Sunday, 15 March 2009

Pantheon Weekend -- Roots Manuva

Taskmaster burst the bionic zit-splitter/ Breakneck speed we drown ten pints of bitter
We lean all day and some say that ain't productive/ That depend upon the demons that you're stuck with

Pantheon Weekend -- Will Ashon

Our secession, it should be immediately apparent, is a secession
like no other. Not only do we have no territory, we deny
our very physicality. And we secede not from a State but
from a whole set of social relations. Still, we claim it as a
secession, a rejection of all authorities. The ghosts of your
conscience, you fight us, we haunt you.

Pantheon Weekend -- Dave Gibbons

I was a Mod, I did have the clothes, I did have the scooter, I did have the hair.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Pantheon Weekend -- Battles

It’s a Connecticut thing...

Pantheon Weekend -- Marnie Stern

And the heat/ and the beat/ It was good/ It was good
And the beat/ and the beat/ It goes on as It should

Pantheon Weekend -- Sleater-Kinney

I'd set your heart on fire but arson is no way
to make a love burn brighter.

(When you saw me, on that first day
said I'd blossom under your care).

Lust For Life

(From the bigsunnyd archive!)

I can't believe that life's so complex
When I just want to sit here and watch you undress
I can't believe that life's so complex
When I just want to sit here and watch you undress

This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love
That I'm feeling

Does it have to be a life full of dread
I wanna chase you round the table, I wanna touch your head
Does it have to be a life full of dread
I wanna chase you round the table, I wanna touch your head

This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love
That I'm feeling

I can't believe that the axis turns on suffering
When you taste so good
I can't believe that the axis turns on suffering
When my head burns

Love, love, love
That I'm feeling
This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love, love, love
That I'm feeling

Even in the summer
Even in the spring
You can never get too much of
A wonderful thing

You're the only story that I never told
You're my dirty little secret, wanna keep you so
You're the only story that's never been told
You're my dirty little secret, wanna keep you so

Come on out, come on over, help me forget
Keep the walls from falling as they're tumbling in
Come on out, come on over, help me forget
Keep the walls from falling on me, tumbling in
Keep the walls from falling as they're tumbling in

This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love, love, love
That I'm feeling

(PJ Harvey -- "This Is Love")

Musically 'This Is Love' is almost ridiculously direct. The chundering, distorted guitar part (a couple of chords strung together with ridiculous swagger and panache) and thumping drums combine with Polly Jean's booming vocals in a way that--to my ears at least--recalls some of lggy Pop's earlier material. But it is only almost ridiculously direct because (as with a lot of those old Iggy tunes) there's more going on than immediately meets the eye, or ear, as the case may be. Witness the piano part and second guitar line that weave through the song as it goes on, adding sonic texture without getting in the way of the brute kick of the main guitar and vocal parts.

The lyrics function in a similar way, being joyously charged and conveying an absolutely dead-on sense of being lost in a rush of lust and emotions while simultaneously acknowledging the fact that this always seem hard to reconcile with the complexity of life in general (it's all in the first line I guess!). There's a sense of something that's not that far away from desperation around the edges of the song, but the key to 'This is Love' is that there's still a sense of utter invigoration here. Just check out the line "Come on out, come on over, help me forget/ Keep the walls from falling as they're tumbling in". That's a pretty anxious lyric, but it's blown away by that last chorus where the second guitar circles around the rest of the tune and everything just sounds really huge and amazing. These kind of moments, experiences, and relationships can be utterly transcendent -- they won't make everything go away, but they can put some fucking spring in your step*. Harvey has written many more complicated lyrics, but it doesn't matter because this song nails something that is both simultaneously obvious and nuanced in its own punchy way. It feels genuinely triumphant, and I love it for that.

*And I'm not just talking about being in love or having great sex here. Don't get me wrong: this is a great big sexy bastard of a tune and sex and love are obviously what the lyrics are about, but there's more to joy than that, and I think the way the exultant thrill of the song wins out over the more difficult elements is applicable all over the shop.

