Monthly Archives: May 2011

Writing on Twitter

(I’m helping someone with their PhD research by keeping a writing diary for them about this blog and other writing I do; this post was written for there originally but got so long and seemed like it might be interesting enough that I thought I might as well put it here.)

At the time of writing (7-8am on Sunday morning) I have made 11,418 tweets. Before the day is out I imagine I will have made many more. At an average of 13 words per tweet (which I calculated by counting the words in about a dozen recent ‘average’ tweets) this amounts to 148,434 words. At 300 words per page, a 300-page novel would comprise of 90,000 words. So, since the start of 2009, which is approximately when I started using Twitter, I have written enough words to make a 500-page novel, give or take. Clearly this is a pretty substantial amount of writing, and it should probably be considered with as much rigour, perhaps, as my long-form writing, be that blogging, reviewing, or anything else. Whether or not it’s possible to analyse my tweeting in quite that depth, I’m unsure.

Some quick facts about my tweeting habits. My Twitter account uses the same online identity or ‘brand’ as my blog ( I currently follow 533 people and I have 736 followers. I tweet from wherever I am using whatever tools are to hand; often this is my iPhone when out-and-about, my work computer or our home iMac when sitting at a desk, but most commonly it is probably the iPad while sitting in the house on the sofa or an easy chair. On the iPhone, iPad, and iMac, I use the official Twitter app to tweet; from work I use the Twitter website via the Firefox browser for my own account, and software called Hootsuite via the Chrome browser for the work account I run (685 Tweets, probably 600+ made by me, 623 following, 503 followers). I have tried several different Tweeting applications over the last two and a bit years and now settled into a comfortable routine for the time being.

My tweets have essentially four different types: conversations, observations, participations, and repetitions. Conversations are replies to and comments at people I know about subjects I’m interested in – most commonly music, but also film, football, cycling, television, cooking, and anything else you might talk about in person or online. I suspect this makes up the bulk of my tweeting, and most of these tweets are between myself and people I know ‘outside’ of twitter – my wife, two key work colleagues / friends, my brother-in-law, a handful of fellow music geeks / writers / fans who I have met online and in person over the last decade or so, many of whom I consider to be friends, plus a few other friends who use the platform.

Observations are (hopefully) pithy, witty, insightful, or clever remarks made at no one in particular, in the hope that people will find them interesting and/or that they will spark conversations. A recent example is the sentence “I am helping Adele to pay less tax by not buying her records” which I adapted from something someone said on a music forum that I agreed with, in relation to the singer Adele’s recent reaction of displeasure to having a big tax bill due to having sold millions of albums.

Participations can be both conversations and/or observations, but they are related to specific cultural events, usually occurring at the time they are being tweeted about. Essentially they are the Twitter ‘buzz’ that gets talked about in media channels, the ‘flurries’ of comments on and discussions about current affairs, be that superinjunctions, the Arab Spring, X Factor, the European Cup Final, or anything else that happens in the world. If enough people talk about these things, marking their tweets with a hashtag to mak them more easily findable and associable with the given topic, they can become trends, locally or even globally. Trends are exactly what you might imagine; lots of people talking about one issue for a time. Trends, and therefore participations, may not be about current affairs, and may just be random memes that have caught favour and inspired amusement amongst people; I don’t tend to participate in these as much as more current affairs based participations. Emma and I both agree that live TV occurrences, such as X Factor, become almost exponentially more enjoyable if you participate via Twitter, chatting with friends, watching the comments of celebrities, and generally being ‘swept up’ in the moment, in the event. While BBC iPlayer, personal digital TV recorders like Sky+, SkyAnytime, and other internet streaming TV solutions make it possible to watch what you want, when you want, where you want, many programmes totally lose their sense of occurrence and enjoyability if you watch them after the Twitter buzz has subsided.

Repetitions are just that; ‘retweets’ of what other people have said that I agree with, or would like the people who follow me to see; these tweets are therefore not actively written by me. I’m not sure what proportion of my overall tweets this makes-up, but it’s not much – I do considerably more of it for the work account I run.

