According to some guy on the internet I am “a giant cocksucking douche” because I didn’t adore the latest Underworld album. As you’ll see if you click the link somewhere on the right of this page to my Stylus review of Oblivion With Bells, I did actually quite like it, however. “BrotherLovesDub” also accuses me of stealing a line about Karl Hyde sounding “like Mike Skinner’s dad” from the very forum he calls me a “giant cocksucking douche” on. Seeing as a; people other than myself raised the similarity, and b; I’d never come across this particular forum until I googled myself yesterday afternoon while looking for responses to the Da Capo 2007 Best Music Writing thingy, I can only conclude that, maybe, just maybe, Hyde does sound like Mike Skinner’s dad on that track. A quick perusal of Metacritic suggests that a lot of people think Oblivion With Bells is just “OK”.
(Another thing he moans about is that I reviewed the record and not the Underworld live experience; perhaps this is because it was a record review?)
(Even more amusingly, on the next page someone posts the following; “Do you know who Nick Southall is? I'm not his biggest fan, but trust me, he is not "one of those guys who think Tiesto is the coooooolest". Knock him for whatever, but dude has cred, and for better or worse, 'was there'.”, which is odd but kind of sweet.)
(I could go on forever, but parsing and responding to all one’s criticisms from online forums is insane.)
(All one tries to do in a record review, generally, is be honest and fair.)
But anyway, lots of issues. I’ll scribble them down quickly so I don’t forget, and so you know where I’m going.
• BrotherLovesDub also asks if I have “any plans for a real job?”
• Wtf is googling yourself about, anyway?
• Best Music Writing 2007
• Actually listening to music now that I have ‘retired’ (have I retired?)
• Drowned In Sound
I have a ‘real job’ and have done so for many years; it’s OK, and it helps to pay our mortgage. Writing about music, although sometimes paid, is something I do because I love music; as a result, anonymous internet hardmen calling me a douche and accusing me of either not liking music or needing a ‘real’ job piss me off. Were I not such a philosophical and reflective dude, I might swear and stuff. I’ve never really wanted a ‘career’ in music journalism anyway; bar Drowned In Sound, everyone I’ve ever written for has approached me first, which suggests I’m hardly proactive in throwing myself out there professionally. Writing about music ‘for fun’ gets me close enough to hating music and the music industry without actually having to claw a wage from it too.
Speaking of Drowned In Sound, I don’t know if that’s going to be an ongoing thing or just a one-off. Basically Eric Axelson emailed me about the new album (on the day we moved into our new house) and I promised I’d review it, but ran out of time to cover it for Stylus. So I emailed Mike Diver and asked if I could review it for them, and he said yes. Maybe, if something piques my interest, I’ll cover something else for them.
I’ve had lots of emails from various people seeing if I want to write for them actually, from established places and being-established places, both in print and online. The simple answer is that I don’t know who or what or when I’ll write again; I had so many ideas backed-up that when we knew Stylus was closing I tried to purge myself, and now I’m empty. For a while. I don’t really know what new records have come out in the last month. I don’t actually read any music journalism, really.
Saying that, I have been buying The Guardian in order to get their 1000 Records You Must Hear Before You Die supplements (normally I just check it out online, but this I wanted a copy of to peruse at my leisure while on the sofa – which I could do via the laptop, but… Kindle, yay or nay?). Despite my output of Top Tens for Stylus I’m a self-confessed list-hater, but… I used to love shit like this, you know? I guess when I hadn’t really heard of anything on any given canonical or non-canonical list, everything was a potential epiphany waiting to happen. I don’t own many of the 600 albums I’ve browsed through of the list so far, and I disagree with several of the choices, but I’ve heard of practically everything there in one capacity or another, and as such the list seems almost redundant to me.
Saying that, I haven’t properly sat down with it yet and read many entries; Andrew Purcell, former BBC6Music bod, emailed me a few weeks ago to say he was googling around looking for pieces on Michael Head’s The Magical World Of The Strands while preparing to cover it in fifty words for this very feature, and found my old piece about it for Stylus. I reread it after his email, and it’s a piece I’m definitely proud of.
Saying that, I haven’t actually listened to all that much music in the last few weeks. Moving house, getting a kitten, busy at work, Stylus’ demise… I thought I’d luxuriate in things for the sheer hell of it once I’d ‘retired’, but actually… Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Brat Camp took up last night. I’m looking forward to Boy A on Monday night. I’ve not watched so much television since I was 18. Hopefully I might buy a chair soon, specifically for sitting in and listening to music, and that will drag me back. Also, general end-of-year malaise always hits me around now.
Googling yourself is an odd activity. I do it every few weeks / coupe of months on average, and usually turn up a few new references on people’s blogs or on forums to things I’ve written. Often in Spanish or Swedish, seemingly. Yesterday I was interested in reaction to the Best Music Writing collection, which I have a piece in this year. I feel very odd about this; I’ve told a few people but haven’t really talked about it. I’m very proud of Imperfect Sound Forever being included, and hope its inclusion can spread its influence further, but I’m more proud of the influence I know its had already. Still, it’ll be nice to having something printed on paper in a book that my mum can read.
I didn’t find much reaction, by the way. Apart from a book review which described me as “curmudgeonly”. Hmph.
See the recent reviews and articles links on the right? There’s a new one, published at an online music magazine that isn’t Stylus. See that picture above? My friend Ed made me a Stylus widget ages ago, that sucked in daily updates from the RSS feed. It’s been blank for weeks now. See the list of links on the right? There’s a new blog linked at the bottom, full of photos of my kitten.
We have decided that the upcoming gigs will be our last for the foreseeable future. After ten years of much fun and hard work, we have realised that we all need a break and time to do other things. This was a tough decision for us to make, but ultimately a positive one.
A big thank you to everyone who has come to our shows, put on our shows, and bought our records over the years. It means a lot to us. We're really grateful to have had the opportunity to play gigs all over the world and to meet so many lovely people. This last year has been especially enjoyable and we feel happy about moving on with all these good memories to look back on. At the moment we haven't made any band plans for the future but we're going to have a break and see what happens.
Well that fucking sucks.
I feel kind of short-changed by this actually, even though I only ‘discovered’ Electrelane about a year ago during my anti-compression quest when I came across reference to their two Albini-recorded albums (The Power Out and Axes) having immaculate sound quality. They do.
The reason I feel short-changed is that I didn’t get to see them live, which in itself isn’t that much of a pisser because there are lots of bands I like that I’ve never seen live, only I was guestlisted to see Electrelane play the Thekla (an excellent and unusual venue; a boat moored on Bristol waterfront that normally functions as a nightclub) earlier this year, with the possibility of briefly interviewing them for Stylus. Only then they cancelled the gig for reasons I am unaware of. I assumed they’d play Bristol again later in the year, but no; a support slot with Arcade Fire commandeered their touring quota for the remainder of 2007, and now no more.
There is at least the fact that the band refer to this as an “indefinite hiatus” rather than a split, and there’s no pernicious ‘musical differences’ or the like behind it; rather like Todd’s decision to close Stylus, it just seems to be the right time to try something else for a while.
Nevertheless it’s always a disappointment when people who have made fantastic music together decide to stop making that music; I am still utterly besotted with their current record, and hold massive affection for all their others too.
2007 has been a funny year for music; in terms of wonderful records released I feel like it’s been the best of the last five years, the five years I have been most involved with and aware of what was going on in music. In terms of the business of music, the culture of consumption, the endings and pauses and disappointments, Electrelane’s cessation is another hammer blow to my heart.