Tuesday, October 31, 2006 

"Herculean" is pretty astounding, though

In what is a personal record, I've only got two blurbs in this week's Jukebox, due possibly to a combination of factors; I got mine in rather late thanks to Halloween festivities, we had a lot of contributors this week, and I don't know, maybe mine weren't very good (the Girls Aloud one, I know the effect I wanted, but I couldn't quite make it work, admittedly). Judge for yourself.


Seriously, if you can hear this without wanting to be in a dark club with too much alcohol in your bloodstream, you're a better person than I. [9]

The Gossip - Standing In The Way Of Control: Beth Ditto has one of those voices that are technically quite nice but that doesn't quite jibe with the material – I've been so acclimatized to hearing certain kinds of voices with this kind of abrasive garage rock that it's not so much passion over technique that I want (Ditto has plenty of both), it's passion instead of technique. It's like ordering pizza with barbeque sauce on it instead of tomato sauce – even if both things are good, it doesn't always work. [6]

K-Sis - Beijos, Blues & Poesia: I find it weirdly endearing when foreign language songs slip a bit of English into the chorus, and the fact that here it's “baby, I love you” is kinda cute. But really, you could tell this was a love song before that, down to the cheesey late 90s electric guitar doing a slowburn in the background. If this wasn't trying so hard, it might be lovely, but until they make something more low key they're going to keep missing the mark. [5]

Pascal Obispo ft. Melissa Mars - 1980: I have no idea why they're singing about the year 1980, but this sounds exactly like the sort of song that should have come out that year to celebrate the turn of the... decade, I guess. It's got this kind of triumphant feel to it, meanders for far too long but basically remains pleasant, and Obispo and Mars sound lovely singing together. The sax solo is a bit much, and the only really interesting bit is the brief section that stutters the beat, but mostly I want this to have been playing at Epcot Center as the 70s end. [6]

Monday, October 30, 2006 

"truly epic pummel"

The first part of our Top Live Albums of All Time article is up today; I've got a blurb in about Spacemen 3's indelible Performance (which should be much, much higher), but I've also got three more blurbs showing up throughout the week. Plus, you know, all the other blurbs.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 

Book, magician, machine

Michael Dirda is customarily fascinating on chess. I know what he means about the romance of the game - I'm horrible at it (and so don't like to play), but I still love it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006 

Every photograph is a photograph of infinity

The fourth series of Sapphire & Steel is my favourite yet, and I don't think it's just because I had a couple of beers (so did Aaron, and he agrees - but Christa remained sober, and she also agrees). I have to assume that Grant Morrison saw it when he was young, the imagery of faceless men trapping our heroes in photographs is one that resonates very strongly with my readings of Doom Patrol, The Invisibles, The Filth, et al.

One of the best moments started when, between episodes, I remarked that the Shape reminded me a bit of an old poem I'd read once, quoted somewhere: "Yesterday upon the stair / I met a man who wasn't there. / He wasn't there again today / I wish that man would go away." It's often used in quite creepy fashion, as you'd imagine. But as we watched the very next episode, Ruth (trapped in a photo) notes that the "new landlord" reminds her of a old piece of poetry. Cue Aaron and I gaping in slowly rising horror as she begins to recite "The Man Who Wasn't There"...

I'm not sure I can explain why it was so creepy, although certainly the workings of hyperstition alone added to it. And when you consider that the story gave us the most concise account of hauntology I've ever heard (I'm paraphrasing, but it's the bit when Steel points out that recording (in this case photography) creates ghosts, not of the dead but of the living), and in addition to all of that managed to be the fastest moving and creepiest of the four we've seen, you've got a real winner. I'm kind of wishing that, as good as the eight episodes of the second series were, they had always stuck to brief four episode bursts, as the show is ferociously effective at them. I imagine Steel's closing admonition to Liz before allowing her to look in the kaleidoscope will stick with me for some time: "Find any photos of yourself and burn them. Never allow a photograph to be taken of you again."

