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.