keresaspa: (Homer rage)
You'll forgive me if I pass on the end of year survey thing this time out as, for more reasons than I care to remember, I'll have little desire to recall 2016 in the future. But nonetheless I'll draw a veil on this most egregious of twelvemonths in my own time-honoured fashion:

Top 100 Artists of the Year )

Last straw

Aug. 20th, 2015 08:28 pm
keresaspa: (Ivy the Terrible)
These tablets and smartphones and what have you have a lot to answer for as far as I'm concerned. Their tiny screens and limited capacities mean that they struggle to cope with proper websites and so need their own crap versions. Yet, how many websites, looking to cut costs, just think "sod it" and make one across-the-bard site with a lot fewer features aimed at the mobile market but forced on those of us still welded to desktops? Add last.fm to that list of good sites butchered to please you touchscreen sheep. Good God that new version is abysmal. a mass of pointlessly huge images, needles white space and very few actual features, all in the name of chasing the mobile moron squad. My favourite site for a long time (an accolade it has lost to rate your music in recent months, at least until they balls it up in a few months) the new version is just horrendous and so far removed from the wonderful old version that I'm actually questioning whether or not it's worth continuing to use it. God knows I love the statistical aspects of music listening (seriously, I'm very OCD about it) but it's nearly impossible to follow now and after a few days of the new site I'm finding it terribly frustrating.

OK, realistically I know stuff like this doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things but I had got very used to it the way it was and don't want that taken away from me. Reaction across the board has been negative too but I doubt they'll change it back, instead adopting the same "we know best" attitude that sites always take until finally they look around, realise they've made a total MySpace of things, but realise it's too late as everybody has already buggered off in disgust. The sad demise of a once spectacular and virile website.

So whilst it lasts I'll take this opportunity to share with you, under the cut, the ten songs I have listened to most thereon since I took up my membership in January 2009.

So long ago. )
keresaspa: (Foster and Allen)
Apparently they've only gone and made Esther Rantzen a Dame. So is that for service to cover-ups, services to rank hypocrisy or services to the cosmetic dentistry sector? God, I know those awards are a load of pap but are they seriously reduced to giving damehoods to the likes of Rancid these days? Like she's not bloody insufferable enough as it is.

Still, who cares, it's the final day of the year and so, to the interest of nobody whatsoever, I must do this.

Top 100 artists listened to this year )
keresaspa: (Albert Gladstone Trotter)
2013, eh? What a year! All this new stuff happened, a bunch of old stuff stopped happening and a load of other stuff continued happening. Crazy! There'll never be another year the same, although every year will probably be a bit like it in that there'll be earthquakes and chaffinches and carbon dioxide and outbreaks of drizzle and quarks and all that other stuff that every year is packed with. You know, fifty years from now if somebody comes up to me and says "remember 2013?" I'll say, well nothing as I'll be in the cold, cold ground by then. Mind you, were my corpse able to talk I'm sure it would say "piss off. What's the meaning of coming to my grave just to ask about indiscriminate years? Bloody nuisance!"

Still, New Year's Eve! Just think, this time a year ago the earth had completed one less transit of the sun but, now as if by magic, it is back in the same arbitrary place in space as it was then, give or take the bit we have to make up with leap years. Momentous isn't the word for it. It's been a whole 2,014 years since somebody started a new calendar based on a miscalculation about the birth of our Jesus so obviously the only answer is to go mad, drink your own bodyweight in alcohol and join hands with strangers in an unusual manner whilst singing a Robert Burns poem whose lyrics you don't quite know. Those who had a bad time in 2013 can look forward to 365 days of unmitigated bliss in the coming year, because as we all know that's how life works, plus we get to make new year's resolutions as January 1 is officially the only day you can decide to stop eating so many biccy-wicks. My resolution is to be the first man to climb Mount Everest. I'm sure I'll manage it before those pesky Norwegians get there first.

So a guid new year to ae and aw. It's been probably the single most important year in history containing the numbers 2, 0, 1 and 3 (in that order) and we'll never ever forget it, barring the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

And now, because I demanded it, I will keep up my annual tradition by recording for posterity the 100 musical artists whose works I listened to most in this twelvemonth. Read it and weep. Though leave the weeping to the end as it will interfere badly with your vision.

Here it is )
keresaspa: (Shonen Knife)
So, like in the good old days, a meme is doing the rounds and it has fallen on me. Apparently this originates on the wild hinterlands of Facebook but, knowing nothing about such diabolical malevolence, I am indebted to [livejournal.com profile] caddyman for initiating me into the inner circle of this particular one. Essentially the remit is to talk at some length about a specific band of the choosing of the originator and in may case I have been called upon to discuss the fair Shonen Knife and their opera. Splendid. So without further ado.

