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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The king stay the king, Dubpod #16 (Dec 2016)

Having just started reading a big Ian Penman Bowie appreciation in the London Review of Books, I'm doing the only thing a Bowie agnostic like me can sensibly do: taking a break and blasting out some reggae. 

Yeah, man. Because, regardless of what the Penmans, Morleys and Reynoldses of this world may say, the true geniuses of the 1970s were the dubmasters of Jamaica, not that pop star wannabe from Brixton. So forget Ziggy, Starman, the bloody Berlin recordings and the thin white whatsit. Instead, all bow down to reggae royalty. Because, as we know - and whatever other people may say - the king stay the king ...

1: Travellers/Prince Jammy's, Peace and rest version
2: Heptones & Joe Gibbs & New Generation, The road is rough
3: Horace Andy, Money dub
4: Big Youth, All nations bow
5: Winston Flames, In a armagideon
6: Peter Donaldson
7: Freddie McGregor, I'm a rasta man
8: Culture, Iron sharpening iron
9: Starkey Banton, I and I saw them coming (Radikal Guru remix)
10: General Levy/Wrongtom, Incredible
11: This is such nonsense
12: Ernest Wilson,I know myself (version)
13: The Pop Group, There are no spectators
14: Congos, Sodom and Gomorrah
15: Sena & Familyman, Children of the ghetto
16: Rumour and innuendo
17: Junior English, You are lying
18: Errol Alphanso, Chant Jah victory
19: Dennis Brown & The Crystalites, Concentration version two
20: Johnny Osbourne, Ready or not
21: The king stay the king
22: Yabby You, Undivided world (version)
23: King Tubby & The Aggrovators, African roots (dub)
24: Tenor Saw/Sugar Minott, Fever (version)
25: U Black, Jammy's a do it
26: 22 & Group, Early in the mornin'

Sunday, 25 December 2016

A year in music: eight random things

There's not a lot worse than a self-indulgent "Best albums of the year" list from a big-name music journalist who probably writes reviews of Wembley Arena concerts for the Daily Telegraph and appears on the Today programme to tell you how amazing Prince was and why David Bowie’s Blackstar is "hands down the best recording of 2016" … but hey, there are probably a few worse things. Including, some would say, my year in music eight random things list.

But hey, give it a chance. You haven't even read it yet! Anyway, here we go …

Bands I didn't see most times in 2016
The much-coveted Niluccio on noise anti-award goes equally to The Wharves and Monster Island, a pair of bands that in each case I made two attempts to see during the year and in each case (each of the four cases that is) completely failed to see. I won't bore you with the details, but these two bands can now be added to my extremely impressive list of Bands I Nearly Saw. I'm sure there'll be some other good artists I can add to the list during 2017.

Best on-stage comment
Not a vintage year for off-the-cuff humour or out-and-out oddness, but I did quite like The Hairs' singer's rambling anecdote about how, aged about eight, he once microwaved a meal complete with steel cutlery which caused some kind of explosion in the microwave. After regaling a stony-quiet Brooklyn audience with this riveting tale there was … profound silence. You could have heard a knife and fork drop. "Hey guys. Are we on the same wavelength?", he asked. Answer: apparently not.

Songs I played a lot
This completely meaningless category potentially comprises about 50 or 75 tunes, but as I write I can think of a handful of things I particularly enjoyed playing and replaying, so:

Dirtygirl's Never (emotion-packed grunge-pop)
Radical Boy's Milk Miracles (grunge again, though more up-tempo)
Special Request's Request The Style (superb contemporary drum and bass)
No Form's Side B (a juggernaut of drums, moaning and squealing feedback)
The Dynamic Four's Let's Make Love (beautiful roots reggae)
Sparkle Blood's Denim Convention (a dynamic shimmer of power-pop excellence)
Kode9 & The Spaceape's Nine Samurai (the majestic best track off the Memories Of The Future LP)
The Degs' Here They Come (a stomping garage rocker)
Dune Witch Trails' White Pickets (ominous downbeat weird rock sounds)

And … er, many others.

Shout out for classical

You wouldn't know it from perusing my blog, but one way or another I listen to quite a lot of classical music. This comes courtesy of my esteemed partner, who has a penchant for Mozart, Bach and all things early and baroque. During 2016 I must admit I went to only a handful of classical concerts, and though none of these made it into my extremely exclusive 20 Best Gigs Of 2016 list, this little bunch of classical experiences did include a storming concert at the Opéra Bastille in Paris (geddit?). My point (one that's quite commonly-asserted but maybe not that much followed through on): Mozart sits nicely alongside Magazine, just as Bach complements Beefheart. Ya dig me? In a nutshell: my year in music wouldn't have been as good without regular injections of classical stuff from 250 years ago.

Best comment from someone when I was DJing
Yes, I do dabble in a bit of DJing, strictly amateur stuff to fill the space between bands in a small pub venue, don't you know … Anyway, humble though it may be, I always like receiving small morsels of feedback on my carefully-chosen virtual crate of MP3s. It keeps you going. Makes you feel valued. And it certainly makes a change from hearing the next band due on stage tuning up all over your music. Anyway, the one I'll cherish from this year is a guy with a fascinated expression all over his face coming up to ask "Was that last tune you played by Yello? Sounded like them. Was it?" Er, no. That was in fact the first one of the evening I wasn't playing, I told him. It was from the compilation CD in the pub's CD machine that I switch over to at the end of the night. Great feedback though.

Venue I struggled most to find
This has to be Sound Savers in Hackney. For the second time in about 18 months I looked for this invisible venue, completely baffled over where the hell it is. Ducking down pitch-black alleyways at the back of car-repair places and African restaurants in deepest, baddest Homerton, I was … nonplussed. I did eventually find it this year (thanks to cigarette glows from the outdoor smokers), which is an improvement on 2015 when I looked for a full hour before giving up. It might be only five minutes' walk from where I actually live, but … er, I doubt I'll ever find it again.

Gigs my partner refused to go to
I recently referred to my partner's peerless ability to turn down the opportunity to accompany me on exciting nights out watching music. She's a past master. This year there weren't in fact many additions to the Great Refusal canon (it's usually understood she's not coming), but there was at least her non-attendance at the Sean Henry/Box Fan/Flea Bite gig at the Silent Barn in Brooklyn. This seemed to happen because I got us lost walking back to our hotel in the Bowery in Manhattan. There you go: one wrong turn and it's … a long subway ride out on your own for the evening.

Best second-hand record purchased
I only buy second-hand stuff these days (in fact it's all I’ve bought music-wise since er, 1987) and not much of it at that, but I did buy a four-CD Cleaners From Venus compilation (one disc missing) from Crocodisc in Paris. I still haven't listened to most of it but I do like Follow The Plough (track four from Living With Victoria Grey). Also, I bought (amongst other things) a 12" of Grandmaster & Melle Mel's amazing White Lines from Bleecker Street Records in New York. Seems the shop has since closed down. There you go! I should have spent less time fussing over the resident cat and er, splashed out rather more than my pathetic eight dollars at the counter.

You want what, mate?
The Velvet Underground & Nico? Nah, we ain't got it. 