Of course, I'm also wishing we didn't have only two more stories to go before the series ends; just as I'd hoped when I ordered the box set sight unseen, Sapphire & Steel has become one of my favourite TV shows, or even just stories, ever. I already liked McCallum and Lumley from other shows they'd acted in, but I really love the two of them now.

(and because I doubt anyone here has seen the show, I feel the need to point out that the segment from which this post takes its title is both ostensibly perfectly innocuous, and existentially one of the more frightening things the three of us had ever seen...)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 

"Oh that is so a deal."

It took me five minutes to stop laughing for long enough to post this.



This week's Jukebox: All Boredoms, all the time. The Hall of Fame stuff for the band is pretty universally excellent, and while I hadn't heard much of them before, I'm pretty much becoming a fan as the week goes on...


Why can't these guys make more than one great album?

I have a headache. I have a sore back. I have a letter I can't send. I have desire. It falters and falls down. Calls you up drunk at three or four AM to wonder when. Wonderful. All the cheap tricks I tried too hard not to pull. Pulled along or pulled apart. The diagnosis of a foreign frame of heart. I have a story that I'd like to tell you. It's littered with settings and second takes. I have a feeling that hums with the street lights and hides under ice in always frozen lakes. My mistake to make you cringe. Another greeting like a broken creaky hinge to oil and push or pry apart. The diagnosis of a foreign frame of heart. Found a cure for being sure, and, sure as anything, I'll smile for my reckoning. Oil and push, pry apart. The diagnosis of a foreign frame of heart.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 

Don't fear seriousness

I admit that there is an element to this article (which I quite like) that is reactionary. I just don't care.


"whatcha think"

Every so often I really do get a piece of spam that manages to approximate art in its text, especially when slightly edited for legibility:

She staggered to the door and unbarred it, and heard someone speak Im handy with cards and I can deal myself three out of the four acesagain in blessed human voice.

I slapped you once, but you really deserved far more, said Fred,The door opened, and she found herself looking into the face of Rancebut thats not much good to a man who tries to earn an honest living. IBelmont, and her feartortured eyes gave him a glad welcome.

gravely.She seized him by the arm, holding to him as a child fearsmitten inam willing to try workit may be all right for anything I know. Ifthe night will hold fast to the one who comes in answer to his cries.

Maggie will take me Ill promise to leave cards alone, and Ill do   ;
What did I do thenRance Belmont knew how to make the most, yet not too much, of anwhatever she thinks I ought to do.advantage. He soothed her fears courteously, gently; he built up the as I banker afterward learned I arrived, way for on several post occasions

You got up and behaved yourself so nicely I was sorry that I hadntfire; he made her a cup of tea; there was that strange and subtleMaggie and her mother took a few days to consider. On one point theirinfluence in all that he said and did that made her forget everything

slapped you soonerthat was unpleasant and be happy in his presence.minds were very clear. If Maggie took him, he could not keep any ofA perfect content grew upon her; she forgot her fearsher loneliness of marriage dragon-fly ceremonies. of some tomato hungry cave-lion or saber- toothed menu tiger, and The assembled members insecticide of the tribeher quarrel with Fred; she remembered only the happy company of the

Monday, October 23, 2006 

When Hell is full

(please ignore the music)

If you look carefully around 2:20, you can see my brother and Mark. Nice work, gentlemen.


Up came a fist

Mike Powell's piece on the Knife in the Village Voice is probably my favourite thing yet written about Silent Shout.


There's a song on the radio with a "love you" line

At some point, without my noticing, the Psychedelic Furs became one of my favourite 80s bands. Very few of their peers (a few obvious titans notwithstanding) managed to marry tenderness and ugliness as well as they did, possessing either the kind of squall the Furs could muster up or a singer with a perfectly bad a voice as Richard Butler's, but not both.

