Archives for posts with tag: music

 

Its impossible to understate the effect that David Bowie had on the world. Its impossible to understate the legacy that he leaves and the pathway he cut for the modern world.

Being one of the most important cultural influences of the modern world, the Picasso of pop, a constant engine of reinvention and not so much a reflection of the zeitgeist but the active ingredient in it, there will be hundreds of articles and eulogies written by people closer to and more educated on the man himself. So I will talk mostly about the relationship I have with him, a man born 43 years before me who I never met or even saw in the flesh.

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For my Seventh birthday I wanted a CD player, which was interesting as I had very little interest in music. I think I wanted to be my father, who had an insane amount of albums and a large black stereo system that stood monolithic in the corner of the living room, out of bounds, untouchable unless it was one of the odd occasions that under strict supervision its magic could be shared. My Father’s musical obsession was overwhelming, and living in a household where both your parents have an astounding passion for music, (my Mother laying somewhere between flower child of the sixties and eighties eye liner stained New Romantic has always had a firmer grip on modern music, whilst my father liked the more obscure sounds) meant that it was common place, and therefore I was spoiled and didn’t appreciate it. I had no passion for music.

That was until I bought the 1997 Children in Need charity single “Perfect Day”, a suitably embarrassing first single, but featuring contributions from Lou Reed, Courtney Pine, and Suzanne Vega it was a great tasting platter for future interests. But the man who stood out the most, was David Bowie. With only two lines, the way he sounded was enough to get me hooked, an instant grab that I would never experience again until I fell in love with Ian Curtis in my teens. His voice was powerful, alien, charming and alluring. My mother fed my addiction and bought me two Best of collections (David Bowie best of 1969 to 1974, and Best of 1980 to 1987) albums from the musical mail order company Britannia music. These, and a CD of Cajun music given to me by my Grandfather, were the only three CD’s on my CD tower left over from the redecoration of the living room.

It was from the age if Seven years old that David Bowie started telling me things. Through music, and later style and culture, Bowie has had messages and statements that I’ve taken to heart. Experimentation and reinvention are two concepts that Bowie has always played with, and things I aim to copy. In his music he was constantly juggling with pop and outsider art. Space Oddity is a perfect pop song and a bleak song about the futility of Space exploration, Starman is a catchy tune and a song about extraterrestrial space gods, and Ashes To Ashes was a new wave song embracing the full force of the technology of the time. One of my favorite albums has arguably the best intro in the form of Station to Station from… well Station to Station that with its radio signal static and steam train drone feeds directly into the post rock music of Godspeed you Black Emperor. Stylus magazine once stated that ‘Had the album [Low] been released twenty years later, this would have been called “post-rock.”‘

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David Bowie was the outsider king; bringing the weird into the forefront of the public eye. In the early seventies, a world still steeped in stoicism and post war male posturing Bowie was unafraid to step on stage at 25 years old, dressed as an alien deposited on Earth to play music. He sang of Armageddon and Hallucination, anti-capitalism and anti-establishment, and he was on television, and in magazines. A contradiction of terms, and to me, looking back on this man an inspiration.

He experimented with the roles of Gender and sexuality, appearing on album covers in a dress, gender swapping clothing with his wife out and about in London, putting his arm around his guitarist dressed androgynously on Top Of The Pops. His close relationships with Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger were the cause of much rumor and in my teenage years he was a real support for me and my blossoming Bisexuality. His style in clothing and album art is next to none, even down to the 2000 Glastonbury appearanceĀ  where he proved that even as a man standing looking back on a career of characters and roles he was still master of them all.

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The most important message David Bowie ever gave me was “You are not alone”. The last song from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Rock and Roll, builds from quiet introspective introduction to bold crescendo ends with Bowie’s voice singing bass to his high pitched vocals, and he sings:

Let’s turn on and be not alone (wonderful)
Gimme your hands cause you’re wonderful (wonderful)

And in that moment he is giving the most important advice, the single most striking message, that you can be weird. You can be emotional and expressive, you can be gay and flamboyant, you can be who you want to be, and you’re not alone, because we can all be who we want to be, who ever that is, and that person is wonderful.

Hello,

I always feel weird writing the first words of a blog post. I always want to say something like “Hey Gang” or “Hello Chaps”, but its the most contrived thing to do. I don’t like it when I read it, why should I start my blog posts with it?

Anyway Images:

hamster

That’s my sisters Hamster, possibly the most tame thing on Earth.

So what have I been doing recently? Well, I’ve been doing writings with Robin Jones of Average Joe fame on Project Truncheon, which I think has had its full name released with a logo, but for me, for now, its still code name: PROJECT TRUNCHEON until I stick it up here. I like working with code names. I am also working on writing a graphic novel with the forementioned Mr Jones about the North of England and myths, legends and monsters. My input so far seems to be writing crazy essays on history and ancient religion and then doing nothing with them. I’d better send them over to him soon. When I’m done I’ll have so many pages of mad waffle, might put them together into an ebook or something. Mad Nick’s History of things.

