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Phonogram

30 Days of Music: #009

day 9 – a song that you can dance to Many people would argue that there is no such thing. These are sensible people, of the type that have seen my dancing. The Libertines – What Became Of The Likely Lads This is an example of a song that I can’t not dance to. My love of the Libertines, these days, is extremely circumstantial. As is natural, after years of post-band rubbish, Doherty in the press, and just growing up.* I can’t even bring myself to be that excited for the Reading reunion. But, place me and several units of alcohol in a public place that plays a Libertines song – any Libertines song – and I will dance. If you have the ill fortune of being with me, you will lose me to the press of the crowd, where I will alternately knock drinks out of hands and hug uncomfortable strangers. If I’m not in a club … well, it doesn’t matter, I’ll still shout the lyrics and dance to myself. I don’t know what it is about their music – it’s hardly designed with dancing in mind – but there’s a certain energy there that summons that particular shambolic beast within me. If I was going to Reading this year, I know exactly how I’d behave during their set. Shamefully. That much of the Libertines Magic remains. *Phonogram was, as usual, extremely prescient on this. The Libertines were a key band – “my training bra, intellectually speaking. Supportive to start with, but rapidly outgrown. Soon traded in for something sexier”, to quote the delightful Ms. Aster – to who I became, but ultimately they were fuel. They burnt.

2010: The First Quarter

After realising how easily I lose track of what I’ve actually listened to/watched/read/played over a year by the end, I came up with the notion of a more regular periodic journal of what I’ve listened to, loved, or been affected by. So, as we arrive at the end of March (and the beginning, apparently, of Spring), I give you more lists, and links (Spotify, unless unavailable or irrelevant).This isn’t the end of any discussion, it’s the start. Take this list and recommend stuff I should be immersing myself in. Please.x Also the source of my most commented-on t-shirt of 2010:Los Campesinos! – Romance is BoringI pre-emptively called this “almost definitely my favourite album of 2010” before even hearing it. Whether that will stand true remains to be seen – come on, 2010, if you think you’re hard enough. I said it immediately, expecting it to change with time, but it hasn’t and I don’t think it will: this isn’t my favourite LC! record. I wanted it push further in the direction The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future suggested, into full-on emo territory. But I’m damning with faint praise here. Romance is Boring isn’t boring. It certainly isn’t a disappointment, and it sparked my love affair with LC! again completely effortlessly. It just doesn’t strike me as a particularly good entry-point into the band, and so isn’t a terribly useful record to talk about. That doesn’t stop it being a stunning piece of work. Hairiest album:Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – The Logic of ChanceAbout which I suspect I’d have slightly different things to say, had I not been to see them live yesterday. With the beats pushed to the fore (in full t-shirt-quivering bass-heavy glory), and Scroobius’ lyrics feeling slightly more organic in person, the new stuff makes more sense. But it hasn’t changed the fact that Dan Le Sac has grown hugely, and absolutely owns this record, while the words sometimes come off a bit contrived. As recently found in my (lovely) girlfriend’s fridge:Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New HereOne of those things that dropped into my life (thanks, Sam Cowley!) to immediate awe. It deserves more time than I’ve given it, and I don’t know enough about Mr Scott-Heron to comment properly (apparently it’s a more personal album than his usual political material, he hasn’t been around for decades, he was in prison) but that’s part of it. This is one of those albums that is bigger than you, that you just have to bow down to and accept. The ‘companion to reading’ album:The Knife – Tomorrow, In A YearI guess this is the most ‘challenging’ album I’ve spent time with this year (having rejected Joanna Newsom as not for me), being the mysterious Swedish duo’s foray into opera. It’s about Darwin and evolution, apparently. I’m proud to say my boy Sam Langtree beat Pitchfork to the idea that it works mimetically, evolving from a sparse nothingness into some top-quality, almost-traditional Knife material. You must, must, must listen to this through the best speakers you can possibly get access to. On a laptop, it sounds underwhelming but, through a nice soundsystem, it overwhelms. Whether it stands up past that experience, I’m still not sure, but it’s worth a go. It’s already been a strong year for albums which, being an over-analytical music-type, is reassuring. Last year was all singles, but we seem to be looking at a healthy long-form crop in 2010. But the singles are still important. When aren’t they? I can’t believe I didn’t drop a mention to Music Go Music’s Warm In The Shadows in my 2009 round-ups. On repeat, it helped me through 12,000 words of essay-writing in January, and while that’s made it kind of difficult to love the same way in a non-work context, it’s still beautiful and ethereal. Then there’s the Lady Gaga Telephone video, which is of course phenomenal and the pinnacle of everything the Lady’s been working toward – for now. It’s also retroactively increased my enjoyment of the song in general, which I’m always faintly suspicious of. On the other hand: cigarette sunglasses. Right now, my life is dominated by Rihanna’s Rude Boy. It’s one of of those delightful moments where a big pop star finally clicks for me, though I haven’t experimented with Rihanna’s backcatalogue to see if it does more for me post-Rude Boy. Just… the ultimate dominant/submissive, self-aware/silly, masculine/feminine, endlessly quotable/catchy sexy song. I mean, you’ve heard it, haven’t you? “Give it to me baby like boom boom boom”. My 2010 cinematic life has been more dictated by what I didn’t watch rather than what I watched. I haven’t seen Avatar, still, or The Hurt Locker. Ponyo fled from cinemas before I got a chance to see it, and I never got to rewatch Where The Wild Things Are, which I still think deserves better treatment than the melting-screen, broken sound version I saw. I have seen Alice in Wonderland which was okay but had a lack of ideas (always an issue when you’re doing an Alice story) and wasn’t all that stylistically impressive (crippling when you’ve got Tim Burton to direct an Alice film) and 3D is still a load of rubbish.* One game has pierced through all the (rather good, but still largely unexplored) Christmas games to unquestionably dominate my year so far. It’s also dominated the year of my housemates, as discussion of nefarious plans (and misfunctioning files, being a play-by-email game) becomes a standard between those involved in the game. That game is Solium Infernum, a very much turn-based strategy boardgame set in Hell. It’s as little of an Alex Spencer game as exists in this world, and I don’t have the vocabulary to fully capture its majesty, but it deserves your time (try the demo), and the time and annoyance of the people around you. In comics, it’s a bit harder to judge what’s (as they most certainly do not say in the business) hot […]