The Sea

(Via Carrie Brownstein)

Also: that Kevin Shields/Patti Smith album was awesome, wasn't it? I've got to spend more time with that sometime soon.

PJ Harvey -- 'You Come Through'

From this distance, Uh Huh Her looks like an unusually blurry and unsatisfying PJ Harvey album, but there are a couple of tracks on there that still sound frighteningly intimate live. This is one of them. I can't say anything about it that isn't already there, in the tiny cracks where drums and voice and guitar fail to meet.
You come through for me
You come true for me
You be well for me
You come through for me
Sometimes it really is that simple.

Friday, 13 March 2009

A Simple Distinction

Journalists of the world: PJ Harvey and Patti Smith are not really all that similar. I understand that you're lazy, and that they both have dark hair and striking cheekbones and strong artistic personalities, but this needs to stop.

For future reference:
  • Patti Smith's best music sounds like the work of a beat poet on a rock'n'roll rampage. Your obvious reference points would be Blake, Ginsberg, and any number of classic/excessive sixties rock acts, but feel free to go deeper than that if it's not too much trouble.
  • PJ Harvey's best music is far more constrained and brutal than all that -- whether she's playing the piano, vamping like a cabaret she-devil, or beating the shit out of a guitar, her performances are always far more sculpted than Smith's work. Even at her most elemental, Harvey never sounds like she's pushing for rock'n'roll transcendence; instead, she forces her intense performances into very specific spaces, twisting her intensity into startling new forms every time she takes to the stage. I could understand the confusion if every PJ Harvey album sounded like Stories From The City..., because certain tracks on that record share a sense of joyous abandon with parts of Smith's ouvre. That Stories... isn't hugely representative of Harvey's aesthetic only enhances my sense that journalists who make this comparison are not trying very hard.
Thanks for your time.

Who Watches The Watchmen? And Who Really Still Gives a Damn?

Or -- "Disappointingly clean thoughts from other people's comments sections!"

Ok, so that final Filth essay still needs some work, and I was going to avoid talking about Watchmen -- The Movie! but I seem to have spent a good thousand words publicly thinking about the film already so fuck it.

David Fiore posted a short piece praising two of the more controversial aspects of the Watchmen movie: the casting of Ozymandias and the altered ending.

Here's what I had to say in response:
Hmmmm... not sure I can agree with you on the ending of the movie Dave. I mean, it is more politically interesting than the book's finale (just!), but like you say, Watchmen was never worth reading for the politics.

To me, the "clean", bloodless nature of the movie’s finale contrasted a little too harshly with the hyped-up, 300-esque gore of the preceding action sequences, throwing the whole story's momentum into reverse.

The comic's Veidt definitely is "a ranting lunatic with a squid bomb", but that works in context because I think he's supposed to look stupid and terrifying at the end of the story. I've never felt like his scheme was supposed to be plausible -- quite the opposite in fact. I think it’s supposed to look like a desperate, temporary fix that ended a lot of lives, a reality that the opening splash pages of issue #12 just plain won’t let you escape. (Dave Gibbons, you are a hero – never forget it!)

Like the big blue guy says, “Nothing ever ends”. Or, hey, like the fetish model says in the movie, but whatever.

Taken this way, the comic is very firmly on the side of the minor, human characters + Dan & Laurie. Its formal intricacies are more than just displays of cleverness – they’re there to generate a sort of ornate, preposterously intricate soap-opera framework in which all of these little lives are connected and all of them matter. It’s an invitation to see the potentially kinder end of Dr Manhattan’s perceptive spectrum, where human life is so damned unlikely that you have to form an interest, even an attachment to it.

Never mind “who watches the watchmen?” – the real question is “who watches? And why?” Thinking about it this way, Dr M’s real idiocy (murdering aside!) is in his inability to comprehend his own role in observing all those martian landscapes, and to extrapolate the importance of his feelings beyond his own path in space/time. In fact, come to think of it, this is also why he’s shown killing people so freely at various points in the book and the movie – he’s an intellectual giant but he lacks the basic understanding of other people's perspectives that's necessary to form a moral code (“the morality of my actions escapes me”, etc).

