Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Friday, 11 September 2009

gran greta

In a couple of days' time it will be a year since my gran, Greta Cant, died. we were very close and, after years of living with Parkinson's, that, coupled with a cancer diagnosed at far too late a stage proved too much. we couldn't have asked any more of her and I'm glad she's no longer suffering.

I hate that old newspaper cliche wherein people 'battle' cancer, or Parkinson's, or similar - people don't battle such illnesses, they die from them, often very slowly and in a great amount of pain. Nevertheless, this does not mean that those who face such a terrifying decline do so without bravery and a desire to take from life all that they possibly can. Greta was always so involved and interested in me and my sisters' lives, as well as the various children's groups that she helped with at the local church until she absolutely no longer could. There was no way that that enthusiasm and genuine joy could ever really be dimmed, it was just a part of her, a part that transcended her Parkinson's.

Her childhood was not by any means an easy one. For various reasons that I won't go into here, she faced enough to destroy any sort of idea of a fundamental 'goodness' in humanity. I'm really glad she didn't let that happen, i was blessed with a grandmother and indeed family who seem naturally predisposed to, in their own individual ways, do as much as they can for others.

My grandad Don is still alive and is guaranteed to, as i write this, still be complaining about the government and still supporting Arsenal. It's strange, as a child i was quite scared of him: he seemed gruff and distinctly uncuddly. Now all i see is a compassionate, proud working class 'realmanwhodoesntcry', who lost the absolute love of his life one year ago. They were married for over fifty years and his utter devotion in those difficult last few never ever wavered. I am so proud to have him as my grandfather, though i would not dream of making such a starkly emotional statement in earshot of him! When people say i'm 'just like him' it is usually a tongue in cheek reference to being grumpy. It would be an honour to turn out 'just like him'.

A year on, as of this moment, these are some of the things I miss: my gran's paintings, her half full cups of tea, her sneaky boxes of maltesers, her joy (relief) at every haircut i got, her coin collection, her christmas day nap, her soap operas, her hugs, her inquisitiveness, her getting the names of my girlfriends wrong, her hot water bottles and sandcastles in clacton, her birthday/christmas/get well cards, her lowry prints, her dylan thomas, her refusal to switch from 'jamie' to 'james' when, aged about ten, i forced everyone else to. i didn't mind.

I can think of a hundred songs about death, or coming to terms with it, or loss, or love or whatever that could be posted at the end of this but they wouldn't have meant anything to her specifically and if i'm going to associate her with a song i'd rather it be this one. This was always 'their' song. I used to think i would find someone to spend my entire life with, right now i'm not so sure. But i'm really glad that Greta had Don for all of hers and that Don had Greta.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

fuck being cool for 5 minutes...

...most wonderful, dorky, uplifting, geeky, lovely thing ever.

also chris brown: you're forgiven (not really you piece of shit).

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

TRIUMPH, or, believing in anything, or, how to be the osiris of that shit in eleven songs.

Just an incredible track that will never get old, everything about it smacks of success, from the horns to andre 3000's intro to the vocal samples and of course to bun b and pimp c (RIP).

Unbelievably cheesy (like all jacques le cont obviously) but somehow works in this context, adding an uplifting slant to the vocals (the woman from the knife who's name i can't remember). Also: just reminds me of good times, simpler times: college, positive lazer...

'YOU TAKE YOUR CAR TO WORRRRK, I'LL TAKE MY BOAAAARD!' Right on, rivers. i wish i could skate :(

Last track on Alligator, one of those albums that you listen to and think this is alright and then you keep listening over and over and then realise all of a sudden that it's one of the best albums you've ever heard and then this track ends it and you punch your fist like 'yessss!'

Pop-punk is great cos it makes all the big problems go away and then all you have are the little problems, which you can solve, and then when they're sorted you can concentrate on chugging beer and trampolining into swimming pools and air guitarring back to back with your best friends to number 10.

This song is like if... you know that bit in 'wake up' by the arcade fire where they all go 'woah-oh-oh-woah' and thats basically the chorus? if they'd somehow found the words to fit that moment, that elevated to one of the most glorious things ever, it would be this song.

Obviously i love UGK, so, ignoring all the obvious triumphant sentiments of this track, the bit in the 2nd verse where jeezy is posthumously trying to make his peace with pimp c (with whom he always had tension despite his friendship with bun) is like lump-in-the-throat moment. Also, the bit where jeezy shows his age by confessing he doesn't understand why 'for some strange reason my son's addicted to polos (ie preppy, stuffy polo shirts that used to be despised by the hiphop community)' is kind of endearing.

An obvious track but, not to sound too wanky, the guitar solos are just fucking transcendental.

Another obvious track that is well overplayed but I dunno... it makes me think of more recent good things than the royskopp track.

10. JOSIE - BLINK 182
Aka me and george and zak and dave and even john and jamie and helen and anyone who wants to join in with their arms round each other lights out pissed after two cans throwing devil horns air guitaring jumping off the backs of sofas. yes please.

'So none of our output since those first five wu-affiliated releases have been that great have they? Oh i know, lets just do a track where we each take it in turns reminding everyone how fucking incredible we are individually, but on a track together, like in the old days of protect ya neck etc.' Apparently after (the rebel) inspektah deck laid down his opening verse, everyone else was too scared to go next cos of how amazing it was. i'm glad they did. it's triumphant because it's just pure, other-worldly class - as the RZA once said, in the aftermath of a certain Nas debut for Def Jam:

'how can hiphop be dead... when wu-tang is forever?'