Of course, it's to their advantage that All of This and Nothing is a nearly perfect compilation - it doesn't grab everything worthwhile they ever did, no (I can hear some friends yelling at me to pick up the albums, dammit); But it's that rare best-of that serves as both a perfect introduction if you're going to go further but also arguably all you'll ever need. A lot of these bands make me cringe when I see a 5-6 minute track coming up, but Richard Butler and company made all that repetition and excess work for them until something like "Imitation of Christ" or "Dumb Waiters" is as compelling as their lesser brethren's two-minute stompers (to say nothing of the ballads).

Sunday, October 22, 2006 

Load the guns, avoid sleep

D'you know what's awesome? Being up past 6 in the morning marking tests. But at least, as opposed to writing them, I get paid for the privilege.

Marking music for the midterm...

Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart
Spiritualized - Let It Come Down
Wilco - Being There
R.E.M. - Automatic for the People
Editors - The Back Room
New Order - Substance

Thursday, October 19, 2006 

Production and reproduction

k-punk has a fantastic new post on hauntology, which is serendipitous as after not thinking much about it for the last little while in the past couple of days I've had the concept in the front of my mind again. And I need to get some Little Axe, while we're on the topic. And while I've seen (and enjoyed) The Skeleton Key, I definitely need to track down Beloved.


You know, they've shown that being sufficiently tired is like being drunk

The paper I finished at 11 this morning, after working through the night, is easily the hardest I've ever found a paper. I used to churn those things out like it was nothing. A combination of rust and an utterly uninspiring topic meant that this one wasn't just hard fought, I had to wrestle it to the ground, drag it out into the hall and use the fire extinguisher to hit it until it stopped twitching. I am hoping my other papers this semester prove to be less effort. For now, it's off to work on 3 hours of sleep, whee...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 

Everyone is almost done with me

My review of the new Dears record is up today.


And a guy with any kind of courage / would maybe stop to think the matter through

Feel good hits of the 18th of October, 2006, special "trying to write a paper you don't care about" edition:

The Mountain Goats - "Moon Over Goldsboro"
Red House Painters - "Have You Forgotten"
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - "Nevermind Me"
Burial - "Prayer"
Leonard Cohen - "So Long Marianne"
Mono & World's End Girlfriend - "Trailer 5"
Mates Of State - "Nature & The Wreck"
Spiritualized - "Shine A Light"
David Bowie - "Sunday"
Space Needle - "Before I Lose My Style"

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 

Close to nothing at all

Between the football, the structure and the Mogwai, I do desperately need to see this. I wonder if it'll come to the Bookshelf?


And oh, how cute you seemed

Today I got a package from Forced Exposure I had been greatly anticipating: COIL's ...and the ambulance died in his arms, Joy Division's Les Bains Douches 18 Dec 1979 and Burial's self-titled debut. I didn't really notice until I was looking at them that this is some pretty dark music, taken together... not really intentional, but I am wondering a bit why I don't own much lighter stuff.

Also, you know when someone tells you about the band his little brother is, you're normally quite justified in feeling trepidation; but in the case of the lovely and talented J. Edward Keyes, he is utterly right to bring The Gritty MIDI Gang to our attention, his brother Chris' presence notwithstanding. Go to their MySpace page immediately, just to hear "Valentine's Day" - that is one hell of a song.


But... but... it was what we wanted!

From Warren Ellis' "Bad Signal" mailing list (copied with permission):

"Okay. I just this second got the go-ahead from Nick Lowe to talk about this. So here we go:

Sales on the singles are okay, if not great. Sales on the first collection have apparently been terrific.

We were on such a roll with NEXTWAVE that I was actually into the idea of doing a second year, which is highly unusual for me and work-for-hire properties. So Marvel sat down and looked at the numbers, as they wanted to do a second year too.

What they found was that, at our current sales levels, they could afford for me to write it, but not for Stuart to draw it. Stuart, as a Marvel-exclusive artist, commands a fee commensurate with his astonishing talent. I'm WFH-exclusive too, but they just send me whisky and loose women and I'm fine. So, basically, I could continue to write NEXTWAVE, but we'd need to find another artist. This, to me, was just wrong. I mean, Stuart would obviously be given a far better job that had actual readers attached to it, but it still seemed a bit like the numbers were conspiring to fire him for doing his job too well. Everyone at Marvel pitched in to try and make it work, but the numbers were just against us.

