Music Matters

Editors’ Note: Pray our eternal thanks to Paul Graham Raven for this thoughtful epic which he wrote as his DP swansong, instead of working on an actual Book-For-Publication. Pretty foolish of him, but we love him to bits anyway. Also it’s rather brilliant. Godspeed, you mad lugubrious bastard (nb: lugubrious means ‘wordy’ okay?).

ARE YOU FEELING BEYONCE'S PEPSI AD CAMPAIGN?

ARE YOU FEELING BEYONCE’S PEPSI AD CAMPAIGN?

Over the last five years or so, I’ve come to the conclusion that music doesn’t matter like it used to, and that it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t matter.

The image that drove it home was a poster for some student shin-dig, an “iPod disco”—a night out where everyone goes to da club with their own music player, and dances to their own beat as heard on their headphones. How utterly neoliberal is that? You couldn’t make a better metaphor for individualist consumerism if you tried. Music as wallpaper, a domesticated and utterly internal experience, rather than the communal channel of experience and story that even two hours of cheesy hard house in a backstreet Sheffield flea-pit manages to convey… despite seeming to privilege how much music matters to the attendee, the iPod disco does exactly the opposite: it privileges how much the attendee matters to themselves. And I consider this to be emblematic of a more general (if less extreme) decline in the importance of music as a central plank of youth cultural identity, at least in the UK.

On one level, that sounds ridiculous: “You’re saying music doesn’t matter anymore? Now, with music more ubiquitous, accessible and diverse than it ever has been before in the history of humankind? How could it not matter?!”

And sure, music still matters; it’s a crucial layer of cultural topography. But it’s not the dominant channel of subcultural ideas any more; it’s just one channel among many, all of which are busily being subsumed into the metachannel, otherwise known as these here internets upon which I am writing to you.

But before the internet, music was the internet.

Allow me to explain.

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First of all, you need to think of “the recording industry” as a system, as a medium; step back from the actual components of the machine—the radio stations, record companies, recording studios and record stores—and think purely in terms of function. Alongside magazines, pop records were the first medium explicitly marketed at the then newly-minted demographic of The Teenager; recordings had been sold before then, of course, but they were a less ephemeral sort of cultural product; albums that curated serious art by serious artists were marketed to collectors and connoisseurs. The 7-inch single was a way to make a fast buck out of the fleeting tastes of these strange new Teenaged creatures.

As history shows, this market expanded incredibly fast, and sideband channels of marketing and publicity sprung up around it; the business learned how to shape the tastes of its audience by carefully curating the novelty to which it was exposed. At the same time, the business became increasingly infrastructural as it expanded. This is unavoidable, because it is functionally similar to a telecoms company; it’s in the business of delivering messages to paying subscribers, and once the volume of messages becomes significant, it’s all you can do to keep on top of the logistics. Worrying about exactly which messages the subscribers want becomes mere detail; so long as the demand is there, you’re happily making bank, but you’ve gotta keep those pipes flowing. A corporation is an economic entity, remember; it doesn’t have (or need) the capacity to care what it’s selling, so long as it’s selling it and making money.

But the machine doesn’t run without that demand, so the infrastructure had to be fed with novelty by the “creative” side of the business, the managers and A&R people, promoters and pluggers and hustlers of every stripe. Meanwhile, the first generations of pop listeners reached an age where they’d started their own bands; these are the first bands to have grown up believing that there could be music aimed specifically at them, at young people in their world. No surprise, then, that when they picked up their instruments they found they had things they wanted to say—things that no one would let them say anywhere else, on the radio, on television, in the newspapers. It was a generational backchannel, if you like; a peer-to-peer medium where youth could speak to youth.

At no time in your life are you ever more hungry for new stories and new ideas than when you’re a teenager; outside of books and magazines (the latter of which were increasingly aligned with the music business anyway), music was the most likely place you’d hear the shibboleths of your generation spoken aloud. Rebellion, lust, desire, frustration, and the sheer shattering thrill and terror of being young and alive—to know someone else felt the same must have been an incredible liberation after the bland suits’n’boots orgman conformity of the post-war years. And while there was some money to be made from peddling saccharine conformity, the market turned out to be hungry for the forbidden topics—which was just fine for the recording industry: The forbidden could flow just as smoothly through the pipes as the wholesome. Hell, sometimes the forbidden flowed better, especially when someone outside the system tried to impede it; then as now, nothing heightens demand like a banning.

So maybe you can see what I mean now if I say that the early pop recording industry was like a very asymmetrical internet for contemporary youths, where a limited few (by the good graces of the infrastructural side of the business, who could make a buck from it) got the chance to publish new ideas and stories, and the majority could access and (to a limited extent) share those messages around. This is the era of the newly electrified Dylan, the early Beatles and Stones, ‘the British invasion’, all that stuff.

The system is biased against certain sorts of message, of course, and in some cases very strongly; it’s far from an ideologically flat marketplace. But nonetheless, there’s more levity here than elsewhere, and the very narrowness of this much-desired channel makes it very lucrative indeed, especially as the wider world of business begins to recognise the power of the Teenaged pound, and the utility of an established hot-line to its most active and willing consumers. However, with a firm hold over access to the means of (re)production, the industry could maintain a broadly conservative control over the general tone: when the pipes are flowing fast, you want to avoid riling the regulators excessively. Only trouble being, the more successful your artists become, the more likely they seem to be to start cocking a snook at the establishment… and you don’t want to entirely stamp that out, because it’s so bloody lucrative, eh wot?

Around this time, the capabilities of recording equipment and studios were also expanding rapidly, and the costs of getting records out into the market were falling, lowering the barriers to new contenders for the still-small but ever-expanding roster of artists with access to the medium, plus new, smaller players among the record companies, piggybacking on the now predominantly-infrastructural distribution side of the business. Music mutated its way through myriad forms, but the real Cambrian explosions came with the arrival, from the late 70s onwards, of affordable electronic instruments and home recording equipment, and the arrival of consumer-grade home duplication systems—the miniMoog and the cassette recorder, in other words—which had a significant part to play in the emergence of (post-)punk and electronica, and paved the way for the synthesiser-drenched 80s, the rave explosion, 90s grunge and alt-rock and everything else.

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Pepsi today announced an exclusive global partnership with the Estate of Michael Jackson as part of its new “Live for Now” campaign/

But it’s the ability to record and duplicate at home that’s important if we’re thinking about music as a medium, because this is the point where the traditionally-asymmetrical access to the industry starts to trend toward the symmetrical; all of a sudden, true peer-to-peer transmission is possible (albeit slowly, with considerable loss of quality, and at not insignificant opportunity cost), as is cheaply obtaining and sharing the messages of “official” artists without recourse to the official channels.

