Thursday, April 30, 2015

Getty Funk

I heard a song today that caught my attention.  It's by the Belgian band Balthazar, who I don't know a whole lot about except that they're not particularly new, just new to me.  I like the laid-back but funky sound on the two tracks I'm posting.  I thought I was on to a good thing, but not all their stuff is as great.


I also like the new Ghostpoet single, which showcases his "rock" sound a bit more.  I'm not really qualified to judge musicianship, but his band sound just OK to me;  I wonder what he'd sound like if backed up by a really great band, like Radiohead say.  They could really up the sonic experimentation behind his lyrics and increase the weirdness level.  As it is this song sounds good but the backing doesn't provide any surprises.

Have to keep it brief now, as I've go to go pick my kid up from daycare.  I came across this via Vice and then heard it on the radio on the same day.  William Onyeabor is a Nigerian musician from the 70's who I must hear more of!

A Dauwd mix at XLR8R led me to this remix of his, which is, as usual, great, though quite subtle (so's the mix by the way.  Great I mine, not necessarily subtle... I can't remember if it's subtle or not, but it is great.  Probably.  I heard it a few weeks ago!):

And finally, thanks to the wonders of Soundcloud's algorithm, that Dauwd track led me to this John Talabot one; I remember checking Talabot's album out a couple of years ago, cos it was topping some end-of-year lists, but I wasn't that into it.  I like this though:

Phew!  Hope that's enough funkiness for ya!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Atypical Girl

Last night I finished Viv Albertine's autobiography 'Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys'.  I wasn't at all familiar with her or her work with the Slits and beyond, but the book kept popping up with good reviews so I decided to check it out, and I'm glad I did.  To boil it down to a very simple summary, she was around in 70's London when punk started to take hold, knew all the main people, and was part of one of the original bands, the Slits.  When I say she knew all the main people I'm talking about all of the Clash, Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood, and many, many others.  She was around when they  were all just kids who were starting out, and she presents them as they were -- (quite) normal people with certain ideas about music, politics, and what matters. She's had a very interesting and eventful life beyond that too, including stints as a film-maker and ceramicist, as well as lots of personal events that I don't want to give away.

A few things stood out to me in the book, the main thing being the sheer amount of abuse and even violence that she's gone through as a woman!  I don't know if it was the time, the place, or just the people she was around, but it's shocking just how much she's put up with in terms of physical, mental, and sexual abuse. From words to slaps, from being stalked to chased to ganged up on; it doesn't stop in the 70's either, it carries all the way through to the late 2000's, and her friends and acquaintances all seem to have similar experiences.  As shocking is how they take it in their stride -- some of what they go through is just seen as normal because that's what they expect from at least some men. I know I'm quite naive about these things but I really hope it's not that bad for every woman.

Another stand-out was her particular brand of feminism and the very real reasons behind it.  She outlines multiple instances of being put down or held back by men, simply because she's a woman.  She then details how she dealt with that, writing about her feelings and thoughts and the emotional toll it all took on her.  It's a great read and I'm planning on buying a copy to have around for when my daughter's a bit older.  I hope I never utters the words "because you're a girl" to her, especially not as a reason to stop her doing something -- not just because of Viv Albertine, but her book is a good reminder that things shouldn't be that way.

Reading about the Clash and all those other icons when they were starting out was great as I had a time period when I was quite into punk.  I read a few books about the Sex Pistols and the Clash, watched 'Sid & Nancy'; I enjoyed seeing them through Albertine's eyes -- to her they're not icons, they're mostly just people she grew up with, and she doesn't go into any details about Sid Vicious' death, or Joe Strummer's.  This isn't a book eulogising an era and sound, it really is a book about her particular life and experiences.

I've not really read a lot of biographies or autobiographies, but I am starting to see how inspiring they can be.  Albertine's in her 50's now, and she went through a very normal period of life -- house, family, marriage, children, etc.  I sometimes think that my life is basically domestic -- it's all about the kids and the time to really do things and experiment has gone.  Albertine came to a similar conclusion, but then went beyond it and started doing different things, experimenting, find herself again.  It was good to read about and reflect upon -- life doesn't end at 30, or 35, or 40, unless you let it.  There's still plenty of time to do more and keep starting things, and it's ok to care about clothes and fashion too!

There's more to this book than what I've detailed above -- I enjoyed her introspection; her discussion of how she and her peers analysed music, what they listened out for; the details of her childhood and working-class life in the 70's; the life-long impact her parents divorce had on her.  Honestly, reading about a whole life in a book is pretty amazing!  I can only hope my life looks as interesting when I look back on it years from now (iA).  I was going to read Kim Gordon's memoir, 'Girl in a Band', too, but then decided against it.  I get the impression that it'll be a lot more po-faced than this, so Billy Idol's book is next on my hold list.  Maybe I'll change my mind though; it could be interesting to compare the two.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


I've had a fair few favourite bands in my time.  The first one I can remember is U2, back in their 'Achtung Baby' days, but it's never been just one band for life.  There have been different ones at different stages, including a pretty long period of the Clash.  One from the mid-90's was the Prodigy; in fact, 'No Good' may have been the first piece of dance music I liked; before that I was all about the indie and rock sounds, but 'No Good' got me on board with electronic music.  I lost track of the Prodigy after 'Fat of the Land' and the "electronica" push in the US, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who did.  But they made a bit of a comeback a few  years ago and I caught them live at the 930 club.  I can't say I really paid any attention to their new stuff, but I didn't mind it; live it all seemed to slot right in with the hits.  Don't get me wrong, I didn't go to the (sold-out) show just for nostalgia; I went because I knew it was the closest I'd come to a rave, and I wasn't wrong!  They're back again now.  I wasn't too impressed by what I heard at first, but this song has grown on me a little bit -- it's not very deep but it's got some classic Prodge elements to it and will probably sound good live.

Also back is Gaz Coombes.  I've no idea why this track is called Detroit, but I like it -- I like the quiet bits more than the loud bits, they remind me a bit of Supergrass' 'Road to Rouen' album, which is a great one in my opinion.  The video is just a bloke running in great scenery, with a silly bit in the middle (it is Gaz Coombes after all); makes me want to go for a jog somewhere nice.

Lastly, Oddisee's back with some solo stuff and it's rather good: