Here at SOTC, we’ve pretty much been dicking around with the concept of a blog for the last, er, six months, throwing a lot of Ramen at the wall, and trying to figure out what the fuck we can contribute in a town where every single person at the show has a Movable Type account. Turns out, we still have no clue—so instead of cleaning up more noodles off the floor and whatnot, we decided to hire a handful of weekly columnists to write about whatever the hell they wanted once a week.
First batter in the line-up: Mr. Everett True, author of Nirvana: The Biography (da Capo Press)—one more fucking book about one of the most overrated bands of the Nineties—and publisher of Plan B Magazine, a title dedicated to writing about music (and media) with barely a nod towards demographics. Feel free to hate him or love him. Apparently, it doesn’t matter.
The Outbursts of Everett True
It doesn’t matter.
It never does. Two more down. The soulless mock-cynical Sixth Form schoolyard humour of Vice still runs triumphant. On television, a parade of interchangeable boys in skinny ties and carefully frayed jeans rifle their way through the same fucking riffs that the Rolling Stones plundered over 40 fucking years ago. Across the Internet, ‘celebrities’ walk free from jail straight into million-dollar contracts. Two more down. Who cares? Two more outlets for expression that weren’t dictated to by society’s mores, that didn’t follow the same dismal patriarchal lines, that believed in the idea of creating your own alternative—far away from the advertising dollar generated by the rich and beautiful and fashionably bored, and jeans companies.
You may have heard of Punk Planet. You may not have. I don’t care either way. It was a left-of-field, politically-charged US publication that originated from the rigorous turmoil of maximumrocknroll (a couple of alienated readers) and, despite its title, wasn’t ever that concerned with hardcore punk bands or music (although that was its passion), more about examining the constraints that society places round us, and ways of combating same. It was fierce. It was intelligent. It was sometimes passionate, sometimes off-the-mark. It had clean, crisp design, formulated with few financial resources: indeed, when I decided to create my own slipstream publication at the end of 2001, the belligerently artistic, self-obsessed Careless Talk Costs Lives (the magazine that spawned my current obsession Plan B) it was one of the few places I looked to for inspiration.
I appreciated the fact it didn’t slip into ready cynicism (people confuse criticism with cynicism too often) and its questioning heart, its thirst for knowledge, the way columnists such as Jessica Hopper would write, unencumbered by the desire to impress. I liked the fact it gave over whole issues to the print media, visual artists. It mattered to me: it was an ideal to aspire to. And now it’s gone after 80 issues and 13 years, brought low not through lack of interest or ideas, but the usual crap stuff that all
small businesses and small print run magazines face: bad distribution, decreasing a for most of us.
And just a few days ago, I discovered that another of the primary sources for Careless Talk (a magazine that counted down its own demise, starting at
issue 12) has stopped. This one’s hit me even harder. You may have heard of Tangents. It’s more likely you haven’t. It was one of the original webzines, started 10 years ago by teacher Alistair Fitchett from his Exeter bedroom in the south of England: impassioned, opinionated, again sparsely but beautifully designed, centred round his twin passions of guitar-led Sixties and Eighties pop and art/comic books, with a handful of likeminded columnists and what amounted to early versions of the now ubiquitous weblog. I joined early on, writing spasmodic, wildly eccentric diaries of my alcohol-fueled concert-attending in London, addressed to a friend who bordered on the imaginary.
It was from Tangents that I drew many of my original Careless Talk writers: it seemed to me then (and still does) that the traditional music press had long grown tired and I was seeking a fresher, rawer, more immediate approach to writing, one that the Tangents writers exemplified. It continued, unobtrusively but stylishly, over the next decade, unearthing many hidden musical gems, and always resonating with a pure, unadorned belief in Pop (with a capital ‘p’) that never failed to cheer me. It was the exact opposite of the oh-do-daring decadent boys of Vice and the preening prats over at Pitchfork, where an entire generation of Simon Reynolds fans have been allowed to grow unchecked, reveling in their own pitiful self-importance.
No one cares what you think. You’re music critics, for God’s sake.
1. TAKEN BY TREES, “Lost And Found” (Open Field). Former singer of Sweden’s crush-worthy pop band The Concretes returns with a delicate, subtly baroque album full of hushed murmurings and delightful surprise.
2. THE WILD BEASTS, “Through Dark Night” (single). Rampant, gloriously wrong slice of post-Associates/Tiny Tim pop wherein the singer tries and fails, quite magnificently, to quite reach those top notes.
3. SCOUT NIBLETT, “Dinosaur Egg” (single) Stark, child-like enunciation from isolationist UK female artist masks smart-funny David Shrigley words and startling use of rock dynamics. [DOWNLOAD from WHO NEEDS RADIO?]
4. PATRICK WOLF, “The Magic Position” (The Magic Position). Entirely uplifting, string-laden romp into prime Dexys Midnight Runners territory (no, not ‘Come On Eileen’) topped by a vocal as swaggering as it’s debonair.
5. HERMAN DÜNE, “Take Me Back To NYC” (Giant). Unashamedly beautiful paean to one of the most politically undesirable countries in the world from a pair of Swedish brothers, worthy inheritors of Jonathan Richman’s naïve pop genius mantel.
Also: Status Ain’t Hood says goodbye to Punk Planet.