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 I'm Alex, the conspicuously as-yet-until-these words-gracing-your-screen-unpublished third member your venerable trio of advisors to the Board of Cutting Pop Culture Dissection.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.

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