Archive for January, 2010

When Time Is Poetry

January 29, 2010

It’s supposed to be a sure sign that you’re getting old when your favourite bands start to reform.  When WHTB was a younger, more foolhardy soul with fire in his belly and a neatly-copped ‘tude, he wascompletely opposed to nostalgia reunion tours, and very nearly missed the Pixies due to punker-than-thou skepticism (not that they turned out to be especially amazing in the flesh. They fucked up Gigantic as well, the bad meffs).

But within the last few years, I’ve been to see sets by Dinosaur Jr, Mission Of Burma, the Lemonheads and Sebadoh. And there’s a chalet bed reserved for a considerably drunker version of myself when Pavement pull in to headline ATP in May.

the reunited, somewhat crinklier Mission Of Burma

For this huge selling-out of my core values, i offer the following (rubbish) excuses:

1. Most of my favourite bands were long-gone or approaching the end of their careers by the time i’d hit 16. Never let it be said that I’m a man of my time.

2. Back then I also decreed that all bands over the age of 30 “should be taken outside and shot”. Whereas these days, and as I hurtle ever-nearer to that magic figure myself, I feel like I’m right on the cutting edge of all artistic endeavour if i manage to enjoy a band under said age.

In any case, who cares? I considered posting a lengthy musing on why people bear such malice towards reunions, but it would be fucking boring. So let’s just skip to the conclusion of that bit, eh? Everyone clings to the myth that rocknroll is young people’s music – after all, they’re angrier, sassier and sexier than their ‘maturing’ counterparts. And older generations certainly have a tendency to forego the ‘LETSDOITNOWBEFOREWELEARNHOW-WUNTWOTHREEFOWAH’ spirit in favour of tasteful ballads and profficient playing. But hell, the whole genre is 60 years old now. How can it possibly just belong to young people? Dinosaur Jr’s new records and live sets are louder and harder-rockin’ than any number of crappy Top Man indie bands. Age is subjective. I’m in favour of young people labelling me an old bastard for saying as much – after all, I’ve started rambling now – but now that I’m not so young any more, I needn’t concern myself with such frilly nonsense. I’d rather know whether it’s rockin’, excitin’ or just any damn good.

And now I’ve got a ticket for reunited emo legends Sunny Day Real Estate, at their first ever UK show in London in April. To say i’m excited would be an understatement, but then again i was 12 when the original line-up split first time round. Again, never let it be said that I’m a man of my time.

Here’s the reunited SDRE on Fallon.

Peace x

In my direction

January 28, 2010

WHTB has recently been letting himself get excited by the deceptively-simplistic Spoon (as documented below)and full-pelt metallic hardcore like Corrosion Of Conformity.

There’s no doubt about it. It’s been fupping awesome.

But for no reason at all, here’s an explicitly simple, dumb, lovely pop song. Just for the hell of it.

I fucking love Beat Happening.

There’s nobody better

January 26, 2010

WHTB had a neat little plan in mind for this post, concerning the return of Everton’s dashing Basque genius Mikel Arteta, back in the squad after an eleven-month absence following a ruptured cruciate ligament. Unfortunately, he’s developed a groin strain,likely to rule him out of tomorrow’s game against Sunderland, which scuppers the excitement a little. But anyway, it would have gone something like this:

Mikel Arteta is one of the most talented performers that this generation of Evertonians is ever likely to see in the hallowed blue shirt. There can be no doubt about that. His remarkable ability to draw fouls, and subsequent advantages, from opponents by simply playing mind-boggling keep-ball is a joy to behold, as are the numerous flicks and tricks he has displayed over the years.

With Marouane Fellaini finally beginning to resemble the player we all hoped he might be, and this season’s talisman Steven Pienaar demonstrating exactly why he’s South Africa’s star man, Blues can be forgiven for daring to dream of a midfield capable of living up to the ‘school of science’ nickname that our team was tagged with in the late 1920s.

WHTB loved the tough-tackling style of Joe Royle’s ‘dogs of war’ side in the mid-90s, but that’s simply because that was the side WHTB grew up with, and hey, you can’t choose your times. In any case, for all the heart-on-sleeve moments provided by Barry Horne, Joe Parkinson and John Ebbrell, it was always the flair outlets of Andrei Kanchelskis and Anders Limpar that captured imaginations. The dogs of war were about pride and a never-say-die attitude, but the handful of creative players who complemented them were the stuff we dream of seeing at Goodison. Arteta is a part of that tradition, and more besides.

So we rubbed our eyes in disbelief when we read that he was due to start on the bench on Saturday’s dismal FA Cup defeat to Birmingham – the man had spent so long out of action that his ability had acquired near-mythic qualities in the fingers of messageboard nostalgists (as had his injuries in the typings of messageboard cynics). When he came off the bench, we joined the crowd in standing up to cheer. To see him on the pitch would have enough, but he displayed sufficient verve to indicate he’ll be the same player once he regains some fitness.

