29 September 2010

This Flying V ukelele is available in the kids department of Habitat.

It has no frets and the tuning pegs are for show. For some reason it makes me think of David and Samantha Cameron.

27 September 2010

Buddy Holly and indie

Long-time rock fans have always been bitterly divided about him. He wasn't a hardcore rocker, being too gentle and melodic, and this eccentricity can be construed either as backsliding or as progression.
Holly's breakthrough, in fact, was that he opened up alternatives to all-out hysteria. Not many white kids had the lungs or sheer hunger to copy Little Richard but Holly was easy. All you needed was tonsils. The beat was lukewarm, the range minimal – no acrobatics or rage or effort required. You just stood up straight and mumbled.
In this way, Buddy Holly was the patron saint of all the thousands of no-talent kids who ever tried to make a million dollars. He was the founder of a noble tradition.
Nik Cohn, Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom (1969), pp. 42–3
Yes, and though Nik Cohn couldn't know it writing in 1969, that tradition turned out to be indie.

24 September 2010

The Honeycombs

The sound of a caffeine overdose.

22 September 2010

BYG Actuel on a budget

As XTRA is to Folkways, so Affinity is to BYG Actuel and its heavyweight run of classic free jazz. That is to say, surprisingly unloved and affordable licensed represses. BYG Actuel, set up by Jean-Luc Young, Jean Georgakarakos and Ferand Buros, was short-lived. Affinity was an imprint of Charly, the reissue label which Young subsequently ran. Comparing the two labels to see which BYG releases Young went back for is intriguing; was he trying to rescue things he thought especially deserved re-release, or what he thought was commercially salvageable?

Again to a Record Collector reader the paltry sums these records have cost me are probably just list price, but a) the original pressings really aren't cheap, b) the more recent vinyl reissues feel a bit too much like buying fake antiques and c) I like the peculiar typography. The layout is, I guess, meant to be stark and austere. The rule goes:

given name
[pic] surname
album title

...and I can imagine the designer being vaguely pissed off that 'Lacy' was going to mess with the usual pattern.

There's also the mild buzz of finding entries from this list in charity shops – a list which on publication way back in prehistory seemed impossibly unobtainable, but can now all be downloaded from a single site.

Although this is my favourite Affinity find, with its not-exactly-common atonal twin harmonica attack (!) and some absolutely scything spoken word by Jeanne Lee. (Video below).

21 September 2010

random Eno album generator

I'm not entirely sure the new Brian Eno album isn't a hoax. Just read him talking about it here, it's hard to imagine a more predictably Eno Eno album. The evocative possibilities of the soundtrack, imagining a soundtrack to an unmade film. Reference to the olfactory – 'lingering perfume'. Use of improvisation (open to chance, derailing the standard model of songwriting etc). Investigation of 'place' and 'space'. Playing with background and foreground. Title that sounds like it could be a sexual euphemism you've never heard of.

15 September 2010


Finally remembered who this Ultrasound band are that Dan Hancox has been tweeting about.

If I remember correctly – and I'd long since stopped reading the NME regularly by this stage (circa 1999?) – Ultrasound were generally written about through the lens of its frontman, Tiny. And as I recall, the tenor of even the most positive of the write-ups veered into a discourse in which you didn't so much enjoy the band directly as enjoy it mediated through the unlikely success of someone with such an unlikely pop body. That is, the triumph of Ultrasound was to be experienced almost Avatar-style, by placing oneself in Tiny's shoes and vicariously feeling the victory of the underdog.

There must be an article/essay/paper/MA thesis to be written here – essentially on how fat people in pop are written about – a kind of discourse analysis, perhaps in four parts, comparing features on Ultrasound with those on Beth Ditto, and outside indie, on Michelle McManus and Rik Waller. Maybe Adele too... I don't think anyone ever raises Ceee-Lo's weight in profiles or interviews.

But this all hangs on that initial IIRC. And maybe I Don't Recall Correctly.

09 September 2010

Genres of the Future 2: Chillwave Metal

The shoegaze aesthetic has returned as chillwave/glo-fi etc. Shoegaze metal has been around for a while – e.g. Justin Broadrick's Jesu. Logically therefore, we can expect chillwave metal to appear sooner or later.

In a way I can't believe it hasn't happened already: the requisite 80s signifiers are there in abundance, not to mention the arpeggios. It's just a question of looping, time-stretching, reverbing, delaying etc guitar shredders instead of synths.