Political jokes and humour… July 23, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, The Left.
It’s that joke about the banker, the worker and the unemployed man in a cafe. The banker takes 9 of 10 biscuits on the table and nudges the worker “You want to watch out, that unemployed man has his eye on your biscuit.”
And the thought struck me, anyone know any good political jokes, actual real jokes you can tell people? All contributions gratefully accepted.
Sound trackin’ July 19, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
This piece on Slate noted that composer Michael Giacchino of John Carter fame (well, probably not ‘fame’ exactly – given how many seemed to hate that movie, though I liked it quite a lot), Lost, the TV series, fame (yep, that would probably be fame) and Planet of the Apes amongst many others has a tendency to name his tracks in a curious way… like here… and here… and here…
The ruins of previous social media July 19, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
Good Alright piece here on the Guardian on ‘blogging’ of which more some time soon… but I particularly like the link to the following:
Ah, the Cocteau’s. What a group, and how typical of the 1980s, able to construct their own defined musical and aesthetic universe, seemingly detached from all that had come before or would come after (though, that last is perhaps arguable). They seem to me to fit into a line of groups, the Jesus and Mary Chain are another, and perhaps Echo and the Bunnymen on a good day a third, who simple were, as if they came into being perfectly formed at that one point in time. Treasure was… well… a treasure. Overplayed, surely. What album purchased before the advent of CDs, and in particular digital download, wasn’t? There was less music, or at least less obtainable music, and truth is less money and you made do with what you got, be it Easterhouse EPs or BFG singles and if they weren’t much cop, well, you probably weren’t going to admit that quite as readily then as now. Indeed there’s academic papers to be written about genre loyalty, and how it existed in such a curiously defined way back then and… like… where the hell did that go?
I never heeded it that much, and nor did any whose musical tastes and opinions I knew then and respected, or now, come to think of it. Music is music and the good stuff is everywhere and the bad stuff is everywhere too.
But there’s no question that – say 1984 or 1985, the predominance of certain forms of what we now, unfortunately, call indie but then was post-punk, was remarkable. And there was album after album just simply great music appearing in a way that wasn’t matched – for my money, until the early to mid-1990s and the rise of electronica, IDM, and perhaps tangentially drum’n’bass (though hip hop was an early precursor of this overall trend).
Which is where the Cocteau’s came in. This seamless sound, opaque vocals, chiming guitars, echoes and more echoes and all of it carried off with a sort of confidence that undercut any questions of pretension. They released three EPs in 1985, each encapsulating their approach. And what I find interesting is that I like the group a lot better now than I did then. Sure, I liked them, I got that Treasure was great and did indeed overplay it, but they were always just a bit too much, whereas now at this remove they sound genuinely remarkable – perhaps recontextualised by all those who they influenced and in turn influenced others again. That said I never stopped liking the EPs perhaps because the shorter format suited them better.
Liz Fraser’s voice was indeed beautiful, but it was a beauty rooted in the anger of punk itself and is sometimes difficult to listen to, both complementary and grating – which is as it should be. Listen to the yelps and barks she emits on Quisquose from Aikea-Guinea, or on Melonella from the Echoes in A Shallow Bay EP. And then listen to Pale Clouded White with guitars that stretch behind the choral sounds and simple vocal melodies. That too, that sense of dissonance fading into melody also came from punk. This might be goth, at a stretch, but it was goth opened up, widening to the horizon, not limited by sub-Joy Division retreads. That last may be slightly unfair, but it’s not, I’d guess entirely inaccurate.
Aikea-Guinea, the title track from the EP of the same name works perfectly. Kookaburra, if overly mannered vocally, even for a group where overly mannered vocals were all, surges on. Rococo, a neat and powerful instrumental harks back to Garlands and their own Joy Division influenced phase. The Tiny Dynamine EP contains Pink Orange Red, Cocteau Twins by numbers – that reverbed strummed beginning, and then almost shouted chorus, with a lovely guitar melody underpinning it – until one remembers that this was from … There was no by the numbers for it to be compared to. Ribbed and Veined is… chunky… high pitched guitar notes cascading downwards against an almost cinematic percussion, as if it were the soundtrack to a film. Plain Tiger has a typically convoluted vocal line, that folds in on itself and then opens out again.
