Friday, 27 March 2009

Down is the new up

Boredom is a dangerous thing, and can lead to all manner of levels of un-productiveness. It can also lead you to some rather great cover versions...

The version of Maps is particularly special. Anyway must produce work.. Or 'reflect' on ideas, and drown myself in radiohead. Yes, it's that time of year again, where I get lost in their whole back catalogue exclusively for any number of days on end. I blame the first video.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Is that all there is to it?

I actually wrote a song today. It has about 12 lines and four chords, but it is indeed a fully (well, almost) formed song. I think the last time I wrote a song must have been early last summer some time, I remember writing a couple, or at least starting them.. Needless to say they were pretty terrible and like every other song I've ever written discarded after a week and looked back upon with varying levels of embarrassment/disappointment at not being able to write something I could actually like. At the moment I like the song I've written. Considering the time that has passed since I wrote it, this isn't unusual. However, I actually hold hope that this one will not just become another failed attempt to express myself musically, and actually.. last. I think the main difference with this one is that I've actually writen about something real. I've done this before, once, and that was probably the only half decent song I ever wrote. It was still shocking though. Hopefully this new one won't be.

Now, I just need a way to record it... I used to have a myspace page where for some reason I posted songs even if I wasn't happy with them. I may revive this. Although without the crap songs.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Don't knock it, don't knock it

I'm not entirely sure why, but I'm listening to Only By The Night for probably the fourth time since I got it last year and feel compelled to write about Kings of Leon.. I've always been a big fan of theirs, ever since I got hooked to Molly's Chambers and Red Morning Light; ever since I bought my copy of Aha Shake Heartbreak back in 2004 and fell in love with all those awkward, southern ballads. There was something about the stripped down guitars and high pitched yelps of Caleb and his fellow Followills that captured the imagination. With Because of the Times they made a certified 'step up', beefing up the sound and giving every song a heart wrenching chorus. I loved it, On Call was an instant classic and it actually challenged Aha.. as to my favourite KOL album, and their performance at Reading that year was amazing. Move forward a year and Only By The Night is released. Now, I actually hung around a surf shop in Cornwall when it was announced on the radio that they were going to play Sex on Fire, the then as yet unheard new single. I thought it was good, in the same vein as the last album and almost as good. However, when the album came out it really didn't capture my imagination, every time I listened to it I switched off by the time track five came on..

Anyway, the reason I'm writing this is I was flicking through itunes and for some reason decided to have a listen to Be Somebody, the penultimate track on the album, which I may have listened to before, I can't really remember.. The point is, I discarded the album without giving it a proper chance, scoffing when I saw it so high in Rough Trade's end of year list. Turns out, apart from perhaps a couple of songs mid album, it is actually pretty good, and I feel bad for turning my back on a band I've always really liked. I can understand how fans of the band got annoyed when Sex on Fire was played everywhere, there's always an element of bitterness when your favourite band suddenly gets huge. At first glance yes, the album may seem like a move into the territory of MOR stadium rock anthems, but there's still that fractured beauty of Caleb's voice singing true, giving them that credibility and honesty that so many other bands lose when they hit the big league. I understand this post is about six months too late, but I suddenly felt an urge to write it, and well, I did.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Outskirts of shoreditch

I while back i mentioned going to see my old bandmates play in their (relatively) new band Outskirts of Town. Here's the last song from that gig, well worth watching, pure raw energy..

Sunday, 22 March 2009

So bored

What do you do when you've listened to a band so much you've pretty much done them to death? Find another one like them, that's what. I came across Wavves a few weeks ago but have only really got immersed in his music this past week whilst sitting at home working on my project every day. It's very much in the vein of No Age's lo-fi punk, and with that kind of fractured melodic beauty that got me hooked on them in the first place. He's just released his second record, which like his last one released late last year on casstte, was recorded on a no frills four-track tape recorder. I'm also a bit annoyed as he played at The Deaf Institute in Manchester a while back, I remember getting the invite on facebook, but hadn't actually listened to him at that point. But it wouldn't have been like me to actually go to a gig I want to would it? Anyway, here's one of his songs, I think Dulcie will like the video..

