Cheap Skulls

Nickelback - Trying Not to Love You

Picture the scene - the head honcho comes in and says: “Right, there’s no way around it, we’re doing a Nickelback video. Not only that, its the fifth single from their seventh album. It’s got a big budget, we can’t turn it down.”

I can’t imagine most directors are going to be jumping with joy at that brief. BUT what the director has done here is incredible. He’s not only made it watchable and fun, but you have to see it to the end… and did you notice? after about 3mins (max) you weren’t paying any attention whatsoever to the turgid, trad MOR rock drivel? (which only came in at 1.30 anyway). So he’s made a video which you can watch on silent and enjoy, and at no point do we have to see them, apart from a small rendering in coffee.

6.8 million views. You did notice Jason Alexander plays both baristas, right? 


Captain Jack Sparrow = The Cult

Johnny Depp claims his ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ character Captain Jack Sparrow is based on Keith Richards:  

"It was very strange initially you know when the character’s main ingredients came up. I was a little worried at what Keith Richards was gonna think. Because for a good portion of the time I was spending with him, I was sponging as much of him as I possibly could for the character. And when he found out what I’d been doing, it could’ve gone either way, but he was very nice about it, like ‘I had no idea mate!’ He was very sweet about it."

However, the truth - at least costume wise - is Sparrow is ripped wholesale from the lead singer of The Cult.   

I hate this song. its awful


Quo is me

Have you seen the cover to the new Status Quo album? … Didn’t think so - but jezus:

image

This looks like some hipster band have told their designer buddy to “come up with something that’s across between Turbo Outrun and Operation Wolf and” in a super-ironic way… but as its The Quo, I guess they just think its de jour. Which is kind of is. Err, so where does that leave us?     


James Murphy – Why you so sad?


I bet James Murphy is one pissed dude. In the eight years Daft Punk disappeared off up their French asses before making this new album, he had a whole career with LCD Soundsytem. During that time he went on about the duo plenty, even calling a song Daft Punk is playing at My House. So when the band in question start making their list of collaborators for this project, did they give him a call?

Non.

I mean, they even let Fuzzy Bear from Animal Collective be on the album. They EVEN let Pharrell dribble his creepy-horny shit all over the first single. (Seriously, that dude should just have a wank before he sits down to write any words. When was the last time anybody referred to “getting lucky” anyway? The 70s?)

But still no collab for poor old James. And if that’s not enough of a kick in the teeth, Guy De Homo Monte Cristo and Tomas Bangbus have really been rubbing it in:

“It’s always this thing where we’re constantly waiting for something that will come in electronic music that says, ‘Daft Punk sucks!’ 

“That’s actually much more interesting and exciting than someone who is paying homage.” (They told GQ)  

Oops.

Oh well, at least I guess he never had to wear a fucking robot helmet.


Daft Punk: Random Access Memories track-by-track

Daft Punk gave a breakdown of their new album to French blog obsession:

Original  can be found here: http://obsession.nouvelobs.com/musique/20130418.OBS6224/random-access-memories-par-daft-punk.html

Here’s an English transcript, courtesy of my colleague Kate Thomas:

Give Life Back to Music

One of the ambitions of this album is to bring both something lighthearted and elegant to the table. John Robinson Jr plays the drums here. He was a part of Michael Jackson’s album ‘Off The Wall’. What’s fantastic about a performance likes his is the infinite nature of nuances: something we weren’t used to with electronic programming… The records produced by Quincy Jones have always fascinated us with their extraordinary precision, which is yet to be achieved by any technology. It’s kind of the fundamental difference between ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad’. In the latter album, the tracks are of a very high standard, but the performances are less varied.

The Game of Love

We sing with vocoders. In an era in which human voices are changed to sound robotic, we thought it was exciting to make a robotic voice sound as human as possible. The idea of an artificial intelligence who is nearing man… An emotion from something that isn’t human, but is trying to be.

