Category Archives: music

Crappy Unsigned Bands #2 #thecrappening

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Since writing last week’s reviews of some of the CUB’s who followed me on Twitter I have been overwhelmed by the response and literally inundated with at least 3 new bands requesting to follow me.

I was checking the stats on this incredible blog the other day and noticed that I’d had 5 visitors in one day, absolutely smashing the previous BadTripe record of 3. Obviously most of these visits are accidental and, wonderfully, you can actually see the country from which the visitors visited and also the search terms which brought them here.

It was to my sheer amazement and delight that I saw that someone in Albania (and this is absolutely true) had googled ‘Beyonce Pussy’ and had ended up here on BadTripe.com. Beyonce does crop up in one of my articles and most of what I write involves cats so I can see how it’s happened but what a fortuitous happenstance dear readers! Just think, if that poor Albanian fool had been slightly less specific in his Google search criteria then he could’ve been looking at all manner of lady parts but instead he’s now listening to your Crappy Unsigned Band. That’s the power of the internet kids, you do the math.

Anyway let’s dive straight in to this week’s CUB’s and see what fresh hell awaits us…

First up this week we have Destroy Nate Allen @DSTRYNATEALLEN a colourful haired gentleman (and I think his wife?) hailing from Kansas City, Missouri where I believe the classic American dish of Waffle-Fried Crawfish was invented.

BadTripe Verdict: This is that sort of off-kilter folk punk music played on acoustic guitars that makes up the soundtrack to all of those US indie films starring Michael Cera where everyone wears a hoodie and has great hair where nothing much happens but the kids all discover some life lessons about themselves before they move out of Mom’s basement and go off to college, set against a background of teenage pregnancy, divorce or imminent destruction of the earth. They’ll never forget that summer, and we all swore never to not waste a minute or let a minute go to waste. Anyway this band…I like it, it’s all very quirky and enjoyable. These guys sound like a nice couple who are having a lot of fun and I for one would quite like to go have some beers and some chicken-fried daiquiris with them.

Next, all the way from Manchester we have The Mudez Project @MudezProject who requested a review without actually following me which piqued my ire to begin with. Don’t you realise I care about how many people follow me on Twitter? I’m a small, petty, petty man in many ways.

Their Twitter biog reads :-

“Nu Jazz, Neo Soul, Fusion & Electronica fuses together The Mudez Project in a mist of exciting collaborations & new sounds.”

Jesus Methamphetamine Christ I’m scared. If they’d added the word ‘funk’ to this anywhere I would’ve vomited my own eyes out there and then but I’m a true journalist and so, like a cheap hooker attempting to override her gag reflex, I’ll give it a go….

BadTripe Verdict: I managed to make it through 2 minutes of their video! They’re clearly a very talented group of musicians, a tight jazz quintet. The lead singer has a great voice and the addition of a double bass in to any situation will always play well on BadTripe. If I was staggering round a smoky basement bar (back when you could smoke, not one that’s on fire) and these guys were playing in the background I’d be quite happy. If you’re the sort of person who likes magic mushrooms on a week night and has at least one white friend with dreadlocks I reckon you’ll like them too. Just for God’s sake never put the prefix “Nu” in front of any genre of music ever again.

And finally….coming straight out of Waco Texas (which is already ringing alarm bells) we have The Jesses, represented on Twitter by (I presume) lead vocalist and songwriter Robert Harris @bitterpony666 whose Tweets lead me to the band’s full length album ‘The Devil Doesn’t Come Out in Daylight’. Looking at Robert’s profile it looks as though he failed to make the Varsity Water Polo team, which I understand is the one unifying goal of all American high school kids and instead has chosen to go the other way and stop cutting his hair and adopt a bleak, nihilistic view of the world and all existence and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact it’s a good start if you want to make some decent music.