Why do I tweet? Because I like talking to people, I like expressing my opinions, I have a compulsion to write on the internet in various forms, and I like the microscopic sense of affirmation that comes from people replying to you, retweeting something you’ve posted, or deigning to follow you.

How do I compose tweets? I’ve got pretty good at this, meaning that I seldom have to think about truncating things I want to tweet or even use internet shorthand symbols etcetera; I seem to be able to compose thoughts into 140-character chunks without much effort. I guess I’ve had plenty of practice… I rarely if ever compose a tweet and then fail to publish / send it, which is probably why I have posted so many. It would seem like wasted time to me; and I’m not particularly precious about my writing – once it’s written, it might as well be read. Twitter encourages a definite sense of ephemerality in writing.

Replies in conversations come very organically; standalone observations sometimes occur to me in advance and get mulled around a little before being typed, but not by much – I’ve generally got a device I can tweet from to hand. I don’t think I’ve ever emailed my self a reminder of something I’d like to tweet (except for my work account) or ever made a plan of a series of tweets or tweet subjects I’d like to engage in (again, except for my work account, which is approached more ‘strategically’ than my personal account – although, clearly, the fact that I consider it to be part of my personal ‘online brand’ suggests an amount of strategic thinking!).

I think that’s about it…


Patrick Wolf – Lupercalia: First impressions

I’m very happy to have been asked to cover the new Patrick Wolf album for The Quietus, not least because this means I’ve been given access to downloadable review files of the finished record weeks before it will be in shops.

So I have downloaded Lupercalia (named after an ancient pastoral festival for health and fertility, which just so happens to spread neatly across Valentine’s Day), Wolf’s fifth album since 2003, and listened to it several times already. I won’t go into full details or considered prose here (I’m saving that for The Quietus), but let me just say that it’s brief (11 tracks lasting 40 minutes), upbeat, and very, very good indeed. Originally mooted as the flipside of The Bachelor’s anguished overload, Patrick has, of course, as is his wont, since declared that it evolved and changed into something different, which it doubtlessly has. That said, it still works very nicely as an inversion of the excesses of its forebear; hedonism, dismay, and woe-is-me solipsism are exorcised and replaced by redemption, romance, and affection. For some, those who crave Patrick’s dark moods and Freudian howls, this will be a bummer; for others, it will be pop joy.

Pop joy is definitely what I’m feeling. There is brass, there is Donna Summer disco, there are swooningly romantic strings, and there are numerous moments that make me feel like I’m going to burst into tears with happiness. Bermondsey Street, which I saw Wolf do live at the Thekla in Bristol, is an absolute revelation; one of the most joyous things I’ve heard in… forever. I’m hoping this can be the record that makes Patrick Wolf.

I’ll say no more for now.

Blue Valentine and Grizzly Bear

Last night we watched Blue Valentine, a miserable desolation of the human spirit film starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Emma loves both of those actors, and also miserable desolation of the human spirit films, and has been desperate to see Blue Valentine since it was at Cannes last year. We missed it in the cinema, probably largely to do with my lack of enthusiasm, and DVD release seemed to take forever. But yesterday it arrived courtesy of LoveFilm, and so Emma finally got to see it.

And actually, I quite enjoyed it; both Gosling and Williams are convincing actors, capable of moving from disarming charm to upsetting emotional incapacity, which is what the story required (the story being an intercut, non-linear narrative of them falling in love and, years later, falling apart). There had been much talk from some parts of the film’s sauciness, due mainly to a scene in which Gosling’s character performs oral sex on Williams’ character; it’s a sad state of affairs when the image of a man pleasuring a woman in this way is seen as outrageously raunchy and a little taboo, while the inverse is so commonplace as to be mundane.

