Thursday, 18 December 2008

Worst Albums Redux: Paul Simon goes to Columbia

Listeners remain incredulous as to whether Men at Work were attempting to channel worldbeat's nascent influence on 1980s pop music or paying homage to their genocidees languishing in the Australian wilderness when they released the paradigm destroying album, Business as Usual. Either way the record's popularity proved that truly new and vital forms emerging from afro-beat and no-wave to dub and hip hop were no match for the fulsome colonial thrust of pop music. Of course the form itself is built upon the sediment(s) of so many local musics, interpreted and translated into a palatable product, giving birth to the colonial conception of the catchy. Yet simple recognition of this fact and serious engagement with the source material is all too often lost on the translator. While remaining faithful to the source is by no means the measure of a true artist, abstracting the form from its context and any meaning previously attached to it is an even more dangerous proposition.

And so stand the poster-children for this abstract condition, the pastel-stained Gap Ad that is Vampire Weekend, a band who's sound could just as easily be described as High School Musical goes to Africa as Paul Simon goes to Columbia. Either way and unbelievably so, the immeasurable amount of pure vapidity buried within these tidy, catchy pop songs has been lost on almost every single critic to date. Yes the music is undeniably catchy but the smarmy, flippant particularity of their Cape Codian landscape could be no further from the universalist highlife of Lagos or Accra from which they borrow so heavily.

Short films about vampires. English Grammar. Lil' John. Fascinating stuff. The only thing missing is Chevy Chase. And maybe Peter Gabriel.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Awesomest Bands

Crystal Antlers

The glorious sound of totalitarianism.

Ipso Facto

Fetishism aside...

Monday, 15 December 2008

Friday, 12 December 2008

Awesomest Blog

Two years worth of archived tapes from every corner of the African continent.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Chambliss, STILL the Senator: Why ain't no God-forsaken Yankee Imperialist Gonna Tread on my Traditions

In a vote that gives one collective tobacco-stained middle finger to Lincoln, that bitch-goddess Secretary of State, Hillary 'Seward' Clinton and the rest of his merry band of politically correct, cosmopolitan imperialists, the people of the state of Georgia have decided that one month of change is one month too long.

Their plebescite read, in an accent of amalgamated plain, plateau and mountain twangs,

"We the people of the State of Georgia promise to reinforce the stereotypical image of the American South as an homogenous mass of ignorance and in doing so we will make every endeavour to ensure that the next four years will be every bit as successful as Andrew Johnson's failed Reconstruction project."

Monday, 1 December 2008

Worst Albums of 2008

There is nothing more stomach churningly pathetic than a pop music critic; being a member of the Those who Cannot Do, Critique Club I own this insight as an unrepentant hater with equal distaste for critics as those who make unequivocally bad music. Of course, we could deconstruct quality to the point where previously derided and shamelessy commercial records earn praise due to their clarity of intent unfettered by pretentions to art or equally, we could pose as the ultimate postmodernists, contrarians inverting the cultural marxism of Theodor Adorno where in the words of Daryl Mac bad music is actually 'not bad meaning bad but bad meaning good.' But for the purposes of this series, it is important to set a categorical imperative of Kantian proportions where the world has not turned upside down providing the verb to hate on with objective foundations in everyday reality.

And thus my first selection for Worst Albums of 2008 is Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's Old Money . My hate here is more disappointment than unfettered contempt as Mr. Rodriguez-Lopez has both musical knowledge and impeccable taste powering former progenitors of scythe-edged simplicity At the Drive In. He also has little care for the trends proffered by the Cognoscenti of Postmodern Cool where a band as grating, artless, and puerile as Los Campesinos earns praise for being 'bratty' and 'brash.' Unluckly for us neither of these translate into the ability to produce qualitatively good music.

For one, Old Money works on the premise that modern capitalism is as swollen and unethical as the early 20th century where robber barons and rentiers hoarded vast proportions of any nation's industrial wealth. While I agree that the present is filled with the predatory past, a bloated shred-fest owing as much to Steve Vai as Frank Zappa is hardly capable of embodying such scathing class critique, clever titles aside. Plus, while I find it difficult to envision Messrs. Rockefeller and Vanderbilt dancing the Charleston to the sounds of Old Money, I can easily imagine modern oligarchs propped up by new money like Roman Abramovich and Mark Cuban bumping rails of coke to the sounds of 'Family War Funding (Love Those Rothschilds)' while the world outside continues to drown in its own hemophilia.