And that's it. Eight random things. I should really come up with another two (ten sounds so much more considered) but I can't be bothered. That’s how I feel about music as well sometimes. I'm really keen on it most of the time. Then at others I can't even be bothered to turn on the hi-fi. Weird, eh?

But mostly I'm ridiculously enthused by it. Here’s to 2017 and lots more random music for random people. Now stop reading, step over to the music player and put it on shuffle mode …

Saturday, 24 December 2016

More prisons, more police, Noise #10 (Dec 2016)

Christmas can be a difficult time for some people. Not everyone can cope with hearing repeated plays of Wham!'s Last Christmas or Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas? I know I can't.

Some people can be pushed over the edge if they're subjected to even one more exposure to Jona Lewie's Send In The Cavalry. Yet shops, the television, pubs - they're pumping this stuff out with no thought for the consequences.

It's atrocious. There could be fatalities. And it'll all be the fault of that idiot who decided we needed more from The Ronettes' Christmas album or (gulp) yet another listen to Chris Rea's Driving Home For Christmas.

But - and thank the lord for this - there's help at hand. The new Niluccio noise compilation might just provide a lifeline. In any well-organised world, tracks by Genocide Pact or Chamber Of Torture would already be receiving heavy rotation in John Lewis at this time of year (cheering the shoppers as they head for the kitchen department, second floor, going down), but at least they're available here.

So, yeah, happy fucking Christmas, and here's to a new year with more prisons, more police ...

1: Atropello, No retroceder
2: Enslaved Chaos, Spiral youth
3: G.L.O.S.S., Out from the desk
4: Congential Haemorrhoids, Nulcear winter
5: Death Pedals, Leaving here
6: Surf Nazis On Ecstasy, Masturbation vacation
7: Of Feather And Bone, Disbelief in the absolute
8: Venkman, Square peg
9: Amorous Dialogues, Be reasonable
10: No Form, Goddess of fire
11: Actual word in question
12: Flipper, Shed no tears
13: Eyehategod, New Orleans is the new Vietnam
14: Genocide Pact, Agnogenesis
15: Dispossessed, Blood and oil
16: What are their capabilities?
17: Shin To Shin, Shin to shin
18: Factorymen, Phoning the factory
19: Guilty Parents, Heatsick
20: Larvae, Sellebrities
21: White Christian Disaster, Shredded clothes ... body exposed
22: More prisons, more police
23: Territory, Blowback
24: Pick Your Side, Not a thought to spare
25: Woolf, Last woman
26: Elvis Deluxe, Search and destroy
27: If this brain was destroyed
28: The Velvet Underground, The black angel's death song
29: Chamber Of Torture, Awoken during autopsy
30: Acid Eater, Road of ecstasy
31: Hookworms, Radio Tokyo
32: Thurston Moore, Detonation
33: Soda Boys, Burgers and fries

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

My 20 best gigs of 2016

If you thought the dead hand of Christmas was bad, wait until you get a load of this - Niluccio's infamous 20 best gigs of the year list (earlier incarnations can be found here, here, here, here, here and even here).

Yes! The Niluccio top 20 is full of those ear-splittingly loud gigs with lots of drunk pushy people who think nothing of treading on your feet and knocking your drink all over you. Or, in some cases, gigs where there's ... er, really no crowd to speak of at all, just a rather empty space across which you're faced with the tricky problem of not making too much eye contact with the musicians.

Nevertheless, you have to suffer for art. So read on ...

Fickle Twin/No Form: Studio With No Name, Nottingham, 5 February
Turn the dial to 11. Enjoyable wall-of-noise squealing 'n' moaning' from No Form whose best moments came when they went into dark chug-drone mode. The guitarist was particularly animated, engaged in some kind of fight-to-the-death battle with his instrument. Meanwhile, Fickle Twin's bass-heavy noise also sounded good. I especially liked the growly singer's ironically amused air and the bassist's broody boarding-school-aristo-on-drugs demeanour. More musings on this gig here.

No Form, no focus

Fruit Bomb: Old Blue Last, London, 19 February
A slightly odd outfit, with an energetic puddin'-bowl-haircut'd guitarist-singer who seemed to be wearing baggy-Manc clothing of a kind I haven't seen since my 87-90 Moss Side days. Switching from Black Tambourines-like beat stuff, to psych-garage, with Spectorish melodo-garage sounds in between, they were ... well, varied. Meanwhile the bass drum was decorated with some kind of defaced Pope Francis print. As I say, slightly odd.

Radical Boy: Sebright Arms, London, 25 February
They've got a fuzzbox and they're gonna use it. Fuzzed-up grunge from a very watchable two-piece. A skinny young bloke throwing himself about a bit on guitar, and a not-so-skinny young bloke on drums providing some rather groovy rhythms. From afar (ie at the bar) I didn't much like the vocals; closer up they were fine. Keening and emotional. Not dissimilar to early Let's Wrestle. Cool.

Radical Boy

Birdskulls: Victoria, London, 21 March
More grunge-y stuff from Birdskulls, who hoarse-voice rocked like it was 1993. There were some nice tempo and chord changes, and the singer wasn't afraid to switch to soft-and-melodic on occasion. All pretty enjoyable. During proceedings a little knot of blokes in the audience fired off various would-be witticisms, the best of which was "You’re too ambiguous!" A compliment, I'd say.

Dignan Porch: Victoria, London, 31 March
Understated but quietly winning stuff from Dignan Porch, whose reverbed-d vocals and chiming-guitars-and-keyboards built to some impressive mini-crescendos. Pretty varied too. At one stage I was hearing Big Star somewhere in the mix, later it was classic C86 indie. All in all, groovy.

Sean Henry: Silent Barn, New York, 10 April
A loud-solo-guitar-and-vocals thing from Sean Henry in front of a whopping audience of 15 (counting me). Some nice lyrics ("I hit my head/When I woke up everyone was dead") and singing that ranged from big-lunged-but-tuneful stuff to Lou Reed-like whimsy pop. He ended with a 45-second song about going to a funeral home "In a coffin shiny and black/And never coming back." It's where we're all headed.

The Hairs: Shea Stadium SK, New York, 12 April
In a warehouse-type place in some godforsaken industrial zone in Brooklyn, this was super-tuneful punk-pop featuring a drole singer with a Pete Shelley-esque camp air. Mostly mid-paced songs, it was almost conventional guitar-based pop-ery, but somehow considerably better than that sounds.

The Hairs, doling out drole 

Bad Breeding: Old Blue Last, London, 4 May
Punk reboot #2,843! With a Crass-like bilious disgust at the state of things, Bad Breeding er, mean it man. Shouty, gesticulating vocals across a deliberately lobotomised punk thrash. We got snippets of German radio broadcasts (or something) between bursts of noise, and all the while a sign on stage read "Their Kind Of Freedom". The singer/ranter-in-chief also specialised in malevolent middle-distance stares, which added to the drama. Fun stuff.

Bad Breeding: their kind of freedom

Cold Boys: Victoria, London, 12 May
Groovy sounds from a band that were distinctly poppy but never bland. Hints of The Pastels or some such, these chilled males were at times daringly slow and/or downbeat for a band playing live (reminiscent of Kelman, I thought). Probably doomed to be overlooked, but ... er, not by me.

