Sunday, August 14, 2005


I recently saw the film Dig! at the Everyman Cinema in Hampstead (great place, screen 2 has, well, sofas instead of seats; I can't think of anywhere else I'd want to watch a film).

The film covers the story of two bands: The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. You've probably heard of the former but you're pretty lucky if you've ever heard of the latter (I knew they were a good choice if you want to be hip but not more than that).

Starting out as new bands at roughly the same time the Warhols are stars while Brian Jonestown Massacre ended up in heroin-addled obscurity.

The film isn't an unbiased view of rock bands as it seems to conciously or unconciously subscribe to the tradition view of rock music as being made up of self-abusive genius musicians bent on self-destruction. The more fucked up you are the better music you'll make.

In this view of rock the Dandy Warhols are of course dirty corporate sell-outs who talk about a lifestyle they watch but don't participate in. Now the Dandies (most famous for a track that, no matter how good it is, was popularised by a mobile phone advert) probably are dirty sell-outs but the thing that struck me about the film is how tired the traditional rock narrative is.

Realistically does anyone believe that good music is something other than a productive collaboration? If music is all about the heroic individual genius how come there are so many musicians that fail to have solo careers that match the output of their previous band partnerships?

The real reason the Dandies are more famous than the Jonestown Massacre is simply that they have managed to produce progressively better tunes as a unit. Numerous lineup changes results in an effectual reset of musical progress as far as I can tell from the evidence of this film. The Jonestown Massacre continue to push a Sixties retro-revivalist vibe that actually sounds more tired at the end of the film than when they started.

The film gives plenty of food for thought and is actually pretty cool and funny most of the time which puts the bitterness of success and failure into a stronger contrast. I'd recommend getting a hold of a copy on DVD if you can, it's entertaining and never lags.

iTunes favourites

iTunes with jHymn is useless to me but with it, it is becoming a favourite stop for musical "nibbles".

Recent tracks I just can't seem to stop listening to are:

  • Death Disco - PIL. Fantastic white dub with an intense bassline
  • Marian - Sisters of Mercy. I can't quite understand the appeal but I think it is basically that this track is a kind of archetypal Goth rock sound that completely sums and eptiomises the genre. It gloomy and great.
  • Feel Good Inc - Gorillaz. Like previous hit Clint Eastwood the Gorillaz may not have an album of hit but every now and then they have a killer pop tune that you just cannot help but like.
  • WFL (Think about the Future Mix), Hallelujah (Club Mix) - Happy Mondays. These two mixes are the indie rock-dancefloor crossover of the 90s distilled into quarter of an hour. Both are total distinctive sounds, whose riffs take seconds to recognise and a blind hippo could dance to them without fear.