Categories
Indie Rock Music Poetry Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z): The Cribs – Be Safe (feat. Lee Ranaldo)

Day 2 (B) of the Song of the Day challenge.

Be Safe is a bit of a weird one. It’s a collaboration between Wakefield indie rockers The Cribs & Sonic Youth guitar maestro Lee Ranaldo. Only Ranaldo isn’t playing guitar. He’s giving a spoken word performance of one of his excellent poems.

There isn’t an official video for Be Safe, and rather than just link to the official audio I found this excellent fan made video. It’s perfect to me.

One of those fucking, awful black days
When nothing is pleasing and everything that happens
Is an excuse for anger
An outlet for emotions stockpiled, an arsenal, an armor

These are the days when I hate the world
Hate the rich, hate the happy
Hate the complacent, the TV watchers
Beer drinkers, the satisfied ones

Because I know I can be all of those little hateful things
And then I hate myself for realizing that
There’s no preventative, directive or safe approach for living
We each know our own fate

We know from our youth, how to be treated
How we’ll be received, how we shall end
These things don’t change

You can change your clothes
Change your hairstyle, your friends, cities, continents
But sooner or later your own self will always catch up
Always it waits in the wingsIdeas swirl but don’t stick
They appear but then run off like the rain on the windshield

One of those rainy day car rides, my head implodes
The atmosphere in this car, a mirror of my skull
Wet, damp, windows dripping and misted with cold
Walls of grey, nothing good on the radio, not a thought in my head

I know a place we can go and I’m falling
Love so hard that you wish you were ten

Lets take life and slow it down incredibly slow
Frame by frame
With two minutes that take ten years to live out
Yeah, let’s do that

Telephone poles like praying mantis against the sky
Metal arms outstretched
So much land traveled, so little sense made of it
It doesn’t mean a thing, all this land laid out behind us

I’d like to take off into these woods and get good and lost for a while
I’m disgusted with petty concerns
Parking tickets, breakfast specials
Does someone just have to carry this weight?

Abstract typography, methane covenant
Linear gospel, Nashville sales lady, stocky emissary
Torturous lice, mad Elizabeth

Chemotherapy bullshit

I know a place we can go and I’m falling

The light within you shines like a diamond mine
Like an unarmed walrus, like a dead man face down on the highway
Like a skunk, eating it’s own tail
Steam turbine, frog farm

Two full closets burst open in disarray, soap bubbles in the sun
Hospital death bed, red convertible, shopping list, blow job
Deaths head, devils dancing, bleached white buildings, memories 
Movements, the movie, unfeeling, unreeling, about to begin

I know a place we can go and I’m falling
Love so hard that you wish you were ten

I’ve seen your hallway, you’re a darn call away
I’ve hear your stairs creak, I can fix my mind on your yes
And your no, I’ll film your face today in the sparkling canals
All red, yellow, blue, green brilliance and silver Dutch reflection

Racing thoughts, racing thoughts, all too real
You’re moving so fast now, I can’t hold your image
This image I have of your face by the window
Me standing beside you, arm on your shoulder
A catalog of images, flashing glimpses then gone again

Untethered to the posters soak in me, every clear afternoon now
I’ll think of you, up in the air, twisting your heel
Your knees up around me, my face in your hair
You scream so well, your smile so loud, it still rings in my ears

I know a place we can go and I’m falling
Love so hard that you wish you were ten

Imitation, distant, tired of longing, clean my teeth
Stay the course, hold the wheel, steer on to freedom
Open all the boxes, open all the boxes
Open all the boxes, open all the boxes

Times Square Midday, newspaper buildings
News headlines going around, you watch as they go
And hope there’s some good ones, those tree shadows in the park
They’re all whispering, shake some leaves

Around six p.m., shadows across the cobblestones
Girl in front of bathroom mirror, she slow and careful
Paints her face green and mask like
Like my cheese, portrait with green stripe

