Wooing a Style-Bar!

Posted: 17/09/2014 in Miscellaneous

Any budding DJ will find themselves there. Playing in some stylish bar, everyone sitting down, eclectic tat everywhere and ever-so-imported booze on tap.

You have control of the music and everyone is going to know how cultured, diverse, cool and my god, obscure your music tastes are. But, they also must enjoy it. That is what your free beer is for.

If you are new to this game, here are some pro tips for a setlist. It’s all surprisingly formulaic but they love it:

B52’s ‘Rock Lobster’ or ‘Planet Claire’.

Some country that isn’t Cash or Parton. ‘King of the Road’ or ‘Sixteen Tonnes’ should do it.

Some sixties French thing.

Some respectable but not too heavy techno. Lauren Garnier ‘Sound of The Big Baboo’ or The Youngsters ‘Slow’ were good but I used to play them ten years ago so what do I know? Maybe the brighter parts of James Holden or The Field.

A house ‘classic’. Now that Frankie Knuckles is dead he’s the greatest DJ ever!

The Normal – ‘Warm Leatherette’ or for bonus points Throbbing Gristle – ‘Hot on the Heels of Love’ – find the remastered version = bass

Something off DFA that isn’t LCD or The Rapture but leave a sufficient gap before you play ESG.

A moog cover of some classical. Isao Tomita is good.

Mudhoney – ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’. If that works Daisy Chainsaw – ‘Love Your Money’. If not Sonic Youth – ‘Death Valley 69’. If the nineties thing is going really well Whale – ‘Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe’.

Some Lee Perry. Doesn’t matter what. If that works too well you might be in the wrong bar. Play some King Midas Sound. That will sate them until you can leave. You can then play The Bug then God. Better to burn out than fade away.

Cocteau Twins.

Something off Bowie’s Lodger for the “is that Bowie? I don’t know this” effect.

Devo. Try not to play ‘Whip It’ or ‘Satisfaction’. Gauge the crowd.

A sixties/seventies UK TV theme. ‘This is Your Life’ or ‘The Prisoner’. Any Ron Grainer really. If that works play an album track from a sixties John Barry Bond score.

Revolting Cocks ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’.

Charles Manson ‘Look At Your game Girl’. No one will know and it’s actually quite a pretty song. Dangerous!

Blues is a funny one cause it is the ultimate dad music. If you feel you can get away with it Mississippi John Hurt ‘You Gotta Die’. Make sure to mouth “you gotta die” along to show your utter contempt for your audience.

Something off the Fire Walk With Me soundtrack. Be wary though. Some of it is on the high-drama side.

Old Skool jungle – all sounds the same.

Something off The Avalanches record that isn’t ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ or the less noisy stuff off L. Pierre – The Islands Come True

Early eighties John Carpenter.

Something off the A side of the first Suicide.

Something krauty. Be as obvious as you want.

Some soul to prove you know proper pop or a Phil Spector girl group.

Some rare groove.

You are going to have to play some hip-hop. Old school is too obvious but you don’t want to stink up the place with some misogynist crap either. De La Soul or The Roots are good, or if you want a laugh, MC Hawking.

Nineties chart dance is repectable now and there’s loads of great stuff. Back load your set with ‘Better Off Alone’ and later ‘I Like to Move It’ for when everyone is wasted.

You want some cool indie tunes in there. The Duke Spirit – Northbound, Brainiac – Hot Seat Can’t Sit Down, Softboiled Eggies – Cold Finger, Tall Ships T=0.

Jazz. Miles Davis never fails. You can’t play Albert Ayler in a hip bar. Nothing too obvious. Fade in something from the Bitches Brew boxset for five minutes.

Stereolab.

Punk is a funny one. Best stick to covers of famous songs. Snuff’s cover of ‘Wannabe’ is pretty funny. It’s only about 30 seconds too.

Get some EBM on. Nitzer Ebb or Front 242. Might want to go for something without vocals. Most people don’t goth.

If you absolutely have to play some RnB, The Weeknd – ‘House of Balloons’. You can cut off Glass Table Girls if you want. It does have that bassline though.