BadTripe Verdict: Jesus Christ you kids need to lighten up, the world’s not that terrible. Even on the website it says “Here is our album, after it comes out we will break up”. It can’t be that bad! In fact you guys remind me of the Goth Kids from South Park. You want to come round to the BadTripe household for the weekend that’ll cheer you up. Me and Mrs BT like listening to some angsty, desolate post-punk but we also like cuddling on the sofa and watching Grey’s Anatomy with a nice bottle of Pinot Noir. On Fridays we normally cook some delicious pasta but we don’t just lump it straight on to a plate, no, no, no. We serve it up on a vintage platter, scattered liberally with fresh herbs and accompanied by a nice Caprese Salad. Then I grate some parmesan over it with gusto from a height, FROM A HEIGHT ROBERT! I know what you’re thinking and you’re right, it fucking well gets all over our antique oak plank kitchen table but we don’t care, it gives it a sense of occasion, something to enjoy. I mean obviously Mrs Badtripe makes me clean that shit up as soon as we’ve eaten, we’re not running a fucking soup kitchen you understand.

That said your album’s really good. I can tell you love Wavves and Cloud Nothings, as do I, I’m a sucker for this stuff and this is really well made considering you’ve probably done it all yourself in your bedroom. It’s melodic, grungey, a little bit jarring and depressing as fuck in places. People like you need to be depressed so that people like me can enjoy your music. Don’t break up you bunch of pricks. Carry on being depressed in your Crappy Unsigned Band and you never know what might happen.

Peace x

 

 

 

 

 

I just discovered the Star & Garter and now it has to close so I hope you’re happy you corporate bastards

SG - Building

From the outside, the Star & Garter on Fairfield Street in Manchester looks dark, dingy, rickety and slightly foreboding. It’s the sort of venue you could imagine yourself being thrown out of unconscious, straight back in to the gutter from which you erstwhile had crawled. It looks like a place of rich history and untold debauchery, the sort of place which causes you to vomit uncontrollably on your shoes just from looking at it. In short, it’s everything you want from an indie venue.

I’ve not actually lived in Manchester for that long, and despite a brief stint in a band back in the noughties during which I had the pleasure to play at many a similar venue, I had never actually been to this one until I booked some tickets to see a couple of bands one Thursday night. So myself and my good friend Tom met after work to begin a short tour of Manchester drinking establishments ending with the Star & Garter and a date with two fine US bands and Bad Tripe faves, Joyce Manor and Cheap Girls. We made sure that we drunkenly accosted every member of the bands for photos and we also forced them to read this esteemed blog, which I’m sure was a real treat for them.

As soon as we entered the venue I liked what I was seeing, it’s just a traditional boozer downstairs, so traditional in fact that it’s been used as a set for a number of TV shoots. Try to picture in your mind if you can; a pub without tastefully exposed iron girders wrapped in fairy lights, no blackboards displaying local handcrafted, artisanal delicacies and absolutely bereft of retro computer games or ping pong tables. Instead what you have is a pub, as (I’m told) pubs used to be, with a bar, a pool table, some normal tables and some seating. A small alcove at the back contained a trestle table which displayed the bands’ rider which consisted of ham, jam, crisps and bread, all the essentials apart from beer. It’s a pub though, as I keep saying so beer was available.

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Upstairs is where the live music happens and true to form and my expectations this was nothing more than a dark room with a small stage. The walls are completely black, although it’s impossible to tell whether they’ve been painted, papered, or whether they are in fact just made of black. For those of you who enjoy a slightly obscure literary reference the décor, or lack thereof brings to mind Mark Z Danielewski’s ‘House of Leaves’ (look that one up you fuckers).  Slightly terrifying were it not for the friendly people, excellent live music and beer.

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Now during the course of the night we had learned via Twitter and from speaking with fellow punters within the venue that the Star & Garter is facing imminent closure, to make way for a planned extension to Manchester Piccadilly Train Station. This came as a blow as I already felt a connection to this place and I did not want my first visit to also be my last. By the end of the evening I had accosted the Licensee Andy Martin and was drunkenly slurring at him that I would be the one to tell the world about the plight of this historic venue via the medium of my excellent writing and surprisingly, he politely agreed to indulge me and gave me his number. I awoke the next day and immediately stayed in bed until 1pm and did not attend work. I called Andy though and got round to meeting up at the pub the following Monday.

Rick&Barry

The first thing we discuss is his view on social media, “I fucking hate Facebook” he tells me. He goes on to explain that he put up a post about an upcoming gig at the Star & Garter and it received about 20 likes and 3 shares. Later that day he posted a picture of what he had found whilst cleaning the car park at the rear of the venue; a used condom and an actual human shit, possibly the work of a “multi-tasking prostitute.” This tableau of bodily expulsions, he exasperatedly explains, received over 100 likes and a fuckload of shares . Point made I suppose.