But I did have a problem with Blue Valentine, to be honest. Not with the callousness that Williams and Gosling showed to each other come the end, brought about, no doubt, by Williams’ character’s view of her own parents’ loveless marriage, wherein men do not ever do nice things for women, and thus women do not ever deserve to have nice things done for them (the root of much cognitive dissonance for her when faced with Gosling’s character’s selfless/selfish lack of ambition to be anything other than a husband and a father, despite his capacity for other achievement), or even with the fact that Williams’ character thus supplicated herself at every turn, and thus denied herself identity and happiness (as well as giving up her ambition to be a doctor, admittedly due to harsh circumstances and a wish to do the right thing, she also, in love scenes with both Gosling’s character and a former boyfriend, only ever receives or offers to be receptive; she never gives, or asks, or wants for herself, either sexually or emotionally).

No, the problem I had with Blue Valentine was Grizzly Bear, who soundtracked the film. I like Grizzly Bear a lot, but hearing snatches of their music, re-arranged, shorn of vocals, etcetera, that were naggingly familiar and yet also strange and unfamiliar, left me thinking about the music rather than the film. Unlike a purpose-written score, or occasional usage of individual, recognizable songs (in either diegetic or non-diegetic form), this re-purposing and slight alteration of music to make it half familiar seemed to work against both music and story. I don’t think Grizzly Bear will suffer the same bleak “synching” fate as suggested
as in this Quietus article (which is a decent thinkpiece, but lacks the evidence to support its assertions), but it certainly detracted from my enjoyment of Blue Valentine’s miserable desolation of the human spirit.

Wild Beasts – Smother

Wild Beasts had the temerity, or bad luck, or gumption, or something, to release their debut album, Limbo Panto, in 2008, which is, lest we forget, the year I didn’t care about music, and so I had no idea who they were when they began. How much me not being aware of them must have damaged their career, I cannot begin to fathom, but potentially they may have been denied at least a couple of album sales by me not enthusing about them. Such is life.

Actually, to be honest, I picked-up (well, ordered online) Limbo Panto earlier this week, and now I’ve finally heard it, I’m not all that fussed about it, so it’s probably for the best that I didn’t experience their first flush of creativity, because I might have dismissed them as not worth bothering with. Which would have denied me the extreme pleasure of listening to their subsequent output.

I purchased Two Dancers, Wild Beasts’ second record, as my Christmas Album at the end of 2009, listened to it about five times, quite enjoyed it, and filed it away, mentally marking it as “just quite a good rock record”. I think my antipathy was in part driven, ad this may make me sound insane, by the fact that the enormous, praise-laden sticker slapped on the front of the jewel case and obscuring the artwork, wouldn’t come off. For some reason I couldn’t be bothered to switch the case, which I’d normally do. Stickers on CD cases annoy me intensely, and I think I allowed my distaste of the sticker’s grubby residue to deter me from pulling the CD out of the shelves and playing it.

Then, a couple of months ago, I noticed people talking about their new album, Smother, with eager anticipation across the various internet channels I use to find out about music. I saw a hint that Spirit Of Eden might be one of Wild Beasts’ favourite records, glimpsed some intriguing quotes, got the impression that this band had made a subtle, rich, modernist, rewarding record, and felt that familiar desire to dig deeper and prove my earlier, hastily formed opinion wrong.

Sure enough, I love Smother. It might be my favourite record of the year, alongside PJ Harvey and Nicolas Jaar, a trio of white-covered records that are appealing enough to allure at first listen yet complex enough to still be growers weeks later. My favourite kind of record.

I’ve been revisiting Two Dancers, too; I’ve switched the case, taken it out in the car, slapped it on the full hi-fi, and felt it attach itself to whatever part of my brain it is that drives the desire to listen to music over and over again. I’ve had snatches of melodies and words from Two Dancers spin around my head, joining bits of other songs by other artists, songs I’ve known for decades, in symbiotic cerebral mash-ups.

Across Wild Beasts’ three albums so far it seems as if they’ve been engaged, a little like Spoon, in a process of taking away, of calming down, of realising that space is as potent a tool as energy. Two Dancers refined the drama and occasional chaos of Limbo Panto, and Smother refines the noisy surges and tempestuous rhythms of Two Dancers even further. Amazingly, though I adore the pounding twists and squalling turns of Two Dancers, they’ve turned the trick of not becoming staid or boring or loose without them. There is as much drama in Smother, as much sensuality, as much climax, as they’ve managed before, but now it lasts longer, calls you back for more. It’s delicious.