No Aphex, Hall & Oates, Oneohtrix, Chic or The Knife. Have some dignity

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The newest and certainly the most exciting kids on the Brighton promoter block, Dictionary Pudding, are offering up some lo-fi for one and all. So why the fuck not?

You would be forgiven for thinking Men Oh Pause – great band name by the way – were indiepopqueeriotgrrrlQI etc. The visual tropes are there: matching caps, turn-ups, charity shop gear. But you’d be wrong. Completely wrong. They are in fact an incredibly covert sound art troupe. Ostensibly they write songs, but they’re crafted with minimal drums. And by minimal we are talking agonisingly sparse, with lashings of dread goliath bass and deranged keys. There are some meanderings through doompop but it’s high-art manoeuvring all the way. The poor Fitzherberts’ fish take a battering.

There can be very few individuals who can get away with a Daisy Rock guitar with football stickers on it, but King of Cats frontman Max Levy is part of that micro-elite. KoC are absolutely feral tonight. Noise-indie in its very most literal sense. The rock rhythm section has been swapped for a trashy cheapo drum machine and synths, and is all the better for it. The lighter moments recall Casiotone For the Painfully Alone but with sooooooo much more alone, and painful. Again, in a good way.

The Middle OnesI don’t have a big sister, but if I did I’d want her to be one someone who could comfortably join The Middle Ones. An absolute charm offensive from the first note. Bands who laugh a lot are usually hiding something, usually a lack of rehearsal. Not TMO though. They are just having a fantastic time and it is wildly infectious. Superb harmonies throughout. There is a palpable sense of euphoria in the room. Lets just hope the Bristol/Norwich duo are back again before long.

No one would be too offended if I were to suggest the main reason people are here this evening is to see one of Frozy’s rare live exposés; and of course they deliver in spades. It’s quite a long set but they keep the crowd in a state of entrancement all the way. A number of ‘superfans’ sing along and it’s a tremendous summing up to fantastic summer evening. There is a slight sense of melancholy though. In that apparently Frozy members live in Brighton, New York and Amsterdam. So, perhaps it’s going to be quite some time before we see them again?

There is a ‘twenty year rule’ for pop music. It applies across other genres but rings especially true in pop. When a chart song comes out the ‘music fans’ hate it; after ten years it’s ever so ironic, and after twenty it joins the classic pop cannon.

It happened to Burt Bacharach, Elvis and Abba; it happened to synthpop and Stock Aitken and Waterman, and whether you like it or not, it will happen to Girls Aloud and Lady Gaga.

The latter gets complicated though. The 00s/10s have been particularly forgiving of cheese. In our metropolitan anything goes era, listening to chart music isn’t quite the social faux pas it was in the dark tribal days.

There are of course exceptions. When pop goes wrong, it goes really wrong. Some songs are so poisonous the contagion never leaves.

If you could somehow distil down a weekend in Blackpool into a song you’d have Cher’s ‘Believe’. Only, you can actually escape Chav-Vegas. But like a sewer rat, you are never very far from ‘Believe’. It still evokes a wedding punch-up, a mobile DJ or the worst kind of 6am drinking.

The whole composition is phoned-in europop b-side fodder. Cher does his automated operabot programming all the justice it deserves: complete personal engagement with an near sociopathic lack of emotion.

It’s nice to see that Cher himself – in typically modest fashion – takes full credit for inventing autotune. As if she not only devised the studio technique, but also sleeps soundly at night with the utter shame of what became of that. Having said that. At least there is some remnant of something new for 00s pop, except the pornography.

Video  —  Posted: 04/05/2014 in Feature
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If there is one thing that British people excel at, it’s sounding authentically angry.

Link  —  Posted: 02/05/2014 in Album Review
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Tobacco – Streaker

Posted: 02/05/2014 in Album Review
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So the genres have all gone?

Good, fuck them. What did subculture ever do anyway? Skins, mods, grebos – don’t want any of that. What we want is all the dirtiest shit from every scene thrown at us with manifest abandon – right here, right now. No one’s taken up the mantle of deranged straight-to-videocore since Foetus went serious. Everything is so clinical, where’s the disease?