Giorgio by Moroder

We met him a couple of years ago; he’s always been a kind of mythical and quite a mysterious figure for us. His personal journey follows music’s in general. The idea came to us of a documentary-style song based on an interview we did. Giorgio Moroder’s voice was recorded using several microphones from several different eras… We then recorded three hours of interviews during which he was talking about his life as a musician. This piece is a metaphor about musical freedom: we have always tried to break barriers between musical genres, between good and bad taste, cool things and unfashionable ones. Giorgio is a kind of model of the genre. He was in a little provincial town, started singing in hotel lounges, opened for Johnny Hallday, then started making progressive rock. Hearing him say, aged 72, ‘Ah, I was making electronic music 40 years ago’, is fascinating.

Within

Gonzalas plays piano on this song. He’s a friend of ours and a great pianist, one of the best musicians of his generation. ‘Within’ is one of the first songs we recorded. His style is very minimal: a bit of rhythmic section, a bass, a piano. Creating the essential with very little was the idea behind this track.

Instant Crush

Julian Casablancas from the Stokes sings this. We’re both big fans of him and found out he wanted to meet us. We had this demo lying around, he came along, he had a listen and he loved it! He’s got a kind of gift. Deep down, we love rock music and the concept of a rock ‘n’ roll band, but there were so many strong acts that the birth of a new voice was quite difficult at one point. Recently though, the Strokes and MGMT – both with different dimensions and sensibilities – have managed to pull it off. Julian’s got a punk rock side to him, a really strong emotional quality to his melodies. It was important to get him for this album, to feel like we were surrounded by our peers.

Lose Yourself to Dance

This song is the sums up our aim in the easiest way: to make an album which is both very polished and simple at the same time, with an axe bass, drums and guitar – and robots! It’s the opposite of something over-worked. Our fantasy was to transform dance music using drums … Recording it in that way gave us huge satisfaction: we’re proud that it’s a real drum kit on the album and not a rhythm box. There are two drummers on the disc, John Robinson Jr, who holds the record of being the most recorded drummer in the world, and Omar Hakim, who begin his career with Stevie Wonder aged 16.

Touch

This track is the core of the album. It’s the starting point for the whole album, which came about after meeting Paul Williams. A sound engineer we knew introduced him to us. Paul [a film soundtrack composer and actor] came to visit us in the studio. Something very cinematographic and narrative was born form this meeting. ‘Touch’ defines the psychedelic aspect of ‘Random Access Memories’. This song has 250 beats, so it’s the most complicated and the craziest.

Get Luck

Pharrell Williams sings on this track: it felt natural to invite him to be part of our album. He’s a born performer in every way, who oozes elegance. He’s not always had the opportunity to show he can be an excellent singer, even though he has his place in the pantheon of mythical performers. There is no imaginary line which divides the great artists of the past and today’s musicians, who are supposedly less good than before. We wanted to give the impression of being in a capsule, in the studio, cut off from the rest of the word. You might feel like you’re in 1978 [listening to the track], but our idea is to make this music travel in the present and the future, see what happens and observe if the enthusiasm works.

Beyond

Another song done with Paul Williams, who wrote the words. It’s a very cosmic sounding song with very poetic and pure lyrics. We chatted a lot with Paul about the album’s direction, and it was interesting that he was able to put our ideas down in words.

Motherboard

A futuristic song, which could be straight out of the year 4000…

Fragments of Time

Our reunion with Todd Edwards [house music composer] after ‘Discovery’.

Doin’ it Right

The angelic voice is Panda Bear’s [from the band Animal Collective]. We love the solo stuff he did, as well as his band’s whole vibe. This song – the only electronic one on the album – was the last one we recorded. As a result it feels very relaxing. It’s without a doubt the most f


Hi, so I just saw your Greggs complaint letter and I would just like to point out that Greggs do not promise hot food but they do however say that all of there food freshly baked which it is. Its is also not the staffs fault if the pasties are cold, it has nothing to do with how they sales the products, its a simple matter of if know one comes in to buy the pasties, they will go cold. :) x from Anonymous

Oh Hai, 

In the letter you can see I do not blame the staff. They work very hard, and have to deal with some tricky customers, and i appreciate what they do. I know how the Greggs system works, but if the pasties are obviously cold why sell them? My letter is more about the design of the shop, which includes a huge wide open door, letting gusts of freezing air in and the pasties go colder quicker. heck, if they close the door, then the staff will have a better environment to work in too! 


