Festival Fever

•March 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So we’re approaching festival time again. Wahey! And have you seen the Reading and Leeds line-up?

Pulp! The Strokes! They’re both brilliant, they are! And they’re preceded by The National. You like them, don’t you?

And then there’s Frank Turner. He’s great, and so is Seasick Steve’s low-fi blues.

And look; The Vaccines! Granted, you don’t actually know who they are, but people keep banging on about them so they must be worth a look, right? Besides, Noah & the Whale are on after. They’d more than make up for it if they’re a bit rubbish.

Throw in Cage the Elephant, Madness and The Kills, and that’s a pretty consistent line-up. Granted, there’s the musical equivalent of an abortion-by-coathanger in the form of Muse, but to hell with it; let’s go!

 

Oh. Fuck that.

2011 Albums Week 1: Dirty Wrecked – Esteban

•January 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A relatively easy choice to kick off the year, given that it appears to be the only album to have been released this week. It seems the post-Christmas market doesn’t have much room for new entities.

Dirty Wrecked comprises of thirteen latin-infused, African beat-pounding pop tracks, overdubbed with a voice that occasionally sounds reminiscent of My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way and his monotonous rambling. It’s the kind of album that aims to be fun with no pretentious undertones, and there are moments where it succeeds. Album opener and title track Dirty Wrecked is diverting enough, and while the lyrics provide very little worth delving deep into, that’s sort of the point behind them. It’s designed for singing and dancing along to, rather than analytical scrutiny. But it ultimately falls down thanks to one glaring error; all thirteen sounds sound exactly the same. Take a jangly guitar, repeat the title of the song a ridiculous amount of times, and throw in a grating childrens’ choir on Just a Girl, and you’re pretty much left with this.

Did I despise it? No. Would I listen to it again? The repetitive nature of the material makes it seem that I already have half a dozen times, and there’s no compelling urge to go out and add it to my record collection. Truth is, I’m probably just not the target audience for this sort of thing.

3/5

Click here to hear it on Spotify.

2011. 52 Albums. One Potential Headache.

•January 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

If you know me at all, you’ll probably know by now that I’m a bit big on my music. Consider me a music snob.

However, with the passing of another year and it’s ensuing nostalgia, it became apparent to me that I only listened to five newly released albums in 2010. Which by anybody’s standards, is a bit rubbish.

So, in an effort to be a bit more ‘down with the kids’ (yes, that’s premature middle age a-knockin’), I hereby vow to listen to one album released each week throughout 2011. No prejudices. No arrogant preconceptions. Just 52 albums, a spotify account, and a huge potential for regret.

For this to work, I have set out the following ground rules;

1. I must listen to at least one album released in the UK from each week of 2011.

2. The album must be by an artist whose work I have not consciously heard before. New releases from bands of whom I am already a fan of will not qualify.

3. All albums will be listened to in their entirety, and in one sitting. Once the play button has been pressed, it must be left to run it’s course.

4. I shall endeavour to write a review of each week’s album, and post them on this blog. It can be as brief a commendation or as elaborate a rant as I wish, and will conclude with a rating out of five.

Week 1’s album is playing as I type. Wish me luck, and see you on the other side.

A Letter to ITV.

•October 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

To: ITV <info@itv.com>
Subject: The Only Way is Essex
Date: 17 October 2010 23:53:17 BST

——————————————————————————————–

Dear ITV,

I am writing to you with regards to your new docusoap, The Only Way is Essex.

Fuck you.

Yours,

 

Christopher Presswell

A Letter to Boris Johnson, RE: The Imminent Closure of The 100 Club **UPDATED**

•September 23, 2010 • 3 Comments

Dear Mr. Johnson,

I am writing to you with regards to the possibly imminent closure of the 100 Club on Oxford Street owing to repeated increases in rent, business rates and alcohol duty, which was announced in the Evening Standard on Wednesday 22nd September 2010.

It is frequently claimed by yourself and your colleagues that London boasts a rich cultural heritage, but it appears that the powers that be are unwilling to defend this heritage with actions when they are required. Last year, we lost both the London Astoria and the Metro club to Crossrail. These were two well-loved, internationally renowned and historic music venues, the loss of which has dented London’s vibrant music scene.

The 100 Club is nothing like the current influx of newer venues, which seek to make live music a luxury to those with a disposable income, rather than something that is accessible to all. It does not have a stylishly designed interior, there is no VIP area, and it is one of the few remaining live music outlets that have yet to cross the £4 barrier for a pint of beer. It is a venue for everyone, with a diverse range of acts performing there every night to match it.

While there is clearly a need for larger, more clinical venues such as the o2 Arena, it is the smaller ones such as this that provide a platform to developing talent from around the globe. Indeed, it is a major milestone on the ladder to further success. It is an event for a younger artist to grace its legendary stage in the footsteps of The Rolling Stones, The Who, Chuck Berry, The Jam, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The White Stripes and Oasis, amongst a multitude of other world famous stars – many of whom have returned to its stage long after becoming famous to pay tribute to this well loved venue.

Why should it be that within the current financial climate, which has taken its toll on even the larger corporate enterprises, it is deemed acceptable for the rent of the premises of a small independently run business to be hiked up by 45%? It is nothing short of a travesty that our remaining live music venues should need to be subsidised by an outside sponsor in order to survive, despite continuing to be popular and entertaining many thousands of Londoners and visitors from around the globe every year.

