Monday, November 16, 2009


Today is exciting. Not only is it the evening before my wife's birthday (that is her actual birthday and not the day she gives birth...a mere 3 weeks away, though any day really), but it is chance for the fans to see behind the magical curtain. To delve straight to the three hearts of the Squid Ink creative Deus Ex Machina. Here is footage of a guy I paid to learn the new bit to one of our new songs, which means it will now go a bit longer. The band are well aware of this song in a much faster, groovier and more richly instrumented format but the descending B, A, G, F# x 3 is new to them. Consider this notice to begin the nestorian task of learning this intricate slab of genius before next rehearsal.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Tumescent adolescent

And so the recent blogging renaissance continues and — only because somebody needs to break the chain before it stretches toward infinity — I will not apologise to the previous poster for displacing his extremely worthy and eminently readable submission. But do have a hunt for it below.

This is a music blog. But sometimes, even for those who really love the rock, music sucks. The record collection looks resolutely uninspiring, Row after row of mid 90s indie rock albums stare back at you like an insolent challenge to any remaining pretensions you might have towards some kind of current hipness.

Neighbours come round for a BBQ and you resort to chucking the ipod on and hitting shuffle, then are left to wonder exactly how and when Christina Aguilera's Dirrty got on there.

You look at hipster bibles like pitchfork and everything looks worthy and uninspiring and overhyped and basically like a shittier version of something you already have that was almost certainly better when done in your day.

So a guy I know who goes by the sobriquet “Dante Hicks” recommended this blog to me and it seems like some sort of temporary answer. I am passing on that recommendation to you.

Check out which specialises in stuff that sounds like it would be fantastic, even if it doesn't always SOUND fantastic.

Reading these descriptions I pretty much want to download all of them. Whether it is Loan and their blend of “Stoner/Sludge/Doom Metal” from Bilbao, Spain (which allegedly sounds like a cross between Sabbath and something called Electric Wizard) or the Tel Aviv-based TV Buddhas, whose album, The Golden Period, is listed as “garage, psych, blues, noise-rock. guitar/drums duo.”

There is Italian “folk metal” and Polish “post-rock/psych”. All downloadable at the click of a button. I am waiting for TV Buddhas to finish downloading as we speak. I am also slightly intrigued by France's Chico Magnetic Band, allegedly a blend of Hendrix, Alice Cooper and Funkadelic and described as “SO BAD it lights a fire in my head, creates a fevered dickswell and comes close to bursting my heart every time I spin it.”

Will let you know in due time if I experience the fevered dickswell.

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Ask Not For Whom The Bellbird Tolls

I feel slightly bad about bumping Paddy's most exciting post down a rung after he apologised for doing it to Silky but the blog must roll. If you have stumbled across this I heartily recommend that you read the two previous posts. Together they achieve one of the late-career peaks of this blog. Silky draws on connections posts past but plays with the form by not completing the ellipse but allowing Mr Big a free hand to take us where they must. Paddy, on the other hand, initially eschews broader pop-culture tools often used in this blog and takes us into a personal space not inhabited since the last time he purchased an iron horse. Paddy and complacency are focused enemies and to this end the rug of pop-culture is slid back under our feet by mid-way through the post when the KLF are employed as his whipping boys in a 360 degree mockery of the music industry, with Paddy and the boys from the Ink not spared.

A former bandmate of half of Squid Ink (in fact another member jammed with the Ink in our very early days) has just released a CD with a new band called Bellbird (happily both the band and the album have the same name which gets me out of some murky grammar back there). It is an excellent effort with more than a gentle nod in the direction of the Kinks and a knowing glance at Magic Christian Music. You can buy Bellbird here and you can watch a video for one of their songs here. Lovely harmonies and neat guitar. Obviously feel free to do neither as these pricks have never showed up to our gigs but that doesn't place them in an overly lonely group. My favourite song is Old Friends/Deadends which contains one of the greatest vocal performances since Robin Z on He's A Whore and some clever lyrics.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Bonneville and the Timelords

While everybody was on hiatus buying black market tickets and quoting Roosevelt I bought this motorcycle. A 790cc 2001 Triumph Bonneville. My dream bike.

While the satisfaction of spending the last of my savings on a beautiful, powerful, chrome-bedecked monster of a motorbike (with an exhaust that sounds like the murmuring of choirs of angelic cherubs being run over by the 8:27 to Cranbourne) instead of squandering it on stuff like food and rent leaves me giddy with joy, the rent does actually need to be paid.

Therefore we need to release a worldwide hit single that will pay back at least the cost of the Bonnie.

But how is that done? How does one release a single that will sell a billion copies and make a fortune? I didn't have a clue so I turned to British electronica duo KLF for the answer. In their manual The Manual published in 1988 they tell me the golden rules of writing a hit single:

  • It must have a dance groove
  • It must be around 3'20" in length
  • It must consist of an intro, a verse, a chorus, second verse, second chorus, a breakdown section, a double-length chorus, and outro
  • The breakdown section must not be a guitar solo
  • It must have lyrics. They must deal with only the most basic of human emotions. These emotions must not be negative ones. Essentially they must be about how I'm never gonna give you up, or that that's the way I like it.

Simple really. Fortune assured.

Calvary crossed wires

I am back.

I am not sure about any of the caricature or irony business described in the previous post but did have a good time nonetheless.

Speaking of irony, I've noticed that poor Alanis Morisette gets a very tough time on this subject from all the hipsters (unfortunately for Alanis, grammar hipsters and music hipsters are often one and the same).