Second, the contents of Old Money are unlistenable. In fact, try as I may, I have not been able to trudge through more than thirty seconds of each song. Though that in itself may be enough to add this title to my Contrarian Doucebag Best of 2008.

Friday, 28 November 2008

The Only Sports Journalist in the World

Athletes are the penultimate symbol of national duty, veritable King's men holding steadfast to the nation's chilvaric code. They are often godly men well-versed in the conservative arts, masculine guardians of the family and the traditional structure of society. Sport, they claim, should be a refuge from the real world, an abstraction and an escape. Sports journalists, like financial journalists, act as their loyal technocrats, filling their pages with statistics, shielding their subjects from society. Yet athletes are more than symbols, particularist abstractions in their own right. They have access to a wealth that most never see and in their symbolic gestures they make very real political statements about what is proper conduct for a national citizen.

David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is one journalist that breathes fresh air into this suffocating climate. It is rare that such a man of music and art, a true subterranean, has found his way in this environment. For you sir who always rocks, I salute you.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Pullman on Manet

Tonight at Somerset House's Writer's Talks in the Courtauld Gallery author Philip Pullman pontificates on the proletarian gloom of Édouard Manet’s famed A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. Maybe this will serve as the impetus for Pullman to finally finish his Class Warfare for Kids compendium we’ve all been waiting on.

Go to for the full preview.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Hip Hop Cher Style

Nothing says hip hop more than the Antares Auto-Tune, the famed audio processor popularised by no less than that rugged and raw progenitor of urban angst Cherilyn Sarkisian. Let's face it Bambaata's synth vocals were too soft for the new millenium. I wonder if Will-i-am has that backing track cooked up yet for Obama's Auto-Tuned inauguration speech. Do you believe in life after Bush?

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

In Reluctant Recognition of Brian Wilson

While Brian Wilson's genius lies in his ability to convey a wholesale rejection of adulthood in favour of the whimsy of puerility without uttering a word, he is no more enjoyable than listening to a five year old boys choir playing vocal Candyland. Luckily, the beauty of music lies in interpretation. It turns out one can remove the medium from the absurdity, in this case multiple part vocal harmonies from Wilson's zany Peter Pan fantasyland, add the weariness of experience, a wealth of influence, one part CSNY, one part Eno and Byrne, and the outcome is a new direction in American independent music.

Fleet Foxes - A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Good Jobs

The first glimpse of history I catch every morning as I gaze upon the charcoal stained precipice of my neighbour’s terrace is the London of Queen Victoria, her roof choking on the fumes of industry and the interminable toil of her working masses. In the evening the shrieks and gasps of the revellers below are reminiscent of the libertinism unleashed by the restoration of Charles II to the throne, libidinous crowds ringing the death knell of heady political conflict with effusive pelvic thrusts. The past then not so much lulls me to sleep but rather pummels me into submission with fulsome images of utilitarian chimera. From these nights of deferred pleasures, I am often precipitously thrown out of sleep by the incessant hammering of the future, the pretense of renewal compounding the weariness that history has worn on my face. I too engage in this guise, running hot water over my eyes, vainly rejecting the faint traces of the past around me in favour of my own trailblazing agency. The trail I blaze to the office is an instant reminder of this farce as I am quickly thrust into a present more medieval than modern. The vast effluvium of words carelessly spat out of the collective mouth of the media behemoth, value free fact mediums to some, augur ultimate calamity, tossing me drunkenly into an absurd narrative where the past coalesces in an ungainly mixed metaphor.

Here amongst the perpetual blaze I can no more be Samuel Pepys than I can Prometheus, my cognizance and my will inhibited by the charcoal filtered opinions of the experts. It would seem that the spirits forced upon my liver would provide powerful distraction from the sky’s collapse, though I rarely find solace, for the drink I have imbibed leaves me with the impression that I am in total control of my body.

