Things I Have Learned From / Noticed In A Three-Week Old Issue Of NME, Having Not Read It For Ages
About time I acquainted myself with what's down with The Kidz, I thought - and so it was to NME that I turned. Never mind that you could have got a better dissection of the issue on No Rock & Roll Fun three weeks ago...
1. A message from editor Conor McNicholas: "WELCOME TO YOUR NEW NME! You'll notice that NME looks different this week. That's because we've been making loads of improvements all the way through the mag". Forgive me for saying this, Conor, but don't you trot out that breathless froth every fucking week? Accompanying the message is a picture of Mr (or should that be Master?) McNicholas, looking as big-conked and gawky as ever.
2. Alex Kapranos has quite incredible teeth.
3. Ian Brown has stepped in to sponsor London non-league side Chiswick Homefields. And I imagine that every single member of the team, from 1 to 11, is a better singer than King Monkey.
4. The Futureheads and Bloc Party bassist Gordon Noakes are among those involved in a John Peel charity single, a cover of The Buzzcocks' 'Ever Fallen In Love'. The single's to be released on 21st November with all proceeds going to Amnesty International. Marvellous.
5. Irish band Red Organ Serpent Sound, now signed to Vertigo, have just released their debut single, the excruciatingly titled 'In Search Of Orgasmuz'. Having seen them play with The Fiery Furnaces and Sons & Daughters last year, I won't be buying it.
6. Kasabian's Serge Pizzorno on the band's hopes for their second LP: "We're just going to try and make that Stones / Floyd record that you can't deny is a great album, whether you like us or not". Well, by the sounds of it I'm likely to be able to deny it, Serge.
7. Rick Parfitt of Status Quo talks to Peter Robinson about the band's past: "It was all projectors in those days, and we'd project pornos onto the side of a white building. And we'd just lie there on the bed, collectively wanking. It didn't help when you were in your vinegar strokes if someone told you a joke. But that's all part of being mates in a rock band". I remember seeing Parfitt on BBC1's 'East Midlands Today' a couple of years back - he was being treated for Repetitive Strain Injury by Leicester City FC's physio. He claimed it was because of playing the same chords over and over again, but now I'm not so sure...
8. A guide to the free CD (the real reason I crossed the newsagent's palm with silver). The theme? "The soundtrack of your summer". The reason? "According to the results of our readers poll, 2005 really WAS the greatest summer ever for live music". Nice to see the magazine's continuing to encourage a startling lack of perspective. How many summers of live music have the majority of NME readers witnessed? Not many is my guess.
9. A band called The Arctic Monkeys seem to be the current can-do-no-wrong Next Big Thing. "There haven't been so many people trying to stuff into a tent at Reading since Foo Fighters in '95". I've never heard of 'em. Their contribution to the CD is 'Fake Tales Of San Francisco'. The merest whiff of Franz Ferdinand, but the almighty stink of The Kaiser Fucking Chiefs and their odious Britpop revivalism, plus a singer who sounds EXACTLY like Tony Wright of Terrorvision. It is rubbish. Rubbish name, too.
10. Ronnie Vanucci, drummer with "cover stars" The Killers, IS Johnny Knoxville.
11. The Killers' Brandon Flowers: "There are so many bands who write bullshit, and I don't know how they can play it every night without being embarrassed". Exhibit A, m'lud: 'Indie Rock 'N' Roll'.
12. Sweet relief - a pleasantly combative "interview" with Noodle of Gorillaz, whose cage is rattled entertainingly by Rob Fitzpatrick. At one stage she is goaded into declaring: "Gorillaz have never released anything musically, visually or in any other medium that has been anything less than superlative". I'd like to think there's an element of sarcasm in there...
13. A full page feature on Kanye West's declaration during the Hurricane Katrina telethon that "George Bush doesn't care about black people". No new quotes. Why not make it the main news item, rather than tucking it away deep in the magazine? Might it not be more worthy of inclusion there than, say, the massive picture of West with Franz Ferdinand behind the scenes on 'Friday Night With Jonathon Ross'?
14. Yet more slavvering over The Stone Roses and Spike Island. Yawn.
15. The new 'Help' album, 'Help: A Day In The Life', features new tracks by Radiohead, Maximo Park, Bloc Party, The Coral, The Magic Numbers and The Go! Team. Unfortunately, it also features Belle & Sebastian, Coldplay, Razorlight, Keane and The Kaiser Chiefs, the latter performing a cover of 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine'. For every swing a roundabout, eh? But then it's all for charidee - surely that can be the only reason for rating it a 10?
16. The new Ladytron LP Witching Hour makes Pete Cashmore want to have sex. A sweaty red-faced NME hack - what an unpleasant image.
17. "Tracks"? Of course, no "Singles" anymore. The Go! Team are acclaimed as "the most unabashedly fun band in Britain" - true enough. 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' by The Arctic Monkeys - them again - pips 'Bottle Rocket' for the accolade of Track Of The Week. If it's anything like as bad as 'Fake Tales Of San Francisco' then that's a travesty. And they're signed to Domino?! What are they doing dirtying their hands with this sort of dross?
18. A new (to me) NME Classic Single Of The Week feature - 'The Weeping Song' by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, released in September 1990. "an, uh, audacious choice of 45 ... this is really an expensive folly considering the kind of people who will decide the fate of it on-air". 45s? The possibility of serious airplay for Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds? Very puzzling for the majority of readers, I imagine.
19. The Duke Spirit are the stars of another new feature, Pub NME, in which a band plays a couple of low-key pub gigs. They already had Club NME, you see, so this is really clever (even though it makes for a pretty damn dull feature). A biscuit to Mr McNicholas or whoever came up with it.
20. ... and we're into the live adverts. Oh look, Kim Gordon was obviously left feeling so dirty by Sonic Youth's appearance at the V Festival that she was intent on making amends by collaborating with Tony Oursler and Phil Morrison on a film called 'Perfect Partner' at the Barbican, live soundtrack supplied by her, bandmates Jim O'Rourke and Thurston Moore and others. Normal service is resumed, then.
21. The Recommender - another new feature, and one we like. This week, it's Paul Smith of Maximo Park telling us he's been listening to everything from Joanna Newsom to Broadcast via The Blue Nile, Scott Walker and John Cage. His main tip are Field Music, who have Futureheads / Maximo Park connections: "They've recently made a gorgeous debut album which is sort of like chamber pop with strings". Sounds very pleasant indeed. And he also 'fesses up to a love of Prefab Sprout's Swoon. Oh dear, it was all going so well.
Postscript: a Guardian interview with The Arctic Monkeys that Jonathan's already commented on. It seems the name was used by one of their dad's bands in the 1970s - that doesn't make it any better, though. Their Sheffield origins would explain the Terrorvision thing. Frontman Alex Turner on 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor': "It's a bit shit. The words are rubbish. I scraped the bottom of the barrel. It could be a big song, like. But I'd hate to be just known for that song because it's a bit ... crap". Well, why release it then?! Try harder not to be crap! And if we are going to suffer the misfortune of you sticking around for the foreseeable future, please try harder not to be this fucking dull and say-nothing in interviews.