WAGING HEAVY PEACE by Neil Young (Penguin Books, 2012)
Be honest, you didn’t really expect this to be a straightforward autobiography, did you?
Neil Young has always done things his own way and having just turned 68, you’d hardly expect him to change a habit of a lifetime now.
I don’t think you could call him truly avant-garde but his singular quality definitely sets him apart from his peers. His style is that of a loner and a hard task master, but this is what makes him such a unique artist.
He writes as he sings, with a disarming simplicity and openness. He continually admits his own limitations and recognises his idiosyncratic approach: “There is a lot to cover and I have never done this before. Also, I am not interested in form for form’s sake”.
By rights, there should be a footnote to say that no editor has interfered with any aspect of this book. The publishers appear to have accepted the finished work on trust, warts and all. “Today, my past is a huge thing”, Young states with a vagueness you quickly become accustomed to. Some chapters have titles while, for no obvious reason, others don’t and you will look in vain for any coherent narrative thread. Continue reading
Pleased that my Animal Soul Group on Last.Fm, which I created on 2nd January 2011, has, to date, a grand total of 88 members.
Thanks to those who have joined! I love you all!!
What I like about these groups is seeing, and playing, the weekly charts.
The way that overall charts work (edited from the last f.m FAQ section) is that every “1” will represent a group member. For example, say there are 3 people in a group who listened to a certain artist in a given week, it’ll say “3” in the charts .
The first overall chart for the AMS group is quite a solid, conservative list headed by Sonic Youth. The only surprise for me was The Knife at number 3 , an electronic duo from Stockholm, Sweden who I never really rated that much.
The ‘unique to this group’ charts are usually much more interesting. Continue reading
Kill Your Idols is a film made by Scott Crary in 2004. It took the prize for Best Documentary at the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival and gained a distribution deal with Palm Pictures.
Under the tag line “the New York No Wave scene and those who followed” it features appropriately grainy footage of gigs from the Hardcore heyday of the late 70s/early 80s . There are clips of the likes of DNA (a wonderfully geeky Arto Lindsay), Teenage Jesus & The Jerks (one of the best band names ever) and The Swans (Michael Gira in primal mode).
NO AGE live (NOT at the Bronson!)
“I’m guessing this is more of a music salon than a teenage riot place” observes guitarist Randy Randall accurately.
Randall is 50% of LA’s Sub Pop phenomenon No Age. The other half is Dean Allen Spunt who sings and plays drums, neither one with any great aplomb but the fact that he does both together is pretty cool.
The band are playing the Bronson Club near Ravenna which despite being little more than a modest social club has an admirable track record of attracting a steady stream of rising stars and leftfield heroes from beyond the mainstream.
A ‘salon’ is a putting it a bit strongly, but the audiences do tend to be a polite, good mannered bunch and I suspect the No Agers are used to a rowdier reception.
They try gamely to create a rapport with genial chat and during the first number Randall makes a bold gesture to break the performer/punter divide by stepping among us while still playing his riffs. This might have succeeded better had there not occurred a Spinal Tap moment in which he fell flat on his face while re-mounting the stage.
Further attempts at genuine ice-breaking floundered in similar fashion. Realistically a Monday night audience numbering around 40, most of whom don’t speak Californian, is not one where there much hope of whipping up a party atmosphere.
Blunt and Randall impress as a likable duo nonetheless and sound like Psychocandy kids raised on a diet of drone-noise and punk rock. Imagine the music the offspring of Joey Ramone and Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon might play and you’ll get the idea.
Their best songs – Boy Void, Everybody’s Down or Eraser to name just three – are spiky and snappy pieces with a refreshing absence of indie boy band pretensions.
It’s easier to imagine them busking on a street corner than playing bigger venues and this alone ensures that the DIY punk spirit has made it through to another generation.