Anyway, like you said, the Dan/Laurie stuff definitely needed to be expanded in the movie (and you are so, so right about the coffee scene!). Still, the ‘Hallelujah’ sex session aside, the film’s soapy treatment of their interactions didn’t strike me as being too “off”. Soap operas are all about ridiculous attachment, after all, and this is where those characters look “stronger” than their colleagues in the comic – they’re just far more interested in actual, real stuff you know? They seem genuinely fixated on people, animals, and kinky costume funtime, and I can get with all of that! They’re far from perfect, but their dysfunctions seem less psychopathic than, say Rorschach/Jon/Veidt’s to me. Dave Gibbons needs some major props here again, because he sells D&L’s body language in a way that the actors in this film just can’t – this is true across the board, of course, but in the absence of the many minor characters, I feel it most here.

Which takes me back to the film’s 300-style action – it makes the movie Dan & Laurie look a bit more wantonly brutal than they did in the book, what with all the slow-mo neck stabbing and limb-snapping. Given the kinky nature of their coupling, it ends up seeming like they get off on maiming people, which… maybe there’s a bit of that in the source material, but the movie renders violence as pornography right up until the final massacre, and I find that weirdly unsettling.

You could probably argue that the ending is bloodless because it’s beyond such fetishised fun, but I don’t know that this makes the movie any better for me. In fact, it might make the sense that the movie is built to support Ozy’s plan seem all the stronger...

As for the actor who played Ozymandias, I can see how he fits your reading of the film, but I didn’t get much genuine remorse from him… just a toned down, slightly sleazy arrogance. I found that slightly less interesting than the comic Ozy’s mixture of bland charm and idiotically hateful planning, which (again) is reliant on my reading of the ending as an indictment of Veidt’s presumed superiority. Without the blandness, Ozymandias just seems like a creepy savior, which… I’d agree that this is slightly less boring on a political level, but the comic’s Ozymandias seems to think he’s way smarter and more grown up than he really is. I don’t get that from the movie, and as a result the whole thing ends up seeming a lot more in thrall to our bloody-handed saviors than I’d like it to be.

All that said, I think I enjoyed the movie, even though I know it was terrible in places. I’ll see it again, if only because I’m infinitely fascinated by things that don’t work in big, pointy ways.
Since I wasn't sure if I'd rambled on enough already, I made sure to re-iterate my points a couple of minutes later:
The short version of my previous comment:

I'm not sure that the ethical question the movie poses is...

(a) well set up


(b) more interesting than what I take to be the argument in favour of life that exists in the comic.

Also: the movie made me miss the pirate comic, probably because it supports my reading! Pesky runtime sapping fight scenes...
This prompted David Fiore to rejoin the discussion and clarify his argument with grand style:
absolutely David!

the film deeply deeply violates the spirit of the book (which is a horror story about human impotence, in all of its forms) in its final reel

and there's no question that Gibbons delivered that horror in a powerful way that almost redeems Moore's (to me) knee-jerk reluctance to confront the realities of political foundation (by making Ozymandias--and the Black Freighter guy--into Poe-style madmen who rip out the world's eyeball because they can't face it any more)

it's just my good fortune that I always felt that Watchmen's take on superpolitics paled in comparison to Squadron Supreme's--and that Snyder appears to have fused the latter's decisionist ethics onto the body of the book (while jettisoning pretty much all of the psychological complexity of the Moore/Gibbons' truly human characters)

Even aesthetically, I think it was the right thing to do, because I don't think the film could have done the things that the book does to give us the human-eye view of the power struggle that provides the majority of its plot points (although they COULD have taken a little more trouble to complexify the Dan/Laurie sex stuff--and my guess is that Snyder didn't want to do THAT either... he's clearly a typical fanboy in that regard)

ah well--at the very least--the film is providing a lot of fodder for discussion... to me, the two texts work wonderfully in dialogue with each other--Moore/Gibbons give us real people at the mercy of the "Lords of Life"... while Snyder gives us those Lords (idealism, objectivity, "deontological ethics," cynicism--aka Veidt, Manhattan, Rorschach, Comedian) straight up, and places each of them in collision with themselves...
Realising that I was already in too deep to pretend I had nothing to say, I opened my mouth and let the words tumble out:
Damn you for making me write about this film - I fully intended to hold off until the smoke had cleared, but you seem to have sent my brain into action prematurely.

