Hardcore for Nerds

"Why sneer at the intellectuals?"*
punk music, left politics, and cultural history - previously found here.
contact: gabbaweeks[at]gmail.com (sorry, no promos/submissions, thanks) or ask
Dublin/Galway, Ireland. 26, history graduate & human rights student
HFN | Best New Punk | HFN 2012 2011 2010 2009 | HRO 2k9 | Hoover Genealogy Project | @HC4N
*from the title of a review of Arthur Koestler's Arrival and Departure by Michael Foot, Evening Standard, Nov. 26, 1943.
Apr 24
Permalink

Got photo-bombed (but thankfully, not dive-bombed) by a herring gull while trying to take a picture of a rather tame heron at the Claddagh harbour. Then the collection of gulls and pigeons all flew away, ruffling its feathers nicely.

galway photography birds
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Apr 23
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tomewing:

bzangy:

lonepilgrim:

Tomorrow’s World was a UK TV programme on the BBC that began in the 60s and apparently ran until 2003 which surprises me as I assumed it would have died in the 90s at least. 
In its 60s/70s heyday it presented examples of cutting edge technology in an approving and enthusiastic style. The underlying message was better living through technology - although I can’t imagine that they were able to sustain that approach in later years. 
During that time it was programmed alongside Top of the Pops on a Thursday night so I used to regularly watch the two, one after the other.
That’s presenter James Burke, on the cover of this book/video. He was the more wild of the main presenters - and went on to present several quasi-philosophical programmes about society, technology and the meaning of life. I assumed he would be dead by now - possibly after a mescaline fuelled vision quest -but he popped up on the radio a while back still optimistic about the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

❤️❤️❤️

"The black hit of space / Get James Burke on the case"

Tomorrow’s World as presented by Peter Snow and Craig Doyle was a fixture of my late 90s childhood. Makes for weird nostalgia, as I guess it couldn’t survive long past the millenium - tomorrow’s already here, now (at least for some).

tomewing:

bzangy:

lonepilgrim:

Tomorrow’s World was a UK TV programme on the BBC that began in the 60s and apparently ran until 2003 which surprises me as I assumed it would have died in the 90s at least. 

In its 60s/70s heyday it presented examples of cutting edge technology in an approving and enthusiastic style. The underlying message was better living through technology - although I can’t imagine that they were able to sustain that approach in later years. 

During that time it was programmed alongside Top of the Pops on a Thursday night so I used to regularly watch the two, one after the other.

That’s presenter James Burke, on the cover of this book/video. He was the more wild of the main presenters - and went on to present several quasi-philosophical programmes about society, technology and the meaning of life. I assumed he would be dead by now - possibly after a mescaline fuelled vision quest -but he popped up on the radio a while back still optimistic about the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

❤️❤️❤️

"The black hit of space / Get James Burke on the case"

Tomorrow’s World as presented by Peter Snow and Craig Doyle was a fixture of my late 90s childhood. Makes for weird nostalgia, as I guess it couldn’t survive long past the millenium - tomorrow’s already here, now (at least for some).

(Source: thespectraldimension)

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Apr 22
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bbredux:

See, when I was on the train this morning I was feeling like it was a Battles kind of day—Spring and all—so I was scrolling thru Gloss Drop and thought “okay, maybe ‘Sweetie & Shag’ and then some Blonde Redhead,” but the thing is, I AM REALLY SAD THAT TYONDAI BRAXTON LEFT BATTLES. When Mirrored was released in 2007, I was SO, SO jazzed that there was a band I could get super excited about again. It was like Battles was the EXACT direction in which I wanted to see music evolve. A few years later I listened to an interview with Braxton discussing his solo album, Central Market, on WNYC and realized he was the person behind everything special I loved about Battles … so when I heard he left while they were in the middle of recording Gloss Drop, I wasn’t sure how much he had contributed and was really worried about how it would sound. Then ‘Ice Cream’ was released and I wanted to cry. It was a completely new band and almost everything I liked about them was gone. I mean, in and of itself it is an okay song, but compared to what they had done on the first album, it was almost as if they were so freaked out that TB left, they put together a catchy single with a silly title hoping to distract from the devastating fact that Mirrored Battles was no more. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of Gloss Drop is good and I am still a fan. If I had never heard Mirrored, I’d probably really love a few of the songs, but … ugh. CRUEL, CRUEL WORLD.