Long shot through apartment window
A monologue on top but no girl in shot
The light within me shines like a diamond mine

Like an unarmed walrus
Like a dead man face down on the highway
Like a snake eating its own tail
A steam turbine, frog pond

Two full closets burst open in disarray, soap bubbles in the sun
Hospital death bed, red convertible, shopping list, blow job
Deaths head, devils dancing, bleached white buildings, memories 
Movements, the movie, unreeling, about to begin

Oh, great by me
Yeah? Mine were alright, wasn’t my best one but who cares?
That’s the spirit

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Categories
Politics Videogames

Tonight We Riot

I haven’t played enough of the new game, Tonight We Riot, by Pixel Pusher Union 512 to review it or say much about it. What I can say is that it is a pixelated side scrolling brawler where your character leads a gang of workers through armies of riot police. Utilising such tools as bricks, molotov cocktails & work tools (ie. wrench as a melee weapon), the aim is to liberate as many workers from capitalist oppression as possible while keeping as many of them alive as possible. It is a game which is unashamedly and openly left wing and is a welcome antidote to the neoliberal, imperial fantasies that most modern games are.

To get an idea, here are screenshots from the opening cutscene/slideshow:

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Categories
Folk Literature Music Poetry

“False Prophet” – Bob Dylan

My review of Bob Dylan’s new single, False Prophet.

With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Despite late-night speculation over on my Blog a couple of nights ago, Dylan today released a new single, not an album. He did, however, confirm via a Tweet that his new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, will be released on 19th June.

“False Prophet” follows Dylan’s current trend for sparse, minimal arrangements but the sound palette is very different. Consisting of a snarling, overdriven guitar and more rock-style drumming, “False Prophet” has a sleazy, blues-rock vibe, calling to mind smoke-filled pool halls and bourbon on the rocks.

Lyrically, Dylan seems to be denying that he is the titular false prophet while framing himself as a kind of underdog hero. He declares himself “the enemy of treason” and boldly declares “you girls mean business and I do too”. He’s “first among equals/second to none/last of the best/you can bury the rest”. A sliver of the carefully choreographed arrogance of the early…

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Categories
Indie Rock Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z): Idlewild – Actually It’s Darkness

As a way to ease the boredom of lockdown I have decided to participate in the Song of the Day challenge proposed by fellow blogger William. I will be choosing a song a day for each letter of the alphabet. Also inspired by William, I will reproduce the lyrics to the song where possible (ie. unless it’s an instrumental song).

For day 1 (or day A) I have chosen Actually It’s Darkness by Idlewild. This was the second single to be released from their excellent second album, 100 Broken Windows. As far as I know it’s the only single to chart in the UK top 40 with the word ‘actually’ in it’s title, reaching #23 in March 2000. It’s a melodic slice of post-R.E.M. indie pop with typically clever lyrics, catchy hooks and a chorus which is anthemic in an understated way.

You thought the fire could protect you from it
But why have you been so, why have you been ill informed?
I felt that fire could protect me from everything
You’re just too gullible

Actually it’s darkness, I don’t know what I’m scared of
It’s darkness, I must be scared of something
You must be scared of something, quite quite special

You shed a shade of shyness
You shed a shade of shyness
You shed a shade of shyness
Why can’t you be more cynical?

I knew the winter could protect me from it
One box if film won’t make it all go cold
I thought that winter could hide me from everything
I’m just too gullible, for words

Actually it’s darkness, I don’t know what I’m scared of
It’s darkness, I must be scared of something
You must be scared of something, quite quite special

You shed a shade of shyness
You shed a shade of shyness
You shed a shade of shyness
Why can’t you be more cynical?

I don’t look the same in the photograph
I need to look the way I did in the photograph
By mentioning places it will all become clear
If we speak the same language, you’re a deeper darker reason…

You shed a shade of shyness
You shed a shade of shyness
You shed a shade of shyness
Why can’t you be more cynical?