The venue itself is steeped in heritage; it is not simply a case of taking the brand and moving it elsewhere. Merely walking through its doors is akin to stepping back into the 1960s, and that feeling of history cannot and will not be relocated to a new venue. The now defunct Marquee Club serves a testament to this.

Therefore I urge you to intervene with the matter, and help this truly magnificent city to keep what is now the oldest, and possibly the finest functioning music venue in the world. To lose it would be a massive blow not only to London’s culture, but that of the United Kingdom and indeed music as a whole.

Yours sincerely,

Christopher Presswell

——————————

If you’d like to support the campaign to save this historic venue, you can undersign this letter and send a copy to the Mayor of London yourself by e-mailing  mayor@london.gov.uk.

You might also wish to tailor and send a copy to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Olympics and Sport at enquiries@culture.gsi.gov.uk, or Mark Field, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster at fieldm@parliament.uk.

Any response I receive from the above will of course be posted on the blog. In the mean time, a Facebook group for the cause has been established here.
——————————
UPDATE #1

I’ve received a reply from the Department of Culture, Media, Olympics and Sport, which you reads as follows:

Dear Mr Presswell

Thank you for your recent email to the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, about the possible closure of the 100 Club. I have been asked to reply on his behalf.

The Government does of course appreciate the cultural significance of the venue, and its role in the history of popular music. However, you will appreciate that the rent is a commercial matter between the club and its landlords, and is not something in which the Government can intervene. We note that the Club is exploring the possibility of attracting sponsorship or third party funding.

With best wishes

——————————
In summary, ‘it’s not our problem.’ This is the department set up to preserve and develop British culture. How apt.

Commercial Breakdown.

•September 2, 2010 • 2 Comments

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a wave of evil is currently plaguing our cinemas. And I’m not referring to Marmaduke.

I first encountered it a few weeks back, upon seeing Inception for a second time. To my chagrin, we crossed paths once more ahead of Piranha 3D. Somewhere amidst the 30 minutes of adverising prior to both films, this monstrosity was given an airing.

It begins at a Spanish port, where two local girls deposit our travelling protagonist, whom we shall refer to as Rupert. He resembles a Rupert, in that it’s hard to look at his face without wanting to punch it.

Rupert walks up the ramp to a boat, before turning around and taking in one last view of Formentera, a place he as grown to love, and a swig of beer. But this tiny swig causes him to relive his entire trip, quickly descending into a portrait of a gap year student. And guess what? You’re going to relive it with him, and see EVERY. FUCKING. SECOND.

Over the course of four minutes that never seem to end, the viewer learns all about his holiday, the friends he’s made and the experiences they’ve shared. As with most advertising, it’s supposed to be aspirational. As the consumer, you are supposed to want to be the irritating little twunt. It’s hard enough watching it on a computer screen without self harming. But the sheer hideousness of it all is compounded by the fact that, in the cinema, you can’t turn the bloody thing off.

Unfortunately, my unrelenting anger towards this particular commercial only affirms that it has achieved it’s objective. The primary function of an advert by definition is to provoke an emotional response in the consumer, but in this case it’s one where you look at the screen and can’t help but want to end it all.

And then, there’s that ending. Having made it through almost five minutes of misery, there’s a brief moment of panic as it fires up again in what appears to be some sort of cruel time loop. It’s like a misjudged episode of Doctor Who, only the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff has been replaced by a prat in a sombrero.

The truth is that, yes, life would be wonderful if it was all like this. But have you ever had a holiday remotely like the one portrayed in this advert?

No. No, you haven’t. And anyone who tells you they have is lying. This makes Estrella Damm guilty of the most heinous of advertising crimes; attempting to make you aspire to something that doesn’t exist.

It’s message, in a nutshell, is this: Do you want to be the irritating OxBridge sod amongst your social circle, who only ever talks about what he did on his sodding gap year, funded by his rich parents? Then drink Estrella Damm. You’ll be in good company.

But the chances are that you’re probably more interesting than that. You might even be doing something meaningful with your alloted time on this planet. So no, your life might not be one long party. You might not share a hammock with a gorgeous girl, or have adventures on the Spanish plains.

But hey, at least you don’t drink their shit beer.

An Open Letter to Channel 4, re: Scouting for Girls.

•August 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Dear Channel 4,

I would like to register a complaint regarding your V Festival coverage on Saturday, August 21st 2010.

Around midnight, it was deemed appropriate to show Scouting for Girls performing an acoustic rendition of Pulp’s Common People. Now, it cannot be said that there was no warning of an impending acoustic atrocity from this band, who have scientifically been proven to be the single greatest abomination in the history of music (and indeed all culture). But your failure to warn viewers that they would be tackling a song by indie legends Pulp was inappropriate at best. As such, not only was I faced with the aneurism-inducing blandness of Roy Stride’s pop combo, but I also found myself being rendered physically sick as they performed their truly hideous take on what is considered a very fine, perhaps even classic song.

I also wish to register my dismay that one of your presenters referred to the aforementioned band as having “a raw, unbridled power.” It was this kind of inappropriate comment that dented their otherwise sterling presentation duties. In fact, the entire broadcast would have been greatly improved with more of Steve Jones and Alexa Chung’s relentlessly hilarious banter throughout, as opposed to more of that silly music nonsense.

I trust that this feedback will be taken on board, and that appropriate measures will be put in place to avoid future lapses in judgement.

Yours truly,

Christopher Presswell

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.