My English teacher in college ended an essay he wrote to demonstrate HOW to write an academic essay with a Bob Dylan quote. In my first essay in University I included a picture of Robbie the Robot.

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I like to do a warm up of something other than what I’m working on before committing to the real work because it gets my hands and eyes moving properly. The most literal sense of a warm up. I also like to do Life Drawing classes every so often in order to loosen up my figure work. Stop people from just being a series of boxes when I draw them. Oh yeah, back to Rob for a second, Average Joe is being promoted at Nottingham Comic Con, and they’ve got free stuff and a competition, so if you are there keep your eyes open for them.

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And the endlessly Talented nicest guy in comics that is Nich Angell is starting a new kickstarter campaign to get 7String into peoples hands. Its the second volume and the first blew everyones minds, so you know, when that happens give him all of your money.

Heres a picture of him after leaving the rest of the boy band and on the verge of releasing his solo hip-hop album.

Look at him, couldn’t you just eat him up with a spoon?

Yeah, well done me for cementing my weirdo reputation just a little bit more. I do not want to be known as the creepiest bloke in UK comics. FORBIDDEN PLANET INTERNATIONAL have written a thing anyway about the next Volume of this amazing series.

One day I will do a blog post where I don’t mention how much I love Nich Angell’s comics.

One day I will do a blog post without mentioning how every blog post mentions Nich Angell.

Nick Gonzo’s Blog: The premiere location for Nich Angell News.

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Robin Jones is watching Utopia. Every couple of hours I get a text saying “Thank you for making me watch Utopia, I didn’t need all this time to do things and live my life. Thank you for delivering me from a social life into the hands of this TV show”

Luckily there are only 12 episodes.

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Aside from a few last minute washes to do Harvey Spig will star in WHEN THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN very soon. It was meant to have an october release date for its print version but that didn’t happen. I don’t always work reliably fast. So it’ll be in digital soon. Funk Soul Samurai awaits me to finish a cover, as does 50Signal, so the last part of the year will be awash with me doing comics for you.

Stu Perrins will be at Leamington Comic Convention with print copies of Prime, his Super hero comic, so go to that and buy them.

I will not be at any comic book fesitvals or cons, except Thought Bubble, where I will be a guest and we should all go for a pint and be friends. I’m going to quit the booze again for October, not to raise any money, just to lose some weight and that, but I will probably blog lots about it, because blog posts and Hot Chocolate are my alcohol replacement.

The new Alt-J album came out, and it was amazing. I was worried that it would be a steaming dog turd, seeing as their bassist left them between albums. The first album was so amazingly Bass lead, that I thought having him leave would be like removing Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones, because whilst all the elements are really strong there is always something just a bit exceptional. As it turns out they’ve experimented a little bit more and found a nice strong direction for their difficult second album. Its got some great singles and musically is probably the stronger of the two albums they’ve released. Its not as original and haunting as the first, and how could it be the first was so out of the blue, but its certainly a good continuation.

Speaking of coninutaions, I watched Kick-Ass 2 the other day, and aside from the fact its not a hugely great movie, I was interested by the way there was a huge divergance from the comic. When Kick-Ass 2 the comic came out there was a little stir because THE MOTHER FUCKER (well done Mark Millar) rapes Kick-Ass’s then girlfriend NIGHT BITCH (award winning writer Mark Millar everybody) and its just another case of a guy bandying rape about like it ain’t no thing. But in the movie, when that moment comes, THE MOTHER FUCKER can’t get it up, and just physically wounds her. To comedic effect he tries to get an errection to go through with it, but instead fails to achieve lift off. I thought it was much better done that way. You can’t jam a rape scene into the middle of a dark, yes, but ultimately fantastical comedy. Its too serious a subject matter.

Its almost Monday now, I am going to go to bed. I’m cutting this a bit short, I want to talk about how awesome Aphex Twin’s new album is too, but I’m just too tired and my neck hurts from staring down at the computer balanced on my knee.

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Nick

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***A brief edit***

I cannot get this out of my head.

This looks like the sort of thing I used to draw, only better. Much Better. I used to be mad for drawing weird sorts of machines, but not so much now. May have to rectify that.

This video is by Cyriak, the youtube guy who used to explode Sheep. YOU KNOW THE ONE.

There isn’t really an order, but some are better than others. Its in rough order of preference. If you think someone should be on here and they aren’t, well I probably didn’t enjoy it or its in the Notable Mentions bit at the end.

10) Steve Mason: Monkey Minds in the Devils Time.

I initially brushed aside Steve Mason as a one man one guitar shrug-a-thon, but this album can be cut a hundred different times and you’ll get something new each time. It experiments with Dub, hip-hop, acoustic guitar and more rockier numbers, all bundled together with a nice anti-establishment sentiment. A surprise I thought.

9) Haim: Days are Gone

So, Jamie Finn of No Wave Magazine asked me this question when I told him I liked Haim:

How can you run with the wolves at night if you play with Puppies in the day?

He’s right, kind of, as right as you can be when you are an Arch-Duke of Hipsterism, because Haim are a pop group. But they are a GOOD pop group. I like the funk of this album. I like the lyrics, the harmonies. Its fun, its not going to change the world, its no Fever Ray, but its good. Its been on the stereo almost daily since its release and I ENJOY LISTENING TO IT!

YOU HEAR THAT JAMIE! It might not challenge music, or the genre, but its a good girl group doing good things with pop music that might act as a gate way drug for a new generation to get into Patti Smith. Which is all that you want, innit?

8) Jagwar Ma: Howling

This was my album of the summer, any opportunity to give it a listen in the sun because its a hot chunk of psychedelia. Its great for parties, and Jagwar Ma have this immense lust for making music that you can hear in the depth and punch of each song. Its the sort of album you can do a racially-indelicate Native American dance around a fire in your garden to.

7) Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip: Repent, Replenish, Repeat.

I’ve just noticed that there’s sort of a trend this year for Album titles that are just three words.

The duo’s third album is much darker, much heavier and arguably much more lead by Dan Le Sac this time around. Its been 5 years since their last one and they’ve learnt a thing or two doing their own thing. It lacks the punchy singles of the first two, but still has a few stand out songs like Stunner and Gold Teeth that you can humm for hours. Its a more mature album and the lyrics are far keener and less gimmicky and I love it. Its a bit short though, but you can’t just churn out genius I suppose.

6) The Uncluded: Hokey Fright

I’ve been a die-hard Moldy Peaches fan for a long time now, and that anarchic madness they used to peddle just appeals to me. Kimya Dawson’s solo stuff was alright but was a bit twee and a bit alternative-for-its-own-sake disappointing. So when I heard the Uncluded on Scroobius Pip’s XFM BEAT DOWN, I was over joyed to hear that Kimya’s latest project has that dark streak running through it, accompanied by the soulful hip hop stylings of Aesop Rock. This album is funny, heart wrenching, weird and importantly, sounds fantastic.

5) Palma Violets: 180

This year, I have listened to a shite tonne of new Rock and Roll. Sort of garage recording room stuff that brings back the elements of blues, skiffle and just fun old Rock and Roll. One of the best of these bands is the Palma Violets who have this raw energy, pure talent that sounds rough and ready and polished all at the same time. Their Debut album is a joy to listen to, and if it doesn’t make you tap your foot, randomly kick the air or sing along, I don’t know if we can be friends.

4) Filthy Boy: Smile That Won’t Go Down.

I like their black sense of humor and fun song construction. This is a powerful debut and every track is a smile inducing bit of rock and roll. I like listening to it in public places, makes me feel a bit rude.

3) Arctic Monkeys: AM

Its not every day that I can say someone’s fifth album is there best, but the fifth album by the Arctic Monkeys is their best. The writing has reached new highs, stylistically its polished to a mirror sheen and everything is so crisp and clear, they’ve found their stride, they’ve got their groove. Every track is a keen song, and there isn’t anything more to say about it really. Its just so good, sort of like My Favorite Worst Nightmare without the bad bits and the repetition. Brian Storm the album.

2) Public Service Broadcasting: Inform, Educate, Entertain

Public Service Broadcasting are sort of like socially acceptable Post-Rock. They push boundaries with what they can do with music, and their visual performances are superb. Both of the members are skilled musicians and their ear for a good sample and a keen combination of sounds is unmatched at the moment. Their album would be number 1 on this list if numbers actually meant anything, but they don’t, and John Grant is better.

1) John Grant: Pale Green Ghosts

Hear GMF on This is My Jam, and instantly decided that this would be played at my funeral. This album is a pure work of art, not a wasted second. Its got a faux eighties style with heart-felt lyrics, Johns voice is a perfect rock hard slice of rich Mahogany, and it chops and changes swinging about from jiggy electro to guitar based slim-line songs, and Chris Pemberton’s piano throughout is… it can bring a tear to the eye. Buy it, I don’t care who you are, get a copy, get two or three and give them to friends, this album is a blue print for how all music and poetry should be made until the end of time, now and forever, done, thats it, turn off Pitchfork, we’re done here guys, thanks. Good job guys.

Notable Mentions:
Atoms for Peace: AmokĀ 
was a great album, but a bit samey. It didn’t have the same longevity that Thom Yorke’s Eraser had. But Default is a killer tune. It suffered from a similar flaw to British Sea Power: Machinaries of Joy in that there are songs that just stick out and aren’t as good as the rest. Arcade Fire: Reflektor could have been a perfect album, but over 2 discs was long winded. Vessels: Epilleptic Ep; is amazing, but not actually an album, but an EP. Everything Everything‘s second album ARC was bumped from this list by the Palma Violets, so they were good, but not so super-cool original awesome. Sort of a more of the same but better release. So I couldn’t bring myself to put it on the list. Here are some albums who I enjoyed but did not have the time to give proper listens too;

Foals: Holy Fire

The National: Trouble Will Find Me.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Mosquito

And So I Watch You From Afar: All Hail Bright Futures

I did not in anyway enjoy James Blake and Daft Punk’s releases.