Posts Tagged ‘Rock’

Every Time I See “Heavy Plant Crossing” I Think of Ents

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

So I saw that trailer for the new Narnia film. It looks okay, pretty much like any one of the other 5,700,391 fantasy epics that have been made since Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings movies were such a massive success. But something occurred to me between all those shots of griffins and pounding war drums. Why the fuck hasn’t anyone made a fantasy movie with Led Zeppelin on the soundtrack? That trailer would have been immeasurably superior if it had an ear shatteringly loud version of Kashmir instead of the cod John Williams shenanigans that these things invariably rattle to the sound of.

My theory is everyone likes rock, even if they say they don’t, and by extension everyone likes Led Zep. Pretty much every band ever (with the possible exception of Belle and Sebastian) has done a version of Kashmir. It’s so monolithically awesome that not even Puff Daddy/P. Diddy could fuck it up. Rage Against The Machine’s Wake Up (the defacto Nu Metal Kashmir) even made The Matrix seem good. Come on, this stuff’s not rocket science!

Of course Peter Jackson missed a trick with those Hobbit movies. He could’ve gone with the triple whammy of Battle of Evermore, Misty Mountain Hop and Ramble On. He could have even cheated a bit and used The Immigrant Song (for scenes of extreme goblin violence) and No Quarter (for creepy ghost shit ie. the bit with The Dead Men of Dunharrow). Apparently Jackson is making an adaptation of The Hobbit (along with The Hobbit 2: Tokyo Drift or something), so hopefully this situation can be rectified.

Anyway, screw Prince Caspian. The only thing I remember in that book was a good bit with a werewolf. I want to see The Voyage of The Dawn Treader. Suggested soundtrack A Salty Dog by Procol Harum.

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Bloody Mary!

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

I haven’t written many blog posts recently. Blame the credit crunch. With Halloween on the horizon, (not to mention Charlie Brooker’s imminent Big Brother Zombiefest Dead Setwhy not check out our own entry into the world of fear, suspense and brain eating, Flying Monkey Comics’ Musical Halloween Spectacular…

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Old School

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

About a year ago issue ten of Hope For The Future was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. The unsuspecting world didn’t really notice, however, as the only move I made to promote that particular consumer item was to send it to SFX magazine. Fanzine of the Month may be a hotly sought accolade but it certainly doesn’t translate into sales.

So in the interest of Halloween, the credit crunch, and shameless self promotion I have created another animated trailer, featuring scenes from the comic (I use the term “animated” advisedly. Think Captain Pugwash rather than Wall-E). Special mention must be given to the spectacular music composed and created by Rum & Coke. I asked for spooky, rock and big ending, in that order, and that’s what I got (incidentally, the final piece puts me in mind of Ash’s tangentelly Episode Two related angst metal thrashathon?Clones. But I’ve been thinking a lot about clones in general).

The comic can be purchased from our store, or from our American printer Indyplanet.

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Out Damn Spotify!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Spotify is a rather wonderful online tool with which you can listen to an ungodly amount of music, FREE*. You are all no doubt aware of its existence, and I have no illusions that I am anything other than a late adopter. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but if we had put our comics online back in 1998 we would now be hailed as some kind of trailblazers, rather than the blip on the webcomics radar that we currently are.

spotify.com

The problem with being obscure is that there is little to no chance of there ever being a Hope for the Future TV series (I always saw it as being on BBC2 at 9pm on a Thursday evening, with a cast of largely unknown but staggeringly charismatic and attractive actors. Sad isn’t it?). By extension, that means that there won’t be a soundtrack album. 

However, with Spotify we can sort of pretend there that is. I have created The Hope for the Future soundtrack, made up of songs that relate to the various episodes, and a lot of songs that inspired the comic in the first place. And some stuff I think is cool.**

Of course, a lot of stuff I like, particularly the late 60s/early 70s creepy, creaky acid folk rock is absent. A bit esoteric, no doubt, although with Vashti Bunyan being used to sell mobile phones I have no doubt that in a couple of years the largely forgotten likes of Comus, Mellow Candle and the Water Into Wine Band will be chewed up by the corporate machine.

In addition, and with a view to fostering a sense of community, there is also a collaborative playlist, for readers of HFTF to suggest suitable music, recommend bands and show off what cool music taste they have. Here’s some nice songs to start you off. No rules, just go crazy (although if you add entire albums people will think you are stupid). In a recent survey it was found that HFTF readers are amongst the most intelligent, discerning and goddamn sexiest people on the internet, so this is your chance to prove it.

 

* It’s a bit jarring to have an ad for Take That popping up between Gentle Giant’s Mister Class and Quality and Three Friends, but what are you going to do? Listen to Roberta and pay a tenner a month? I think not!