Getting down to brass tacks and Andy begins to talk me through exactly what is going on at The Star & Garter. The pub stands on the site of the former Mayfield Train Station which is just over the road from Manchester Piccadilly. Mayfield has stood dormant since 1986 but the land on which it stands, and this includes the Star & Garter, is owned by shady, greased up corporate bastards London Continental Railways and after doing nothing with it for the last 30 years, they’ve now decided they want it back. This is all part of Network Rail’s proposed £560million Northern Hub wankathon which has been backed by Manchester City Council.

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There’s been a few different options presented in regards to work being carried out at the site but it looks like what will happen is that Fairfield Street will be closed for up to three years. This means that the Star & Garter would be forced to close down for the duration and then reopen right next to a dramatically redeveloped railway station, Hell they’ll pretty much be on the fucking tracks by the looks of things. Now at this point I was thinking, ok – just agree to close down, and wait while the real estate value of the place quadruples, then sell up and move to Tahiti. Unfortunately, Andy tells me, no dice because the building is Grade II listed, it’s stood for nearly 200 years and most of what the business makes goes back in to the upkeep of the building itself. The likelihood is that after 3 years the place will have gone to rack and ruin and London Continental could grasp it between their bony, mishapen corporate claws for next to nowt. If they did buy it now then the owners will not even break even on what they’ve put in over the years and to make matters even worse, Andy lives there! London Continental, the bastards, have yet to confirm if he would even be allowed to be a sit in tenant while the work was carried out so it’s bad news whichever way they turn.

Smile

Basically it looks like the place is destined to close, which is a terrible shame as it represents part of Manchester’s heritage which is rapidly disappearing. I recently attended, with my day job hat on, a conference called the Manchester Manifesto which was a debate on what the people of Manchester want to see now that Devolution has been granted. The panel included three MP’s all of whom, at one stage or another, started banging on about Manchester’s cultural contribution to the UK, specifically mentioning the Hacienda and Tony Wilson in a feeble and ill-advised attempt at gaining credibility. I know I play the “I used to be in a band I’ll have you know” card a lot but by Christ, watching politicians doing it fair turned my stomach. I put this to Andy and his response sums it all up perfectly, “The Hacienda’s been turned in to flats and Tony Wilson’s been dead for almost a decade, don’t get me wrong though, lovely fella.”

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The Star & Garter obviously means something to many people; it represents the hardest way up and the quickest way down with its DIY ethos, and spirit of independence. And there’s nowhere in the world more Indie than Manchester, or at least there didn’t used to be. The club is famous for its renowned Smiths Disco night, and also the Smile club night which used to be widely mentioned in NME and the like as one of the best nights to attend in Manchester. I think these days most people head to the Northern Quarter for such things and tend to avoid the faeces and hooker ridden back alley of Fairfield Street. It’s no coincidence that the Star & Garter has been a massive staple of the Punk scene over the years. Andy proudly tells me of the time Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks dropped in to catch the UK Subs show (who actually played in December I think). A quick online search throws up details of anti-BNP and anti-fascist meetings being held at the pub way back in 1987 which must have been the start of the relationship with the DIY punk scene. They also host a monthly LGBT night, the brilliantly named ‘Club Bollox’ which offers “something different to the usual security blanket of gay scene clubbing.” Not something which I’ve been actively searching for but hey, I’d give it a go. YOLO.

The reason that sub-cultures like these exist is really quite simple; not everyone likes the same stuff. Some people would actually rather look at a picture of a used condom and a human shit than yet another glass fronted Starbucks. Don’t get me wrong, the author enjoys a nice latte on a long train journey but if there’s one thing I like more it’s getting drunk as fuck and watching awesome bands. Please let it continue.

@ricketywhite

https://www.facebook.com/StarAndGarterManchester

https://www.facebook.com/bolloxclub

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Things I miss about being in a band

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Don Draper sums it up best in that awesome scene in Mad Men when he says that the word ‘nostalgia’ literally means a pain, associated with a memory. It’s an ache for a time you wish you could revisit, if only for a little while. Well played Don you really nailed that one.