I reckon this technological shift has as much to do with the expansion of forms and styles of the late 70s and beyond as the sociopolitics of the time; it’s not just that there was so much more experimentation going on, it’s also that the experimenters could create their works and disseminate them cheaply, as well as becoming able to bypass the gatekeepers of the industry and connect directly with audiences.

(Does that rhetoric sound familiar, at all?)

So the industry lost some of its control, but ultimately gained from yet more growth in the overall market; so what if there were more bad messages in the pipe, so long as there were more messages? And while it got cheaper and easier for consumers to record and duplicate, the business still had the lion’s share of the power when it came to high bandwidth distribution, which allowed it to co-opt and absorb the smaller channels, once they reached a point where they need to scale their business up and onto the established infrastructures to keep their margins viable.

Sure, there’s mail-order 7-inch-single clubs from marginal labels run out of someone’s shed, pirate radio stations, but that’s all little-league shit; if you want the big reach, you need the big pipes, and if you wanna use their pipes, you gotta deal with the big boys… and when you do, they’ll take up your niche and commercialise it quicker than you can say “UK grime was once a viable and genuinely interesting music scene”. It happened to punk, to synth-pop, New Romo, C90 indie, to every successive sub-wave of the rave explosion, to grunge, Britpop, everything; as soon as a new message or idea hits the infrastructure, it’s everywhere, it’s ubiquitous, it’s over. This is why we talk about “selling out”, but it happens at a much higher level than individual artists, and it’s a two-way process. The infrastructural core of the business has to suck in novelty from the outer edges in order to fuel the machine and keep the pipes flowing; it’s like a black hole, in a way. Or maybe a sarlacc pit.

For fuck's sake, George.

For fuck’s sake, George.

But the bigger the black hole, the greater the surface area of its event horizon, meaning the marginal ecosystem of independent artists clinging onto the edges of the infrastructure; so many voices out there, so many new stories! I remember being a teenager in the early 90s, with music being the only way I could gain access to any view of the world that wasn’t seen from what I now recognise as a white British middle-class perspective; it was the only place I could hear about the sort of politics that mattered to me, the only place I heard the truths that elsewhere went unspoken, the only place where lives that felt like my own were narrated. (Well, there were novels, too, but who reads those anymore, amiritez?) It was a crazy time—though I suppose the period during which you become an adult always looks like that, whenever you’re born.

The 90s also threw up the internet, the metamedium which would go on to subsume all other mediums, but it would be a long time before enough people had it that anyone could guess what it’d be good for. So it kinda bubbled along as a rather obscure channel-of-subcultural-backchannels until bandwidth and baud rates and processor speeds got to the point where Napster could happen. 

At which point all bets were off.

lars mate thats not how u hold drumsticks bud let me show u fam

lars mate thats not how u hold drumsticks bud let me show u fam

As we now know, thanks to the 2002 invention of hindsight, the recording industry either hadn’t seen this coming or had chosen to ignore it; indeed, there are big sections of the industry only now, 15 years later, slipping out of the denial stage and adapting to the new landscape. But everything changed, again, once the opportunity cost for finding and duplicating a song and sharing it with someone became effectively zero; suddenly those messages were multiplying like Gremlins in a swimming pool, pouring through a whole new set of pipes, under a whole new set of rules, beyond reach or control. Owning the recording industry’s manufacturing and distribution infrastructure was suddenly an expensive liability… and the nature of the new distro channels was that it made your product laughably easy to duplicate infinitely, with no significant loss in quality.

I think this is where our relationship with music really began to pivot, because suddenly access to the music you wanted needn’t be a matter of expense: you could just have it, whether streamed or torrented or ripped or whatever. Music – not just contemporary music, mind, but as time passed, the entire corpus of recorded music—everything that’s still capable of playback and redigitisation—became a resource, a commodity, an ocean of sound that our access to the internet allowed us to draw from effortlessly, without friction, and over a wider selection than was even conceivable beforehand. Yes, you still choose your music—but you choose it lightly, spoiled by choice. It’s not a hoarded pocket-money purchase, a long-anticipated mail-order CD of some obscure album that your local HMV didn’t even have on its database, or some long-forgotten b-side that you’ve scoured an endless string of backstreet record shops to find; it’s a coat plucked on a whim from an infinite coat-rack. What do you want to wear today?

And hey, why not—this is not a bad thing. It’s just the way things are… and as many bad things as there are about the world and about the internet, I don’t think this is one of them. Nor is this one of those “OMFG music is DEAD these modern bands SUCK and you should all get the hell off my LAWN” sorta essays, either; music’s definitely not dead, it’s alive and crawling like kudzu, soundtracking our workdays as much as our playdays, thanks to teeny-tiny technology and better batteries. Music and musicians aren’t disappearing anytime soon; sure, it may be harder to secure the sort of mid-list careers that album bands could have in the 70s, 80s and 90s, but that’s because the labels can’t play the old “throw shit at the wall and see what sticks” approach to A&R any more; they don’t have the monopoly over distribution or promotional channels any more, so they can’t stack the deck so easily in their own favour. They were gamblers in the golden age, taking a chance on dozens of bands in the hope that one would be the new Beatles, Led Zep, whoever; it was a poor method, but it was the best one they had. (And if the rock biographies are to be believed, it could be quite a fun process, provided you didn’t let it kill you.)

mm.. deliciouse papso -- simen cowl

“mm.. deliciouse papso……” — simen cowl

But don’t believe the hype about the music industry being in decline. Far from it; it’s just abandoned the old infrastructural business model and merged with the TV and Hollywood conglomerates, getting into the “content” game, which is a game of stories within stories within stories, of which music is only one type among many. But selling music itself is a dead scene for anyone operating outside the Long Tail; as soon as something’s in sufficient demand, piracy takes care of the supply problem for you, and leaves you out of pocket. You only avoid this by being obscure… and if you’re obscure, you’re not expecting to make any money from selling records, anyway, except as exactly the sort of connoisseur’s collection-piece that recorded music first got sold as: high-weight vinyl albums of obscure Williamsburg drone-pop quartets. These are artefacts, treasures; their value does not lie purely in the music that they encode. This is the last bastion of music really mattering to people like it used to: obsession, the expense of time and money. Try rewatching High Fidelity; it was always a little satirical, but now it looks like a send-up of the doomed relics of a by-gone era, twisted man-children angsting over their grown-up Pokémon collections. Defining yourself by the physical albums you own – how limited an idea that seems now! (If only because, well, shit – who can afford a spare room for their vinyl now the bedroom tax is in, eh?)

