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Showing posts from October, 2013



Quality. Legends. Sloppy. Erectile dysfunction. Celibate. Forgettable. Yup, everything that 10/10 from the NME led you to believe. They had way more feel, more heat, when they started out I reck. (Sidetrack - AM are yet another shouldabeenonehitwonders of the 00s - sometimes I think we'd have lost nothing if albums had been banned for that whole decade and bands' first singles were all we had). Now losing whatever they had in floppy pendulous shapeless pomposity, that Vegas air slowing them to a plod as dull as QOTSA's "Make It Wichu'. This sounds like Chris Moyles' idea of 'experimental', like the Stereophonics zany new 'disco direction', like bleedin' Hard-Fi fer chrissakes. Epic. Boosted as somehow AM at their 'blackest', their 'danciest' (uggh) just cos they coo octave-split vocals on the chorus and the click track's been bonged-slower a few notches. You'd have to have been…

ELLIOTT SMITH: 'From A Basement On The Hill' review, 2004

(originally printed in Plan B Magazine)

Elliott Smith
From A Basement On The Hill
   It’s shocking how angry beauty can make you feel. Dug out Elliott Smith and Roman Candle t’other day: first time in a long time, left me messed up and twisted again. It was perhaps the first time I’ve really absorbed Elliott’s death. Tears (which prove nothing except perhaps my sentimentality) did come, as did furywith the fucker for leaving so soon. The songs on those two records detail a boy becoming a man; the dual pulls of living, the endless journey within and without. These songs suggested a way of living with love and loss that Smith could perhaps negotiate. In contrast, From A Basement On The Hill is one long hymn to disappearance. And the fact that Smith finally made real what this album suggests is a heartbreaking paradox: that this is his most successful work of art and that it had to be his last.

   You feel that Smith was finally able to vanish into his music, and hit that divine …

BLONDE REDHEAD, Live Review, Plan B Magazine, 2005

Blonde Redhead  The Social, Nottingham I let my daughter do my make-up tonight. She has a delicate touch, combined with an innate understanding of excessive face paint and its ability to charm and to declare war. She smears my lids with metallic shadow and turns my mouth into a pouting, pink, puffed-up pot of farting putty. After showering me in glitter she leads me outside for her friends to laugh at, but they look palpably traumatised. I expect Social Services will be informed.    In the rear-view on the M69, I turn myself on. I’m driving to a different town, one where the women outnumber the men, to watch Blonde Redhead, and I just want to look how they make me feel. Hell, they made me try again – I need this band. So much of my obsession with them is in their look, and they look like they could be the most beautiful band in the world tonight. And so much of my obsession with them is their music, their wild romance and bitter awareness of love’s confinements. I love them like I love…

FAUST - FAUST IV album review, Plan B magazine 2005

Faust IV (Virgin)
All you end up doing when talking about so much Seventies music is butting your head against the fact that things just can’t sound this charged with naive wonder and innovative reach any more. It ain’t just that rock is getting explored or expanded here, it’s more that its essential limitations are being mapped out so thoroughly, and within songs that are so untutoredly unhinged in content and construction that current rock ‘experimentation’ can’t help sounding like the spoddish trailchasing it usually is. Faust, Neu!, Can, La Dusseldorf, Popol Vuh, Amon Duul, Harmonia, Cluster – these bands are stars, events in the firmament seemingly as freewheeling and chaotic as a supernova, yet with an chemical and astrophysical coherence you could spend a lifetime decoding.
   So as ever, listening to Faust, especially on this beautifully remastered reissue of their 1973 swansong, is entirely inspirational, but only in that one would hope music could still be made with thi…