That’s how I feel when I think about my band Boy Called Roy, possibly the greatest band ever to have lived on planet earth and definitely the most talented, sexiest and hardest group of young men ever to pick up an instrument, that’s a matter of historical fact.

On my way in to work this morning I was listening to the new record from a young band called Marmozets and by Christ, it’s amazing. Sometimes it’s hard to put in to words exactly what makes a record good. Good lyrics, good melodies, good production, good riffs all play a part but really what makes me love, rather than just appreciate a record is when you can hear the passion and the love that the band clearly have for their music and for each other. These kids are only 18 and they’ve put everything they have in to making this wonderful record, without letting anything stop them from doing what they want to do.

Now I’m not saying we could take Marmozets in a battle of the bands, no fucking way could we, but we did have that spark, that slightly chaotic energy that makes music fun and a little unpredictable. Listening to them really took me back. We made songs which we thought were amazing and it didn’t really matter to us what anyone else thought of them, which was probably for the best! Anyway here’s what I miss, starting with the boys in the band.

Nicky Kurs

Nick

Instrument: Guitar

Skills: Accents, hiding, fighting

Likes: A good cigar, colourful trainers, scrumpy jack

Weaknesses: Cushion based OCD

I first met Nick at the infamous Ballard Hall, halls of residence in Sheffield. He was wearing a Wu Tang Clan sleeveless hoodie and greeted me by calling me a “fucking northern monkey.” I assume he meant it as a term of endearment as we remain friends to this day 13 years later. Nick’s role in the band was primarily lead guitar. I enjoyed the fact that he steadfastly refused to learn the actual song as a whole and would only actually know his individual lead guitar part. He never played guitar purely for fun either, only when we were doing band stuff.

Adam Halvorsen

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Instrument: Drums

Skills: Eating, choke-slamming, parenting

Likes: Chablis, pork, drum & bass

Weaknesses: Sink puker

Again, I met Adam in halls at the same time as I met Nick. When I first arrived at halls I was a bit disappointed because all the people I’d met seemed a little bit safe. Adam and Nick were sharing a room to begin with and I wandered past it one night and saw Adam spinning some D&B on his decks at a horrifically antisocial volume whilst swigging a clearly expensive Chablis straight out the bottle. I immediately decided that Adam and Nick would be my friends. Adam is really great at eating. One night at a party some poor fool had passed out and left an entire curry sitting out on the side, rice, naan, sides, the works, Adam was straight on that. The guys mate pathetically tried to stop him by saying, “don’t eat that, it’s his breakfast.” Adam’s response, “your breakfast? It’s my dinner sunshine, give it here.” Still makes me laugh to this day.

Steve Dickey

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Instrument: Bass Guitar

Skills: Maths

Likes: Maths, cocktails, death metal

Weaknesses: Diabetes

Steve joined the band slightly later after Adam started working in a shoe shop with him. Steve is a clever little fuck and was doing maths at Sheffield Uni. He ended up not only getting a first but also getting the highest degree mark that anyone at Sheff Uni has ever actually got in maths. It took him a bit of time to settle in and he described the rest of us as, “a complete bunch of wasters.” It’s a good job we had Steve as he was definitely the most organised, both musically speaking and in general life.

Rick White

Rick

Instrument: Guitar, Vocals

Skills: Exceptionally gifted chef, ruggedly handsome but in a friendly accessible kind of way, musical genius

Likes: A good hearty stew and a pint of ale

Weaknesses: Lazy, moody, forgetful, can’t really sing

Me, the author, obvs. I started the band really. It was my idea and I found us a rehearsal room so we could get started so I take all the credit. I used to write the basic song structures just as chords on the guitar and then I’d take them to the boys and they’d become something different via a lengthy process of fighting and bickering. I wasn’t the original singer though, that role was thrust upon me due to a series of incidents and being the only band member who knew all the words to the songs (I can’t lie too much I still wanted to do it, I’m an incurable show off). The original singer was this guy :-

James Fairclough 

Jamie

Instrument: Vocals, harmonica

Skills: Talking at great length on any subject, lyrical genius

Likes: Political debate, whisky, pizza

Weaknesses: If you put him in a straight jacket in a padded cell he’d still manage to make a mess and get lost.

