From Desk Till Dawn

My mainly music & nerd bird blog

Archive for January 2012

The Lana Del Rey Effect

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What I will refer to as The Lana Del Rey Effect (TLDRE for short, although I doubt it’s an acronym that will catch on) has had me scratching my head and adopting a puzzled look with more and more frequency the closer it got to her debut album release. I can’t recall another artist that has had so much negative, and at times sexist, column inches bringing in the old saying “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” to question.

The music press have been writing about Lana Del Rey in the style of The Sun or Heat magazines celebrity tittle-tattle more than about the music. The reoccurring theme seems to be that Lana Del Rey is somehow defrauding us. We are all being duped by this siren, luring us on to the rocks with her ghetto gold and trailer park tales of tough times.

Hundreds of artists before her have adopted alternative personas, worn so closely to their own skin that it is all we see, not separating the character from the artist. I am certain Lady Gaga doesn’t wear high shine mint pleather talking in riddles every second of the day.  I also doubt Sid Vicious bowled up to his parents and called them *cunts over the Sunday roast, spitting expletives over the yorkshire puddings.

The likes of Lady GaGa, David Bowie’s Thin White Duke and Ziggy Stardust, Beyoncé’s Sasha Fierce are all clearly  dress up, fantasy and creativity. In short, clearly an act. Perhaps the guise of Lana Del Rey is too subtle to the eye which is why a lot of people seem to obsess that she is faking it.

Of course, we then have to add her millionaire father into the equation, the bank balance seemingly adding insult to injury. Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Mick Jagger were all middle class boys. Was Mick Jagger literally a street fighting man? No, he wasn’t in the thick of working class riots throwing the punches but he was a voice for that disillusioned group, a call to arms, he gave them an anthem. That is the beauty of music.

Which finally leads me to the blatant sexism directed at Lana. The worst, the one that had me googling Germaine Greer’s telephone number and weeping that she didn’t lead us to the promised land after all comes from a female for Drowned In Sound

“But she gives off that certain air, you know, that she’d turn herself into anything for any man if that’s what it took.”

Wow.

I’ll just let those words sit there, feel your own outrage bubble up in your stomach and ask yourself ‘Would the same words be said about a man?’

Of course, if you lived with and loved Lizzy Grant all your life and suddenly she’s offended you by hiring a stylist and a PR company in order to sell records and the person you adored fell to the wayside like a dead relation no one is allowed to mention then I apologise profusely. It appears the offense is her father bankrolled the PR machine, or is it that she’s female, or is it that she’s singing about situations she has no personal experience of like a million other songs? It’s quite clear that for the press these factors override the record sales.

I’m not even writing this as a huge fan of Lana Del Rey. I’m writing this as a reminder that we’re meant to just enjoy music for what it is at times and there’s no denying Video Games is a belter of a song.

*Apologies for the C word to my parents!

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Written by Anon PA

January 30, 2012 at 11:30 am

Sunday Swoon. January 29th

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Figured I’d add to the weekly pressure of delivering a weekly mixtape by attempting to post a mini blog each Sunday as well. This will be my top 5 from the week. It may be an album release, something I’ve put in my mouth, a gig, a cocktail, a moment, a music video, a blog, an exhibition, a poem, a photo, a book. On its debut my Sunday swoon this week is made up of the following…

1. Courtesy of a Tweet from 6 Music I discovered the shadow puppetry video for Kate Bush ~ Eider Falls at Lake Tahoe. I can’t quite put my finger on a memory from my childhood, there was a programme that used this ancient theatre art of telling a story. Perhaps it’s an old fairytale I can’t quite bring to mind now I’m a jaded old adult.

2. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time, I was so determined to finish it that I was reading it under my desk in between meetings. I don’t want to go into detail as if you’re looking for a good read I don’t want to give you any spoilers. Some of the best character writing I’ve devoured in a long time, bright, quirky and pulls at your heart-strings over matters you’re least expecting to feel emotional about. The Guardian published an insightful review if you do want a professional account, but I read this without knowing any details and think I got the most from it this way.

“One key ingredient of so-called experience is the delusional faith that it is unique and special, that those included in it are privileged and those excluded from it are missing out”  

                                                                                                      The Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan

3. Francois & The Atlas Mountains released E Volvo Love this week. It seems to now be my default commuter jam album. I’m instantly transported to a gite, wine on tap, cheese at my fingertips and an inner calm that helps me zone out from the man trying to ram his gym bag up my bum. Also, in their video for Les Plus Beaux, feet have never looked so attractive. My French is rusty but I believe the song title translates to the best, or most beautiful (correct me if I’m inevitably wrong)?? He must be referring to those toes!

