Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lose Yourself In The Music

Three things I learned in the five minutes i spent watching 8 Mile last night:

Eminem's skills as a rapper are hard to pin down. There's no doubt that his flows are unique, and the stresses he puts on particular words unusual, but really, that doesn't make a megastar. I have a feeling it's just his potty mouth that does it.

Britanny Murphy, though now extremely thin, still dances like she has some weight to throw around.

And, finally, apparently it's still ok to call people 'faggots'. Eminem's justification for this later in the movie ("Paul's gay, but you're a faggot.") plus the appearance of a positive token gay character doesn't wash with me. The guy's homophobic as all fuck, and his scriptwriters are too. There. I said it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I've Got Teef.

I go on and on about how there aren't enough girls in punk, about all the things we do to marginalize and intimidate them, but after talking to my cousins from the country on Christmas day about how many women actually live in their town, I figure I should refocus for just a second. Apparently there is but one female to every five males in Woomelang. My cousin James tells me of nights when the local pub - there's only one - is entirely populated by men. Not a girl in sight, he said, with an air of resignation. In the interests of festive-season harmony I refrained from linking the declining female population with the casual sexism on display at the local, but there's probably more to it than that. And their problems are probably our problems too. We punks like to think that the issues facing our community are unique, but that's more a product of our elitism than anything else. Our world has a lot in common with James' - it's just that in his, it's totally awesome to bleach random bits of your hair. Especially your fashion mullet.

Anyways. Back to music for a second. Listening to Johnny Cash's version of 'I See A Darkness' makes me begin to appreciate the frailty and the fragility of the original. Johnny Cash may be the master of moral ambiguity, but the strength and timbre that he brings to songs means that he's unlikely to be overcome by forces beyond his control. Bonnie Prince Billy, however, seems to be wavering, weak, in need of salvation. The album 'I See A Darkness' is a flawed album, in need of a decent edit, but the title song is damn near perfection.

For about a month leading up to Christmas Tara had been playing this one cd on high rotation. It's only occasionally that something she's listening to on her computer sinks into my brain, and she needs to play it about a billion times before I take notice. But when my sister called up a fortnight ago, looking for a suitable present in Missing Link and totally lost, it was the first record to spring to mind. I listened to it all Christmas day, and am still listening to it today. My late nominee for record of the year, therefore, is the new I Heart Hiroshima. Cynics be damned. It's fucking brilliant. If they don't come down and play some shows with the Diamond Sea sometime soon I swear I will crack the sooks and throw a temper tantrum on the footpath outside Forepaw. Hold me to it now.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Charlie, I'm Pregnant....

The Five O'Clock Charlie episode of MASH is on tv right now. It's easily my favourite episode ever - positively sizzling with scorching lines, channeling the best in anti-authoritarian pacifism through Groucho Marx. Unlike some of the later episodes - in particular those directed by Alan Alda - it doesn't beat you round the head with self-righteousness, but rather lets the sheer ridiculousness of the situation deliver the message. Plus, Ginger, the token black nurse played by Odessa Williams, is in it, and she rules.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Boys, Boys, Boys.

This is from Riva, whose eloquence - and sentiments - put us all to shame.

"i've recently been left feeling more than a little empty by live music, and hardcore in particular.

a couple of weeks ago i went to see a hardcore band that had come from far away (the band was la quiete, but trust me, won't you, that isn't the point) and the short, most diplomatic and condensed report that i can give is that i felt a truckload of nothing through the entire night. i could see that a lot of people were really into the band/s but it just wasn't doing a thing for me. there were girlfriends with inches of make-up and blokes swinging from rafters and that stuff scratched at my emotional surface but couldn't reach the dermis. usually the kind of naffness that i witnessed would turn me into a grump. i watched the crowd throughout the 'headlining' band and there was but one woman in the midst of it. there were a couple of other women who looked like they were there for themselves on the periphery and a lot of 'girlfriends' well into the sidelines. as the band's set progressed, though, all of the women but that one got pushed further and further away, to make room for the men who were unleashing their... well, whatever it was that they were unleashing (and how empowering is it, really, to match the guys at what they're doing when what they're doing is being a pack of jerk-face jocks? honestly, that's a question). that and the general lack of positive women at the show and the way that a lot of the bands honestly all sounded the same to me and the complete void of emotion that the bands left me with would ordinarily upset me, most probably a great deal. but that night i just felt empty. i felt completely disconnected from what i was in the midst of and i felt an altogether lack of desire to be connected to it. it occurred to me that for all. intents and purposes, i may as well have been at a nightclub or a mormon mass, for all the affinity i felt i had with the majority of people in the room. i left the show and told myself that i would stop going to hardcore shows and i think that i will, for the most part."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Writing's On The Wall.

I know I'm going crazy with the YouTube clips lately, but I'm a man inspired. This is for those of you who didn't see it on Jessica Hopper's blog.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Straight Up, Now Tell Me...