Shark Dentist: Windmill, London, 31 May
I'd either already seen these about five times or this was my first time (damned if I can remember). An enjoyably grunge-y rock band with the usual Dinosaur Jnr-esque strained melodies all present and correct. The addition of some electronic bleeps 'n' stuff from the guitarist's effects pedals was a nice touch, while I also liked some of their slower songs, especially one that featured an excellent grinding riff reminiscent of The Fall.

Nachthexen/Pale Kids/Dirty Girl: Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield, 24 June
Super-intimate lyrics ("Not sure I want you to put it in ... it's my first time"), vacant-eyed defiance from a singer working an early Sinead O'Connor look, and a mix of shouty punk and harmonies - Dirty Girl were cool. Meanwhile, Pale Kids also hit the spot - infectious walls of Undertones-y melodo-punk for the post-millennial generation. I particularly liked the lyric "I'm crossing you off my prayer list". Finally, Nachthexen's Good Throb-like abrasiveness also er, scratched my itch.

Pale Kids in their Sheffield safe space

Kim Check, Kim Eun & drummer: Mu, Seoul, 23 July
Pretty intense vocal-less improv jazz-blues stuff, inflected with Afro sounds in places and played in two longish chunks with an intermission. Excellent throughout and played to an audience of exactly nine people. Impressively (though typical for hyper-efficient Seoul), Mr Kim introduced the music in both Korean and English, the latter apparently just for the benefit of me and my gig companion.

Hexis: Unicorn, London, 5 August
This gig will forever be seared into my memory because of the insanely over-powerful white lights with which Hexis assaulted the audience. We'd get a full-on barrage of grindcore power chords, furious drumming and snarled vocals, and then ... BLAM! 500-watt silver-white lights. I spent most of the gig looking at my shoes (shoegaze!). Other people around me were soaking it all in, wide-eyed and happy. Not sure how. Maybe they're all blind now ...

BiT: Windmill, London, 20 September 
Pleasantly grinding sludge stuff from a band wearing Halloween fright masks and dresses. I enjoyed the grunge-y vocals, more effective here than with plenty of other bands in this genre. I think BiT's way of varying the overall sonic intensity also payed off. And some pretty er, enthusiastic off-on lighting from the resident sound man also added to the overall effect.

Nightmare on BiT street

Isabelle: Pop In, Paris, 6 October
Featuring a low-key opening par excellence (the performance was already underway by several minutes before I actually cottoned on to it), Isabelle turned out to be one person (a man) operating a laptop and various effects units behind a semi-transparent curtain onto which a loop of images and a Super 8-style film was projected. The music: decaying chords, vocal fragments, hesitant beats occasionally marshalled into something almost propulsive. Enigmatic.

Bearfoot Beware: Old Blue Last, London, 23 October
Enjoyable math-noise band from Leeds, who featured a very energetic bass player (hopping from one foot to another) and a drummer who - a rare sight in this genre - felt able to do "jazzy" things like playing the rim of his snare and even use brushes at one point.

Ravioli Me Away/Chips For The Poor: Two Queens, Leicester, 5 November
A multimedia extravaganza! Well, if bands playing in front of a large video screen showing interesting loops (young couple and buggy in a park; oddball B&W close-ups of farmyard animals) counts as such. Plus: some theatre-type stuff with Chips For The Poor ranter-cum-singer doubling as a pompous Proms-style compere. The music? Both bands churned out a tunnel of drone-like sounds, the first bass-and-keyboard, the second bass-and-guitar. I especially enjoyed CFTP's VU-like rhythm guitar. Excellent stuff.

Chickens and Chips in Leicester

Schande: Sound Savers, London, 9 December
Sonic Youth-stylee in places, surging guitar/bass/drums songs from an understated band in an extremely small venue - probably one of the very smallest I've ever been in (and I’ve been in some pretty tiny ones). I could't quite pin down the guitar style: it was sometimes quite rhythmic and clangy, at others fast, scratchy and involving long fret scrapes. Kinda good. The cool (as in unemotional) vocals worked nicely as well.

Mush: Wharf Chambers, Leeds, 15 December
Intricate yet sometimes pretty furious guitar playing reminding me a little of Television from a band featuring two rather big-haired types who could have come from the Strokes. The main singer also had a nice line in snotty yelps and burbled semi-spoken stuff. Their generally long songs were good enough that they never really felt long. All in all, I was Mush taken with them. Ahem.

Mush examining their guitars

Goat Girl/Revenue: Windmill, London, 19 December
Spindly guitar chords and some grinding Fall-style bass lines, the four goat girls churned out some very pleasing jerky rhythms topped by often interesting singing. I heard them soundchecking for an eternity (longer than they actually played), and seems to me the vocals sometimes savoured of old English folk songs. Meanwhile, Revenue were also good, with a singer who seems to have borrowed his bandy-legged stage moves from the No Form singer (or is it the other way round?), while doing some shouty stuff over a neo-hardcore racket. Watchable.

Revenue's skinhead moonstomp

That's it. So what's my absolute favourite gig from 2016? It’s that one I dreamt I was at the other night. In fact, it turns out I was in the band but didn't actually know how to play the songs or what to sing. I could feel panic creeping up on me. Oh no, what can I do? We’re about to start. Aggggghhhh. And then I woke up ...

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The loneliness of the long-distance gig-goer

"So you go, and you stand on your own / And you leave on your own / And you go home, and you cry / And you want to die". Oh, poor lonely Morrissey, standing all alone at the nightclub. Looking down at his half of shandy as a lovely youth passes by on the stairs. Their eyes destined never to meet. The shame of it. The sheer heart-rending emptiness. The desperate, grinding sadness. Also ... the excellent opportunities for song-writing ...

But no, Morrissey's self-aggrandising melodramatics aren't really my topic here (an excellent one though it is). The going out on your own part though, is. Specifically, going to gigs alone. Unless you happen to have a couple of especially like-minded - or pliable - friends always on tap, being prepared to go to gigs unaccompanied becomes an ever-increasing necessity if you're halfway serious about seeing a few bands.

Think that's a bit odd? Too anti-social? I suspect some people do. It's not exactly the talked-about thing to do, is it? The first gigs I can recall going to on my own were in my long-distant Manchester days, back in the first half of the 90s. Having done the usual gigs-with-friends thing during an earlier undergrad phase (late 80s), here I was stranded with a girlfriend who didn't care about the music I liked. What to do? Er, well I just had to face it: if I wanted to go to any live music I had to screw up my puny stock of 20-something courage and go to see bloody Billy Bragg or Half Man Half Biscuit. And do it on my own. It didn't come naturally though.

Now I think about, I may have gone to my first-ever solo gig in 1988 or 1989: Spacemen 3 at the Hacienda (of all places). This was to do a review - my first and last - for the student newspaper. It was "an assignment", though, so I had an excuse for being on my own.

Anyway, fascinating though I'm sure all this is to my many readers ("tell us about your earlier days, Niluccio!"), what I'm getting at is the necessity of doing things alone if you want to do anything any good. Especially with gigs.

