The Midday Meal

A repository for the various things i consume in the course of daily existence

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Listening: The Go! Team – Thunder, Lightning, Strike

Sure big, bad warehouse chains are destroying smaller retailers, the demise last year of the Canberra institution Impact Records is an example of such, but I can’t help but be happy with the cause of this demise, JB Hifi. It was at JB I found The Go! Team’s Thunder, Lightning, Strike for $12. It is possibly the best $12 I’ve spent this year.

All over the shop and reminiscent of The Avalanches taking acid with the Jackson Five while receiving musical instruction from Bobby Gillespie and Thurston Moore this album is a mish-mash of hooks, samples, loops and cheerleader enthusiasm.

By using music from all the sources they possibly could they have created an album on which nothing sounds the same and yet everything fits in together. The only problem I have with the album is that it’s barely half an hour long… but the amount of different musical sounds and styles they crammed into that half hour is awesome, and it is so fun... I challenge anyone to listen to Bottle Rocket and not want to jump up and dance around like a raving lunatic, I've had the 2-4-6-8 chant stuck in my brain for three weeks and its all I want to do everytime I hear it.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Song 15 Mogwai - May Nothing But Happiness Come Through Your Door

8 minutes and 29 seconds and the only thing approaching a lyric is some random sample near the end which goes something like "please help the light". But it is exactly why I love mogwai’s second album, Come On Die Young, a dark, beautiful, complex mix of samples, music and feedback. The reason I love it is simple, it taught me that music doesn’t necessarily need words to say something.

It may reflect badly on me, but for most of my life I only had an emotive reaction to music which has a story which I could relate to, and to do that it required lyrics. I didn’t understand classical, jazz or even electronic music because of this. Mogwai I responded to, no lyrics, no story, just sound, but sound that creates a landscape in my head.

Since then I haven’t really opened my heart much to classical or jazz music… I can appreciate there is a lot of talent involved and I am much more aware of the effect that music can have, but they still don’t float my boat. I don’t think it’s entirely coincidental that I encountered CODY around the turn of the century, and before I “discovered” the joys of electronic music. I don’t think I’d have enjoyed the early part of this decade anywhere near as much as I did if I hadn’t been able to connect with the music without the aid of stimulants.

I also think this has the greatest song title ever.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Challenge

Well I finally got around to answering the zilla’s passed on challenge and here it is…

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be saved?

Why did they start with the hardest first? Like the characters in Fahrenheit 451 you want to put something worth retaining in your head. However spending the rest of my life with something like Plato’s Republic for company doesn’t necessarily appeal. However I think there is a need to save these sorts of books and knowledge for the future and some sacrifice on my part would be required.
The book I’d save would be Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, the ultimate tutorial in the acquisition and retaining power and influence. The new world will be there for the taking, and there is no rule to say that I can’t look for the benefits for me out of the situation.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Sure, who hasn’t, but like most teenage crushes if you haven’t consummated the relationship with some kind of interactive action (talking to, asking out, stalking), the hold of the crush and the identity of the crushee fade away. So although I know I have had many crushes on fictional characters, I’d struggle to name one. Of course that could be because I am just fickle.

The last book you bought was…?

How to Win Friends and Influence People and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six which I got from the book guy at the Kingston markets for the princely sum of $11 for both. I really brought How to Win Friends because I was told to by the presenter of a project management course I recently completed. He was of the opinion that these kinds of books were essential to professional development and that if we wanted to do well we’d need to spend some time reading them, he said that despite having to start reading them the good news was that we didn’t have to start liking them. I’m doing ok on the second, not so well on the first.

The last book you read was…?

Funnily enough, it was Fahrenheit 451. I got it at a newsagent from the 1 book for $3.95 and 3 for $10 stacks and I was quite excited when I saw it that I immediately busted out a $5 note and brought it and some redskins.

What are you currently reading?

Recollections of a Bleeding Heart – Don Watson: Watson was Paul Keating’s speechwriter while Keating was Prime Minister. He wrote a book about the experience and about political language while he was at it… so far it is quite fascinating and enjoyable.

Rainbow Six – Tom Clancy: I haven’t read a Tom Clancy book for years and years. There are a number of reasons for this, part of which is conceit on my part to try and avoid “blockbuster” type books and instead read “quality” literature. Another reason was to lessen the guilt I felt while studying to be doing reading that wasn’t for the next assignment I tried to avoid “story” books, where the reader can switch of that part of the brain which is trying to see where the author is coming from or going to and just enjoy the ride. However I figured that if I was going to have to read books I didn’t enjoy at all (see above and below) I might as well have escape books going at the same time, hence a re-acquaintance with Messer’s Clark and Ryan.