I’ve seen a few people state that Wild Beasts’ antecedents or influences are hard to define; after a decade of LCD Soundsystem literally listing their influences in their lyrics, I wonder if people have lost a bit of the skill of identifying what something actually sounds like if it’s not spelt out explicitly. Maybe a band with a sound not directly in thrall to a previous era’s scene or aesthetic is a baffling concern in 2011?

For what it’s worth, to my ears the pointillist guitars and skittering-yet-lilting rhythms of songs like Reach A Bit Further almost recall modern-day Radiohead, but totally unafraid of being liked, of being organic, of being sensual. That occasionally frenetic sensuality feels like Long Fin Killie. The space and momentum and sophistication being developed in Smother reminds me of Talk Talk circa The Colour Of Spring. I can hear snatches of Elbow, of The Associates… But mostly I hear Wild Beasts.

And then there are the voices: two exceptional, unusual, expressive voices, one a fragile, glass-made thing like a decadent, delicate sculpture of Anthony Hegarty’s intonation, the other a chestier, sourdough concoction, somewhere between David Sylvain, Paul Heaton, and Guy Garvey. Both singers are capable of whooping yelps of pleasure or pain, of dazzling skips across and beyond your expectations. I wonder how much the vocal tools at Wild Beasts’ disposal have influenced their sound; they could never in a million years make music like Oasis. When the two of them sing together, properly dueting with each other, I swoon.

I think I’ve found my new favourite band.

My dodgy knee

I had Monday off work as holiday, primarily because Sunday was my birthday, and I intended to go out at about 8am on my bike for a reasonably intense (for me) solo ride up to and beyond Pinhoe, Broadclyst, and maybe out to the tiny hamlet (is it even a hamlet?) of Aunk and back down past the airport and home. 90 minutes to two hours should have seen me do somewhere between 20 and 30 miles, I’d have a shower, Emma would be up, we’d go for tea and cake on Cathedral Green, and then to Dawlish for a barbecue at Em’s parents’ house.

My bike was in the hall, and after eating breakfast I nipped downstairs to get my water bottle from it so I could fill it up for the ride. As I walked towards my bike, my left knee very suddenly and quite completely collapsed underneath me, and I felt the familiar hollow ache and thrum of twisted… something. Something internal. Ligaments, perhaps. Alongside the ache (it’s not a pain, per se, not like a badly sprained ankle or a broken arm or a savage graze or a gum infection or a headwound, all of which I’ve experienced as contrast) came the familiar rush of mental / emotional dread: what if it’s serious this time? What if this never stops happening?

Because I’ve twisted my knee before, on several occasions, and though it’s always got better I’m aware that there must be something wrong for it to keep happening. The first occasion was when I was 17; dancing in a nightclub, very drunk but my momentum sweating the booze out of my pores and keeping me going, my left foot stayed still while my body twisted and my knee collapsed. I spent the next couple of hours not moving, not sweating, the alcohol winning, numbing the pain in my leg but destroying my ability to think. It went from being a great evening to being a bloody awful one. I had to walk with a stick for the next few days, like an old man.

The occasions since then have all been football’s fault; tackles, turns, twists, collisions of one form or another. Each time I’ve strapped up and suffered for a few days, limped around, not played again for a fortnight, and then gone back and been OK. For a while: sometimes only a couple of weeks, sometimes months, sometimes years. Once or twice I’ve visited the minor injuries unit in Dawlish and they’ve told me to rest, compress, etcetera, which is what I was doing anyway.

I’ve not played much football in the last four years or so, but I have played a couple of times in the last few weeks. These days when I play I always strap my knee up in advance, in self-defence, and it seems to have worked.

