Monday, May 31, 2010

this blog is in danger of becoming a sort of Moon Wiring Club-dedicated Radio Times / listings guide, but Brighton residents really do need to know about this upcoming performance by Ian Hodgson Esq. at The Outer Church (Joseph Stannard's regular club night)

can't get this tune out of my head
(you can grab it on this great ariel pink factmix)

can't get this tune out of my head either (as heard on VH1 Classic's A>Z video thing

what a fruity look Buckingham had at this point in the Eighties

been meaning to give Lyndsey's solo career the proper once-over, never quite get around to it

if nothing else he is a "fuckin' tasty lickmeister", one of those great guitarist whose name never comes up in Lists of Great Guitarists

production-wise he is one of the confectioners supreme of pop, up there with oh Paul McCartney & Wings.

the sickly artifice all the more cloying because of the attempt to renovate/resurrect Fiftes rock'n'roll on this track

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

more like Bullshit Artist of the Decade, then

(i do have a good nose for it, you know)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

dwarf wallaby
actual good news in a newspaper

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

dismayed that Prime Minister Balls is not going to be happening any time soon, if ever

guaranteed day-brightener each and every, that would have been

headline-writers's delight

ah well

also consternated by the fact that I am older than the new PM and the new Deputy PM

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Moon Wiring Club guest-mix for Solid Steel Radio Show (tracklist here)
"an Endless Teatime can be a very long time indeed, but Purveyors of Confusing English Electronic Music, the Moon Wiring Club, have selected a Confectioner's Radiogram of aural treats to accompany your 432nd cuppa. Expect a connoisseurs earful of Library Music, Instrumental Hip-hop, adapted antique 8bit sounds, dusted electronica and saucy Synth-pop. All supremely buttered-up with a diabolical assortment of English voice snippets, and choice selections from the MWC back-catalogue tea-trolley"

Friday, May 07, 2010

turn on the olds
tricia romano on hipsters's peculiar cult of senior citizens

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

riffs (slight return)

Zone Styx on the riff, hip hop, and.... flutes!

Riffs Mailbag: late arriving missives

Terence J. McGaughey: "No mention of Shock Headed Peters' riffs...
1."always be waiting" (massive, fistfucker black sab riff, deep purple motorik rhythm, karl blake's 'cracks in the testosterone' vocals)
2."parabola" (half-krautrock, half-birmingham swirling mania with karl shrieking a-la ozzy "black sabbath 2" era)
3."hate on sight" (more huge hormonal riffs, somewhat reminiscent of magma AND deep purple -- grinding rhythm section, wailing)
i think the Peters are an exemplary pre-millennial british hard rock band, certainly alone in the indie/alt world of the 1980s... i will die defending them!

Terence again: "also, the women : pj harvey "rub til it bleeds", "ecstasy" - led zeppelin's hard-on crushed under polly's feet
cranes "heaven or bliss", "give" - riffage turns to emotional cheese-grater (though the vocals could be cheese-grater also)

Meant to include Polly...

Jon Dale "Bass riff - World Domination Enterprises "Asbestos Lead Asbestos"

A. J. Ramirez: "Shame on the lack of Goth or more post-punk riffs, even. Here's a genre where the bassists, not the guitarists, were the riff monsters (Peter Hook, Steve Severin, Jah Wobble, Dave Allen of Gang of Four, etc.) With Riff Week wrapping up and all involved still haven't even exhausted all the classics worth highlighting, might I even suggest Riff Week become an annual occurrence?"

Possibly. Actually, I was wondering if Solos was viable as a concept....


and one more for the road:

the riff being that fuzztone guitar at the back

there is something deliciously pleasurable when sound-signifiers that (rightly or wrongly) connote "rock" appear in black pop ("Shaft", "summer breeze"-era Isleys, etc)

Oh one more one more for the road:

When this first came out, the bass-riff instantly reminded me of The Stranglers, which was enough to overcome my backpackerland-aversion (as in the
chorus's three-line distillation of Old Skool ideology:" We're not ballin' or shot callin'/We take it back to the days of yes y'all-in'/We holding onto what's golden")

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

treats for ears:

* haintalogical webring (Toys and Techniques, A Sound Awareness and
Unmann-Wittering) collaborate on a season of Radiophonic Workshop rarities

* fab Cybore NDW mix at Pontone

* Dunwich Radio, Sanity Muffins,The Sound of Eye, Lunar Atrium

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Rashly I asserted that Devo were New Wave riffers supreme, clean forgetting about Tubeway Army, who were less synthpop than they were synthrock.