Across the Face of the World – Russell Kirkpatrick: For much the same reason as the Clancy book, I decided to give a new fantasy series a shot. I’ve been even more hesitant doing this as I’ve been burned on the last couple I’ve started where all the books haven’t been written, so I am in the middle of the story and unable to get to the end until the author pull their finger out. Fortunately this appears to be the standard trilogy model and all three are published so I believe I should be safe in starting this one.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey: See the last book I brought for why, this one I borrowed from my Mum, who coincidentally said she found the thing helpful, but not enjoyable.

Five books you would take to a desert island?

1. Lord of the Rings – Its not quite the flavour of the month like the Da Vinci Code anymore but it is the book(s) that I have spent more time with than any other and if I was spending significant amounts of time in the limited surrounds of a desert island a place to escape to would definitely be a plus.

2. How to be a Man – John Birmingham’s instruction booklet for all men, which includes among other things how to fly a jet plane and how to survive in the bush. Could be particularly useful should I not be marooned alone and need to set about re-establishing civilization.

3. Europe – Norman Davies wrote about the continent from the “dawn of time” to the 20th century and its good. It’s also huge and took me a year to read. So I’ll take it so I can read it again, I’ll probably have a fair bit of time on my desert island (as long as I can work out how to fish).

4. Voltaire’s Bastards – I’m not sure what a book about the problems with the way the civilised world is governing itself will do me on my desert island, but it’s always good to have a book around about thinking and how to approach problems to help you think and approach problems.

5. Where the Wild Things Are – again, should I not be marooned alone and need to restart civilization, my kids will need a book to read and there isn’t a better kids book written.

Who are you passing this stick on to and why?

I guess its really only because the number of people I know who blog and haven’t done it already is pretty small this one goes out to the GBU and the Capn’ (although he has been challenged before and did nothing).

Monday, June 20, 2005

Listening: Wilco - A Ghost is Born

I will never be an art writer or critic. I’ve been struggling with what to write about this album for a few weeks. I want to tell people how much I like it, but I don’t necessarily have the ability to analyse what it is about it that appeals to me and how that fits into the development of music forms and styles and what contribution Wilco have made to the evolution of rock music and break their music down into their influences and tell you why. But then again I won’t be able to write something like this about how much I like underworld either and I am not sure I want to.

What I can tell you is that this album is as much like their last album as it is different. Jeff Tweedy still sounds mournful most of the time, but the music and the feel is different from the last album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, just as that was different from its predecessor, Summerteeth. I think this is what I like about Wilco, they can move on from a good album to create another, without repeating themselves and without losing anything either.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Song 14 Oasis - Live Forever

Maybe I will never be all the things I wanna be,
Now is not the time to cry, it’s the time to find out why
Maybe You’re the same as me, we see things they never see
You and I we’re gonna live forever

I was at my Mum’s house the other week and the topic turned to Oasis, my younger brothers taking great joy in singing the words of one Oasis song to the music of another. They may be on to something, and it is easy to write Oasis off because of this and the fact that Oasis probably really have only ever produced two good albums. But those albums are so good they will be able to ride on their coattails for a few years to come.

I spent the early ninties listening to a great deal of angry and angst filled music from bands like Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, and so I missed Definitely Maybe the first time around and encountered Oasis through the massive and ubiquitous Wonderwall. At first I didn’t have a whole lot of time for the Oasis bandwagon, until I heard a friend’s copy of Definitely Maybe.

Definitely Maybe, despite the title, is as good a statement of intent as any band has ever delivered. Noel Gallagher knew what he was about and what he wanted to do, and he stole his little brother's band to do it. Definitely Maybe was rock, it was a band who were alive and didn’t feel the need to complain about it. Live Forever captures the spirit of that perfectly. It’s simple and clichéd but its all about saying "we know the world is fucked, but we live in it and we’ll be ok, in fact we’ll be a whole lot better than ok."

Despite the ridiculous stupidity and overblown egotism which would mar the Oasis of the new millennium Noel Gallagher deserves to go down in history as one of the greatest writers of pop music in the nineties. Sure he was hugely influenced by the Beatles, but who in the last 40 years wasn’t. The simple fact remains that when you look at their catalogue you will find songs to which you will know all the words, even if you’ve never brought one of their albums. To dismiss Oasis is to dismiss the art of making popular music, a lot of the time it is the same (just listen to video hits any weekend) but when you get it right it’s magnificent and at their peak that is exactly what Oasis were.