Califone are very much a country-influenced act, and have very little to do with folk, which is a completely different idiom from a different country.
... we blame punk, then? That DIY aesthetic comes from there; sure, technology facilitates it, but punk created the mindset.
... there's about a dozen professionals in the country; judging by both John Robb's piece and Ben Myers' piece, neither of them makes "a living" off music writing; Robb plays gigs etc, Ben sells his possessions, and I'm sure both do plenty of other things on the side too that aren't music writing, even if they're tangentially related. Do they "make a living" off it? Tom Ewing's an awesome writer who gets paid for quite a bit of what he writes and has a phenomenally 'professional' approach; he also has a fulltime job in another industry. I know other guys / girls who edit medical or business journals, who work in libraries, who are university lecturers, radio presenters, recording engineers, programmers, database managers, linguists, and god only knows what else, and who are all phenomenal music writers. Amateur vs professional is an irrelevance here, I think.
And that's why I find all this fucking navel-gazing so unpalatable. Music writing IS boring. Music, on the other hand, is fucking amazing.
Just getting paid? Training? An NVQ in music critique? I've got a BA in Popular Culture & Philosophy; that's about the most music-critic-vocational degree one could do. William Bloody Swygart is one of the best music writers I've ever read or commissioned; I'm pretty sure he'd have an aneurysm if you described him as professional, but one of him is worth a thousand 'professionals' to me.
...are way more important than good writers. They CREATE good writers, by taking raw talent and moulding it.
I've always worked full time to pay the bills, and written around that. Sometimes I wrote for money but mostly for 'love' (?!?). Plenty of musicians do the same and make great records (and published novelists too), so why not music writers? Most I know work fulltime too. I love music but I love owning my own home, too.
You do realise this is the internet you're on, right? That's not a problem limited to DiS.
Good editors are FAR more valuable than "memorable" writers in terms of, you know, actually running a magazine / webzine / whatever. "Memorable" writers are usually temperamental arseholes with an atrocious lack of professionalism and an inability to turn copy in on time. Or else they're shit and remembered for the wrong reasons.
Why are you so bothered by it?
While I am 30, and I do love my mother, I'm not sure I've ever been called posh before. Unless "posh" means "first member of working class Yorkshire family to go to an ex-polytechnic and get a degree". I guess I do own TWO different types of champagne glass, though.
John Robb's never been anything but a low-rent Steven Wells in terms of his writing (and I don't rate Swells, either), and his TV persona is execrable. I'm reliably informed that in person he's a lovely guy, however.
The primary usefulness of comments & boards on music websites is to gerrymander your hits / readership figures so you can sell yourself to Murdoch, isn't it?
With a billion songs at your fingertips, you need someone or something to guide you through it all. Even in 2003/04 I was downloading music at a faster rate than I could physically listen to it, let alone appreciate / like / love it. In 2009 there's still a place for gatekeepers. It's just that no one knows where.
Famously wanked himself silly a few times a day in a darkened room while recording What's Going On in order to rid himself of distracting thoughts while he was actually making music. Maybe if John Robb tried the same approach he'd not be such a godawful writer.
7am: get up, shower, breakfast, feed cats, wake girlfriend.
8.30am: drive to the dayjob that has nothing to do with music journalism and that pays my mortgage.
9am to 5pm: do my job, listen to some music on headphones at my desk, occasionalyl browse the internet, DESPAIR at what passes as music journalism from the vast majority of stupid idiots who think of themselves as music journalists.
5pm: drive home, cook dinner, watch Hollyoaks, stroke cats, listen to Gilberto Gil. Maybe watch a film, or read, or watch CSI: New York, or something. Don't write about music anymore because a; it pays fuck-all, b; everyone hates you, c; the people you see writing most music journalism have no talent, morals, scruples, or taste, d; DESPAIR, e; DESPAIR, f; DESPAIR. Think about writing a novel.
11pm: go to bed. Sleep, repeat.
Dan manages to sum up how I feel about this record pretty perfectly. There's a tiny bit of 16-year-old me buried deep that wants this to be great and almost thinks it might be, but then there's 13 years of experience piled on top of that saying "actually, this is kind of embarrassing".
There ARE good bits, for sure - just about every song has at least something that's interesting or exciting about it, even if it's only a lone guitar chord or bassline. But on the other hand, even the pretty good songs (S&W, Judas, Noise Epic, Valium Skies) have something awful about them - and the awful thing is generally Richard Ashcroft, whether it's lyrics about latte's or his godawful Bono-at-the-end-of-Bullet-The-Blue-Sky impression on Noise Epic. YOU'RE FROM WIGAN, LIVE WITH IT.
So yeah, 5/10 seems totally fair to me. I'm sad to say.
That Muse lack delicacy and humour was kind of my point, there.
Is a Muse song, without the humour or songwriting delicacy that Muse are famed for.