You want the proof that music doesn’t matter? Look at the charts. Sure, they were always topped-off with obvious pop puppets, but now even they are carefully groomed and manufactured—in public, and at great length, as part and parcel of the whole spectacle—long before they ever release any actual tunes one can buy. And when they are released, they’re a sideshow, a vestigial legacy-mechanism by which you get the act to chart, and thus to be talked about more. The money in pop music nowadays is all in using it as the honey coating on bigger and more easily-monetised media spectacles like television or cinema, or as a demographic shorthand in advertising material. Simon Cowell’s exploitative franchises have made him many fortunes, but hardly any of that came from record sales; it comes from the ad slots that appear around his programs, from the licenses to reuse his formulae in other territories; he’s not selling music, he’s selling the idea of selling… Music’s just the scent of fresh-baked bread piped out from the front door of his underground-railway-themed sandwich shop, so to speak; its job is to get you in through the door.

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“Cheer up, Simon. You’re going to be even richer.” — Pete Waterman

(This, in fact, is not that far away from the old Tin Pan Alley model of the early 60s, or Pete Waterman’s “hit factory” model of the 80s; the only difference is that now it’s easier to monetise the artist selection and development process than the resulting musical product.)

However, there’s masses of other stuff going on, little sub-sub-genres and scenes of all sorts popping up all over, outside the dominant channels of promotion; how can I say music doesn’t matter when more people are making it or going to listen to it than ever before? Yet at the same time, there’s a sense that everything’s been done before, everything’s been said already. Caught in the atemporality of postmodernism’s end-game, all that’s left to us is quotation, pastiche, mash-ups and covers and remixes. The possibility of newness is nowhere to be seen.

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To repeat: music still matters, but it matters in the abstract, as one aspect of the sensorial tapestry that is our cultural lives. It’s not a lifeline like it once was; there are other channels now where youth can speak to itself, even if they’re increasingly clogged with the detritus of capital and commerce. It doesn’t have to carry all the weight of our hopes and fears any more; nor our politics, our dreams of futurity. There are other ways to make the world hear us, and while they may not be much more effective, they’re surely no less so.

And maybe I’m wrong, and a few miles away there’s some urgent new musical subculture coalescing in some grotty little venue, the first true Next Big Thing of the Internet Era, set to blow people’s minds and give them a star to steer by. I wouldn’t be sad to see it; hell, I’ve spent years watching hungrily for it. Put me out of my misery, y’know?

But ultimately it doesn’t matter that music doesn’t matter so much, because the internet subsumed the recording industry, absorbed that systemic function into itself, perfected it, balanced the asymmetry (a bit). Oh, it’s no utopia, no matter what Silicon Valley and its boosters may claim to the contrary, and there’s a lot of work to be done before we’ve shaped the internet into something that serves all of us, instead of just a few. But even so, the messages are still getting through, whatever the platform, whatever the medium… and it’s never been easier to send your own message back out there and see what happens.

And that’s what always mattered about music in the first place.

To follow Paul’s future exploits, check out his personal blog at www.velcro-city.co.uk.

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On Rap Music: The Rap Bus’s Final Journey

Last time we heard from Geoff the Rap Bus had been blown up by Nazis, and Geoff was stuck behind enemy lines in a brutal prison, hacking Spotify and making playlists. We embarked on a rescue mission that would require the commando-ninja talents of the whole Demon Pigeon team. It went off exactly like this

We were now somewhat unwelcome in parts of the USA that looked down on this sort of violence but fortunately, there were still plenty of places happy to welcome us and our fully-automatic large-calibre machine guns with open arms (satire).

It was now a race to get out of the country before Obama and his liberal communists caught up with us and took away our guns, but we tried to visit a couple of rappers on the way. We also had to get back home before Demon Pigeon closed forever and we all turned to stone.bus gifMinneapolis: Astronautalis

After being chased out of LA by some angry villagers we headed to Minneapolis because that was the next major city with a Greggs. Astronautalis was happy to let us hide out in his mansion for a couple of days while we rested and planned our next sprint towards freedom.

When I downloaded my digital copy of this guy’s latest album from the excellent Fake Four inc. label, the genre tags said “Historical Fiction Hip-Hop.” That’s funny isn’t it? It’s funny because it’s (somewhat) true.

I don’t know about you but I really like rap songs about US Civil War battles with huge choruses and videos with vampires in them.

I also like rap songs about Dimitri Mendeleev discovering the periodic table.

And I definitely like it when rappers “go in” over piano versions of Poker Face.

So Astronautalis ticks a lot of boxes for me.

Just as we were settling into life in the Astromansion though, a brick was thrown through the window with a note attached to it that read “Please Turn Over.” I turned the note over and read: “I’m coming for you. Love from Dog.” So Dog the Bounty Hunter was now on our trail?! We had to get moving.

bus gif

New York: YC The Cynic

There then followed a high speed chase along New York Road which is the main A road between Minneapolis and New York City. We were now being pursued by angry LA villagers and this guy:

dogart

So running away was very much a priority.

During our time in the Astromansion, Noel had managed to modify the Rap Bus using some tin foil and banana skins, enabling us to get as close to Ludicrous Speed as possible without attracting the attention of American traffic cops on cool motorcycles (55 MPH).

After another chase that involved High Octane Thrills, Edge of the Seat Suspense and a horse, we arrived at our next safe location, YC The Cynic’s pyramid fortress.

The_pyramid_fotress_by_UnidColorYC agreed to let us hang out with him for a while as long as we promised to say that he is one of the most talented and exciting young rappers around and that he has in fact already got pubes, despite what we said in our end of year round up. His first album proper after three mixtapes, 2013’s GNK, was 100% self-released and is both accessible and challenging, often cleverly subverting hip-hop tropes to add depth and complexity to the impressive delivery.

The hook to Murphy’s Law for example sounds tired and clichéd if you’re not paying attention, but listen to what YC is almost whispering in between each line and pay attention to the second verse in particular.

Similarly the hook to Negus sounds familiar to anyone that remembers the days when the likes of  DMX and Ja Rule were dominating our radios and TVs. However, the song is preceded by an interlude that sheds a whole new light on the song.

