Wednesday, March 24, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Courtney and Malcolm punks not dead edition
So, it’s been a grim week on the outskirts of the music press, with The Face and Just Seventeen being invited in to see the manager, leaving a couple of minutes later with a pink slip and a black plastic sack to put their belongings into; so it’s cheering that another not-strictly pop paper came into being. The London News Review, in its launch format of a Rhine Zeitung style newsprint broadsheet, looks a lot more like it reads now, and there’s much in it of interest to, well, people who read this. Like the quiet way it points out that Janelly Fourtou, who pushed through the European parliament’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Directive is married to the CEO of Vivendi; apparently the concept of ‘conflict of interests’ didn’t occur to her as she cheerfully criminalised making a CD copy of an MP3 you’ve paid for; the revived Rock Against Racism gig is reviewed, and the Google-proof ‘just the gist’ lyric quiz has survived beta testing. Oh, and the manwhofellasleep pops up in there, too.

Over at the Observer, Miranda Sawyer has gone to meet Alison ‘Va-va-voom’ Goldfrapp, musing that “it’s odd that she [isn’t] straddling music like a jack-booted frilly knickered wonder woman.” Odder yet that the Goldfrapp piece is booted from the Observer Music Monthly to the bog standard cakes and makeover weekly magazine to make way for Alicia Keays. What’s going on there? Is the magazine proper trying to attract attention from the casual OMM reader, or did the OMM decide that the ho-hum no-offence Keays is where they should be going towards, leaving the more interesting Goldfrapp to be picked up by the other supplement? So it’s the Magazine which gets the good stuff: Goldfrapp announcing that her fans are either all overly sincere, or pervy. Some times, Alison, it’s possible to have long lists in green ink and wear waders to bed, you know.

Whereas the OMM is left to pick the bones of the very nice, managed as tightly as a security team protecting the President Alicia Keays. Worryingly, she seems determined to have a crack at acting.

The chart is the best one so far - ten worst reunions, although the 21st century Doors barely counts as a reunion; it’s more a tribute act. Who cares what percentage of non-Morrisson original members are involved? It’s a shadow cabinet act through and through. Jesus Jones, we learn, have got back together simply to play a single song at motivational speaking events in the US - although who the hell would be motivated by Jesus Jones isn’t explained.

Maybe we’re getting desensitised, only we were surprised to see that people had written letters complaining about last month’s Outkast cover. Naked women, see? You might have thought that it was a rather lovingly re-created pastiche of seventies artwork; and perhaps the outraged letters were in the same vein - “I’m going to write a letter in the style of Andrea Dworkin.” If the writers were serious, then we’re even more convinced we’ve become too desensitised: apparently, all the gains of women post Sylvia Pankhurst were undone in one moment four weeks ago, and we never noticed.

There is no secret life of George Michael left to be explored; a man who waggles his willy in the face of all comers is in every extent public. Still clinging to 1980s knobs, Tim Moore recalls buying into the Merton Parkas C&A take on Mod, offering the justification that it’s better than Avril Lavigne.

Eastenders Ray Panthaki has decided the time has come to explore music beyond hiphop. Oddly, it was hearing Starsailor which led to this decision, something which would lead most normal people not to consult the record doctor but to stick sharpened drumsticks deep into their ear canals. Anyway, the doctor suggest Jeff Buckly who goes down well, but The Specials leave Ray cold - “a bit too UB40.” A man who can find life-changing charm in Starsailor but can’t tell the difference between Too Much Too Young and Rat In Mi Kitchen? What is he using to base his judgement on - sleeve colour?

Oh god, Malcolm McClaren is back. For some reason, music’s del Boy is always treated well despite his rubbish track record. What’s he actually ever achieved? He’s credited with being some sort of godfather of punk, when all he did was follow a trend and pretty much throw out all the things which made punk a vital youth artform and turned it into some granny-baiting parody played by cartoons - in short, he took The New York Dolls and gave us Blink 182. And having managed to make a bit of cash out of being in the right place at the right time, ever since he’s tried desperately to try and live up to the popular view of him as an instigator; it’s like Fleming was so ashamed of being credited with the discovery of penicillin when he really just employed the people who did the work that he spent the next forty years trying to interest the world in other sorts of moulds: “look, this greeny-blue stuff that grows on damp wood in window frames... that might cure rabies or cancer or something.” This time, following the lack of interest in opera-as-rock, double dutching and Ghosts of Oxford Street, McClaren is pushing chip music, made from the gizzards of PacMan machines. “You don’t need instruments to make it, you can use a gameboy” he pitches, blissfully unaware that the Kids were using their X-Boxes to mix music together when he was still trying to flog us frock coats.