I never quite realised I felt this way until I read this. At least, it explains why I have 12” vinyl copies of ‘Tonto’ and ‘Atlas’ but I don’t think I ever bought Gloss Drop in any format. Harsh, because it’s not an uninteresting album, but compared to how revolutionary Mirrored felt (or, at least, well-packaged)…

battles
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MayKay voluntarily jumping into the chilly waters of Dublin Bay. For Art. 

(from 'Crouching Bees')

fight like apes irish dublin
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katherinestasaph:

“You can tell nothing from Fight Like Apes’ lead singles. The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner had “Hoo Ha Henry,” a perfectly adequate FLApes thrash with blokes thrust up goats from line one; but the album isn’t just adequate, it’s a panoply: the loud single that doubles as fandom friend-crush weepie, the perfect breakup song, the all-purpose buzz band diss, the song about literally mutilating that dude your age who prefers 18-year-olds to women — OK, to you — and no one finding that remotely wrong. (Fight Like Apes’ songs are best when they’re hyperspecific.) “Crouching Bees” is now the second time I’ve been fooled by a FLApes lead single. I should know by now; even a Naked and Famous sync-synth riff shouldn’t be enough to fool me. Sellout this is not; deceptive unrequited-love song, though? Like “Tie Me Up With Jackets,” it’s about outre love-lust — the perfect lyric here is “I want you stuck to every corner of my face” — and, like Cher Lloyd, about wishing that you inspired those lyrics in others, that The Womanly Arts weren’t so damn difficult. (This is the second track I’ve mentally slotted in with a Wendelin Van Draanen book, but c’mon: “Why in the world would Charlie want to go steady with Helen? … It suddenly hit me that Helen probably had perfect little knees with no scars or scabs anywhere. Helen probably didn’t even own a pair of shorts she could wear under a dress, and Helen probably had a room full of dolls and curtains of lace.”) In a different world, “why don’t you look at me that way,” in this cadence, would be in a girl-group song — one of the really good ones.”

Fight Like Apes Gets Me, Vol. The Next

First I’m hearing of this, and it sounds good! Dublin looks good in the video too, or at least the quasi-post-industrial wasteland they found to film in around the South Wall. High point at the end.

I was just thinking today about how parts of EMA’s synth-y ‘Solace’ reminds me of Fight Like Apes, like maybe ‘Battlestations’, and in a neat way this song marks another (corresponding?) shift of style for FLApes as well.

fight like apes irish dublin
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Apr 20
Permalink Record Store Day
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500 (+1) notes! (it seems like a lot more, by the number of times the notifications pop up on my dash)

500 (+1) notes! (it seems like a lot more, by the number of times the notifications pop up on my dash)

(via hardcorefornerds)

grimes vinyl photos vinyl sunday
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thesefewpresidents:

fortyshadesofgrey:

lafours:

fortyshadesofgrey:

lafours:

patersonpaterson:

Fuck record store day. Here’s an idea record stores, why don’t you just have cool in-store shows? WOAH. Or here’s an even crazier idea, why don’t you help some local bands release some records? Or actually BUY the records and show a little faith instead of doing consignment. Yeah. Wrap your head…

I never even thought about this stuff until last night when it was pointed out to me that One Direction- a group I have nothing against but are you know, one of the biggest in the world- released a 7” yesterday. Which is cool. However, the demand for it meant that the pressing houses were all full up, so no room for the little guys to have theirs done in time. I totally get the appeal of limited edition items, especially on fancy vinyl. However, the entire point of record store day was to help out the little guys. The record shop and the bands. It’s amazing to see the big deal it’s become over the past few years, but it would be so much more satisfying if it weren’t just going to the big names who don’t need the money.