** Hopefully it’s at the very least original. I never really understand why people put together soundtracks of songs that everyone already knows. I’m not saying they should be wilfully obscure, but what’s the point of using  Misirlou if everyone already associates it with Pulp Fiction? There should be a few surprises in there.

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The Hazards of Love

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Revenge

It’s not very often I hear any new music that really excites me, partly because I don’t go out of my way to find it, and partly because there’s just too much of it. But I was recently introduced to The DecemberistsThe Hazards of Love album, and it completely knocked my socks off. I’ve long been a fan of creepy, creaky acid folk (since I heard the Lammas Night Laments CD series), and was certainly not expecting to hear anything new in that admittedly narrow genre. Well, not since The Eighteenth Day of May knocked it on the head, anyway.

The Hazards of Love has been compared to the music of hoary old long in the tooth prog folk rockers Jethro Tull, and I can hear that, but only in a couple of lurching moments of guitar and organ interplay. The thing is, a folk rock concept album (!) about a fair maiden, her shapeshifting lover (!!), infanticide(!!!) and a fairy queen (!!!!) is exactly the sort of thing people think the Tull got up to. However, they never did, and even in their explicit folk rock period of the late 70s, their songs were shot through with a sardonic air that never really took traditional music at face value.

Having said that, The Decemberists’ album is a fantastic piece of work, variously subtle, thrilling, and melancholic. Taking a look at their website I noticed that they have a “Fan Art” section, (which is a rather charming idea – I bet Buckcherry haven’t got one. Come to think of it, that’s probably a good thing). So I was sufficiently inspired to illustrate (this may be considered a spoiler) the spookiest bit of the record.  A fanboy I may be, but if there’s an opportunity to draw some dead children, I say go for it.

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When Gillan joined Sabbath

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

I grew up in a time when references to popular culture on TV were rare. You might get a very broad Frank Spencer impersonation, but even that would have no specifics or attention to detail. Even in the nineties, the teenagers on Neighbours and Home & Away would refer to “that band” and “that CD”, seemingly terrified to name actual artists, which was weird because Frente! would pop up every other week (“Music supplied by Mushroom Records”).

Round about the same time The Mary Whitehouse Experience were self consciously spoofing Suede and Reservoir Dogs, which seemed fairly exciting at the time, if only because the squares didn’t get it. After The Mary Whitehouse Experience came Lee & Herring’s Fist of Fun, which eventually morphed into This Morning With Richard Not Judy. This featured a character called The Curious Orange, who was named after The Fall’s I Am Kurious Oranj. Now that’s an obscure reference.

It gave me untold joy to hear Stewart Lee, on his Comedy Vehicle show, compare DFS’ merger with Allied Carpets to the time “when Gillan joined Sabbath”, with not a word of explanation. I would wager that even most metal fans, let alone the majority of the mainstream TV audience, don’t remember that particular misbegotten branch of the Black Sabbath and Deep Purple family tree.

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Hot Leg and the pursuit of fun

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Why do we listen to music? Sometimes it’s a way of associating ourselves with something cool or exclusive. Alternatively it can be purely for the pleasure of it. Often i suspect it falls somewhere in between. When a certain type of music is makes us happy, but posesses no inherent cool factor or arbitrary stamp of approval from the media and tastemakers, we are tempted to brand it  a “guilty pleasure”. But should there really be any guilt involved in something as simple as enjoying a piece of music?

Hot Leg’s Red Light Fever could never be accused of being hip. Shamelessly unreconstructed 80s hair metal with cheesy synths and twiddly guitar solos was never going to make them a critics’ favourite, and the too cool for school brigade left their affected and ironic love of rock behind a long time ago (although the ironic rock t shirt still lingers like a bad case of crabs  – case in point Agyness Deyn pictured in this week’s Heat wearing a Jethro Tull tour t shirt. Do you think she prefers Songs From The Wood or Heavy Horses?).

 

Great music. Great.

 

However, there are plenty of people who loved The Darkness for what they were, a great rock band that made brilliant pop records, to be out in force to appreciate Hot Leg’s particular brand of “Man Rock”. We went to see them at the Academy in my old stomping ground Sheffield (although I didn’t get to do a lot of stomping when I lived there – during The Indie Wars, y’see). Interestingly enough, because of The Academy’s policy of booking two bands to play on the same night (albeit in separate rooms) we nearly went to see T-Pain by accident. I don’t know him personally, but I think Mr Pain needs to turn the bass down when he performs live, because from what I heard between the songs in Hot Leg’s set, he’s going to suffer from terrible tinnitus in later life.