“How I’d Love To Feel A Girl Your Age…”

I can’t believe I’ve never written about Phonogram before.* In short, a comic about how music is magic, with a playlist of Kenickie, The Smiths and, relevantly, the Long Blondes. You can perhaps see why I like it. The latest issue, Lust Etc, finally inspired me to put finger to keyboard and produce this, a review. “It’s hardly a criticism to say a comic left you wanting more, but given that Phonogram mk2 was always going to be my favourite/most important comic of ‘09, there’s something almost infuriating about the tiny 16 page stories told in the pages of The Singles Club. Almost. Each vignette falls very comfortably into the realms of small-but-perfectly-formed, and every time my (musical) worldview is subtly changed, and every time I find myself thinking ‘I wish I’d thought of that’. But there’s just not enough time to invest myself in these characters.” To watch me stumble through pain and praise, in both plain and purple prose, check the review out here. As usual, I can’t resist taking the less obvious path, and wander into wider commentary and theory on music, comics and my huge man-crush on Kieron Gillen. *Journalistically, anyway. Some corner of my dissertation will be forever Phonogram’s.

Bam, Pow. Etc.

In this post-Watchmen-film era, with a whole subculture finally able to exhale (and, possibly, roll their eyes) in unison, the usual mutterings in the common press have risen. What to read next, perhaps comics are acceptable, who Alan Moore is and why he’s clever. I joined in, writing an article on music and comics for my beloved Redbrick. Wherein, I compare Alphabeat to Spider-man; kiss relevant, talented arses; say a few things I already regret (not proud of the phrase “mainstream dirge”.)But I digress: I really enjoyed doing the “research” on this one, ans am pretty proud of it, in general, though it’s not as pretty online as it is on the page.And, okay, I used the phrase “post-Watchmen” with deliberate pretention up there. I had a brief moment of reckless optimism the other day: this is getting comics into peoples’ hands, and for a film that’s not doing that extraordinarily well, it feels like Watchmen is a bit ubiquitous at the moment: in all the bookshops, especially. I don’t think I’m one of those comics fans who is too bothered (anymore) about the medium having any kind of credibility, but I have to admit, the idea felt nice.On reflection, I think I was just being silly, though.