egular readers of Stylus Magazine know that the site is committed to having its readership get to know the people behind the reviews and features. That’s why two times per year, we ask a writer to catalogue how they consume the music that they write about. In the process, we hope that you can gain a better understanding of our writers, their writing, and the experiences that shape both of those things. This time: Stylus Associate Editor Dom Passantino.
Awake sweating and twitching from a nightmare around 9:30am. In it, I was employed as an underling by a steely-eyed Tom Petty. Mr. “Too Good to Be True” was for some reason unimpressed with my work, and rather than write me up for a disciplinary hearing, he instead decided to set a pack of greyhounds on me. This is probably what I deserve for suggesting to fellow Stylus writers that it may be time for a critical reappraisal of the Travelling Wilburys.
I don’t actually get nightmares anymore except after drinking, and around the seventh Mai Tai last night (my weekdays aren’t exactly Mai Tai’s and Yahtzee, so my weekends consist of nothing but), conversation turned onto what Simon Reynolds’ beloved “Da Kidz” were actually listening to these days. And what struck me is that for all the column inches that Samuel “I ain’t a playa I just fuck a lot” Preston commands, all the attempts at turning Alex Kapranos into some seer of the ages by The Guardian, and, you know, the fact that every third article published these days is about the Arctic Monkeys (not to pick on The Guardian, as useless as they are, but they based an entire interview with Dave Gilmour around the revelation that he doesn’t mind the Arctic Monkeys but he wouldn’t buy their album), the two songs these little bredders want to hear are “Sugar We’re Going Down” and that fucking Orson song.
There’s something sinister about that Orson tune, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. I was out for 12 hours and heard that song from various receptacles around 14 times. Whilst I was out it charted at #5, despite being ghetto’d to Jo Whiley land on Radio 1. And it’s not going to make it into streams of press from the Establishment because it’s not really anything to do with them, it’s a bandwagon they basically ignored, and will continue to ignore, unless they can decide what it means FOR OUR NATION’S YOUTH. The song itself? Massively mediocre, but I respect the lead singer for bringing back that AIDS patient chic beloved of so many mid 90s alternative rock acts.
Side note: the lyrics to “Sugar We’re Going Down” are still indecipherable.
Downloaded “Rhythm of the Night” by Corona and begin to worry that in my advanced years I’m just becoming a fetishizer of 90s music. Also spend notable periods of time over the following week listening to “Independent Love Song” by Scarlet, “Size of a Cow” by the Wonder Stuff, and “What Is Love” by Haddaway. Actually, with the exception of Fall Out Boy and Orson, the one song I saw Ver Kidz going for most last night was Haddaway. Chris Kattan dictates our nation’s youth.
Look over my last.fm statistics, because, y’know, lists. 96 plays for Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins (I’m assuming that “Watson Twins” is an American slang term for large breasts?) is kinda high considering how much that album bored me the first time I heard it, but maybe I’m softening to alt.country. 15 plays for br5-49, and I cannot remember anything about that band or what they sound like. I think they maybe had a song about how Jesus used to hold it down in the kitchen as a chef? And twelve plays for late 80s left-wing soulboys the Blow Monkeys. I really do need to stop fixating on piece of shit 80s bands that I can’t accurately adjudge the quality of. Meanwhile, I once played “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” nine times in a row.
Finish the day listening to Awfully Deep in bed whilst rereading The Dice Man. Well, you have to keep up the pretence of being a media worker somehow.
This is the thing—this isn’t going to read like a proper journal tracking my thoughts throughout the week, because I’m being asked to write it, rather than any innate need I have to catalogue my own behaviour. But I suppose there is one thing that you can use a diary for (as sufferers of chronic nightmares and those holding it down at Weight Watchers would know) and that’s to keep track of your life patterns, to see what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
And, you know, like, the Artful Dodger featuring Robbie Craig, all that’s bothering me at the moment is Woman Trouble (other than this patch of dry skin I’ve got on my chin that I cut open every time I shave. (It now resembles a pumice stone)). This is the thing, I need to sort myself out here and realise that sleeping with indie chicks is just a coital chest x-ray, every single one sapping fifteen minutes from my life. People, prove me wrong: you cannot have sex with a female indie fan without it turning into some massed drama that takes up the next four weeks of your life.
The last one... the first conversation we had contained the following piece of dialogue.
“No, but I do write for this online music site.”
“Oh, wow, you write for Pitchfork?”