And I throw in Millimillenary just ‘cos it may well be my favourite of all their songs. It was released on The Pink Opaque compilation in 1985 but had been written a number of years earlier when Simon Raymonde arrived in the group.
Special word, as with Lush some years later, has to be mentioned as regards the physicality of their EP and albums, the designed materials accompanying and framing them. Vaughan Oliver’s genuinely luscious visual and typographic solutions.
Actually all that in mind in a way, I’d argue that they went on too long. There was a sense that by the late 1980s the project was flagging, the albums becoming if not predictable somehow less transcendent. And it’s impossible to apportion blame. That just happens. Fraser has essentially retired from music, Guthrie continues, but none of his solo albums have reached the heights of these compositions (though, in all fairness, I should namecheck a fantastic album he did with Harold Budd entitled Before the Day Breaks from 2007).
Pink Orange Red (Tiny Dynamine)
Plain Tiger (Tiny Dynamine)
Melonella (Echoes in A Shallow Bay) – by the way check out the lyrics.
Pale Clouded White (Echoes in A Shallow Bay)
TV Science Fiction: Project U.F.O. July 12, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
I never saw this back in the day, a show that sort of predated the X-Files and Dark Skies in the late 1970s. Entitled Project U.F.O. it took actual accounts of UFO sightings and encounters and worked them into fictional accounts. It’s intriguing in a way because one would have thought that following Close Encounters there might have been more emphasis on UFO’s on television. But not at all. There was the far from great ‘The Fantastic Journey’.
In this episode there’s a scene that is very similar to one in CE3K about 8 minutes in.
Effects are neither good nor bad, but they don’t have to be really, do they? Lights in the sky can be… well… lights in the sky. Check out the jaunty music, provided by Nelson Riddle no less, which seems weirdly inappropriate for the subject. No Mark Snow on hand there for something a little more eerie.
Good point made in comments about the fact these have survived into the present day. Who taped these? And why did they keep them?
Farewell the Ramones July 12, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
Sad to hear that Tommy Ramone has died this week, at the appallingly young age of 62. This leaves no surviving original members of the group, surely the best band called the Ramones ever and one of the best bands ever, full stop I’ve a real fondness Too Tough To Die and Rock’N’Roll High School, which came later, but Tommy was only (only!) on the ground-breaking first three albums (though produced many later ones including TTTD) so here is something from each of those first three albums (sort of kind of)… such a great group (and I’ll do a This Weekend on them soon).
Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment
And I throw this one in, just ‘cos I love it.
It’s A Long Way Back To Germany (B-side originally)
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From Athens , Georgia Bill Mallonee and The Vigilantes of Love were an alt country band that never gained the popularity they deserved. They broke up in 2001 and briefly reformed in 2008. Mallonee still tours as a solo artist. Alas I’ve yet to see him or the The Vigilantes of Love. His website
I’ve previously done a TWIMBLT on Buddy Miller and it was the fact that he produced the bands 1999 album “Audible Sigh” that led me to buy the album. It’s an excellent album , features the odd bit of guitar from Miller as well as backing vocals from a stellar cast of Emmy Lou Harris and Julie Miller (‘Resplendent’ below features Emmy Lou) . The album itself had supposedly four different releases (with slightly different tracks on each!) such were the bands problems with folding record companies Later on I brought a few more of their albums, with ‘Live at the 40 Watt’ being my other favourite.
Mallonee himself is an interesting character, originally a drummer he didn’t pick up a guitar until he was 32. He is also a ‘Committed Christian’ as I learnt from this interview from 2000
There is a history of the band written by Mallonee himself here.
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Consider this oddity:
The world map shown during the NATO briefing reveals that the world Steve Austin inhabits is physically very different from the real world. Aside from the existence of fictional countries established in previous episodes, not to mention Balinderry in this one, the map shows that the northern portion of North America is shaped completely differently than the way it is for real, and that there appears to be an extra continent to the north of Eurasia.
The Six Million Dollar Man and the IRA… I mean of course the Independent Balinderry Army July 5, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics, Uncategorized.
The IBA, or Independent Balinderry Army, is a not-so-thinly veiled analogue of the real-world Irish Republican Army. Not only are obvious, if perhaps clichéd, Irish accents used by the Balinderrians, but stock footage of British troop movements in Northern Ireland appears to be used for establishing shots. Later footage shows a tank bearing the label of the Royal Engineers. The RE is a Corps of 15 regiments within the British Army.