Greggs Kentish town: An open letter

image

 

Dear Greggs the Bakers,

I am writing to you regarding your outlet on Kentish Town High Street, London, NW5. I’ve been a mug for too long, and today (27.02.13) it must stop.

During the five years I have been working in Kentish Town, I have frequented this shop many, many times. I find the staff to be amiable and friendly, but the baked goods particularly substandard. I have lived in London long enough not only to put up with, but to expect, readymade food outlets to vend substandard quality product, but the repeated sale of cold Steak Bakes, Chicken Slices and Cornish Pasties at this Greggs has gone too far.

Today  I told the gentleman behind the till I did not want to buy the last remaining Steak Bake if it was cold, as it has been on countless occasions before from this particular Greggs outlet (I asked seven of my colleagues and they backed me up, they’re almost always cold, two have stopped eating at Greggs for this reason). He assured me it was warm, picked it up with pincers, put it in a bag and £1.35 later I was on my merry way. Back at the office I was confronted with a stone cold-to-the-touch lump of pastry, with hardly any meat or gravy in it. It wasn’t pleasant to eat. My treat for the day (I usually eat soup or salad for lunch, and allow myself few deviations from the plan, this was one) was ruined. I thought about taking it back to the shop, queuing again, and being served, most likely, a slightly warmer pasty - wasting another 20 mins round trip of my lunch hour – but really, what would be the point?

So that’s why I’m writing. You are a proud northern company. I hail from the fair city of Derby where after having switched from Don Miller’s Hot Bred Kitchen, I have enjoyed many (and cheaper) piping hot Gregg’s products. Perhaps the problem in Kentish town is due to the fact you have a shop with no door? The place is exposed to the elements come rain or shine, so cold gusts can flow right in and turn the pasties from mouth-watering baked fancies into cold lumps of brittle stodge. Perhaps a baked goods cabinet with glass both sides and a sliding door - which could keep the heat in - would be a good idea? Or maybe the staff, as lovely as they are, could do with a little extra training on how to bake and sell the goods? Either way, I cannot go on like this and will not be buying any more goods from any Greggs bakery (a sign of solidarity) until I receive satisfactory response.

Good day,

Andy Tillett

 

 


The BRIT Awards 2013

image

Well, another night of trophies for Emeli Sande, which pretty much sums up the overall mediocrity of British mainstream music. The ceremony I didn’t really see as I was  - as ever - working away frantically in the Winner’s Room. From what I could gather it was wank. Muse have to be the only decent bit. And I’m sure One Direction were mildly entertaining, but in a very family friendly way. I could go on about the winner’s room, but basically, it was full of people who had nothing to say.

I mean, this guy:

image

Won two awards. Who is he? I have no fucking idea. Ben Howard. Point 1) one of his awards was voted for by listeners of Radio 1. We have Radio 1 on in the office for about half the day and I still had no idea who he was and didn’t recognise any of his songs. Does that mean R1 aren’t playing him? Or have I missed something? Which brings me to point 2) - It would be quite easy to miss him, because - well, look at him. He makes Ed Sheeran appear interesting. He’s a normal fucking guy in a T-shirt. I’m sure his songs are great and he takes being a ‘singer songwriter’ to a new level, but BRITAIN, is this what you want? is this what you really want as your stars? People who look like blokes down the pub singing unrecognisable blandness with acoustic guitars? it appears… Yes. FFS! it’s hardly David Bowie is it?   

Anyway, LDR got her second award and, er, she looks very normal. she gushed some crap like, ‘I’m really happy, this is the greatest thing… blah blah blah’  

image

For some reason she still reminds me of the Honey Monster. Also, one thing I can’t get my head around with LDR is this: I really like her, everything about her look, her videos, the story she has built up, the persona, the sound she has created…. but I only like about five of her songs. The rest are all the same, complete dirge. How can you like a musical artist so much but not like their music? Is it some sort of postmodern (or post-irony) joke?

Speaking of jokes, lets forget all about Mumford & Sons, eh? Spare ourselves.  