Pretty much any track on Replicas could be presented as evidence of Numanoid riff-prowess, but the allegedly more electronic The Pleasure Principle is also rifftastic in places

Another New Wave killer-riff provider: Siouxsie & the Banshees (standing in for the undealt-with and not-to-be-dealt-with, this being the last instalment of Riffs Week, topic of Goth). Juju is their hardest slab of rock.

X -- bizarrely over-rated but "Nausea" can't be denied

Reinventing the riff, and rock:

Always felt "Marquee Moon" was a distant Yankee cousin of "Freebird". Which--talking here about the long section after the song proper--ecstatically blurs the difference between riff and solo.

Okay time to wind up now, having neglected Flipper, ZZ Top,Blue Oyster Cult, Chrome, the Kinks,and many more, and also having failed to pursue the questions of the riff in rap (a/k/a the Stab, written about an aeon ago by Dave Tompkins of vocoder bk fame) and the riff in techno-rave (again a/k/a the stab, but also terms used by producers like melody-riff and doubtless others I'm not privy to).


Carl elaborates on the Ron Johnson appeal and asks if this is not an extension of postpunk. Well, it would fall into "late postpunk" I guess (c.f. the second-wave of avant-funk), and for the most part, to my ears, something of an ingrown, cul de sac like development, although I did love Stump, especially early on,and as a live band. But shambling/Ron Johnson as postpunk-continues is the argument of this recent book by John Robb, Death To Trad Rock.

Riffs Mailbag

Stanley Whyte:
"1. No, there probably aren't any killer/undeniable Motorhead riffs - it's all about the sense of onslaught for Motorhead think - but this one comes closest:
- Deaf Forever from their Bill Laswell-produced (??) 86 disc Orgasmatron.

2. What? No mention of Slade? Run, Runaway seems all about the riff (plodding one-note thing it is). What a charmingly daft tune - what DO they think they're singing about? ("I like black and white/ DREAMING IN BLACK AND WHITE/you like black and white - run, runaway").

Jake Smith: he seconds Stranglers's "basstastic distortions" and suggests also "Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well""

Jon Dale: "I still think Aerosmith had the best riffs on the planet, though Royal Trux gave them a run for their money around Thank You/Sweet Sixteen/Accelerator era... Accelerator particularly odd, given how completely inhuman and mechanised the riffs are ("I'm Ready", "Juicy Juicy Juice", "Banana Question" are almost punitively produced...)"

"Is there an opposite to the "drops away" effect you mentioned with regard to Beefheart, The Ruts etc.?

I'm thinking one example could be Free, who seem to sound more and more anomalous to 70's blues-rock as time goes by. I think it's the sheer metronomic consistency of Simon Kirke's drumming, which seems to define their entire sound in a way that the style of no other drummer does.

I'd love to set up a digital metronome against one of their songs and see just how accurate his bpm's are. I strongly suspect that he's of pretty much digital drum-machine accuracy. "Woman" and "Songs of Yesterday" are good examples

Oh go on then, one more for the road...

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Now is this a riff, or a pulse?

That's from the Avant Hard album.

One or two of Add N To (X)'s latterday tunes (on the last two LPs) remind me of synth/keyb-laced rockers The Stranglers. Who had some wicked riffs, if we count the gnarly-fuzzed melody-carrying bass guitar of JJ Burnel as the riff instrument (Hugh Cornwell's guitar tending either to splintered faintly Beefheartian licks or rhythm gtr, with Dave Greenfield's mighty organ providing both propulsion and solo in the Manzarekian mode)

New Wave riffers supreme, though, are surely Devo. For the duration of that debut album and here and there on the second, it's a dramatically original reinvention of hard rock as stark and diagrammatic as that staged by Wire or Go4

yet Devo were in a way as rooted (albeit via inversion) in the blues as the Groundhogs or as these other cusp of Sixties-into-Seventies Brits

slipping back further into the hairy hoary late Sixties--yet there's nothing self-indulgent, bloated, rambling, punk-neccessitating about this tune… and what a lyric

two songs where the guitar bit is somewhere between a riff and a mini-solo

the opposite: the infra-riff, the sub-riff, just too simple, too primalist

an odd thing is that Lemmy here has quite a clear, pleasant, non-gnarly vocal -- is it speed and booze and cigs that done in his vocal chords, or just the nature of Motorhead's music, roaring through the blare

i couldn't think of a Motorhead song that had a killer riff, strangely. Their music's power works through other means.