Also, best flipping of Tom’s Diner ever.

It was all very lovely inside the Pyramid Fortress but the angry villagers and Dog the Bounty Hunter had begun a siege and we were running out of pasties so we had to make a break for it again.

bus gif

Would we escape the angry mob and get back to Pigeon Towers before the gates shut forever? Well, there’s no room for a cliffhanger because we’re not doing any more of these so yes, of course we did.

However, similar to old skool Doctor Who when occasionally one of the companions would decide to stay on an alien planet, the Rap Bus decided to stay in America. Its talents were spotted by a talent spotting talent spotter and it is now enjoying a new career and unlimited Greggs sausage rolls. It sent us a video of its new job, looks pretty cool. Good luck to you Rap Bus, it’s been a lot of fun.

Rolling Stone Top 500 Challenge VIII

"Cool Santa" by peter_h_hammond_1953

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End of the line, folks. This’ll be the last one of these, at least for here and now. I didn’t make it to the peak, where Sgt Peppers resides in all his predictable pomp. I failed. I am a failure.

Enjoy!

The Rules: Try and listen to all the albums on the Rolling Stone top 500 albums of all time. No vetoes. I’m not even allowed to veto things on the grounds that they contain Ian Brown.

My Progress: 325-301

325 Eric ClaptonSlowhand: It still baffles me that someone can go from being in The Yardbirds and Cream, both incredibly vital, urgent, excellent bands… to this. Meandering, plodding and pedestrian, this is utterly dull. How anyone can make a song about doing too much cocaine sound like an overdose of cocoa is beyond me.

324 David BowieStation to Station: This is full on 80s Bowie, and veers from unlistenable flirtations with disco, to fairly dull Bowie-by-numbers, to a couple of excellent guitar-led numbers. It whistled past me quickly enough.

323 The PoliceGhost in the Machine: Seriously though, fuck off Sting.

"Stewart Copeland of The Police was so fed up with Sting that he wrote the words "FUCK FACE" and "FUCK OFF YOU CUNT" on his drum heads, so he could take out his frustrations with Sting in an inspired manner."

Stewart Copeland of The Police was so fed up with Sting that he wrote “FUCK OFF YOU CUNT” on his drum heads, so he could take out his frustrations.”

322 Randy NewmanSail Away: I’m beginning to wonder if the rest of this challenge is going to revolve around me having to listen to Sting, then Randy Newman, then Sting again, then maybe some Jackson Browne. Lather, rinse, repeat. This is my third Randy Newman album, and I’ve become increasingly less tolerant of his bullshit with each one. Awful.

321 Nick DrakePink Moon: Ahhh, that’s better. Lustrous folk that’s dripping with sadness; after the previous four albums this is like a warm shower after a strenuous workout. I’d imagine, anyway, I don’t do exercise as a rule, because why on earth would you choose to do that?

320 RadioheadAmnesiac: More loveliness, courtesy of Oxford’s finest. You could argue that an album of offcuts from the Kid A recording sessions shouldn’t warrant inclusion here, but then we would have to stop talking to each other, and we wouldn’t want that, would we?

319 Bob Marley & The WailersBurnin’: I’m trying to recall if this is the first reggae album we’ve had on the list so far, but my brain is still a bit burnt out from that Randy Newman album. It all starts to haunts you, eventually. Anyway, this is pretty decent really. Not hugely my cup of tea but it’s got some great songs, good earfeel etc.

318 The O’JaysBack Stabbers: This is 70s soul at its dullest. It starts brightly enough, with a political protest song, but then gives way to endless generic love songs. When the best song on the album is ‘Love Train’ then you know you have problems.

Soulfunk 80's

Soulfunk 80’s

317 PixiesSurfer Rosa: It’s amazing how fresh The Pixies sound, even now, when every rock man and his alt dog has spent the subsequent decades copying their blueprint so shamelessly. Anyway, this is brilliant, and has Where Is My Mind on it, which is my favourite Pixies song (wow, controversial choice, not).

316 The Velvet UndergroundThe Velvet Underground: This is Velvet Underground at their most relaxed, with a distinct lack of the avant-garde oddness that made them so famous—apart from a head meltingly atonal nine-minute song at the end. Other than that it’s rather pleasant.

315 Tom Petty and The HeartbreakersDamn The Torpedoes: This is unashamedly American blue collar rawwwk, straight from the heartlands of wherever. You can imagine all of the songs being played by a blond haired boy on a tractor in Iowa, but for all that it’s very likeable, the epic hooks and anthemic choruses tempered by downtrodden working class lyrics with their feet in Steinbeck’s America.

314 Lauryn HillThe Miseducation of Lauryn Hill: This is pretty near perfect. Blending together the best of soul, hip hop, reggae and funk with intelligent, brash and militant lyrics and a strong, powerful woman at the centre of it all. Brilliant.

You want to give that up mate, it'll kill you.

You want to give that up mate, it’ll kill you.

313 NirvanaMTV Unplugged in New York: You have to wonder if this album would be quite so revered if it didn’t serve as a kind of epitaph for Kurt, but that’s how it’s ended up so you can’t really separate the two anymore. I remember very clearly seeing this for the first time on the day he died, when MTV UK went into Kurt overload, as I was doing myself. Listening back now you wonder if the scarcity of his own songs reflected his lack of faith in his own repertoire or his boredom with it. Either way, it’s a flawed and compelling album, and the finale of Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night still sends shivers down my spine.

312 Jane’s AddictionNothing’s Shocking: I’ve never quite understood the reverence towards Jane’s, they’re a passably good 90s alternative band whose influence was more to do with their involvement in Lollapalooza than their musical output. This is okay, but nothing more, and Perry Farrell’s voice is one of the more irritating things in this life.

311 Various ArtistsThe Sun Records Collection: This is the sort of thing that reminds me what I’m doing this challenge for. Three discs of blues, r’n’b, country and rockabilly from the archives of one of the most important studios in history. At three hours it never drags, the more obvious acts like Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis sitting alongside people I’ve never heard of on a fascinating look at the very birth of popular music. Absolutely brilliant.

310 Red Hot Chili PeppersBlood Sugar Sex Magik: I loved this album when I was thirteen because it’s exactly the sort of album that appeals to a thirteen-year-old boys, with lyrics straight out of the letters page of a wank mag. But listening back now it’s interesting how much better this sounds than the Chili’s subsequent works, with Flea’s bass much more prominently mixed than Frusciante’s weedy guitar probably being the main reason. It’s infantile whiteboy faux-funk certainly, but it’s a lot more fun than anything else they’ve done.

