#54 Mark Lanegan: Whiskey for the Holy Ghost

Dying mama
Barely breathing in a bed of nails
To wander through the ruin smoking and pale
I came upon an angel and a nightingale
Hanging where the darkness comes
Between the earth and skies above
Dead weight are my body’s bones
I think I dug too deep a hole
Think I dug too deep a hole
Better run for cover, babe, you better hide
Don’t do no good to wait ’til time decides
Time decides
Time
Time
I need a little more time

Riding the Nightingale

Right everyone, let’s get sad.

Mark Lanegan passed away on February 22nd 2022, adding to Necessary Evil’s sadly growing death list. His last appearance was as a typically commanding guest vocal on the Manics’ recent album highlight Blank Diary Entry. He actually died while I was writing the 2021 Legit Bosses list, meaning a rapid (and, to be honest, rather shocked) rewrite to that song’s entry at #93. I didn’t want that rushed and dismayed edit to be my final word on an artist unarguably an important and consistent part of the modern rock canon, and someone who had long been close to my heart. So I entered the 1994 album that I long considered his career highlight into NE2022.

RIP

#57 Alvvays: Blue Rev

OK, own up, the lot of you, when was it all decided that Alvvays were officially ‘A Big Deal’? I loved their previous album ‘Antisocialites’ in 2018, as did everyone who heard it. But, like, ‘everyone who heard it’ was a couple of hundred worldwide, surely? It just never seemed that many people were aware of them, they’re such a minute and delicate little gem, surely more than maybe 72 people listening to their dainty little anthems would cause the band to shatter? Be careful how you handle Alvvays!! They’re fragile!

Yeah, his finishing move was him teabagging his opponent. Shut up, you just don’t understand wrestling

Yeah, I know that both of their albums have been shortlisted for the Canadian Polaris Music Prize, and that ‘Antisocialite’ won the Juno award for Alternative Album of the Year, which, yes, is a real thing and, yes, is also Canadian. But these are Canadian awards! How many people actually live in Canada? Couple of thousand, maybe? At a push? Their adorable little awards are hardly a good barometer of someone’s wider cultural impact. You know who won that Juno award this year? Mustafa the Poet! Who, yeah, actually sounds pretty awesome now I read about him, but he ain’t headlining no Superbowls, brother!

HEADLINING THE SUPERBOWL SHOULD GET YOU BLACKLISTED

#79 Waxahatchee: El Deafo (Apple TV+ Original Series Soundtrack)

OK, OK, OK, OK, full disclosure: this ‘album’ is nine minutes long. It manages to fit five tracks into its runtime. Kinda. The first two tracks are essentially the same song. Oh, and of the remaining three tracks, two aren’t even close to lasting as long as a minute. I’m sure this will start a veritable flame war of controversy and divisive debate over whether it really deserves to be considered alongside the year’s greatest. I’m sure there will be much blood shed needlessly over this inclusion unless I get ahead of the narrative and immediately offer an apology.

(I’m not doing this bit on every entry, I promise…)

Yeah, seem to have forgotten for a second that, although this list is actually scientifically backed up and objective data based approach to the year’s best music, it’s also indisputably my fucking list and any of you chumps have an issue with that be sure to send all complaints through to suck@mygigantic.ballsack. Dot com. Dot org. Oh, you don’t like it? Well how about you make your own list? Oh, what’s that, you can’t? Well isn’t that funny? Oh, oh, oh, you’ve made a list have you? Let me have a look…

will i have a look?? find out next!

Broken Up or Still Around? Manic Street Preachers’ ‘Know Your Enemy’ 2022 Remaster Reviewed

Here is what I know about the state of the world:

1. We are rich.

2. There are no wars or anything (real wars, that is).

3. Ummm. Very little continental drift going on (that’s probably normal).

4. Somewhere, the president’s daughter is “like, totally wasted” right now.

There. One minor problem. Otherwise, things are swell. I haven’t really researched this much, but if something major was going wrong, I’m sure someone would have told me. So what are these Manic Street Preachers bitching about?

