Happy New Annual Cycle!

No musical Tuesday this week, it’s New Year’s Eve for cryin’ out loud!

(And you should have got your fix of music with my last post)

I’m tired out after a week of Christmas festivities and so will most likely be having an early night, but the rest of you bright young things have a fun and safe night!

Roll on 2014!

(If you have a minute or two to spare, visit Wikipedia’s 1914 page to see what happened a century ago.)

Hottest 100 – 2013

It’s that time of the year again when I vainly try and hold on to both any kind of musical relevance and my rapidly vanishing youth by voting in Triple J’s Hottest 100.

I went into assembling my shortlist without any great enthusiasm. Looking back, 2013 seemed like a rather flat year for music – I couldn’t think of any real standout songs. But once I trawled through the lists I discovered a surprising number of sleepers that – while not mind-blowingly awesome – were good, solid tracks. There were enough of these that I had some real trouble winnowing them down to only 10. Nonetheless after much girding of loins and grinding of teeth I produced the following list which has been duly submitted as of this morning…

Tennis Courts – Lorde

There’s an excellent chance that Royals by New Zealand’s own Lorde is going to take the number one spot, which is annoying as I can’t stand it. Tennis Courts though is a great song, and popular enough that may well come in at around the 20-30 mark (shame the video clip is so rubbish).

Young & Beautiful – Lana Del Rey

Does anyone actually like Lana Del Rey anymore? I’m certainly not a fan, apart from this song, and I can’t even explain why I like it so much. It’s certainly nothing to do with it’s association with The Great Gatsby, a movie that I haven’t bothered to see.

Lanterns – Birds of Tokyo

Lanterns is kind of embarrassing because its sounds like something written to capture the “Class of 2013” demographic. You know, like Friends Forever or Good Riddance. Sadly I’m a sucker for that kind of rubbish.

Jessica – Major Lazer

This song is a real sleeper. It didn’t do anything for me the first time I heard it, but then couldn’t get it out of my head. Smoothly insidious.

The Wire – HAIM

Oh Lord, how to pick just one HAIM track? They’re all so good! After much torment I narrowed it down to either The Wire or Don’t Save Me and The Wire got through by a hair’s breadth. Go and listen to HAIM everyone! Now!

Your Body Is A Weapon – The Wombats

The Wombats just keep on delivering – presumably via their backwards facing pouches. Who’d have ever thought that a bunch of cubic-poo producers would make such great music?

Lazer Gun Show – Hey Geronimo

This makes me think of good old Bill Shakespeare and his full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. But it’s really good sound and fury!

Pizza Guy – Touch Sensitive

A laid back electronic track that sounds like it escaped from the set of Miami Vice. The TV series that is, not the movie.

Get Lucky – Daft Punk

I really didn’t want to vote for Daft Punk, because everyone will be voting for them. But Get Lucky is fun and catchy, and as such I had no choice.

Gun – Chvrches

Chvrches were another group where I had problems choosing a track. Gun won my vote for no apparent reason – If I’d put my votes together tomorrow I may well have voted for Recover instead. Lots of twinkly electronic sounds to tickle the ears.

So there we are. Artists that just missed out on a place include Bliss N Eso, Horrorshow, Owl Eyes and Tiger Town. Better luck next year guys!

Musical Tuesday – Christmas Eve

It was Christmas Eve babe, in the drunk tank…

Yes, it’s Christmas Eve, and while I am not currently incarcerated in a drunk tank it’s an essential part of my festive season to make sure I dust off my copy of the Pogues’ (featuring Kirsty MacColl) Fairytale of New York (1987) and give it a spin (virtually speaking – clicking on it in iTunes doesn’t have quite the same ring).

Exactly why an Irish ballad about drunks, failed relationships and broken dreams should feel so quintessentially Christmasy has always puzzled me. But there’s no denying that it does. And a lot of people seem to agree. It’s been voted the best Christmas song of all time on numerous occasions, and re-enters the charts every December, over 25 years since it’s release.

Its enduring popularity however is not without controversy – chiefly over it’s use of the word “faggot”. It has been claimed that in Ireland the word traditionally means someone who’s lazy, but this hasn’t stopped numerous attempts at censorship, including by BBC Radio 1 who blanked the word (along with ‘slut’) for several hours in 2007 before public outrage forced them to change their minds.

Our second selection this week is Twisted Sister with We’re Not Gonna Take It (1984). It’s particularly well known for it’s video clip featuring Mark Metcalf more or less reprising his role of Neidermeyer from the movie National Lampoon’s Animal House.