The fictional nature of Balinderry wasn’t enough to prevent this episode from being banned from broadcast in Great Britain. 
This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to… the following selection of music, some old some new… July 5, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
No particular order…
The Bags – We Don’t Need the English
Let’s start with The Bags, excellent West Coast early punk band who released next to nothing but what they did release was brilliant. Patricia Morrison, later of The Gun Club, Sisters of Mercy and the Damned was a member, and so was Alice Bag, a great feminist and fascinating person.
Repo Man Title sequence
From the soundtrack to the film of the same name this is a fine slice of early to mid-80s hardcore inflected music with an excellent descending riff, apparently played by Steve Jones. The song from the sound track with one Mr. Iggy Pop is a little different. The film is pretty great too (check out the title sequence) as is the soundtrack, though, no women groups on it which is a dismal – and telling – omission.
Ancient Wing - Golden Record
Here are an excellent all-woman post-rock/stoner/psychdelic outfit from the US who, oddly sound like a collision between Hawkwind and US punk/post-punk both lyrically and musically. They’ve a mini-album available on band camp which is fantastic. One of the best things I’ve heard all year.
Syd Arthur – Garden of Time
And here’s something which is also psychedelic inflected. I’m listening to a lot of neo-prog at the moment, and here are leading exponents of same, UK based outfit Syd Arthur who manage to incorporate jazz, rock, prog and psychedelia in their songs. It’s all doors in your hair stuff – as the Mighty Boosh would have it, but great.
Kitten Pyramid - English Rosa
Another group in the prog scene. Again English, but a mixture that incorporates a more varied range of influences than Syd Arthur, including punk, metal and erm… pretty much anything. Reminds me of Cardiacs in places.
Knifeworld – Clairvoyant Fortnight
Knifeworld are on the point of releasing their second album proper. Vocals are shared by prime mover Kavus Torabi and former member of Sidi Bou Said, Melanie Woods. Genuinely great.
Plank – La Luna
Taking their name from Conny Plank, which should be recommendation enough, they’re a bit more rock oriented than their hero. And none the worse for it.
Rival Sons – Open My eyes
A guilty pleasure, here’s a band who do that Zep/heavy rock thing down to a tee and who are better than they have any right to be. Mildly reminiscent of Jane’s Addiction, though that might simply be form following function.
Luke Haines - Lou Reed Lou Reed
No introduction necessary – from Haine’s latest album. Some have complained of its stripped down simplicity, but surely that’s the point?
10 ChameleonsVox - Sycophant
Mark Burgess of the Chameleons, and now the only one of the original band still out on the road, offers an intriguingly bitter song.
Thyx – Hate
Another acquired taste, particularly in relation to the vocals… Stefan Poiss of the peerless Mind.in.a.box, still flying the flag for EBM/Futurepop in this new incarnation (and one has to wonder what the name THYX means, if anything).
Lone - 2 is 8
It’s astounding to me how well regarded Lone, or Matt Cutler (for it is he), is these days – and I don’t mean that as a criticism. When I first heard his output it was very much – and avowedly – school of Boards of Canada but somehow in the intervening years it has become ever more critically acclaimed. Don’t let that latter fact put you off, it’s still good!
Stellar OM Source – Energy
A fantastic track from Christelle Gualdi (hat tip to Eamonncork for inspiring this one). Joy One Mile, her most recent album will be the subject of a This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to soon.
Killah Priest – From Then Till Now
Perhaps – though perhaps not – one of the most unusual of the group around Wu Tang Clan, here’s Killah Priest from the amazing “Heavy Mental”, all the way back from 1998, strangely compelling.
By the way, here’s where the sample is taken from .. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0snAALoUxDc
15 Brian Jonestown Massacre – This is the one thing we did not want to have happen
Quite some trick Anton Newcombe has to appear in “Dig” with the Dandy Warhols and still, despite everything, come out as by far the most sympathetic character involved (which granted, isn’t necessarily saying much). This little tune, reflective of that line the BJM seem to love crossing back and forth between the derivative and the inspirational, is a sort of wilful mash-up of Joy Division tracks, which sort of typifies their music (while sounding not much like most of it) which uses a range of post-punk, garage and other reference points.
And BJM are in Ireland this coming week.