Time was the immediate answer to the question "who's your favourite band?" would for me be Jethro Tull, but that all began to change in early 2007 when I made the decision to investigate Shonen Knife. I still love the Tull, of course, but, having really enjoyed a bit of the 5.6.7.8.'s that I stumbled upon by accident, I was in the mood for Japanese girl rock and Shonen Knife fitted the bill better than any of their competitors. Others, like Lolita No. 18 and Lulu's Marble, have subsequently come along and vied strongly for my affections but for the depth of canon none of them can touch the Knife.

Although they've always been a three piece there can be no doubt that some animals have been more equal than others and the only permanent member, singer/guitarist/producer/songwriter/occasional keyboardist Naoko Yamano, has bestrode the band like a colossus since their inception and continues to do so to this day. More than anybody it is Naoko, a lady of 49 summers, believe it or not, when I took this picture, who has been responsible for the unmistakable cutesy but still hard garage-flavoured pop-punk sound that has defined the band throughout their career.

That's not to say that there hasn't been changes down the years. Formed by Naoko, her sister Atsuko and their friend Michie Nakatani in 1981, they ignored the anodyne j-pop that was emerging at the time, to instead take their lead from western punk bands. After a very limited release of Minna Tanoshiku in 1982 (a total rarity that I admit to never having heard) their first major indie release, Burning Farm came out the following year. This was part of an early naive period for the band, which was showcased even more strongly on follow-up Yama-no Attchan, where they experimented with some mid-80s styled synthesisers and production techniques, to generally disappointing results.

It would be 1986's Pretty Little Baka Guy where they really started to come into their own, returning to their punky roots but adding in a strong layer of garage rock to finally settle on the sound that would become their stock in trade. 712 followed five years later and, despite opening with a very ill-advised rap, this was where Shonen Knife came of age as the band we now know and love. By this time they had come to be feted by Kurt Cobain and others in the grunge movement, who admired the deceptive simplicity of their songs and the wonderfully silly innocence of their lyrics. A crossover into something approaching the mainstream in the Anglosphere was guaranteed but for once that was to be a good thing.

On the face of it 1993's Let's Knife (the first album I ever heard by the band incidentally) seemed like a bit of a naff cash-in, taking as it did a number of songs from their earlier albums, re-recording them with slicker production and translating the lyrics into something approximating English. Far from it however, as it remains for me their crowning achievement, a wonderful slice of daft enthusiasm that contains seven of their all-time top ten songs. Opening track "Riding on the Rocket" is probably my favourite of all their songs and almost certainly the best opening track to an album in the history of rock music. It didn't quite turn them into the global megastars that it should have but nevertheless it did increase their exposure in the west markedly. It was promptly followed by Rock Animals which kept the quality quotient high (if not being quite in the same league), then Brand New Knife, which, whilst still good, revealed a calmer and more introspective side to the band which, whilst not without its charms, didn't necessarily suit them that well.

Then the rot started to set in. Four decent but rather formulaic albums were churned out at regular intervals before the nadir was reached in 2006 with Genki Shock. It's not that it was terrible it's just that it had all become far too predictable and it looked remarkably like they weren't trying any more. By that point they had been recording in English for thirteen years but the lyrics had got worse and what had once been cute now just seemed like a lack of effort. When I tell you that one of the songs was about the fact that a lot of people wear jeans you know they're phoning it in! It clearly told as follow-up Fun! Fun! Fun! initially was released in Japan only but fortunately it proved a step up, as the band returned to a slightly punkier sound. 2008's Super Group cranked up the punk vibe a little further and was all the better for it, making it their best work since Rock Animals. It was when they were touring this album that I finally got to see the band live in May 2010 in the Scala in King's Cross. I was at the height of my haemochromatosis but still pulled myself out of my sick bed to make the pilgrimage and finally see them in the flesh. A fine time was had by all and I even got to meet Naoko and current drummer Emi Morimoto, although I must admit finally meeting the great woman did overwhelm me a little rendering me unable to say anything of any profundity to the lady. Nevertheless it was a transcendental experience to be in the presence of a goddess, despite my lack of loquacity.

It's something of a shame that their subsequent output has tailed off again somewhat. Free Time was the definition of a curate's egg, with some good ideas generally ruined by the songs being too long and repetitive (the soul of early punk is surely brevity, not length) whilst the double header of Pop Tune and Osaka Ramones suffered because of how indebted they were to the Ramones. The latter was an album of Ramones covers, most of which were played note for note and so ended up sounding like a Japanese woman singing a bunch of karaoke songs whilst it's Pop Tune follow-up mostly sounded like a collection of Ramones rip-offs, barring the track "Psychedelic Life" which, in something of a full circle for yours truly, had a nice bit of flute very reminiscent of Jethro Tull. Perhaps if I rated the Ramones more highly the albums would have appealed to me more (and the covers album was generally received positively despite my reservations) but I've never really cared for them so listening to albums on which they were the sole influence, rather than one of a number of influences, was always going to be a trying experience.