I saw one direction vinyl yesterday but it was a glam rock band.. Maybe tower ordered the wrong ones.. There were a lot of them.

Yep, that was them. Ironic humour or whatever. Apparently, it not only stopped smaller acts from having theirs done in time for RSD, but even bands who were just planning releases for around this general time. They’d scheduled their album launches for months to be told that they weren’t a priority compared to this lot. Ouch.

What? That’s do fucked up. RSD is meant for smaller independent music people not bloody one direction. Like, I’ve seen people give out about tower records doing RSD, but they are independent in Dublin just cause there store is now bigger than HMV’s. But it’s not for one direction.

Side note: Do one direction fans even own record players or will they try to put them in a cd player? Like most of them are 10 years old.. Right?

I did see the head of RSD UK suggest that it will start to regulate itself to a point. Now, me WOULD be optimistic, but Tower had to buy all those One Direction picture disks. By the time I’d got in they’d already sold out of some thinags I wanted but they had LOADS of One Direction records left. They won’t be making that mistake twice.

There’s still a problem with major labels dominating it in general though. I’m not sure how that could be solved…

I sort of tiptoed around this in my earlier post because I didn’t want to unnecessarily denigrate teenage pop fans (hello, Tumblr poptimists who may be reading this!) but I can’t imagine many One Direction fans own turntables. However, they don’t need to own them, but just have access - which is why I suggested parents or older siblings - a sort of trickle-down effect of the vinyl revival, if you will (although, especially if it’s older siblings, there may be some conflict involved). Furthermore, since there are a lot of One Direction fans, it only takes a few…. and lastly, I think it’s fairly well established that plenty of people will buy a particular record even without the means to play it, *just* because it’s a cool object (which is a large part of why many people buy vinyl, the ability to produce sound from it is merely an extra justification).

As you say, commercial logic dictates that if they don’t sell, they won’t be produced again, at least not in such numbers. But the conspiracy theory would be that there’s some attempt to choke off smaller releases to… I dunno, concentrate the pressing capacity on more lucrative reissues? That’s a stretch, but as you say, the dominance by large players - almost a tautology, really - is a difficult thing to address, as by its nature it’s baked into the capitalist process.

I didn’t partake of RSD this year, in part because I haven’t been buying or even playing much vinyl of late (only having access to a turntable on weekends) and because if I want to buy something, I’d rather do on a quieter day. The only specific release that I heard about that caught my eye was the Life Without Buildings Any Other City reissue, but I’ve decided I still prefer Live at the Annandale Hotel. I went into the new Tower - which really is excellently placed opposite Hodges Figgis bookshop - a couple of weeks ago, and the vinyl section is very nice up on the cast-iron balcony, but… well, I didn’t actually want to buy anything. I was sorry to hear as well that Elastic Witch was closing, although apparently only/mainly because the operator wants to devote more time to playing in his band, but again I only bought a few records there, ones which I could almost as easily have gotten in Tower (with a bit more digging). It’ll be interesting to see if it’s replaced though, because the whole cafe/record store synergetic combination is touted a lot but I wonder if it really stands up, commercially.

After so many years of RSD critiques, I think I’ve become comfortably pessimistic about the whole thing (well, as comfortable as someone not working in a record shop nor with any particular desire to do so). I’m not, and never was, the kind of person that needed or wanted the ‘social’ side of record stores. I’m the guy who walks in and methodically browses through the boxes and picks a couple of things and buys them, with minimal conversation (sorry to any bored shop workers that may disappoint). And I enjoy that, for what it is - it’s qualitatively different from browsing on a computer screen, with the greater element of serendipity and chance, and it’s nice to be able to bring it home and place it on the turntable the same day. Still, those things don’t count enough to me that, frankly, I’d put any real effort into preserving record shops. The people who really dig them, who value the bonhomie and whatnot, I guess they’ll just have to come up with another model.

