Tuesday, 22 January 2008


"My name is Matt Buckner. Last spring, I got kicked out of Harvard two months shy of my diploma, but what I was about to learn, no lvy League school in the world could teach me. "

"Was that a terrorist attack?What happened here?"
"Welcome to match-day madness. Tottenham was in town last night."
"Are you a soccer fan now?"
"Don't let them hear you say soccer."
"Who's 'them'?"
"The British Empire."

"I'll tell you what I'll do, all right? I'll give you a hundred ... if you take Matt here to the match."
(Heavy South-African accent) "Fuck off, you're having a bubble."

"I'm not being funny, but the last thing I want to do is to take you to the match.
So here's how it works. Give me half the money. I'll go to football. You can see where Churchill took a tom, or whatever you Yanks do in Jolly Old."

"Ruby Murray means curry. We call it cockney rhyming slang."

"So, basically, firms are gangs."
"Kind of. But we're a far cry from all that Bloods and Crips bullshit. Shooting a machine-gun out of a moving car at an eight-year-old girl, that's just cowardly."


Time goes so fast, and I think what it leaves us is far more than what we can memorize-joy, sorrow, gathering and leaving, perhaps what we got out of that is maturity and strength, and thus we are approaching to know what life is.

I can't decide whether this is Hallmark-style mawkishness or Zen-like poetry, but I think I'll go with the latter.

Sunday, 20 January 2008


I know the club. I'm not saying the other managers didn't, but I know it as a player, a manager, I know what it's like in terms of what the fans want. They'd like to win something. When they've worked all week, the match for them is like it is for people down south going to the theatre. They want to see something special. They want us to have a go and that's why we're here. We're going to have a go.
- KK, January 2008

The journalists at the press conference tittered indulgently, sardonically.

The Toon supporters in Shearer's Bar laughed because it was so marvellously, obviously, precisely true, and because no one else ever seems to get it.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008


More to come on the return of the Messiah when I have stopped weeping with joy

Monday, 14 January 2008


Foals are currently being touted as one of the most promising bands of the moment, and deservedly so. The NME’s decision this week to feature them as their ‘most likely to’ for 2008 represents something of an Olympian leap forward for the increasingly infantile paper from last year’s choice, which was none other than latter-day visionaries The View (oh, the New Musical Express of the twenty-first century - sometimes words fail me!).

In the attendant interview the band make some very pertinent comments regarding the present state of the UK music scene and the unhelpfulness for new bands of the ‘new rock’n’roll saviour tag’, thereby nicely subverting a feature evoked with Bruce Forsythe-style inanity by Conor ‘Ultimate Cunt’ McNicholas in his (gratefully) brief editorial as ‘us putting our money where our mouth is’ (adding, with a showbiz flourish worthy of one of those gravel-toned American movie trailer voiceovers: ‘And one thing we’re never short of is mouth’).

If they deliver, Foals could be something very special indeed. Their sound is truly innovative, adventurous and sophisticated, which is obviously everything a band’s sound should be in 2008. However, it must be noted that they are criminally let down by their vocals, which seem disappointingly lacklustre and derivative compared to the exhilarating experimentalism of the music itself. Put simply, the melodic line just does not seem to contain much melody, which is well and good if you compensate by excelling in other ways – eg. lyrics, phrasing, stylistic weirdness etc – but not so much if you’re merely retreading rather tired post-punk clichés, hoping that affected shouting will make up for a lack of real formal proficiency and imaginativeness in this particular area of composition.

This does seem to be a problem that has in recent years plagued artists from London and its environs (and I include Oxford here: it's less than an hour on the train). Bloc Party spring immediately to mind as another band content to recycle the same feeble, stylised phrases based on the same limited intervals time and time again, a fact that has continually undermined their otherwise superlative music; The Libertines would have been a much better band if Barat and Doherty had let the Smithsian colour of their melodies predominate over the quasi-Joe Strummer posturing of the vocal delivery (likewise Babyshambles and Dirty Pretty Things, holders of NME’s ‘most likely to’ title in 2006).

I can’t help feeling that this has something to do with being part of a metropolitan ‘scene’, being close to the centre of hype, which as Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis so eloquently puts it in the NME piece, creates a climate characterised above all by the ‘ephemerality of success’, a climate in which fashion and short-lived trends seem to have an inordinate bearing on the shaping of a band’s sound. There seems to be something about this kind of atmosphere which favours poseurish charisma in a frontman over and above a focus on melody, a fact that has meant that, historically, the most melodically attentive, melodically original bands have hailed from the British margins where such conditions do not hold sway: The Beatles from Liverpool, the Buzzcocks, Smiths, and Stone Roses from Manchester, Super Furry Animals from Wales, Teenage Fanclub from Scotland (into the present day, it is possible to detect this trend at work by comparing north-western bands like Doves and north-eastern bands like The Futureheads and Field Music with south-eastern contemporaries such as Bloc Party, The Horrors, The Rakes etc). When south-eastern bands do throw melody into relief – the worst of Blur, The Hoosiers etc - they do so with a degree of superficiality, jauntiness, and irony that is funny for about five minutes and then quickly becomes tiresome.

Of course, there is something absurd about such sweeping regional generalisations. XTC represent one of many notable southern bands to buck the trend (other examples on the list might include Kate Bush, The Zombies, Radiohead of course, and on the other side, neither Joy Division nor the Happy Mondays were particularly inventive when it came to writing melodic vocal lines). Nevertheless, it does seem to be the case that, when artists are allowed to develop away from the centre of commerce and the ‘ephemerality of success’, they are likely to dedicate the greater portion of their labours to creating private worlds in which the minutiae of form counts for far more than the latest voguish vocal pose. Maintaining independence from the centralised ‘industry’ side of music in this country is an essential precondition for allowing melody to grow independent of formulaic, commercially-oriented vocal mannerisms and an ego-driven emphasis on style, a fact that Foals seem to be fully aware of, but do not yet seem to have applied with comprehensiveness to all areas of their otherwise encouragingly inventive sound.

Thursday, 10 January 2008


I think the liberal things that have happened over the past 50 years have come from popular and alternative culture, that they’re an important antidote to business and Western conservative politics.

– Paul Morley

Wednesday, 9 January 2008


IN THE BEGINNING there was an Empire that had the dark heart ripped right out of it.

And into the Void came a sexier, funkier, more humane side to the national character, a side that that had always been struggling to make itself heard but had never quite, until now, been able to do so.

As it grew, the sound became thinner, paler, older, losing much of its kaleidoscopic lustre, so that it became necessary, in the perpetual, irrepressible search for revolution and newness, to state what it was all about all over again. Which it did, with a wonderful primordial yelp.

Very soon the weary, lethal ghost of the Empire returned dressed as a hateful woman, and the sound was forced underground, or hurled kicking and screaming to the margins, where it sang about opposition and loneliness with such eloquent energy that it seemed to have found a new, beautiful form for an old, beautiful truth.

But as the Empire itself adapted to the new way of things by morphing into insidious new shapes, the sound became confused, disparate, lost sight of what it was battling against, and began to lazily repeat itself with an odd mixture of flippancy and earnest inanity, exchanging pure self-expression for pure self-worship, which was exactly what the new order prized above all.

The vociferous cry of the Outsider became the vaguely indifferent shrug of the Poseur-rebel gazing uxoriously at the past, rebelling only against the notion that it might be necessary to stand squarely behind an ideal of what the future could be.

And the Void beckoned once more, unless something come again to fire new light into the darkness.