Friday, February 18, 2011

Ignore the ignorant - total bliss

And to think I made that headline up...A few months ago I decided to never go on the website of Dutch (tabloid) newspaper De Telegraaf again. It's not just because of headlines such as 'Monique Smit buys puppy!!' (Monique Smit is the little sister of a Dutch reasonable famous singer, Jan Smit), it's also because of their political preferences and even more so of the political prefereneces of their readers who have nothing better to do than comment on every article published blaming the left-parties. Who are also blamed for the weather and I wish I was making that up. Fair does it though that the middle-of-the-road and right from it person deserves their own newspaper, after all the so-called left-ones got the more serious paper De Volkskrant, so I'm not dissing the excistance of De Telegraaf per-sé, but reading it and especially the reactions from their readers made me physically ill because I got so angry about them.

Ever since I decided to avoid De Telegraaf I'm doing much better. Reading an online newspaper can be a force of habit, it was hard at first, but I don't miss it at all. Do I miss out on news? No I don't. Do I still know which celebraties are falling out to each other? I do. Trending topics do that. My colleagues tell me that. So I'm totally up to date with things I don't need to know. And I'm much healthier.

After this Big Success I'm now starting my next website-ban. I don't get ill going on there but do I really need to read about all the hypes I am NOT interested in? How often did I fall for the trick that this band is The New Shit and in reality they were just as shit as the previous New Shit hailed the previous week? Sure, loads of people are into that and that's fine, for them the NME is heaven but why on Earth did I get into this force of habit? Boredom? That I still want to know 'what's going on'? To annoy myself? To question humanity why hyped band so and so gets the praise and a fairly good band from the North West doesn't?

No more. No more for me. Will I miss out? No, because thanks to the people I follow on twitter and the trending topics I will get the news. Of releases I'm not interested in. Fair does it of course, because for the so-called snobby people like me there's a source as well and that's the ... well, I still haven't found it yet but I'm sure there is (maybe it's the city of Portland instead of an online magazine). I mean, I still find great music on the web, I think I know what I need to know (and sometimes more than I bargained for) about the musicians I like, really, do I depend on a online website I only shake my head about? I'm breaking another habit. And soon I will be a good person again.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

There is a light, dum dum, that never goes dum dum out

The Smiths. Say what you want, genuises. In the 80s they've delivered plenty a wonderful songs, wonderful guitar, wonderful voice (this took me a while to write, I'm not a modern Morrissey fan), wonderful words. If there's something a sensitive subject, it must be covering the Smiths. Placebo did a good job with 'Bigmouth strikes again', the title alone suits Brian Molko perfectly and they did a good job upgrading the walkman to a discman in this 90s remake. When Johnny Marr started out playing with The Cribs, they played 'Panic', a song that suited the attitude of the Cribs. Of course Ta-tu's 'How soon is now' never happened, the excistance of this version is denied. Unless you fancy an earbleed and a disturbance of a life time, you could try and look for it on youtube, I strongly suggest you keep on denying this version excists.

Now then. The Dum Dum Girls have a new EP. Yippee! On which they cover 'There's a light that never goes out'. Oh.
In case you are unaware, 'There's a light...' is highly regarded the Smiths' best and most sensitive work. The Dum Dum Girls are one of the many garage girl bands out there. One of the best though, let's that be said. But still. It doesn't exactly sound like a combination made in heaven and approved by the God of Rock and all that is holy.

When I got my hands on that cover I held my breath. I expected the worst. I was tensed when I clicked [play]. This had to be, with all my respect to Kirsten Dundred (Dee Dee Penny) who is a very talented woman, truly awful.

Yippee!Well, it isn't. Far from it. 'There's a light' is fresh, it rocks and it's good. Really good. There's no reverberation in her voice (hallelujah for that), she sings this brilliantly and the backing vocals are subtle and nice. The song is heavier than the original. They didn't copy the song and yet it's very recognizable. It's also very much Dum Dum Girls. The Smiths and Dum Dum Girls a good combination? Well yes! But then the Dum Dum Girls have been regarded the result of The Cure and The Bangles having mated in 1982. It's a logic result. Don't fear the new Dum Dum Girls EP, it's pretty good!