And so I find myself not on the streets of present day London but holed up in a vestibule in the city of Oran, my eyes dried by the smoke, fearing that the plague-ridden rats will finally breach my barricade. In the East, I hear that all of course is not well with Innocent III’s latest battle with the heretics of Islam. In the Caribbean and the Far East I hear of islands where the last beacon of upright certitude, the public sphere, has been swallowed up by profligate autocrats, binding the natural right of speech in the most ingenious of artifices. Convoluted I’ll admit but denying access to toothpaste restricts the mouth from protesting too loudly for fear that the noxious odours buried within will offend the senses of passersby. It is said too that citizens there have no right to float on the benevolent waves of the internet and therefore no access to the vast amounts of unbridled fact buoyed on the crests of freedom. This idea is too much for my fear-stricken body to handle, shudders sent down my spine by the thought of never knowing the manatee of free speech.

In the West, Cotton Mather does battle with heresies of his own, these of course are merely spectres, omens of future incarnations of socialist science proffered by Godless communitarians fit only for the guillotine or the madhouse. His opponent plays a similar deadly game calling for change and offering the morality of security and Keynes as bulwarks against the crises of ideology. And here the last shred of comfort warms my limbs, the absurdity of optimism while entrenched in the wasteland of the Somme momentarily betraying me. There still exists a space free from the extremes of belief and ideology, a place of solid objectivity unchallenged by the tyrants of postmodernity, an area peopled by the most virtuous of modernity, their virtue marked by the absence of subjective value. It is the public realm, and they are the upright citizens possessed of good jobs.

I can imagine this idyll from my perch in Oran, the good faces of the good people with good jobs unblemished by the agglomeration of history advancing around them. I pass my lustful gaze upon the recent past and the deference evoked by every instance they crossed my path. I, like everyone else, am enamoured by their devotion to their daily tasks, at how they fulfil their Aristotelian functionality with steadfast certitude while the outside realm is afflicted by the effects of causes, thrown into chaos by greed and power. Outside this sphere, amid such utter depravity, Flannery O’Connor is correct, a good man is hard to find. But within, good people abound, a conglomeration of organs working together to ensure the survival of the last great social organism. It pains me to dwell on this distant idyll anymore as I turn my gaze upon the dead society around me, a world turned upside down by so many beasts of no nation, ill gotten without merit or hard work. At twilight, the poverty in the air is rife as I learn of the collapse of so many more seemingly stable markets. I scoff at the insinuation that some of our current problems are a direct result of the economic sphere, as if good people could be the root of such destruction.

I fear my demise is close at hand as my mind passes through that euphoric state the unwitting wildebeest drifts into just before the lion’s jaw closes upon its beleaguered body. There I return to a lush state of nature. From my solitude in the medieval present, I am now immersed in the companionship that only the timeless age of labour can offer. I am approached by one particularly estimable person whose hello I return in the affirmative.

“And what do you do?” he asks curiously.

Pride swells within as I taste for the first time the sense of belonging. But before I can respond, the distant scuttle of rats becomes omnipresent throwing me once more from dream to nightmare.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Fear of a Black President

In the film Bamboozled, satirist Pierre Delacroix creates a modern day minstrel show envisioning the delight aroused in white America as a forum is given for them to revel in their own latent stereotypes. The main protagonists Mantan and Sleep n Eat, fumble and guffaw over their perpetual misfortune, insouciantly pausing to devour watermelon and fried chicken as house band the Alabama Porch Monkeys close the show with a rousing coda. The audience actively engages in the spectacle, grinning like ingenuous children unaccustomed to the world of meaning. It is on the surface, pure farce.

Yet in the theatre of America, her protagonists lay claim to a similar innocence imbibing the satire below as a comical reflection of reality. And innocence is always the most powerful defence. It is our dearest claim. Our exceptional right to absurdity.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

My Very Own Take That

I have resisted this sort of fetishism for as long as I possibly could; maybe it is the Vanessa Beecroft aesthetics of Hypnotise, creating a mystique of nihilistic otherworldliness. I mean that's the idea of art is it not, to incite curiosity by presenting an image simultaneously distant and familiar. But is this not my rational veil, masking the more base instincts held within Friedan's The Feminine Mystique . Judging from my being reduced to an awestruck adolescent drunk on the release of A Hard Days Night, my intoxicated speech a Creole smattering of screams and grunts, the subject of the object is never too far from my mind. But to be instantly fascinated by form, to be struck by a flutter of inspiration that momentarily warms the cold grip of cynicism set in after the realisation of the impossibility of the new and the utopian obsession of a revolutionary break with the past.