The night before last season’s visit of Hull City, a dream depicted Mikel as WHTB’s best friend. It was obviusly a silly dream, although fun, and most of the actual events therein evaporated from memory upon waking. However, your humble blogger awoke convinced that something special would happen that day. Sure enough, the marvellous midfield maestro scored a sumptuous free-kick that proved to be the icing on the cake of a 2-0 victory – the sort of goal that lingers in the mind long after the events of the season have faded.

Here’s to many more moments like that – great to have you back, Mickey.

“He steals the whole show in his last dying scene…”

January 25, 2010

This weekend, WHTB has chiefly been listening to Spoon. And darned entertaining it has been as well.

The Texas-based four-piece began life as one of the many self-conscious, Pixies-lite outfits that floated around throughout the 90s. After one album on Matador, and a stint on Elektra that nearly destroyed the group as a whole, Spoon eventually moved to Merge Records and began incorporating elements of classic rock, Elvis Costello and 70s soul into their music, finally beginning to make something approaching critical and commercial headway with their album Kill The Moonlight.

2005’s Gimme Fiction and 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga saw the band appropriate slow-burning funk and breezey AM rock influences into their sound. When gently whisked around Britt Daniel’s tense lyrics, occasionally sinister melodies and dissonant, Gang Of Four-esque guitars, these elements produce a sound that’s eerily familiar yet notably different to the rest of their contemporaries.

Daniel’s voice is a compelling instrument in itself, and serves as a convincing proponent for the notion of ‘soul’ as something intangible that you either got or you don’t got. It’s cracked, broken and raw, rather than smooth and powerful like, say Marvin Gaye, and yet it’s no less emotive for it. Put simply, it works.

Spoon’s new album Transference is out today, and WHTB is eagerly awaiting payday later in the week so he can rush out to get hold of a copy (as a gentlemanly sort, WHTB enjoys writing about himself in the third person).

Here’s some cheerier favourites from the last two albums:

Pretty special.


Tigers whimper

January 23, 2010

Everton Tigers were their own worst enemies in last night’s local derby against Cheshire Jets, losing 86-96 after a frustrating final quarter. Despite an 18 point lead at half-time, Tigers were clearly missing the potent attacking skills of Kevin Bell and James Jones, both out due to injuries.

Olu Babalola

Despite the best efforts of Olu Babalola, Tigers offered little spark during the final quarter, and could have no complaints about the Jets’ victory. With their support in fine voice all evening, the away team gave a comprehensive display of tightness, organisation and intelligent movement. It’s difficult to argue with away wins like this.

Get the fuck up!

January 22, 2010

It seems quite strange to imagine that the length of time between the Minor Threat 7″ and Nevermind is now equal to how many years have elapsed since nu-metal’s heyday. I was 18 at the time and it was easier to go out, get drunk and bawl along to Limp Bizkit than i’d perhaps like it to have been.

It all seems faintly embarrassing now – has there ever been a musical movement so pointlessly angry? Grunge may have been full of self-pitying Gen-Xers with little to say for themselves, but at least a lot of the tunes and some of the bands still stand up. It’s harder to imagine
Rollin’ or Last Resort capturing the imaginations of future generations in quite the same way as Smells Like Teen Spirit or Touch Me I’m Sick still seem to. Although music is a funny thing – rule out a nu-metal revival at your peril. There was a time when it seemed like the 80s (‘the decade that taste forgot’) could never possibly be cool again.

Still. Ten years, maaan! How did that happen?

“So this is the new year…”

January 21, 2010

“…and i don’t feel any different.” – Ben Gibbard

Last year i promised myself that I’d actually put some effort into my old blog, but didn’t quite manage it. It’s rather sparse, as you can see.

But that’s all in the past now! Welcome to the all-new (I’m hesitating to add ‘and improved’ just yet) WHTB, moved over to a new site for a new start. Please excuse the shabby surroundings for the time being; hopefully the place will be redecorated and considerably more homely in the very near future.

In the meantime, let’s get the ball rolling. Here’s some of the things that have been exciting my eyes and ears of late. Enjoy!

George Orwell – The Road To Wigan Pier

For some reason I’ve neglected Orwell for a long time. I read Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four back in school, and for some reason never quite managed to pick up anything else.

I read Down And Out In Paris And London last summer, however, and it’s given me the impetus to pick this one up. Not too far into it just yet, but it’s off to a cracking start.

Portastatic – Some Small History

Like most sane fans of US indie rock, I love Mac McCaughan, chiefly for Merge Records, Superchunk and Portastatic. This singles and rarities compilation may not be the best place to start investigating his oevre, but its lo-fi warmth, homely charm and superior tunesmithery should still win over prospective fans.

Lupe Fiasco – Food And Liquor

I never pay as much attention to hip-hop as i should. Ever. But sometimes all it takes is for a friend to say, “You’ll like this; the songs are good and he raps about skateboarding and giant robots.” SOLD.

The Book Of Genesis – illustrated by R Crumb

It’s a very strange concept – underground comics legend R Crumb applies his immediately-identifiable artwork to the first book of the Bible – but it works surprisingly well.

That’ll do for now anyway. Thanks for reading. Peace x