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Today was a proud, proud day in the world of journalism for so many reasons, but the one posterity will remember is the closure of Britain’s News of the World Sunday newspaper after 168 years of proud dedication to the art of photographing tits and drunk celebrities outside London nightclubs.

All 200+ staff at the London office have been laid off (those in the Dublin office technically they’ve been given 90 days “gardening leave”) and the NotW will be replaced by a Sunday edition of the equally upstanding Sun newspaper. Presumably some of the staff will be redeployed, but certainly not all, and many fine journalists will find themselves out of work while former editor Rebekah Brooks keeps her post at News International.

People say it’s difficult to have much sympathy for News of the World journalists, and to a point it’s true, but beneath the sickening phone-hacking scandal and the brain-deadening “social diaries” there was an excellent team of sports journalists, sub-editors and administrative staff who face an uncertain future while their sleazy overlords scramble to preserve their own reptilian skins. Still, nobody likes a tabloid hack and, for that alone, we give to you The Wildhearts and ‘News of the World’ from their epic 1994 album Earth vs. the Wildhearts.

If you thought we were going to stop posting this just because Osama is dead (so is Obama, according to Fox), you’ve clearly misread the situation horribly.

Enjoy your independence everybody, no matter what country you live in, and don’t forget to thank Will Smith for killing the aliens and making all this possible.

40 years gone, the legend of Jim Morrison has long since superseded the man himself to the point where clueless music journalists feel free to refer to his death as his “breaking on through to the other side,” a lyrical nod to the Doors’ 1967 classic single.

Such dimwitted tributes are, sadly, common currency. The image of the rebellious rocker valiantly passing over to the “other side” is a far more romantic notion than what occurred in reality (or at least in probability, as no autopsy was ever performed): Morrison and his junkie girlfriend took a suicidal cocktail of drugs overnight, leading the singer to vomit up his internal organs before slowly, and painfully, meeting his end in a Parisian bathtub.

The romantic image of Morrison is made even cuter due to the fact that he, by all accounts, was a misogynistic dog who’d fuck anything that walked on two legs, or maybe even three. Yet that’s what made him such a compelling figure: as a man, he was stirringly, disarmingly handsome and as a songwriter he was deceptively accomplished. He was the rock n’ roll ideal: irresistible and prodigiously talented.

While the abiding sonic image of the Doors as a group might be their longer, more psyched-up pieces, ‘Light my Fire’ was Robby Krieger’s baby and was driven by Ray Manzarek’s iconic keyboard melody. What Morrison brought to the party was a manic, almost primal energy, best exemplified by that distinctive guttural roar – he was in many…

I’m sure you’re all fully aware at this point from my reviews, blog posts and twitter ramblings that I believe Irish music – and Dublin music in particular – is in the midst of a golden period, and nobody represents this better than labels Popical Island and the Richter Collective, either of which three-piece scuzzy pop outfit Squarehead can call home. (I’ve talked about Squarehead here before to mixed reaction.)

Saturday night saw indie collective Popical Island – jointly run by Squarehead drummer Ruan Van Vliet – put on their second annual Popicalia, a free all-day, child-friendly gig featuring as many of the label’s acts as they could fit in, including Land Lovers, Yeh Deadlies, Groom and the excellent We Are Losers (see the full, awesome running order here).

Time constraints meant I could only make it along for two acts – the aforementioned Losers and Squarehead – but I walked away with one particular tune stuck in my head and I haven’t been able to shake it since. Squarehead’s ‘Fake Blood’ was voted #1 Irish song of 2010 by Ireland’s most popular music blog, Nialler9, and it’s a real belter of a tune, resting somewhere between Weezer-influenced alt. rock and ebullient Brian Wilson-inspired pop.

‘Fake Blood’ appeared on the first Popical Island compilation (€5 on Bandcamp). The second compilation (which features another Squarehead song, ‘Candle’) can be streamed here and will also (presumably) be available for the same low price on Bandcamp soon.

Working-class hardman turned middle-class investigative journalist Ross Kemp has seen a lot of things in his time, not least the most vicious gangs ever to emerge from the barrios of Rio, Bogota and San Salvador, as well as Maori tough men, Timorese martial arts cults and Ricky Gervais.