Julie Burchill believes that we’re all children of Thatcher and McClaren, but this misses that they’re actually one and the same: she came from a grocers, he came from a trouser shop; they built their position on the back of the working classes preaching the virtues of self-interest, while making sure they got more than their share of the spoils. And none of them have done anything decent since Jubilee Year.

Oh, and Malc claims that ITV wanted to bring him in to replace John Lydon when he quit I’m A Celebrity. Yeah, Malc, and you wrote Anarchy in the UK.

Sufjan Stevens is picked by Kitty Empire as a name to watch for the future: in his spare time he teaches knitting to the blind, which is good news for Gyles Brandereth.

John Harris explores Cajun country, going beyond swamps and crayfish to discover ”an audible win-some-lose-some fatalism and affectingly sad songs.”

reviews judges Patti Smith’s Trampin to be sometimes “close to horses” and Paul Morley qupis that “without Stars in their Eyes there wouldn’t be dry ice in our house” - maybe you had to be there. Helena Christansen asks Michael Stipe “Who is carrying the torch of music?” (yes, exactly like that); Stipe waffles and mentions no names before suggesting that no one person can carry the torch, for which read “I haven’t bought a record since 1987 but I’m not about to admit that.”

And the OMM has given Peter Robinson two pages to fill with stuff, which he does with a broken Phixx mug and an old Smash Hits.

Back over at his other job, then, the NME has got Franz Ferdinand in white jackets on the cover, which is less ‘for those about to rock’, more ‘On tonight’s watchdog...’ Inside, mind, they’re dressed up in school uniform, and they look a lot more comfortable. The video they’re so attired for is a tribute to Blue Remembered Hills, which we remember pissing off writers to Points of View because they couldn’t cope with adults playing children.

The news kicks off with Courtney, of course, who is a one-woman column filler. There’s breasts and self-serving and pity me pie aplenty, including her attempt to demonstrate how unfair life is by claiming “No-one in the history of rock music has ever been arrested for someone being hurt at a show” - without even needing to point to examples where people have been seriously injured, Shane McGowan was arrested for precisely the same thing as Courtney when he hit someone at Liverpool University with a mic stand.

Round, like a circle in a spiral, NME has bought the finger off Thom Yorke’s Brat award from ebay and is now offering it as a prize. They paid two hundred and fifty quid for the thing, which makes us assume it’ll be back on Ebay without seconds of it arriving at the prize winner’s house, although they’re hoping their ‘I deserve to be fingered by Thom Yorke’ tie breaker style comp will preclude that happening.

Icarus Line burn the CD: Rollerskate Skinny, Lilys and Kool Keith.

Peter Robinson’s Other Kingdom meets Har Mar superstar. He’s not real, you know, he’s just a made-up comedy character who advertises vodka.

Art Brut are the radar band, and they deserve your attention, if only because they’re releasing a single that mentions Top of the Pops - just like the Rezillos.

Franz Ferdinand scoff at the Daily Record and the way they write about David Byrne as “Scots born”, despite his having moved away when he was six. (The Liverpool Echo, of course, still worships McCartney, and treats Kim Cattrell and Halle Berry as if they lived in Huyton - but then, look at what they’d have to work with otherwise). This is made even funnier by the “discovery” that Elvis was, in some vague way, Scottish.

They also start to talk about having used Hitler’s microphone and suddenly realise they’re heading off towards a National Front Disco where Kula Shaker draw swastikas on the wall. Instead, they list bands who kept it right all the way through: Belle & Sebastian, Pulp, The Smiths, and Brian Eno.

Ty Cobb have apparently renamed themselves Mad Action.

Completely unmentioned on the front cover, there’s an interview with Brody Dalle - and she does it naked. Down a telephone line, yes, but you can imagine. (Unless you’re an Observer Music Monthly reader, who’ll probably be mentally dressing her in some cord dungarees).

The pull-out posters are all of mug shots - damn, only jack White looks any good in his.

Four skinny southern Indie boys? Lying in a bunch of yellow spring flowers? Is the Ride revival under way? Not quite; these are delays, a band who spent last Christmas making a hash cake contaminated with E.

cky - london astoria - “ftotally shitty dude”, 1
adam green, ICA - “best song poet since Leonard Cohen”, 6

radiohead - com lag: 2+2=5 [the japanese bside collection] “bloody minded as ever”, 7
weird war - if you can’t beat ‘em, bite ‘em - “retro-ghetto”, 4

sotw - art brut - formed a band “this might be a chord. now form a band”
pink grease - fever - “a daft man trying to be sexy”

and finally... ana mantronic loves siouxse and the banshees. the last time she (sioux, not the scissor sister) appeared on the front of the nme they also had a feature about Hurrah!, you know.

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