Sunday, January 06, 2008

Research - 7th of January, 2008.

" 'We go to highschool. We dig rock 'n' roll. We date and go to parties and yes, we sometimes neck but no, we never pet. We also fall in love and that really burns us up. Then we pass notes in class and don't eat and even cry at night. We also think coke and hamburgers are really neat. We wear sneakers, short shorts, highschool sweaters. The girls have ponytails and the boys are crew cut. Our parents can be kinda draggy at times but, gee whiz, they were young themselves once and they're only trying to do their best for us. Finally, we dig America. We think it's really peachy-keen.' "

- Nik Cohn, Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: Pop From The Beginning.

Friday, January 04, 2008

(The things of 2007) Current adventures in pop music: (Grudgingly) Sharing the love.

Some may note that my first attempt to backtrack though the back log of my brains blog-related sector didn't end so well. In fact, it never really started enough for it to end badly. Nevertheless, in the interests of persistence and flogging the proverbial dead equine I am going to try this again. So over the next little period of time I'm going to through up the occasional tidbit left over from last years' notes. This won't make any chronological sense, but I feel that that we'll all be able to cope. That, and I like the name I've come up with for it, so that settles it then.

That's it. I'm not going to introduce the blog post you're about to read, that would be pointless. Really.


Discovering that someone else likes a band or artist you otherwise believedly were relatively obscure can be a bizarre and disarming experience. You initially feel excited and safe in the knowledge that there are other people as clever and enlightened as you are, but this can sometimes give way to pure unadulterated jealously. How dare someone else be in tune with your intimate knowledge of the underground's underground! Surely only I could possibly be aware of this sub-genre of electronic post-grime break step??? Ultimately though, this feeling and it's true implication is no different to walking down the street and seeing someone wearing a t shirt you also own; you initially feel that someone's been through your wardrobe, then you realise that Target probably sells clothes to people other than you.

My most recent reencounter with such a feeling occurred whilst reading the music section of the Sydney Morning Herald supplement Spectrum on the weekend of October the 15th, and discovering reviews for Jens Lekman's new album Night Falls Over Kortedala and The Pipettes' album We Are The Pipettes, which rated as album of the week.

I had been introduced to The Pipettes and their poptastic stylings by Katherine earlier in the year, and had become quite a fan since acquiring the album over the internets long before any sign of an Australian release. Essentially, the music is no different to the product of anything a hundred Phil Spectoresque girl groups have ever released. There's the harmonising over love gone wrong, love that's unrequited, and love that's in process. And of course, there's the Be-My-Baby drums. Can't forget those. There's also harmonising over one night stands, boys who won't leave girls alone, boys who don't get the point, and boys trying moves on girls to place them in uncompromising situations. The production is so on the mark, and the vocals so sweet and lulling that you initially don't notice, and you almost do a double take when you do. It's this complementing bitterness to the saccarine sweet melodies that makes The Pipettes really interesting. That, and it's great to dance to. I talked about this with Kate at the time, and how these contradictions in the music pretty much alienates them from an Australian audience. Who do you possibly market them to? It's too pop for alternative radio, and no where near family friendly enough for the pop charts. But there was the review, glowing at that, so someone obviously thought it was a good idea [this would be later reinforced by the fact the group toured at the end of last year, but we'll get to that another day].

As for Jens Lekman, this was the second occasion I'd been reminded that someone other than myself had heard of him. The first occurred in 2005, when he toured on the back of his first album When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog. Playing the Hopetoun Hotel on a Tuesday night, I expected a fairly quiet evening with the odd punter strolling through. By the time Lekman hit the stage, the gig had sold out, and the room was filled with adoring fans. That the gig was great needs no mention; there was audience participation [via egg shakers thrown to the crowd], and backup tracks provided by Lekman's laptop which he dubbed "The Party Machine". Gold stars all around. I managed to speak to Jens after the gig, telling him that I'd first discovered him by accident via the video for his song You Are The Light buried on a rage new year's special I'd taped earlier. I thought this would make a nice anecdote, instead he replied [very nicely] that a few people had told him the same thing. Despite all of this, a return trip [which saw him playing on a Sydney harbour cruise no less] and and year and a half of building a fan base, I still was amazed to see the write up for his second album. The album, whilst a little tougher to crack than the first, is wonderful. Bursting with bombastic samples, witty lyrics and melancholic romanticism [yes it's possible, and I'm standing by it], Lekman's meticulous construction of pop songs has improved greatly in the passing years.

Zuel, as the narrative structure of this post would have you believe, agrees with me. Pitchfork agrees with me too. Lots of people probably share similar opinions. And yet, there's something mildly heartbreaking about this. Moments quietly spend taking in the music in the realms of your private universe seem to have a lesser value when you consider when it's occupying other peoples' universes too. The fact that it's easy to torrent only reinforces this [insert moral stance about paying for music you like here]. But of course this is a ridiculous stance to maintain, as painful yet obvious a point as that is. Not only for the fact that if there's a greater fan base, this may lead to more great music, but for the equally wonderful moments to be had in sharing your great little discoveries with other unsuspecting pop tragics. The furthering of enlightenment, if you will.

And thus we arrive at a point where the interests of sharing for the sake of global musical consciousness and harmony throughout all human beings is reached. We all learn a valuable lesson, and continue with our lives in the exact same way nevertheless. At least, this post now makes some sort of contextual sense, so I'm happy with that.

Oh, and if someone actually comes up with "electronic post-grime breakstep", I totally want full wikipedia credits for the term.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Victory and multiplicity.



There was running, hiding, occasional terse phone calls and many misunderstandings. But I found you, thai chilli jam, yes indeed. Many people [alright maybe a couple but many sounds better] had shared with me my concern over the lack of easily locatable thai chilli jam, but I had yet to find any leads as to where such a thing could be located [and before you say it, prospective commentor, I tried Chinatown, I really did. I know I probably didn't try the little obscure shop you can rattle off from the top of your head, but try in a superficial manner I did]. Fortune struck upon a visit to stupidly fancy restaurant Longrain in Surry Hills. So stupidly fancy are these people that they produce their own condiments. And what a joyous thing it is people. I mean sure, it does cost twelve dollars for a jar of this stuff but you really can't put a price on such a thing. You see the paper bag in the first image? That comes with it. Score!

You might think this is a slightly odd item to kick off the year with, and perhaps it is. But I think it's important to start the year off with a win. You can apply this to your own lives boys and girls. The chilli jam you seek is out there somewhere. You only need to have lunch to find it. A word to the wise though, when informing the masses about your new found spiritual experience, stick to the delivery methods you're aware of. An attempt to post something about this late last year via a feature on my new mobile phone lead to an entirely new blog being created, and the phone wouldn't tell me where that is. Or what it's called. Or how to delete it. If someone out there somehow comes across it, please let me know.

And in case you're wondering, I'm having doubts about the chilli-jam-as-metaphor-for-what-your-life-lacking thing too. Perhaps it would be best if you provide your own motivational metaphors from here on in.