Friday night's party at Georgia's was like gentrification in action: first came the punks and skaters; then in flowed the hipsters; when I left at around two normal people in santa hats were rolling up by the dozen. Apparently Georgia looked around at 4am and declared "I don't know any of these people!", echoing longtime residents of the Prahran flats almost perfectly.

But the party wasn't only an excellent study of sociopolitical geography. There were also some bands playing. And a fucking impressive lineup of bands it was. Drowned Out, Bill Shankley, The Diamond Sea, UV Race, and then, secretly, Eddy Current Suppression Ring.

Drowned Out were up first, and, let's face it, aren't really a party band. I mean, I was into it and all - their late-period June of 44 crossed with Shellac sound is really up my alley - but they didn't really bring the rock. I'm more excited to see them again this evening at Forepaw Gallery, which means that this entry will be a little rushed. Bill Shankley were up next, and Danny Dischord's band didn't fail to live up to his colloquial surname (or his Void tattoo, or the two Government Issue T-Shirts adorned by members of the band, for that matter). DC style hardcore, played straight and without pretension. Not bad, not bad at all, but still, the hoardes were massed outside around the clothesline, and Bill Shankley failed to bring them in. Even when Pepper attempted to singlehandedly start a circle pit.

I've written about The Diamond Sea before, and make no apologies about being a fan. After the way they played on Friday night, I'm in ever-increasing company. Seriously, they fucking blew everyone away. Word flew around outside that the band playing was slaying all comers, and the kids crowded into Georgia's living room to shake and nod and show their appreciation. They've written some new songs since their Brisbane sojourn, and these new songs, put simply, rock. Playing a little faster (and, seemingly, a lot harder), they rip through their set, melodies aplenty, Jacqui's voice fucking perfect, angst and sweetness combined. After they've finished I hear at least five people ask their friends if they had CDs. Missing Link may do a little more business this week as a result.

UV Race were up next, and they have all the right ingredients. I like Dan's drumming a lot, Al is actually an awesome guitarist, I don't know the bassplayer but he seems to hit the right notes at the right time, and Marcus as a frontman is an inspired choice. The kids seem to like them, but I was tired and grumpy by this point, so stayed back on the couch talking to McNabb, waiting for Eddy Current to play.

It was around this time that the hipsters showed up. With Eddy Current playing a house show it probably shouldn't have been a surprise - the Melbourne scene is small and incestuous, and word travels fast. Still, they weren't in strong enough numbers to morph into the Espy crowd that usually follows ECSR around. I've seen the band a number of times now, but tonight was the only time I've been impressed. Dancing around with Chad, attempting to avoid the moshpit and the crowd surfers, forming a wall around the mixing desk with McGuigan and Tristan. ECSR's straight up rock and roll is perfect for living room party throwdowns, and tonight nothing could fucking stop them. A housemate comes in and lets everyone know that the cops are outside. The music has to stop, or there will be a five hundred dollar fine. The band look at each other and say "We'll pay that," then launch into three more songs. Fucking amazing.

I go outside. McNabb is standing by the fence holding a food processor. "Next time the cops come by", she says, "I'm going to tell them that I'm just trying to make a cake." The normal people are wandering through the gate now, trying to look as though they know where they're going. I head inside, relieved to find my bag - containing my ipod, among other personal effects - where I left it, then split.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

54 - 46, That's My Number.

Kody and I argued about Bob Marley once. "He defined the genre!" Kody claimed, in Marley's defence. I scoffed at the time, but didn't really have anything smart to say. Rest assured I do now. Marley didn't so much define the genre as popularize it, which makes him to reggae what Blink 182 are to punk. If we're going to talk about true reggae pioneers we have to instead talk about Toots and the Maytals, who not only took the island sound to the world, but also named the genre with their song 'Do The Reggay'. Which kinda makes them to reggae what Minor Threat is to straightedge. Anyways, the point of all this is that now that it's hot, there's not really much better, as you walk from your airconditioned office to the airconditioned tram to your airconditioned apartment, than to select Toots on your ipod and feel the sun beating down on your forehead. Never upping the pace, always slightly jaunty, feeling both the sweat and the breeze cooling it. His voice kinda sounds like Bob Marley being strangled by James Brown, according to Nat Graf. Now that's a visual that's going to keep me cool this summer.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Hold On To What You Got.

I've commented far and wide on the phenomenon that is Bon Jovi's 'Living On A Prayer', but I'll do so again here, you know, for posterity. It first struck me back home in Stawell, dancing with Ali McCann to terrible, terrible top 40 drivel. When Living On a Prayer came on the whole dancefloor lit up, Ali and myself included, and screamed the words until our throats bled. A few weeks later a car full of fully sicks is driving down Brunswick Street, blasting the song as loud as their stereo would go. And I watched as everyone on the street, goths and hippies and fashionistas and hipsters, all turned their heads and smiled. But my theory was finally sealed last night, at daggy disco, in a room full of deliberately dorkily dressed crustpunks. The song came on and we threw our fists in the air, revolution style, and sung like we were abusing cops. So here I stand, correct again: There is no one in the world who doesn't like this song.