Pitchfork review posted March 19th 2001, roughly six months before Americans became aware of bad things happening in the world apart from Jenna Bush being arrested for underage drinking

I discussed the Manics’ 2001 commercial hari kari ‘Know Your Enemy’ at length in my 50’000 word list of their 100 greatest songs published last year. I mentioned that it all started when an aging British revolutionary folk icon turned his nose up at the band’s private Portaloo at a Scottish festival. I mentioned how Manics bassist/lyricist Nicky Wire would later confirm that he wouldn’t have that same folk icon’s “Dick pissing in my toilet for all the money in the fucking world”. I mentioned how that shot of verbosity occurred during a T in the Park performance that acted as an reinvigorating reminder of the band’s routes as angrily political agitprops. I mentioned how people had mostly accepted they would never be that exciting again after the morose and Phil Collins infused ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours‘ had sold roughly seventy two squillion copies, making the band Britain’s biggest rock band after Oasis had politely taken their dog out of the fight with ‘Be Here Now‘. I discussed at length their line in the sand statement single The Masses Against the Classes*, the scuzz punk call to arms that became the first new UK number one of the 21st century. I noted how this moment – along with them playing the song live to 57’000 people at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium at new years eve 1999 – represented the absolute peak of their commercial success. For the benefit of the TL:DR generation, I then explained the release of their sixth album a little over a year later in meme form:

And despite everything I’ll discuss in this review, I still absolutely stand by that visual point. It’s simply inconceivable that the band ever believed that ‘Know Your Enemy’ would be a commercial success, and it’s likely that they correctly assumed that it would cut ties with the mainstream to such an extent that they would never again experience anything close to the success that they enjoyed in the late 90s. Their previous album, 1998’s ‘This is My Truth…’ sold five million copies worldwide (!), while ‘KYE’ sold 500’000. Nicky Wire would later even concede in Mojo Magazine that much of those sales were to dissatisfied customers, and also remark on how it marked the band’s commercial downturn:  “To this day, you see ‘Know Your Enemy’ at service stations for £2.99, because they bought so many thinking it was by one of those commercial bands! In retrospect, it sold half a million copies. Imagine what we’d give for that now.”

So, yes: commercially, it was ritual suicide. But was it any good?

Continue reading “Broken Up or Still Around? Manic Street Preachers’ ‘Know Your Enemy’ 2022 Remaster Reviewed”

Love Their Mess and Adore Their Failures: Manic Street Preachers’ 100 Greatest Songs

Right, holy shit, so am I actually doing this…?

“Repeat after me…”

The Manic Street Preachers are the greatest rock band ever. That’s not an opinion, it’s a conclusion that I’ve reached and am now saying it loudly and not listening to any dissenting voices, which in 2021 counts as a ‘fact’.

Their greatness is… complicated… and not easy to explain in a simple intro to a blog post… These 100 tracks aren’t necessarily the greatest songs ever. Even as a pathetically dedicated Manics stan*, even I would argue that they’ve only ever released one indisputable, stone cold classic record from front to back (see if you can guess which one after you read the list!). They may have supernatural control over melodies and how best to ensure a chorus hits just there, but at the end of the day they’re just a rock band. They have never really challenged the very boundaries of music, never pushed things forward or necessarily introduced anything new sonically. I would argue that only one of their albums is truly challenging and experimental, rather than just being a break from what the band usually produce (yeah, it’s the same album…). I mean, Jesus, they once shamelessly released a song including the lyric “The world is full of refugees/They’re just like you and just like me“. That’s unforgivably bad, isn’t it? They can’t come back from that, artistically.

“You stand there and you think about what you’ve done”

(*I may occasionally use cool, groovy, young person lingo like ‘stan’ so you think I’m a hip young gunslinger. Not, y’know, old enough to be a Manics fan)

I’m not able to explain their magic here, but over the next one hundred (!) entries you’ll hopefully all have a better idea. It’s not as dominated by the 90’s as I was worried it might be, and every album is represented (apart from one. Because their tenth album is worse than Hitler). I’ve been wanting to find the time to do this for ages, partially inspired by the great What is Music podcast covering their entire discography and reminding me of how many big veiny stonkers this band had bulging out of their collective musical swimming trunks. They’re talking about Muse on that podcast now, a band for morons, so you only need to listen to the last season. My major blind spot is I don’t think they’ve done a decent b-side since 2001. Now, I’m sure I’m wrong, so please correct my ignorance in the comments. Tell me how wrong I am. Post your top tens. Your top hundreds. The Manic Street Preachers’ fan community is one of the greatest in the world, and no other band are as connected with their fanbase and feed off their adoration as much as The Manics. So let’s celebrate that by calling me a fat slut in the comments because I didn’t choose Little Baby Nothing.

