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You want proof the Brit Awards are not about music?

It’s a bit rum, really, attacking the Brit Awards for being a gigantic corporate hand job, because it has never hidden that fact. There’s no hypocrisy here; the Brits is about giving people who have sold lots of albums a little statue and hopefully some more impetus to sell a few more.

But last night, if ever anyone wanted it hammered home, came the proof. Adele was being presented with the Album of the Year award for 21, which was deserved when you consider the Brit Awards’ criteria for choosing an album. 21 has enjoyed the sort of ubiquity only records with true cultural significance achieve. It may not have set the zeitgeist, but it certainly became a part of the fabric. Continue reading

21st Century Man – Luke Haines Interview

Without Luke Haines, there would have been no Britpop. He wouldn’t want your thanks for that. With The Auteurs debut album, he helped an angle-hungry UK Media find the British response to grunge which would eventually lead to Cool Britannia and all that. The ironic thing, of course, was that he bore absolutely no resemblence to the monster he helped create.

Scabrous, engaging and deeply funny, his 2009 autobiography Bad Vibes is a viciously comic stab through the heart of the British music industry in the 90s. He’s also released an excellent new album titled 21st Century Man. Ladies and gentlemen, the ever-engaging Luke Haines; Continue reading

Tunng and the art of album teasers

Way back in the days when you only owned music if you paid for it, and owning thousands of songs necessitated having a storage space sufficient to house a small elephant in, there was the flexi-disc. This was a, essentially, a seven inch single which hadn’t been to the gym and was floppy. Music magazines would give these away, usually containing interviews or b-sides by successful bands (no-one ever gave anything remotely decent away for free back then. The idea of doing so has only recently caught on and, even at that, very slowly.) Continue reading

Simply the Worst #6: Oasis – Roll With It

Next in the crud countdown was the moment when Oasis decided, for reasons best known to themselves, to release what sounded like a tuning jam.

It’s hard to overstate just how exciting it was to be a teenage indie fan in summer 1995. All those limited edition Kingmaker CD Single digipaks, the concerts in front of 16 people and a disinterested dog and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin t-shirts had been worth it; we were taking over. The biggest and coolest two bands in the country were indie – proper indie, on Creation and Food Records respectively – and the nation was fair set for chart wars, the battle between Oasis and Blur.

Both bands were coming off a year of success. Oasis were soon to follow up the splendid Definitely Maybe and Blur were going to issue the successor to the majestic Parklife. But, luv a dack, if they weren’t getting mad fer it by releasing the taster singles in the same week! Continue reading

Nothing Ever Lasts Forever – Bands you used to like but just don’t any more

RaditudeIt happens to us all; ELM takes us on a personal trip to explain why one of his old favourites no longer do it for him.

I don’t want to come over all Sophia from the Golden Girls – there’s one for the kids – but picture it; 1995, the summer of Britpop. It seems guitar music is out of the ghetto again, anybody with a slightly floppy fringe and a reasonably decent record collection is getting signed and the whole world seems to hang on every word of Damon Albarn or Noel Gallagher. Gigs take on the aura of revivalist meetings, and many a teenage cold sore is swapped to 1977 by Ash. Sleeper appear to be interesting. These are heady times. Continue reading

The Songs That Saved Your Life – The 90s: Loaded

screamadelicaThe decade where things could only get better brought the world cargo pants, Sunny Delight and Chris Evans. Musically, Grunge and Britpop could lay claim to being the defining movements of the era, though that’s to do a disservice to Jive Bunny. ELM suggests it wasn’t a band who could lay claim to the most important track, but rather a remixer…

In the 90s, pop proliferated. Genres split and everybody could listen to anything. Pop bands made the NME; indie bands made Top of the Pops. Dance, both chart-friendly and brain-damaging, was everywhere, and you were as likely to find Oasis t-shirts at Cream as you were to see day-glo. In short, boundaries came down. Continue reading

The Cribs featuring Johnny Marr, Glasgow ABC

Cheese on a burger. Fish partnered by chips. Ernie Wise stood next to Eric Morecambe.

Basically, some things make so much sense when you see them that you wonder why no-one has tried it before. thus it is with Wakefield’s finest all-brother trio being joined on stage by the walking legend that is Johnny Marr. Live, their sheer energy has usually pulled them through, but a three-piece is a three-piece and no matter how good will always be hampered by having to make an approximation of their records. Adding another guitarist is a good idea. Adding one like Johnny Marr – well, it was just destined to be good, wasn’t it?

The Cribs have always been a somewhat formulaic band – you get thundering guitars, inspirational drums and intelligent lyrics, usually a ‘woah-a-oh-oh’ singalong bit and then on to the next one. And what of it? It’s a great formula and they are very good at it. But, unsurprisingly, adding the definitive ‘indie’ guitarist has added colour to the palette. there’s more ambition, more scope and more verve. Some things never change though – Ryan Jarman appears to be as refreshed as a newt, but that’s part of the appeal; the Cribs are a great band to have a drink to.

There are many highlights, but in ‘Don’t You Want To Be Relevant’, ‘Our Bovine Public’ and the exquisitely loud ‘Men’s Needs’ they have three of the best songs in the genre since Blur called it today. The crowd reaction is proper, old school mental – the mosh pit goes all the way to the back of the hall, a fairly cavernous venue at the best of times. It’s well-judged 90 minute slot and when it goes, the audience reaction says that nobody has grudged the ticket price.

The Cribs, by sheer scope of ambition and interest in moving on, remain one of Britain’s potentially superb bands. A bit like Elbow before them, you have a feeling that one day they are going to deliver a really classic set of songs to consolidate themselves as one of the best of their generation. They have improved album upon album, a rarity in these days of instant gratification, and looked poised to get even better.