Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The closest this blog will ever come to winning an award

So yesterday I heard on the grapevine that while researching the important subject of what chemicals were taken during the creation of Meat Puppets II, esteemed music jounalist Noel Gardner performed the Google search 'Meat Puppets MDMA' and this blog came up. Have I ever been prouder? Can't say that I have.
[EDIT: Of course, the internet essentially being one enormous self-fulfilling prophecy, this post has spurred it to number two if you do that search, which though impressive on one level, rather undermines the fact the plucky little chap had previously stumbled there by accident]

In other news (don't worry that this is going to become a daily blog, btw, just squeezing a two for onesie in here), but Christ on a bike, there's a horrible new advert for Exxon in which a sort of all-American scientist type rattles on concernedly about how some piece of glass he's developed is going to save the planet. I don't like it very much. Because he's a lying shit.

Anyway, assuming you're looking at this in sweet sweet blogger rather than drab old Facebook, here is a very fine piece of anti-Exxon rhetoric from the late 80s.

Monday, 28 July 2008

If they cut my salary by 90% I'd probably have to become a hippy or a monk or something

I'd probably be hopelessly over-romanticising our sceptered isle if I were to say 'only in Britain would personnel changes at a quiz show watched solely by students and the unemployed be a source of front page tabloid furore.'

Fortunately I am very ignorant of foreign cultures, most especially their pig-heathen TV shows, so no worries on that score.

So yeah, the Mirror splash today ran 'Countdown Meltdown' and was an account of how Channel 4 had shafted Carol Vorderman by offering her an insulting 90% paycut if she wanted to stay on at Countdown, hence her rather forced decision to jog on.
For my vast foreign readership, Countdown is a daytime quiz show in which nervous looking people in jumpers do maths and word puzzles in the hope of winning a dictionary. Since it began in 1982, Carol Vorderman has served in the role of the show's human calculator, and over the years a combination of improved stylists and our country's monstrously over-developed sense of irony has served to turn her into a sex symbol of sorts. Due to its timeslot and heady combination of being heroically untaxing but with a mild intellectual twist, watching it is pretty much a student rite of passage, and it racks up about 1.5m viewers a day, which is okay. Nobody but family members of contestants has ever recorded an episode to watch later. But it is an institution. We are upset about change. However:

1. If Channel 4 just told everyone Vorderman was still presenting, the people who used to watch the show but don't anymore would be happy. People who actually watch the show would probably be cool with it too - yeah, you might not appreciate being lied to, but - and I'm possibly being optimistic here - I don't think the average student about to embark on a university career actually sits around rocking back and forth in frenzied excitement thinking OMG I'M A STUDENT NOW I'M GOING TO GET TO SEE CAROL VORDERMAN DO TEH NUMBERS!

2. Carol Vorderman will famously lend her level tones and status as the most famous maths, uh, person in the land to almost any cause, notably those dodgy loans a few years back. Does the fact she did basic maths on TV for a long time make up for this? No! A hard rain needs to fall. A HARD RAIN.

3. Carol Vorderman having a paycut is not like you or I having a paycut

4. There are surely other maths people out there who deserve a stab at fame. Yeah, we'll mourn Vorderman for a while, but we don't know any better at the moment, she's had the monopoly. It's time we moved on, saw other people.

5. She's been in the same job for quarter of a century - she needs to move on as much as we do. More.

6. Is she even, like, THAT good at maths? I mean, can she do fractals?

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

A fairly po-faced list about My Bloody Valentine

So I mostly went along to see one of MBV's reunion dates at The Roundhouse because it seemed like the type of thing I ought to do... as much as I'm a fan of Loveless and quite fond of Isn't Anything, I figured it'd ultimately be kind of lovely in a boring way.

In fact what happened was the precise opposite... as it turns out everyone (probably my mum included) apart from me - a music journalist - and Mark Dubya - a man whose nihilistic acceleration into the abyss is made only vaguely predictable by his in depth knowledge of all avant garde music made within John Peel's lifetime - knew that they end their gigs with something called 'the holocaust section', 20-40 minutes of white noise, the volume of which was alleged to be around 130 db, which apparently is about the same as a jet taking off from 100m away. Er, anyway, without being too gushing (I sent a text to Laura describing it as 'sound as beauty as fire as fire as fire'... ahem), it was incredible, so so much so I both went to see them a week later in Manchester with Mark P, but also naturally feel compelled to put up a list of things the holocaust section (by far the best but of the gig) made me think about. Groovy.

1. From a musical perspective, I totally don't know if what happened was any good or not. I mean, probably it was, My Bloody Valentine have one of the best guitarists, like, ever, but I sort of still wonder if it's more a case that the main set was 'music' and the holocaust section is 'art'. Like, could me and three friends do the same if we had the right equipment and Kevin Shields talked us through what to do? Probably not, but y'know... maybe.

2. It wasn't just a blank roar. I mean, I think actually it was just a blank roar, but the physical and psychological impact properly makes you hallucinate: when I saw them at the Roundhouse I thought they'd started up a slowed down version of the riff to Only Shallow, then at the Apollo Mark thought he heard singing... neither true. It's like, if this kind of Niagara of noise makes you imagine pretty things, does that make it pretty music?

3. Could you use music as an actual drug? Especially after the Apollo gig, which had a longer holocaust (about 35 mins) I felt really stoned by the end, while during it I'd found it really hard to tell where the band were on stage, even though they hadn't moved. Because if Kevin Shields actually found a note that gets you high, well, that's your explanation for what he's been doing for the last 15 years.

4. I've never seen any other band do anything like that, which makes me suspect I'm kind of vanilla... I mean, they can't have patented the idea and it's not like it's a song per se, so why wouldn't other people be doing shit like this all the time? Has this big venue reunion tour kind of served to turn something that was way more underground in 1992 into a kind of theme-park of the avante garde? And if nobody's exceeded them, why not..?

5. Given it was all old material it was basically a nostalgia date, but it didn't feel like one at all... is there a certain volume at which nostalgia no longer applies?

6. All reports suggest the section was in fact just as loud as it was in the early 90s. Which is lovely, but it almost saddens me they/nobody is doing anything harder... goddamn health and safety. Though I suppose it's not exactly at the top of most amp manufacturer's lists to design one that kills people. But I guess as a party piece it doesn't exactly have anywhere to go or develop, though I suppose it's not exactly the type of thing you could technically get bored of.

7. Some friends of a friend took pills to watch it. Can't decide if that was the best or worst idea ever.

8. It's going to be really, really funny when they play it at Bestival.