I don’t use the term ‘flawed genius’ lightly but here we have one. I met Jamie at a party and liked him immediately. He sounds like Boris Johnson and looks like a beat poet. We started talking and I said I was starting a band and he said he was a singer. So I picked up a guitar with only four strings and told him to sing something and to my surprise he just started, in front of everyone. Singing his own crazy, imaginative lyrics which were almost like spoken word. His confidence amazed me, once we were rehearsing above a kebab shop and the owner came upstairs to tell us to, “shut the fuck up.” Jamie was halfway down a bottle of Jameson and retorted with, “you can’t stifle the creative process man!” He ended up leaving the band after a series of musical differences, he was the archetypal lead singer.

One of my favourite memories of jamie was when we were on stage playing a gig and I looked over at him trying to smoke a cigarette, drink a beer, sing in to his microphone and take his jacket off all at the same time. Legend.

So that’s the boys, here’s what I actually miss!

Rehearsing at Kurs Manor

Kurs Manor

Nick’s parents, Paul and Marcella Kurs are originally from Czechoslovakia and came over to Britain in the 1960’s. Together they started the family wine business. They import great wine, mainly from France and Paul will also help collectors to put together a portfolio. They live in a big old awesome house in Hertfordshire, which has a number of out buildings which include two wine cellars and an old stables and this was where we used to rehearse. As you can imagine it was fucking brilliant. Marcel cooks like a fucking maniac and after a weekend of rehearsing it was a matter of principle that we all sit down for a four course meal on the Sunday, this would be accompanied by a range of fine wines and lively debate. If you’re going to sit around the Kurs table then you better fucking well learn to have an opinion and quick! If you go to bed early Paul will say, “OK, good night pussy.” Marcel always takes an interest in what you’re doing with your life and will tell you straight if you’re making a mess of it. Some of her one liners are incredible, a personal favourite was when she asked my ex-girlfriend if she was pregnant. She was just fat.

Rehearsing at Kurs Manor was always a pleasure. I’ve got so many great memories of that place and quite honestly Marcel and Paul basically kept me alive for a while by supporting both Nick and myself through his final year of Uni. I’ll never really be able to thank them enough.

Recording at 2Fly Studios

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This incredibly handsome man is Alan Smyth. He’s basically the Grand-Daddy of the Sheffield music scene, he’s recorded everything decent to come out of the city including Pulp, Long Blondes, Arctic Monkeys & 65 Days of Static. We recorded all of our demos at 2Fly studios which is basically just a very small shed on an industrial estate. Before we first went in to record with Smyth we were speculating as to what he might be like in person and for some reason Nick, having never actually met him, did an impression of him with a Scottish accent, introducing him thusly, “There’s 3 things Alan Smyth likes to do boys; drink Cinzano, eat pussy and make fucking fabulous music.” As it turned out he didn’t say anything like that and he wasn’t Scottish but he did come out with some belters. Every time we asked him to change something on the record he’d say something like, “I know. I’m five steps ahead of you, always.” To do our first demo we spent two 12 hour days in 2Fly studios during which time Alan didn’t eat any actual food, he just survived on black coffee, cigarettes and extra strong mints.

I don’t think he loved our music but I like to think he quite liked us. He told us that he’d never met a band with four egos the size of ours and that he didn’t actually produce our songs he just pressed record and then let us fight it out amongst ourselves. His exact words were, “You all think you’re the best, you all want to be in charge and you all want to be the lead singer.” He was dead right.

The last time we recorded at 2Fly we took a flip chart with us in a bid to be more organised and record our progress and note down what we still needed to do. By the end of day two the flip chart contained nothing except drawings of phalluses and a detailed sketch, drawn by Nick of a woman (he claimed it was my Mum) resting her tits on a tray.

Playing gigs

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To be quite honest, playing gigs was often more trouble than it was worth. It takes quite a large amount of organisation and man hours to get four people and a load of equipment to Derby on a Tuesday night to play to an audience of five people and an Alsation. If it weren’t for the cheap beer and two for one sambuca shots we might as well needn’t have bothered. BCR gigs were always quite unpredictable, someone would usually break a string or forget the whole song and we also had a habit of playing all of our material as fast as we possibly could. 1,2,3,4 GO!!! This, combined with the often terrible sound quality at small live music venues meant that sometimes it was just a slightly bewildering experience for the audience. Sometimes though, when it went right it was fucking amazing. We always had an energy and a good presence on stage. We always gave it everything and people seemed to like that we weren’t the most accomplished musicians in the world but  at least we didn’t just stand there trying to look cool.

