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Published on April 16th, 2006 | by The Beige Baron

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On The Verge #24

BEN LEE / LED ZEPPELIN / KEANU / KYLIE / ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI / CALLISTO / MATADOR / COLDPLAY

Me Lee being slowly but inexorably vacuumed into the black hole of his own ego, from which no light can escape

Mr. Lee being slowly but inexorably vacuumed into the black hole of his own ego, from which no light can escape

BEN LEE: MORE THAN AUSTRALIA’S GREATEST SONGWRITER

A few years back Ben Lee proclaimed himself Australia’s greatest songwriter. Happily, Ben seems to have a reassessed his ambitions, because he now seems intent on the more realistic title of Australia’s greatest wanker.

As part of his campaign to become Australia’s champion masturbator for 2005, Ben has devised the year’s wankiest album title, Awake Is the New Sleep , which for sheer pretentiousness takes some beating. But Ben is a past master at beating, and so it should be no surprise that he’s topped it with the lyrics of his new song Catch My Disease , in which he sings “They don’t play me on the radio / but that’s the way I like it”.

Of course, while Lee claims to be grateful his songs don’t get airplay, this pales into insignificance compared to the gratitude everyone else would feel if his songs weren’t played anywhere else, either. Then again, if you’re really determined not to hear Lee’s songs, you could always take the stairs.

Awake Is the New Sleep is available now.

After just six months using TurboGro, Robert's hair returned. Thick, luxurious, permanent

After just six months using TurboGro, Robert’s hair returned. Thick, luxurious, permanent

LED ZEPPELIN FANS BREATHE SIGH OF RELIEF

While most 70s rock behemoths seem content to lumber into an undignified obscurity, it is refreshing and downright vindicating to see the way Led Zeppelin have closely maintained their legacy as one of the greatest bands of all time. Even the prospect of having Dave Grohl behind the kit is not enough to tempt them into a disgraceful reformation. It is this savvy that has kept the remaining members relevant, or at least enabled them to remain worthy enough so that when time finally caught up with them again, any new release would be met with something less than derision.

So after what critics claimed was his best work since the Zeppelin days, 2002’s Dreamland album, the perpetually priapic Robert Plant has done it again with Mighty Rearranger , out on May 2. This sees Plant back with new band Strange Sensation and what UK’s Observer called “a sharp contemporary focus”. Don’t let that scare you, they could be telling the truth: Plant’s appearance as one of the keynote speakers at this year’s South By Southwest, and Led Zeppelin’s possibly 20-years-too-late induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is evidence enough of an embarrassment-free future and an increasingly relevant present for Robert Plant.

images-2ON THE VERGE OF CONSTANTINE

Thinking of going to see religious-supernatural flick Constantine ? Think again. Although Constantine features Satan, his son, and demons a-plenty, the scariest thing about this film is Keanu Reeves’ acting. Yet again, the redoubtable Mr Reeves displays the animation and acting skills of a pencil sharpener. You would think that this would impede his acting career, but evidently not. Of course, asking first-time director Francis Lawrence to elicit an emotion from Reeves is like asking an archaeologist to excavate a Petri dish. Indeed, even the normally feisty Rachael Weisz doesn’t make much impression in this film. Doubly disappointing is the fact that Weisz spends an inordinate amount of time wearing a wet shirt that never proves to be quite as revealing as you’d expect it to be.

Still, let’s look on the bright side: if Keanu Reeves can be a world-famous actor, maybe your cocker spaniel can be the next James Bond.

Constantine is on general release.

Tying her friends hair to the ceiling fan seemed like a good idea at the time.

Tying her friends hair to the ceiling fan seemed like a good idea at the time.

NATION FACES CHRONIC HAIRDRESSER SHORTAGE AS KYLIE ADDS 120 MORE CONCERT DATES TO AUSTRALIAN TOUR

Religious loon Fred Nile clambered down from his crazy broken-down mansion atop Old Wheelers Hill to shake his fist and rant about the seductive charms of the Kylie Inc. tour, Showgirl .

Nile’s spittle-flecked rave, as much as it could be understood, seemed to warn that Kylie Minogue’s groin-thrusting pap music was turning the nation’s youth gay. When met which jeers of derision and naked scorn, Nile tried another tack.