Dum Dum Girls - He Get's Me High is out 01-03-2011 on Subpop.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The universal language of the central heating pipe

Do you live in an appartment and do you warm your rooms with central heating? Then you know this. If your neighbours are making noise there's only one way to let them know they're making noise. This is not by knocking on their door and tell them or leave a passive aggressive note in the general entrance but by making noise. You could of course stomp back, put the volume up of your TV or stereo (or laptop), hamer against the wall. If you're not entirely sure who the obnoxious neighbour is who is making the noise, there seems to be only one way to let your neighbour know - by ticking or hammering against the pipes of the central heating. This, in case you are unaware, is heard in the entire building. Success guaranteed.

I live in an appartment building with 108 other households. Roughly counted. The block is 13 storeys high. One of the few living together rules of the building says that you're not supposed to make noise, putting a painting on the wall included, after 9pm til roughly 7am and not on Sundays. If someone at 9.05pm suddenly wakes up and remembers he or she needs to hammer that needle in the wall, you just know that at 9.05pm and 15 seconds someone ticks a coin or some sort against the central heating pipe. The Building Newspaper (a folded A4 with the 'latest' about the building) has reminded the residents 'NOT TO COMMUNICATE VIA CENTRAL HEATING PIPES'. It still happens, of course.

Last night I was brutally awoken by radio alarm clock. Not my own but by one of my neighbours. The music continued to penetrate my bedroom and indeed yes, it was annoying. I didn't want to know the time but I looked anyway. 3am. For fuck's sake! I understand some people need to get up at 3am and that it's hard but there's no need to share this experience. Apparently other residents in the building shared this opinion and weren't patient enough to search for a coin at this hour. Instead they kicked hard against the central heating pipes which probably must have woken up half the building. The message got through - the music stopped.

I don't know most of the people in this building but I'm superglad to know we all know how to communicate. If the same scene repeats tonight I might resort to the passive aggressive note. It won't wake people up at least.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Huh what? Really? They did it again! Radiohead who is.

Okay, obviously even I was aware that Radiohead were working on 'something'. You never know when this will be released, if it will be released. Will we pay for it, do we have to pay for it, can we actually listen to it, is it listenable? Questions oh questions and when you think mwah Radiohead Schmadiohead, who cares, they were amazing in the 90s, did some good experimenting and have released the occasional really good album. And are they pretentious or just doing their own thing. Just when you think you couldn't care less what they're doing, they do this:

And then you realise. Crap, I do care.

Applaud them for keeping it a secret and excellent marketing skills. They've just announced they're going to release their new album digitally THIS SATURDAY and the truly beautiful 'newspaper format' (two vinyls and one CD, I think, proably with loads of amazing artwork, my brain hasn't registered that part yet) in May with the 'normal' CD out on March 28. This Saturday! Love them, worship them, hate them and do not care for them. You gotta admit, to surprise launch this is pretty amazing. And clever, very clever.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The boys are back in town

What's the fuss about?The Strokes have made their first single of their first album in 5 years 'Angels' available for free download last night (no pun intended) which caused their website to crash and seemingly every alternative music lover getting excited to the bone. The news of the Strokes recording a new album caused excitement already. Every piece of news made fans all across the internet believe more and more that this is really going to happen. And bam! There's the first track! Everyone needed to hear it first and everyone needed to have an opinion about it and everyone need to tell the world how much they love it and how much the Strokes have been missed.

Did we all really? And with we all I mean everyone who isn't the Strokes number one fan.

With all the media attention from professional music sites, blogs and the amateurs alike, there really was no escaping from this news. One thing first, I like the Strokes. A good few years back I've seen them live and it was really enjoyable. I have really nothing against them, they make good music. But I can't say I really missed them. Nor do I understand why they are treated like Gods of rock n roll, why it's them who changed the world, basically what's so special about them. They are 5 scruffy boys from New York who picked up a guitar, and very well so, know how to rock and know how to write a straight forward tune. No bullshit, simply rock. Scruffy boys got themselves nice appartments and nicer girlfriends obviously, made some pretentious and in some cases possibly questionable solo efforts. Nothing wrong with that. Maybe they are a cult band. But did we all really need to collectively count down the minutes until we could all download the song 'Under Cover Of Darkness'? Did we really? Or haven't we all kind of fallen into the hands of a clever media attack in which we all took part whether we were aware of it or not. In fact, and I'm aware of that, by writing his blog I too give attention the to new single and new album of The Strokes. Who said publicity is expensive? This piece is paid for by my boss. The Strokes have launched a massive media attack upon us and it barely cost them anything, except possible loss of sale for their single, which will undoubtly pay itself back (it's common these days, it's good marketing). And whether they deserve it or not, we all know: The Strokes are back.

