Tuesday, 10 July 2012
Saturday, 9 April 2011
My dad in the '60s and '70s picked up the banjo and the fiddle. As a Jewish kid from New York he was playing Appalachian music, people who were generally Christian and from a different world. So did my mum have any more right to play this music than my dad because she was from there? Probably not, because she wasn’t living in the mountains…well, she was living in the mountains, but she wasn’t living in a one-room shack; they had a house, her dad owned a grocery store. It’s funny. Where are we justified in borrowing from each other? They played square dances, my dad played the fiddle, my mum played accordion and the piano and they met each other through that community, a community that is based on continuing the tradition of American folk music. To me, it always seemed more legitimate than what I do because it’s from America, which is where we’re from. But still in America, as in Africa, there are a thousand different cultures or tribes or ethnic groups, whatever you want to call it. But there’s lots of stealing and borrowing going on between these traditions.
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
First up Austra. Just got the album of this. Not quite as instantly smitten as I'd expected – not yet, anyway – but this is gorgeous. Here in its harder, longer form. All the work of Katie Stelmanis, a Latvian-American out of Toronto with a voice for the opera and beats for sex in club toilets.
Clipse's last album was pants, and I can't remember the last time Fiddy was any good. But this new single from Pusha T is a blast. Clipse never put a foot wrong with Neptunes, and if they're producing their solo albums, all will be right again.
Another lone woman working wonders. I was meant to spend the day writing up an interview with Tune Yards, but that's on hold. And this is the best way to spend my time without getting depressed hunting for work. The new album is the nuts and her live shows are meant to be even nutsier. This is something like how I'd hoped Vampire Weekend would sound until it turned out they were wimpy indie at heart.
J.Rocc's album is a massive surprise. Expected drab turntablism, got some spacey, bass-heavy carnival madness. For my money you can hear it best on Party, but this seems to be the first single – and J.Rocc Party isn't exactly chosen with SEO in mind – so cop this.
Mark Pritchard and Steve Spacek about to release their first album as Africa Hitech. This is just immense.
Really recommend this new Instra:mental album, Resolution 653. Thought they were meant to be d'n'b, but don't much sound like it to me, which is why probably why I like it so much. Parts of it sound like a colder, harder Isolee. And others don't. Can't find any videos, so hopefully this album megamix will do.
The return of Raekwon in the last few years almost makes up for his old mucker Ghostface losing his way a little. Here he pays tribute to, um, Bon Jovi and lords of rawk. Possibly the first rap track to big up its rock credentials without using really shitty axe wankfluff.
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
This originally appeared in Word Magazine, January 2011
Tuesday, 4 January 2011
Highlight of my Christmas domestic entertainment by a distance was the latest Philip Kerr, Field Grey, the seventh in his series of Marlowe-in-Nazi-Germany novels featuring that most anti of anti-heroesBernie Gunther. This one starts in mid-50s Cuba with Gunther and Graham Greene comparing tits in an upmarket brothel. Greene is en route to Haiti, scene of his greatest book, The Comedians, but Gunther is dragged back to Europe and Landsberg Prison (where Hitler wrote Mein Kampf), and back in time to Weimar Berlin, Occupied Paris, the Ukranian and Byelorussian killing fields, a Soviet POW camp and divided, but pre-Wall Berlin.
Monday, 18 October 2010
Thursday, 7 October 2010
“With Michael Jackson’s passing I felt a responsibility to create things for our generation, to be more inspirational and be better parents,” he says. “The lowest common denominator is all you see on TV, we need to use our power in a proper way.”
- Watch more Music Videos at Vodpod.
In Runaway’s case this means rescuing a half-dead phoenix – gorgeous and, happily, wearing as little by way of feathered clothing as daytime telly restrictions allow – coaxing her back to life with a lush garden, a sheep and the power of Kanye’s sampling skills, marrying her, arguing, promising “I’ll never let you burn”, and then watching her rise into the sky while running through the words to his horrible Autotuned take on Bon Iver’s Woods.
This is actually a rare reversion to 808s And Heartbreaks. For the most part the songs represent a return to the form of, if not College Dropout, then at least Graduation. Hard and raw in places, grandiose and orchestral in others, it mostly maintains the form of tracks like Monster and is evidence that Kanye’s new album may overcome its clunky title My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (whither Good-Ass Job?) and drag him back from the precipice he’s been gazing over for the last two years.
He touched on these problems (notably the fall-out from his embarrassing awards-show intervention) in the post-film Q&A. Sounding worryingly earnest in his claims of divine intervention, he seemed like a new, rather boring man, talking about his heroic resistance to record company pressure to do something commercial. He saw this as “the same shit Michael went through”, as if the man who made the most successful album of all time, and regularly phoned CBS boss Walter Yetnikoff at all hours of the day seeking reassurance that its successor would sell even more, was merely a disinterested passenger in his own global super-megastardom.
But beneath the waffle the old arrogant, ever-quotable Kanye was there. “This is gonna sound like the Kanye of three years ago, but do you know how creative I have to be to be me?” he said. And “I wish I had a billionaire to invest in me, ‘cos investing in me is investing in arts through all the three-year-olds I’m gonna inspire.” Then he got lost in a rant against the snobs of the fashion world, blaming Lindsay Lohan for his failure to successfully launch his own range. “Lohan’s collection was like the 9/11 for Arabians (sic) to celebrities [doing their own fashion line].”
And when, reflecting on the extended ballet dance that forms the latter half of the title track, he said “hip hop is like black semen – anything that connects with it becomes that”, it was good to have the old Kanye back. Sorry doesn’t suit him any more than surrealism. But if the film reeks of superstar self-indulgence the new album should make some amends for the horrors of Heartbreaks.