I'm a big Squadron Supreme fan too – it's always struck me as being a far more "intellectual" comic than Watchmen in some ways. At the very least, SS is a lot more committed to its political ideas than the Moore/Gibbons comic, but it uses the Marvel house style to explore them so it seems a lot less sophisticated at first.

Moore is very clever in the way he constructs Watchmen, but as ever his smartest move is to identify the strengths of his collaborator – Gibbons is the hero of the book, and it is his perspective (rather than Dr Manhattan's) that gives an objective sense of weight and importance to even the book’s smallest characters and motifs.

Compared to these very tactile pleasures, both Watchmen – The Movie! and Squadron Supreme risk seeming a little airy, but you could argue that Snyder uses the current 300/Sin City derived “comic book movie” to stage his ethical play, just like Gruenwald adapted his normal writing style to sneak Squadron’s big questions out there. The problem being (from my POV, obviously!) that Snyder’s current style is both tiresome and not particularly suited to these aims.

Still – it is interesting to consider the movie as some sort of grotesque Moore/Gruenwald/Miller/Gibbons/Snyder hybrid… it’s the revenge of the 80s, Frankenstein style, and now it WONT STOP ATTACKING MY BRAIN!

Good times.
And I'm spent, or at least I'm done making chicken kievs with bullshit where the chicken should be...

Lest anyone think I'm a moaning fanboy, let it be known that there are far less faithful versions of the movie that would have been way more exciting to me.

Also: David Hayter is a turd.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Pantheon Weekend -- Cameron Stewart

I hate to see you like this, but my sympathy is only going to last as long as you keep your mouth shut.

Pantheon Weekend -- Michel Gondry

We were overwhelmingly outnumbered by beautiful muscular and sexy communist girls.

Pantheon Weekend -- Chuck D

Impeach the president/Pullin' out the ray-gun
Zap the next one/ I could be you're Sho-gun
Suckers/ Don't last a minute
Soft and smooth/ I ain't with it
Hardcore/ Rawbone like a razor
I'm like a lazer/ I just won't graze ya
Old enough to raise ya/ So this will faze ya

Pantheon Weekend -- David Fiore

You leap from the mirrored stage, to conclusions: "If this plot hangs together, so do we..."

Pantheon Weekend -- Kathleen Hanna

I'm a self-fulfilling porno queen -- yeah
I mimic out your every fucking fantasy yeah! yeah!
And now, and now, in my head I'm on my knees
Oh baby, why can't I ever get my! sugar?

Pantheon Weekend -- Fugazi

And I won't make the same mistakes
(Because I know)
Because I know how much time that wastes
(And function)
Function is the key
Inside the waiting room

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Pantheon Weekend -- Samantha Morton and Kathleen McDermott

It's the same crapness everywhere, so stop dreaming.

Pantheon Weekend -- Angela Carter

Language is power, life and the instrument of culture, the instrument of domination and liberation.

Pantheon Weekend -- Roland Barthes

tel / thus
Endlessly required to define the loved object, and suffering from the uncertainties of this definition, the amorous subject dreams of a knowledge which would let him take the other as he is, thus and no other, exonerated from any adjective.

Pantheon Weekend -- Steve Albini

This is a sad fuckin' song
We'll be lucky if I don't bust out crying

Pantheon Weekend -- PJ Harvey

You're the only story that I never told
You're my dirty little secret, wanna keep you so

Pantheon Weekend -- Mclusky

Stolen from Sean Witzke, this is a tumblr-baiting catalog of people who kick my ass. Regular feature!