Ipso Facto's immediate past is a place where I have preferred not to venture. It, in my impressionistic rendering, is a vague setting, filled with authoritarian images of authenticity, order, and a time where the nation was a healthy whole. The aesthetes seem at first to be vintage fetishists, purveyors of empty style. But of course their past too is dark and fragmented.

Of course on a balmy autumn evening in Southeast London, none of us are really that deep. We are all faced with the more immediate concerns of mediated hedonism, further protecting our limbs from the lashing wind and the pissing rain, lowering our inhibitions so that we may interact more comfortably without regard to the intricate complex of mores protecting us from them. In this state it is normal to buy Rosie and Cherish a drink, repeating their names in my head as if they'd long graced the cover of Teen Idol with a young Marc Bolan. It is also my intention to assure them that whilst I am being obsequious, my intentions are intention-less. I am so sure they believe me that I abscond to the stage to watch These New Puritans do their best Gang of Four impressions, though keeping my gaze fixed on the preceding five minutes, ignoring the foolishness of our one and only chance meeting.

Friday, 22 August 2008

The Mews and the Hotness

125A Camden Mews...may it burn on the talents of its former tenants.

Nic paints the hotness,

T-Rock hosts the hotness,

Friday, 15 August 2008

Auditions for Vice Magazine

I always knew Bobby Cox was really a Cock, a descendant from that great line of Cornish Cocks. Unfortunately for the champion of the downtrodden ethnic minority in all of us, the British Jacobins seem to be wiping out any trace of the once great nation.

At least their brethren in Canada can keep the flame of displaced peoples alight.

I hear they have a valiant captain.

Territorial integrity always comes at a price.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

From Sub Pop to Geffen

The Frank-drenched essence of my luck with flying could only end with Tom Hanks. Fortunately my recent clash with the dizzying heights of aerophobia did not finish with a slip out of a Quantas-sized hole to meet my end in barbate solitude. While the past few days have only reinforced my terminally challenged tendencies, flying standby has wrought a new twist in this psychological skein. On the bright side, at least the airline industry's rapine policy of overbooking has delayed the inevitable leaky bowels brought on by my recurring dreams of dismemberment. Though when I first imagined the interminable distance between London and Atlanta, it did not include a ten-plus hour journey to and from the first great outpost of English and Scottish assimilation, Edinburgh. Add to that the hundreds of pounds spent travelling around the country in order to return to the wintry English summer a slightly broken man when I should have been drowning in the Georgian humidity, devouring hot wings and suffocating on the spectacle of American democracy in that all too progressive town of Bethlehem, Georgia, then you do indeed have a man born on bitter alienation.

Desert island.

Airport terminal.

It really doesn’t make much difference Mr. Hanks – save for the incessant banter of a few lowland Scots lamenting the downfall of Hibernian Football Club; the red-faced defeat worn on the face of a week long strandee, a beautiful Geordie girl with a tooth wrought of gold, and a dissertation critically engaging the lack of a levelling spirit in the Harry Potter series. For now all I can hope for is a respite from the nine month bout of pneumonia presently dormant in my tattered lungs. I guess I’ll be watching The Future is Unwritten on repeat this week, living vicariously through Joe Strummer's humanism, trying to convince myself that the Absolute has not inscribed my fate on the license plate of the Stunticon, Dead End. Otherwise I might succumb to this utter alienation and resign myself to the certitude of calamity.