Anyway, things started hotting up at the afterparties. I bust to the Sony one (didn’t have to queue, as my main man got me in), stood ten feet from Simon Cowell, who had two security guards to stop any muppets approaching him. His face was bigger in real life than I thought it was going to be. He’s quite stacked too, his chest well sticks out. Saw Harry Styles, he seemed like a charming fellow, genuinely nice, which also surprised me. Noel Gallagher looked taller than last time I saw him, but most likely wasn’t. I saw a guy I swore was Serge from Kasabian, but as i got really close to him it wasn’t, just some guy who looked EXACTLY like Serge from Kasabian, and had styled himself so. I shoulda gone over and said “oh mate, you look exactly like that guy from Travis, i love them, got all the songs, You know ‘I’m On Fiiiire’ and all that…” Little Mix looked lost and a bit perturbed. The Vaccines were largely ignored. Justin had a nice jacket on though.

Then on to Warners’ afterparty. That wasn’t as good, but there were better looking girls there. I tried to get in the wrong way and as a burly Eastern European man was telling me in no uncertain terms I wasn’t allowed through the door I’d just walked through, Lily Allen, her assistant and her husband appeared. She pleaded to be let through to go to the toilet as she had just given birth and was “lactating”. Her term, I think she was even tweeting about it. The burly man said no. Then another burly Eastern European man didn’t want to let me in the main door, but after a little bit of to-ing and fro-ing I got in. Sneaked into the VIP after another argument (you see the bureaucracy I have to deal with?) with another bouncer and proceeded to blag some champagne, my first drink of the night. Saw Pro Green in a very strange shirt, but that was about it. Steve who I used to work with had a great anecdote about how he went to talk to Kate Hudson and denied he was a journalist. She didn’t believe him, and frisked him for a wire! Oh yeah, and I saw the drummer from Muse, Dominic. He was wasted! good guy though, he wasn’t a diva at all, as someone was trying to figure out getting him and some of his party taxis, he just waited, really pissed. He lost his phone, found it again, then lit up just inside the door. sound guy! 


The Vaccines / Muse - War Child Show, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 18/02/13

The Vaccines look like a four people pretending to be in a rock band, as if they were designed by some advertising exec who was asked what a rock band should look like. Their songs are the same, its like the final scene in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ where the aliens have faithfully reproduced what human products look like, but they’re actually just blank objects made to look like a telephone, a cereal box etc. The Vaccines do look good - all denim and flailing hair, Justin Young’s white socks glaring out from below his skinny jeans in what may or may not be a homage to Michael Jackson - but real rock ‘n’ rollers don’t look like Top Man mannequins. They also don’t sing songs with lines like “If you wanna come back its alright / its alright / its alright if you want to come back to me,” a particularly weedy sentiment. The Vaccines have always has something suspicious about them somehow, something about the way they appeared fully formed in 2010 and became ‘the biggest thing in indie’ with two singles.

This is, of course, all swept aside within 30 seconds of Muse’s set. Opener ‘Supremacy’ may not be their best song, but it still had more riffs in it than The Vaccines’ entire set. Any band that can then casually toss ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ out as second song without blinking are a force to be reckoned with. After six albums Muse really are built like a tank. A tank made of huge guitar riffs and big dirty stinking bass lines. Even though there are only three of them - two of whom are pretty small guys - everything about the band is massive, from the huge amount of kit glowing like some sort of brain wedged behind the mixing desk, to the slightly Spinal Tap way Chris’ novelty light-up bass looks this close up.

I get lost with Muse’s career around the third album and aside from a few good singles, felt they just did the same thing with more and more operatics and wilder structures until ‘The 2Nd Law’. The electronic edge they have adopted, and the increased input of bassist Chris stop the sound being such a relentless assault of Matt’s overbearing voice. Yeah, there are a few moments where things drag, mainly the slow, keyboard ones, but the band proved they don’t’ need the big video screens and the pomp they have built into their live show. Tonight was a reminder of what made them great in the first place – they’re a super tight band and great musicians. I’m always surprised with Muse live how many hooks come across and how they never seem particularly overindulgent. The only downer was them playing ‘Time is Running Out’ and ‘Starlight’ right at the end, cos I always felt they are a bit throwaway, but they’re the hits I guess. Definitely the second best time I’ve seen Muse, but the best was after I’d had loads of mushrooms, so that put a different slant on things.


