Archive for the ‘Selfish Cunt’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: SELFISH CUNT-“Britain Is Shit” / “Fuck the Poor” (2003).

I had not heard of this band until reading about them in yesterday’s Nick Hornby essay.  He didn’t name them, but he mentioned a review in which the band were described as combining ‘the hammering drum machine and guitar of controversial 80’s trio Big Black and the murky noise of early Throbbing Gristle.”

The band was formed in early 2003 by Martin Tomlinson and Patrick Constable, and was noted for provocative lyrics, aggressive stage shows, and electronic-influenced rock.  In 2004, The Guardian placed Selfish Cunt at #40 on its list of “top 40 bands in Britain today.”  They broke up in 2008.

This was their first single.  It surprises me that both of these songs are over three minutes long as they seems like they would be about 45 seconds.

“Britain is Shit” opens with a fast electronic drum beat with jagged guitar stabs and shouted vocals.  Big Black is an excellent touchstone.  After a few verses, all the music drops out except for the drum machine–it’s quite a bold musical statement (not to mention the lyrics).  A ringing guitar chord keeps the semblance of melody going.  The lyrics resume:

Are you having fun / when war is on
put your kettle on / cause the war is on.
Britain is shit / it’s full of lies
white men start their shit / in their shirts and ties.

“Fuck the Poor” is quite similar.  A simple drum machine beat with loud distorted guitars as the only musical element.  The lryics:

Fuck the poor / make war

sung in a heavy British accent,  After the first verse a second guitar chimes in with a guitar riff on top. and more distorted guitar.  The melody doesn’t change.  The song ends in a cacophony of noise.

These songs aren’t original (although combining the sharp electric drum with punk guitars is pretty novel) but they are provocative.  Evidently their live show was quite something.

A 2004 thread on Drowned in Sound describes the live show

I saw them last night, not sure if they could live up to the hype. I went with an open mind but thinking they might not pull it off.

But fuck me. They pulled it off. They fucking rocked. The singer was incredible, hypnotic, acrobatic, snarling, wearing a ripped up catsuit and eye makeup, prowling round the crowd and singing in people’s faces, coming on to all the straight boys, singing in the girls’ ears… like some kind of crossover between iggy, rotten and … grace jones or something. he threw himself around, doing these balletic poses, completely confident and… fucking ace.

Songs? yeah, there were some, they were loud and good. Britain Is Shit is the best anti war song I’ve heard. Fuck The Poor is an anthem. And, one more time, for the record, when he says those vile things like “bang bang another nigger dead” it’s not his own opinion, it’s the voice of someone else – soldier, politician, whoever. It’s a PROTEST not an advocation. come on, haters, get with the fuckin programme.

I think racist types are not really going to latch onto Selfish Cunt because Tompkinson is one of the most obviously gay frontmen i’ve ever seen, and i doubt many racist bigots are particularly accepting of gay people… and i honestly think that the disdain with which he spits out the lyrics make it pretty obvious that there’s something more going on than just the straight lyric.

Of course, you’ll never get a song on the radio with a name like that.

[READ: June 3, 2019] “The Male Gaze”

I enjoyed the tone of this story although the main character was a bit of a puzzle.  She is sophisticated and aware of the male gaze, but seems willing to succumb to it anyway.

Phoebe is a young, sexually active New Yorker: “sometimes she felt like hot shit, sometimes just like shit.”

The first section of the story is called The Most Important Artist of the Post-Second World War Period.

At a party, Phoebe meets Pablo Miles who approached her and says “you’re very fuckable.”

Of all the affronts!  But Phoebe knew the game and made big eyes at him and said “Do you really mean it?” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MARAH-Kids in Philly (2000).

After reading about Marah in Hornby’s post I decided to listen to their Kids in Philly CD.

I totally get why Hornby likes them and I can absolutely imagine what their live show would be like.

They’ve absolutely got the whole Springsteen vibe–good time rock and roll with close harmony backing vocals.

There’s a harmonica instead of a saxophone (I prefer the harmonica) on “Faraway You: and there’s even xylophones like on Springsteen’s Christmas song on “Point Breeze.”  The horns (and the chanted “come ons”) do appear, this time on “Christian Street.”

“It’s Only Money Tyrone” slows things down with slinky groove and a sound that’s less bar-band.  “My Heart is the Bums on the Street” feels like a quieter Springsteen song–classic rock with gentle vibes and a clap-along feel.  Although I suppose like he sounds more like Craig Finn than Bruce Springsteen.

“The Catfisherman” is a stomping honky-tonking song with an Aerosmith vibe.  “Round Eye Blues” slows things down with a simple melody (in the vein of U2s “With or Without You”).  It also recycles all kinds of early rock n roll lyrics into its own melody, which is fun.

“From the Skyline” has a great guitar riff/solo running through it with a bit more distortion thrown on top.  “Barstool Boys” sounds a bit like The Replacements’ “Here Comes A Regular” only with banjo.  “The History of Where Someone Has Been Killed” adds some acoustic guitar while “This Town” keeps the mood with a quiet album ender.

I am genuinely surprised that this band wasn’t more popular.  They would seem to push a lot of classic classic-rock buttons.