Monday, 21 July 2008

My MP3 Player Loves the Wu

"Wu-Tang again?" I benumbingly ask my musical friend, my brain awash in streams of visceral ultra-violence.
"Again and again!" it responds, the skeletal loneliness of Syl Johnson ricocheting off my hollow bones.
Yet I find it quite easy to relent to these circumstances. Maybe it's my nihilistic impulses, a fetishisation of escape, or my inabiliy, despite my best efforts, to recover the true ends of an artist's intent. Either way, my fingers form outlines of vengence and my lips curl in masculine braggadocio, my limbs colluding to express a personal rebirth. It becomes ever more apparent that my days are a ruse. And every intellectual pursuit a guise to mask my tendancy towards to the senseless. A truth only exposed by the Wu. For Rza and I share a love of Machiavelli's Wild West. And thus the sociopath is born.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

There's Good, there's Bad, and then there's Phil Collins


I just cannot figure where on this diverse spectrum of objective quality Wolf Parade's At Mount Zoomer rests. I mean I can't figure out if the record is really good or if it's Rick Springfield's lost prog-pop masterpiece. The vocals hold little promise of daring or danger, unless an adult alternative Isaac Brock is your idea of this era's GG Allin. And the keyboardist filling every inch of space with his zany sounds of the universe plug-ins, might as well be the drummer in your adolescent Venom cover band. Yet despite all this and the threads of Phil Collins this record wraps around my neck, I think I'll risk choking and give it a Good.


Flying Lotus Los Angeles

Another one of those is this bad or is this bad-ass? I'll label it smooth electronica and give it a Bad.

Phil Collins

Nas Untitled

Nas should be thinking immolation rather than apotheosis.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

On Blast

John Gray is your drunk cynical uncle who prances around in a cobbled together tooth fairy outfit in an attempt to prove the adolescent impotence of your whole system of thought.

The best way to recover from such a complete ass kicking doled out by Mr. Gray is to cast your Black Kids and Vampire Weekend records into the abyss, and drown your newfound nihilistic wearyness in the din of Titus Andronicus.

And if you're too worked up to sleep, why not finish yourself off to the classic beauty of Miss Claudia Cardinale.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Film - Taxi to the Dark Side

'Taxi to the Dark Side'
Alex Gibney

Without Ground, How Does One Stand?

In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes remarked that only human beings were subject to the privilege of Absurdity. And yet the idea of an extra-legal American detention centre ensconced on Cuban sovereign territory is not quite as bizarre as it may have once seemed. Maybe it is because we have grown rather accustomed to a world unmade by George Bush’s apocalyptic rendering of a global struggle between forces of good and evil, where any means are justified in the righteous cause of global liberal capitalist democracy. In any case, Alex Gibney’s most recent study of the terror that is Guantanamo Bay, ‘Taxi to the Dark Side,’ seeks to reveal the absurdity that is latent within the axiom that terror is only transgressive in the hands of terrorists.

While the film itself suffers from its American insularity - where state terror is a novel concept invented by neo-conservatives - it demands Americans to note the numerous paradoxes within their national identity. It namely questions the American belief in what Benedict Anderson deemed, the Goodness of their Nation, wherein civic notions of democracy and justice are the bases of American identity. The film also acts as a modern day Eichmann in Jerusalem bringing the question of culpability to the forefront of the discussion. Most notably, using the conservative logic of individual responsibility, Gibney asks who is responsible for such atrocities in Bagram and Abu Ghraib, the dutiful soldier following orders or the Secretary of Defense devising such maniacal schemes.

Though much to the chagrin of Gibney there is little hope of such a serious national re-examination for which the film demands. After all, most of us suffer from conditions of mythic proportions.

And so the absurdity continues.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

How to Be a Writer

Wow, I sure am full of shit.

Just remember, when you freelance, be sure to say as little as possible in as many words as you can. Also, be punchy, witty, and ironic. Use words like angular and cathartic for rock music and phrases like " cop this record" and "word on the streets" when describing rap music.

Just look how well I write for LeCool .

Thank You New Media!

Thank God New Media has produced the complete democratisation of political discourse. The spectrum of opinion is astounding!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Subsequent Discourse

or 'How to Discuss Race in America' by PT Barnum

Lesson 1: Blame racism on the offended. After all, racism is indeed a delusion suffered by homosexuals, yankees, and other paternalistic racists.