By now you’re no doubt saying “Denys, that’s a great song and all, but what in the name of all that’s sane and holy has it got to do with Christmas?”. Well, let’s try a little experiment shall we? Sing with me mi amigos! We’re not gonna take it! No! We ain’t gonna take it! Did you sing along? Be honest, you didn’t did you? C’mon it’s not going to work unless you do!

Let’s try again. We’re not gonna take it! No! We ain’t gonna take it! Well, I have no way to tell if you did or not, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. So, now sing it again, but with some different lyrics. Come all ye faithful! Joyful and triumphant! See!? See!? It’s exactly the same tune!!

This is not some great revelation. Dee Snider has never made any attempt to conceal the fact that he borrowed the tune. It’s just an interesting little musical factoid that many people have never noticed, despite it being hidden in plain sight.

So that’s it for this festive edition of Musical Tuesday. A merry culturally appropriate festive celebration to all, and to all a good applicable time of day!

Happy Taumas!

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all cross the zone,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a drone,
The fire-ports were locked with their lasguns in place,
In the hopes that an enemy would soon show his face,

The guardsmen were sleeping, tucked up in their billets,
Dreaming of recaff and sizzling grox fillets,
For the rations were low, the supply lines were cut,
The Commander sat up with his rumbling gut,

Unable to sleep he pondered, and tried,
To figure how long they could last unsupplied,
Then on the perimeter sounded a klaxon,
He leapt to his feet, glad of such a distraction,

Across to a gunport he flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutter and lifted the sash,
The night vision auspex he pulled to his eye,
Providing a scan of the objects outside,

His bolt gun unholstered, preparing to shoot,
He beheld a Piranha and eight spikey Kroot,
And a little blue driver with a slit in his brow,
He knew in a moment it must be a Tau,

The Tau and his Kroot flew in over the ice,
And he whistled, and shouted (via translation device),
“Now Gnawer! Now Chewer! Now Nibbler and Biter!
“On Shaper! On Shooter! On Slicer and Fighter!

“To the top of the bunker! To the top of the wall!
“Now lift away! Lift away! Lift away all!”
To the top of the bunker the xenos all flew,
Boxes strapped on to the Tau and his crew,

The Commander spun round, as the ceiling hatch popped,
Through it the Tau and his porters all dropped,
He looked like a daemon, his skin pale and blue,
His oddly cleft face and his cloven feet too,

But a wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Showed the Commander he had nothing to dread,
Not speaking a word, they went straight to their task,
Resupplying each backpack and filling each flask,

Then raising salute with a hand sign quite strange,
They headed back out to the place whence they came,
The Tau primed the piranha, the Kroot gathered round,
And away they all flew, barely making a sound,

Yet to the Commander he yelled (via translator),
“Happy Christmas to all, for the Good that is Greater!”


(The Inquisition turned up at the rise of the sun,
Destroyed all the evidence and purged everyone)

Musical Tuesdays – Filth


Warning – This week’s Musical Tuesday contains language unsuitable for British Schoolchildren and other folk of delicate sensibilities. You have been advised!

So, this week I thought we’d explore some music in that is – to say the least – in very poor taste. In fact, it’s sheer filth. But both songs – as I hope to demonstrate – have their latent merits.

The first song is not actually the one I wanted to feature. My ideal choice was Dicktatorship by Australia’s own TISM, a song that explores the relationship between sex and politics by way of “cunt” vs “country” puns. It’s a catchy, bluesy track with perhaps the most memorable opening line in musical history – “The New South Wales Right have cocks like Mastodons“. But it doesn’t appear to be available anywhere online, so I was forced to sub in the same band’s Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the House of Representatives from 1993’s Australia the Lucky Cunt.

This doesn’t really say an awful lot, but is possibly the only song in history to include a refrain of “Gimme Bicameral Legislature!” My original choice had slightly more to say, but we have to work with what we have.

(On the subject of TISM, here’s them being interviewed by Shaun Micallef back in his Full Frontal days. Champagne comedy!)

My second selection is a track from fairly indescribable grindcore group Anal Cunt (yes, you read that correctly). In their many years of recording, AC (as they are – thankfully – usually know) perfected the art of taking 10 seconds of cacophonous screaming and drumkit abuse, titling it something cryptic, then shoving it onto a CD with forty or so similar tracks. I don’t know if you could honestly describe the results as music, but they’re certainly interesting.

Perhaps their definitive album is 1997’s I like it When You Die which packs 52 separate ‘songs’ into 41 minutes 44 seconds. The naming conventions of these tracks are what make the compilation notable, breaking down into three distinct types…

You Something: You Live in a Houseboat, You are a Food Critic, You Have Goals.

Something is Gay: Recycling is Gay, Rich Goyette Is Gay, Technology is Gay, Windchimes are Gay.

