Stay Cool Dad


FBI blots its copybook by Simon Sharwood
April 19, 2006, 1:21 am
Filed under: Sounds like

Sydney quasi-professional radio station FBi plays a “classic track” each morning, and in keeping with the general “we don’t get paid to do this” ambience, sometimes a fact or two gets lost or badly harmed in the potted history the 20-something announcer gives us before the song. Richard Kingsmill, they’re not.

But this morning, they fell into a classic trap. First we had a quick Bio of “DJ B” and Rakim and how terribly influential they were an all future hip hop/electronic/remixey music. Then all about how the track we were going to hear, “Paid in Full”, featured all sorts of amazing sampling, even Israeli artist Ofra Haza, and basically set the scene for the rest of music itself to the present day.

I’m sure the FBI DJ’s disappointment when the track she played featured only a small subset of those things must have mirrored my own a few years back when I got the original track on a “Rage” compilation CD. All it is is one killa percussion track which will never die, a nice bit of bass for about the first half and about a verse and a half. It gets going and then smugly says “leave the drum machine going and let’s go home with the money”.

What the FBI DJ was thinking of was the “seven minutes of music” remix by coldcut (wikipedia entry, everything2 entry). It’s funny how your memory rearranges things and just deletes the other versions. I can’t find the quote on the net, so I think it must have been on one of the shows by the actual Kingsmill, one of the cold cutters said:

“We took out most of what Eric B did, and virtually all of what Rakim did, and they weren’t very happy. But then it sold 7 zillion copies”

But if you’re neither loafing off the taxpayer, nor fat with advertising revenue, you can’t really be expected to know that.

On a related note, FBi’s unmissable Rugby League show is now a podcast.

(And, I never did get my hands on the “proper” version, but at just 23 a minute on Aussie iTunes, the seven minute track is just too reasonably priced to pass up. Yep, Eric B, rakim, coldcut and whoever they sampled just got Paid in Full again. Ching!)

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The mutant offspring of Ween and J.K. Rowling by Simon Sharwood
April 2, 2006, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Dotmusic, Just listened to ..., Sounds like

Now if that headline doesn’t prick up your digital sensory inputs, I don’t know what will.

Perhaps listening to Harry and the Potters is your last chance.

All of the duo’s songs are about Harry Potter and his mates.

They are surprisingly competent musicians. I think they sound like Ween, but with saner lyrics. And that’s saying something.

At least once the kids are into Harry Potter we can enjoy this together, although I suspect the age at which they get into Potter and the age at which they discover irony may be a few years apart.

Thanks to Squibb for letting me know this band exists.



Emo by Simon Sharwood
February 20, 2006, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Dotmusic, I'm so old ..., Just listened to ..., Sounds like, Uncategorized

I met a 16 year old pseudo-relative* of mine yesterday and asked her what kind of music she is into.

“Emo,” she said.

I had no idea what Emo is but she explained it is “emotional punk” and named Green Day as a standard-bearer. The mere mention of Green Day and the word punk in the same month has always made me laugh, so I have since done some reading and downloaded some by a band called Evaline recommended at www.emotionalpunk.com.

The general idea seems to be that Emo is a post-punk genre that never made it mainstream. The label never died and now the content is goth-gloomy and the music is occasionally heavy, but also sufficiently quiet that the music can carry the miserable lyrics. In Evaline’s case this means that when they try to rock out, it is just laughable. Some other stuff I listened to has some metal-ish bits but the kids involved seem afraid to see what happens when you really start to treat distortion and feedback as your friends.

They are all “proper songs” too. There’s no experimentation with form I’ve encountered. This seems to be part of the Emo ethic.

All of which is harmless, but interesting for the co-option of the word punk.

Now maybe I’ve forgotten, but I thought punk was all about one emotion: rage. And true punks expressed their rage about everything, even though they knew it was ill-informed and often ill-expressed. They just expressed their rage anyway because … well … because they were punks.

And that’s why it was so offensive: a punk’s reaction to everything was to deny it with anger and rage, then force you to confront it aurally and in any other way.