These days you can generally set your watch by Shonen Knife, so I anticipate a new album should appear sometime around mid to late 2014. My hope is that the Ramones stuff will be out of their system and they will return to their own sound which, whilst undoubtedly influenced by the shaggy New Yorkers, had a lot more to it than just that. Naoko will be 53 next month so there is unlikely to be too much more left in the tank but I remain convinced that she has one blinding album left in her. Hell, who knows in late middle age she might go all crazy and come 2018 churn out some strange Yoko Ono/Jarboe/Diamanda Galas effort a million miles away from what we're expecting. Or not. Either way though Shonen Knife still have a great legacy in their wake and I remain committed to description of Naifu as my favourite band.

And if anybody wants this just ask and I'll give you one of your bands.

And why not

Mar. 2nd, 2011 07:52 pm
keresaspa: (L7)
Normally I don't do these 30 days do-whackies that do the rounds from time to time but for once I am to make an exception as the current music one presented by [livejournal.com profile] psychokatuk and [livejournal.com profile] purpledonna seems rather interesting. Something along the lines of posting a video as a response to each question so I'll crack on.

List of questions and first answers )

Book 'im

Oct. 3rd, 2010 09:16 pm
keresaspa: (Rubberduckzilla)
Is it just me or has livejournal been running slower than Cyril Smith's pall bearers recently? I swear it takes a good few minutes for me to see any page now. There again maybe it is just my laptop being its usual snail-like self. Bloody machines.

Anyway, everybody is doing this therefore so must I:

The BBC believes that out of the following 100 classics [that's debatable], most people will only have read an average of six. Bold the ones you've read, italicize those you've dabbled with (read a portion/watched a film rendition/read an abridged version).

List )

So there you have it. I'm not sure what it proves but there you have it anyway. Now if you'll excuse me I managed to chouse a bunch of Lulu's Marble downloads from shady sources and I must continue appreciating their sheer majesty. If I don't see you through t'week I'll see you through t'window.
keresaspa: (James Connolly)
The early evening after the night before brings a sort of sluggishness, not helped by the fact that I am confined to barracks by the morons in sashes tramping up and down and by the unrelated fact that I have been nursing a general pain in my whole belly area for the last few days. As such I am unable to take advantage of the great new state of affairs that sees the Orange Order allowing shops to open for a few hours whilst they are at the field (apparently I missed the meeting where control of this dump was handed over to them) although I doubt that I would have anyway as my lack of a car combined with the nonexistence of public transport today means that I cannot imagine a way in which I could have got there and back without getting my head kicked in by the English Defence League, Combat 18 or some other squad of mouth breathers attracted by "Orangefest". I could go off on a grand missive about it but that noggling pain has removed my will to care and I have instead resolved to register my displeasure by listening to Wolfe Tones songs and frowning a lot. Dead hard me!

Anyway, I'll move on to the recent meme doing the rounds that I posted a few weeks back but which I shall now return to with the letter 's' courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] clytemenstra. You know the score about asking for letters by now so I'll crack on.

Sturnin Bread by Lulu's Marble: Wonderful piece of Japanese nonsense featuring that "mammy's little baby loves strawberry jam" refrain over a basic garage rock riff with lots of screaming. The band are long defunct following the untimely death of their singer but this remains an absolute classic, albeit one that I can find nowhere on the internet. So if you know where I can get it do let me know as there is a wumpeechoo for whoever can find it.

Siege of Yaddlethorpe by Amazing Blondel: Crumhorn-heavy noodling from the prog folk greats who really should have had more of an impact than they did. Not unlike Gryphon, this is how mediaeval and Renaissance revival music should be done.

Sunny Came Home by Shawn Colvin: I was going to say that Shawn is perhaps a bit outside my normal taste but given my previous statements regarding Dar Williams that is maybe not the case after all. Rather like Ms. Williams "As Cool As I Am" this song oddly reminds me of my early to mid teens when it was frequently on Radio 2 in my house. Still a fine piece of work to this day, dealing with somebody going nuts and torching the house.

Somebody Save Me by Krypteria: Sometimes you just can't beat a slice of female-fronted symphonic metal and this is a fine example from the German outfit (perhaps the only genre of music the Germans do consistently well). And it has honestly nothing to do with the fact that they have a drool-worthy Korean singer ;)

She was Poor But She was Honest by Billy Bennett: "Almost a Gentleman" was one of the grand old men of the music halls and this was his finest hour in which he launches into the injustices of wealth inequality. OK I'm reading a little more into it than is actually present but it is still a grand old music hall song and there is still an anti-rich message in there so I salute my comrade.

I really should have picked "Sash, the" as one of my choices, shouldn't I? In a pig's eye I should've!

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