So forget the cosy trappings of the "gig mate", the person you think will be up for that gig on a Monday night. They won't. Or won't for many Mondays. And don't reach for the safety net of dragging your partner along. This won't work and will likely destroy what little affection the two of you have for each other. My own long-suffering partner (not the same one!) started her gig refusals with the Buff Medways in about 2002 and hasn't looked back since. The Great Decliner has turned down some of the most memorable gigs from arguably the best bands of the last 15 years. And I'd be a fool to ask her to go to any gigs these days (though I do occasionally - maybe it's for old time's sake).

No, you're on your own with all this. Which can be easier said than done. The places you've been to before are relatively easy. You know the ropes - just get down there, buy your miserable half of lager and stand around looking at your phone trying not to look overly-pathetic. New places are a bit more difficult. The slightly daunting business of trying to find somewhere and then make a go of it in unfamiliar surroundings: this might be the difference between going out or staying at home (so much easier after all).

So you just to have to brave it, heroically ignoring the possibility that other people at the gig may assume you're a friendless (gasp) "weirdo". Given that almost everyone who attends gigs is utterly oblivious to everything except their own precious concerns (next beer, where their friends are, overloud gossip-cum-banter) there's actually not much chance of that. And, if that is someone's attitude you rather think they shouldn't really be at a small gig in east London anyway (wouldn't they be more at home in some godawful VIP lounge of an "exclusive" bar somewhere?)

Naturally solo gig attendance presupposes you've absorbed a key gig-going rule I blogged about a few years ago: that you must NEVER chat to the bands. Observe this and you won't be trapped at gigs having to make conversation with a bass player with whom you have absolutely nothing in common (or not going to the gig in the first place for fear of this happening).

Solo gigs, solo films. The first film at the cinema I saw alone was François Truffaut's Les Quatre Cents Coups. This film's amazing atmosphere has never left me partly because I saw it one afternoon in an almost-completely-empty cinema. OK, it's easier in a dark cinema auditorium than in a lively bar or a basement club, but the principle's the same. If it's worth seeing it's worth seeing alone. And if you see it alone it will probably have a bigger impact anyway.

Like Tom Courtenay in his great borstal breakout film, you've got to endure the pain and loneliness that goes with it if you're a long-distance gig-goer. Anyway, if you see me standing around on my own at a gig any time in the future, don't say hello ...

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

For me to come home, Podcast #136 (Nov 2016)

Warning! Listening to this podcast could blow your arms clean out of their sockets. You'll never be the same again, you big dummy.

And then what will you do? It'll be all over. Time for us to depart. Time for me to come home ...

1: Twin Realities Dreamers, One miracle of life
2: Ignantz, My children
3: Battle with rebels
4: Siege, Dispossessed
5: почему коммутатор молчит, почему коммутатор молчит
6: Thee Mighty Caesars, Baby who mutilated everybody’s heart
7: Wild Worm Web, Black power to the people
8: Atropello, Porque conforma rnos contan poco?
9:  Playing In Tongues, Angeline the baker
10: A-Grav Lab, U and I
11: TOLE, DogBagDisorder
12: News providers will do it
13: Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons, Why do you hate me
14: Ensemble Cypriote De Musique Ancienne, Sarakinos: le dit du sarassin (extract)
15: Chamber Of Torture, Incarcerated
16: Robsongs, Persephone
17: Circus Marcus, Les accouplements répétitifs
18: The Dynamic Four, Let’s make love
19: Starless & Bible Black, Your majesty man
20: Half Cocked, Hitler’s cock
21: For me to come home
22: Lobo Loco, Goodbye Jonny
23: Sparkle Blood, Denim convention
24: Grievous Angel, All girlz

Friday, 2 December 2016

A Stooges dog is for life

"I don't want to be in the glam crowd. I don't want to be in the hip hop crowd. I don't want to be with the TV people. I don’t want to be a punk. I just want to be ...".

No, surely Iggy - you wanna be our dog. Iggy Pop, aka James Osterberg (aka everyone's favourite peanut butter-smeared real-wild rock-child) has the final word in Jim Jarmusch's new Stooges film Gimme Danger. And he just wants to be.

But he also wants to talk and talk (something he also apparently does at length for Jeff Gold's new Iggy photo-book). The loquacious Ig is everywhere all of a sudden.

Anyway, numerous segments from several long interviews are the backbone of Jarmusch's film. Mr Pop - seemingly relaxed, picking his bare feet and lip-curling into frequent leather-faced smiles - is, I must admit, a very likeable narrator of his own adventures in rock music. He never appears rock-star arrogant and seems quietly relaxed about his achievements. He's also articulate, self-aware and knowledgeable about music. All hail Iggy Pop.

But hang on a minute! What am I going on about here? Why's the old fool Niluccio rabbiting on about a Jim Jarmusch film in the first place? Good question. First, I'll admit I long ago gave up on Jarmusch's films, having liked the early stuff (Down By Law, Strangers In Paradise) but disliked his later works. (In something approaching Jarmusch overkill, by the way, the cinema where I saw Gimme Danger is also showing his rather corny-looking new film, Paterson). And, anyway, as I said about a film on Nirvana last year, going to the cinema to see concert footage and people talking about a bunch of musicians isn't necessarily my idea of an overly-thrilling experience in the first place. But ... OK, it can work. Brett Morgen's film about the Stooges-influenced Nirvana proved me wrong and - by and large - so does Jarmusch's little piece of music cinema. So yeah, I'm seeing this one through ...

Essentially, Gimme Danger is a conventional biography of a band. It traces the Stooges' Ann Arbor origins, tells us how they got together, who knew who, how the musical influences percolated into the mix and how they started to gain momentum. It sort of peaks with Iggy dementedly prancing about onstage or throwing himself into the audience, while the entire band are falling apart through over-indulgence in drink and drugs, as well as a lack of record company support.

Some of it looks like fun but probably wasn't. (Maybe not no fun, but certainly a period involving more than its fair share of disappointments, problems and outright disasters). One of the interesting things about Gimme Danger is how tragedy and sadness hover over it. When a fragile, stoned-looking Scott Asheton recalls Dave Alexander's death (aged 27) from drinking-related pneumonia, Asheton's startlingly blue eyes look like they're about to cry. Similarly, the super-phlegmatic Iggy appears momentarily moved as he recalls the band's "reunification" in 2003. At the end of the film there's a roll call of the fallen: Alexander, the two Asheton brothers, James Williamson. Iggy Pop, the great survivor, is the only one left. Never mind the three stooges, we're down to one. A member of the band comments on the Stooges" "decay" through heroin use during 1972-3. In this film, decline and death are always lurking.

Still, there's Iggy. The great iguana himself. Sun-baked, intelligent, amused, drawling away in his Michigan baritone. He's surprisingly interesting on music itself. He mentions learning about the blues first-hand in Chicago, about appreciating the value of "space" from Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, absorbing stuff on drones from the Velvet Underground, and wanting to replicate the MC5's energy and showmanship. He was a fan of things like Sun Ra and reckons the Stooges' ten-minute We Will Fall showed they were a band "on a different path" to a lot of the other late-60s R'n'B-fuelled rock outfits. Meanwhile, with Raw Power, he says he had to take his voice a whole octave higher because Williamson's omnipresent guitar had completely captured that frequency range, which, when you listen again, is exactly right. My first proper exposure to Iggy Pop was the (excellent) Zombie Birdhouse LP, where he's virtually crooning. The whine of Raw Power was a shock when I first heard it.