Fuck off, would you lads?

Fuck off, would you lads?

309 Creedence Clearwater RevivalWilly And The Poor Boys: Late 60s politically charged swamp rock from Creedence, another band on the list of bands I’ve always meant to listen to. I don’t know why I like things that are tinged with down-home country music when I hate country so much, but this is excellent, especially Fortunate Son. In fact, I love this so much I’ve already made a playlist of their other albums to listen to after I’m done with this. Yes I am a fucking idiot, what of it?

308 Frank Sinatra Songs for Swingin’ Lovers: This is actually my dad’s favourite album of all time, so you could say I’m fairly well acquainted with it. There’s been a serious deficit of swing on this list, but this more than makes up for it. It’s really all you’d ever need when it comes to Ol’ Blue Eyes; it has endlessly opulent big band arrangements and Sinatra’s voice is sublime here. An effortless cool envelops the whole thing. Forget the ruinations visited upon this genre by Bublé and his ilk, this is marvellous.

307 The BeatlesA Hard Day’s Night: If there’s one thing I’m really starting to appreciate in an album the further I get into this endeavour, it’s brevity. This mop-top era album by the Fab Four is pretty dull really, lacking any really great songs, but it’s only 30 minutes long, so that’s just fine by me.

306 BeckOdelay: This album is more like a time capsule now, a reminder of a time when you could do some pretty out there stuff and still score a major worldwide smash, so long as you had a handful of good tunes in there and you were ’cool’ enough. It’s not quite as good as I remember it being, but it’s still a good listen.

305 Lucinda WilliamsCar Wheels On A Gravel Road: This is very odd. Williams has a very distinctive voice; think Sheryl Crow with an added dash of huskiness. But this album has a very glossy sheen to it which does not suit the oddness of her voice. The few songs where the production does get stripped back work a lot better, but then they aren’t great songs in and of themselves. A very frustrating listen.

~forever young forever in are hearts~

~forever young forever in are hearts~

304 Jeff BuckleyGrace: I adore this album. Buckley’s voice is simply extraordinary, exceeding the gymnastic dexterity of your general X factor warbling automata and combining it with soul, passion and—ironically—a certain ‘X’ factor, then backing it up with an album of brilliant songs. Not many people could get away with a cover of Corpus Christi Carol on a rock album, but Jeff could. In the pantheon of sad rock stories, the fact that we’ll never hear Grace’s follow up is probably the saddest.

303 Bob DylanJohn Wesley Harding: This was Dylan returning to his roots after three electric albums, incorporating a country vibe. It’s fantastic, Dylan’s voice is very strong, with some great songs and some of his better lyrics.

302 Public EnemyFear Of A Black Planet: Angry, confrontational, noisy as hell, funny as shit and smarter than you or I. Who in their right mind wouldn’t love this? There are times when their soundclash production gets a bit much, but they are few and far between.

And fanfare please…

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301 Dolly PartonCoat Of Many Colors: Here we are then, the 200th album on this list that I’ve listened to, and the last one I’ll be writing about here. After two solid weeks of listening to nothing else I’m looking forward to choosing my own music for a while, but I’ll get round to finishing the other 300 at some point. I may even write about it if any of you lot seem remotely interested in reading it, who knows! As for this album, well it’s quite good really. I really like Dolly Parton, I think she’s an awesome woman, and while she’s far too straight ahead country for me normally, there’s something very charming about her delivery and lyrics here that win me over.

So that’s that. Bye!

Pigeon Playlists: Geoff’s Prison Break-A-Thon

Well it had to happen at some point. On the way back from LA after meeting Open Mike Eagle, the Rap Bus was chased and brutally shunted by some Nazis driving a jeep, and exploded. Geoff has asked us to post the following reconstruction in the hope that some witnesses will come forward.

Geoff escaped from the bus and fought off the Nazis with bold bravery, but the local Sheriff wasn’t too impressed with his antics so until we can fix the bus again and stage an elaborate prison break, he’s stuck.

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Fortunately, being so hard and northern, Geoff has managed to become “Top Dog” almost immediately and has used his computer privileges to send us a hip hop Pigeon Playlist featuring all the rappers he’s visited in the bus and lots more.

He’s also managed to hack Spotify to divert the royalty payments from each stream into our prison break fund and away from the cash-loaded underground rappers. This can’t fail.

Rolling Stone Top 500 Challenge VII

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By now news of this webzine’s impending demise may have reached your fragile, birdlike ears, which does raise the question: What the fuck was this whole Rolling Stone thing for, anyway? We’re nowhere near finished with it, and now we never will be. What gives? Well, I can’t answer that, I’m too busy burying my head in the sand, carrying on listening to the bloody things in a futile attempt to reach some kind of closure in the next few days that will render the enterprise as anything other than a complete and utter waste of time.

Here’s how I’ve been getting on:

The Rules: Try and listen to all the albums on the Rolling Stone top 500 albums of all time. No vetoes. I’m not even allowed to veto things on the grounds that they contain Ian Brown.

My Progress: 350-326

350 The YardbirdsRoger the Engineer: More Yardbirds fun, it’s pretty basic rock and roll really, but done with panache, verve and humour. It’s good fun, even if it’s over quicker than George Osborne masturbating to pictures of a Victorian poor house.

349 Jay-ZThe Black Album: Jay Z is everything that is wrong with hip-hop, or at least that was what I thought for a while, but this is pretty good, once you get past that slightly annoying delivery method that he has. It’s all bombast and big pop hooks, and sometimes that’s okay.

348 Muddy WatersAt Newport 1960: This album is so damn cool, and benefits greatly from not being a four-disc career retrospective, therefore ending well before I got bored of it.

347 Pink FloydThe Piper At The Gates Of Dawn: Speaking of boredom, from an intellectual standpoint this represented a huge leap forward in what was possible within the confines of ‘pop’ music, but on the other hand, it’s about as enjoyable as being in the next room to George Osborne masturbating to pictures of a Victorian poor house. That’s right, I’m introducing a running gag. Don’t worry, I won’t use it again.

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George Osborne, pictured “piping” at the gates of Downing Street

346 De La Soul3 Feet High and Rising: This is a delightful ray of sunshine that has utterly rescued my day. I loved this album as a kid, the first hip-hop album I heard that wasn’t ‘gangsta’; it reminds me of carefree afternoons in the parks, sunny days and happiness, so I presume it must be someone else’s childhood I’m remembering.