Lesson 2: Direct the discussion away from race. Deny any negative historical connotative links between objects and groups. Monkeys are cute and loveable, nooses are for state ordained executions of outlaws and other miscreants, and blackface is an innocuous ode to simpler times.

Lesson 3: Invoke free speech. It's right there in the US constitution; citizens are free to speak without fear of a discussion emerging.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The New Cosmopolitans

With the dawn of the 21st Century falling rapidly behind us we can find security in the knowledge of our interminable progress toward universal equality. Please excuse our forebears for they knew not what they did; things were different back then. Only in the United States of America can a man of color rise to great prominence and earn such respect as to have a t-shirt printed in his honor.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

On Blast

Consumption (and yes I have officially recovered from my three-month bout of consumption) for the Week 28 February 2008


Yeasayer - 'Wait for the Summer' Don't believe what you hear about Yeasayer. Watch this instead,


Portishead - 'Machine Gun' from ATP Nightmare Before Christmas
The entire show is a welcome return and no one can accuse Portishead of going pop. Of the four songs performed off the upcoming album Third - 'Wicca', 'Hunter', 'Machine Gun', and Peaches - 'Machine Gun' is by far the most stunning, built around a rudimentary snyth-drum loop and Beth Gibbons' rapturous voice.

Main Source - Breaking Atoms (1991)
You can't claim you know hip-hop unless you've heard this Large Professor produced masterpiece. The album would never see release today due to endless samples utilized here; think Paul's Boutique . It's not just the beats that remain relevant though as Extra-P plays the master surgeon, literally dissecting the major flaws of American society. The cat could have been a lecturer considering how deep he runs.

Culture - Two Sevens Clash (1979)
I have always held both ska and reggae in a very low regard - maybe it's the Germans and their strange fascination with dancehall that turned me off or that whole horribly ill-conceived third wave ska movement. Either way, I have recently found my way into dub and roots through Lee Perry, Junior Murvin, and most notably, Culture. How could you not love a band that revels so completely in the impending apocalypse?

The Clash - 'Magnificent 7' (Sandinista 1980)
The only reason the Clash should be defined as a punk band is because Joe Strummer, Mick Joes, Paul Simonon, and Topper Headon would venture anywhere and try anything. 'Magnificent 7' throbs with urgency and curiosity and is a bit reminiscent of Kurtis Blow with an edge.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Just a Friendly Game of Golf; It's Just Sport Dude, Just Like 24 is Simply Entertainment

Desert of the Real or A Loving Tribute to Fuzzy Zoeller?

Large Professor, mouthpiece of the inimitable hip-hop trio Main Source, likened police brutality and the larger American society that reared it to a friendly game of baseball. In an insightfully scathing and multi-layered approach Extra-P revealed that American identity necessitated both the repression and expression of racial insecurity through a Zizekian sublimation of reality. While Large Professor's main target was the overt violence directed at African-Americans during the tenure of Ed Koch - a reign which would later seem mild in comparison to Rudolph Giuliani's clampdown of New York City - he alluded to America's society of spectacle and obsession with diversion, one so complete that our own identity seems at once total and insecure.

And people watch the news for coverage on the game
Hmm, and got the nerve to complain
They need to get themselves a front row seat
Or sink a baseline for a beat
Cause television just ain't designed for precision y'all
It's just a friendly game of baseball

Baseball is a seemingly harmless diversion from the atomization precipitated by modernity.
Yet its societal function is one of symbol, where the nation and all its myths are on full display.
Sport is our great refuge from politics. We therefore cease to attempt to grasp our own identity and take for granted that which we believe has been settled.

So when overwhelmingly unimportant "golf analyst" Kelly Tighlman called for young players to "lynch Tiger Woods in a back alley," she made an unthinkable mistake, bringing Politics into our safe hyperreality. Our deluded self-image is so complete that her comments are as absurd as a foursome discussing The Souls of Black Folk or likening the Holocaust to our own Manifest Destiny. The shock is brief though, as the victim calls for calm and the golfing world moves on. Yet our society stumbles on, regurgitating myths and displacing the blame for her comments on the offended and not the offenders. Cue Bryant Gumbell, "after this brief intermission, let's return to the game."