4. First gig of 2012 will taken some beating. The Maccabees at Brixton Academy on Thursday will be a cherished memory for the entire year. Three albums in means they have quite a back catalogue to draw on and subtle, mature tracks from Given To The Wild blended easily with earlier anthemic crowd rousing songs. We left it late getting tickets so were up in the Gods but none of the atmosphere or sound was lost and we were on our feet for the entire set dancing to the point of collapsed topknots and aching heels. I’ve created a spotify playlist of the set The Maccabees played here. Live highlight has to be the sense of occasion and new lease of life track Feel To Follow has live. Shivers and goose pimples.

5. The story of a lost Nick Drake recording of  Cello Song found by Michael Burdett in the bins behind Island Records HQ in London where he was employed as a post boy charmed me to childish joy this week. Years later it’s resulted in an exhibition called The Strange Face Project which you can see at The Idea Generation Gallery in East London. Tragically, after the initial joy and wonder wore off I’ve spent the week in a mild panic over how many rare recordings have been turfed out into the bins or had the top 40 recorded over them through the years. 

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Words, Wonderful Words

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I have spent most of this afternoon curled up on a sofa far comfier than the ones I have at home reading W.H Auden poems in Selfridges pop-up library, Words Words Words. Although initially sceptical of a library in a store whose main aim is to profit they’ve actually created a quiet haven away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. There is no pressure to buy, although the special editions lining the shelves are extremely tempting for any bookworm.

In fact, despite the calling of special edition books (more like a whisper than a holler, we are in a library after all) Selfridges are offering free literary workshops from Penguin Classic Book Clubs to The Idler Academy offerings in Grammar & Latin and Greek Philosophy.

Like people’s music tastes I always think people’s choice of reading material says a lot about them. Dotted on the shelves are celebrities top picks. Amongst them Sophie Dahl chooses Graham Greene’s The Comedians. Mark Ronson picks Michael Chabon’s Kavalier and Clay, and Beverley Knight opts for William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. All amongst my most cherished books.

This beautiful little corner in a basement has a huge budget behind it, unlike our public libraries. Sadly I can’t help thinking that if our libraries had this kind of money and celebrity endorsement behind them then perhaps they wouldn’t be our latest endangered species. It makes you ponder.

I leave you with Z is for….

Written by Anon PA

January 22, 2012 at 6:21 pm

January 16th Mixtape. Postmodernism

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I visited the V&A’s Postmodernism Style & Subversion 1970-1990 exhibition yesterday so it feels fitting that I should pay tribute to the musicians that were considered part of this movement.

During the exhibition I tweeted how the only downside to exhibitions such as this can be the people who attend. Those that seem to think they know more than the people who have lovingly researched and curated what is on display. I am no art expert, in fact I am naive and uneducated when it comes down to it. I don’t mind admitting that I’d never heard of Ettore Sottsass before yesterday, but now I am in love with his crazy teapots designed as ‘super instruments in which to take drugs, have sex, listen to music and watch the stars’ (why oh why can’t all teapots be like that, making a brew will forever feel unfulfilling now).

I guess it just saddens and frustrates me that people feel the need to impress is greater than the need to pipe down and learn something new. The biggest fail was hearing one man speak in detail to his companion about how David Bowie was inspiring in Talking Heads as we stood below David Byrne’s ‘big suit’. Saying all that, the V&A once again delivered an insightful, educational, attention grabbing exhibition and I relished every moment spent there.

If I wasn’t being so true to the sounds of Postmodernism I’d have included CSS – Art Bitch on this playlist. Talking Heads, Grace Jones, New Order make up the tracks of that period, songs I grew up listening too as my sisters blasted them out of their bedrooms. Click here to play on Spotify, and here for YouTube.

  1. Devo – Whip It
  2. Grace Jones – Slave To The Rhythm
  3. New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle
  4. Grandmaster Flash – The Adventures Of..
  5. Visage – Fade To Grey
  6. Talk Talk – Life’s What You Make It
  7. Kraftwerk – The Robots
  8. Talking Heads – Girlfriend Is Better
  9. Joy Division – Shadowplay
  10. Klaus Nomi – Finale

Written by Anon PA

January 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm

January 11th Mixtape Guest Blog from Huseyin Kishi

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First guest mixtape of 2012 is brought to you by a member of the Twitterati, Huseyin Kishi. It’s a mystery how he crams in university work with the amount of informative articles and songs he digs up. I highly recommend you follow him if you’re interested in politics and the doomed climate we currently reside in. He also has insanely cool music taste and I’m forever in his debt for introducing me to Mariee Sioux.

Click here to play Huseyin’s mixtape on YouTube but may I recommend that you watch and not just listen as his choices are very much all about the performances and poetry as well.