It’s all here. Tobacco has always been underachieving. In terms of popularity, and possibly, creatively. ‘Streaker’ however, is resolutely basking in underachievement. It really just couldn’t give a shit. A horrible mess of buckling synths and compressed drums. There is no discernable structure and no detectible message. It’s apolitical, emotionless and distorted beyond acceptable measure. It’s incredible.

You don’t deserve it.

From the band that called themselves Cerebral Ballzy – by choice – comes ‘Lonely As America’.

It might not have been their choice. Perhaps some remnant of the mafia is making them do it, or they lost a bet, or the promoter in their area is a dick and wouldn’t book them otherwise? Either way, Cerebral Ballzy.

From the tours they’ve been on you’d be forgiven for expecting another hardcore band. What you actually get is actually is virulent bit of indie/punk with the best Dead Kennedy’s tropes. They’re packed into a tight three minute sausage of urban worry. It sounds magnificently New York and would be just as apt on a sunny day or a late night walk home, as long as you are surrounded by intoxicating deranged metropolis.

It goes agonisingly out of tune about halfway through. Like, really badly. It’s nice to see in 2014 that even though bedroom recording is ubiquitous. Bands still do the ‘record, mix and master the album in 12 hours’ thing. Totally street. Done the The Circle Jerks proud.

If you are a NYHC twat that doesn’t live in a cage of your own design or a torturous indie kid abandoning decaf. This could stimulate those parts other bands can’t reach.

Slayer – Implode

Posted: 01/05/2014 in Album Review
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Jeff Hanneman was always the coolest member of Slayer. The quiet one harbouring the ideas. Kerry King presents himself as such a dickhead, Hanneman stood there radiating all-consuming calm.

How do Slayer function without him? Pretty well actually. We’re easily overcome by the spikes, leather and pentagrams, at the end of the day, what made Slayer Slayer was a huge dollop of hardcore. It’s a particularly weighty element in ‘Implode’ – their first release in five years.

There is nothing radical going on here. What are you going to do after three decades though – Slayer have notoriously intolerant fans. An electronic/back to our roots/metalcore direction would be shit. They had a great creative opportunity with new chap Gary Holt. So of course he has resolutely not been given creative input here… Holt knows his metal onions, he’s hardly going to plough the dead field*.

Slayer ran out of lyrics decades ago, suitably they are phoned-in here. Do you listen to Slayer for the studied rhetoric? Maybe, they’ve had their moments – Divine Intervention had a particularly diverse and scurrilous manifesto. The onus here is to remind us that normal people are stupid. Thanks, we already new that. They aren’t Slayer fans are they?

Half decent song aside, you have to wonder why Slayer bother at all, is the album just a reason to go on tour? Slayer – like Motorhead, Maiden et al – fans that wouldn’t care. Can they scrape back the recording costs with a few blood coloured vinyl? Probably, seems a lot of work though. Having said that, they can bash this stuff out automatically and records are like, sooooo cool right now. Although, there is probably a die-hard CD demographic at all those Big Four monstrosities.

*Yeah, that’s my fucking metal song title, not yours’.

About once a month or so I write the ‘ what’s on this week’ column in Latest Magazine. Yeah, that’s why I’m so wealthy. Either way, here it is for free:

Well of course it’s The Great Escape this week. There bands absolutely EVERYWHERE. You could barricade yourself into your basement, turn off your electricity and an acoustic gig would just randomly pop up around you. Bearing this in mind, lets focus on the poor souls bookending the weekend.

Years ago now this writer was at a Martin Creed show. Being the clumsy ape he is he walked straight into one of the sculptures and pushed it lopsided… No one noticed he made a – ahem – great escape. Sorry about that. Either way, Mr Creed has a band and they are playing on Tuesday at Brighton Dome Studio Theatre. It’s dad-post-punk with comedy swearing. If that’s your thing, knock yourself – and a sculptures – out!

Londoners – specifically East London, apparently that’s important? – Bleech are doing their power-pop-alt-rock-all-fuzzy revue on Tuesday at The Hope. Much loved Brightonian’s Keel Her are bringing their lovely warm tunes too. There is a might buzz about Keel her, go see them while they still fit into the Hope’s cosy confines. You really are spoiled, you do know that?