Twisting your knee while drunk and dancing, or while playing football, is OK, just about. It might suggest a slight weakness but it’s not a problem, is it? Twisting your knee while simply walking around your house, though, having it collapse underneath you, is another thing altogether. I think I need to go and see a doctor, and get referred to a physiotherapist, or maybe the hospital. My mum, who trained as a PE teacher, tore her cruciate ligament over 40 years ago, and has suffered ever since; she swims every day to keep it at bay. 40 years ago they didn’t have keyhole surgery, and so she has a comedy horror-film scar on her left knee; a white line with a row of dots on either side, like a child might draw on his face for Halloween.

This post is me saying that I’m going to book a doctor’s appointment for next week. I don’t want to not be able to cycle to Aunk when I fancy it.

How to do a remaster / rerelease properly

Following Tom’s choice at round six of Devon Record Club the other week, I ordered a copy of Crazy Rhythms by The Feelies on Thursday (it’s my birthday tomorrow, and I deserve a present), took advantage of a free trial of Amazon’s Prime service, and had it arrive at work yesterday.

The only copy available was the 2008 remaster on Domino Records, which suited me fine, though I was a little wary as Amazon didn’t list the tracklisting, and I’d seen something about one release appending an (allegedly pretty good) additional song at the end, that wasn’t from the same era as Crazy Rhythms; as The Feelies have spread their career out over quite some time, often with big gaps between records, I didn’t want something from another era intruding on the nine songs I had heard at Rob’s house, and that I liked enough to want to own (even though their sound isn’t meant to have varied much over the decades!).

As I cooked dinner last night I opened the cellophane and stuck Crazy Rhythms on the CD player, and was delighted to see that there were no bonus tracks appended to the original tracklisting. I was also delighted to find, and a little impressed at the initiative of, a little credit-card sized… card… with codes to download a handful of bonus tracks – a single edit, two demos, and two recent live recordings (plus a download version of the album proper – which seems pointless as why not just stick it in your computer and rip it? Presumably this card comes with a vinyl release too…).

I doubt I’ll ever download these tracks, but the thought struck me as good, and innovative, and the kind of thing that, alongside a sympathetic remastering job and decent (but not ostentatious) packaging, makes for a good rerelease. I’m not bothered, as a rule, by bonus discs and demo versions and live versions and fancy box sets in the shape of the guitarist’s head and artwork postcards and gold-coloured vinyl and 5.1 surround sound DVDs and recreation t-shirts and USB sticks full of .wav files and mono versions and all that novelty bumf. At the risk of sounding like some kind of godforsaken hippy, I just want the music, man, on a CD, in a case that doesn’t prevent me taking it out easily enough to play as often as I want for fear of tearing the packaging or scratching the disc.

Maybe, if I really like a band, I might be interested in all the b-sides (and possibly related non-album singles) that accompanied the album being rereleased; it might be nice to have Paperback Writer and Rain tacked onto the end of Revolver, for instance (even though they should, chronologically speaking, be tacked on at the start); but I’m not complaining, at all, about having them together with We Can Work It Out and Hey Jude and so on in the Past Masters release – not being able to get hold of them at all (except for on a prohibitively expensive box set, perhaps), would be the thing that infuriated me here. Hello The Stone Roses and Silvertone records.

I know it seems like a luddite thing to say in 2011, but I still like the integrity of an artist’s intent (or an A&R man’s, perhaps…) regarding the sequencing of an album; having to rush to press ‘stop’ after I Am The Resurrection finishes because I’m not in the mood for Fool’s Gold is an annoyance (so a few seconds of added silence in which to do so is a good thing, fyi remastering engineers and product managers). Bonus materials as a rule, and especially putrid demo and live versions, should be stuck on a separate disc so I never have to listen to them unless I want to. Saying that, 5-10 seconds of silence followed by some choice, well sequenced b-sides, isn’t going to upset me.

As for the actual remastering, well… despite some perceptions, I’m not as fascistically anti-dynamic-range-compression as some might think. Certainly I don’t just want to hear a scuzzy, indistinct version with the levels pumped up towards digital zero – I want improved clarity, imaging, impact – but I’m not averse to things being made a little more beefy and modern, as long it’s sympathetically done, and they don’t end up tediously loud or, and this is especially important, digitally clipped.