So anyway. If you find the idea of calling a song Cocktails, solely to allow you to repeat the first syllable over and over again amusing, then you’re likely to love a bit of The Leg. Similarly, the titles Trojan Guitar, Gay in the 80s and I’ve Met Jesus should let you in on the fact that Justin Hawkins isn’t one to take himself particularly seriously. Having said that I can’t think of many songwriters that have emerged in the last few years that have anything like his talent for melodic, hook laden tunes. Even the B Sides are fantastic

Chances are you’re not as cool as you’d like to be, and listening to MGMT sure as hell isn’t going to change that. So leave posing to the poseurs and check out Hot Leg. Your ears will love you for it.

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Uncool Britannia

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

I have recently been playing Guitar Hero a lot. No, stick with me, I’m going somewhere with this. The game, if you are unaware, involves tapping buttons on a toy guitar, in time with renditions of popular rock tracks. That makes it sound boring, pointless and, frankly, ludicrous, but it’s actually great fun and after a while you really feel like you are, uh, rocking out, no matter how stupid you look.

Listen to that video crowd!

The fact that the Guitar Hero franchise is on it’s fourth release is proof of it’s success. Everybody loves it, even musicians (the original game featured mostly copycat cover versions of its songs, the recent iterations feature mostly original recordings). However, I suspect that if the same game had been released fifteen years ago (not impossible, as it is based on an extremely simple gameplay system) it would not have been half as successful, at least not in this country. This is because, at that time, Britain was in the vice like grip of a cancer, a vile, fetid abomination known as Britpop. And it was not OK to rock under Britpop.

I’m being overly dramatic of course (it’s fun, you should try it). Obviously there is good music as well as bad in every era, and genre. But Britpop brought with it, or at least walked hand in hand with a deeply unpleasant attitude. The movement grew out of indie (as useless a description of a musical genre as “prog”, but you all know what I mean), which was characterised by introspection, a modicum of pretentiousness, and generally low expectations, particularly with regards to commercial success. But indie bands started to sell records in great numbers and became the musical mainstream, and there was an attendant arrogance, and this coincided with the rise of “lad culture”, typified by Chris Evans’ TFI Friday and Loaded magazine. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but the problem with ironic sexism, ironic racism, and ironic loutishness is that they are virtually indistinguishable from actual sexism, actual racism and actual loutishness.

The beginnings of the movement were clearly an attempt to reject the overwhelming cultural stranglehold that “Grunge” had in the early nineties. Hosting a one off TV special featuring British bands at the time, Blur’s Damon Albarn bemoaned the band’s lack of success in their earlier years: “Unless you were Nirvana, or a diet Nirvana, you were nothing”. Presumably, now it was de rigeur to be a bargain Beatles, a cut-price Kinks or a second rate Small Faces. 

I remember a particularly stupid NME review of sarcastic US rockers Ugly Kid Joe’s album Motel California (what wags eh?) in which the writer pronounced that it was useless because “we don’t even have motels in Britain”. Of course, it is only natural that after the hegemony of American music was over, British musicians, writers and commentators would be slightly full of themselves but it annoyed me no end (at the time I remember being late for a night out because I was at home watching Alice in Chains Unplugged on MTV. My indie kid pals were not amused).

The Bluetones: they look like any old mimsy shimsy indie wasters, but they wrote some brilliant tunes

The era’s most memorable, and idiotic moment, was the (largely media created) competition between Oasis’ Roll With It and Blur’s Country House. It didn’t really help that these were both fairly awful, self parodic records (although, it could’ve been worse, it could’ve been Stereotypes), and the “conflict” escalated from being merely about record sales and (supposedly) divided the nation into North versus South, Working Class versus Middle Class, Stupid versus Clever. Blur won the battle, but Oasis won the war by selling more albums. Blur had the last laugh by retreating and changing their sound (ironically, to more resemble the American alt rock that they had earlier affected to despise), while Noel Gallagher bought himself a very big house in the country (true).

For an entertaining overview of the period, check out John Harris’ The Last Party: Britpop, Blair and the Demise of English Rock. Although I can summarise it here: Suede and Blur hated eachother, Elastica took loads of heroin, and Pulp wrote all the best songs. Less comprehensive, but just as enjoyable is Alex James’ autobiography Bit of a Blur, which is full of floppy fringed charm (sample line: “Famous people are just the same as normal people, except a bit more famous”) -and he even remembers to mention Me Me Me.

