23 Angel Olsen: All Mirrors
We’re all OK with Gary Glitter now, aren’t we? Todd Philips used that song in ‘Joker‘ because ooooooooooh, you’re so edgy, Todd! Really sending a message to those SJWs who are apparently ‘ruining comedy‘ by condemning convicted and repeated child rapists! You’re so cool, Todd! Let’s have sex immediately!
And now we get ‘All Mirrors’, which throughout is an amazing sonic thought experiment asking what it would sound like if Phil Spector* produced The Glitter Band, with What It Is the most obvious Gary Glitter tribute. Was this intentional? Or is just me struggling to think of something to write about this album?? I can definitively, honestly and truthfully say that it’s absolutely the former. Gary Glitter was officially #Cancelled in 1999 (and then, like, really, really, really cancelled in 2006 and 2015), which bodes well for today’s #Cancelled celebrities. Based on Glitter’s redemption, you have to wait at most 20 years, no matter what you’ve done, before people reappreciate your art again, most importantly, start giving you money. That means Chris Brown, who was sentenced to five years probationary for beating his girlfriend in 2009, people will probably be ready to like him again in about
(*Christ, another one! Ms Olsen is just reappraising fallen celebrities all over the show!)
Alright, fine, maybe that’s was a fast tracked case, we’re a lot more forgiving of beating (and even raping) women, because, deep down, we all find women deeply irritating, and are willing to turn the other cheek from absolute legends who live our dream. Ammi right, lads? Ammi?? Ammi right??? Am I? Am I right? Lads? So maybe it was a bad example. What about Mel Gibson, though?? His drunken rant where he slurred out antisemitic tropes and generally made a colossal racist arse of himself was in 2006, and since then he’s just raised the bar- his ex-girlfriend took out a restraining order in 2010 preventing Gibson from seeing their daughter after domestic abuse. Also, he phoned this ex-girlfriend around this time and was recorded letting her know that if she got “raped by a pack of niggers” then she would be to blame. Phew. Well, Mr Gibson, I think with a rap sheet that long you’ll have to wait at least until
Sigh, alright, then what about Loraine Kelly? From 1992 until 2016 she would break into random people’s houses every night and immobilise each person living there by cutting off all their limbs with cheese wire and then spend the night pirouetting in the living room, naked and covered in pigs’ blood, screaming “SURPRISE SURPRISE!!” because she got confused and thought she was that one. The victims would want to look away but physically couldn’t. Lorraine would never let her victims have the sweet release of death, so there were a few survivors that could help the police begin to build a case against her, but the vast majority of her victims died from either blood loss or pure, unadulterated shame. Thankfully, I’m sure the police have brought her to justice now and
Alright, so we don’t really #Cancel celebrities, we argue about them on Twitter for a few weeks, make sure to shake our heads every time we see them onscreen in their latest movie that we’ve just paid £11.98 to see, and buy their latest single (Female Jews Can Punch Just As Hard As Normal People, Actually) on iTunes to better instigate the conversation about is it OK to like this??? among family, friends and complete strangers on the bus. Then we move on. Unless you’re a woman. Or a black man. How dare you not pay your taxes, Wesley Snipes?? Couldn’t you just put it into an offshore account, like Mel Gibson??
#Cancel Culture really has gone too far though, hasn’t it? It’s been ridiculous how Fatty Arbuckle still can’t find a job! Hey, SJWs, he was acquitted of raping and killing that woman in 1922, remember?! The same goes for OJ Simpson! Political correctness gone mad! And then there’s… erm… Phil Spector! He was just railroaded by #Cancel Culture just for the supposed infraction of disagreeing with some people on the thick of murdering women! Women! We’re all walking on a tightrope, who knows what the loony left will find suddenly offensive next?? And then there’s Matthew Broderick… no, he’s still working… OK, what about Snoop Do…? No, he’s doing fine… erm… Ian Watkins…?
Christ, has anyone ever been cancelled??
93 in 2016
Wow… That might be the highest climb this year. Find out when I publish the stats sometime in late Autumn 2020!
22 Stef Chura: Midnight
I didn’t love Ms Chura’s previous record, ‘Messes’, and to be honest the album was only ever included on the list in the first place so I could talk about how the opening track, Slow Motion– by far the best/only good song- had soundtracked MRSN’s Spirit of Manchester Award that year.
But other than that banging opening song, I confess I found ‘Messes’ a slog and occasionally even annoying. I noted how she released her follow up album this year, but just bid her good day, our relationship was over though I wished her all the best in her future endeavours. I noticed she had a gig booked in Manchester in October. Good for her. I’m sure she’ll enjoy my fine city. Try Bondobust, a fantastic vegan restaurant near Piccadilly Train Station. I won’t be there. Good day to you, m’am.
Over the course of the next few months though… I got to thinking…
She may well remember our small conversation from 12 months ago. She’d know that she soundtracked the winning entry of the 2018 Spirit of Manchester ‘Best Health and Wellbeing Project’. This may well be the only thing she knows about Manchester! I mean, she might know about that weird fake one that they have in the US, but this little Northern English town?? What if she plays Slow Motion, the lead single from her previous album?? She was totally going to dedicate it to MRSN!! No cunt at a fucking Stef Chura gig is going to have any fucking idea about this Moss Side based charity supporting refugees and asylum seekers!! A Stef Chura gig in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter is, basically, middle class privilege city! She’ll give MRSN a shoutout- obviously believing the Spirit of Manchester Awards to be the equivalent to The Oscars in this dumb little provincial town- and get nothing but confused stares back in response. What?? She would think to herself, Nobody’s heard of that weird thing that strange fat ginger was obsessed with! Did he just make the whole thing up as an excuse to get close to me?? What a dangerous, perverted psychopath!! I obviously had to prevent this faux pas from taking place, so the only way I could ensure she didn’t think I was a weirdo would be to go to the gig, be the only person there who had heard of MRSN, and wear my MRSN T-shirt.