Maybe the mid-sized independent like Tower will survive, or the odd local shop with a good reputation or good coffee, or maybe there needs to be a more drastic shift towards an essentially non-commercial, community exchange. What really interests me, though, is the stuff discussed here about collective recommendation methods for music streaming online, which is naturally where most of the discussions about music (like this one) have gravitated. Add to that a local element, for artists from a particular geographical area, and online ordering maybe supplemented by, say, stalls at a weekend market, and what do you really need a record store for?

vinyl record store day
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Apr 19
Permalink

EMA Sings the Cyber Blues

EMA - ‘Moonshiner’, from Some Dark Holler

"This project seeks to explore/explode genre and technology, and come to terms with the fact that the modern folk song is probably being made on a computer.”

I’ve been listening to this track, and another, ‘Trouble in Mind’, a lot this week - nearly as much as The Future’s Void. They’re from an unfinished (or at least, unreleased) post-Gowns project that has its own website here; I grabbed the mp3s (for posterity, and personal use) from the streaming source code, which is about as far as my computer hacking skills go, although it sounds kinda Gibsonesque. The other track which has emerged is ‘Kind Heart' (-ed Woman, the Robert Johnson cover), as the digital b-side to 'The Grey Ship' from Past Life Martyred Saints. This track is kind of similar to it, in that I had to cut it down to 128kbps to fit it within the Tumblr 10mb limit, although it’s not as long. It’s an interesting journey, though.  

The most characteristic part of EMA’s music for me, guitar-wise at least, is the contrast between acoustic strumming and gathering drone; light and dark, although I’m not really sure which is which, since the first often expresses anguish and pathos as much as the second gives a lift and a swell to the music. ‘Moonshiner’ starts with plucking banjo strings, resonant and slightly distant, which after the opening few bars is gradually overtaken by a building drone, and it’s only when a further layer of tone scythes in that her vocals start, slow and deliberate. At around the 6-minute mark, about two-thirds of the way through, the word ‘skin’ lengthens and refracts like a phrase in a My Bloody Valentine song, and the gradually increasing wash of guitar switches over into harsher noise, that nevertheless rise and falls over a gentler cadence.

I went back to these tracks while reading this NYT piece on female blues musicians and and writing my own post on it, and because I’ve always been fascinated by how EMA uses ‘the blues’ in her work. One thing that particularly struck by in the video interview with the collectors in that piece was the statement by music historian Chris King that the “deepest mystery” of the music is how the artist can take an emotion “and graft it on to a voice, or […] an instrument, and thereby communicate to the listener that same sense”. That’s pretty much my view of music, and what I look for in a great song or record. It’s there in the heaviest, crushing catharses and in the most delicate moments of affect.

The sprawling, almost punishing ‘Kind Heart’ cover is astounding, but I think I’ve gotten to the point where it’s too much to listen to - it’s become more powerful, not less, with repeated listening. Or maybe it’s that it hits the same receptors over and over again that they overload. It was getting to the point with these tracks this week, too. However, I was also reading my way through Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy - prompted, of course, by The Future’s Void - and one of the things that really got me thinking was the idea of ‘sim-stim’ technology - essentially recording and replicating, directly, sensation (but also feeling more broadly) between people. In Neuromancer it’s introduced more or less just as a functional tool; but in the later two books, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive (which I haven’t finished yet) its use as an entertainment vehicle is expanded upon considerably. But its effect on art isn’t really dealt with - instead it’s the usual dystopian vision of mindless consumerism, with a side plot of high art. What if the blues were the original, analogue sim-stim? 

'Moonshiner' is a traditional song (although apparently its origins are disputed between America and Ireland - which makes little sense to me, since I’ve always associated ‘moonshine’ with America; it’s poitín here) - Bob Dylan’s version is I think very good - but with the lyrics substantially reshaped. ‘Some hollow’ where the whiskey still is, becomes with a slight vocal twist the “some dark holler” of the collection’s title. Most of the ‘traditional’ lyrics about moonshine being a way of escaping women, to “.. drink with my friends/Where the women can’t follow/And see what I spend” seem to be, understandably, absent.