Sunday, 12 July 2009

FUCK JAY-Z, or, how to not get even - get mad - in eleven songs.

1. Ether - Nas
In which nas eloquently but brutally belittles jay-z over his claims to be the 'king of new york'. it's an obvious one but there really is no better diss track:
'Rockefeller died of AIDS, that was the end of his chapter
And that's the guy y'all chose to name your company after?
Put it together, I rock hoes, y'all rock fellas
And now y'all try to take my spot, fellas?
Philly's hot rock fellas, put you in a dry spot, fellas
In a pine box with nine shots from my glock, fellas
Foxy got you hot 'cause you kept your face in her puss
What you think, you getting girls now 'cause of your looks?
Ne-gro please'

2. Black - Okkervil River
From the album Black Sheep Boy, about the life of the singer Tim Hardin. The control that Will Sheff has over his voice is phenomenal, like a non-embarassing, non-whiny conor oberst. When he sounds angry, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and you look at the floor sheepishly.

3. Fucking Little Bastards - Arab Strap
Here Aidan Moffatt takes out his not inconsiderable self-loathing on the birds in the park, accompanied by a deafening squall of guitars and drums from malcolm middleton:
'I don't like the words that the birds are singing. I hate their ugly voices and the messages they're bringing. But if everyone can start again and everyone can win then I'll re-arrange the place that I'm in. And I can't stick the way that they flap and flutter. They whisper I'm a cunt and they cackle and they mutter. But I'm sure I heard them reassure me everything ends as I walked away from all my fake friends. They've scrutinised the mistakes I've been making. They know who I've fucked, they know what I've taken. They've seen me in the shower with shit down my legs. They've seen me searching a stranger's house for dregs. I used to think they loved me, but now I know it's pity and they know that they can always flee this fucking city. They even said they'd help me out and give me a head start and they know that these days my cock's as numb as my heart. New blood flows. Old faces go. I like the new ones better. I think I like these girls. Feels like I've travelled miles. Now I want to party all the time. Now I want to party all the time again.'

4. Real Talk (DarkRoom Productions Remix) - R. Kelly
Because sometimes 'angry' can also be hilarious.

5. Ian Curtis Wishlist - Xiu Xiu
Because sometimes 'angry' can also be fucking terrifying.

6. That's Life - Killer Mike
I could write an essay on this song. The definition of righteous fury from a southern rapper in the aftermath of hurricane katrina, it covers everything from George Bush and his wife, Kanye West, Cornell West, the Superdome, Oprah Winfrey, baggy trousers, lawyers, ball players, michael eric dyson, the church...

7. No Children - The Mountain Goats
John Darnielle singing about divorce, at that stage where anger is just about overtaking the heartache and as a listener you can't work out if its for the best or not.

8. Hitlers and Jews - Part Chimp
Got to have something that is just LOUD.

9. We Got It For Cheap - Clipse
First track from Clipse's much delayed second album, here they're venting at Jive Records, who fucked them over, over and over again (don't worry, there's still plenty of references to selling crack).

10. Charlie and the Propaganda Myth Machine - Million Dead
An incredible dissection of 'brainwashing the children' from Frank Turner and friends, bless them. The lyrics are mental but amazing, it starts like this and does not let up: 'if every child chased dreams of societal reorganization in place of sweet wrappers and escape, then we would see mr cadbury's enlightened industrialism for what it really fucking is'

11. I Hate Scotland - Ballboy
A sad type of anger from the primary school teachers that make up ballboy. They're only angry cos they're disappointed in you.
'Maybe it's scotland i hate
I know i hate so many things about it
I hate the way punishments are the heart of everything
I hate the way parents beat their children
I hate the way everything always has to be someone's fault
Even though some things just happened
Some things just happened!
I hate the way people bring up their children
To be exactly the same as they are
Just so they can justify the way they've lived their lives
I hate the way we expect to fail
And then we fail
And then we get bitter because we failed...'

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

you had me at hello...

...because everyone needs some jerry maguire referencing 
rnb ballads in their life at some point.
And because of course everyone already realises how brilliant 'single ladies' is...

bonus track, (probably) hard to find:

this mick boogie remix of irreplaceable features ghost 
spitting a few bars that epitomise the 'crying-rap' which he 
came to be known for. after ms. knowles has finished 
explaining exactly where her stuff is in comparison to (in 
this case) mr. coles' stuff, he offers up an emotional 
attempt at clearing his name, one which peaks with the line: 'im a do these dishes and wash my dick, cos i dont gotta lie to you'. Since mask came off game got real indeed.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

'horse is on my pants (polo) and american eagle fly like segal, the way i rock abercrombie this shit should be illegal...'

it's rare that i even like any dirtysouthhoodclubrapcrunk tracks, let alone get genuinely excited by them but i just got this mix by the guys who run this mint-sounding clubnight in vancouver that i'll obviously never get to go to but nevermind. 

anyway two tracks in particular i cannot stop listening to (expect them to get ruined in a girl talk mix some time soon):

they're just straight up dumb party-rap hype tracks really that only really veer from Fuck Bitches Get Money to the leftfield topic of Wear Fly Clothes so probably no one reading this is gonna like them but fuck it. if it helps, on the mix i mentioned up there, there is a track where the instrumental has some bleeps on it that maybe sound a bit like they could be in a crystal castles track. i'm trying.