The first gig we did with me as the singer was a good one and was summed up by this amazing reviewer :-

“The frontman drawls his way through a tight set of upbeat, catchy numbers which accompany his infectious and impossibly large grin. It’s a smile so ample that the guy’s head looks like a honeydew melon with a segment hacked out of it.”

– Gigwise 2005

http://www.gigwise.com/reviews/9048/friday-300905-a-cult-called-karrianna-a-boy-called-roy-@-in-the-city-dry-bar-manchester

I was quite pleased with this review even though Nick did call me Melon Head for about 2 years.

The Creative Process

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Generally speaking what happened was, one of us had an idea, a riff, a few chords, a bit of a song and would present it to the group, usually caveated with a small speech along the lines of, “It’s not finished, and I only wrote it in like 5 minutes and I haven’t really got any lyrics for it yet…”

Then we’d all have an argument about how the rest of it should go. This was usually accompanied by some top class bantz like this classic exchange:

Adam:  “Nick that guitar part is making me want to vomit everywhere whenever you play it.”

Nick: “Your face makes me want to vomit.”

And so on and so forth. You had to stand up for your ideas, especially if it was a song you’d written. What we’d usually do is try it one of two ways and try to reach a consensus on which sounded better and go with that, once a decision had been made it could never be changed!

Our other issue was that we got bored quite easily, this used to infuriate the hell out of Steve in particular. We’d write an amazing opening to a song, then we’d do the verse and then we’d cobble together a chorus and then we’d go, “I reckon that’s pretty much done! Verse, chorus, end. Job done.”

If we didn’t do this then we usually ended up complicating it beyond belief which usually involved Adam doing thirty different drum beats in one song, curated by Steve and his mathematical brain going, “OK, 4/4 beat for four bars then it’s double time for half a bar then it goes in to disco beat for eight bars then go on to the ride for 4 bars then back on to high hat for two bars then it’s half time for one bar then back to disco beat then the breakdown then the end.”

Pretty difficult to remember especially given the industrial volumes of cannabis we were fond of smoking.

drumming = not easy

drumming = not easy

Being your own gang

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This is what being in a band is really all about. It’s you lot versus the world. The best moments aren’t playing gigs and looking cool and pulling loads of groupies (‘cos that certainly NEVER happened). It’s the moment when you finally nail that new song you’ve been working on for ages and everyone gets it right all the way through for the first time. You feel a sense of triumph that you and your ragtag bunch of mates have managed to create something together out of nothing. When you reach a point where you feel confident playing together and you get your instruments sounding good, there really is no better feeling, it’s fucking magic! Then once you’ve done it, you don’t really care if anyone else hears it, just as long as you’ve managed to record a tinny version of it on to a CD which you can listen to over and over again for the rest of the night and enjoy.

I had a chat with Adam the other night and we both said how much we miss it and how we took it for granted at the time. You can’t go back though, it was a perfect little moment in time which none of us will ever forget. Nick used to record a lot of our rehearsals on his video camera but the footage has disappeared. Adam swears that some of it is on the hard drive of a now defunct computer which may or may not still be in his shed. What I wouldn’t give to sit down and watch a bit of that. Maybe in another 10 years.

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Badtripe Critical Essay #1: Katy Perry Lyrics – Why are they so weird and fighty?

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Now please understand all of you that the author of this tremendous blog does not listen to pop music. No way. I’m cool in case you hadn’t already realised. I listen to bands that you’ve never ever heard of and definitely wouldn’t like. And if by some bizarre happenstance you actually heard one of these super unknown bands and liked them then that would mean that I would not be able to like them any more and I would immediately denounce them as ‘mainstream’, that’s how awesome I am. I can tell you’re impressed.

Sometimes though I do listen to the radio because I just like to know what’s going on with the kids. The author is not getting any younger and I like to keep up to date with the saccharin tainted, ethnically confused, dead eyed puppets who the younger generation are forced to look up to in order to shape their horribly distorted view of the world. Plus we have the radio on at work sometimes, as a treat.

