Wednesday, June 09, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY GOES TO OXFORD, BUT CAN'T AVOID THE FOOTBALL: We found ourselves in Oxford at the weekend, and were surprised and delighted to discover that the city supports not one, but two free music magazines. Neither are exactly suffering altitude sickness from high production values - both are A4 sized and very cheaply printed, but, of course, that's probably half the secret of how they keep going. We're guessing that the two probably don't hate each other, but have a mutual grudging respect.

First up, the clumsily title Oxford Home for Music [also online at] - which reminds us of when our dad used to call himself the OMOM, or the Old Man of the Mountains, something that's probably only distracting to us). It's mainly given over to reviews - Rachel Smart informs us that The Mission's music "is still as vibrant as when it was written", despite having confessed to only being "about three" when the band formed - and the odd interview (Patrick Currier of Days of Grace says that he tries to send small presents to the people who created a fansite for the band before they even released a single, which is sweet).

Nightshift is a slightly grander affair, with adverts and everything, and feels a bit like the sort of thing you get in American cities; running news and an interview with Sextodecimo ("an average gig tends to involve no more than four or five songs, each weighing in at the ten or fifteen minute mark"); record reviews (Bridge - So Sue Me "is currently doing battle with the theme tune to Balamory inside Nightshift's head"); a commodious gig guide and equally spacious live reviews section - although they seem to have given the Mission a miss and a demo section that's not afraid to trample its boot into the upturned, hopeful face of a newcomer, although it seems Twizz Twangle is a regular irritant so probably not surprised at being damned.

Oh, god: a glance at next week's Radio Times shows just two episodes of Corrie next week, which can only mean one thing: Football. And, inevitably, the NME is getting swept up in "football fever", which wouldn't be a bad thing if it merely meant that they were going to hang a couple of flags from their office window and organise a sweepstake, but no, we're lumbered with a Euro 2004 rocks special. Now, I'm not certain, but I don't think Shoot! bothers running with a Glastonbury special, and I'm certain that I've never seen Match getting excited about the Morrissey comeback, so why does NME feel it has to sign up for the hoopla here? Apart from presumably pissing off the Northern Irish, Scots and Welsh readers by running almost entriely with Eng-ger-land, why the christ does a music paper want to be about football? Even under Danny Kelly, a man who loves football so much he could be mistaken for one under Second Division floodlights, the NME never decided it was going to turn itself so wholeheartedly into a footie rag. I know I'm odd, in that I spent several minutes removing the extraneous sports garbage from The Guardian on Monday morning, and I do welcome the NME going beyond the strict boundaries of its music remit, but I'd rather see Jet and Andrew WK on the front page forever than having to endure page after page of football. It's all so tenuous: Razorlight naked and swathed in the Cross of Saint George - which actually is doubly distracting, as they're not that sexy naked, either; Delays Aaron Gilbert giving his opinion on each of the teams in the tournament (about as fascinating as hearing Wayne Rooney rating the new Nick Cave album); a two page spread about 'rock and roll football stars' - compunded by being the bloody posters as well, and one of whom is Gazza. Gazza - who was so bloody rock and roll he recorded a novelty song with Lindisfarne and made a party singalong album. If he's rock and roll, then Martine McCutcheon is the fucking bitch queen of all music, ever; and there's something lifted from bloody Shoot (pity Tiger and Scorcher folded, eh; we might have got Mike's Mini Men) where footballers are asked about their favourite CDs, which just proves that music and football don't mix - Wayne Bridge: "I had Morning Glory by Oasis, then a friend told me about the 'Definitely Maybe CD, which is now my favourite." Since these overpaid bozos don't give a shit about music, why are we supposed to be even vaguely interested in them? It's like running a feature on Dave Lee Travis.

Incidently, the CD question was also put by the London Evening Standard to the London mayoral candidates - Steve Norris, the Tory, replied "I don't buy CDs - they bore me rigid. I never get a chance to listen to them in the car anyway because I don't travel by car." Now, we wouldn't presume to tell the people of London how to vote, but: a man who is bored not just by rock or jazz or Gregorian chants, but all music, all CDs, and who can only imagine CDs being of any use as something to do during a car journey? Could anyone seriously place their home town in the hands of such a man?

The news picture is that Liam Gallagher has grown a beard again; in other news, page 10's secret news that the Distillers were going to pop up at the Reading Festival would only have been news to anyone who hadn't read, erm, page six which had the same news; The Music are back, with a song that rips the shit out of people who think that where you're born forces you to adopt some sort of knuckleheaded devotion to the place ('Welcome to the North').

Peter Robinson is hammered onto the football theme, by taking on Christian O'Connell, who's responsible for one of those bloody football singles. It's all about flags, you see: "when I'm abroad, I see foreign flags I don't feel excluded" says O'Connell, from across the understanding gap. Perhaps it's because the Belgian tricolor has never been hijacked by the far right. He also gets a bit pissy when Robinson brings up an incident where O'Connell managed to play a record with the word "cunt" in seven times. He pleads that he'd got the package from Chris Morris - which should have set alarm bells ringing for any slight media figure but "I listened to a couple of seconds, put it on air, and snuck off for a cheeky piss." So, he gets a record from a man well known for pushing the boundaries, doesn't listen to it beforehand but just flings it out on air, and then leaves the studio. O'Connell thinks this is "an accident."

MIA is the radar act - probably the first Tamil-language rapper they've ever featured.

the ordinary boys - newcastle global cafe - "a blur of inspiration"
the datsuns - manchester hop and grape - "like they never went away"
!!! - London 43 Feet East - "genuinely revolutionary"

beastie boys - to the 5 boroughs - "Fuck me, the music", 8
ikara colt - modern apprentice - "brash, classic energy"
blondie - singles box - "not everything could be considered neccesary - five versions of Call Me?", 7

the radio department - why won't you talk about? - "makes me want to expire with joy"
portobella - covered in punk - "screechingly awful spew... Seb Fontaine and Pete Tong love it"

Will South from Thirteen Senses loves Psychedelic-era Beatles - "I'd jump off a cliff if the Beatles did it", he pledges. Okay, go and tell the Americans you're more popular than Jesus and then smuggle some dope through Japanese customs. And have sex with Yoko.

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