Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Inaugural Post, Or How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Proverbial J's

Guten tag there, Nine Summertimers. I'm Alex, the conspicuously as-yet-until-these words-gracing-your-screen-unpublished third member your venerable trio of advisors to the Board of Cutting Pop Culture Dissection. My old drinking/charades buddy from our heady student politics days in Young FARC, Matt, kindly extended the olive branch to join he and Tom in knowing, wry social commentary, to which I gleefully replied, "nice olive branch! Kalamata? And I'd love to join the writing team!"

I hope your Yuletides have been gleeful and consumerist, like an awful Disney-or-similar madcap, hijink-fuelled Christmas caper stacked with insipid family values, starring some interchangeable ex-comedian who may or may not have once been funny, but one day had kids and thus turned to doing solely shitty wholesome family 'comedies'.

Either way, I hope you got some gems. One of my appreciatiatively bestowed gifts was none other than Triple J's Hottest 100 of All Time, that much celebrated behemoth of a poll they trot out every so oft, with invariably unchanged results from previous outings. I like the CD, despite criminally little (read: no) Smiths, criminally little female artists (consisting, vocally, solely of Cocteau Twin Elizabeth Fraser's guest vox on Massive Attack's 'Teardrop' and Kim Deal's backing wails on Pixies' 'Where Is My Mind?') and criminally little explanation as to what process was employed to whittle the initial hundred down to thirty six- in fact, how do these sexy kingmakers at the J's get away with such murder year in year out with the annual contemporary 100's, in having the gall to include the crucial '100' in the disc title. Sure we're all so unquestioningly complicit to it now, but someone really should have held them accountable at very first compilation, and suggested: "why not 'Hottest Bits of the Previously Announced Hottest 100 (Culling Process for Featured Cohort Omitted)'?"

Still, I have to love Triple J. Even if they do make it difficult at times. Such as mediocre hip hop, flogging 'Sex On Fire' ad nauseum throughout '08, and the aforementioned ambiguity of track selection/omission on compilations.

The Hottest 36 of All Time, is a polarising affair, and was always going to be. And it did seem as though the Association of Cynical and Sometimes Angry Men Who Were Teens in the Early-Mid '90s rallied their membership base in an unprecedented voting spree.

Apart from this fact it does remain a comprehensive collection of alt hits of decades past. When listening to the countdown attentively earlier in the year, it was quite clear once it got inside the top ten that 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' would probably top the poll, a bit of a disappointment considering those back-of-neck hairs don't quite stick up as tinglingly as when hearing it for the first few spins in one's adolescence, and it's not even the band's best work.

Highlights include: RATM's anthem for boisterous angry men who don't understand the actual sharp political diatribe of the song, 'Killing in the Name', the ill-fated yet still mystical and legendary Stone Roses' 'Fools Gold', New Order's 'Blue Monday', it's throbbing bassline easily one of the most pinched bits of music since the Bo Diddley beat (even Rhianna's had a crack), Jarvis Cocker oozing wit and shrewd socio-cultural observation on Pulp's 'Common People', Bowie's 'Life on Mars?'- not my pick of his catalogue, but anything by the greatest man ever in any professional field suits me dandily, the aforementioned 'Where Is My Mind?' of Pixies fame, who arguably influenced every '90s artist who appeared on Triple J, The Shins' wistful signature 'New Slang', You Am I's seminal 'Berlin Chair'- I don't care if you don't much care for Rogers' exuberance, they made an inarguable contribution to '90s Oz indie and were channeling the retro gods in a much more inspired and original way then Jet ever would or will. By Christ! I mentioned Jet in text! I swore never to do such crime- I am indeed allergic to the band, you see. Well then, before the harrowing convulsions set in, I'd best wrap this up.

In all, a good listen, but could have been much better. Oh and the incredible The Cure are another big highlight with the heartstring-tugging catchiness of 'Close To Me'. In fact I could go on with the highlights for, golly, at least a couple more tracks! I say go purchase it if you don't already own most of the songs, liked the '90s, or are a misogynist.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

krudd's ultimate summer mixtape, vol. 1

So here's probably the best mixtape you're going to hear all summer - it's scientifically proven to improve your summer by 87% and comes straight from the decks of the Hon. kRudd. In the PM's words:
"This mix is meant to evoke all the feelings of summer. From the breezy, chillaxed mornings, through to afternoon storms and partying with yr bros at nite [sic], this is is where it's at. Throw in a bit of 'what-the-fuck-parliament-doesn't-sit-until-Feb' and you've got the right combination of songs to enjoy in due season - and that season is now: summer!'
Hard to argue with that. I've listened to it myself and can assure you that 87% is a more conservative figure than the ETI - this is the balls.