I think what strikes me the most when listening to pop music is that it is actually quite clever, in a way. Pretty much all pop songs are played at the same speed, which is about 128 BPM (that’s Beats per Minute if you’re a fucking moron). This is because the human brain and body respond positively to a 4/4 beat at about this speed, it’s invigorating yet comfortable. It’s just the right speed for activities such as running or dancing, it feels good. Then there’s the hooks, just a memorable line or two in the chorus, doesn’t really matter what it is as long as it is easy to remember and to sing along to. That’s why most people when they’re singing in a car or in their bedroom will mumble along to three quarters of a song and then just blast out the three lines that they do know, we’ve all done it. It’s genius really. This simple formula works time and time again and it’s brilliant because whoever writes the lyrics is free to put just about any words they so wish in to the song and it really wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference. If One Direction were to recite an algebra textbook or a Shakespearean soliloquy over a cheery tune then their fans wouldn’t be in the least bit perturbed as long as they still had a catchy chorus like, “Ooh girl, cup my balls, every day and night!” I actually might pick up the old six string when I get home and write that badboy and send it to Simon Cowell.

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As well as all of this though, the folk who write the lyrics to these songs are always desperate to convey some kind of message, something that unites the fans of these artists in to a common frame of mind and a shared sense of togetherness. It’s usually something along the lines of “We don’t care what our parents say, we do what we want.” See Billie Piper’s seminal masterpiece ‘Because we want to’ (1998) for further reading on the subject. Or it’s usually some scantily clad lady who hasn’t cottoned on to the fact that she’s being horribly manipulated by a phalanx of cigar smoking, Asian hooker wielding, despicable old men piping up with something along the lines of “I’m an independent woman I don’t need no man to pay my bills but I do have to grease myself up and gyrate in this bikini or I’ll be dropped by my label and working at Poundland before the week’s out.” (Beyonce – ‘Grease me Up Mister’ 2009).

beyonce

The thing I’ve noticed though is that some of the lyrics are just downright peculiar. We’ve all heard the lyrics of crazed Columbian gakhead Shakira “Lucky that my breasts are small and humble so you don’t confuse them with mountains” (Shakira – ‘Finest Columbian Chang’ 1991) but even these frankly insane lyrics do actually kind of make logical sense if you think about it. If her breasts were the size of mountains then you might actually think that they were two mountains which could have disastrous consequences so it’s lucky that they’re small and humble. Fine. Some lyrics though just seem to miss their own point entirely and end up constructing ideas and images which must be confusing for all of the impressionable tweenies out there. Let’s analyse one of the weirdest ones I’ve heard recently :-

1: Katy Perry ‘Dark Horse’

Perry

I really do not understand this song at all. It starts off with a fairly sinister tone;

I knew you were
You were gonna come to me
And here you are
But you better choose carefully
‘Cause I, I’m capable of anything
Of anything and everything

So here we have the character of a young man, drawn to Katy Perry like a moth to a flame, or like Frodo walking straight in to Mordor. Katy has a warning for our lovestruck young fool, beware young man, beware because, “I’m capable of anything and everything.” Ok, could be that she’s talking about breaking your heart, could be murder. Either way you may want to give Katy Perry a wide berth. Then we have the chorus;

Baby do you dare to do this?
Cause I’m coming at you like a dark horse

Right…….I’m not sure Katy has fully understood the metaphor she is attempting to use here. “She’s a bit of a dark horse.” Fine, we all know this to mean that she has hidden and unexpected qualities that may be surprising to those who seek to underestimate her, we can relate to this. However, “I’m coming at you like a dark horse” is just a frightening image. If I was being charged down by a horse, dark or otherwise I’d be pretty frightened and I’d run in the opposite direction for sure. 

The second verse is just nonsense;

Mark my words
This love will make you levitate
Like a bird
Like a bird without a cage

Yeah most people call that ‘flying’ Katy. You rarely hear people say, “Look at that bird levitating out of its cage.”

Then the next bit;

But down to earth
If you choose to walk away, don’t walk away

What? It’s like some sort of cryptic riddle.