I haven't really had much of interest to blog about lately, this is what happens if you only leave the house to taxi your siblings everywhere they need to be. So this will have to do for now. Am picking up a film from the developers tomorrow so perhaps I'll post some of the pics if they're any good..

Thursday, 19 March 2009

This means you really love me

I was reading i-D yesterday and came across a review for Deanna Templeton's exhibition of youths in LA who brand themselves with corporate logos and anarchic statements, which has just opened in Dusseldorf. I really want to go and see it.. Am tempted to get the book instead, looks pretty awesome. The exhibition is entitled 'Scratch My Name In Your Arm', taken from my favourite Smiths song Rusholme Ruffians.. Felt like posting a pic up here because I liked it quite a bit, and this blog does seem to be becoming a bit of an ongoing journal of my project..

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Sight and sound

Just finished watching Paranoid Park, pretty impressed. It's beautifully shot and is really well sequenced - a loose narrative, lots of flashbacks (not in a cheesy way) and intermittent super-8 skateboard footage. I saw Milk a few weeks back and thought it was one of the best films I've seen in ages, so I really need to see more of Gus Van Sant's stuff. The only things I've seen by him are his short in Paris Je T'aime, which like the rest of the film I felt was over contrived and a bit too cliched/pretentious, and the first twenty minutes or so of Last Days, which I had to turn off as I couldn't realy stand it. Nontheless Paranoid Park and Milk I enjoyed.

Patrick Wolf is playing at shunt this Saturday. Why do all the best things happen when I'm not in London? I think I'm destined not to see him again. Can't wait for his album though, kind of disappointed the promise of a double album has fallen through, but then I guess that should have been expected since he's getting his fans to fund it. Which I totally respect, a major label wouldn't appreciate his music.. Just look at Klaxons being told to re-record theirs. Something potentially interesting/possibly special gone to waste. You'd think after winning the mercury they'd have the licence to continue their ways and do something creative. Clearly not. Radio 1 has taken hold of them and they're not giving up without a fight.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Legalize AA

Just been doing some research for my project, came across an article on the observer website that was heralding the American Apparel revolution and celebrating its 'cheap (?!!) chic'. Here's a couple of extracts that caught my eye..

American Apparel has also become synonymous with the New York 'hipster' movement. Hipsters are the latest development in youth culture. They are young, good-looking graduates who work in a non-specific creative field, and dedicate themselves to the business of being as directional and cutting edge as they can be.


Its aesthetic is flourishing in the UK, too. In 2007, it became the basis for the signature look of the extremely fashionable brigade: St Martins art students and Hoxton-dwelling creatives.

I guess it's funny because it's true..

Monday, 16 March 2009

Here should be my home

So I'm back home for easter now and enjoying all the comforts that come with it. If there's one thing I've learnt from moving to London is how much I under-appreciated being at home, and how much for granted I took all the comforts you don't think twice of when there - a real house with more than two rooms, a fridge full of food, a cosy bed, the ability to use my laptop on my lap and not stuck at my desk attached to the modem, no more beige walls, all my old CDs, oh and family, of course. On top of that I'm sitting in the kitchen and the window is open and it's warm outside.. Never have I been more aware of the oncoming of spring. This morning I got up at 7:45 (!!) and have started working on my deconstruction of the building blocks of modern youth culture (sorry, I'll stop coming up with pretentious ways to describe my project from now on..). I've also started to re-read The Catcher in the Rye, which, although considered a cliché rites of passage novel to name drop in your list of favourite books, is actually pretty good in my opinion. Better than The Bell Jar, anyway...

Friday, 13 March 2009

Annoying rant

I hate to be one of those people that moans about something as petty as facebook changing it's homepage, but they really have taken a step back with this latest modification. The last time they updated the site it came with a nice fresh look that made everything easier to use. This time it's just a bit, crap.. no longer the refined social networking tool it was, with oversized text and lots of curved edges that make it look kind of, drab? It's clear from the homepage that they're trying to compete with twitter, and fair enough they want to remain at the top, but will it really work? Myspace lost its appeal when it started adding loads of new features in an attempt to keep up with facebook, and now its a frozen wasteland of out of date profiles. Lately facebook has really started to lose its fun, what with my inbox constantly full of event invitations and 'save the Astoria' petitions, and these changes could just be the end... Just stick to what you do best, people like facebook for what it is - friends, photos. If they want a live stream of what everyone is up to they'll use twitter. To be honest, it could just be an aesthetic thing and I've probably just over reacted, but in my mind blogger and twitter are much more fun right now, so maybe it's time we all upped sticks and moved over to the next phase of social networking?

Thursday, 12 March 2009

She's over bored

Haven't really had much to blog about over te past couple of days.. Have been driving myself to extreme levels of tiredness trying to get my project proposal and timetable written, which is now done, thank god. Seriously, trying to plan exactly what you're going to be doing over a period of ten weeks is enough to drive anyone to suicide. Or something a bit less extreme perhaps.. But still, not fun. I was supposed to go and see the Takashi Murakami show yesterday but instead slept all day as I felt like crap. Not very productive I know, but these things can't be helped. This is becoming a boring post...

Lately I've been getting urges to start playing in some form of band again.. The other week I saw my ex-bandmates' new band Outskirts of Town play (check them out here) and it really made me miss playing live music. They put on an intense live show, very heavy, but in a good way, their songs are amazingly thought out and just sound like not much I've heard before. I liked it needless to say. This coupled with my current penchant for a certain noise rock band, is making me want to pick up my guitar again and play some loud, fuzzy, distorted rock songs and just have fun making music with other people. How this will fit in with all the art I'm supposed to be producing over the coming weeks is yet to be seen. Also, the distinct lack of any drummer friends means it's seeming like I shan't be doing anything anytime soon. But who knows, will certainly get the old amp out over easter and have a mess around, maybe one day in the not so distant future something may happen...

Monday, 9 March 2009

Animal chin

Two posts in one night? Surely not... Alas, I just noticed that Will was following Tony Hawk on twitter and it reminded me of this film I started watching a while ago and just couldn't resist posting it, as I feel it needs to be shared.

Obviously it's only really interesting to fans of skateboarding, which, contrary to what this blog may suggest, I am not obsessed with. I just loved Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, and it's all part of my research on youth culture... Anyway, enjoy the clip and see if you can spot the young Hawk.

Disengaged, disillusioned, disaffected

"We believed, though, that this had to be some version of what the real thing felt like, but we had wanted something more, something we couldn't quite describe but could feel vividly the lack of." - Muntean/Rosenblum 'Untitled (We believe, though...)

I came to a conclusion for the title of my project today, that being the same one as the title of this blog. Whilst sitting in college today was looking through this book I have on the artists Muntean/Rosenblum, and found myself reflecting on the pieces of writing they place at the bottom of their paintings. It made me think of how we tend to take things for granted, or not really appreciate them properly whilst they are happening, or while we have them. I was sitting eating lunch in McDonalds watching people walk past on the street outside, and there was a middle aged man attemoting to hand out flyers to everyone that walked passed, rushing through their daily lives and taking no notice of him. It kind of made me sad to think that's all he has to do, and how lucky I am, and most people are, with the opportunities and lives we live. We're all searching for something, or want something we haven't got. This isn't supposed to be a reflection of how I'm feeling about myself by the way.. I guess I'm just in a reflective mood, as I've spent all day pondering modern youth culture and how we isolate and alienate ourselves these days with television, consumerism and the internet.

I also read about this cultural syndrome that exists in Japan called Hikikomori, a form of voluntary withdrawal from society, where young men retreat into their rooms and remain there for years as a result of pressure and expectance from parents on their first born child. That's true isolation there, and we aren't even aware of these things happening. Will have to read up more about this for my project..


Sunday, 8 March 2009

Sunday bloody sunday

I'm feeling sad, the weekend is over. Dulcie just left on the national express after a mad rush across London to catch the coach, and now I'm on my own trying to put remember everything and write it in some form of interesting blog post. I'll try..

On Thursday night we went to Shunt, a mysterious art/club night in the catacombs of the railway arches at London bridge. To say it was an experience would be an understatement... after entering through a side door in the wall of the station we came across art pieces and film installations hidden around all the dark corners of the sparsely lit railway arches, and this continued until the whole place opened up into some sort of carnival/art space/club, with short films, cinema seats, performance artists, chanting, gypsy bands and a pool table. Possibly the most surreal mix of entertainment you could imagine. It was a fun evening, notable moments being watching a film of a boy preparing his afro in the morning and sitting in the glow of an array of vintage lamps in a makeshift lounge area, all the while being in the knowledge that you're sat under massive railway arches around the corner from the London Dungeons. Unfortunately I didn't take my camera so you'll just have to use your imagination.