What else is there to say about Gimme Danger? Actually, a lot but ... I'll try to spare you. On top of some pretty good live footage, Jarmusch throws in lots of film and TV clips for texture and ironic effect. There's maybe a bit too much kitsch television stuff, but mostly it works. Plus there are dozens of very evocative photos of the band in their 20s. And he also works in some nice animations of the band as gangly teens. It's quite a dense mix, and culminates in a rapid-fire sequence near the end where footage and images flash onto the screen as I Wanna Be Your Dog is pounding away. (A sequence where we hear Dog's intro playing over a nightime cityscape, by the way, is possibly the single most powerful moment in the film).

Two final quotes to bring this riveting blog to an end. One from their champion at Elektra Records, Danny Fields, which is him quoting what the record company boss Jac Holzman said after watching the band play the Raw Power demos: "I didn’t hear anything". In other words, he wasn't impressed and the band were summarily dropped. Fields, a true believer in the Stooges, is still incredulous to this day.

The second quote: from Iggy himself. In the Asheton brothers, he says, "I found primeval man". Their drums and guitar/bass fired and energised the Stooges. And he did the same for them. He mentions that when he went into a "monkey" crouch on stage the brothers stepped up a gear in their playing, feeding off his own out-there behaviour. Iggy Pop, eloquent, self-assured and worldly, understands that the Ashetons' almost thuggish qualities (monosyllabic, Nazi memorabilia-wearing) were his perfect complement.

Hmm. I haven't really spared you, have I? I'm still droning on. Iggy Pop probably wouldn't approve. He mentions developing a lyric-writing approach based on using no more than 25 words in a song (rather snidely contrasting it with Bob Dylan's garrulousness).

He also says that Andy Warhol once suggested he should just "read out the newspaper" instead of writing lyrics. Good idea! Let's see - right, the classified ads section. "Wanted: individual willing to be my personal pet". Ah, I know the very person. Someone who could even be their dog ...

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

A song from where the wall is cracked ...

Dave Formula, worried that he's going to be shot by both sides, inspects the latest near miss ...

This, I'm reliably informed, is a core drilled hole. Whatever that is.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Oh America, then and now

Gee Vaucher's newly-topical Oh America, which recently adorned the front page of that esteemed newspaper of record, The Daily Mirror. Yes, really.

I shudder to think what Crass would have to say about Donald Trump ...

Monday, 7 November 2016

Obviously is forbidden, Podcast #135 (Oct 2016)

There are very few acceptable excuses for failing to listen to the latest Niluccio on on noise podcast. You're feeling tired? Pathetic. Your beloved dog's ill? No, not good enough. You've just run someone over in your car and have left the scene of the accident and are now effectively a fugitive from the law? No. Still not good enough. You've got some other music you want to listen to first? Aggghhh! The worst of all. This is most definitely NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Such a flimsy (and downright insulting) excuse obviously is forbidden ... 

1: Giorgio Moroser, Horrific
2: Starkey Banton, I and I saw them coming (Radikal Guru remix)
3: Bearfoot Beware, ? (Old Blue Last, London 23/10/16)
4: Pointe Du Lac, A progressive approach to the lake
5: Obviously is forbidden
6: The Mekons, Where were you
7: DJ Anarchist, ?
8: Echo 106, Blackness (short edit)
9: Bobby Bland, I've been wrong so long
10: maQLu, Dr Jekyll’s mask
11: Get Back Guinozzi, Police and thieves
12: Isabelle, ? (Pop In, Paris 6/10/16)
13: U Black, Natty dread at the controls
14: Bambooman, Stargaze
15: The Cleaners From Venus, Follow the plough
16: Molnbär Av John, Willow sketch
17: Top two joints
18: Screaming Jay Hawkins, I put a spell on you
19: Raez, Hologram jinn
20: Keith Irving, Ride the rhythm (remix)
21: Pulso, Positivo % negativo
22: Little Esther, Lost in a dream
23: Resonancedj, Eyes

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Monday, 31 October 2016

That musician doth protest too much, methinks

Everyone loves a list, right? And if you like music and you like lists, well you're going to adore my 200 best protest songs of all time list, as painstakingly compiled and summarily posted in another - more organised and altogether more meticulous - place.

Almost certainly the Niluccio top two hundred is NOT going to feature that special tune you always summon to mind when people mention protest songs. No, it's not. Don't complain. Don't kick up a fuss. There's absolutely nothing you can do about it ...

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Delivers more than the alternatives #134 (Sept 2016)

I usually marvel at people who, for one reason or another, don't like music. Not that they usually put it that way. They just don't seem to care about it. And it just doesn't, as it were, feature in their lives. It's conspicuous by its absence. But having been exposed to some truly godawful music recently (I can't remember what, where or when, but I remember the depression-like feelings it occasioned), I almost understand the beauty of life without music.

Almost. But then again, I actually don't understand it at all. Because, when you've got Podcast #134 ready and waiting, how can you possibly contemplate a single solitary moment without the glorious sounds of a Niluccio on noise compilation? Rest assured. It delivers more than the alternatives ...

1: Summer, Se meurt
2: Just Blankets, ? (JT Soar, Nottingham 9/9/10)
3: Special Request, Request the style
4: Thee Knaves, (His) breathing artwork
5: ?, Meditational raga of north India
6: worriedaboutsatan, The violent sequence (edit)
7: Delivers more than the alternatives
8: Stiv Bators, It’s cold outside
9: MegaHast3r, Uff
10: Dennis Brown & The Crystalites, Changing times
11: Raving lunatic
12: HiT, ? (Windmill, London 20/9/10)
13: Pretochines, Dark fall
14: Papa San, Big and bad
15: Thurston Moore, Speak to the wild
16: Edmond Hall’s Jazzmen, Night shift blues
17: Stefano Pilia, Ada
18: Oelek, De droes
19: Los Calchakis, Guitarra nueva
20: Chinese apology
21: Langax, The alien party
22: Roy Brown, Hard luck blues

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Al-Qa'ida's drugs, Noisepod #9 (Oct 2016)

With your Dr Dre Beats clamped to your oversized head, swaggering down the street in your expensive togs, you're gonna be cursing my name. Because, when you hear the auditory offerings contained in the latest Niluccio on noise Noisepod, it's going to hit you. This collection is disgusting, depraved and barely worth gracing with the name of music. It's tuneless, witless and hollow. Yes, it's that good. 

But, ingrate that you are, you're probably still not convinced. Not having previously sampled al-Qa'ida's drugs, it's all a little mind-altering. C'mon! Follow this chap's lead. Pull down your hood, turn it up and wait until everything around you becomes a faintly disturbing swirl of blues, greens and yellows. NOS! 