But not even his experiences in the most deprived, most dangerous parts of the world could quite have prepared him for the slaughterous aural wrecking ball that is And So I Watch You From Afar’s Gangs. I gave it a rather ambivalent 3/5 on its release a couple of months back, but let’s hear what the far more discriminating and battle-hardened Kemp has to say…

Courtesy of Maybeshewill

Bon Iver’s second album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver, isn’t scheduled for release until June 21, but labels Jagjaguwar and 4AD have made this charming little widget so fans can get familiar with it before the big day.

Read staff member Cam’s review of Bon Iver, Bon Iver here.

Bon Iver is simply the lush-est, loveliest album of the year. “Towers” and “Wash.,” in particular, are two of the warmest, most inviting songs I’ve heard in a long, long time; they each seem to weirdly possess the aural consistency of a warm blanket, or a nice cup of cocoa. Vernon’s voice is the main draw: his singing has improved tenfold, elevating to stratospheric and angelic heights and then descending to a low rumble, a restless sigh, or a breathless declaration, all within minutes.

There is something ill-fitting, discomforting about the manner in which the legendary Gil Scott-Heron’s passing has been treated by print media, particularly in Britain.

Scott-Heron was largely ignored in his lifetime by traditional media and by the mainstream in general. He had hits, undoubtedly, and his classic screed ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ has entered the pop culture lexicon almost without acknowledgement. However, until a recent revival on Richard Russell’s XL Recordings and a remix album chaired by Jamie of the xx, his cultural cache was cult – a musician whose influence far overreached his renown. Five years ago, his death would have been notable, but not this notable.

Much of it has to do with the success of his return to music – he hadn’t released a thing between 1994’s  Spirits and 2010’s sardonically-titled I’m New Here – and some is due to print journalism sourcing more and more of its content from social media. But that doesn’t quite account for everything – some of the coverage given to Scott-Heron’s death has gone beyond hagiography, effectively crediting the man with creating the entire culture of hip hop (but only the nice, positive parts, of course).

It took me a while to figure it out, but then it all made sense: Barack Obama. While the President’s standing in the world has diminished somewhat since taking office, he remains an object of utter fascination for most Europeans, particularly in the English-speaking countries. Obama swept into the UK last week, leaving…

Channing Freeman’s existential review of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way has received much attention on the Twitter Machine and elsewhere, however we’ve never before received criticism so thoughtful and so immaculately-presented as what follows. Mr./Mrs. Freeman will be licking his/her wounds after this one.

And, yes, those are pictures of the inimitable Gagster.

23.24: p.s. if at any point I came across as a less gay or less Irish alternative to Graham Norton, that wasn’t my intention. I apologise.

23.22: Has all this been worth it? Has it fuck. Next year I’m going and getting stoned. Goodnight!

23.21: And Azerbaijan win by a mile. Decent song to be honest.

23.14: As suspected, 12 from Ireland to the singers who looked the most like Jedward.

23.13: 6 for the UK from Ireland. Take that!

23.12: Oh fuck off Mooney.

23.08: Despite a spirited bolt from Italy, Azerbaijan are walking it.

23.03: Fucked over by the French again. The hand of Henry was at work in this.

22.59: Fuck this.

22.56: No points exchanged between Turkey and Greece. Grudge.

22.50: Got my lipstick on, here I come, da da da…

22.47: Sweden!

22.46: Haha they gave 12 to Lithuania. It’s a badly-kept secret that Polish people listen to shit music, usually out of their cars.

22.45: Only one from Poland. We give you jobs and this is the thanks we get? OVER.

22.44: Yes Denmark, YES!

22.43: I’ve always loved the UK.

22.42: Seriously UK… if you don’t give Jedward 12 we are OVER.

22.41: Sweden? Really?

22.37: Seems the eastern European states aren’t huge Jedward fans. We should never have let them join.

22.25: Why is Stefan Raab… I mean just why is he even?

22.24: I think the lines are still open. I don’t know. You might still have time to vote…

With all the world-changing events that have occurred in the past few days – the killing of the world’s most wanted terrorist and, the big one, two celebrities getting married on TV – you’d be forgiven for asking “who gives a shit about Miley Cyrus right now?”

Well you’d be forgiven, but you’d also be wrong. See, while a team of Navy SEALs were storming a compound in Pakistan and doing what they do best, media savvy Miley was also hard at work, becoming the single most important musician of all-time. As Nitsuh Abebe’s excellent article in New York magazine explains, Miley’s 2009 hit ‘Party in the USA’ has inadvertently become Osama Bin Laden’s “death song” – the track that everyone flocks to on Youtube to have barely-literate partisan debates pissing contests.

