Hello Again / Cam’s Mix Tape

5 02 2012

It has been close to two years since I last posted here due to various mitigating circumstances. Y’know, life and the like. Recently though, the pull of having a place all of my very own from which to spout nonsense from has proved too strong and I find myself back here again, spouting nonsense.

Shall we start with a list? Imagine you’re turning nine. You wake up on the morning of your birthday and instead of the professional rollerblades you have been angling for since Christmas, your mother has decided that it’s time you put a bit of distance between yourself and those Pitbull and Lady Gaga singles and opted – not for those black rollerblades with the red flame motifs on the side – but rather for a crappy homemade CD with a crudely-scrawled ‘Happy 9th Birthday!!!’ standing in for cover art, in the hope that it might steer you in ‘the right’ musical direction. What could possibly be on that CD that wouldn’t make you want to emancipate yourself from said mother immediately?

This is my predicament. This is what I’ve come up with:

Cam’s Mix Tape 

CD1

AC/DC – Thunderstruck (live)

The Who – My Generation

Outkast – Hey Ya!

Beastie Boys – Sabotage

De La Soul – The Magic Number

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

Happy Mondays – Step On

ELO – Mr. Blue Skies

The White Stripes – Hotel Yorba

Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA

Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up

House of Pain – Jump Around

Daft Punk – One More Time

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

Blur – Song 2

The Ramones – Blitzkreig Bop

The Clash – Rock the Casbah

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising

Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

CD2

The Specials – A Message to You Rudy

The Stone Roses – Waterfall

Oasis – Rock ‘n’ Roll Star

Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor

The Strokes – Last Night

Groove Armada – Superstylin’
Hot Chip – Over & Over

The Prodigy – Out of Space

The Cure – Lovecats

The Clash – London Calling

The Beatles – Come Together

Kings of Leon – Taper Jean Girl

The Black Keys – Lonely Boy

Michael Jackson – Thriller

Fleetwood Mac – The Chain

Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love

Bob Marley & The Wailers – Jammin’

The Rolling Stones – Gimmie Shelter

The Beach Boys – God Only Knows

*Disclosure: I also bought him a Scalextric set.

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Arctic Monkeys – Humbug

24 08 2009

Published in Totally Dublin, September 09

It seems that no matter how much the Arctic Monkeys have matured as a band (and they have, considerably) their song’s lyrics are still celebrated, condemned and misinterpreted in equal measures. Humbug, the third studio album from Sheffield’s favourite rascals, sees their songwriting skills evolving once again, and with this process comes a whole new set of have-a-go interpreters. Take, for example, the guy who posted a thread entitled ‘Humbug – The Sexual Voyage’ on the Arctic’s official forum, prompting a glut of horny teens to respond with their own ideas of how “this album is chock full of knob references” or, perhaps an even more insightful quote: “I can’t believe I just realised the term ‘crying lightning’ means Alex spunking on a girls face. Genius.” Not being a personal friend of Alex Turner’s, I’m not at liberty to decipher what ‘crying lightning’ actually means, but I’d be willing to bet it doesn’t mean spunking on a girls face. Considering that the lyrics adorning Humbug are probably the most ambitious that Turner has ever written, I’ve taken umbrage to them being reduced to mere metaphors for bodily functions. Sure, the album overall is the darkest, sluttiest and grimiest offering we’ve had from the band, both lyrically and musically, but let’s not go oversimplifying it.
The deliciously sinister nature of Humbug has been widely accredited to Josh Homme, who whisked the Arctic’s off to the Mojave Desert to work his production wizardry. What Homme has not done here, thankfully, is turn the band into a troop of QOTSA clones. His presence is definitely felt on tracks such as Dangerous Animals and Potion Approaching but it’s delicate enough not to trample on the band’s identity. The other aspect of the album focuses on 60s-inspired psychedelica. Perhaps this is why, at times, Humbug feels more like a follow up to The Last Shadow Puppets 2008 album The Age of the Understatement than anything the Arctic Monkeys have previously released. This is particularly apparent on the beautifully naive Cornerstone – a skilfully woven tale about the pains of a broken heart that is rich with lush orchestral sounds. Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford (who also produced The Age of the Understatement) can be thanked for this particular facet of Humbug.
Humbug is likely to be a divisive album amongst Arctic Monkeys fans, as it does see a metamorphosis of the quartet from too-clever-for-their-own-good youngfellas to a (slightly menacing) bunch of brooding blokes, but chances are it’ll win most of the on-the-fencers over in no time.