I only wish I had some idea why they chose that name.

[READ: June 15, 2019] “Rock of Ages”

After reading Hornby’s 2000 review of Marah I found this 2004 review of Marah.  Since I had seen that they later did a tour together, I was curious what this lengthy review would be about.  It’s about seeing Marah live and lamenting that a band this good should have to resort to “passing the hat” for tips.

He says

Philadelphia rock ‘n’ roll band Marah is halfway through a typically ferocious, chaotic and inspirational set.  My friends and I have the best seats in the house, a couple of feet away from Marah’s frontmen, Serge and Dave Bielanko.  The show ends triumphantly, as Marah shows tend to do, with Serge lying on the floor amid the feet of his public, wailing away on his harmonica.

What I love about them is that I can hear everything I ever loved about rock music in their recordings and in their live shows … because they are unafraid of showing where their music comes from, and unafraid of the comparisons that will ensue

This show was at a small pub in England.  Which seems a shame since a few months earlier (more…)

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There’s no bad way to see Darlingside, although perhaps the worst way is at an outdoor festival.  The band is all about closeness–harmonies, quiet instruments, with them all gathered around one microphone.

The first time I saw them was at XPN Fest in 2016.  And they were amazing.  When we saw them in a small club later, they were doubly amazing.

 Darlingside opened their set with their song “Singularity.” The song perfectly showcases their harmonies, as they all sing around one shared mic. Their soothing vocals are accompanied by an acoustic guitar, and the addition of other instruments throughout the song creates drama, especially the banjo, which adds a new feeling. No voice is ever hidden when they sing together, and they all sound great singing solo.

These four guys can harmonize like no one I’ve heard before.  The song segues via violin into the synth box device that they added for the Extra Life album.  “Eschaton” features just bass and the synth box until the bridge when the violin comes in.

Harris Paseltiner says Hi in his excited way and tells everyone how they were “things got a little loopy on our way down the New Jersey Turnpike today. We got stuck in line waiting for gas at the Molly Pitcher Plaza.  Which is a lovely plaza, I must say.”  Then turning to the festival: “I was discombobulated when I arrived, but they’re giving away shots of mango jalapeno coconut water over there.  I took a good five of those to the face.  I’m still a but discombobulated but in a better way.

“We were here to the first time two years ago, it was 100 degrees.”  [I was there and it was!] “So today is like a nice brisk autumn day.”

“Go Back” is the first older song and it sounds amazing.  After a violin melody while the mandolin tunes up, they launch into a gorgeous “White Horse.”  This song is so delicate, so lovely, that it’s hard to imagine it at a festival (especially when the truck behind the stage starts honking midway through the song–the band doesn’t flinch).

Then Auyon introduces the band:

  • Dave Senft plays kick drum and bass and guitar and Dave enjoys caffeinated coffee.
  • Don Mitchell plays banjo and guitar enjoyed caffeinated coffee however he enjoyed it too much and is now on decaf.
  • Harris Paseltiner play cello and guitar enjoyed caffeine a lot but he became concerned about his health and switched to decaf but decided to re-prioritize and is now now back on caffeine.
  • Auyon Mukharji plays violin and mandolin and I drink decaf.

Harris: I think we all might have had jalapeno coconut water.
Don: I followed it up with a chocolate coconut milk.
Dave: I didn’t see any of this, I don’t know what’s happening.

They then play the wonderful “My Gal, My Guy” which might just be my favorite Darlingside song.  The melody is just dynamite.  And their harmonies are, of course, outstanding.

 “Extralife” brings the the synthy thing back.  It’s interesting to me that their general music style doesn’t change at all–nice melodies and gorgeous harmonies.  This new instrument simply adds a new, modern sound to their setup.

“Blow the House Down” is an older song (on their first album).  Its’ quite different from the others because it has a loud kick drum, mandolin and is mostly sung only by Dave.  It’s neat that the low notes mostly come from the other guys going “bah bah bah.”  One doesn’t really expect Darlingside to rock out but they certainly do here with a ripping guitar solo that segues into a ripping violin solo.

“The God of Loss” returns to the beautiful slower songs.  With harmonies galore.

They end the set with a song from the new album, “Best of the Best of Times.”  It is not a happy song, despite the melody.  But the melody makes it feel happy as the sing us out.

Darlingside always sound great, but must be seen live to fully appreciate them.

[READ: June 15, 2019] “The Saturday Morning Car Wash Club”

This story is set around a car wash.

When you were sixteen, a July Saturday was the best.  You got up early even though you didn’t have to.  Even the unemployed got up early because the unemployment office was closed so no one could tell you to get your ass to it.

Everyone gathered at the semi-automated car wash in Cedar Heights.  The first car arrived at 8 and the drivers got to work, vacuuming wrappers and french fries.  Then more cars would arrive, some driven by girls (they would allow the boys to clean their cars for them).

But this story is about outsiders of the (unofficial) Saturday Morning Car Wash Club.  Chester had a beat up hooptie.  It was an ugly brown rustmobile that the kids at the car wash called “Doo-Doo Brown.”

Chester is proud of his hooptie and believes that he would score a woman with it because, hell, it beat taking the bus. (more…)

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