345 Talking HeadsStop Making Sense: Live albums are, as a rule, a bit pish, but I’d like to hereby amend that rule to allow for live albums whose original songs were generally destroyed by hideous 80s production. This is beefier, more organic and just plain urgent than Talking Heads’ albums, and therefore utterly allowable.

344 Lou ReedBerlin: This often gets billed as the most depressing album ever, which certainly piqued my interest. While I think most of my record collection has it beat for gloominess, there’s certainly no denying the crushing misery in Reed’s lyrics here, and the overall album is a startling mix of bombast and ennui. Excellent.

343 Meat LoafBat Out Of Hell: This list throws up some interesting juxtapositions at times, and going from the ultra-gloom of Lou Reed to Meat Loaf’s vaudevillian mix of Jerry Lee Lewis, Queen and rock opera makes for quite the change. This is, of course, completely ridiculous, but I can’t help but love it just a little bit.

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342 Depeche ModeViolator: My brother went to school with Dave Gahan, which may go some way to explaining why Dave Gahan is so bloody miserable. This album, which is like a gloomy British Pretty Hate Machine, is phenomenal. Cheers bro!

341 MobyPlay: In which the white man finally killed the blues. This is just awful. Imagine you took DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing….., removed everything vital, interesting or good about it, and replaced it with the white noise from inside an advertising executive’s head. This is what you get. Oh, for reference, Endtroducing….. didn’t make this list. So there’s that.

340 Black FlagDamaged: This may sound like it was recorded inside a tiny wooden box at the top of a flight of stairs on the summit of a cliff, but the sheer force of personality contained within it still shines through. It’s also bloody nice to finally hear some proper distortion and angry teenagers after the bleepy-bloopy-cultural-appropriatey nonsense of Moby.

339 Tom WaitsThe Heart of Saturday Night: More bar-soaked blues from Mr Waits, this time dating from an era when he could ostensibly ‘carry a tune’, which almost ruins it somehow. At times it strays into lounge act cheese, but manages to pull it back most of the time.

"We're monkeys with money and guns." -- Tom Waits

“We’re monkeys with money and guns.” — Tom Waits

338 Big Brother & The Holding CompanyCheap Thrills: I’d never heard of this, but it’s the major label debut of Janis Joplin. The production is dreadful, it sounds like a bad live recording, and the band aren’t exactly The Experience. But for all that, the power of Janis’ voice mixed with the bluesy rock and some good songwriting make this a pretty decent album.

337 Jethro TullAqualung: Poppy proggy stuff from The Tull. I can imagine at least one Demon Pigeon writer who probably worships this album and has it in seventeen formats, including one composed entirely from crystallised baby tears but while I enjoyed it well enough, it faded from my memory almost instantly.

336 RadioheadIn Rainbows: When you look around at the bands that came out of England in the mid-90s and compare them with Radiohead’s nigh on 25-year career, you realise just how unique a band they were and continue to be. This album, even if you strip away the hype around its release method, is as excellent as you’d expect, which is to say they continue to hit a bar that only they can even see from the ground.

335 SoundgardenSuperunknown: I loved this when I was a fresh faced teen in a flannel shirt and cherry red DMs, but over time the shine has come off the Soundgarden train, perhaps as a result of their god awful reunion album. Anyway, this has some great tracks on it, but it misses the dirty feel of its predecessor and is probably five or six songs too long.

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334 Graham ParkerSqueezing Out Sparks: This represented my toughest ordeal yet in terms of tracking it down, with not even your more piratey of bays having a copy. I managed to cobble together a playlist on Spotify of all but one track, although with a fair few live versions. Anyway, this is basically 70s British pub rock of the Elvis Costello variety, pleasant enough, with a few jaunty catchy tunes. Not bad, if hardly earth-shattering.

333 XWild Gift: X were apparently LA’s answer to the punk rock ‘revolution’ and this is pretty much what you’d expect, fairly basic punk crossed with a dash of Ramones-style pop nous. Not bad but nothing to write home about. Or indeed, write an article on a music blog about, even though that’s exactly what I’m doing.

332 Richard and Linda ThompsonShoot Out the Lights: I dimly recall an album by these two earlier on in the challenge, but I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. Sure, I could look at what I wrote last time, but I’m not going to. This is perfectly pleasant for the most part, Linda’s songs in particular are nice little folk numbers, while Richard’s are less enticing. But it passes the time well enough.

331 The BeatlesHelp!: I was going to write the standard ‘blah blah blueprint for pop music, blah blah amazing songwriting, blah blah pop perfection’ thing, and it’d all be true, but then I got to You Like Me Too Much, a song I’ve heard many times before without really listening to, and if you think Blurred Lines was a bit on the creepy side, then get a load of this. Here’s a game: Pick an actor who creeps you out. Read the lyrics in your head, but in his voice. Terrified yet? Of course it’s delivered with all the cheeky pop charm you’d expect, but it struck me as a bit odd. Great album though.

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330 Neil YoungTonight’s the Night: Written in the aftermath of the deaths of some of Young’s close friends to drugs, this is absolutely gripping, An at times literal howl of grief, this has some of Young’s strongest songs delivered in a shambolic drunken stupor. It’s not an easy listen. Young’s already ‘interesting’ vocal delivery style doesn’t even find anything close to the melody at times, but it’s incredibly moving, engrossing and brilliant.

329 James BrownIn the Jungle Groove: Set the misogyny ray to full blast! The opening track of this album is somewhat ruined by lyrics that play like an earnest version of Harry Enfield’s ‘women, know your place’ routine. But after that the godfather of soul decides to shut the hell up and essentially do nothing more than play the hype man to his own band as they storm through endless funk workouts, chipping in occasionally with a ‘hit me’, ‘ooh,’ or ‘waaaaa’. This drastically improves the album, although by its end I’m bored to tears of funk.

328 Sonic YouthDaydream Nation: This is absolutely brilliant. I don’t really know what more to say about it than that. If you like alternative rock, or art rock, or anything even remotely offbeat, and you don’t like Sonic Youth, well then shit. I can’t help you I’m afraid.

327 Liz PhairExile in Guyville: There’s an awful lot of stuff on this list I’ve never heard before, obviously, but very few occasions where I have never even heard of the artist at all. But strike me down, I’d never heard of Liz Phair before, despite her being an alt rock feminist star from the 90s. The 90s are my thing! Or so I thought. I could only assume this was an undiscovered gem in waiting. The lyrics are funny, confrontational and full of feminist ire (the album is a riposte to the sexual braggadocio of the Stones’ Exile on Main Street, from a woman’s perspective) and the songs are easily good enough to back it up, all laid-back guitar and minimal production. A great find. Hooray for the 90s!