I think you're missing the point of what a review is; it's just an initial opinion, an impression really, and it can't actually be anything else. If you want in-depth exegesis of something, then you need writing that's the result of a long-term relationship with a record, which just isn't possible with the way records are released and the way the music press (hell, the whole of the cultural press and every relevant product from film to literature to ballet) works. You're after 33 1/3 books. We need years to do those.
And yes, knowing that I might change my mind on this review is frustrating, knowing that there are limits to this process is disheartening; it's something I've struggled with and written about - "what if my affection / antipathy changes? what if I love / hate this in another three months?" One can't go back and rewrite a review later on when you've changed your mind, so one just has to accept that one is being honest RIGHT NOW, that this review is how I feel about this record today (or Sunday night when I wrote it).
We're not trying to deceive anyone here; we're just being as honest as we can with the facilities available to us.
Not heard the I Might Be Wrong version, but the Amnesiac version is foul. The vocal mixing is horrific.
It's still hardly Scott Walker, but this album sounds much better to my ears than AWITC did. MUCH better.
I reviewed AWITC for Stylus and there was nothing in the press release about Less Than Zero. I also recall nothing in any interviews with Kele mentioning it. I've also, being a music writer and not a literary critic, never read the book in question, which is also hardly canonical. So if I'm supposed to know as much about where Kele nicks his lyrics from as a devout BP fanboy, I apologise; I have no interest in that level of minutiae, and neither do the vast majority of people who are likely to read this review, I'd wager.
Mike; no problem at all with that; just don't put up the homoerotic slash fiction paragraph about Kele and Patrick Wolf, OK?
Richard Ashcroft repeatedly nicks lyrics from William Blake; doesn't mean he's in the same literary league. I hadn't noticed the Righteous Brothers paraphrase until now because it's so clumsy and squirm-inducing as to make one not want to think about where it might have come from.
But yes, regardless, this is a good album. Their best? Ask me again in nine months.
Various newspaper websites liveblogged reviews of In Rainbows. 4 days is plenty of time for a review; given turnaround at some magazines and papers between promos going out and copy being due, it's actually quite generous.
Actually it was Mike himself who subbed that line in. Different people in different opinions SHOCKAH.
Does that make me old?
I'd probably never give anything a 10/10, just cos it seems silly, ad that suggests 'perfect' which is clearly unobtainable.
The reason i shied away from giving this a 9 is that I'm not sure it's better than Held On The Tips Of Fingers yet; I've listened to it dozens and dozens of times, and adore it, but I can't help but feel that it's a touch too long, a touch too repetitive, compared to Tips Of Fingers. It's still, clearly, an awesome record, mind you.
For those that don’t know, Polar Bear are a jazz band, and in 2005 were the token jazz nomination for the Mercury Music Prize. If you saw the award show that year, you’ll know that their kinetic, two sax, bass and drums line-up rocked the house party at the drop of a hat, and left everyone else (bar, possibly, winner Antony Hegarty) looking like very clumsy, boring musicians indeed. You’ll also know that their drummer is a demon, with the biggest hair ever seen in music.
That drummer, who goes by the name Seb Rochford, is also Polar Bear’s bandleader, meaning that he’s the guy who directs the group and sketches the shapes of their tunes. He also, along with bassist Tom Herbert and baritone / tenor saxophonist Pete Wareham, plays in Acoustic Ladyland, an electrified sister act to Polar Bear who do a similar thing to Battles, only coming from the opposite direction. Acoustic Ladyland’s 2006 album, Skinny Grin (review), is about the most exciting and essential example of jazz / rock / avant-garde fusion released in… oh, my lifetime. You should check it out.
Polar Bear play jazz much more straight down the line than their alter ego, though; there’s no electric bass run through effects peddles here, no Hendrix-esque soloing, and no songs titled after Iggy Pop or The Ramones. There are also no samples, loops, or nods to hip-hop or drum 'n' bass, although there are subtle electronic production touches (plus mandolin, kalimba and 'balloon') provided by Leafcutter John. They’re provided live though, in an improvisational jazz style, just like everything else here, which means that, while this is a very modern jazz album in style and tone, it’s still the sound of five men (the fifth being second sax player Mark Lockheart) playing music together in a room, rather than one guy mixing together sample stems on a laptop.
While Wareham and Rochford are the biggest names in the band, it’s often Herbert that carries the compositions, his rich double bass simultaneously anchoring and driving the soloing saxophones and textural electronics, while working in blissful rhythmic union with Roachford’s excitable percussion. Many passages verge on a kid of jazz-dub, Roachford and Herbert laying down a steady, tricky groove while the saxophones and electronics stretch the soundscape above into psychedelic headspace.