All of your friends are cunts/ And you mother is a ballpoint pen thief

Friday, 6 March 2009

"In the end/ Everybody wins/ As long as we remember there's a reason for incredible wealth/ Incredible luck"

(From Seaguy, by Grant Morrison & Cameron Stewart)

In case anyone hasn't read it yet, here's an excerpt from Charlie Brooker's recent rant about the state of British politics:
It's all over. The politicians have finally shut us out of their game for good and we have nowhere left to turn. We're not part of their world any more. We don't even speak the same language. We're the ants in their garden. The bacteria in their stools. They have nothing but contempt for us. They snivel and lie and duck questions on torture - on torture, for Christ's sake - while demanding we respect their authority. They monitor our every belch and fart, and insist it's all for our own good.

Straw wrote, "If people were angels there would be no need for government . . . But sadly people are not all angels." That rather makes it sound as though he believes politicians aren't mere people. Maybe they're the gods of Olympus. Maybe that's why they're in charge.

Thing is, they could get away with this bullshit while times were good, while people were comfortable enough to ignore what was happening; when people were focusing on plasma TVs and iPods and celebrity gossip instead of what the politicians were doing - not because they're stupid, but because they know a closed shop when they see one. But now it looks as if those times are at an end, and more and more of us are pulling the dreampipes from the back of our skulls, undergoing a negative epiphany; blinking into the cold light of day.

There's more righteous anger at the link above.

Also well worth reading is Millennium Elephant's response, which I found via Andrew Hickey. The Elephant moves beyond Brooker's perfectly expressed rage and starts pondering what this means for those attempting to do something different from within a political party (for the Elephant, the Lib Dems).

The Elephant also takes a shot at Brooker for expressing these concerns in the pages of a newspaper that supports the Labour government. This is a sticky question for me, because I do agree that the media are complicit in maintaining the fantasy of THE WAY THINGS WORK*, and this complicity makes me groggy with rage. That said, for all that the comparison between dissenting media types and dissenting backbenchers is brutal and cutting, I don't find it entirely convincing in the end. In both cases, I can certainly empathise with people trying to work against the dominant pull of the organisations they work in. It's easy to mock those who claim to be "fighting the system from the inside" (Ghost World does this so well that I feel no need to compete), but (1) I'm Scottish, and I know far too many bewildered Labour supporters who're still trying to comprehend how far their party has strayed from their values, and (2) I think the responsibilities of a published essayist and a politican are by necessity different. The country would be far healthier if those disillusioned Labour supporters & politicians moved beyond the Labour/Tory binary (and a great many Scottish voters have, hence the election of an SNP government in the Scottish Parliment!), but if anything I'd rather more essays like those written by Brooker and the Elephant appeared in newspapers that generally support the British Labour Government. Indeed, as far as I'm concerned this sort of dissonance in the mainstream media could potentially increase the perceived feasibility of SOMETHING DIFFERENT, which seems to me to be a potentially worthwhile endeavor. (See, also: K-Punk on Channel 4's adaptations of David Peace's Red Riding novels.)

I've went on about this more than I meant to, and I don't want to give the impression that the Millennium Elephant's post made me angry as hell or anything. The point of view I've spent the last 200-odd words articulating is brought up and dismissed in the Elephant's post, and I simply found myself thinking that there might be more value to it than that piece let on.

*Which is to say the belief that only two British political parties are electable, that none of the various lifestyles and attitudes the Elephant mentions are permissible for "serious" politicians, and that politicians are free to work free of public inquiry because these other two points make them the only players in town.

While we're venting about THIS MESS WE'RE IN, I really have to point you to RAB's blog, which is currently hosting both the above image and a reprinted Philip Pullman essay on modern liberty. It's a great piece, as lofty in style as it is in sentiment and all the more affecting for it:
The sleeping nation dreams it has the freedom to speak its mind. It fantasises about making tyrants cringe with the bluff bold vigour of its ancient right to express its opinions in the street. This is what the new laws say about that:

Expressing an opinion is a dangerous activity

Whatever your opinions are, we don't want to hear them

So if you threaten us or our friends with your opinions we shall treat you like the rabble you are

And we do not want to hear you arguing about it

So hold your tongue and forget about protesting

What we want from you is acquiescence
Once you're done reading that, be sure to give Future of the Left's 'The Hope That House Built' a blast, just to keep you nice and focused. While most FotL lyrics read like punked-up Pythonisms, this song comes off like an art metal protest song. Shit, actually, it sounds like an art-metal protest song as written by Ringo Starr, which basically means that it's too unlikely to ignore.

