September 13th, 2009

mellotron, music

A Little Bit Of 90s Melodrama

So, moving on from obscure folk bands that's no one has heard of, here's something much more mainstream.

One of the best parts of being in your late 20s is that you can pick up all the albums you would have liked when you were a teenager, but couldn't afford, in charity shops for next to nothing. Just to prove the rule, I found Placebo's self titled debut album in Camberwell Scope for £2 (I'm guessing it would have set me back £15-20 if I'd bought it new when it came out).

So, 1996, I would still have been in school and my music collection would probably have just consisted of a few cassettes I never listened to because I'd had then since I was about 7 and the music tastes of a 7 year old and 15 year old differ quite dramatically. I wouldn't have even had a CD player, let alone any CDs at that point. Most of the stuff I would have listened to would have been the dire local radio station, which must have owned all of about 5 records which they cycled through endlessly. Intermingled in amongst ancient cheese they obviously played the stuff that was hitting the charts.

OK, as with any musical era, there was plenty off really bad stuff to make your ears bleed and the radio was plagued by boy/girl bands and dodgy dance covers. However, there was also all the indie rock stuff, the tail end of grunge, a bit of a punk revival and all of this was creeping into the charts too giving a bit of interest and chance for your arm to grow back before the next boy band comes on and you had to chew it off again.

As for "Placebo", musically it's wonderfully simple. I'm sure you could probably count the number of notes they use in each track on one hand and there's not an awful lot happening with the rhythm either. However, the simple tunes together with the grungy distorted guitar sounds come together to create this amazingly melodramatic sound. Molko's vocals are equally dramatic and the pitch of his voice makes a great contrast with the guitars.

I picked up a copy of their second album "Without You I'm Nothing" second hand a few years ago, which generally sounds much the same, but loses a lot of the dramaticism of "Placebo" and so doesn't hang together nearly as well.

Ironically "Nancy Boy", which was the biggest single from the album is probably the least interesting track on the album. The other singles "Bruise Pristine", "Come Home", "36 Degrees" and "Teenage Angst" all have a bit more punch to them.

However, the real stars of the album are "Lady of the Flowers", where all the melodrama on the album gets concentrated into one song, and "I Know" which just goes to show how well guitar and didgeridoo go together.

All the tracks are available to listen to on, but have a link to "I Know"
anti-nationalism, britain, oxymoron

National Tradition = Nationalism?

Spotted on Facebook:
Person A: can't understand why everybody isn't a morris dancer. You're missing out more than you could ever imagine!
Person B: The whole BNP/Nationalist association would be the first thing that puts me off.

erm... am I missing something here? BNP/Nationalist association?

OK, there are some utterly stuck up pretentious whatsits within Morris. I had one give me a long lecture on how Morris should look, including a fundamental criticism of the style of 2 of the sides I dance with (not entirely sure how he thought that would bring me round to his viewpoint), while I was "young an impressionable". Well, I suppose he certainly made an impression.

And, yes, being based on British traditions you are going to have a link to nationalism, but that's like saying having a bonfire on November 5th makes you a nationalist.

I'm fairly sure I know more left of centre Morris dancers than right of centre ones, let alone people that extreme on the right, but admittedly there are a large number of people in Morris I've never discussed politics with.

Of all the people who have sent me BNP propaganda (not entirely sure why people think a socialist would want BNP propaganda, but apparently I must give off that sort of vibe - somewhat worrying really), only one is a Morris dancer, so yes there are Morris dancing BNP supporters. However, saying that's a BNP association would be like saying there was an association between living in Farmhouses and the BNP, because Nick Griffin lives in one (at least according to Wikipedia he does).

The mind boggles...
anti-nationalism, britain, oxymoron

What is Anti-Facism in Folk?

As, I've said many times on here, although I disagree entirely with the views of facists, I respect that they have a right to express those views. As such I tend to ignore most anti-facist groups as a lot of them seem focused on attacking this right rather than the views themselves.

Therefore when invites to join Folk against Facism came around on Facebook and promptly ignored them the same as I do with anything like that.

It turns out the comments mentioned in the prevous post are connected with this and the BNPs plans to use folk as an English tradition to promote their views. Was also provide with a link to this article, which includes the quote:
It's an ancient Jewish paranoia of mine. For some reason, whenever I see Morris dancers I assume a pogrom can't be far behind.

Where on earth did that come from? Especially given that, as far as I can tell, December 2007 predates all this BNP latching onto folk stuff.

Anyway, this brings me back to the point, which side of the speaking out against facism vs facists rights to express their views line do Folk against Facism stand. The answer is I'm really not sure.

Their website is unhelpfully "coming soon" and their facebook group seems a bit ambiguous on this issue.

However, their press coverage so far (which seems to be more than the BNP actually got), seems to be mainly about them promoting the fact they don't share the facist views, so maybe they are the right side of the line? If they are then I wholeheartedly support what they do.