Several times across this eponymous album, the group’s third, Polar Bear dip in and out of ambient jazz occasionally redolent of Miles Davis’ legendary In A Silent Way album (though sans keyboards), but they always remember to reintroduce verve, grooves and thrilling intergroup dynamics before things get boring.
Technically Polar Bear mix up many different styles of jazz, from bop to fusion to free through everything else, but always back to their own recognisable stylistic template. Throughout the album melodic themes and rhythmic patterns are established, dissolved, forgotten and then reintroduced. Take the way 'Goodbye' starts life as the kind of tuneful, upbeat style-hopping that might be Polar Bear's signature sound, before it liquefies into a swirl of shooting electronic textures, rattling percussion, and spinning-but-still-melodic sax, and then morphs effortlessly through plains of ambient drone into 'Appears, Moves And Sails'.
It’s this seamless motion and playful interplay that makes Polar Bear such a thrill; they seem to know exactly what to do and when – when to surprise, when to comfort, when to excite, when to calm. The third quarter of the record possibly wanders too far into free jazz skronking and textural explorations for some, but this is a big album – 14 tracks over 75 minutes – and takes in a lot of ground, meaning there should be at least something for everyone. For sheer musical pleasure it’s one of my favourite records of the year. I could listen to them play all day.
Rachel Unthank = token (Geordie) folk nominee
Portico Quartet = token British jazz nominee
I bought the Unthank last night and almost bought Portico several months ago.
British Sea Power Do You Like Rock Music?
Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid
Laura Marling Alas I Cannot Swim
Neon Neon Stainless Style
Portico Quartet Knee-Deep In The North Sea
Rachel Unthank & The Winterset The Bairns
Radiohead In Rainbows
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raising Sand
The Last Shadow Puppets The Age Of The Understatement
I can't help but feel that Lydon probably feels a bit aggrieved by all the attention poor Heath ledger's getting.
I'm not sure; that release date is down on Amazon, but I bought it direct from the record label a week ago; up until last Monday, Amazon's release date WAS last Monday!
Is a great shout, but probably wont get nominated. Is Conor McNichols still on the panel?
Jazz-wise either The Blessing or Neil Cowley Trio may get nominated; I'd love to see Polar Bear nominated again as their new one is better than the one that did get nominated, but chances are slim. There'll be a token folk / classical / etc nomination tat no one's heard of. Radiohead to win it finally.
Nick in not reading all replies shock.
That could be directed at either Lydon or Okereke, depending how you feel.
People who make good records in 'being massive twat' shock.
It's not so much that Kanye & Brion sounds 'rock', as that Kanye went to an acclaimed and renowned 'rock' arranger and their collaboration worked.
Re: The Verve: Richard Ashcroft, at the time, was very keen to talk about how they composed BSS "in the manner of hip-hop", building up from samples with loops and layers rather than 'writing' or 'jamming' the song in the more traditional songwriter / live band way.
In both instances it's not so much about the aesthetic outcome being a fusion of rock and hip-hop, as the ideological methodology used to put the music together.
How can it tail off when The Snow Leopard and The Hunter's Star are the last two tracks?!
I picked up Palo Santo on Sunday and gave it a vague listen then; it struck me as very good, but not as awesome as Rook. Their three albums before that were slightly different affairs in that the band was a collaborative effort between Meiburg and Will Sheff (Meiburg now just does Shearwater while Sheff these days is 100% Okkervil River).
Apologies! To be fair, my initial list of rock&hip-hop collabs / achievements was about 500 words long in itself, so I had to trim a lot. But I had completely forgotten that one, if I'm honest...
Just to remind myself. Not in any particular order, though - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Albums-of-2008-part-1/lm/R3MWCGYF9TLFUQ/ref=cm_lm_pdp_title_full
Get a better stereo. This record is awesome.
I love how 23s of the comments agree with the review and say it's very fair, and the other third are disgusted with me for being hateful. Have you seen the Independent piece I linked upthread? THAT'S hateful. I don't dislike Coldplay; I just don't think they're half as good as people like you seem to.
Parachutes would get maybe a five from me? The songwriting is very immature and the instrumentation is unexciting. The Blue Room EP was far, far better. Take Trouble for example - it's got a lovely piano hook, a pleasant verse, and a pleasant chorus (however insipid one might choose to argue it might be); but it's either only half a song, or else it's a two-minute song - so Coldplay play it twice back-to-back and pretend it's a whole song. Likewise Everything's Not Lost, and probably others on there too (I've not listened to it in at least five years and don't own it anymore). It's emotionally quite sweet but musically very, very dull.
It's been brought to my attention that Coldplay's motivation for sticking two songs together randomly on more than one occasion on this album is so that "downloaders effectively get an extra song for free". Which makes the new Coldplay album BOGOF Rock.
When she's right, yes.
You think Coldplay are better than Embrace? I suggest you dig out Embrace's second album.
Album of the year thus far, for me, I think.