Personally I've heard 'Under Cover Of Darkness' only once, in a hurry, this morning and not completely. It's The Strokes, undeniable. It's catchy, it stayed in my head until I switched on my walkman this morning, about 15 minutes after hearing it. But am I in a total Strokes craze? No. But then I never was. It's good though.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The rock star as we know it is dead.

Thanks to the social networks, the internet in general, the blogs, the news site, the quick connection between internet users who post links to news, videos and what not to each other, even to people they don't know, thanks to all that, it's quite easy to keep up with what your favourite artist is doing nowadays. Artists themselves are helping as well be tweeting their every move. You know where they are, what they eat, what they listen to and what they don't like.

even this rock star tweetsBack in the days musicians were rock stars with their rock and roll attitude. All we knew about them was that they trashed hotel rooms, had loads of groupies and were constantly drunk or high (or both). There was this 'wow' factor around them, they were untouchable, they were heroes despite their constructive ways. Rock stars were cool. They stuck a finger up against society, they rebelled, they yelled, they were mystical creatures. They were gods.

Thanks to rock stars using twitter we know what they eat, where they eat, that they giggle when they're drunk, what they're wearing, that they went to visit aunty in the elderly home, that they listen to Girls Aloud, and like the next scenster kid think they are true and originals individuals not following any herd whatsoever. Rock stars still believe they are rock stars but surely, when rock stars tweet the same things your neighbour does, you little sister does, that politician does. We don't really want to see our neighbours latest butt tattoo just as much we really don't want to see Courtney Love's latest butt tattoo. So your brother is looking for some weed, that info is just as useless as The Thermals offering free tickets for anyone who brings weed to the show. Rock stars complain about their fans taking pictures during the concert and tweeting them immediately but when their rock star friends are doing the same it's fun. Musicians tweeting each other to meet up for a drink? Dude, use the telephone and TALK to each other!

I wonder, the stalker who lives in each and every one of us embraces the internet and the social networks and the rock stars greedily abusing the networks, we know more than ever about our heroes but really, is it really all that good? We technically could talk to the rock stars (if they weren't as friend-shallow as your next door neighbour only), but isn't it much nicer to meet them after a show and be actually excited about meeting this star? Don't we rather hear about rock stars trashing a hotel room rather than them meeting each other for a cup of tea at the house of the guitarist's mother? Didn't the internet, the quick media and us fans exchanging news and other info so quickly and easily not take away the mystique of the rock and roll star?

Sad but trueAs much as some of us might moarn the death of that mystical rock star, we too wait for that rock star to finally tweet something, only to make fun of the tweet and considering him a wanker, just like that boy that lives across the street is. Rock stars of the 21st century are boring people just like you and me, no matter how outrageously they may dress. We've all come to accept it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

If you play this stuff backwards, it says 'This sucks!

"Hey Butthead, what is teenspirit?"
"You mean you don't know. Dude, then I'm not gonna tell you."

The nineties. The Wall was down, the Cold War was over, Bush invaded Iraq, the Internet knocked phonebills sky high, Napster was still unharmed by Lars Ulrich, the economy was booming, Generation X wasn't doing much, MTV still played music videos, Britpop somewhat ruined rock music, there was Nirvana, flannel shirts. And Beavis & Butt-head. I AM CORNHOLIO! I NEED TEEPEE FOR MY BUNGHOLE. MY BUNGHOLE WILL SPEAK NOW. BOOIIIINNGGG!!!!

Anyway, Beavis and Butt-head are cult heroes. They commented on music videos and many artists considered it a honour when they slaughtered their video on the show. If you think about it rationally the show is incredible lame but that was the strength. Generation X embraced them. Loved them. Laughed like them. They had books, a duet with Cher and a movie. Beavis and Butt-head ruled! But as MTV slowly went down, the show ended as well. After four year of utter nonsense Beavis and Butt-head ended in 1997. The end of an era.

But they'll return! Mike Judge is making new episodes for MTV. The boys will still me obnoxious teenage boys but the show will be a little updated. I'm not quite sure if this will turn out well. Sometimes you need cult to rest. You can show re-runs but new episodes? It's like Pavement doing a reunion tour, that's fine. But let's be honest for a second, a new Pavement album wouldn't be much of a good idea. But we'll see where Beavis and Butt-head will be heading. At least the commenting on current music videos will return. Now that's something to look forward to. "Aaaahhh!!! Aaaaah!! What's that? Is that a dude?" "No dumb-ass, that's Lady Gaga. She's a Lady." Stay tuned for more lame-ass, nineties brilliance.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Kaiser Chiefs and I - a tragic lovestory

As it's more and more evident that Kaiser Chiefs wil return this summer, here's a little something I'd like to call 'Kaiser Chiefs and I'. If it remains an exciting Trilogy is entirely up to the men from Leeds themselves.