  1. Trespassers William – Different Stars Live (A song of great beauty and truth)
  2. Mariee Sioux – Wild Eyes (A transcendental journey)
  3. Tim Buckley – Phantasmagoria in Two (Jeff’s father, perhaps anguish is passed down)
  4. Julie Doiron – Condescending You (Never bettered, simply bitter)
  5. PJ Harvey – The Darker Days Of Me & Him (A song which sets her apart from anybody else, it is philosophy with music)
  6. R.E.M – Losing My Religion (Timeless)
  7. Carry Me Ohio – Love acoustic/Lost verses (An articulation of the contradiction of sorrow, loss, love and celebration)
  8. Idaho – To Be The One (Abstract words cemented in blossomed feelings)
  9. The Civil Wars – Billie Jean (from Later with Jools Holland, wonderful reworking of a classic)
  10. Alela Diane – Age Old Blue (Just another folk-tale)
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Written by Anon PA

January 11, 2012 at 10:42 am

No Sh#t Sherlock!

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Someone once asked me if I was offended by the way woman are portrayed in Sex And The City. I remember being utterly perplexed. My response; “It’s a TV show, its entertainment, I don’t really feel the need to take it seriously”. Here I am again being asked the same question about yet another fictional character.

I’ve now watched Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia three times and frankly can’t see why so many people are up in arms over the portrayal of Irene Adler.

Had Dame Brenda Hale, an actual real human that exists, appeared in the Supreme Court scantily clad in Agent Provocateur and asked a man to bang her gavel because it’s too heavy for her to lift then yes, I am sure I’d have taken off my best bra and forlornly walked it down to the closest bonfire.

Not for one moment do I believe the writers of Sherlock are trying to send out subliminal messages for women to get back to the kitchen and never dare vote again, for men to only see us as either sexy or in the need of rescue. In fact, to me it was clear the quality Sherlock admired and respected in Irene Adler was her intelligence (unless I missed him giving her boob a cheeky honk-honk like a Carry On film in which case I will apologise). My other half certainly wouldn’t watch this and think “actually love, we’ve got this all wrong. Stop being independent and clever you silly girl. You just pout and I’ll bring home the bacon”.

We shouldn’t be looking to fictional characters (you know, pretend people who don’t actually exist) as role models IRL surely? I know these are woeful times. Who can we look too for inspiration as woman in the public eye. Louise Mensch? No. But here is the thing, I didn’t look to TV for my life lessons growing up. I looked to my parents and sisters for moral guidance, to learn right and wrong, independence.

I don’t take TV too seriously. Of course, if I did and something offended me deeply I’d just switch the channel over. We don’t even have to get off our bums to do that with these clever remote controls.

This week is Hounds Of The Baskervilles. Let’s hope the hounds are wearing suitable underwear and the RSPCA don’t get too riled.

Written by Anon PA

January 5, 2012 at 3:29 pm

What Was & What Will Be. And Artichokes.

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Happy New Year my music loving, book nerd, pick and mix addict alcoholics.

I spent a good chunk of yesterday reminiscing about 2011. It was the year I became addicted to Romanesco, Rum & Ginger, and Hackney (inconvenient seeing as I reside in north-west London). The year I met Jarvis Cocker *swoon*. The year I got a tattoo. The year I spoke to Steve Lamacq on BBC6 Music. The year I remained in love. The year I made a wish in a 6th century wishing well, the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul. The year I found community through Riot Clean Up, the most precious days of last year came from destruction, who could have predicted that – amazing!

It was the year I tweeted for The Guardian at Glastonbury and started writing for Flush The Fashion (thanks Pete!). It was the year I started this blog and had Thom Vincent, Dan Thompson, Bob Winckworth, my Dad and Priyam Chovhan guest blog for me (thanks a ton lovely folk). I’ve had a ton of support from friends, family and strangers in my writing which has truly meant the bloody universe to me.

The year I averaged 2.91 books a month and 2.58 gigs a month (festivals not included as some bands at Glastonbury are a bit of a blur) mainly with Lolita who has energetically suffered my stubborn determination to trek around various venues and fields. This was my soundtrack of 2011.

It was also the year I didn’t truly recognise the value of a friend until she was over the other side of the planet (I should have never let her get on that plane) and that is my one regret. It was the year I was made redundant from a job I loathed, only to find another and be told on my first day they were going bust at Christmas (it’s ok, I found another job after a frantic couple of months). The year my parents bailed me out on a number of occasions reminding me how important family are, I am eternally grateful for their love and support, poor sods.

Then I started thinking about 2012. I’ve never been one for resolutions but this year I decided I’d like some aims to plod towards. My list started with “Eat more artichokes”, and then it remained at that one point for the entire day. I also plan to work my way through the awesome books Cocktails with Bompas & Parr and the stunning Vintage Tea Party. Have a dip dye at Bleach, another tattoo, go back to meditation classes, learn how to ride a bike, find some new friends to trot around London with. Keep a journal in a slightly alternative way thanks to Keel’s Simple Diary, join a book club (ticked off the list thanks to The Good Ship, Kilburn). Above all I hope it’s a content year with few dramas and plenty of creativity.

I’ll leave you all with The Maccabees, the first album of 2012 I’ll be buying and the first gig of the year I’ll be heading to. Happy New Year, hope it’s a proper little belter for you all.