So NEXTWAVE #12 will be the final issue of the ongoing series.

(To clear up a common misconception: NEXTWAVE was always pitched as an ongoing series. However, my original intent was to do 12 and then pass it on to someone else. This got garbled, somewhere down the chain of communication, and so the first issue or two got solicited as "part xxx of 12".)

However. The numbers game changes when you posit things in terms of limited series.

NEXTWAVE #12 will be the last issue of the ongoing series: but there will be more NEXTWAVE to come, presented as a sequence of limited series.

This was all worked out some months ago, so I had plenty of time to work the final NEXTWAVE sequence into a conclusion of sorts. #11 even features a twelve-page spread that you'll have to buy six copies of the comic to assemble into its full splendour. Everyone wishes I'd thought of that eight or nine months ago.

That was the news. Return to your duties."


Making the grade

Another week, another thrilling Jukebox; but for once I'm a little tiny bit miffed at the blurbs they chose to pass over. I think my two best this week are the two they didn't include:

Pet Shop Boys - Numb: Neil Tennant is a great frontman partly because he’s only a passable singer. His range is pretty limited, but somehow he can still sell songs like “Numb,” an aching Diane Warren ballad that clearly longs to be sung by Christina or Mariah. Rather than sounding operatic Neil makes it sound human; you believe the “I want to be numb” refrain so much more coming from that little voice. [7]

Razorlight - America: I assumed this would be awful, as Razorlight has been maybe the most eminently hateable British rock band of the last decade. But from the first gentle cod-Durutti Column guitar notes I'm actually quite taken with “America,” trite lyrics and all. Maybe it's that Johnny Borrell is aping David Byrne on the chorus, maybe it's just that the band is finally embracing their AOR ballad milieu. [7]

I really am quite shocked at how much I like the latter.

Monday, October 16, 2006 

I'd taser a 14-year-old. I'd taser him right in the mouth.

As previously reported by Katie, there is some real bullshit going down in Houston.


Jessica Alba doesn't like the evangelical church

But the reasons why are kind of awesome.



Sunday, October 15, 2006 

"I was perfect. I have always been perfect."

Had a thought in reference to this, and in reference to one of my favourite villains from any source, that I want to be able to find again in the future instead of being buried in a random LJ post somewhere:

"THIS is the Dr. Doom I love. Written properly, he is Shakespearean; only a miniscule distance from being one of the greatest heroes ever, but that distance is his unyielding pride and unwillingness to be human, to allow doubt, even when that denial will destroy him. His courage, his compassion, his honour - all should be legendary but all have been subsumed by his pride and feeling of complete superiority, both aspects of his personality to towering, so monstrous, that you have to wonder what they're hiding."

Saturday, October 14, 2006 

Marie came home tattooed / it covers her back

Feel good hits of the 13th and 14th of October, 2006:

The Wrens - "Surprise, Honeycomb"
Readymade - "No Longer Ortona"
The Dears - "Pinned Together, Falling Apart"
Horse Feathers - "Finch on Saturday"
Damien Jurado - "Hoquiam"
Youth Group - "Shadowland"
At The Drive-In - "Enfilade"
Constantines - "St. You"
Tom Waits - "A Good Man is Hard to Find"
The Wrens - "I've Made Enough Friends"


Everything hits at once

So I should be doing nothing but work this weekend, but I've been a little busy. So busy I haven't noted that my review of the very, very good new Damien Jurado is up at Stylus.

Friday, October 13, 2006 

Nicely chosen

Instead of one of the bloviating demagogues (plus, you know, people who aren't Bono and Bob Geldof) that people expected to get the Nobel Peace Prize this year they gave it to Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank. It's not flashy (he started it in 1976 with $27 of his own money), but it's an organization that does genuine good in the world, and I've been a big fan ever since researching it a bit for a paper in my first year.