We're great!In the beginning...
I was majorly into Kaizers Orchestra. I ompaad through my days. Kaizers were King. A band called Kaiser Chiefs came along but I ignored. My sister poked me, saying that I should check them out because they were good. But you know, there can only be one Kaizer and for me that was the Orchestra. Up until I saw 'Oh my god' in the last days of MTV showing music videos. Then I heard 'I predict a riot'. I bought 'Employment' and realised that there can be indeed two Kaizers.
Their club shows were unbelievable. Such energy. I enjoyed everything from the balcony and they became my favourite band. I ignored their 5,000 capacity HMH gig until the moment I thought that I might give the band a go in that venue as well, realising it was sold out. I didn't mind. Slowly I became aware of the fans and how they rocked and rolled. I'm not a big fan of fans (or it has to be the SBS6 tv show 'Fans!'). I've never really fitted in with any fanbase. Though with the Chiefs I became a regular on the forum. And thanks to Ricky Wilson's amazing appearence in Never Mind The Buzzcocks I started to realise that these friends of theirs, The Cribs, are actually pretty nice guys too. Making great music. Heavier. But greatly amazing.

Everything is average nowadays...
Ruby Ruby Ruby!! Album number two was highly anticipated and my sister arranged a special hearing session for me (in our living room) and I loved it upon firts hearing though I already spotted some dodgyness. It sure wasn't 'Employment' but it was good. We went to both Paradiso shows, my colleagues knew me as nothing more or less as a Kaiser Chiefs fan and I left the front row for Interpol at Lowlands to run across the grounds on my own to get a somewhat decent spot to see them Kaisers. My love for Kaizers Orchestra had somewhat run down. There's only so much love for a Kaizer you can have. I met nice people through the band's forum. I never actually met them at gigs but with a select few I kept in touch outside the forum. It's amazing how music connects. I wanted to diss the 5,000 capacity HMH but in some weird run down of affairs I ended up there anyway. It wasn't that bad. Though I liked the support band no one liked a lot more than the band that everyone adored. Something about the band started to irritate me as well. Especially drummer Nick started for no particular reason to get on my nerves. There was something weird about the band and it wasn't just the fans. It was the band itself as well. As my love grew for the Cribs I started to see how much they grew apart, the Chiefs and the Cribs, and that was actually kind of sad. The Cribs due to their raw live shows filled with raw energy and their pure honesty got the best of me. They overtook the band who made me aware of them in the first place. Outch?

Off I say, off with their heads, off, off! (or the Show Down)
Riding high on success, they didn't really want to release an album but then there was Mark 'Horn section' Ronson and he wanted to work with them, they didn't plan it but they wrapped up an album for ragerdless. Of course, the fanbase loved it. To me it was the most uninspired piece of garbage compressed in 30 minutes. I couldn't get myself around on spending money on that album. I found it later for 3 pounds in Tesco's and I still couldn't get myself to spend even 3 pounds on that piece of crap. I was quite vocal about that commercial suicide, honesty doesn't pay off well. But to me, how could a band that always claimed to stay true to themselves, sell out so shamefully? Hanging out with celebrities they hated so much, making bland music, claiming they were doing so well where instead I wasn't the only one who thought the album was by all means really shit.

We suck!I did go see them volunteerly in the HMH. It was sold out. I met up with the girls I met at a radio show earlier which was the highlight of the entire event. I stood front row and hated, absolutely hated the support act. What was I doing here? This is the new indie and I hate the new indie. Kaiser Chiefs had become the new indie. They had sold out. It became so evident when they hit the stage. And I realised the love is gone. The band I had adored for the past years was gone and it was a tough thing to swallow. I knew that it would stop right here right now. Early on in the show they played 'Modern Way' from their first album and I let myself go, I sang my heart out, that song still is my favourite. I cried, front row, I was sincerly sad to know that this band is not my band anymore. It sounds overly dramatic now but I wasn't having a good time in overall as they played most from their latest album. The grand final 'Oh my god' was cut short which didn't do my mood very good.