Finally, as a counterpoint to all the doom-mongering in this post, here's a clip from Armando Iannucci's In The Loop. The movie is a shaggy spin-off from The Thick Of It, the TV show that made the correlation between petty office politics and national politics painfully clear, and it looks brilliant. NOTE: do not watch this if you have an aversion to nonstop, grade A swearing!

If this just makes you even more depressed, then try to think of King Mob's speech in volume 2 of The Invisibles:
That's why they can never hope to win. Chaos sneaks in every time.

They can cover the world with cameras, but they can't stop the guys in the monitor rooms from jerking off or playing the fifteenth sequel to "Doom" for the hundredth time.
Which is to say: the problems with the dominant media and political systems are very real, but it's important to remember we're dealing with stupid bureaucrats here, and stupid bureaucrats are anything but unbeatable.

"All good people can waltz"

Fight Like Apes, live @ King Tut's 03/03/2009

Stepping into King Tut's is like stepping into a grubby space/time wormhole -- am I 16 or 26? Am I a shy, cocky teenager or a brashly humble English Lit graduate? Am I talking about Destiny's Child with the bassist from ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, or am I spotting Noel Fielding lookalikes at the bar?

These questions become easier to answer when the support acts start to play. Paisley's Marvel Heights are perfectly competent, but they're also basically the reason I stopped paying to see every young group in town. There's nothing wrong with them, but after forty seconds it's painfully clear that stop start bits and chugging choruses don't make for great songs on their own (note: this is also why I stopped playing music).

Still, it's not in my nature to be too hard on a group of wee kids playing kind-sorta-okayish music to 30-odd people. Maybe someone needs to tell middling bands to give up, but it's not going to be me (Tucker Stone would probably be good at it, but he's a black hearted comedy genius and I'm not). And hey, who knows, maybe Marvel Heights will really rock one day. The teenage David would have taken that view, but the more shop-worn model isn't quite so sure.

Right now, it's probably more fun to be part of their posse of local supporters than it is to hate them, but I'm a dick so whatever.

Paris' Underground Railroad inspire a similar level of shrugging in your ever-lovin', green-eyed correspondent, but at least they've got the courtesy to vary the quality levels a little. Two or three sputtering electro-drone experiments kill any sense of momentum, but there are also moments of solidly realised meh-ness. These tend to occur when the band acknowledge two important facts:

1) that their drummer likes to hit things hard, and 2) that their guitarist used to play along to her Sonic Youth records when she was a little girl (Tim Robbins: "When she was a little French girl?"). They get some shtick from the punters, but they handle it well enough -- when their drummer kicks one of his sticks into the crowd and has to spend a few minutes fumbling to find a replacement, someone shouts "JUST STOP PLAYING!" and I briefly feel bad for the band. They don't seem fazed though -- "No, this is very fun for us," says the drummer. "We'll keep playing... you can call it torture if you want."

Dublin's Fight Like Apes aren't so easy going, but that's okay because they've got skills to back it up -- huge tunes, ace lyrics and a total willingness to intimidate the audience into enjoying themselves.

"Well, that's the most underwhelming response I've ever seen," grimaces bearded keyboard-fiend Pockets as his band take the stage to muted applause. By the time the first song is over, the crowd are genuinely buzzing, but he's still not happy: "I don't know what gig you were at last night, but we require a bit of audience participation. It's really fucking easy, as it turns out -- you just have to put your fucking hands together!"

