Posts Tagged ‘blur’

features, music

Why Blur’s Modern Life Is Rubbish is one of the most special albums ever

By Stefano on May 10th, 2013

Today we are celebrating Blur’s Modern life Is Rubbish – you’ll find out why in mo – one of the most brilliant and influential albums of the 90s. Here’s ten reasons why you should give it a spin tonight (and every night).

1 It has the most amazing image on the cover

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That’s The Mallard, the art deco-esque train, coughs, Class A4 Locomotive, that was the fastest in the world at the time

2 It really was the album that made started to make Britain, and especially London, an incredible place to be in the 90s.

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The early days of Brit Pop were incredible. And this album’s success inevitably made it easier for Pulp, Oasis, Elastica and, err Menswe@r to break through.

3 The brilliant B sides

This beautiful song inexplicably didn’t make the cut and ended up as the B side to Chemical World.

4 Those group photos

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Remember this was a time when no one was wearing British clobber. No one else dressed like this in the early 90s.

5 It is partly responsible for finishing Grunge’s popularity in the UK

Soundgarden

Grunge by then was well past its sell by date. Nirvana was one thing, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden were another..

6 It kicked off the trend for those bonkers instrumentals that Blur are so good at

Intermission and Commercial Break were just the start

7 Without Modern Life there would be no Parklife

The fantastic reception the albums got was the catalyst for Blur to create Parklife, End Of A Century and especially this tune

8 It brought classic British songwriting back to the fore

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This lot. But also The Jam, XTC, Teardrop Explodes, The Kinks, Bowie and this fella.

9 For Tomorrow’s video captures a moment in 1993 when to be young and living in London was like winning life’s lottery.

I am not sure if Damon intended it to be taken that way but it just exudes optimism.

10 It is 20 years old today

Modern Life

Now don’t you feel old



features, Gallery, music

Not just My Bloody Valentine – Eight original Shoegazing bands who need reviving

By Stefano on February 5th, 2013

mbvLike most music obsessives from time to time I have wondered what it must have been like to be there at a pivotal moment in music history. You know, like avoiding the sweat dripping off the ceiling while the Fab Four hone their post-Hamburg rock and roll in The Cavern. Or watching the light show and Syd Barrett in psychedelic melt down mode at the UFO. Or even hanging with the art school punks at CBGBs as they watched as Blondie’s pop moves took New York’s indie screen global.

The nearest I ever got to a seismic pop moment was in a small and sweaty basement room bizarrely sited on Oxford Street by Tottenham Court Road tube. For there in 1991, the club, known as the Syndrome, became the meeting place for the main movers of the London wing of British indie, some of whom would go on to create some incredible music.

Energised by both the danceable grooves coming out of Manchester and the visceral punky thrills of grunge jetting in from America’s North West coast, the likes of Blur, Ride, Lush, Moose and many others began to fashion a musical response that kept the energy of punk but , how shall we put this, was a little more cerebral. And the music these middle class punks played (for many of the bands were from the posher parts of London and the South East) became known as shoegazing (after some of the musician’s habits of looking at their feet while messing with effects pedals).

As well as absorbing the primitive, yet arty sounds of bands like Dinosaur Junior and Sonic Youth, the Shoegazers were almost all highly influenced by the feedback drenched howl of My Bloody Valentine. Many bands also kept the melodic obsession of the C86 bands in creating sweet, often catchy tunes that they buried under howls of effects and white noise.

Shoegazing, just like The Syndrome, didn’t last too long, but for a couple of the bands it was a springboard to better things. Sadly though most of them didn’t see the musical tidal wave of Brit Pop coming and the music press quickly lost interest in shy, retiring musicians from Surrey and turned their attention to boisterous Beatles-obsessed northerners. In fact almost all of them were history by the mid -90. Except that is in the US where a couple of bands from a city on the nation’s West coast kept the genre alive.

So with My Bloody Valentine releasing their first album in twenty or so years there is no better time to go back and revisit some of the less well known protagonists of the Shoegazing (a term which not surprisingly almost all the bands associated with it hated) era. There are profiles of eight bands and you can hear them, along with some fellow travellers in the Spotify playlist.

* The most under rated 80s indie bands here

* Under rated British 90s indie bands

The Charlottes

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Picture 1 of 8

One of the earliest shoegazey type bands The Charlottes were massively influenced by both My Bloody Valentine’s creative use of feedback and also the poppy melodies of C86-ers like The Primitives. The debut single Are You Happy Now is a classic of the genre with a female vocalist singing a sweet pop tune that they proceed to bury under an avalanche of guitars, effects and Who style drum fills. They got even better too. Their 1991 album Things Come Apart, which has recently been reissued on vinyl by Optic Nerve Recordings, contains Liar, a glorious thrashy tune which was almost an underground hit in the US and See Me Feel - think The Ramones with effects pedals. Sadly the band split soon after with drummer Simon Scott defecting to Slowdive.



Style, Style Safari

Style Safari – InterCity British Rail T shirts

By Stefano on January 21st, 2013

Train travel was much more fun in the 80s. Then you had the wrong sort of leaves on the track, pissed footy fans on Inter City Specials, Jimmy Saville doing the TV adverts and timetables that were quite possibly penned but The Brothers Grimm. Yes those days sure were fun.