326 The CureDisintegration: This is definitely the high water mark for The Cure and their foppish goth, although it’s all a bit too wishy washy to truly win me over. It’s alright though.

So there you go. Over a third of the way through. That counts as a milestone, right? Tune in to see if I can manage to get another load done before THE END.

Rolling Stone Top 500 Challenge VI

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I’m rattling through these albums lickety-bloody-split at the moment, to take advantage of the fact that nobody’s bothered to release any good records yet this year, and I’m bored of all the stuff from last year. We’re definitely not running out of steam, honest. Like all our manifold serialised ‘articles’, we will one day get this finished. 

Without further ado:

The Rules: Try and listen to all the albums on the Rolling Stone top 500 albums of all time. No vetoes. I’m not even allowed to veto things on the grounds that they contain Ian Brown.

My Progress: 375-351

375 Jackson BrowneLate For The Sky: I’m beginning to wonder whether Jackson Browne was on the panel that decided this list, and his sole contribution was to give them a list of all his own records copied off of Wikipedia. Yet more bland 70s AOR. You could make an argument for this being better than his two records further back in the list, but you’ll notice that I’m not.

374 Roxy MusicSiren: If the last Roxy Music album on the list failed to win me over, then this one does a much better job. 1970s post-punk art-pop, but with some excellent songs, and a dark, menacing vibe throughout.

373 Jefferson AirplaneVolunteers: Given the cultural significance of the so called hippie movement, there’s been precious little hippie music on this list so far, but Jefferson Airplane change all that. This is folk rock twisted through a pharmaceutical haze, and it’s bloody brilliant. Also, they later got on cocaine and changed their name to STARSHIP, and we heartily approve of that.

372 The PoliceReggatta De Blanc: Fuck off, Sting.

And not tantrically, either.

And not tantrically, either.

371 Arctic MonkeysWhatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not: This veers between brilliantly catchy working class British rock with inventive lyrics, and meandering dull indie fare. The fact that it can even claim the first part at all probably makes it the best British indie album in a decade.

370 Mott the HoopleMott: Looking at the next run of four albums set this whole ridiculous enterprise back by a few days, filling me as it did with a deep ladle-full of dread. I mean, forgotten glam rockers, the most boring band on the planet, a washed up pop star and The Fucking Smiths. You try looking at that list and pressing play. Urgh. But this took me by surprise; less the Bowie-aping glam stomp of their earlier work, more bluesy, biting and only a bit glam rock.

369 The SmithsLouder Than Bombs: I must be feeling charitable after being delighted by Mott, because despite my utter hatred for ‘meat eaters are paedophiles’ Morrissey and his whingy, awful band of tossers, this double-disc retrospective (*sigh*) is actually not as objectionable as it might be. It even has a bona fide ‘quite good’ song, London, which I hadn’t heard before. My world is upturned.

368 EaglesEagles: My sense of lost equilibrium is not helped at all by this, the first album by American snooze merchants the Eagles also being much better than I thought it was going to be. For fuck’s sake. Laid back without being dull, this is marginally rougher round the edges than their later stuff and really rather good.

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367 MadonnaRay of Light. Ah, there you go. Expectations well and truly met. I grew up quite liking Madonna, but I notice that the one really great album she made (Erotica) doesn’t make this list, so instead we have to put up with this thoroughly dull pop/dance hybrid which could have done with being twinned with some personality.

366 Johnny CashAmerican Recordings: I absolutely adore this album, the richness of Cash’s voice is like butter but really sad butter, the production is probably the best thing Rick Rubin has ever done and the songs are heart-wrenching, dark and bleakly comic. Brilliant.

365 Rage Against the MachineRage Against the Machine: It turns out I remember every single lyric on this album, which I think makes me a semi-qualified rapper. I might try and find a ‘battle’ somewhere and test this theory. This is, of course, brilliant, but then you knew that already.

364 The DoorsL.A. Woman: From the opening riff of The Changeling to the closing bars of Riders on the Storm this is The Doors at their flawless, bluesiest best. Brilliant. Wait! Once again, that’s three brilliant albums in a row, and that can mean only one thing…

363 New OrderSubstance: …nooooo, it’s another two-disc retrospective! Of a British electro-pop band from the 80s that I utterly despise! If anyone ever wanted to know what was so bad about the 1980s, point them at New Order. When the drum machine heralding the start of Blue Monday comes in I want to end all of the world and its contents. This sounds like the band you formed when you were seven and there were two of you with keyboards and you just hit the demo buttons and sang mumbled tuneless bullshit about the girl down the street who you fancied over the top of it. By you, I mean me, obviously. That this stuff gets played on BBC Radio Two to this very fucking day completely breaks my mind.

362 The Smashing PumpkinsSiamese Dream: If you’d have asked me my favourite album of all time throughout most of my teens and early 20s I’d have told you this was it; and it hasn’t slipped all that far down the list in the intervening decades. Not a note wasted, and the richest guitar tones known to mankind, this is deliriously good. Fuck sake, why’d you fucking ruin it Billy?

361 OutkastStankonia: You can see how this launched Outkast into the astrosphere sales-wise; brilliantly offbeat lyrics and massive pop melodies. It’s a fairly enjoyable ride throughout.

360 BuzzcocksSingles Going Steady: Again, I fail to see how a greatest hits compilation qualifies as an album. If those are the rules, we might as well start letting Jeremy Clarkson decide what’s cool. But it seems that at least half this list of greatest albums is comprised of not-actually-albums-except-in-contractual-terms. Hey ho. This is exactly what you’d expect from a Buzzcocks best-of, concise pop-punk with occasional moments of brilliance and a fair amount of ballast.

Elton John pictured in 1983.

Elton John pictured in 1983.

359 Elton JohnHonky Chateau: One of the last albums in Elton’s period of absolute brilliance, when he could swirl Americana, blues, soul and British pop into a big old pot and come out with something majestic. Then the 80s (ie, cocaine) came along and turned him into a cartoon pop buffoon wearing wacky Timmy Mallett glasses. This is excellent, though.

358 Miles DavisSketches Of Spain: As smooth as a highly-polished thing being buffed to a sheen in Smoothsville, USA, this mixture of Davis’ more laid-back jazz and flamenco rhythms is quite lovely, if perhaps not quite as memorable as works Davis would produce elsewhere.