Does the same apply to the Sex Pistols? When it came to great riffs the first thing by them that sprang to mind was this, which is somebody else's riff.

I heard this before I heard the Stooges version, with the result that the Stooges one sounds… feebler. Crazy I know.

Lydon never completely shed his inner rocker

Well he had a good go on Flowers of Romance, but it came back with the Laswell produced Album. Which doesn't really have a good riff on it as I recall. Supposed to be his Zep influenced LP but "Rise", the really good tune, is more like U2.

Riffs Mailbag

Couple of helpful efforts to define and differentiate riffs/licks/vamps/chord progressions/gtr figures etc

Craig Allen says "i took guitar lessons so i'll take a crack at it

A riff is a lower register motif on guitar, played during the verses.
I think of them as being made up of single notes (not chords), but I
suppose 'You Really Got Me' could be considered a riff, even I though
i think it's always played as two power chords (maybe the original was
single notes?). Classic single note riffs are 'Smoke On The Water' and
'Daytripper'. Ventures songs ('Walk, Don't Run" and "Pipeline") seem
to be too long to be considered riffs. Maybe those are guitar parts.

I think licks are played during solos and are in the upper register.
Solos are supposedly improvised but guitarists always go for their
licks. I'm thinking of one that Pat Martino and George Benson use
that's made up of three notes. Maybe Ace Frehley doing a pull off in
the blues scale.

A vamp is from jazz, a simple repeating chord progression, usually
just two, like the intros of Wave or Girl From Ipanema, but not the
complicated chord changes as in rest of the song. On some jazz
standards people solo over just the vamp, which is easier. If you're
just vamping and not playing changes, it's not really jazz.

I guess a chord progression needs to have more than the two chords. I
think the first one I learned on guitar was 'Stepping Stone': E/G/A/C.
I think of most punk and hardcore songs as just being chord
progressions, since they are made up of simple power chords (the root
and the fifth)

AJ Ramirez say "The simplest of these to distinguish is a lick. It's just a tasty little thing that guitarists may or may not repeat throughout their discographies as stylistic signatures, but they aren't used to serve a repetitive, rhtyhmic function act as a particular song's primary driving force as riffs are, so they ain't riffs.

Chord progressions can be riffs if played a certain way, ie. not just hitting every eight note or sticking to a chord through each bar. The intro to "Let there be rock" is a chord progression, but the verses to "You Really Got Me" are riffs, through and through. I know it's tempting for a lot of people to classify "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as Kurt Cobain simply strumming out his progression, but it's a riff because he plays his part in a very methodical fashion. He's not just strumming those four chords: the first few beats to every bar are always syncopated in the same way, and he alternates hitting muted and open string in a VERY deliberate fashion. Contrast with "Lithium", which is a very memorable chord progression, but Cobain doesn't play the chords the exact same way every run through. A good test I think of whether something is riff or chord progression is to try playing it yourself on guitar. With "Lithium" it doesn't matter if you don't play along exactly with the record as long as you get the feel right, but with "Teen Spirit" you have to play it exactly how Cobain played it, or it won't sound right. Other great riffs straddling that riff/chord progression divide: "I Can't Explain", "Highway to Hell", "Plush", "When I Come Around".

Vamps are defined by short, repeated chord figures that act as support to improvisation, so most classic rock riffs woudn't fit that category. Jazz guys love vamps, but rock typically relegates improv to the solo if at all, so you don't really get vamps in the genre. I know Phish has a thing for vamps, but I have no desire to investigate jam bands further.

My concise example: I'd personally say the intro to Hendrix's "Purple Haze" is a series of riffs, the verse figure is a chord progression, and the bit after he says "Excuse me while I kiss the sky" is a lick. At least that's how I see it. James Brown was the king of vamps in pop music.

Another great riff no one really talks about but should: "Heart Full of Soul" by the Yardbirds.

Also: "I Wanna Be Your Lover" by Prince.

For the life of me I can't think of a riff figure that extends beyond four bars. I suppose that's a good threshold for defining a riff against a long melodic phrase or a chord progression; anything longer than that is a guitarist basically waxing poetic

A.J. Ramirez continues the conversation about Riffs with this piece at Popmatters

Finally a couple of riffs nominated by Marcin Kruszewski of Pontone

These guys-and-gal are the Polish Cream I guess - what a video and just wait for the flute solo!

Lightning bolt, 'dracula mountain'