1: G.L.O.S.S., Trans day of revenge
2: Cinderblock, No future
3: Pharaoh, Recease
4: No One Survives, Fuckin' pigs
5: Dagger, Worn away
6: Heck Tate, Battle of pogo
7: Nuclear Witch, Fast to sleep/Poisoned and cursed
8: Like a clown
9: The Damned, Alone
10: Dixie, FRI!! FRI!!! FRI!!!!
11: Flat Sucks, Sorry
12: Occultist, Death siglis
13: Infect, Clarenza
14: White Christian Disaster, Smiling happy people have sex
15: Al-Qa'ida's drugs
16: Death Grips, Feels like a wheel
17: Loffciamcore, Bad touch at the Love Parade (Pink Punk Boy remix)
18: Sex Prisoner, Hard feelings
19: Yaitw, Psychopathy
20: Sex Pistols, EMI (bootleg)
21: If I liked the movie
22: Hinge, How the west was won
23: xDELOREANx, Trash for my engine
24: Congential Haemorrhoids, Concerto for noisegrind Pt2
25: The Fall, Rowche rumble
26: Fister, Antitheist
27: Chain Gang Grave, Autumn cannibalism

Saturday, 8 October 2016

A message from the past

Yes, you heard it here first kids. Punk is not dead and there is no future. The two things apparently not being related to each other. Nice haircut though!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Philosophers, pilgrims & punks

In the Boulevard Beaumarchais in Paris, some optimist has come up with this unlikely threesome ... 

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Road to nowhere: the Jimmy Hill Way and other Coventry cul-de-sacs

I'll be popping out tomorrow to get petrol for the car and blow me down if I won't be travelling along the soon-to-be-called Jimmy Hill Way. Yes, that's right! The boring old A444 in Coventry is going to be named after the illustrious football pundit and one-time Coventry City manager.

Yeah, you probably already knew that. So what? Well, as one or two commentators have already observed, it's not everyone's idea of er, a good idea. Hill might be well liked by Coventry's beleaguered football fans, but, apart from thinking "nigger" is a humorous bit of football pitch banter, he's also notorious for his money-spinning tour of apartheid-era South Africa. Organising a tour of racially-segregated South Africa by a group of almost exclusively white British footballers isn't quite the "legendary" behaviour that seems to merit a road being re-named in your honour. Or so I think ...

At which point you're probably wondering why I'm going on about this on my tedious-as-hell music blog. Well ...

Well ... it's kind of obvious. Ask most non-Coventrians to name some famous descendants of the city and they'll soon come up with the Specials. Even football fans. Jerry Dammers, Terry Hall, 2-Tone: it's a huge part of the modern history of Coventry (I blogged about some of this earlier this year). Yes, OK, Hill helped make Coventry a moderately successful football club. Yes, they even, against the odds, won an FA Cup final (I was there). And perhaps understandably, as this once-fairly-big club slips into ever more precarious circumstances, the urge to memorialise a successful figure grows almost irresistible.

But, no. If you're going to start re-naming dull dual-carriageways in Coventry you should have a little sensitivity. The A444 (which I've been up and down thousands of times in my own oh-so-exciting lifetime) cuts a rude swathe through a part of northern Coventry with a particularly high concentration of people of South Asian descent. Did anyone ask them what they think of the Jimmy Hill Way proposal? Fine, maybe some are football fans and like the idea. Maybe they're not but don't care either way. Or maybe some recall that racism has been a real problem in Coventry and would rather that "legendary" football moguls like this one are not accorded some kind of civic hero status.

Given that Mahatma Gandhi's experience of racism in South Africa played a big part in his political consciousness, there's a not insignificant historical link between South Africa and some of the non-white residents who live in close proximity to Coventry City's football ground. Meanwhile, it was (of course) Jerry Dammers who wrote Free Nelson Mandela, that ubiquitous sing-alonger-er that became so associated with the UK's anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s.

Surely this is the legacy that Coventry City Council should be celebrating, not make-a-fast-buck footballers who tour racially-segregated countries.

Actually, it's not that I want Coventry to start renaming roads after musicians (Jerry Dammers Way, Neville Staple Street, Ghost Town Square, Do Nothing Road, Gangsters Close ...). Or that I want it to indulge in a splurge of touristy heritagisation of its music history (the Coventry Music Museum and 2-Tone Village are already doing that). I guess it comes back to priorities. Is football, with its many warts and all, such an important part of Coventry's history? Does the city's very long and complex multi-cultural history not matter rather more than a once-famous football manager who used to be on television on Saturday nights?

The Specials react to news of the renamed road

And so, with the ref about to blow his whistle, here's a last-gasp winner. As someone who's originally from Coventry and still there a lot, I'd like to declare an interest. I used to watch the odd Coventry City game in my mis-spent youth and also liked the Specials (and Fun Boy Three!). It's no contest. While the Specials, their amazing punk-ska sound and the multiracial 2-Tone legacy still matter in my life, football has been several-times-relegated (to a zone of life called "Scandals, big business and media hype").

Forget football. 2-Tone is as much a part of Coventry as its central ring road, its modernist pedestrianised shopping centre and its bombed-out cathedral. But what's that? You say you've been threatened by gangsters? Well, we're busy making new road signs. Call back later.

Friday, 30 September 2016

He ain't got no hustle, Dubpod #15 (Sept 2016)

Having got my many minions to scour the Niluccio on noise dub vaults, I hereby bring you the latest dubpod, all 26 bone-shaking tracks of it.

So, er ... what's that? You don't think I've got any minions and ... no vaults either? Ah, that's sort of true. In fact, it's just me plucking a few tunes from some boring old files on my computer on a Friday night. Right, fine. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: he's all show. He's hardly even got any decent music. And what he has got is tired and dated. In fact, you're saying to yourselves, he ain't got no hustle ...

1: Glen Brown/King Tubby, There's dub
2: Jah Shaka, Conquering dub
3: Scientist, King Tubby's mandate
4: Linval Thompson & The Revolutionaries, Lonely dub
5: Fat Man at King Tubby, Enter in dub
6: Get him a cuppa tea
7: Alton Ellis, I'll be waiting
8: Don Drummond & The Skatalites, Heavenless
9: Horace & Sound Dimention, Every tongue shall tell (version)
10: Black Uhuru, Apocalypse
11: Super Beagle, Dust a sound boy
12: Michigan & Smiley, Nice up the dance
13: He ain't got no hustle
14: Gregory Isaacs All Stars, Black a kill black dub
15: Tippa Irie, Sleng teng finish already
16: Music Intimidator/Tappa Zukie, Every one have their works
17: Roy Dobson/Black Pearl, Rising dub
18: Johnny Clarke, Rocking dub
19: La nuestra epoca
20: Aggrolites, Hot stop
21: The Three Tones, I'm so proud of you
22: Sylvain Chauveau & Konono No1, Makembe
23: Dillinger, Mickey Mouse crab louse
24: Brentford All-stars & others, Capricorn dub
25: Linval Thompson, Don't cut off your dub
26: Bungo Herman/Francis, Immortal drums

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Unpleasant and unnecessary, Podcast #133 (Aug 2016)

Whoops, it's nearly October and I'm only just posting the August podcast. Niluccio on noise - always one (or three or four) steps behind.