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Categories
History Politics Visual

VE Day, 75th anniversary

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the defeat, by the allied powers (British Empire & commonwealth, USA, USSR & many partisan resistance forces) of the fascist regimes in Italy Germany. After years of sacrifice and hardship by predominantly working class men, the forces of European fascism were finally defeated. I celebrate this day with a visual post showing some of the celebrations carried out by soldiers and civilians alike.
We must never forget the sacrifice made to combat far right extremism, and going forward, in respect of those who sacrificed everything, we must destroy far right extremism wherever it raises it’s ugly, intolerant head.

Solidarity.

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Categories
Folk Literature Music Poetry

Has Bob Dylan just teased his next album?

Edit: initially published 2am, 8th May 2020. Republished after technical issues

Bob Dylan has tweeted what many believe to be the cover art for his impending new album. If this speculation is correct then Dylan’s new album will be called False Prophets. This is presumably a clap-back to when the late Pope John Paul called Dylan “the wrong kind of prophet” in 1997. Obviously, the gutter press at the time printed headlines like “Pope calls Dylan False Prophet”.

If, as some believe, the album is scheduled to drop tonight then we can expect to see it at 9pm Pacific time. This is around 5am here in the U.K. so I’ll be finding out when I wake up tomorrow.

Following the release earlier this year of two new singles, the 17-minute epic Murder Most Foul & minimalist folk ballad I Contain Multitudes, a new album does seem likely.

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Categories
Art Literature Music Videogames Visual

Cultural Significance in Art (Part 1)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the cultural significance of art and what gives a piece of art the kind of longevity enjoyed by the works of people like Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dickens, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Picasso and others. I’m wondering a lot about the art that has been produced since the millennium and if that art is worthy of things like Guernica or Macbeth.

Picasso’s Guernica. Image from Encyclopaedia Brittanica

I have recently studied the concept of creativity from a linguistic standpoint and feel like this may be, subconsciously, why I have been thinking about this. My study materials offered a definition of creativity which I found useful. The introduction to the block of study titled “Language, Creativity & Humour” states that:

“for something to be creative, it must be:

  1. novel
  2. appropriate to the task at hand
  3. considered to be of high quality.”

So, this gives us a functional definition of what creativity is but assigns no level of significance or importance to it. Is, for example, Banksy’s Love is in the Bin (the self-shredding framed print which sold at Sotheby’s for £860,000) more, less or equally as important as Petscop, the mysterious Playstation game Let’s Play YouTube series? The Banksy piece is more likely to be thought of as culturally significant by those educated in art, but Petscop uses modern technologies (Playstation, coding, YouTube) in novel ways which are “appropriate to the task at hand” and the cult-like following, or fandom, on forums such as Reddit and YouTube certainly perceive it to be of high quality. Saying that, by incorporating a shredder into the frame of Love is in the Bin, Banksy too used technology in a novel manner.


Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

How much of a factor in this is marketability? As previously noted, the Banksy piece managed to fetch £860,000 from obviously wealthy art collectors. Petscop, meanwhile, made by one person who had an idea for a mystery story and the skills to make it work, didn’t make any money as it was just released to the public free of charge. This reinforces observations I have made (and heard discussed in various media) about working class voices being frozen out of the arts. Working class people cannot afford to take the time, let alone the materials, to create engaging and well thought out pieces of art. This, however, is a topic for a different discussion.

The reason I chose these two pieces to discuss is because they are both very recent. Petscop ran between 2017 and 2019 while the Banksy piece was made in 2018.

People in the 21st century appear very reluctant to assign cultural significance to art, myself included. I can only think of a small number of pieces which I find possess that strange quality which lends cultural significance to something. I intend to write more about this going forward but, for now, here are some of the pieces of art made since the start of the 21st Century which I feel have enough cultural significance to carry them forward into the future in the same way as a Shakespeare play.

