Thursday, 17 September 2009

The best of Bestival

Bestival was a wierd and wonderful affair, with surprises in all sorts of places. My highlight was Seasick Steve, with his self confessed 'piece of shit guitar'. When he glared at the crowd and growled 'I need me a girl' most females in the crowd took a few paces backwards. However one brave lass took the gamble and jumped back on stage, sat down next to Steve, and let him sing her a love song. It was a brilliant moment. She couldn't have look more pleased, and Steve sang and played beautifully. The crowd loved very minute and it went down as one of those strange but true festival moments.

When your hereos let you down

After spending many long hours explaining to friends why Kraftwerk were the most exciting thing on at this year's Bestival, it was a trifle embarrassing to come back and have to admit they were only average. I saw their tiny smirks and inside I am thinking about warming hot pokers.

So yes, Kraftwerk weren't quite what I hoped for, but don't throw the genius baby out with the bath water (probably not quite the right metaphor there, but never mind). They wrote some of those tunes in the early 70s and they still sound fresh and relevant today. Maybe their live performances don't quite live up to the expectations, but you can't knock their influence on many of today's big hitters. Even Karl Hyde joined the 'I am not worthy' troops by warming up for them with David Bowie's Hereos.

I thought I could survive the disappointment as the new Muse album was out on Monday. Those lovely Cornish boys with their alien obsession and big operatic sounds make me weak at the knees. Well they did the last time anyway. This time they just feel like a boyfriend that I got bored with months ago and haven't got round to dumping yet.

Don't get me wrong, the album is stunning and amazingly produced. But it's the same sort of stunning that I heard last time. They don't seem to have move on anywhere. If anything the big sound now just seems a bit caricatured and ridiculous.

And if that wasn't enough I was burdened with the new(ish) Regina Spektor album last week. Is it just me or has she been so over produced her rough charm and naivety has been lost?

As autumn prods its ugly finger in my face, and winter whispers lies about me behind the bike shed, all seems dark and gloomy. Having said that Camden Crawl just sent out their first Tweet today so spring time pleasures isn't entirely out of reach.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The two exceptions to the rule

A mistress can never allow a roving eye. However there are two women for whom I would chuck the notion of fidelity on the outdated ideas pile, along with slavery, burning witches and voting Labour.

The first of these gorgeous ladies is Ms Lauren Lavern. Not only is she beautiful, glamourous and funny, but I have also had the pleasure of meeting her (if albeit briefly) and can testify to her genuine all round loveliness. The thing that really rocks my boat however is her passion for music.

I have never understood why so few women are into music. I have several female friends and family members that don't own a single album. The worst offenders however are women who have 'inherted' their boyfriend/husband's iPods when they upgraded. Included in this inheritance package is all his music. I mean, what's that all about...? That's like wearing someone else's underpants...after they've pissed in them.

Those women who do buy music tend to stick to the safe bets - Robbie Williams, Beyonce or The Kooks. Very few seem interested in actively seeking out new music and I don't understand why. Music, as far as I see it, isn't a gender specific thing. It's not like cars or computers or other boring men stuff, that's just about cogs, wheels, nuts and bolts. Music is about art, beauty and the thing men fear most...feelings!

I am a self confessed new music geek. I spend far too much time online reading blogs, downloading tunes and buying tickets to see new bands just because I like their name (can't wait to see Dinosaur Pile Up!). But I feel a bit lonely in my music fetish men's world. So the lovely Lauren warms my cockles and makes me feel a little less alone.

My second dazzling doll is Venus de Milo look-a-like, Florence Welsh (of Florence and the Machine). On hearing last night's Mercury Music Prize Award announcement I cursed and spat in the eyes of Speech Debelle, screaming from the rooftops (or at least my Facebook page): "Florence you was robbed!!!".

I'm not one to be caught up in hype. I genuinely think her album is the best I have heard all year: her voice has amazing range and sends shivers down my spine; her lyrics pack a punch (Drumming Song); she writes with beauty on the most original subjects (My Boy Builds Coffins); and god dam-it she just makes me want to dance (Dog Days).

She reminds me PJ Harvey in that there's a feminist heart to her music. In some ways she's better than Harvey who could be a bit heavy handed with the snakes and bleeding symbolism. But boy, how many women do I think of when I hear Kiss With A Fist. Way too many for my own liking.

After I'd got over the horrible injustice of it all I actually went back and listened again to Speech Debelle and relented slightly. My first sneery 'She's just a black female Mikey Streets' changed to 'Hey, cool, she's like a black female Mikey Streets', because actually I think the world needs a black female British hip hop star, especially after the sad demise of Ms Dynamite.

And this is why I think the Mercury Music Prize is important. The Guardian reports today that this is the first time a woman has won the prize in seven years. It gives young black women in South East London a platform. I think that's reason enough to keep the awards and I personally will be watching again in 2010.