Yes, you'll have to forgive me. It's a disgrace and I'm truly sorry. Anyway, when you finally settle down to listen to this 79-minute-57-second masterpiece, I'm sure you'll agree that much (if not all) of it is unpleasant and unnecessary ...

1: Liquid Concept, Before the night
2: Yusef Lateef, Chang, chang, chang
3: Unpleasant and unnecessary
4: Fadeaways, How can I make her mine
5: Jennifer Lara, A change gonna come
6: Severed Heads, Barbara three edit
7:  Ahmed Fakroun, Falah
8: James P Johnson’s Blue Note Jazzmen, Easy rider
9: Suppression, Good squad
10: Ainst Char, Your cellar, my shrine
11: The Cavemen, I’d kill
12: Jabo Williams, Fat mama blues
13: Aglow Hollow, Browulf
14: Fraktion, Replication of a past feeling
15: Jonathan Richman, Roadrunner
16: Dagger, Run down
17: The Last Poets, It’s a trip
18: Lyd, Parameter morphing
19: Mise, Alive (doing it right)
20: Linval Thompson & The Revolutionaries, Boss man dub
21: Golden Teacher, On the street
22: Seclorance, Depths of self-deception
23: Milk Boy, Milk Boy 8
24: Doug Hammond, Spaces and things (lopin’/meno mosso)

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Paix Paix Paix

Chris Marker eat your heart out. Here's Don Cherry, the extraterrestrial trumpeter come among you ...

Friday, 16 September 2016

Calling time on late (and early) bands

How late is too late? And how early is too early? These are the vital questions I frequently find myself pondering as I set off for another of my oh-so-exciting gigs.

Bleeding’ hell. They’ve finished. Missed ‘em again.

Yeah, in recent years I’ve failed to see quite a few bands/artists I’ve intended to catch because I was just too damned slow in getting to the church on time.

Or was I? How do you know when bands are actually going to be starting their miserable little 25-minute performances anyway? Forget the laughably inaccurate “stage times” notices you sometimes see at venue entrances. Nearly always wrong. And don’t pay too much attention to what promoters sometimes (but usually only if you go to the trouble of asking them via Facebook or something) might tell you. Again, it’s nearly always wrong.

No, there’s no reliable way of knowing. So what happens? In my case, more often than not I get it all hopelessly wrong. Arriving just as the band I’d fancied seeing are finished their last song. Or, getting to the sweaty little pub/basement bar to find nothing happening and there still being two bands to go before the one I’d actually come for. At this point, in a typical display of my almost Buddhist powers of rigorous self-control and transcendental patience, I normally go straight back home again (especially if it’s in my local east London patch). Bye. Who wants to wait around while lackadaisical band members drink at the bar or fiddle around endlessly with their equipment on stage before … going away again for another 20 minutes?

Then of course there’s that other variation on lateness … not showing up at all! Twice this year I’ve been to see a specific band I’d had my eye on (ear on?) only to find - on both occasions - they’d “cancelled”. Right, keep that up and no-one is ever going to watch you play your rubbishy songs …

So how late is too late? Good question. I’ll leave the answer to the inimitable Howard Devoto …

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Hum or whistle, Podcast #132 (July 2016)

Breaking my own landspeed record for supernatural behind-the-clockness, I'm only now posting this July podcast late on a warm 23 August evening. Pathetic. And it's not even any good! No, I take that back. It's great. It's got both humming and whistling. Well worth the wait. Hmm, hmm, hmmm ...

1: Natural Snow Buildings, Ectoplasm rain
2: Kim Check, Kim Eun & drummer (Mu, Seoul 23/7/16)
3: IXTAB, Eidesis
4: Hum or whistle
5: Hackjob, A fist full of molars
6: The Jazzfakers, Phantacusia
7: Unknown insects (Gangnam, Seoul 22/7/16)
8: lowercase, Lighthouse
9: Orchestre Poly Rythmo De Cotonou, Mi homian dadalé
10: Sylergic, Babylon shall fall
11: He Jeon Jin, ? (Strange Fruit, Seoul 24/7/16)
12: Mr Foundation, See them a come
13: Moa Pillar, Sun stood still
14: Enslaved Chaos, Spiral youth
15: Obbatuké, Biancamo
16: Nuclear Witch, Forever hell
17: Frak, Radiant dominance (version a)
18: Josh Armistead, Hand of the hunter
19: Remain, Alert
20: Nada Baba, Kangaroo moth
21: Interiors, c.1964, Spring snow
22: False Sacrament, Glouster point
23: T-Bone Walker, The sun went down

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Wealth of the nation, Noisepod #8 (July 2016)

The following took place in a record shop about 30 years ago. I was working there as a shop assistant and, in all my gauche youthful ineptitude, I'm involved in some sort of lunchtime conversation about ... er, music. At one point I happen to mention that I listened to the John Peel programme. Big mistake. Quite angrily, a colleague suddenly rounded on me: "That's not music! It's just noise!". Woah. And this, remember, is a conversation among young people working in a record shop.

Anyway, I hear that thankfully this particular person's now dropped all that mumsy "just noise" nonsense and wised up to the thrill of a good Siberian Ass Torture tune. So I hereby dedicate this podcast to her and anyone else who's ever complained that what they personally don't like is not music, just noise. Because you, dear noise-averse music hater, are the very wealth of the nation ...

1: Enslaved Chaos, Say you love satan
2: Infect, Vocé não é seu passado
3: KlitoriX, Menstruation'z over
4: xDELOREANx, The blacksmith must not die
5: Siberian Ass Torture, Jirre poes!
6: Actual word in question
7: Chain Gang Grave, To the sea
8: Beards, Infinite lawn
9: Condominium, Let's die
10: Corrupt Moral Altar, Whiskey sierra
11: Ilsa 25, Cromwell
12: Dixie, Morbidon spider
13: Perspex Flesh, Black magic
14: Wealth of the nation
15: Kind Eyes, More amps, less angst
16: Like Rats, Russian midnight
17: Good Throb, Psycho disco
18: Negative WorM, I really don't care
19: Fist Of Fury, Fuck the system
20: Starkweather, Bitterfrost
21: Crass, Fun going on
22: Siege Stompers, Loud & clear
23: Slur, Insanity of war
24: A great environment
25: Nuclear Witch, Forever hell
26: Otoboke Beaver, Akimahenka
27: Dyslexic Fudgicle, Fetus hat
28: I Loved, I Hated, Broken homes
29: Ill Fat Liza, Kick in the stomach
30: 100 Demons, Ne desit virtus
31: Help She Can't Swim, Cut the biography

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Very difficult to know, Podcast #131 (June 2016)

After you didn't like the first 130 podcasts I did, what chance is there you'll like the 131st? Answer: it's very difficult to know ...