So that’s what I did.
Considering I’d paid money to go to the gig, I figured that I may as well throw good money after bad and buy the new album so I’d at least recognise the songs she’d be playing either side of giving verbal props to MRSN, perhaps even inviting me on stage to sing Slow Motion! So I did, and…
Wow. I absolutely adore this record. I have no idea why. All the bare bones are identical to the record I was passionately ambivalent toward last year, but somehow this record feels weightier, more structure behind the songs, more kick and venom behind the vocals. I guess the production of (my boy) Will Toledo must have played its part, as he obviously has experience in what it takes to turn ostensibly slight bedroom indie into epic and moving masterworks (see: Scientifically Proven Best Album of 2018) but there’s more here than just that. Stef seems looser, more confident, more sure of her own worth. ‘Messes’ sounded in places like it was trying hard to sound off kilter and ‘weird’, like Chura was for some reason eager to prove that she was ‘Not Like Other Girls‘. On ‘Midnight’, she’s not concerned with what she’s not like, or even with strenuously proving what she’s like. She just knows what Stef Chura sounds like and is confident how great that is. This new, relaxed and assured outlook has produced one of 2019’s absolute greatest rock albums.
The gig was great, by the way. Did she give MRSN a shoutout? Did she bollocks.
79 in 2018
21 Yeasayer: Erotic Reruns
You know what? I’m going to have to bring the Metacritic score up early for this one
I brought Shawn back, everyone! Probably for the last time! That little bit took fucking ages to do and it’s really not worth my time!
Yeasayer’s fifth album was… well it wasn’t panned by critics, but reviews were generally between ‘rolling eyes emoji’ and ‘poop emoji’, with a couple of ‘eggplant emojis’ thrown in there, which I’m not sure means the reviewer wants to fuck it or thought it was a big purple dick of a record. Or just thought the album was a big aubergine. You know what, reviewers should really start writing in words again, this new style of overworked music journalists simply posting their reviews in emojis simply leaves far too many ambiguities. The point is: reviewers no like, represented by ’63’ being among the lowest Metacritic scores on this rundown. And, initially, Alex no really like. I was ready for this album to be 2019’s ‘Sex & Food‘- a band that were this freaking close to becoming one of my official Favourite Things instead shitting the bed badly and missing an open goal*. I basically agreed with the dreaded Lamestream Media that ‘Erotic Reruns’ was a disappointingly prosaic record. A lot of the dumb stupid shitty reviews had claimed that Yeasayer were always such a safe and unadventurous band, but this was a nonsense rewrite of history to suit the review. The band responsible for O.N.E and Silly Me have never previously rested on their laurels and have pushed music into wonderful places. The reason ‘Erotic Reruns’ initially seemed like such a disappointment is because it doesn’t go to any new places, doesn’t take any risks with the sound, and is just a generally straightforward pop album.
(*no, I’m not mixing my metaphors here, this is the same metaphorical situation, you don’t think shitting your bed would cause you to miss an open goal? Use your fucking brain, Jesus…)
I discounted Yeasayer’s fifth with a weary shrug of the shoulders, bemoaned how they’d managed to take their eyes off the ball to such an extent, and deigned to concentrate more on the proper albums released in 2019. Around the same time, Tool released their first album in 352 years, ‘Yes, More of This Shit, Cancel The Evening’s Plans and Applaud‘, so I spent a lot of time incased within its proggy walls. Yes, I nodded my head, this is worthwhile music. Ooh! What an interesting time signature! Ah! I appreciate how the drumming doesn’t conform to standard compositions. I say! Did that middle eight manage to list all of the Ionic Bonds on the periodic table?? I… I’m not… I’m not sure how they managed to do that… And anyway, that wasn’t even a middle eight, it was, like, a middle seventeen or some shit! And it wasn’t even in the middle! It was eleven minutes into an eight minute song, somehow. God, this is all so impressive!!
The funny thing is… every morning, I was getting to work, opening bandcamp.com on my computer, and playing ‘Erotic Reruns’ as I got set up for the day. No, it wasn’t the most ambitious or experimental album the band have ever made, and it is rather dispiriting how little they’ve aimed for on this release, but… fuck me, this album’s fun to just listen to! Ecstatic Baby is such a dumb fucking song, and such a silly meaningless comeback single, but… sometimes it’s nice to hear a dumb, silly, meaningless song. Yeasayer at their most pedestrian and unexciting can still create magic moments like the complete song change at the end of Let Me Listen In On You. And, fuck, whatever the context, whatever the history, whomever the artist, Crack A Smile is one of the best songs of the year.
Suddenly, while listening to ‘Flurr Cocklepoffian‘ for the 654th time, it hit me: I really don’t enjoy listening to this album. I deleted the album and never listened to it again. ‘Erotic Reruns’ is vulgar, it’s maybe the weakest album of the band’s career and I kinda agree with every bad review and every eggplant emoji. But it’s still just outside the top 20 because I don’t think I’ve listened to any album more, it’s undemanding, it’s entertaining, it’s freaking enjoyable. And I feel terrible saying it, but sometimes that’s all you want.
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