Petscop (2017-2019)

Petscop is a gripping mystery told through a new artistic medium: the YouTube Let’s Play video. The story goes that the narrator, Paul, found an old PlayStation game (with an important note) and decided to record his playthrough. What starts out as a colourful ad childlike game about catching pets soon turns into a dark and sinister mystery involving murder, child abuse and allusions to real life crimes. The series ran for 3 years and the creator, Tony (@pressedeyes on Twitter), planned, developed, coded, scripted and performed the whole thing. He even built that actual game (using it to record the videos rather than merely animating them) from scratch, using only technology and styles which would have been available for a PlayStation game.

Bob Dylan – Murder Most Foul (2020)

Released at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown in the US & UK, Murder Most Foul is both a poetic retelling of the assassination of JFK and a mournful goodbye to post-war age we appear to be finally exiting. I wrote a review of this when it was released on With Just A Hint Of Mayhem.

Undertale (2015)

Undertale is a videogame that I am still playing but I am already convinced of it’s status as a masterpiece. I am already blogging about it regularly:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Going forward with this series of posts, I will consider other pieces and if they fit into this ideal or not. An important thing to consider is that the evolution of the technologies we use to produce art & entertainment will force us to not only create art in different ways but also give us more things to express and address in our art.

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Categories
Electronic Music Music Synth Pop

RIP Florian Schneider, Pioneering Kraftwerk founder

Florian Schneider, founding member of pioneering electronic music group, Kraftwerk, has died today following a short battle with cancer. He was 73.

It’s safe to say that without Florian Schneider’s contribution to music, the world would be a different place today. The robotic rhythms and experimental synthesiser work outs that Kraftwerk were known life have influenced almost all music we listen to today.

My own field, electronic music, would be practically non-existent without Kraftwerk. Their contribution to experimentalism, with tracks like the 22-minute classic Autobahn, is equal to their contribution to synth pop, with tracks like beautifully simple The Model.

It is difficult to imagine a world without the musical influence of Kraftwerk.

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Categories
Literature Poetry

Mayakovsky, A SLAP IN THE FACE OF PUBLIC TASTE

A SLAP IN THE FACE OF PUBLIC TASTE is the 1912 manifesto for the Russian Futurist movement. The word ‘manifesto’ is intended to be used loosely. I love the abstract poetic feeling of it, personally. Ive encountered it published, as a poem, in a collection of Mayakovsky poetry. At least 50% of my motivation for buying this particular volume was the glorious collage style cover artwork. It gives me  something of the feel of a punk or indie rock fanzine. The writing too resembles my ideal, stylistically speaking, of an imaginary punk fanzine writer if they were writing in the dying years of Tsarist Russia.

Written in the style of an open letter to society at large and, more specifically, to the art world, A SLAP IN THE FACE OF PUBLIC TASTE is a hugely influential and important piece of literature. I particularly appreciate the demand to honour the “rights of poets” and the humorous broadside against Maxim Gorky etc. As explained in the footnote below, the writers were on good terms with the Futurists and the broadside was received with good humour.

That footnote from the first image:




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Categories
Indie Rock Post Punk Punk

Wire – The Art of Persistence

I was surprised, pleasantly, by the release of a new Wire single today. A reworked version of The Art of Persistence from their forthcoming compilation of reworks and stray (I’m guessing they mean unreleased) tunes, 10:20.

10:20 was initially conceived as a Record Store Day exclusive but after the organisers pushed the event back due to the pandemic, Wire decided to release the album on 19th June, reading it today with The Art of Persistence. Originally intended as a vinyl only release, 10:20 will be released on all platforms in the absence of Record Store Day. 

The Art of Persistence is a hauntingly atmospheric slice of almost elegiac New Wave. The lyrics seem to detail failed attempts to communicate, saddened by the anxiety of failure. “Persistence, survival, a test of the wills”, sings Colin Newman, giving this Communicative impasse an almost competitive element which is helped along by the quick pace of the songs galloping rhythms. 

Wire previously released Small Black Reptile in March, which also appears on 10:20. Both singles are available now from digital outlets & streaming services.

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