:: Sounds

The New Europeans – Depeche Mode, Ultravox, Hurts and Disco Lento published 08/05/2018

The album that accompanied ‘Vienna’, on its cover photo, hinted at a ‘post-punk uniform’ that other bands such as the Scottish Orange Juice adopted in this era. That of the sharp blazer, the fastened top button, and the side-parting; eyeliner an optional extra. Such photos portrayed a young aesthete, deeply preoccupied with a matter just out of shot, doubtless with his eyes fixed on some real or conceptual European horizon. The album’s song ‘New Europeans’ suggested that the mysterious realm over-the-water was being viewed in aspirational terms, through its overall aesthetic tone, if not its content.

Guy Mankowski on Albion’s Secret History.

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Cherubs, Zeros, Glass Children & Swans – Symbolism in Lyrics of The Smashing Pumpkins published 24/04/2018

But within this new aesthetic palette was also room for darker devices, reflecting the tone of the album sleeve. Tracks like ‘Shame’ and ‘Daphne Descends’ utilise drones, to give Flood’s ornate, layered production a sense of dense layering. Flood’s production evokes moods that are at one claustrophobic and expansive. In the album’s single ‘Perfect’ the glacial production and clean guitars offer a backdrop to a painful lyric concerned with Corgan coming to terms with a breakup. The clashing guitars in ‘Daphne Descends’ sit behind the choruses words; ‘You love him’. But they sound far from romantic, instead evoking an approaching emotional storm.

By Guy Mankowski.

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Excerpt: Quadrophenia: A Way of Life published 31/03/2017

Outside of Toyah’s mum’s wardrobe, the film’s producers were taking the acquisition of clothes very seriously. One company approached to secure the necessary period pieces was called Contemporary Wardrobes. More than just a clothes-hire operation, they’d earned a reputation by supplying genuine items for films and other productions. Overseen by two former Mods, tailors Jack English and Roger Burton, they recalled their joy at being called in for duties on the film for a Who fanzine in 1979.

By Simon Wells.

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Excerpt: In Echoed Steps: The Jam and a Vision of Albion published 13/03/2017

The first Riot Stories publication to host Weller’s poetry would be the first issue of December’s Child. Weller had already utilised the back pages of the songbook for All Mod Cons to host some of his poetry, and with the burgeoning market for poetry fanzines in an ascendancy, he’d already contributed a few poems to several publications. While adept in imbuing his songs with his poetic words, it was clear that a lot of his verse would benefit from a far wider canvas.

Simon Wells on the literary influences of Paul Weller and The Jam.

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Emancipative Disillusionment. Subversion/ Agitation/ Transgression/ Critique published 25/02/2017

They pose – like Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will – the question of cinema itself: fascism was the only major ideology to be born of a cinematic consciousness – it was (and is) cinematic to its core. Its subtle expansion into all aspects of daily life, via the evolution of TV and new media, the pervasive seductions of advertising and the omnipresence of computing algorithms designed to reinforce our collective narcissism, represent an almost insurmountable dilemma.

Louis Armand on subversive cinema.

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Mark Fisher, Neoliberalism and The Hall of Mirrors published 15/01/2017

In his book Ghosts Of My Life he eloquently reframed the work of artists such as Joy Division and Burial to try and understand (and to an extent lament) the lost futures portrayed their work. Neoliberal policies deny the realisation of alternative futures, instead forcing a recreation of past moments until they become stultifying.

Guy Mankowski on the polemical message of the late Mark Fisher.

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Abstract Journalism published 23/12/2016

Song Machine is a paragon of today’s dominant form of narrative journalism, the longer stuff you can read in nonfiction books and magazines like The New Yorker, Wired, and The NY Times Sunday Magazine — what Robert Boynton called “The New New Journalism.” While Seabrook’s industry is less remunerative than pop music, no doubt, the two have more in common than you’d guess.

Trevor Quirk gets to grips with the new abstract journalism in John Seabrook‘s Song Machine.

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Tributaries of Afrobeat/s published 30/11/2016

Before Kuti’s adoption by a growing number of hip hop stars, Stevie Wonder had called him “an incredible pioneer” to whom the music world is much indebted. Long before he passed on, Miles Davis regarded him as the future of music. Mos Def, on his part, likens him to Bob Marley, Rick James, ODB, Huey Newton and Duke Ellington. This particular characterisation of Kuti is most unlikely and awkward but probably makes sense from a marketing point of view, that is, in creating a niche for the problematic image Kuti crafted for himself.

By Sanya Osha.

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Excerpt: Vulgar Tongues published 15/11/2016

Francis Grose’s Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785) listed other slang names for prison which were in use at that time, such as the iron doublet, the sheriff’s hotel, lob’s pound, the boarding school, limbo, the repository and the spring-ankle warehouse. He also recorded that such a building was called a queer ken, and defined queer birds as ‘rogues relieved from prison, and returned to their old trade’, a usage which survived virtually intact into the 20th century, as in the classic 1936 London underworld novel The Gilt Kid by James Curtis.

An excerpt from Max Décharné‘s alternative history of English slang.

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Paperback nasties published 13/05/2015


In Suedehead, Joe Hawkins’ milieu shifts from Plaistow in East London, with its ‘poverty and hardship’, to a West End pad and dalliances with more affluent women, where he’s all of a sudden stepping out wearing a bowler hat. But what we’re dealing with is a more enigmatic prospect than Skinhead, as suedehead itself represented a more tailored approach to the skinhead aesthetic, with its velvet-collared Crombie, houndstooth check suits and brogues.

Intros to the digital reboot of the New English Library, by Andrew Stevens.

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