Tuesday, February 23, 2010 

Seven Soldiers of Scotland?

I am waist-deep in moving, and it's a busy week at work to boot, so I don't/won't have time to blog much for a bit; let me just say that this is something I'm very excited about. It brings together several things I like - Stephen Fry, Grant Morrison, Scotland, even Paul McGuigan (Gangster No. 1 and Lucky Number Slevin are good enough that he goes in the plus column).

Thursday, February 18, 2010 

Don't corner me with that poetry thing

Yesterday my review of the oddball but high quality Athens mix Underworld did went up at Blurt. I'll keep my review copy on my iPod, but I'm not sure I'd ever buy it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 

The Anti-Noah

My review of the mammoth new Excepter record is up today at PopMatters. I highly recommend the album to Excepter fans, and don't recommend it at all for non-fans. Hopefully the review gets at why that is a little.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 

"We must try to contribute joy to the world"

Whether or not you always agree with him, whether or not you read him, hell, whether or not you like movies; if you write or enjoy criticism, you owe a Roger Ebert respect if nothing else. Until I read this great and unsettling (photo-wise) essay on his life post surgery (by which I mean post-food, post-drink, post-talking), I had no idea his health had taken such a downturn. Let's appreciate him while he's still around, okay?

Sunday, February 14, 2010 

Moves his hands just like clockwork

Working on a review for Excepter's new Presidence record reminded me that this is one of my favourite songs of all time.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010 

Hot Chipapalooza

So the new Hot Chip album, One Life Stand, is really amazing. I mean, really amazing. 2010 is already shaping up to be quite good year, but I think One Life Stand will rank highly for me at the end of it, and I am very excited to see them live in April.

For the second time in as many weeks, Pitchfork has beaten me to the punch (although this time much more narrowly), and Scott Plagenhoef's review of One Life Stand is one of the few I've seen that's a sensible take on the album, and not just because (like me) he loves it; most of what I read from more measured commenters, including friends of mine, doesn't resemble the album I've heard at all. And Pitchfork is also hosting a brief featurette on the band, too, which is worth it just for This Heat's Charles Hayward's appearance. This Heat, Robert Wyatt, Peter Gabriel, house music, Bill Withers, Prince... if nothing else, you can't fault the influences they're drawing on.

Thursday, February 04, 2010 

Either way it's a crazy golf course

So with both of us being obsessed fans, it's not surprising that my friend Julia and I have been talking a lot about Romance Is Boring, the new Los Campesinos! album. The Pitchfork review pretty much nails it, for once (I like a lot of the writers at Pitchfork but even with the ex-Stylus people I can't say we agree on much). I don't recall reading Paul Thompson before, but for the first time in a long while I've run into something that's going to make writing my own review much harder, because Thompson has covered all the bases and covered them so judiciously and fairly I'm honestly not sure what else I have to add. It really is a brilliant album, and exactly the kind of surprising/not surprising at all progression I expected from them when I said about the debut "five or ten years from now, the only way we won’t be speaking of Hold on Now, Youngster… as a classic will be if Los Campesinos! have already topped it."

On a much less sensible note, a little while ago Julia sent me a line from the album she thinks is hilarious. And I didn't think it was that funny at all, which meant that while listening to RIB again today I wrote down all the things about Romance Is Boring I thought were funnier (because I'm a jerk, yes). Between this one, the new Hot Chip and the new Magnetic Fields I am feeling the urge to write something on the use of humour in music, but god only knows when/if I'll find the time. Anyway, that list (which, yes, is often dependant on context and delivery, it's music after all):

1. "But let's talk about you for a minute"
2. "I think I'd do it for love, were it not for the money"
3. "And so fucking on, and so fucking forth"
4. "I think we'd make about a hundred million pounds"
5. It's been over quoted, but still: "I think we need more post-coital and less post-rock"
6. "And what exactly do you mean by 'and what can you even eat'?/and how does that affect how I'll get off this evening?"
7. "I'll bind you and gag you and all's well that ends, I suppose"
8. "And if this changes your life, did you have one before?"
9. the title "I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know"
10. "I'm pretty sure I can heeeeaaaaarrrrr you"
11. "There were racists on the radio, trying to give up smoking"
12. everyone yelling "Can we all please just calm the fuck down?"