Some serious audiophiles I saw online circa the remastered Beatles albums release in 2009 were getting haughty that the CD versions weren’t quite as good as some rare Japanese vinyl release that costs $600 or whatever, but to me, they were pretty spot on in terms of what I wanted. Likewise the Sly & The Family Stone and CAN remasters from a few years ago, and the recent Stone Roses, Paul’s Boutique, and Screamadelica rereleases. The 2003 Talking Heads ones maybe pushed things a half-step too far, likewise the Funkadelic series from approx 2005 perhaps, but neither is rendered anywhere near the kind of unlistenability achieved by Kanye’s Dark Twisted Fantasy; they might be loud, but they’re not distorted, to my ears.

Another thing to consider is whether something needs remastering or not; the 3CD set of Giant Steps from The Boo Radleys doesn’t mention anything about remastering on the cover, spine, or in the liner notes, which is great, because the original version I have still sounds utterly fantastic, and didn’t need anything doing to it to my ears (I don’t know what Martin Carr thinks regarding this, however). (I did buy the new version and give away my 15+ year old original, though, because, well, two discs of b-sides!)

(As a side note, both The Beatles and Sly & The Family Stone had their studio album remaster rereleases bolstered, a few months later, by the remastered rerelease of seminal compilations – Sly’s 1969 Greatest Hits set, which was my introduction to the band, and The Beatles’ epochal Red and Blue collections – for many people, compilations like this are how you get to know an artist’s work, and they can be just as revered as the ‘proper’ albums; it’s a shame when they’re forgotten amidst a flush of remastered studio LPs.)

The only major artist I can think of who I’m still waiting for remasters of is Prince. Heaven only knows if he’ll ever get his thumb out of his ass long enough to make peace with his record label and sort this out. I’m sure there are plenty of other, lesser-known but no less talented, musicians awaiting sympathetic rereleases. I’ll hear about them in time, I suspect. What I could really hanker after, though, is ‘fixed’ versions of albums from the last ten years or so that have been released with shoddy sonics on CD in the first place. Whether that will ever come to pass or not, I don’t know.

Albums of 2011 (so far)

So it’s about that time that I wax lyrical about the records I’ve bought, listened to, and enjoyed so far this year, as much to keep my mind clear with what I think of things as for the sake of spreading a little listening love around. So here goes.

Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys!
I’m unsure what I think of this, and indeed, by extension, Elbow, in 2011. On a phenomenological level, the act of listening to this is pleasurable; it sounds gorgeous. But I never do want to listen to it. I suspect, partly, that there’s a sense of darkness, of bitterness, of spite, that’s been eroded from Elbow’s music slowly since their debut, and I need that contrast to their wide-open humanism in order to give contrast, subtlety, and emotional drama. It’s lovely, like the last album, and I’m glad people like it, and I admire it, but I don’t love it.

British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall
I want to like this more; I’m not sure why I don’t. Here’s what I said back when it came out.

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
I listened to this very intensely, and with great frequency, during darker evenings. I have no doubt I’ll pull it out again when the nights draw back in; it’s that kind of record.

LCD Soundsystem – The London Sessions
A clandestine ‘greatest hits’, perhaps; a posthumous wave to appreciative fans. I dearly wish I’d seen them live. I’m pretty sure I’d got guest-listed for a Bristol gig in 2007, but circumstances changed and we couldn’t go.

Primal Scream – Screamadelica (Remastered)
I love this as much as ever; I thought I didn’t / couldn’t.

Ron Sexsmith – Long Player Late Bloomer
The melodies are delicious, but the arrangements are a little too slick for my tastes. I must investigate his early stuff soon, in the hope that his compositional gift hasn’t changed, and that he started out more minimal.

Josh T Pearson – Last Of The Country Gentlemen
I’ve only listened to this once and only vaguely; it made me feel like a voyeur, and I don’t want to be made to hear the feelings contained within songs called Honeymoon’s Great: Wish You Were Her. But Pearson is such a talented that I know I’ll come around eventually. It’s only art.

PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
This is magnificent. Strangely, Americans I know seem not to get it as much as Brits.