357 The Rolling StonesBetween the Buttons:  This is the first of ten Rolling Stones albums on this list, and in our opinion, the tenth best album on anyone’s back catalogue—even that of Jesus Christ himself—doesn’t deserve a place anywhere near a list of the greatest albums of all time. And so it proves here, with this utterly bland collection of songs from the Stones.

356 Randy Newman12 Songs: Again, I can’t listen to this without hearing the Toy Story theme, mainly because all this is is Newman’s ‘say what you see’ whimsy over 12 nauseating tracks. It’s just so dull.

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355 The YardbirdsHaving A Rave Up With The Yardbirds: There’s an argument to be made that The Yardbirds are the most important British rock band of the 60s, seeing as they variously had Clapton, Beck and Page as their ‘axemen’, but that would clearly be a stupid argument so I don’t know why I mentioned it. This album features all three at various points and is brilliantly excitable blues and soul-inflected rock ‘n’ roll. I bet they were incredible live.

354 Billy Joel52nd Street: It’s clear on this how much Joel wants to be Elton John. It’s also clear that Joel is utterly deluded. This is inoffensive 70s radio-friendly AOR, and as such, actually contrives to be as offensive as possible.

353 Kanye WestMy Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: This flits between brilliant and inventive, and bland and worryingly misogynistic; and the longer it goes on the more it drifts towards the latter, especially the song that apes Iron Man by Sabbath as Kanye indulges his woman-hating douchebaggery. An odd mix. Also the title sounds like one of those weird Facebook groups full of inspiring confidence-boosting quotes that the mentally subnormal subscribe to.

352 Dire StraitsBrothers In Arms: I probably don’t need to review this as I’d be surprised if anyone reading hadn’t heard it. Some great songs ruined by terrible production, and some boring songs made worse by terrible production. Bit of a snoozeathon, all told.

351 Neil Young & Crazy HorseRust Never Sleeps: This album is so good that it effectively sapped Young’s creative powers to the extent that he would be unable to release another good album for an entire decade. From the acoustic folk of the first side—all wistful and brooding—to the raucous and belligerent rock of the second, this is fantastic. Good old Uncle Neil.

His name is Young but he is old. That's the joke.

His name is Young but he is old. That’s the joke.

And there you have it, another 25 classic records evaluated, devoured and pummelled to the ground. My educational musical odyssey will return… in The Critic Who Loved To Hate.

Tune in next time if you can be bothered. BYE!

On Rap Music: Open Mike Eagle

Editors’ Note: It’s been a while since we last took a journey on Geoff’s Rap Bus. After a talking vegetable pasty ordered our massive wanker intrepid reporter to spend an inordinate amount of time filling in tiny boxes on pretend trading cards, the Rap Bus had a mini-breakdown, grew a stupendous beard, and has since been SORNed up on a driveway in Sheffield. While applying for SORN status, though, our thoughts drifted to imagining just how terrible a human you would have to be to buy a product like this.

taxdick It is also worth spending a few moments exploring the variety of emotions conjured by this customer review:

“The whole point of buying this holder was to have to slogan so it could be read by the council jobsworths – except they cant as the holder is designed so that faces into your car.”

Incredible.

Anyway, we decided it was time for Geoff to start earning the huge salary his agent demanded when we signed him, so we paid for the Rap Bus to be made roadworthy again, bought him a new hilarious tax disc holder (top bantz) and sent him off into the world of underground rap once again, this time to visit Open Mike Eagle.  

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A licence for this picture costs $15, so we just stole it instead.

While the Rap Bus was out of action, I spent the time perfecting my transitions from third to first person. If you get good enough at it then readers won’t even notice that you write your own intros. If I doesn’t practices enough though he get quite messy.

After a few weeks of talking to myself, and a few more weeks of Arthur Fowler style rocking I was pleased to find a plane ticket to Los Angeles on my doormat courtesy of the very generous and mysterious Demon Pigeon patrons. The Rap Bus was on the road again! (It folds up and fits into a suitcase or something so it can go on planes. Shut up.)

When I found out I was going to Los Angeles I knew straight away that I’d be going to see Open Mike Eagle because Open Mike Eagle is the best. Also I’m pretty sure he’s seriously undercharged me for shipping on that Rappers Will Die Of Natural Causes vinyl so I probably needed to buy him a couple of pints.

Open Mike Eagle is the best because he has the best rapping skills, the best lyrics, the best humour and the best song about time travelling helicopters.

He also has the best song that riffs on Frank Black’s Thalassocracy and is about being amazing at rapping but not having enough time to do it because you’re working a 9-5 job.

(I learned about the Frank Black thing from a YouTube comment. It’s amazing what you can learn from YouTube comments. I also learned that “megadeth turn to megaclown band”.)

Some of the other things that Open Mike Eagle is the best at are:

1. Having the best song about changing your password.

“Half afro and half jew-fro / I sneak around like I’m Clouseau / Got the password to your Netflix / I’m watching every Naruto”

2. Having the best song about grammatical modifiers performed live in a Laundromat

“We the best mostly / sometimes the livest rhymers / we the tightest kinda / respect my qualifiers”

3. Having the best song about being the smartest broke dude ever.

“They taught me all about metaphors / And other shit to make me smart but extra poor / Like which rivers flow through Ecuador / I got a high IQ and low credit score”

4. And of course, the best song about washing dishes.

“I’m just washing dishes / I got wet sleeves / don’t make dishes when I’m scrubbing that’s a pet peeve”

“If 50 is a millionaire / I wonder if he ever runs out of silverware / big acts fade away like Silverchair

If you like your rap music to be both intelligent and humorous with multi-layered lyrics delivered by a rapper who is at the absolute top of his craft then Open Mike Eagle is your man. If you don’t like those things, then I don’t really know what to tell you. As I sit in the Los Angeles branch of Greggs waiting for the Rap Bus to refuel I wonder if Open Mike Eagle will one day make it over to the UK to perform. I also wonder, if he were to somehow read this article, whether he would vow never to set foot in such a creepy, weird place. Anyway Mike, I probably owe you about $15 or something. Email me.

Thanks to Demon Pigeon for fixing the Rap Bus and sorting out the tickets to LA. Here are some pictures of the trip.

Me and Mike hanging out.

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Me visiting Hollywood

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Me about to land at LAX

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Pretty excited to see where the guys send me next time.

Buy Open Mike Eagle music from openmikeeagle.bandcamp.com Do it.