Asian underground demigod Talvin Singh is doing his thing at Brighton Dome Concert Hall on Wednesday. And by his ‘thing’ we mean playing lush live scores to classic Indian art house flicks Raja Harishchandra and Devi. Everything Singh does oozes quality, this is exactly the kind of gig you’ll pretend you were at in the pub on Saturday.

On Monday there is a huge bloody great night of metal at Green Door Store. Metal 2 The Masses no less. The spellingly challenged Kremated are bringing their ‘London thrash’ down even further south. Supported by the presumable really, really fast or glacially slow Hawka HurricaneApotheosism and Spinning Death Machine. Ten points to Spinning Death Machine for being called Spinning Death Machine.

Should we tell the NME indie lads that photo’s in front of the decaying West Pier are just, like, sooooo obvious dahling? Nah, it’s always worth a giggle on the Wednesday.

Bermuda Triangle is a weighty venue name. Whoever comes up with the lasting nick-name gets ten points. I nominate ‘muda-t’.

Muda-t is in a great location for the summers beginning. You can come out between bands and watch the sun go down. It’s all very lovely.

A dangerous thing having ‘dull’ in your band name. It leads to all manner of mimetic conclusions.  Fortunately Dull Knife traverse any dubious associations and get on with the gutsy americana wig-outs. They are a band defined by their lack of members. They have that two-piece psychic bond and wizard-like musicianship, and a welcome lack of high-tech noodling – although you suspect they’d rather like to. So why aren’t they the best band ever and stuff? They are just so damn mannerly. Songs this exciting should elicit more gusto no?

Much like Bad For Lazarus. Who phone in their performance as usual tonight. You suspect there is a heart of gonzo sleazy rhythm ‘n’ b(l)ooze going on but they just can’t be arsed with any of it. Which is of course total bollocks. BFL are probably the most dependably raucous band in town. They have that thing where everyone is vying for attention, which locks in your attention. Last time Brighton Noise saw them was supporting The Icarus Line. They are slightly more in control tonight – slightly – and they are all the better for it. They, er, rise to the occasion. Sorry.

So are Tigercub worth all the hype? Sure, why not. They have the songs, and they definitely have a thriving home support. Not that bands have adversaries. They did, but there’s no gang-mentality anymore. It’s all a bit postmodern now.

Tigercub know this. Which is why their songs divide equally into three fields: pleasantly-groovy-for-a-white-band-rock that really hones in the rhythm section; the weirder songs off Rated R; and what Tigercub do best: Pixiesnirvana nostalgic-but-its-new grungey stadium-fillers. One of which, ‘Mother’ even gets a singalong.

Having said that, In typical alt-rock tradition the audience resist putting too much effort in until the last song. Which of course isn’t the last song, you can’t have a launch party without an encore. Unfortunately, the house lights go up and half the crowd leave before they go back down again. Which is a shame as the band back and play a blinder! Rock ‘n’ roll eh? Mental.

 

* thanks to Sandie Levent for letting me use her excellent photographs.

Deftones – Smile

Posted: 24/04/2014 in Album Review
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Given the weighty backstory of this there is an initial fear, what if it’s not very good, are you allowed to throw the book at a memorial track? Thing is, Deftones – much like nineties luminaries QotSA, Tool and NIN – never get a bad review, even though collectively their last works were below par. That’s ok. There’s zero editorial pressure here at Asunderground. Just the moral issue.

It’s with some relief that it is actually quite good (ish). Not close to the millennium good, but solid nonetheless. It’s one of the alt-rock non-singles that invariably end up being the best tracks on the album. That’s stretch but it’s pretty good.

Lyrics were never the strong suit and true to form they are phoned in here. Curiously, they are presented very small on the screen. Tip tip: don’t read them. You’re not even getting a quote here. Put simply, it’s about fucking. Who want’s yet another Deftones song about fucking? Seems an odd choice of subject to mark someone’s death.

So why is there so little to say about the music? In fact, now that it’s stopped playing, it’s difficult to remember any detail at all, which after about nine listens is actually disturbing. Presumably the band haven’t unlocked the mystery of broadcast amnesia. So the only conclusion is that it isn’t any good after all. It’s the most cardinal of all sins. Kind of boring…