My life is scripted by bad sitcom writers. She loved Ryan Adams and Boards of Canada. I realise the moment you actually become an adult is when you stop giving a fuck about what music your friends listen to, possibly at the same time you realise everyone who likes the same music as you is a total douche. We had sex for the first time whilst listening to the English Beat, and ska music really does make the vinegar strokes look like you’re being ironic.
Anyway, it all went sour, and I heard Jimmy Webb sing “Wichita Lineman” for the first time ever about an hour afterwards. It would be the greatest love song ever if I actually knew what the hell it was about. Came home, dusted myself off, moped around a bit to “Be Mine!”, wallowed in schmindie, and then... I dunno, you can’t actually be depressed whist listening to “Kill The Poor,” can you? It just screams out a desire to throw yourself into walls and get some vinegar back in your bloodstream.
Realize just before bed that “Valentine” by The Delays is about two lovers drowning in Hurricane Katrina. When are we going to get that second single from The Almighty KO? If they don’t rush people are going to start to label them one hit wonders.
One of my closest friends is having boyfriend troubles. I try to console her with the phrase “Do you want me to send you any MP3s?” before realising that I’ve just hit rock bottom with that line. Eventually send her that new Marit Larsen single all the pop kidz have been going wild about instead.
It’s the Cheltenham Festival next week (it’ll be ongoing as you read this), and to build up to every Irishman, welfare claimant, and inveterate gambler’s favourite horse racing extravaganza I’ve been spending the majority of my days in the bookmakers. Actually, William Hill et al. probably deserve special mention in any article about how I listen to music, relating to how my early days as a hustler saw all my winnings get blown in HMV. Nowadays nothing dulls the pain of losing this week’s rent on the 4:10 at Market Rasen like immersing yourself in filter house. Considering William Hill is populated entirely by career criminals, the geriatric, and Eastern European immigrants, they chose some of the strangest music to serve as bedding for their in-store promotions, most spectacularly “Debaser” by The Pixies, and “This is the World We Love In” by none-more-gay Europop sensations Alcazar. The sad thing is people are actually paid to come up with this.
Also spotted in the bookmakers: two Kosovans flirting with the cashier: “How about me at one end of you, him at the other end, giving you a little “Go shorty, it’s your birthday”?” He then proceeded to sing the first two verses of “In Da Club” in his thick Eastern European accent.
Speaking of flirting, notice that the majority of women in the mobile these days are black metal fans. One actually tried seducing me with the prospect of listening to Sarcofago together.
Side note of hilarity: Results 1 – 10 of about 666,000 for Sarcofago. (0.04 seconds)
In the evening, switch back from the experimental Soulseek client to the standard one at the urging of one of said black metal fans. Discover, to my consternation, that nobody in the world is sharing anything by forgotten late 90s German electro-funsters Fuschimuschi. Instead go on one of those random P2P splurges where you take stuff based on forgotten recommendations or vague recollections of liking that one song they did. End up with Thomas Bangalter, The Diplomats of Solid Sound, King Prawn, and Alisha’s Attic. Find a file-sharer by the name of “vampiric_monkey” who is sharing, amongst other acts, Cay, Kittie, King Adora, and Lit. And you thought it was just Philip J. Fry that got frozen back in 1999.
Spend brief period researching Ukranian music for a little side-project of mine. Find out that one of their most popular acts go by the name of The Aryan Terrorists. Stick to listening to Gogol Bordello and Ruslana instead.
Win £550 on Shrove Tuesday in the 2:20 at Towcester (came in at 11/2, beautiful horse, didn’t need to break a sweat to win, fantastic animal). Back when I was in sixth form, university, whatever, that money would have gone straight on CDs. There wasn’t anything else I spent money on. Nowadays, it goes towards King of Shave label skincare products, cocaine, and White Russians. I mean, I keep getting asked to contribute to the Soulseeking series of articles on this site, and I can’t actually articulate that well over that many words how I “consume” music, but I’ll try.
Like a lot of you, I grew up in a provincial town, and made the dumb mistake of getting myself an education. So, for about six days when I was fifteen, I started operating under the delusion that this made me better than everyone else. Now, combine this with the first time you start hearing ALTERNATIVE MUSIC on some late night radio show, and you start the slowly dangerous descent into losing your life to music. I used to be awful: Spinadisc records was on my route from school to home, so by every Monday at 4pm I’d be wandering around there buying the new single by, I dunno, Ruby Cruiser or the Arsonists or co.uk or whatever other piece of shit band I used to listen to when I was 15 (Rocking Horses revival now please!). And I used to buy albums on the first day of release: they’d be reviewed in Melody Maker the previous Wednesday and you’d go out and buy them on the Monday. There was the liner note reading thing on the bus home, the anticipation before it went in the CD player, you’d play it to death for two weeks and move on to the next one. Thank God those days are gone.