One person however told me to get over myself for not liking what they were doing right now. He had seen me at the gig and wondered why on earth a person on front row would cry and look so incredibly depressed. I know I have no pokerface but that this person was telling me he saw me in that state was quite shocking. This person was band member Simon Rix. I stood on the left side of the stage, he on the right side. And he had seen me. It's not a nice knowledge to know that the band is indeed able to see the people in the crowd. Fuck my life really. After that came anger. Who the hell was he to tell me to get over myself and that they were doing so well with great songs they loved playing? Kaiser Chiefs from then on were a done deal for me. What a band of wankers.

The Kaiser Chiefs make a return this summer with a festival tour and a new album. I'm curious but I don't have my hopes high up. I think them Chiefs have showed their true faces and I didn't like them. It's not a big deal. Loads of people will like it and that's fine. There will always be something special attached to the Kaiser Chiefs for me. But that awful third album will never make it to my record collection and I doubt the fourth will as well.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Because I'm way cooler than that

Let's talk about 'Old Skool keeping it real, I don't like anything after the first demo'* fans for a second. You know the kind. Long before a gig is announced they have everyone know they by no means are going for front row because they're too good for that, only to queue hours before the doors open, run to the bar and have a loud drink with other 'holier than thou' fans only to reclaim a front spot during the gig by obnoxiously pushing other fans away, calling it moshing and having a good time and boast after the gig about their bruises, injuries and puking over the pavement (not the band). Every band has them. You can say all you want about the fangirls (and fanboys alike) with their cameras giggling their way through meeting a bandmember / crewmember / support band / bus window cleaner, at least they're honest. They like the band and they're not ashamed to show it. Annoying as that may be for other fans and band alike, at least they're not pretending to be something they're not.

I will never understand why people queue only to dash to the bar first. I will never understand why fans think they own the front spaces even though they only come to the stage when the band is on. I will never understand why you need to show off loudly when you do know that old song the band is playing. I will never understand why you need to shout the names of the crew when they're setting up.

But what I really will never understand why you have to tell with every release that you prefer the first album or their even earlier days. If you don't like anything as much as the first fart the band let out, why still bother? If album after album you don't like it that much, give it up. The band will not go back to recording that same old fart over and over again. Interests change. People change. Bands change. At least, that's the healthy way. So, give it up. Don't patronise the fan who does like the new release. Don't patronise the fan who prefers to stand in front row (some of us are only 5'6"). Don't patronise the band for evolving after they released their first album. Either own up that you too like the new stuff and enjoy it or shut up and let it be. There's no shame in stop liking a band if they go for a direction you're not interested in. But if that direction is releasing real albums on a real label and getting a little bit more successful, I do have the right to pity you.

* quote by Gary Jarman, feb 2007 on myspace. He meant to address his own old-school fans. He's a hero.

The Kaizer's empire will fall down, it will fall down.

It's the sad ballad of anyone who loves a band. There will be a point in your life that this band will end. No more new albums, no more tours. No more. Up until the time this band runs out of cash, but that's another story. Let's just asume that when a band calls it a day, it's over. The end. Finito. And even though you know bands come and go, that there are other bands in the sea, the world won't end, every ending of a band is a heartbreaking affair for any fan.

I had my first favourite band in 1981 and have been through numerous band-endings with various reason such as breaking up due to popularity of the band, band members fighting, dying, running out of inspiration, not feeling up for it anymore, you name it, it has happened. A band member dying always has a double effect, any break up of a band hits hard. No more new music, no more gigs. It's a tough thing to swallow.

But what happens when you know that the band you like has just released an album, will be releasing another two albums, is touring and really don't hate each other at all, make it known that in two years it's over. 2013 it's going to be all over. That's in two years, you know that now already. What is that all about?

It's weird and a little unreal. It makes you aware of that you need to enjoy that show because it might be the last, in fact, it'll be one of the last. You know that. I've left a show thinking 'wow, is this the last gig ever?' (known as Gary-Gate), I've been to shows where months later the band announces a 'break', I've been to reunion shows assuming it's the last gig I'll ever go to see them. This is different. There's two more years, two more years of two new albums, new tours, two more years of regular fan behaviour. Or isn't it?

It hasn't sunk in yet but Kaizers Orchestra will be no more after 2013. A band active and about more than ever. This is their grand finale. And they're doing it with a bang. With a final trilogy. The Kaizers very last story. It really hasn't sunk in yet. But I will be try and enjoy it to the max.