But how come people are always lashing Alanis for not knowing the meaning of irony in her song Ironic but nobody ever gives Ice Cube shit for similarly misusing it in his classic It was a good day?

The song is mainly about fucking bitches and also about basketball, there's a confluence of these topics when Ice pays a visit to one of his hooches and remarks: ''It's ironic, I had the brew, she had the chronic, the Lakers beat the Supersonics.''

This is not nearly even ironic. She's a fucking HOOCH. As if she would not have a stash of the chronic virtually all of the time. Anyway, I sort of sympathise with Alanis, is all.

Speaking of basketball, as part of my iconic adventures in post-ironic Americana or some shit I did manage to buy Knicks tickets on Monday night for $30 from a scalper outside Madison Square Garden. This after being told at the ticket window that the cheapest available seats were $245.

The sweetest part of it was probably watching Mrs Silky-D - who is quite straight and risk-averse when it comes to such matters -- nearly have kittens as I transacted that shit.

I also took a day trip to Philadelphia to check out some of the key sites associated with my new quasi-obsession: the founding fathers. I saw Franklin's house, and his grave, and the room where Jefferson penned the declaration of independence and also the steps that Rocky runs up in the movie Rocky.

On the way back to NYC my train broke down and I was stranded in rural New Jersey for five hours, I shared a couple of beers with the guy next to me who turned out to be a semi-famous jazz drummer who had played with many of the greats etc. He had been to Australia but the only place he saw was Wangaratta. Imagine such a thing.

Anyway, I am back. I picked up my guitar last night for the first time in ages. I couldn't really remember any Squid Ink songs ( little has changed there, obviously) so I just strummed a few random chords and accidentally hit on the progression for Mr Big's 1989 smash hit To be with you. I've been singing it ever since.

I always hated this song, at the time my sister liked it a lot and bought the album. I'm sure that she would loathe it now but I find that I quite like it.

Isn't that ironic? Or something?

I think I had the song in the back of my mind because while in New York I took in a show - Rock of ages - which was a "jukebox musical" about Sunset Strip hair metal bands in the early to mid 80s. It starred one of my favourite American Idol alumni, Constantin Maroulis and was both better and worse than what you would imagine from this brief explanation. Anyway, To be with you featured briefly in the soundtrack and must have lodged in my head.

I also went to see Richard Thompson play an all-request set, as I have previously mentioned elsewhere. Audience members wrote the songs they wished to hear on slips of paper and they went into a hat, to be drawn and played by Thommo onstage. One of the more fun ones was a reprise of his cover of the early Beatles ditty It won't be long which was great because the entire audience sang the backing vocals and it was quite a nice, warm, collaborative moment.

Anyway, like Mr Big, I have left New York and sort of wish I had not. In their case it was because hair metal went out of vogue and they had to pursue the japanese market, where they went on to have several multi-platinum hit records throughout the 90's, even as the rest of the world was all busy being still just a rat in a cage despite all its rage. They even released a live at Budokan album, which seems like a bit of a travesty. In my case it's because I ran out of money and the fence in the front garden need painting before I go back to work.

So it turns out Mr Big have just reformed and a new album is on the way. Like Unrelenting Tedium they have been busy writing. Like Thommo they are doffing their caps to the Fab Four by including a Beatles cover. It's for you. Weirdly it's a song that John and Paul wrote around Revolver time but never recorded, instead they gave it to Cilla Black.

Covers are ace, we should get some new covers. Mr Big cover the Beatles and so does Richard Thompson. Dinosaur Jr covered Richard Thompson but never, to my knowledge Mr Big. But they did release an album called Green Mind -- which I didn't really like much but UT will probably now tell me is his favourite or something, thus beginning some new argument. Green Mind sounds a lot like Green Tinted Sixties Mind, which is the second best known song ever recorded by Mr Big (trailing the first by some fair margin).

Thommo covered Britney Spears' Oops I did it again, which is only my third favourite Britney song (I would like to have heard his take on Toxic). Britney, like the Beatles before her, is one of the most covered artists of all time. Check it out on the internet, EVERYBODY does Britney covers, It's a must.

Britney herself basically never does covers, though, which I guess is kind of, maybe, not really ironic. (You could, though, mount an argument that all of her songs are covers since she sure as hell isn't writing them). She has covered Prince, though -- as has Thommo himself. The other famous Britney cover is of You Oughta Know by Alanis Morisette. This was longer than I expected it would be and a lot more rambling. I think I have my wires a little crossed. Fucking jetlag.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tedious Chappie (Slight Return)

Fans of the band, and hopefully the band also, will be pleased to hear that I think I am back. Many may not have noticed that I went away. Just as I failed to notice, and feel very bad about not noticing, that Crafty has had a fairly nasty ear business. Something far worse has probably happened to Paddy and Silky (all I know is Paddy seems to have some kind of lyrical block...Silky, on the other hand, seems to be living out some sort of post-modern American caricature and I can't work out where the man, the holiday, the iconography, the irony, and the sporting bit of the whole thing begins and ends [please note awkward forcing of oxford comma for Paddy's reading pleasure]) and I would never know it.

Separate limos it is.

Anyway, I have been off my game and now find myself back on it. The fruit of this is a new composition which is like The Jam only better. Sadly, Paddy's lyrical block is contagious but that has not impeded my output hitherto. Midian is booked for next wednesday evening (room the actress said to the bishop). The Brunswick Hotel has clearly been got at by the nasty people who run every other venue in Melbourne as they are no longer returning my emails...but the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by blah blah blah...rock!