I’ve always found the concept of romanticising or caring for a chain of high street shops absurd. To me, they are a faceless pickpocketing point for things we desire, and much more rarely, need. The (ongoing) national mourning for the collapse of Woolworths is possibly the most ridiculous example of them all. It seems like every day somebody with nothing better to say will still recount the time “I used to go with my Nan and buy the pick ‘n’ mix every Saturday”. Implying that if it wasn’t for Woolworths, childhood as we know it would have ceased to exist. Not that they would have gone to another shop and that would have been the end of it. Or that, in truth, it was just a really shit shop.
Post Sounds – Frank Ocean: The Tone of Universality
By Woodrow Whyte
It’s hard not to get swept up in the rather beautiful way in which Frank Ocean announced his love for another man in a statement released on to his blog on July 4. It feels like a monumental achievement, not just for urban music but for society in general.
The concerted push in American and Western culture to support gay marriage and create an environment for gay artists, particularly those in traditionally more hostile genres like Ocean, to express their sexuality as freely as they like, has finally given birth to its first success story. A young, black, R&B singer, collaborator with major hip-hop stars, with an incredibly large following has finally felt the time was right to talk about his love for a guy.
Have you ever bought a record that you’ve never heard before, only to discover it was total balls? I recall one formative experience when I was about fourteen and I inadvertently bought an album by Australian F-rate pop-punk band The Androids. Considering Green Day are the ‘A’ grade in this highly questionable category, you can probably guess just how fucking appalling it was. I was horrified. “What have I done to deserve this?” I thought, as I marched straight back to the shop that dared sell me what is essentially the most embarrassing record I have ever bought.
Thankfully the likelihood of repeating this experience is all but a distant nightmare thanks to the internet. We can all try before we buy…or not buy at all as the case may be. For me, I can’t remember the last time I bought an album without hearing the music beforehand – or at least having a vague idea of what it was going to sound like. Yet, when the internet is taken away from you, things can get pretty dire. I ended up without the internet for the best part of a month and I felt like a complete neo-luddite. I didn’t quite realise it before but I am wholly reliant on the internet for new music, which in hindsight is not the best way to be.
So I went to my first Record Store Day last weekend. Despite being a CD buyer, I decided that, in my heart of hearts, I knew vinyl would probably sound, play and ‘feel’ better (well that’s what people tell me – I’m just a complete sheep bahhhh). This obsessive fixation with ’7 inches’ and ’12 inches’ sounded too damn erotic to be ignored . Plus I was tired of those snobby vinyl collectors looking at me like I just done a solid on their carpet every time I dared mention the ‘C’ and ‘D’ word.
If you’ve been within a 40 mile radius of any record shop recently, you’ll probably be aware that today is Record Store Day. From ridiculous-o’clock this morning, vinyl collectors, musos and people who enjoy queuing come together to be first in line for the most-prized, limited edition sexy black wax they can get their grubby hands on. It serves three purposes very well. Firstly, driving sales for independent retailers and boost profits. Secondly it raises awareness and support for local stores who often face very stiff competition from their corporate conglomerate cousins. Thirdly it reinvigorates the ‘specialness’ of the physical release, which in the long term is essential for the survival of record stores.
When was the last time you got completely over-excited about a new song you’ve just heard? Not just finding something you like, but being completely and unexpectedly blown away. Usually in these situations I start wailing like Mariah Carey at the top of my voice (despite not knowing any of the lyrics) and dance like a recovering hip-replacement patient. It’s instant happiness, joy and pleasure. For me at least, not my neighbour.
But it’s a phenomena that is, for some people, becoming more of a rarity. I’ve seen a couple of articles this week which discuss the loss of this sensation. Sean Adams, founder of Drowned In Sound, talked about our obsession with ‘The New’ and how this has diluted the quality of the music being produced/presented. With the overall effect of music becoming a lot more ‘meh’ than ‘OMGGHERGFCKNARHGHGARGHHH!!!!!’, Jason Pierce of Spiritualized spoke to The Guardian of a similar experience. There was one particular quote which I think sums up this debate quite aptly:
Here’s a bit of exciting news that might have passed you by this week: The Futureheads have released a new album!
OK, maybe it isn’t the most exciting news in the world…
It would be a fair stretch to call me a fan. I probably listened to the first record. Once. Some years ago. In normal circumstances, news of a fresh record would only get a curious glance from me at best. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the new release Rant is entirely acapella.
It’s no secret that I am a Bjork fan. In fact, fan probably isn’t a strong enough word. Obsessive seems more appropriate. My fortunate/unfortunate house mates (depending on how you look at it) have had to put up with me incessantly playing her records and making reference to her work in pretty much in any conversation for four years now. I know I should keep quiet, I know I should stop living vicariously through my idol, but I can’t. She’s total Icelandic cat nip to me.
“When they bury me in a church and chuck earth on my grave, I’d like the words ‘Well, at least he tried’ engraved on my tombstone”, said Morrissey, on his legacy, Melody Maker, 1987.
Beyond the initial excitement and flurry of re-tweets, reblogs and general fan euphoria, there lays an ever-present discontent about the idea of a band reforming. Often it is the motivation for reforming that causes the most debate. Almost every major band that has got back together in the last ten years has had some question marks over their heads about intentions, which mainly boils down to is it only about the money?