Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Said Worthy Farm I Can't Hear You! (pause, silence)

With literal hours to go the liberal disquiet still grows at Jay Z’s imminent performance on the fields of our very own Avalon – Glstnbry. Like the Roc-a-fella himself, they have invoked the commercial imperative, this black man is not cricket and has inspired poor ticket sales (nothing to do with complete festival saturation then). Of course, in curtain-ruffling England the new breed of cultural Nimbys haven’t been expressing their misgivings in anything so vulgar and as giveaway as racist terms. They’d have to admit that to themselves first. No, far easier to say ‘he’s just not my cup of tea’ and then to have a cup of tea than anything too divisive. Inclusion is an illusion on the modern festival goer’s iPod.

No-one would deny Jay Z has got rich on glorifying the gangster lifestyle. In an entrenched Jam and Jerusalem world, the artifact representing an ethnic poor trying to get rich and being a success by any means necessary is not welcome – 70s films only for that please. J-Z was on J-Ross’ show last night, casually dressed and completely comfortable with turning his life into art and therefore commerce, not feeling guilt for making teenagers rapists and murderers because this simply wouldn’t have happened.

Listen carefully, beyond the niggaz and hos language, and the overall sound is pretty tame and not likely to inspire youthful rebellion any more than the latest Jet rockout or Duffy soul revue. He’s not likely to inspire extreme devotion and replication, but if you're (still) into hip-hop in the mid-to-late noughties you’d be checking his thing.

So Brooklyn boy Shawn Carter is the unfortunate target of the ongoing consensus hallucination that is gangsta rap (it doesn’t even look right writing that in 2008), a genre that peaked about 15 years ago and isn’t really relevant to any of the main players’ current package.

Of course there are criticisms of Jay-Z - he should work his talent a bit more, write down rhymes and knock out the cliché; revealingly on Ross he said his mum told him that to be a star you’ve got to work at it, but Shawn realised his talent was natural and he has therefore never really had to work at it as such.

No Stone Circle dropout for him then, but my expectation and hope is that the legions of white boy hip-hop backpackers will forget their Q-Bert mix tapes for a while, get down the front and get down, displacing the indie moaners to the back. Repeats of Fiddy being bottled off at Reading seem unlikely.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Scorching back

My Bloody Valentine returned to live performance on Friday 13 June with a rehearsal gig for their few UK comeback dates. They did an expected set of purely 87-91 Creation albums and EPs.

The a-side of the awesome 1990 ep, Soon and Glider (repetitive sliding technicolour bursts precede industrial dystopia) is represented. Agree with Bliss that a favourite is the grungey e-bounce of Slow on the 88 You Made Me Realise 12, and that an album of the eps would make curatorial sense. A lot of the best bands only need around 20 or so great tracks to really make their mark, not walls and walls of careerist, new creative directions and churned lps ad infinitum. The percussive trances and quiescent tones of the last ep, Honeypower excepted (a great track despite being one of their most conventional, feel the warmth of the alternative post-new wave bass!), were a kind of endgame for Shields and co.

But as Paphides says on Quietus, the idea of this being retro or nostalgist doesn’t make sense when you consider the black hole of regress that followed MBV in the indie rock arena at least. Even without new output, they can make this short tour a huge blast of infinite present! All of which leaves me slowly relenting to my philistine “tickets are too expensive” attitude when the tour was first announced. It might be time to leave the records upstairs for the experience to go search for a spare.

Only Shallow:
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