If you don’t have time for such nonsense, here’s the Spotify playlist and here’s all the songs in order on YouTube.

And, er, you might wanna bookmark this page – motherfucker’s gonna be long. Your next 500 trips to the toilet are sorted.

Continue reading “Love Their Mess and Adore Their Failures: Manic Street Preachers’ 100 Greatest Songs”

Cheap Tarnished Glitter: Manic Street Preachers’ Gold Against the Soul 27th Anniversary (??) Deluxe Reissue, Inspection and Reevaluation

“I like bands with a lot of fuck-ups, who flirt with disaster, it just shows that they’re fallible. All humans are fallible, after all. And we’re just a reflection Of that.”

Nicky Wire, The List, 1993

Firstly, let’s just fuck the room’s elephant in the ass and admit that there is really no deep logical point in this reissue. ‘Gold Against the Soul’ may have been released on June 21st, but that release came in 1993, and I don’t think there is a wider habit among the music industry for rereleasing albums on their 27th anniversary. This is a legitimate and gorgeously packaged celebration, yes, but the intentions of its release are simply financial- the band knows that they still have a pathetic, rabid and obsessive fanbase, who will jump at the chance to buy a lavishly packaged and expanded edition of one of the band’s less well regarded albums. Yes, including me. But let’s just stop and look at the optics here- here are the most viewed pages on the Necessary Evil blog this year:

(*fuck, I am so old. Like, properly, well-adjusted and responsible adults were born after this album was released. Your boss at work was born after ‘Gold Against the Soul’ was released! Your weird uncle Freddy’s girlfriend was born after this album was released, and she’s the oldest girlfriend he’s has since his 1998 divorce!)

This can mean only one thing: time to pander to all those pathetic Manics fans again!

Continue reading “Cheap Tarnished Glitter: Manic Street Preachers’ Gold Against the Soul 27th Anniversary (??) Deluxe Reissue, Inspection and Reevaluation”

My Life in Albums (part 3 07-20/death)

Put my mind at ease, pretty please, I need your hands on me, sweet relief, pretty please…

Yeah, I’m in a good mood, what of it? Wanna fight about it? Bring it on, I bet I’ll have you kissing me before the first punch lands, because how can you stay angry at this face?? My good mood mainly arises from three reasons. Firstly, longtime reader Beryl got in touch to tell me how she enjoyed the last post, and only made the polite suggestion that this series could be improved if it…

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incorporated more hardcore scat pornography?? Jesus fucking Christ, Beryl. Honestly, whenever I’m that close to relaxing that restraining order, you come out with something that sends us back to square one. Maybe I’m at fault here for expecting more from someone I met on the online scatological fetish dating app ‘ScatrBraind‘, but I just always assumed she was interested in the person around the fecal matter, y’know?

Anyway, the second reason is that this will definitely be the final part in this series, allowing me to abandon my blog again to return to my three real loves (masturbating, crying, and masturbating while crying. Mainly the third, if I’m being completely honest).  Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we are now actually into the years where I made a point of listing the best albums, so this part should be an absolute piece of piss! Look at the header of this blog- I’ve already got my best albums of 07-19 listed! I just need to copy those albums down again for this entry! It’s 8:53 now, and I’ll have all this done and dusted in time for my traditional 9am cry! Let’s do this shit!!

Continue reading “My Life in Albums (part 3 07-20/death)”

My Life in Albums (part 1 83-96)

Yeah, sorry, no more Bumble Rumble. Possibly… ever…? Listen, I’ve pretty much decided that I hate Zero Hour dating- I happen to still believe that I’m relatively attractive, so to have an app on my phone that frequently reminds me that I’m actually not is not good at all for my already inflated yet easily pricked sense of self-esteem. For now, my official stance is that I know that I’m a highly fuckable piece of hunky man meat who could grind genitals with pretty much any woman he wants, but I just choose not to, OK?? The official stance is that I’ve decided to concentrate on the more important things in my life, such as this blog- which has never been more popular- and my actual job- which I’m technically supposed to be doing now*. Remember this blog? It used to be about music, didn’t it? I mean… kinda… Let’s do that again. Basically, it’s time for:

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Just wanted a photo with my eyes in it. Have they always been that colour? More after the jump!!