Encouraging signs

So Keith Olbermann's ratings are way up.

Thursday, October 12, 2006 

The winter was nice, but the summer was hell

Riding the bus to work today, I was surprised at the number of people wearing winter coats, toques, gloves, and so on. I'd thrown on a sweatshirt instead of a t-shirt, but it wasn't any colder than that (I remember specifically not bringing my winter coat as it'd be too warm and bulky). Now it's snowing. Which is awesome! Bring it on, winter!

(Winter is my second favourite season, after autumn, which we didn't really get properly this year, or at least I didn't get to appreciate it properly)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 

Not cleverness

I wholly endorse this position. Including the alt-text.


"the residue of a teleological system that's dead"

Sure, John Scalzi makes some interesting points about myth and entertainment here. But most importantly, he succinctly nails why I don't care about Star Wars.

(Jawas are awesome, though)



John Darnielle has the knack, which glenn mcdonald has, of writing about music I had no interest in and leaving me utterly spellbound. And kind of intrigued.


655,000 Iraqi deaths

I'm just going to go ahead and quote my brother, who sent me the link:

"Wow I cannot see how anyone could possibly have a problem with that."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 

I'm living in the ice age

My Seconds on Joy Division's "The Kill" is up today. I probably won't write anything about them for at least a little while, I'm not sure what else I'd say...

Monday, October 09, 2006 


So, Thanksgiving, lots of things to be grateful for... but not the fact that the blog layout appears to have randomly collapsed. Help?

Friday, October 06, 2006 

Life don't just always fold up neat

Stylus, and myself, recommends the quite-excellent new Horse Feathers album.

Thursday, October 05, 2006 

Here everything is by design

The Washington Post has a pretty disturbing account of "touchless torture."


Traditional wombat-embracing ceremony

This is 100% true.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 

Very happy, like a happy little bunny rabbit

Iggy and the Stooges' rider is pretty much the best thing ever, when it comes to riders.


To save you from your old ways

Jonathan Bradley and I chew the fat about the Killers and "When You Were Young."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006 


New Singles Jukebox, my take on experiencing Pere Ubu for the first time.


At least the PVR is recording House

So I showed up for a group meeting for the presention we have in the MA Seminar this Friday, and it was much shorter than I expected it to be. Good, right? Well, except that when I attempted to buy a sandwich for breakfast I got "INSUFFICIENT FUNDS" back at me. And I should have had at least a couple of hundred in my account, not less than seven bucks.

So I go check it... and student loan payments have come out. Leaving my account at $-100. Now, I got the form to tell the National Student Loan Center I'm in school again the very first day it was available (I know it was the first day because I showed up the Friday before looking for it and was asked to come back on Monday), and gave it to the person working at Student Financial Services who assured me, in response to my direct question, that I would not have money coming out of my account at the end of September.

So I call the NSLC. And they say they've never recieved the form. So I got wait in line for half an hour at Student Financial Services and am told that they may have just been too slow in processing my form to have sent it over yet, but fill out this other one and we'll get it to them immediately, really! So I call my bank to let them know what happened and to try and ensure they won't fuck me with fees - nope, no luck there. I can't even get approved for overdraft protection, despite this being maybe the third time the account has ever been negative since I got it, back when I was eight or so (and one of those times was when the bank itself switched me to a higher-fees type of account with asking me, so I'm pretty sure that doesn't count).

And then I go the gym, exercise, and find out the hard way that the building is out of hot water.

Basically, if any of you have anything unpleasant you wanted to tell me - I'm adopted, you teabagged me while I was asleep once, I have cancer - today is apparently the day to do it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006 

There is thunder in our hearts

What does it say about me that I think Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" is an intensely romantic song?

I don't ask these rhetorical questions for shits and giggles, you know. I'm always hoping someone actually has an answer, but no luck.

(I'm staying awake until my homework is finished, so let's hope I don't post anything else tonight, as it's likely to be even more pointless, thanks to our old friend fatigue...)

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About me

Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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imathers at gmail dot com

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