Archive for the ‘Me’ Category
As my close friends know, I used to be obsessed with mixtapes. I have a big box of them at my mum and dad’s house, made from about 1990 to only a few years ago, when I got my first i-pod and a car adapter for it too. See, up until I left Scotland in 2006, I’ve only ever had a car with a cassette deck: no CD deck up until I got my new card. Mixtapes my listening habits, even though I exclusively bought CDs. Almost every Christmas and birthday, I would get a big box of blank tapes knowing full well I would run out soon enough. Some were used taping music from the radio (naughty, I know), others were used to make tapes I could listen to on my walkman or take into school. Yes, school.
In my 5th and 6th year at school, I took Graphic Communication (basically technical drawing). Our teacher, Mr McKellar had an old tape deck which he used to play either Bryan Adams or a greatest hits of the Who compilation. He would give us a task for the lesson and then let us go, only talking to give one on one advice and help. Having listened to these two tapes for two years, I finally asked him if I could play some tapes I brought in. He agreed and the floodgates were opened. I basically would try and make a new mixtape every few weeks, mainly because my class size was pretty small. I put together the Brtpop hits of the day and some dance stuff. I even made up a mixtape of all the songs people told me they didn’t like (I remember “On A Rope” by Rocket From The Crypt being very unpopular), bringing out my belligerent side. From then on in, I used to bombard my friends with mixtapes all the time with a “listen to this, it’ll blow your mind!” zeal.
The mixtape lasted me many years, before the “My Top Rated” playlist on my i-pod. But now it’s making a comeback in two forms. Firstly, this delicious little USB Flash Drive encased in an analogue cassette case. It looks brilliant and it’s something I’d think about giving as a gift to someone who was in the mood for some new tunes.
The other is a brilliant concept; Muxtape lets you upload 12 MP3’s to a personalised page that other people can then visit and listen to the tunes within their browser. No media player, no downloads or logins required. Simply spread the link far and wide and let people listen. It’s so simple, I’ve made up a mixtape containing some of the tunes I recommended in my weekend article below. Just click here to visit the page, and hey! Make your own one and leave the link in the comments below.
I find it interesting how magazines will write off certain bands as being two closely inspired by seminal and influential bands. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club were derided by some as simply being an American version of Jesus and The Mary Chain. Interpol were simply an New York version of Joy Division. Then Editors came along and now they’re simply and English Interpol. Does it matter? Does it fuck! Editors vocalist Tom Smith may have the same crooning baritone as Interpol vocalist Paul Banks and Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, but there’s an anthemic energy to Editors that neither Interpol and Joy Division really capture.
“Smokers Outside the Hospital” is a great opener and shows some ambition as the group add piano and a gorgeous choir vocal toward the end to drive home the chorus. The album’s title track goes for a faster pace and much more direct approach. “The Weight of the World” slows it down a little, but there’s still the distinctive humming guitar sound.
Editors do the trick that some of my favourite bands do: make music that sounds downbeat to the casual listener but is in fact suffused with hope and brightness. There’s nothing here that’s going to soundtrack any Goal of the Month segment, but this is a stronger album compared to Editor’s first album, the Back Room. Sure another anthemic number like “Munich” or “Bullets” wouldn’t go amiss, but maybe the band are trying to create a great album, rather than some great singles.
Editors – Smokers Outside The Hospital:
Well if anyone was holding out hope that the White Stripes would go back to the primal, stripped-down blues that they seemingly perfected circa White Blood Cells will be disappointed. Yes, the eclecticism that suffused their previous album Get Behind Me Satan has been toned down (Goodbye marimba solos), but The White Stripes do now appear to be Jack White’s real creative outpouring after the Raconteur’s commercial and critical success. So it’s hello again to blistering guitar solos (which were absent on the last album) and hello for the first time to bagpipes. Yes, bagpipes. Seems Jack is keen to embrace his Scottish heritage on this album. Considering most Scots would have been happy enough for him to just wear a kilt for his Scottish gigs, he’s gone all teuchter on us.
“Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn” is an ode to the thistle that’s jaunty enough, but then Meg White comes in an sings about “Saint Andrew (This Battle Is In The Air)” and it lost me. But I suppose this is the newly married, Nashville based Jack White we’re talking about here. Seemingly more at ease with himself and his music (the band even recorded in a digital studio!), so the duo feels a bit looser and a bit more confident and playful. For example, the witty banter during the thumping “Rag and Bone”. The country rock of “Effect & Cause” sounds out of place at the start, until you hear the lyrics (a thinly-disguised attack on the supposed back-biters that forced Jack and Meg out of Detroit).
It’s hard to pick out the best track on the album, because for all it’s eccentricities, Icky Thump is a strong and cohesive album. Maybe 300mph Torrential Outpour Blues is the pick of the bunch. A distant cousin of Elephant’s “Ball & Biscuit”, that starts of gentle and contemplative before erupting with a ferocious guitar line. “Catch Hell Blues” is classic White Stripes though; pounding drums and Jack’s masterful guitar playing. It’s the simplest track and again highlights the White Stripes strength in (lack) or numbers.
White Stripes – Icky Thump:
I’m still without the internet at home. I’m waiting on some wiring to be done in my house before I can even a network organised. This means everytime I want to go online I need to hightail it round to Anna’s brother’s place. Anyway, let’s just take things as they come. If you’re friends with me on Facebook you’ll see I’ve added a WordPress application so you can see next time I update here.
Looks like I’m gonna be without internet access at home for a while now. I’m basically gonna give the site a rest until the start of August. That’ll also give me a chance to write some stuff too. Mind you I got Dead Rising on the X-box, and killing shitloads of zombies is fun.
I’m off to get married on Sunday, so don’t expect me around for a while. I’m sure you’ll all manage, but I’ll leave you with the clip for a song I’m definitely going to play at the wedding: