Monday 30 November 2009


It is nearly the end of another Decade. I am not suggesting that there is anything innately special in this. Defining a period of ten years as an entity in itself is utterly meaningless and historically worthless. Decades are nothing more than man-made conveniences. None of us really expect to feel any differently when the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve. What we can expect from the lead up to January however, is a frenzy of what can loosely be described, 'listomania'. By this, I mean the tendency of music journalists to celebrate the conclusion of an era by compiling endless hierarchical lists.

Never before have I witnessed such mutinous discontent among the readerships of every music publication attempting a retrospective of the last decade. Such vitriol is usually reserved for the likes of James Blunt and Preston. I would gently like to ask these irate readers to make themselves a cup of nettle tea before mopping their brow with a cool flannel. I doubt that even the most bigoted writer would pretend that these lists have much validity. In essence, they are an inadequate means of assessing an album's importance, much like a decade is an inadequate device for analysing history.

The truth is that, despite collective cries of mock indignation, everybody secretly loves lists. They provide the ideal discussion point. For music fans, it is the closest we will get to experiencing that sense of machismo camaraderie which is ordinarily for self-righteous football hooligans alone. So, when you are next complaining about who has made the top ten, please be aware of how much you are enjoying the debate that has ensued.

I have selected some of the best lists for your perusal. Now go forth and proselytise! Observer Music Monthly:

Sunday 29 November 2009

Matt's Musical Corner Part 1: The Fall - Dr Buck's Letter

Be honest, who, apart from the most aloof muso, has actually listened to a complete record by The Fall? Allow me to be the first to make a confession; I haven’t and I do not think I am alone. Yes, I own a number of their albums and, yes, I have been guilty of citing Mark E. Smith as an inspiration. Yet all this is mere show and hyperbole. The albums have long been gathering dust and I regret to say that I find Mr Smith rather objectionable. The trouble is, by my estimation, the Fall have made close to 758 records. Any hopeful fan will find themselves lost in this catacomb of catalogue material that is bound leave the most robust enthusiast disorientated and bewildered. In order to make sense of the madness it is necessary to identify a keystone which can explain why The Fall’s converts include musical patriarchs, John Peel and Tony Wilson. Before you purchase their Best-of compilation – 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong – I recommend wrapping your ears around the aural delights of Dr.Buck’s Letter. As far as ‘the anoraks’ are concerned, it might not be classic Fall, but, for us newbies, it’s the perfect introduction into the sardonic and surreal dystopia of this legendary band.
Click Here:

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Schools For The Unnaturally Gifted

Before anyone gets overly excited, I am not referring to Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. On the contrary, I am highlighting the regularity with which certain ‘muggle’ educational facilities seem to churn-out musical starlets.

I have trawled through the dusty alumni records of my old school and I have failed to locate one contemporary musician of note. This galls me. It is almost as if, because my dear parents sent me to an institution famed for producing clergyman and accountants, I was destined to fall on the creative scrapheap. For someone who spent many of his early adolescent years caressing Jim Morrison posters, this seems like a gross miscarriage of godly justice. Had I attended a so-called ‘rock school’ I might now be playing synthesisers one-handed whilst Agyness Deyn look-alikes hung flirtatiously from my free arm; doubtful admittedly, but still possible.

Let us begin by examining Elliott School in South London, which counts the XX among its most recent progeny. Usually, playground pastimes include exchanging soggy Marlboros or sniffing glue. However, for the pupils of Elliott School, break-time activities are of an altogether more refined nature. My wild imagination tempts me to picture the arrival of new teachers at Elliot School. Although perhaps initially puzzled to find Four Tet and Burial positioning microphones to record hopscotch contestants, they would soon be actively facilitating their protégés pursuit of the percussive ideal. Meanwhile, assembled before the Headmaster’s desk one might encounter, not uncontrite truants and bullies, but the future members of Hot Chip and the Maccabees facing suspension for guerrilla gigging. How can one school serve as the breeding ground for such an array of precocious, pimply talent? There must be something funny flowing through the communal water fountains at Elliott School.

Interestingly, such high concentrations of budding talent are not unheard of; Kings College School in Wimbledon spawned electro-kid triplets, Patrick Wolf, Tom Vek and Jeremy Walmsley. It might surprise many to learn that Phoenix and Daft Punk were school-yard chums. Ultimately, schools exist which promote an environment that is conducive to musical creativity. Forget the Brit School. Take my advice and enroll your unborn children into one of the 'real' rock academies.

Monday 23 November 2009

Welcome To The Looking Glass

Let's face it, this blog is arguably the biggest vanity-project since Keanu Reeves decided to turn his questionable acting talents to the bass guitar as part of the now mercifully defunct Dogstar.

I propose to establish a blog which is principally about modern music. It is no secret that I relish any opportunity to hungrily chew off the ears of wary bystanders who latterly wished that they had never tentatively inquired what was currently on my ipod. In truth, I pity the unwitting mugs who whisper the words 'Radiohead', 'C86', or 'Hacienda' within a 200 metre radius of my being, automatically triggering a frequency in my brain which leads me towards them like a dribbling zombie. Thus, I have finally contrived to contain my musical diatribes within a virtual forum that I have been wanky enough to entitle 'The Looking Glass'.

Not since since an ex-girlfriend who, upon noticing I had taken the trouble to festoon my lapel with a carnation, despaired that I had never brought her flowers, have I been guilty of such self-indulgence. In any case, the Internet is littered with the pointless thoughts of pseudo-wits and I understand entirely if, like my long-suffering friends, you wisely choose to ignore my ramblings. If you do not, I cordially invite you to share in some musical curiosities as we travel through The Looking Glass!