Seriously, download then delete. This is The Gong Show here, you ain’t impressing me within fifteen seconds? You’re not getting another chance. I’m a consumer not a charity.
Get CD in post from unsigned band. I may as well use this as a grandstanding moment to speak to all of you unsigned bands that send me your stuff: it’s totally appreciated, and opening the Jiffy bag does bring back memories of those heady days of travelling back from Spinadisc (side note: Spinadisc has since closed down to be replaced by a counselling service for adolescents. Oh, the irony!). But if I don’t like the album, I won’t review it. Mainly because you have my address and will no doubt set my house on fire if I hand out a negative review.
Receive instant message from popular MP3 blogger. “Do you have “Going Down” by Mel C on MP3?”
No. No, I don’t.
Watch Channel 4 documentary about the death of Smash Hits. I’ve nearly managed to completely cut watching music on TV out of my life now, and with Simon and Miquita being replaced by fucking Alex fucking Zane of all people, I can do this successfully now. Seriously, who cast that move? It’s like replacing the Legion of Doom with Scott Pustki.
It’s a decent documentary, for what it is. Miranda Sawyer, quoted exactly: “That Girls Aloud single was great, that t.a.T.u. single was quite good.” Consider prospects of Miranda Sawyer writing for Stylus. Some aged queen decides that what the youf of today need is to go to a Peaches gig and listen to “Real unstylized music.” What is this a documentary on: Smash Hits or Plan B? Footage shot just over three years ago looks horribly antiquitated now, especially the idea of Will Young being some sort of charisma free reality pop nobody to be contrasted with the REALNESS of, um, Westlife, as opposed to the Joe-Orton-goes-to-Womad figure he is now.
The program’s followed by Sean Paul serving as the support act for Graham Coxon at a REAL MUSIC GIG FOR REAL PEOPLE. Briefly wonder if Sean Paul would be better or worse if he had chronic Asperger’s.
The host of the show is Joe Mace, formerly of the nadir of Saturday morning kids’ TV, and he appears to be labouring under the impression that he’s actually hosting Robot Wars, and SHOUTS EVERYTHING LIKE THIS. Graham Coxon is described as “mighty” and “one of Britain’s best musicians.” I worry about Coxon and those who dress of his ilk, mainly because there is that level of guilelessness indie guys can achieve about their dress sense, where they actually start to look like they’ve put some thought into dressing that badly. Stylus jukebox editor William B. Swygart falls under this category.
Sit down to review Panic! At The Disco for Stylus. Its funny, the more work I get as a writer, the less I feel I should be concentrating on straight-forward vitriol reviews, but there’s something dumbly cathartic about them, it’s shouting abuse at pedestrians from a car going at 50 miles an hour, they can’t fight back, you feel better about yourself, we all go home happy, y’know?
Music discussion message boards: where do these people come from? I mean, blog beef is fantastically embarrassing and ridiculous, but people who seem to think they’re MC Shan just because they’ve posted a picture of the “O RLY” owl... I used to be a really good message board troll, back when I was around 14, 15, 16. This was around the time when the Hole message board became a kind of Champion’s League of trolls, the best irritants from all the other message boards gathered there to do battle. Happy times.
Listen to the top 40. Placebo chart ahead of the Black Eyed Peas and Bow Wow. Man, I love England. Orson, irony of ironies, ascend to #2. There’s a band in the top 40 called The Rifles. Why?
I don’t want my life to turn into “88 Lines About 44 Girls,” y’know? Mainly because the majority of girls I sleep with seem to be called Sarah, so it just gets confusing. But, I dunno, this is my time right now. Like, you know that false sense of superiority I talked about earlier when you first discover music that your peers aren’t listening to? I’ve got that back now. I’ve got a spring in my step right now, I think “Thunder In My Heart” is a probable single of the year contender, I’m slowly starting to give up on hip-hop, mellow on alt.country, and really think I should get into metal and j-pop this year.
And, you know, if none of it comes right, there’s always the Blow Monkeys.
By: Dom Passantino
Published on: 2006-03-13