The rest of the weekend has been pretty normal in comparison - shopping in Covent Garden, (Vans Classics, Muji..), turning Dulcie onto the genius of Alan Partridge and ordering my first pizza take away since living here (I'd do it more often if it wasn't so expensive), gorging on custard creams and coffee (with squirty cream!) and finishing up with Sex and the City (of course). I wish I was on the National Express back to the land of cotton and guns too, instead I am here trying to decide which picture will best befit this post. Let's hope I picked well. And I've got to rewrite my damn project proposal, which is starting to become a chore, I wish I could just get started. Who wants to hear about my take on the isolation of modern youth culture and its obession with online social status anyway?

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Field trip

My day in pictures.. Went on a class trip to the Hayward to see the Mark Wallinger curated show and the Annette Messager show, weren't really my thing but there were some interesting ideas and a few pieces I liked. I got some good photos for my project too, and then we hit the Matt Irwin exhibition on Curtain Road which was pretty cool, I love his photographs. Can't write much more as I'm off to pick up Dulcie!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Post modernism is dead

Just got back from the Altermodern Tate Triennial exhibition. As I said I would I went in with an open mind with the hope of seeing some inspiring work that would be relevant to me and my work in some way. I guess the first thing that hit me when I picked up the guide was the sheer size of the exhibition, I didn't realise there was going to be just so much. The first thing I saw when I went in was Bob and roberta Smith's collection of ongoing pieces. They reminded me of Peter Blake and had a kind of nostalgic quality that appealed to me in some way. From here I began to follow the map around the various rooms, getting lost in the endless pieces of artwork and slowly building up an idea of what 'altermodern' is actually supposed to mean. According to the curator, it is a proposed idea that post modernism is dead, and that these artists all have a common goal of determining our place, or role, in this new culture of globalisation, what with immigration, modern technology/communication and all that. Pretty heavy stuff.

I guess in some ways the exhibition achieves this, I got the sense of wandering through different cultures and time periods, and I think it was this idea that I liked. It was hard to really engage with a lot of the pieces though, especially the videos, since it was so extensive.. After a while I felt like I'd taken too much in. For me, the artists that stood out were Rachel Harrison, Gustav Metzger, Darren Almond, Katie Paterson, Bob and Roberta Smith, and Shezad Dawood.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

I'm listening to It's Blitz, and I'm liking it. At first I was wary and slightly upset that that they'd jumped on the whole 'swap guitars for synths' bandwagon that everyone seems to be doing these days, but alas, I was wrong to doubt them, and they've pulled it off in my opinion. To be fair I think Karen O's voice can pretty much make anything sound amazing. Just need to somehow get my hands on a ticket for one of their shows, I have to go... I've missed too many good gigs this year and I'll be most upset if this one passes unattended too.

Weeks of holding back from spending money also caved in today, I couldn't resist any longer and got myself a rather nice flannel shirt for all my trekking I'm soon to be undergoing... Also bought 15 (!) rolls of film, only to find my camera is not working for some unexplainable reason (batteries?) and won't take up the film or switch on. Very annoying. Was getting excited about starting to use it again.

I think I'm going to go to the Altermodern exhibition tommorow. I read a really bad review of it on the times website or something that said it proved just how much British modern art has had it's day and the Tate is the 19th century Paris Salon of today, and they think they are the be all and end all of art, and so on in this way. James and George, however, said it was very good, so I'm going to go in with an open mind.

Monday, 2 March 2009

I got into Central Saint Martins! (Again..)

Lately it's been starting to feel that winter is over at last, we've had a lot of blue skies and sunshine. It feels good, like summer is on it's way. It's making me want to spend all of my time outside taking photos or generally just basking in the sun, even though it's not actually that warm. Also, I just found Dulcie's blog, which is already better than mine, so I need something good to write about. Perhaps my sudden liking for Death Cab? I'd always dismissed them as a no good emo band.. Shame on me. They do make me want to watch the whole OC back series on end though.