Once they figured out this was an actually kind of interesting response: all previous attempts at making art had asked for a considered response. Punk became a kind of anti-art movement which, as Greil Marcus hypothesises in his extraordinary Lipstick Traces, is important because it is only anti-art that advances art overall.

Anyway … back to Emo.

I can’t see what the fuss is about, but I can see why kids care. Being able to label yourself in a taxonomy ignored and incomprehensible to anyone else is surely part of the teenage condition. As someone who was (and is, I suppose) proudly Sydney indie circa 1990 I understand the enjoyment that comes with affiliation to a tribe no-one else knows exists.

I suspect that by whenever it is my kids start to put themselves into one of these tribes I may not be able to connect so neatly to a progenitor like punk.

Maybe if I talk to more sixteen year olds** I will be able to make that connection.

*My way of describing anyone more remote than first cousin, as I have no idea how to describe anyone more obscurely related than that …

** And figure out a way to do it without getting arrested



Putting the bite on Wolfmother by Simon Sharwood
January 11, 2006, 2:11 pm
Filed under: I like this band because, Just listened to ..., Sounds like

Wolfmother are hot. And fair enough because they have some great power pop songs.

Now I am a big fan of power pop. Tunes like The Jesus and Mary Chain’s version of Surf City are easily among my all-time favorite songs. I lapped up The Datsuns. I like songs fast, loud, short, guitar-filled and lyrically vapid.

From this you can deduce that I don’t get sucked in by bands like Green Day that are a little too faux-punk for me. I mean those guys are so nice. There’s none of the
f**k -you that comes with real punks and certainly none of the anti-music stance that folks like the Mary Chain devised with their “turn everything up to 12, then crank up the feedback, mumble through the song and play 20-minute shows with our backs to the audience” aesthetic.

Which brings me back to Wolfmother. Most of their songs are pretty heavy-sounding. Parent-disturbingly heavy, I suspect.

But underneath there is just plain old power pop. Their album may sound all nasty and loud and have lots of references to mystical unicorns in it, but really just is some nonsense lyrics over a lot of loud guitars.

If that ain’t power pop, I’ll eat my old vinyl collection.

So why is this a problem? Acclaim for the band seems to place them in the same canon as “New Rock” acts that The Vines initiated, but applaud their resurrection and synthesis of half a dozen heavy rock sounds as some kind of step forward.

I want to dispute that: this is power pop with a seventies edge, not any particular pastiche worth celebrating for its cleverness or advance in the evolution of rock. Why make the argument at all? Because there’s no original aesthetic at all behind their music that I can discern. There’s no irony, no twist, no artistic reason for playing the way they play. In short, this is pop.

That doesn’t mean Wolfmother are this year’s RatCat, but with fewer teenyboppers.

But it doesn’t make their resurrection of the past a sign for the future either.

And it doesn’t stop me liking it even though I dislike all the breathless praise it attracts.

And I love the fact my kids already like it: Appletree is an in-the-car favorite for all ages!



RedSunBand by Simon Sharwood
January 10, 2006, 2:26 pm
Filed under: Just listened to ..., Sounds like

A while ago we went to this free gig staged at Camdenville Oval, in fabulous St Peters, Home of the Stars. The stage was just plonked down about where the cricket pitch should be and people sat on the grass on a chilly autumn evening.

It was a weird gig: every freak in Newtown was there, plus plenty of freak parents like us desperate for some indy rock we could see/hear with the kids in tow.

The band that really impressed me was theredsunband. Wanky name and stupid lack of capitals, but I liked their two-girl sound that marries a shoegazing sensibility with some poppish songs.

Long story short … End of Fashion did a celebrity playlist on iTunes and name-checked theredsunband, which is now available for download.

So I did. The album, peapod, doesn’t quite grab me but the final track, Astrovisionary, is 7 minutes long and falls nicely into the genre I want to invent now of “that overlong song jangly guitar bands use to show they can be a bit complex, heavy and conceptual if they want to.”

I suspect a black-wearing 15 year old would lock themeselves in a bedroom and play this quite loud, which seems harmless as there is no devil worship here, just mumbly stuff about sleeping a lot.

Sounds like My Bloody Valentine remixed to be coherent and/or audible.