“I’m not queer or nothing,” he said, “but everyone knows that hairdressers are poofs. And if they’re going to spend all their time preparing for, attending, and coming down from Kylie concerts, who will keep the nation’s hair looking smart? I offer this solemn warning: if we allow the extended tour to go ahead, we submit to the horrors of daggy sideburns, tangled blow-waves, awry fringes and tousled crowns. It’s a slippery, slippery slope from wild, unkempt hair to vicious drug-fuelled sex orgies. Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!”

Eventually, someone turned a garden hose on the self-nominated mouthpiece of God, and he bared his teeth savagely before disappearing in a puff of irony.

 

Band practice

Band practice

IF YOU ARE HEARING THIS, THEN ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI ARE DEAD

Echoing the bizarre video that Pauline Hanson prepared in case of her assassination, Architecture In Helsinki have perhaps unknowingly penned a pre-emptive epitaph with their new album, In Case We Die, out April 4. Judging from the impossibly innocent and infuriatingly twee sounds floating around the airwaves, they could well be right.

Obviously spending much more on artwork than singing lessons, AIH have promised a triple gatefold digipack for the new release, and in a drastic overestimation of demand have included an A3 “art” print in the first 500 pre-ordered copies as a limited edition special.

Nothing brings the red mist down faster than a group of eight adults who are determined to sound like children. All that’s missing is urine in the sandpit and the bone-scraping honk of a dozen recorders. Although, they may well consider including that as part of their next limited-edition record.

DIAMONDS IN THE STOOL

Matador Records compilations are always an instructive listen. The latest two-CD, one DVD five-year retrospective contains “hit” songs from artists including Cat Power , Interpol , Stephen Malkmus , Mogwai , Yo La Tengo and Belle & Sebastian . I’ve never heard a Yo La Tengo, Mogwai or Steve Malkmus song played on the radio, but then, I’m profoundly deaf, so take the label’s definition of what constitutes a “hit” song as read.

Disc two has unreleased tracks from the above artists plus Cornelius and Guided By Voices , among others. The DVD has videos including the late great Pavement , and the wonderfully discordant John Spencer Blues Explosion . Out now through Shock.

The Flaming Lips have a DVD out, The Wondrously Improbable Story of The Flaming Lips . The press release is 25 pages long, so assume it’s the definitive.

One of the more original artists in hip-hop, Dizzee Rascal , released a “completely brand new track” last week, as opposed to a powder-blue, 1983 Falcon GL, garden-variety “new” track. It’s called Off 2 Work , and was written and recorded in the last few months, so if you like that sort of thing, you know what to do.

Tough and scary for a band that's named after a pre-teen clothing line

Tough and scary for a band that’s named after a pre-teen clothing line

WHY DON’T YOU GO OUT AND BURN A CHURCH OR SOMETHING?

Members of Finnish metal band Callisto have refused to comment on the concept and the meaning behind their debut album True Nature Unfolds , out on April 4. Whatever the thinking behind it, the album is sure to be another blast of Nordic insanity. Not even Earache Records could decide: “Callisto’s blend of pop sensibilities and aggression makes for a delicate but massive and purposeful brand of metal which even though may seem pretentious, comes naturally to them.” Indeed. So if you like your metal natural but pretentious be sure to let the “repressive” melodies of Callisto “lead you into the depths of the human mind”.

Hair smells like honeydew melon and madness

Hair smells like honeydew melon and madness

KURDLE 109, KLONE RADIO… WE’RE GONNA SPOIL MUSIC FOR YA

“We’ve been away for so long now, and the only public feedback we get is tabloid gossip, which is generally vitriolic,” complained Coldplay frontman Chris Martin on an internet gossip page. “So at this point we feel so unpopular and so out of the loop.”

Violins, Chris. For the rest of us, though, Coldplay’s disappearance from the musical radar has been most welcome. You can now turn on the TV and not be forced to listen to the opening piano notes from Clocks flogging the latest contemporary adult drama on Channel 10; the supermarket aisles have been safely returned to Phil Collins; and even AM radio seems to have finally, at long last, grown tired of the most mum-and-dad-friendly album of all time, A Rush Of Blood To The Head .

To be fair, it was a great album before the advertising industry got hold of it. But even Yellow doesn’t sound so hot when you’ve heard it for the 12th time in a day, through no choice of your own. Taxis, pubs, shops, radio, TV – there was absolutely no escaping it.

So for that reason, I guess we should be thankful the band has got a new record coming out on Parlaphone, entitled X&Y . Who’s betting it’ll be a carbon copy of the last record?

Elevators everywhere, June 6.


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Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.



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