What K-Pay alludes to in the first half of this song, Juicy-J states explicitly in his third verse rap. Hold on a sec, Juicy-J? (Hi I’m Juicy-J!) Christ on a bike.

Uh
She’s a beast
I call her Karma
She eats your heart out
Like Jeffrey Dahmer

While Katy is confused by the use of metaphor in her verse, at least J has made an effective use of simile in his rap. Remember back to your English classes at school it’s not that he’s saying she is Jeffrey Dahmer it’s that she’ll eat your heart like Jeffrey Dahmer. I think when you’re using poetic license and literary techniques in song writing it’s usually best to try and create interesting, thought provoking imagery within the lyrics, there’s no reason why you can’t be a bit obscure, in fact the weirder the better, you can get away with it after all. In my opinion the essential flaw in J’s line is that it’s a touch too direct, a little on the nose. Obviously eating people’s hearts (as well as other body parts) is exactly what Dahmer did and so it kind of defeats the point of drawing the simile in the first place. It just leaves us with an image of a demented Katy Perry feasting on the congealing organs of her unwitting male prey. Man that girl has been hurt, hurt I tell you!

So the overall message of this song? Don’t fall in love with Katy Perry or she will kill you and eat your corpse. Brilliant.

I can’t even be bothered to go in to a full blown analysis of Juicy-J’s rap, it’d take too long but special mention has to go to the line;

She can be my Sleeping Beauty
I’m gon’ put her in a coma
Woo!

So I guess the overall theme of killing/eating/permanently incapacitating the object of your affection works both ways in this song. It’s definitely one for all of the confused, hormonal, potential murderers out there to enjoy! I personally enjoyed it very much and give it a strong 6 out of 10.

Cheers

 

 

 

 

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Bad Tripe Album Review – Joyce Manor ‘Never Hungover Again’

joycemanor

Now, let me start by saying that this isn’t really a review as such, it’s not a critical essay and it’s certainly not objective. It’s hard to be that objective about a band that you ABSOLUTELY FUCKING LOVE!!! There’s no point denying it, I’ve just been listening to this at work and even through the tinny speakers of my shitty laptop which render even the most perfectly produced pieces of music basically unlistenable this still sounds immense. I don’t know what any of the tracks are called just yet and I haven’t had much of a chance to catch the lyrics properly but they’re very good, really simple but brilliantly put together, quite poignant at times actually. I also can’t really draw lots of comparisons with other bands, nor would I want to because that’s how YouTube arguments frequently start and what’s the point anyway? I read an Amazon review of the new Cloud Nothings album where this fucking asshole just compared them at great length to Interpol and their first album. I suspect that the cretinous fool had only ever bought two albums in his life and for him they represented the complete pantheon of available music so it was only right that they be inextricably linked, but anyway I digress….

I bought the first album and loved it, second album is a little more tricky to get in to but still brilliant, this one is off the chain. I don’t know whether the title refers to the fact that they’ve all gone sober and more focussed and I couldn’t care less as long as they keep making this awesome music. They’ve signed to Epitaph and obviously decided to just fucking go for it with some of the catchiest songs Bad Tripe has ever heard. Really amazing melodies which literally grip you by the scrotum for about two minutes, and then release it, and then grab it again. Amazing. I’m not the first person to say that there’s a strong Pop-Punk Smiths-like quality to the songs on this album which I’ve certainly never picked up on before, I think it’s some of the lyrics, Barry Johnson’s vocals, and also the picking melodies of the guitars which do sound quite like Johnny Marr. Listen to ‘In the Army Now’ where I think this is most present. **Hey turns out I do know the names of the songs and I’ve gone back on my promise to not compare to other bands, what a douche I hear myself cry**

Here’s why I like Joyce Manor. They convey real emotion without sounding generically emo. They have also mastered the genre of pop punk, managing to be as catchy as 90’s Blink 182 without sounding in the least bit cheesy. They have that ‘we’re not really trying that hard’ vibe without just sounding lame, perfectly disaffected and yet straight from the heart at the same time. This is immediately my favourite album as I knew it would be. I’ve never got bored of their first two albums and, at only 19 minutes long I will definitely be listening to this about 75 times a day.

I don’t know if they’ve got a UK tour planned but I look forward to getting balls deep in to them (metaphorically of course) when they do decide to come over.

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