he once stayed awake for nine days, that he felled a stage invader to save Charlie's drum kit and offers to take on Liam Gallagher. For that last one, he should be honoured. There's a full colour picture of him now inside, by the way, so don't open it in public when there are kids round.

More survivors: Janes Addiction - Dave Navarro started to do heroin because, erm, Hendrix did it. And if Jimi leapt under a bus, young man...? Oh, and Perry Farrell buys cheese on the black market.

There isn't even a real hook to hang the page about rock weddings on - Dave Grohl might get married, Bobby Gillespie might be thinking about it - and there isn't anything you don't know already. And they miss out the splendid Sean Penn - Madonna nuptials, too.

Reviews
albums
dashboard confessional - a mark, a mission, a brand, a scar - "Chris has finally accepted finishing first", 8
chris korda - the man of the future - "monumentally crass", 6
the hiss - panic movement - "brace yourself for the big bad noise", 8
the bumblebeez - white printz - "doesn't go anywhere. that's not important", 8
ride - waves - "BBC sessions from the shoegazing charlatans", 4
spearmint - my missing days - "saint Etienne-ish", 7

singles
sotw - razorlight - rock n roll lies - "testes-trembling Television tribute"
kings of leon - mollys chambers - "enterprising"

live
lollapalooza 2003 - "might not be what it once was, what Janes say is timeless"
secret machines - London Camden barfly - "as much intergalactic rock magic as possible without six feet of hair"

and finally, some supposed Libertines fan writes to NMEmail to suggest that, since he's been charged with cat burgling, the decision of his erstwhile friends to tour without him has been vindicated. Not for a moment the thought that maybe the being kicked out of his own band has made him worse, not better, of course.


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