Shit is epic - 90+ minutes of sweet tunes. Tracklist after the jump.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tell me something I don't know.

 There is no doubt that music has a unique effect on the human brain. As William Congreve once wrote (and is commonly misquoted) "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast." Neurologist Oliver Sacks has written an entire book, 'Musicophilia', about music and the fascinating influence it can have people, particularly when modern medicine has failed.

He writes stories of an Alzheimer's sufferer who is unable to string a coherent sentence together, however when asked to sing, he returns to his former self in a dazzling display of raw emotion and lucidity. Tourette's sufferers have their incessant ticks calmed by playing the piano, patients who are incapable of remembering anything longer than 7 seconds, except for intricate musical compositions.

Indeed, any music listener can vouch for their favourite album or song being able to lift them out of a bad mood. Emo music has thrived on the fact that angst-ridden teenagers find an escape from their emotional existence (whether real or imagined). Couples have "their song" that reminds them of when they first met, groups of friends have a tune that stirs memories of a particularly wild night or epic holiday.

But for all of music's good, it has committed unto me a heinous crime. Its great power can be used for both good and evil. This is made evident through it's ability to get a horrible pop loop stuck in your head for hours, days, even weeks at time, coming and going as it pleases. My problem? It has created a false memory.

Not just a little false memory mind you, an entire semester of memories. The album "Let's Bottle Bohemia" by The Thrills crafted, over a matter of weeks, the following memory:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

remember the titans: then and now...

I went to an all-boy private secondary school, and as anyone who attended such an establishment for any even insignificant period of time can testify, two things are pretty much held up as the pinnacle of male adolescence – sport, and masculine bonding (through sport). Thus, when teacher’s were trying to kill time after exams were finished or an ethics assignment was on the horizon, it made sense that they’d repeatedly reach for one movie several times a semester – Remember the Titans.

This is a movie about the first inter-racial football team in some region/“conference” in (mid-west?) ‘50s America. The football team is a microcosm of the town, which is a microcosm of broader America, and through their success as people and sportsman, teach others that black people are the same as white people but slightly more athletic and sassier. Like every fifteen-year-old male at the time, I loved this movie. It was the kind of movie that could make you cry (on the inside), and simultaneously making it acceptable to cry (on the inside) because a) it’s a movie about brotherhood, and b) everyone else in the class was similarly crying (on the inside).

It was about high school boys overcoming adversity and basically saving the planet just by playing sport. It’s the dream that every male at that school secretly had – that their physical prowess would put an end to the world’s problems and then the team would all be BFFs. I literally saw this movie over fifteen times during high school, which is more than three times a year. Furthermore, I discovered that I actually own two copies of it on DVD. This was a movie that I would forever identify with that period of my life, a shiny compact disc that would carry the glorified nostalgia of my high school days.

I watched this movie again recently and realised it was pretty shit.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Literal Lyrics: Self-esteem issues.

Time for another dose of literal lyrics. Under the microscope this time is an Australian lady by the name of Vanessa Amorosi. Now Vanny (we're friends and she lets me call her that) has been around for quite a while, beginning her musical career in 1998 with the dance anthem "Absolutely Everybody". This song did indeed annoy absolutely everybody with its repetitive pop loops. Then then disappeared off the face of the earth, only to be reborn with the following track. Lucky us.

The song is basically a, "You are beautiful no matter what anyone says, you are strong, just keep fighting!" anthem to all the ugly teenage girls who listen to Vanny. Too harsh too soon? We'll see.

We open on an empty stage. Vanny enters with her guitar. She begins to sing in a heartfelt manner.

I spend my life
Trying to do things right
Better than trying to do things wrong I suppose. That can end badly. So far, nothing new though.

twitter review: a sunny day in glasglow - 'ashes grammar' which we succinctly review albums via our twitter account.

A Sunny Day in Glasgow - Ashes Grammar:

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