Wednesday, February 03, 2010 

This frequency my universe

The problem with listening to Johnny Boy's "You Are the Generation That Bought More Shoes and You Get What You Deserve (Crews Against Consumismo Extended Mix)" while editing is that once it's done I hate whatever I try to listen to next. As the guy I got it from says the song is amazingly euphoric, but it's also very biting and of course like the album it comes from is basically very pessimistic about modern Western life and the compromising involved in existing within that system (you know, the one you and I were almost certainly both born into). Their very fine self-titled album (I will happily pledge eternal devotion to anyone who issues it in North America with the extended mix appended as a bonus track) manages to sustain that mixture of bitterness and glee superbly for its brief length. On my iPod I do have the remix tacked on as track eleven, and it's the perfect ending. Johnny Boy is a very powerful record for me (sonically and ideologically, I guess you could say), but especially this song in this form, which is maybe my favourite song ever or at least right up there. After hundreds and hundreds of listens it still feels like a hard-won triumph, like you (or they, at least) can fight the system and live a non-bullshit life; it's still inspriring.

The problem, then, is that nothing else makes me feel like this song does.

Monday, February 01, 2010 

Kind of a big deal

Hey, for the first time since 1989, Bill Watterson has done an interview. It's short, and covers mostly familiar ground, but it only reaffirms my affection and respect for the guy.


Catching up

So my brother's stag and doe was this Saturday; it went amazingly well, but between all the work getting that ready and a busy week at my actual job and general exhaustion, I never got around to noting everything I wrote this week, and there was a lot of it:

- The Resident Advisor top 100 albums of the decade poll came out, and not only did I have two blurbs in it, they were both in the top ten. I admit I haven't heard three of our top ten, but what I do know tells me it's a pretty solid list.
- I had two blurbs as well in PopMatters' yearly Slipped Discs artcle; one on Doveman and one on Sweet Billy Pilgrim. Both are albums I should have had more to say about earlier in 2009 than I did, and both are excellent.
- PopMatters also printed a show review I did of the excellent, secretive, house show the Fiery Furnaces played in Guelph.
- RA also published my review of the recent Aarktica album, which I just noticed has a pretty hilarious first comment (one so passive-aggressively nasty that even the other readers have called him out a little). I spend my working days editing and writing nothing but short, declarative, simple sentences. It's called technical writing. Why on earth this bareklik guy thinks music criticism should be written in that form is beyond me (and while there's room for that, I have never and will never write much in that style), but the fact that he's taking a matter of style (i.e. he doesn't like mine) and pretending it's a matter of correctness or, heaven forfend, grammar, is rather precious. I was tempted to write a comment addressing it (partly because I feel that when a reader talks to you, you ought to respond in some way), but what's the point? You don't change anyone's mind over the internet.
- A recent review of mine that's at least closer to bareklik's boring, boring ideal style is my PopMatters review of the fantastic new Retribution Gospel Choir album. As my wording might indicate, I'm not 100% satisfied with this one, mainly just because I don't think I got deep enough into it (blame time and space constraints on my part, really) and I didn't really get to talk about why I think the album is amazing. I usually write in a more digressive style like the Aarktica review because that's how I get to what I consider the good stuff (if I ever do), and I think the RGC one comes off a bit pro forma - or at least it does in my own head.

At some point in there I managed to watch the last episode of Dollhouse, and I'm going to say it one last (probably) time: This was some of the best science fiction qua science fiction ever seen on network TV. io9 has a pretty great list of what people were missing, but damn, is it annoying to think of all the people who would love what they did with the second season who won't try it for one reason or another. As a friend pointed out, part of the reason season two was so good (and for me at least, it's one of the best seasons of any show out there) was because they knew they only had a year and they crammed everything in there, but still: incredble.

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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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