'Trouble in Mind', which is maybe the song I should have posted here, is a subtler affair. Here the accompaniment is a mysterious, vibrating series of tones that put me in mind of a Jew's harp. Or maybe, just perhaps, they're meant to be the wobbly, 78rpm sound of the piano chords in the original 1924 recording, sung by Thelma La Vizzo with the songwriter Richard M. Jones accompanying her. The cover to his sheet music is beautiful and depressing all at once:

The ‘seminal’ version by Nina Simone is wonderfully expressive, but EMA’s interpretation seems intent on stripping it back. Yet compared to ‘Moonshiner’, the vocals are more melodic and less breathy, and the background drone less insistent but somehow more ominous. The opening verse is the same as in Simone’s rendition and the original:

Trouble in mind, I’m blue 

But I won’t be blue always 

'Cause the sun's gonna shine 

In my back door some day

Other lines in the original, but not the later interpretations, are achingly simple, like “Sometimes I feel like living/Sometimes I feel like dying”. EMA sings, perhaps a tad overdramatically, “Oh Lord, the blues overtake me”.

Another crucial verse, shared in all three:

I’m gonna lay my head 

On some lonesome railroad line 

Let the 2:19 train 

Ease my troubled mind”

At this point the original recording ends (and, like in EMA, the last line is I think “pass [by?] my mind”. Interestingly, also at this point in the EMA version - the song hasn’t ended yet - the sound of fireworks play over the track, prefiguring ‘Dead Celebrity’ at the close of The Future’s Void and its repurposing of the US military bugle call ‘Taps’ (h/t to Mark Richardson for pointing that out - as he says, EMA “is a genius at making obvious musical references sound strange”, and I knew I knew the melody from somewhere. It’s also, well, very American, but emotionally and tenderly rather than brashly so, and puts me in mind of how Dan Deacon explored those ideas sonically in his last album - a further thread I’ll have to pick up).

The final verse of the song isn’t completely decipherable, but there’s something about going to, I think, a bar-room and 

wait til they play my song

with the revenues in pocket

I won’t be here too long

(“revenue” is also sung with a sudden, jerky up-tick that reminds me of the sped-up tape manipulation in her Little Sketches on Tape)

26 plays
EMA TFV blues internet
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Apr 18
Permalink
Lion and Unicorn, Galway
This large crest of the (British) Royal Coat of Arms is to be found behind the quadrangle at NUIG, usually between parked cars. Initially I thought it dated from the university’s founding as a Queen’s College in 1845 (as part of the long saga of establishing university education in Ireland outside of Protestant Trinity College Dublin - only Queen’s University Belfast retains the name, the other three become part of the National University of Ireland) but according to this site it was “originally installed above the portico of the Galway Courthouse” and “was removed for safe keeping during the Irish War of Independence (1919-21)”. This reference also dates it as being from 1812 (so, over 200 years old!)
Further trivia, via Wikipedia: “According to legend a free unicorn was considered a very dangerous beast; therefore the heraldic unicorn is chained”
I was reminded of it by this rather interesting blog post about British monuments in Ireland, and our tendency to move them about a bit (or a lot).

Lion and Unicorn, Galway

This large crest of the (British) Royal Coat of Arms is to be found behind the quadrangle at NUIG, usually between parked cars. Initially I thought it dated from the university’s founding as a Queen’s College in 1845 (as part of the long saga of establishing university education in Ireland outside of Protestant Trinity College Dublin - only Queen’s University Belfast retains the name, the other three become part of the National University of Ireland) but according to this site it was “originally installed above the portico of the Galway Courthouse” and “was removed for safe keeping during the Irish War of Independence (1919-21)”. This reference also dates it as being from 1812 (so, over 200 years old!)

Further trivia, via Wikipedia: “According to legend a free unicorn was considered a very dangerous beast; therefore the heraldic unicorn is chained”

I was reminded of it by this rather interesting blog post about British monuments in Ireland, and our tendency to move them about a bit (or a lot).

history irish galway
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