However, Britpop eventually faded away (I blame Northern Uproar and Cast), and we were faced with the atrocities of Nu Metal. Now, Limp Bizkit are all very well if you’re drunk and Rollin’ is playing at ribcage shattering volume in your local dirty rock club, but it’s hardly music for the ages is it? I think the idea was to ransack the work of Rage Against the Machine and that Judgement Night album, which is as good a goal as any I suppose, but the trouble is you got stuff like Crazy Town (Chili Peppers aping oafs), Linkin Park (anime obsessed whiny rap metallers with “I hate you mum & dad” songs) and Papa Roach (someone shouting over the top of old Iron Maiden riffs).

Fuckin' kick it with a tasty groove!

However, at this point every successful band was keen to point out how brilliant and what a big influence Black Sabbath were. Sabbath were The Beatles of the late nineties. Weirdly enough, up until that point, throughout a thirty odd year career, Sabbath had always been severely underrated. To all intents and purposes, they invented metal, and I suppose critics never forgave them. Now they were being praised left right and centre, and covered by everyone from Elbow to Mercury Rev, and sort of went from being underrated to overrated. And rock gradually became acceptable for mainstream audiences once again. I think The Darkness and Tenacious D are also partly responsible – although ostensibly parodic, both were deeply rooted in a love of classic rock. We even now have bands like The Answer and Wolfmother who appear to be completely without irony. Of course, for a lot of people this meant just wearing ironic rock t-shirts, but rock, proper rock, seemed to be a lot more popular. And continues to be, if all the hoo ha about Zeppelin’s recent reunion is anything to go by.

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Young Man Blues

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

I have come to the realisation that all of my favourite music is immature. Prog, metal, glam and folk all have an inexorable appeal to dopey fourteen year old boys.

Prog is all explosive time signature changes and wonky surrealism, songs about cyborg armadillos and severed heads on croquet lawns. Metal is men with long hair and spiky guitars shrieking angrily about the devil, war, and psychopaths (or preferably all three). Glam rock falls broadly into blokes in make up being all weird and arty, blokes in makeup being intentionally daft (both of which are British bands in the 70s), and blokes in makeup singing about shagging strippers while riding Harleys up Sunset Boulevard (American bands in the 80s). Folk music aficionados will object that it’s a genre characterised by a will to continue an important cultural tradition, and its lack of pretension and image, therefore being sufficiently “grown up”, but  I only listen to folk music because 85% of it is songs about witches.

Even indieish types, hailed as brilliant songwriters, like Jarvis Cocker and Ben Folds have written a lot of songs about not growing up and feeling awkward in the face of responsibility.

We live in a world where it’s perfectly acceptable for a grown man to buy himself toys (uh… collectables) and video games (er… they’re a rapidly developing media), and that’s fine by me (although I don’t really think my Dad would understand or approve), and gigs and music festivals the world over are crammed with people in their 30s and 40s who are desperate to prove they are still “down” with Little Boots and Black Kids (delete/replace with more current talking point as applicable).*

So what is “mature” music? Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan? I could never get into either of them. I actually think the most mature music I listen to is Marillion. Now say that name to most people and they’ll just look at you blankly or assume you are trying to say “Marilyn Manson” with a cleft palate). But those that remember them will no doubt sneer, scoff and guffaw, pointing out that they are the most emotionally retarded of bands, with their album covers featuring sad jesters, clunkier version of the standard prog rock widdly widdly instrumental style,  ridiculously verbose lyrics and murky concepts (1982’s Grendel was an 18 minute epic that would at least have found favour with Otto the bus driver, as it was from the monster’s point of view).

However, there’s the rub. Most people haven’t heard (or heard of) the If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill hitmakers since the 80s. Their more recent stuff rejects the histrionic and is sombre, melodic and heart on sleeve emotional. To me it sounds, I dunno, mature.

* I originally wrote Bat For Lashes, but I have checked wikipedia and deemed her not contemporary enough. Not only was she born in the 70s, but her first record was released in 2006! I might as well namecheck Status Quo!

Bat For Lashes and Black Kids
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6 Degrees of Francis Bacon Day 4: Otto

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Congratulations to a young man called Jason Cobley for suggesting Otto from The Simpsons, here joined by the Jethro Tull loving swot Martin Prince.

Otto

Otto is of course the heavy metal loving, license eschewing, school bus driving burnout for Springfield Elementary. He likes books that are from the vampire’s point of view, “double guitars” and exclaiming “Zeppelin Rules!” when apparently facing impending death. Otto is voiced by Harry Shearer, is the son of an Admiral, and once hired Cyanide (a loving tribute to Poison!) to play at his wedding. Plenty of possibilities for connections there then…

What next?  Make your suggestions, along with your connection, for future pictures in the blog comments, on my Twitter feed, or at the Facebook Group.

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