Completely Randomness: René Auberjonois, Hootie and the Blowfish, Hungry, Hungry, Hippos.

Despite this, every track sounds exactly the same – like a hallucinating cannibal falling down the stairs accompanied by the contents of a kitchen cupboard.

Anyway, the track I’m featuring is from 1999’s It Just Gets Worse, and is titled I Ate Your Horse. It’s unusual in that you can actually – sort of – understand the chorus.

So, that’s it for this week. I promise next week will be less disturbing (it would be hard for it to be more…).

Musical Tuesday – Epics

Well, better late than never!

I’ve been really busy this week – I reinstalled Civilization III and have been conquering the world as the glorious Persians. So much more important than blogging commitments I’m sure you’ll agree.

In any case, this week I’ve decided to focus on two songs that can only be described as epic. Or possibly far too long. Long, epic songs that almost approach prog-rock in their sheer lengthy indulgence.

We’ll start with another from Sheffield movers and shakers of the 90’s, Pulp. Wickerman (from their last album, 2001’s We Love Life) is a phantasmagorical tour of the Steel City and its surrounds with Jarvis Cocker as your guide. Let him show you the hidden rivers that run below the streets, the viaduct that drunks used to jump off and the pressed in plastic letters at the cafe at Forge Dam. Feel the regret and try to track down the sample taken from the soundtrack of classic British horror movie The Wicker Man – I’m assured it’s in there somewhere.

If you’re thinking that the whole thing sounds like poetry, you can hear it as such too.

If eight minutes of Jarvis Cocker isn’t enough music for you, please carry on to our second song, Dire Straits’ Telegraph Road. Taken from 1982’s Love Over Gold it clocks in at an almost unbelievable 14 minutes 18 seconds. It’s not in bad company either, the entire album only has five songs on it, the shortest of which goes for over five minutes.

The interior album art shows a snuffed out cigarette in front of an Amstrad PCW 8256 – which is what a lot of the album sounds like – a dim, smoke filled room at 3:00 in the morning with grit in your eyes and only a monotone cathode-ray tube for company. The recording process got so grim in fact that the band had to cut loose and compose Twisting by the Pool just to stop themselves going mental. But the end result is regarded as one of their best, and Telegraph Road is the crowning glory of the album.

It’s a winding story that starts with the history and development of a town, then meanders off into bleak 1980s post-industrial collapse, which merges into relationship collapse, then wanders into a rocking five minute guitar playout. If this wasn’t enough to make it an epic song, it was also first performed live in my home city of Perth. So there!

Here it is, see you in a quarter hour…

Tune in next week when I may actually be on time for once! đŸ˜€

Dungeons and Dragons – Necropolis Part II

I meant to get back to this much sooner, but here’s part II…

Back to Part I

The Council of Necropolis have determined that an evil force – of powerful but as yet undetermined nature – has taken up residence in the heart of the cemetery. It appears to be centered somewhere in the vicinity of the so-called “Avenue of Heroes”, a boulevard of the largest and most impressive tombs and monuments than run down to the largest of the Necropolis’s ornamental lakes. Rather than confront this force head on in a dangerous (not to mention expensive) battle, the Council have decided to place an enchantment over the whole cemetery, a massive Protection from Evil spell that will either drive out the force, or weaken it sufficiently to make a confrontation viable. This is where the Players come in.

The enchantment will be established and maintained via a series of stone pillars placed at carefully selected points within the cemetery. Each will initially offer protection to its immediate surroundings, but as more pillars are placed, their protective fields will grow in both range and power until the entire 5,000 or more acres of the site are covered. The setting up of a pillar requires a complex ceremony featuring elements of both Divine and Arcane magic – this can easily be done during the relative safety of the daylight hours. The final activation of each pillar however must be carried out at the stroke of midnight on a carefully determined date – failure to do so requiring a full month before the activation can be attempted again.

The Council require the Players to carry out these activations. They must venture into the Cemetery, carrying the carefully enchanted capstone for each pillar, and put in in place at midnight, facing down whatever horrors stalk the graves at night. Ample payment is offered, but will be only be delivered in full on a pillar by pillar basis.

There are 26 pillars to be capped in total, starting with those on the edges of the cemetery then moving inwards towards the Avenue of Heroes. Certain pillars present unique challenges – three must be placed on islands in the ornamental lakes and at least one is located with the extensive catacombs that riddle the site. For the enchantment to take effect no more than two pillars may be activated a week, so the task will take several months, during which time the evil presence at the heart of the Necropolis can be assumed to continue its growth.

Are the Players up to the challenge? And if so, what specific dangers and obstacles will they face? Tune in soon for Part III of Necropolis!

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