Joan As Police Woman – The Deep Field
Ostensibly Emma’s (she loves Joan), but I like this a lot too; it’s an r’n’b album, essentially, but the kind of r’n’b that’s played live in a room, with long, crunchy, richly-textured guitar lines. A little bit Maxwell, a little bit… Second Coming by The Stone Roses, almost. Modern electric blues I guess (not Griff Rhys Jones stuff).

Iron And Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
I like this a lot when I listen to it, but I don’t remember to listen to it quite enough (possibly because the opening track is maybe my least favourite); it feels like a journey through the whole of American popular music, from country to soul to jazz to indie rock and back again. The tunes deserve more attention.

The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck
I’d hate to repeat myself, so just read this.

Bill Callahan – Apocalypse

Tyler The Creator – Goblin
Above and beyond anything else, this is too long; 15 tracks lasting 73 minutes is just far too much to take in, and it becomes boring. In fact, it starts boring; the opening track is a 7-minute “woe is me” monologue with a pretty tepid backing track. Beyond that… sonically, Goblin is Fisher Price El-P / Def Jux, a kind of lo-fi, schoolroom version of The Cold Vein without the sci-fi vision. It’s not got the concision, incision, or, and this is crucial, hooks of Dizzee Rascal, for instance, who was perhaps the last rapper this youthful, energetic, and (almost) controversial to get so many words typed about him.

And as for the controversy… lyrically, Goblin is the Aristocrats joke, but without a punch line. “I’m awesome / and I fuck dolphins” is absurd enough to elicit a laugh; “I raped a pregnant bitch and told my friends I had a threesome” is reaching so far for controversy as to cause a nasal snort as you try and decide whether laughing at is as bad as laughing with. To my mind the only things it’s not acceptable to make jokes about are rape, and infant death; the latter is what turned me off Chris Morris’ Jam TV program a decade ago.

The Lex nailed many of my feelings regarding Odd Future Wolf Gang in his blog for The Guardian; Tyler may be gifted (I’ve not listened enough to appreciate his talent for internal rhymes or his flow yet), but he’s not transgressive. He’s just very, very young, and trying very, very hard. But so were the Beastie Boys, and they grew up from snotty misogynists into something far more palatable, without losing their musical verve along the way. Because there is something somehow compelling about kids yelling “kill people / burn shit / fuck school” and “golf wang!”

Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
I’ve listened to this about four times, most of them in the car while driving to the airport. My initial impression is that it fits, sonically and in mood, almost exactly halfway between Check Your Head and Hello Nasty. This is where Beastie Boys ought to sit in 2011, as far as I’m concerned. The tunes, hooks, noises, beats, etc, are far more catchy and enjoyable than Tyler.

Radiohead – The King Of Limbs
People bitching about the brevity of this annoy me; it’s longer, and with far less songs, than Revolver. I like it; I really like about half of it. They seem, to my ears, to have finally interpolated the influences they’ve been wrestling with for the last decade. It’s not got the tunes or approachability of In Rainbows, or the impact of Kid A, but it’ll do nicely.

Panda Bear – Tomboy
I pretty much standby what I wrote a few weeks ago; I like this a lot. It doesn’t have the absolute peak, sublime moments of Person Pitch, but it’s more consistent, more structured.

Wild Beasts – Smother
I’m only a few listens into this, and none of them at volume of with intensity, but I’m enjoying it immensely; Anthony Hegarty and Guy Garvey / Paul Heaton fronting a subdued, sensual, 21st century Tears For Fears; which is not surprising given the Talk Talk name-drops made in the run up to its release. Could perhaps do with a little more energy, a little more chaos, a little bit of loss of control

Nicolas Jaar – Space Is Only Noise
This might be the album I’ve played the most (proportionally to the time I’ve had it for) this year; there’s a mix of electronic textures, live instruments, technoness, jazziness, etc etc, that is just bliss to my ears; vatic enough to stand calmly in the room and be ignored if needs be, but gorgeous enough to entwine around you and take your full attention if you want.

There’s a lot of white spines this year, so far.