Play it again Jimmy…

The trouble with one hit wonders is the record company always want another song to release straight after. Some artists ‘go arty’, some try another genre, but the best ones, the very cream just release essentially the same song with slightly different lyrics and a new drumbeat. Behold:

“Are you Jimmy Ray?” Asked a group of chorus girls on Jimmy Ray’s debut single. Risky move, playing on your adopted moniker as your only card, still, it paid off for the big beat Marky Mark and he scored number 13 on the US and UK charts.

However, the big question was, what would a chorus (of guys this time) ask Jimmy for his second single? Well, after the who comes the where, as in “Where you gonna go?” Predictably for this faux rockabilly young buck, it was Vegas. A gamble which cost him his career (sorry, couldn’t resist).

For any Jimmy Ray die-hards, you should also check out his rip off of George Michael’s ‘Faith’, which actually continues his story, being called ‘I Got Rolled’ and all. Unusual for someone like Jimmy to have such self-awareness,  wonder whether he realised that when he recorded it?

Meanwhile, the figures speak for themselves when it comes to Lou Bega. ‘Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of…)’ was number one in Germany, UK, Australia, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and nearly everywhere else in Europe with a chart, not to mention and an unbeaten 20 weeks at number one in France in 1999. Nobody in Europe could resist Lou’s 1930s spiv charm, pencil ‘tache and cheeky mugging to the camera.

You have also gotta respect Lou for being the person on this list who stuck most ardently to his formula for the follow up. Samba trumpets? Check. Samba beat? Check. Practically the same lyrics? Check. This time he’s not listing his girlfriends’ names, but the places they live (“Paris, Rome, Vatican Dome”). He even brings on the suit, dance moves, and moustache, wholesale. 

‘I Gotta Girl’ was never much of a hit, but it is interesting to note the style of the track and its video and how close they are to Christina Aguilera’s ‘Candyman’ from eight years later. It could even be argued there’s a bit of an influence on Jay-Z’s ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ from 2001 in there? Maybe. Either way further props to Lou, for calling his 2005 album ‘Lounatic’.

2001 was THE summer of UK Garage and what better way to crown it than with a number one from the DJ Pied Piper and the Masters Of Ceremonies. Not letting an unwieldy name stop them, they smashed the charts with the inescapable ‘Do You Really Like It’, a tune which boasted two big hooks, in the titular line and a part where everybody in Zanzibar/Walkabout/Jumpin’ Jaks/Yates’s shouted “Bo! Aiya Napa, Aiya Napa, Aiya Napa, Bo!” together. Sophisticated.

DJ Piped Piper had indeed lived up to his name and got Teh Kidz dancing to his tune, but I don’t think neither he nor his Masters of Ceremonies were prepared for the size of the bellyflop which was the non-charting follow up ‘We R Here’. If only they’d stuck a line in about Kavos or Magalluf, eh? 

And so to possibly the most annoying act on this list: Daphne and Celeste. Possibly the most scary thing about this act was the way they simultaneously managed to look both 12 and about 40 at the same time. Bizarrely, they were also recruited from the US, but only released records in the UK. You can tell record companies still had money back in 2000, coming up with something as weird as this. Still better than Eoghan Quigg though.

Not content with lines telling us “In your ear with a can of beer / up your butt with a coconut,” on ‘Ooh, Stick You’, they went on to rip off Run DMC’s ‘Tricky’ for the follow up, ‘U.G.L.Y’ where they lambasted everyone for being ugly. Ace. And it proved an even bigger hit. 

Sadly that was where it had to end though, and they never got to release the incredible ‘I Love Your Sushi’ as a single. Also, Daphne’s real name was Karen. Celeste was called Celeste though.  

Anybody know any more?


Will.i.am and Big Lebowski, bitch

Is it just me that sees the similarities between Will.i.am and Britney Spears’ Scream and Shout…

…and the dream sequence in The Big Lebowski with Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore:

I even reckon Britney looks like Julianne Moore in it! Does that make Will.i.am The Big Lebowski?