1: Just Jace, Sidestep
2: Very difficult to know
3: Pale Kids, ? (Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield 24/6/16)
4: Fragile Tom, Just you know
5: G.L.O.S.S., Give violence a chance
6: Golden Grey, Don’t stop running
7: Jherek Bischoff & Konono No1, Kule kule
8: The Cavemen, Swamp thing
9: Casulairs, Satisfied
10: Hack Musician, Reluctant acceptance
11: Gate, IWD4u
12: Rene Hall/Willie Joe, Twitchy
13: Plaza, ? (Victoria, London 16/6/16)
14: Subset, Taganga
15: Asha Bhosie, Dum maro dum
16: Doctor Turtle, I’m what you’d be without her
17: Kode9 & The Spaceape, Nine samurai
18: Nachthexen, ? (Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield 24/6/16)
19: Alireza Mashayekhi, Development 2, op24
20: Full access
21: Patsy & The Count Ossie Band, Pata pata rock steady
22: S.Brinks/M.Cipollone/C.Freshard/G.Fisher, Robot stano
23: Bass Clef & Kasai Allstars, The incident at Mbuji-mayi
24: D Smilez, We are the ravers

Saturday, 9 July 2016

DIY music: death by a thousand sincere announcements

So there I was, at a small gig (about 25 people) in a small venue in Brooklyn, NYC, when ... the singer in the band starts rambling away on the mic between songs. It happens quite a lot. People in bands with "stuff to say". Not necessarily a bad thing - depends what they're trying to say and how they're saying it.

But ... it's kinda dangerous. Long-winded on-stage communications are a sure-fire mood-killer. Ya gotta get it right. Anyway, this was slightly different. He wasn't thanking the other bands (dull), expressing his gratitude to the promoter (also dull) or advertising his band's merch stall (dullest of all). Instead our loquacious New York entertainer began an extended soliloquy on "how great" it was to be part of "DIY indie-rock culture".

For real! This over-sincere Williamsburg dude droned on about "DIY culture" at regular intervals throughout his band's entire set. Even by the very low standards of most stage chat, this was exceptionally cringeworthy stuff. By the third or fourth time I wanted to charge up and grab the mic off him. PLEASE STOP! Was he doing it as some kind of twisted performance art? Tormenting his audience with sincerity until they snapped and caused a scene?

I dunno, people eh? Lest I be misunderstood, I'm the first to extol the virtues of so-called DIY music culture. It's undoubtedly where it's at, and has been for decades. As far as I can tell, there currently seem to be some very good DIY-type venues, promoters and artists in the UK, in New York, in Tokyo, in Italy, and doubtless in numerous other places dotted all over the world. Cool. But no need to shout about it.

Punk, lo-fi, outsider, alternative, squat, community, grassroots: call it what you will, it's a healthy thing and fosters a lot of great music. But phew, it can get suffocating. The Brooklyn gig had one of those hand-written bar signs that - like a lot of chalkboards outside cafes these days - specialised in cloying cutesyness. "Always tip you bartender. Be cool out there. And don't pee on the bathroom floor", said this one. Even worse, a gig I went to in northern England recently had an actual mock "commandments" tablet onto which were written the rules-cum-principles of the venue. Knowingly ironic, but still ... rules for niceness?

At gigs I dislike boorishness as much as the next twee indie rock kid, but ... please stop hectoring or suffocating me like this. Being "shushed" at quiet gigs is bad enough. I think I can just about disport myself in a non-offensive fashion without having to be be reminded that your gig is extra-specially "safe", "inclusive", fully-progressive and just won't put up with bad behaviour. Back off you rule-makers.

No, I'll keep going to these gigs (despite my complaints, they're frequently my favourite ones). But please spare me the ten commandments for "cool behaviour" and stop preaching from the script of "DIY indie-rock". I might be twee and utterly non-violent but even I have my limit. Cool, yeah?

Monday, 4 July 2016

Jamming with the Taliban

 ... meanwhile, in another place, with newer smartphones and snazzier training shoes, I discuss the Taliban's particular style of music criticism. A clue. It involves AK47s and suicide belts ...

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Beyond computer analysis, Dubpod #14 (June 2016)

Blam blam - bam bam. Yeah, shoot 'em down, re-load. Shoot again. Forty per cent of the all the privately-owned guns in the world are in the USA, so they say. Blam blam. Bam bam. Smith & Wesson, Blam blam. Bam bam. Ruger Firearms, blam blam. Taurus Guns, blam blam.

Anyway, Jamaica knows all about gun-toting rude boys. And that worked out really well. Don't understand why it's so important for the world to keep manufacturing deadly weapons? Er ... let's check online. Still unsure? Maybe then ... it's beyond computer analysis ...

1: Mikey Dread, Star sign dub
2: Sugar Minott, Row fast
3: Prince Far I, 354 version
4: Yabby You & Trinity, Jah vengeance (12" mix)
5: It is very quiet
6: Caly Gibbs, Seeing is believing
7: Michigan & Smilie, Rub a dub style
8: The Silverstones, Dub a pum pum
9: Johnny Clarke, Ites green and gold
10: The Shades, Who you gonna run to
11: Go to the tax office
12: Charlie Chaplin, Throw me some corn
13: General Echo, Arleen
14: Sister Nancy, Bam bam
15: Congo Natty, Revolution
16: Almost treated as legal
17: Lloyd & Devon, Cus cus
18: Sir Lord Comic, Jack of my trade
19: Super Beagle, Dust a sound boy
20: Willie Williams, Armagideon time
21: Beyond computer analysis
22: The Valentines, Blam blam fever
23: Randy's All Stars, Guns in the ghetto
24: Jah Lion, Soldier and police war

Monday, 6 June 2016

Quick! Listen to me, Podcast #130 (May 2016)

In these zero-attention-span times you're lucky to get more than a nano-second of anyone else's time. What with their selfies, their Facebooking, their shopping for white trainers - people are busy.  

It's all hustle and bustle in the market place of life. Get ya plums, lovely fresh plums. Make sure your CV's up to scratch, lovely fresh CVs. Anyway, I appreciate all this (no not appreciate, understand, have awareness of, ie dislike and shake my head at, but only in an enlightened-yet-still-kindly-and-definitely-not-superior way). 

Ahem. So I, the great Niluccio, say this to you, mere mortals of the out-of-town shopping centres - stop what you're doing immediately. Repent before it's too late. Quick! Listen to me ...

1: Every Now And Then, The flicker beneath my eyelids
2: Ghost Car, ? (Windmill, London 24/5/16)
3: Tim Held, Dirge:on
4: Death Stuff, Conversations for girls
5: Mikey Gang, Horses can’t dance
6: Wehwalt & Zreen Toyz, Antisymétrique mandala
7: Shark Dentist, ? (Windmill, London 31/5/16)
8: Leisure-B, Remus (Herr Obersturmbahnführer remix)
9: Dirtygirl, Never 
10: Dyslexic Fugicide, Fetus hat
11: Vin Gordon, Fullness
12: Aerologic, Transformation
13: Soda Boys, Doghouse
14: Egg Nebula, Mental communication
15: Bad Breeding, ? (Old Blue Last, London 4/5/16)
16: Supersilent, 13.3
17: Clifton Giggs & The Selected Few, Brimstone and fire
18: Molar, Courage sandwich
19: Ars Sonor & Digital By Birth, Digital soul (Utopia mix)
20: Otoboke Beaver, Akimahenka
21: Winston Flames, In a armagideon
22: Blip Street, You fackin no good cant