Continue reading “My Life in Albums (part 1 83-96)”

“Gender is Garbage”- Aqua Girl Gets Woods

Listen, I’ve tried to explain to you gormless mouth breathers before that Aqua Girl is pretty freaking special. Her 2018 debut was one of the best albums of the year, a knock out introduction to a talent able to write songs that candidly narrated a perhaps under represented  perspective of the transgender and nonbinary experience.
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But- and I’ve long been concerned that maybe my review of her debut didn’t properly credit this- she’s not ‘just’ a singing trans woman, her gender identity doesn’t define her- she’s special because she frequently writes fucking bangers! As Elora Driver, she’s already released Sunburn, one of the best songs of 2020 so far, and she’s smart enough to realise that, logically, perfect pop songs rarely need to last longer than two minutes.
When she announced in March that her second album proper was on its way in April, I was, obviously, so excited that I wet myself for three minutes straight. Like, I just drained myself of moisture, you really should have been there.  It was clear that I needed to mark this momentous occasion with a blog post, but did this mean a freaking album review?? I hate ‘reviewing albums’! I sit down and have time to listen to the album a dozen times on repeat, then I’m supposed to dribble out 2’500 words on how it made me feel?? I don’t know how it makes me feel! I haven’t lived with it for any decent time, it hasn’t soundtracked any glories or any tragedies in my life yet, I don’t know which track I jump to if I need to be taken up or taken down, I couldn’t yet tell you which track gave me a tiny bit of an erection while I was on the bus last Wednesday morning. If I reviewed it after merely hours after first being introduced to it, I would rate it as ‘pretty good’, as that’s almost all you can say about a piece of art that early on.
So I thought… what if I interview her…? Let her explain her positions in her own words rather than me making widely inaccurate and borderline offensive statements based on me force feeding the work for a handful of listens. I put the idea to her on Twitter and she was kind enough to agree. The following interview took the form of an email exchange over the course of a couple of weeks, but if you’d prefer, picture us both in the bar at Ritz-Carlton, me furiously scribbling Elora’s words of wisdom with a stubby pencil that I store in my cap, while she sprawls back on a chaise lounge with a smirk on her mouth and one eyebrow archly raised as she charmingly answers questions between sips of cognac. All while we keep four feet apart, of course. To be honest, I thought the interview would be more of a frivolous and lighthearted series pf responses to dumb questions, but Aqua Girl actually managed to pull it into engaging and almost profound places through sheer force of charisma, until the interview ends up almost interesting. That might be Aqua Girl’s greatest achievement to date

Continue reading ““Gender is Garbage”- Aqua Girl Gets Woods”

Necessary Evil 2019 (72-65)

72 Kanye West: Yandhi

yandhi-and-the-legacy-of-kanye-west-leaks

You know what? I’ve got a funny feeling that this might not be my last chance to talk about him before this list is done, so I’m wary of squeezing out all my Kanye Juice before the real party starts. ‘Yandhi’ was the album that he was going to release as his follow up to last year’s ‘Ye‘ (I’m sorry, haterz/liberals, but ‘Ye’ was a pretty fine album, as were most of the eighty four records he released last year, let’s not let our reactions to his general behavior colour the history), but then it was delayed, then cancelled, then briefly revived with Ashton Kutcher playing the role of Kanye West, then delayed, then its name was changed to ‘Spunk Muffin and the Dudes With Attitude’, then it was cancelled again, then it was changed to ‘Jesus Is King’, then it was revealed that it wasn’t actually a name change but a completely separate record, then that record was delayed, then it was delayed again, until, finally, it was released, and Yandhi was cancelled, only briefly being released (seriously) as ringtones. Quite straightforward as Kanye West album launches go, really. I actually only sought out ‘Yandhi’ because I assumed it would contain intriguing scrappy demos of whatever tracks Kanye was working on for his next record (which at that point had been delayed so many times I assumed this would be the closest we’d get to a Kanye album this year), but it’s shocking to hear quite how complete a lot of songs on here are, and how realised many ideas are. New Body in particular sounds less than a tweak away from being a hit single, Nicki Minaj feature and all. Later, it was shocking how few of the songs and ideas on ‘Yandhi’ made it to ‘Jesus is King’. Like, pretty much none of it. Nicki Minaj? She’s gone. Hey, Kanye, maybe stay focused on one thing for more than three minutes? Might result in better albums? Perhaps I’ll get to debate this further later.

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Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2019 (72-65)”