Friday, December 09, 2005


NB: This post sounded a lot better in my head.

I promised Betty and Greta that I’d do a review of last night’s gig by terribly fashionable band of the moment The Shortwave Set, and I wouldn’t want to let down any of my lovely and heartwarmingly tolerant readers.

However, you know, I actually know next to nothing about music. I couldn’t tell you anything at all about production values or what constitutes laptopcoustica. Or anything at all about Neil Young.

In fact my music appreciation criteria are strictly limited to the following:

1. The lyrics. Are they clever, intelligent, funny or poetic?

2. Failing that, are they voluminous? (I have an awful weakness for songs that try and cram as many words as possible into one line, which is why you’ll often find me listening to otherwise execrable rubbish, like I Want You by Savage Garden.)

3. The lyrics. Do they contain a lot of cultural references? (This epiphany occurred when I first heard Morrissey sing “Last night the plans for a future war/were all I saw/on Channel 4”. I thought oo, he said Channel 4! *I* have Channel 4! Morrissey speaks to me!)

4. That’s it, really. I’m not very interested in instruments or melody or rhythm or samples or anything like that.

But what I *can* tell you is that last night’s other act, Field Music (number 44 in the NME’s controversial top 50 albums of the year, fact fans), failed dismally on the first three counts above, and are therefore Officially Rubbish. Not only were their lyrics dreadful – I mean, "you're so pretty/I want to talk to you all night" - come *on* - but they also lacked any kind of onstage charisma. Off!

The Shortwave Set, however, did turn out to be unutterably wonderful, as Greta predicted. But their lyrics aren’t all that, so it must have been something else. I’m not equipped to describe it, so I’ll metaphorically hand over to one Anton, newly arrived from New Zealand, who seemed to think that having an encyclopaedic knowledge of All Music Ever would be sufficient to get me to kiss him, or something.

So, The Shortwave Set’s repertoire, according to Anton:

Roadside: “This is very Stereolab. Don’t you think this is very Stereolab?”

Better than Bad: “Oh, this is so ripped off the Kinks”

Slingshot: “Ooh, this sample, it’s Nat King Cole. The greatest song ever written.”

Is It Any Wonder?*: “This guy sounds like Robyn Hitchcock. Don’t you think he sounds like Robyn Hitchcock?”

At this point it might have been pertinent for me to tell A that I’ve just spent four years on medication, during which I had no desire to engage in anything cultural whatsoever, and that therefore my musical knowledge has some gaping lacunae. But I didn’t.

His summing up was spot-on, though: “Either these guys had parents with a lot of junk lying around the house, or they spend a *lot* of time in charity shops.”

No, I know, that’s rubbish. I recommend you go here for a proper review.

The Shortwave Set, though. Unutterably wonderful. Official.

* Song of the Week!


Pashmina said...

I am so far behind. I've never even heard of the Shortwave Set.

New year's resolutions (already):
Listen to more music.
Pay more attention to bands mentioned on other people's blogs.

Apart from this, I have but two comments to make:
a) Savage Garden? I'm actually quite shocked.
b) Morrissey speaks to all of us

patroclus said...

>>Savage Garden? I'm actually quite shocked.<<

It's just a one-off aberration, Pash. Well, that and Billie, obviously. But you know, I can't be a tastemaker *all* the time :-)

Tabby Rabbit said...

I'm with you Pash (on all points). The only music I own and would openly admit to a large group of people are the songs that P has donated to my lost cause.

Bille Piper? (who incidentally was in the spa I went to the other day) - which song? Please tell us it wasn't 'Because we want to.'

fwijiaw: *Probably* a new Finnish band that P is off to see later tonight

patroclus said...

Umm, no, it's "Honey to the Bee". For, er, personal reasons.

Enough said, I think.

nibus said...

Savage Garden? Sandwich Garden, more like. You can go a long way without ever having to listen to Stereolab/The Kinks/Nat King Cole/Robyn Hitchcock. Just as long as you don't miss out on DJ Scotch Egg.

patroclus said...

Oh my good lord, DJ Scotch Egg actually exists. *And* he apparently used to live next door to someone or something called SHITMAT. Only in Brighton...

Smat said...

Pashmina - I'm going to have to join you in the NotReallyWithIt corner - style doesn't really feature this far out in stockbroker belt I'm afraid. I've never heard of the majority of the bands P sees.

greta said...

Ooh I'm so jealous. You're right... I don't quite know what it is about them. I think it might be that their songs sound so lovingly crafted out of random bits and bobs. Like musical appliqué.


patroclus said...

Absolutely right, Greta. Also, the fact that all three of them are about eight feet tall. And the singer Ulrike (who looks like a giant Mary Quant)'s gorgeous voice. And the fact that before they started playing they littered the stage with all manner of charity-shop tat, including an old gramophone and a brass table lamp with a tatty floral shade.

Thanks for the B&S mp3 download on your blog, by the way - I'm listening to that right now.

Betty said...

I finally got around to listening to some samples on - there sounds like an early '70's folk influence in there and a bit of St Etienne possibly. I quite liked it.

Mind you, as I am listening to The Best Of Cilla Black at the moment (and actually enjoying it) my opinion is NOT TO BE TRUSTED at all.

I think I got away with mentioning Cilla Black because no one is reading this post anymore.