(Incidentally, we ran with Team America’s ‘America, Fuck Yeah,’ thinking we were on solid ground. Clearly we’ve lost touch with the crucial preteen girl demographic that will decide all future world events. If nothing else, it’s heartrending proof that no matter how tight he shuts his eyes and just wishes as hard as his little heart will let him, Jom is just never going to be a little girl again.)

What does this have to do with anything? Nothing, really. Except that, not content with ousting Bruce Springsteen from the top of the “awesome anthems with USA in the title that we can chant in celebration of having vanquished the enemy,” Miley’s also…

“It’s not like I ran for President and I said something really bad…”

Note: At some point in the last month or so, we may have given the impression that Rebecca Black hasn’t deserved all of the abuse and death threats that have been levelled at her. In light of this interview, we can see that some of the criticism was coming from the right place.

Note 2: She’s only 13. Give her a break. But fuck those are some dumb ass answers.

Depending on which way you look at it, London indie folk band Mumford & Sons represent either the future of commercial music or its distant past.

In the old, old days (or as recently as the seventies), before the pursuit of massive first-week sales became record industry dogma, it was commonplace for albums to start low and make their way to the top of the charts. With the huge advances in marketing and the windfall profits of the CD era, record industry thinking became totally geared towards the first week, and artists found it virtually impossible to break through commercially without embracing it.

However the incredible success of Mumford & Sons’ 2009/2010 release Sigh No More (it reached #2 on the Billboard Top 100 a year after its release) spells out what many of us have been predicting for years: when people no longer feel compelled to buy music before they’ve heard it, the charts become more representative of what people actually like, rather than what they think they might like. And we have a lot more money in our pockets with which to bail out banks, insurance companies and car manufacturers.

Which is why it seems perfectly normal when an artist like Taylor Swift – a member of the now very exclusive club of artists who still sell millions of records – records a cover of Mumford & Sons’ ‘White Blank Page.’ Notwithstanding the musical similarities (though there is a chasm between Swift’s bluegrass style and Mumford’s…

“I think Kid A is a bit weird…”

Running the business end of a website online, you tend to be confronted with the odd dubious proposition, always conducted by email. We’re all familiar with the most venerable exiled Princes of Nigeria, but fewer will be familiar with the Twitter follower scam.

The Twitter follower scam is probably best explained here (in fact, keep a tab of this page open because it crops up later), but in essence it’s a “service” offered by certain professional internet people, whereby they will access your Twitter account and, over the course of a week, begin to follow a large number of automated accounts that will follow you back, thus boosting your headline “follow” figure – until, that is, they all begin to unfollow you within a few days.

Anybody with a Twitter account will be aware of just how ubiquitous these bots are… now imagine you’re following them.

Usually I ignore these offers, as well as the numerous pittance-paying ad companies that contact us daily, but today was particularly humid and I had nothing better to do. I got an email from Glyn Berrington of UK mail order company Sturnam Clothing, offering me the opportunity to gain 500 new Twitter followers in just one week for the low, low price of $40, or £25. I just couldn’t resist.

(Apologies for the low text visibility – think of it as an artistic commentary on the shoddiness of the scheme.)

Intrigued by the possibility of connecting so many lines of generic…

Canuck tween heartthrob Justin Bieber and Iowa’s favourite douche-metal band Slipknot have more in common than you’d think.

With Lady Gaga famously having Christened her fans her “little monsters,” you could be forgiven for thinking the phenomenon began with her. In actuality, musicians have been giving pet names to their followers for decades, long before Slipknot dubbed theirs “maggots.” More recently, Justin Bieber inadvertently entered the pop dictionary as a noun, his most ardent fans having been dubbed “Beliebers” by a disbelieving public.

What do these two names have in common? Simples. The late, great Richie James Edwards penned the words: “Little people, in little houses, like maggots: small, blind and worthless.” Clearly, Slipknot have a great affection for their fans – or at least did before they all grew up and realised that well-fitted clothes are always more flattering. Fittingly, Beliebers (and Believers in general) also tend to be small, blind and worthless in varying quantities.

Which brings us to the video. ‘Psychosocial Baby’ shouldn’t really work on any level yet, somehow, it works on every level simultaneously with reckless disregard for everything that is good and pure. Furthermore, it confirms three basic tenets of the Universal Law: a) Slipknot have always been a pop band with a shitty metal backing track; b) the Biebs is death metal to the core; and c) it’s still really creepy when Ludacris raps about his 13-year-old girlfriend waking him up in the morning.

There is a download link on Youtube.

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