Actually the best bit about the, coughs, golden age of train travel, was the Inter City logo and it is great to see that it is making a bit of comeback on a T Shirt or two.

Leading the trend is Renaissance Man, and quite possibly serious train spotter, Damon Albarn who was seen wearing one in the summer when riding The Africa Express to Glasgow. They are available from the V&A but it seems that they are short of stock at the moment.

Here is that shirt and a couple of others.

London Underground Train T Shirt £12.35

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Picture 2 of 3

Now this is old school, very old school. Available from Zazzle it features the interior of a 30s(?) tube train. Zazzle



Gallery, Tablets

Got a new iPad/Nexus 7/Kindle Fire HD? Here are the 30 apps to download first!

By Stefano on January 2nd, 2013

Live Score Addicts (iPad/Android) Free

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Picture 1 of 30

This is ideal for afternoons spent watching football on the box, it basically keeps you totally up to speed with what is happening in games across the globe. The push notifications are lightning quick and there's more than enough data to satisfy your inner Statto.

Got yourself a new tablet this Christmas. Chances are that you, or some in your home has taken delivery of a new iPad, iPad mini, Galaxy Tab, Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD or one of those cheapo models that we like so much.

The big question is then what apps should you download first? We have put together a list of 30s apps that we think are absolutely essential. Some are games, some books, some enable you to watch TV, all are very useful and entertaining.

The app falls into several categories. There are genuine tablet apps- eg those created especially for say the iPad. Then there are those which are made for smartphones which will work on tablets in a slightly different way.

The only problem with the Android tablets is that not every app works on every tablet, so for example while Sky Go happily plays with the Google Nexus 7 it won’t work on the Amazon Kindle Fire.

Anyhow most of these apps will work on most of the tablets. And a good percentage are free too – so what are you waiting for?



Accessories, features, music

Is Baggy/Madchester the next big thing in men’s fashion?

By Stefano on September 12th, 2011

The other day The Guardian’s music/fashion correspondent Alexis Petridis wrote about how men’s fashion has suddenly become massively influenced by one year, 1988 and specifically the time in which 80s fashions (think denim shirts, girlie pumps), collided with the 1950s (think quiffs, Levis 501s, Rayban Wayfarers etc).

This odd combination occurred for a number of serendipitous reasons. Firstly big brands – Levi’s, Southern Comfort among others – began to use 50s imagery and music for their ad camapigns. Secondly a nation of indie kids has become obsessed with Morrissey and in turn with his obsession with James Dean. Suddenly 50s fashions were coming at you from all angles.

So if 1988 is the current apex of cool, where is men’s fashion likely to go next? We have already seen Urban Outfitter’s rather lamentable attempts to hype ‘grunge fashion’ (in some ways that’s an oxymoron) with its Cobain label. But by shifting on to the early 90s men’s fashion would be bypassing one of its most fun, creative and populist periods. I refer of course to Baggy.

For the uninitiated, you are either too young or from North American, Baggy was one of those brief periods in British history (see also late 60s and mid 70s) where the nation’s young let it all hang out. This meant taking copious amounts of a new drug – ecstasy – and listening to oddly psychedelic music – The Stone Roses. The difference this time (compared with the 60s) was that Baggy was dance music-oriented with the dominant soundtrack, in clubs at least, the emerging Acid House sound from Manchester, via Chicago. So a killer combination of dancing and drugs predictably wreaked havoc with the nation’s trouser’s width. The 80s had been largely about skinny jeans morphing into easy fit vintage Levi’s as the decade wore on. Suddenly everyone was wearing Flares.

It wasn’t just trousers either. Baggy ought also to be remembered as the first time the hooded top became a high street fashion staple. Baggy also gave us dayglo sweat shirts, later appropriated by the nu rave crew, as well as Paisley and pattern shirts – which to be fair had been bubbling under for much of the 80s – huge Tees and some fantastic headgear.

Drab old Britain was suddenly a riot of colour and its young cared less about perfecting their quiffs and posing in their vintage shades and more about getting off their tits in fields in Berkshire.

Sadly Baggy didn’t last too long. Internal disagreements (and spiraling drug consumption) tore The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays apart. And as for the Baggy Beatles – the La’s – lead singer Lee Mavers decided that the world only really deserved one album of his genius songs and he went AWOL.

By the time Baggy hit the South (it was mainly a northern thing) the bands were on their way out and the clothes had hit the local charity store. For a few months the UK flirted with some horrendous grunge fashions before Blur, Pulp and Britpop smartened everyone up (a little).

So, Baggy is sure to be revived sooner or later, so now might be as good a time as any to comb your local Oxfam for a nice hooded top with mildly psychedelic patterns on the front. Flares will hopefully be optional this time round.



Entertainment, Heroes and Celebrities, News

Alex James’ Ascot look

By admin on July 29th, 2008

alex james ascot claire blur.jpgAlex James looked great pictured at Ascot recently with his wife Claire. Sporting a white suit with an off-white shirt the former Blur bassist kept things interesting with a pale mustard retro tie. I wouldn’t have thought textured ties were a very good look in summer but it’s quite an effective look. See after the jump for a selection of the best summer textured ties.

[Image: David Hartley/Rex Features]

Read the rest of this entry »




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