To reinforce the point, shock-haired frontwoman MayKay looms out over the audience, plank of wood in hand, pointing out individual crowd members and demanding that they clap along. It'd all seem a bit much if Fight Like Apes weren't "so hot right now!"in the best and most Zoolander-ish way . But, truthfully, when the snarky stadium pop of 'Jake Summers' kicks into full effect I'd forgive the band if they started making Kanye-esque pronouncements about their greatness.

Also: the Mclusky cover!! How many bands would be smart enough to play 'Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues', and how many of them could make it not shit?

Fight Like Apes' music has all the built-from-the-bass-up simplicity of the Pixies/Nirvana/Mclusky axis, but there's a hint of something bigger and poppier in their twin-keyboards setup... something that suggests a future rocking bigger crowds, maybe not arena-size, but Barrowlands size at least.

Listen to the slow-build of 'Tie Me Up With Jackets' and tell me the opening of this song couldn't lead into some sort of anthemic, Snow Patrol style monster dirge if the vocals and keyboards didn't spray the whole thing with colour:

Maybe one day I'll get to scream the words to 'Lend Me Your Face' with a few thousand other people (and I've seen Meadowbank Stadium belt out every word of the Pixies' 'Hey', so stranger things have happened!), but right now Fight Like Apes are a ragged, all-swearing, all-shouting riot of a band. And that's great!

Watching MayKay tear apart an idiot who shouted "Show us your tits! " (sample putdown: "God, what a boring little pervert you are! Couldn't you at least have went for 'Please display your bosom'?"); wondering what the wooden plank was actually for (comedy percussion, naturally); giggling as Pockets gets his beard stroked by an over-zealous audience member; feeling the bassline from 'Do You Karate?' bounce back off the wall behind you for double effect... these are all things that are best experienced in a tiny venue near you. I'm sure Fight Like Apes will translate all of this to bigger rooms (they've played with The Prodigy and the Ting Tings, so they've no doubt been getting some practice in), but while the David of the future's keeping quiet on this the Davids of the past and present agree: this is one noisy brawl you don't want to miss.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues

Fight Like Apes -- 'Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues'

I'm going to see Fight Like Apes tonight, at least partly because they've got the good sense to cover Mclusky songs. Like this one, from the epic Mclusky Do Dallas. Fight Like Apes' singer Maykay doesn't give the lyrics quite as much venom as Mclusky yowler Falco did, but she turns the whole song into a hysterical, drunken rant so it still works. Also: props to the bassist, drummer and keyboard player, who do manage to match the visciousness of the original, without the aid of guitars.

Mclusky -- 'Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues'

The Mclusky version is still the best though, if only for the way Falco delivers that final "I'm fearful I'm fearful I'm fearful of flying/And flying is fearful of me!"

Speaking of the great man himself, it's good to know he still finds time to play this song with his new band:

Future of the Left -- 'Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues'

Future of the Left are a harder and more precise group than Mclusky, for the most part. Or at least, they seem to take their cues from the more brutal and riffy material from the last Mclusky album, rather than from the earlier, punkier material. Still, the way FotL rip through 'Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues' shows that they've got the same spiteful pop spirit as their predecessor band, and their use of the keyboard as a hateful instrument brings us back round to Fight Like Apes.

Ain't life grand?

Anyway, food now, then out. More later in the week? Maybe.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

From the Wasteland to Under Construction

Ok, so I'm in the middle of my seventh and final Filth essay, which has expanded to cover issues #7-13 of the comic. I hadn't initially planned to finish writing about the series this way, but when I started to write about issues #7 & 8 it became obvious that the last half of the series demanded to be considered as a whole. The original idea was to have the essay posted by the end of February, but I'd rather make it good than timely, so check back on Monday if you're interested.

There might be one or two short updates this week, but if that's not enough to keep you occupied then there's always this excerpt from David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel, The Pale King. I have mixed feelings about this -- there's always something ghoulish about the business of releasing an dead artist's unreleased work, but I can't even begin to pretend that I don't want to read this. Especially since it promises to really dive into the themes covered in DFW's Kenyon Commencement address, which... yeah, look: all squeamishness aside, I'm going to be obsessing over this book until it comes out in 2010.

(Via Gawker)