Sister Ray – Soon To Be Gone?

Sister Ray - End of an Indpendent Era?

Sister Ray - End of an Indpendent Era?

Another of London’s rare independent record shops is feeling the one-two punch of illegal downloads and the credit crunch…  Sister Ray this week announced that it was heading into administration. Since the news washed in a few days ago I’ve been trying to pin down why exactly it saddens me to such an extent. I mean, there’s bigger indie shops in London (Rough Trade East), HMV and subsidiary Fopp have reduced their vinyl prices to more or less compete, and a fuller range is stocked by online funboys Norman and Boomkat

I guess it’s the ever diminishing experience of being surrounded by good music, and people who love good music. Not that I ever spoke to many people in there, I once recommended a chap TV On The Radio’s Desperate Youth And Bloodthirsty Babes as he had a crisis of confidence at the counter but that’s about it. I have, however, got some of my most treasured records from there. It always annoys and astonishes my girlfriend how I will take a good look in the windows of Sister Ray before heading into it’s dark and familiar interior, only to reap more frustration in the haphazard way I’d take to browsing their racks.

Of course the store is not yet bound for closure, the owner is hopeful that the store’s reputation will find it speedy investment. Nor is it perfect, their second hand selection is limited and often over-priced. The offers are never that extensive or special. The pricing is average. But, and it is a big but, they were independent. Run by folks who value selection and variation over profit lines and charts. They’ll be a big miss for me, the particular location having stared at me since 1995 and the cover of Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, the shop hosted my first London record shopping visits when I moved there in late-2001. Hopefully they’ll manage to pull it out of the fire – it’s a long way over to Rough Trade!

Velvet Underground – Sister Ray
Joy Division – Sister Ray (Live)


Liverpool: England’s Most Musical City?


A recent Arts Council poll claims that Liverpool is England’s most musical city. The current European Capital of Culture took the win with 49% of votes cast, ahead of Sheffield in second and Manchester in third. What a load of utter tripe. In my opinion, there are several things wrong with this.

Mainly, I have a problem with Liverpool’s continued reliance on their Beatles heritage as a starting point for any contemporary cultural relevance. Take their status as Captial of Culture, featuring concerts of pop and classical from Paul McCartney. How exactly does that demonstrate cultural development, a stated aim of the event? All those shows demonstrate is cultural retardation, a nostalgic, safe view.

Obviously the Beatles had a massive influence on musical culture worldwide, but by the same token you would not refer to Memphis as the greatest musical city in the USA just because that’s where Elvis lived.

A lot of the musical schedule for the year follows a similar format, there are also weekly concerts featuring other Mersey-beat bands from the same era, along with a one off concert of 80s washouts, headlined by Paul Young. Appearances by Ali Campbell, The Yardbirds, The Zombies and TV trash Shayne Ward, Journey South and Connie Fisher also litter the programme. Really progressive stuff, this.

Amongst this year-long splurge of detritus there a total lack of recognition for Liverpool’s other musical mavericks or indeed their rising stars. Throughout the reportage of this poll result, the two names consecutively mentioned are The Beatles and The Zutons. Is that the best the city has to offer? What about Echo & The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Half Man Half Biscuit, Ladytron, Clinic, The Coral, The La’s, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and all the others? Sure, some of those are older but in their own fields, groundbreaking.

None get even a mention. The most relevant and contemporary item I can find in the schedule was a performance by Wiley: who isn’t even from Liverpool.

For my money, the greatest musical city in England is Manchester. And quite how London can be missed out of a top three is beyond me!

Anyway, here is my ‘Best of Liverpool’, not in any order.

1. Seventeen – Ladytron
2. Reward – The Teardrop Explodes
3. Walking With Thee – Clinic
4. Skeleton Key – The Coral
5. Lips Like Sugar – Echo & The Bunnymen
6. Two Tribes – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
7. Shot Shot – Gomez
8. Way Out – The La’s
9. Shipwreck – Hot Club De Paris
10. A Day In The Life – The Beatles

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The Ting Tings – That’s Not My Name

Ok. So the hype around these guys is fucking huge. And I don’t like them. They yelp about however monikers aren’t their name. So here are a few more.

Talented. That’s not your name.
DIY. That’s not your name.
Sexy. That’s not your name.
Original. That’s not your name.

And here’s some that could be.

Manufactured. That could be your name.
Novelty. That could be your name.
Dreadful. That could be your name.
Music Industry Career-ists. That could be your name.
Insidious. That could be your name.

So stop fucking taking up space on the airwaves, disrupting my greasy spoon visits with your stoopid face on the TV. Yet, after all this I find my self humming bits from this several times a day. Aaaaggghh! Meanwhile enjoy this remix, at least you can credit any bits that may be decent to someone else.

And I didn’t even mention how fucking incredibly dire their band name is. Oops.

The Ting Tings – That’s Not My Name (Kasper Bjrke Rmx)

In Celebration of St George’s Day

Today England celebrates it’s national holiday, the traditional feast day of its patron saint George. You wouldn’t know it, for most this is simply a non-event. There’s no parade like Chinese New Year, no mass revelling like St Patricks, no national fervour like 4th July. The simple fact is, that most folk see being English as nothing to be proud of. Here at WoW, that fact is something we flatly don’t agree with.

To celebrate, I’m going to share some of the songs that evoke memories of England for me. Musically, England has a vast and rich heritage. Through from the Beatles and the Stones, Sex Pistols and Roxy Music, New Order and Aphex Twin: England’s audible past is fascinating, groundbreaking and successful.

So below are the songs that summon up the greatest my nation has to offer: romantic sunsets in London, to shabby council housing in Sheffield. Politics of the state, affairs of the heart and everything in between. These are the songs that, to me, are England.

Kinks – Waterloo Sunset
Pulp – Disco 2000
Billy Bragg – A New England
Blur – This Is A Low
Human League – Don’t You Want Me?

Photo: Tricky

Fridays FTW #3

Estelle – American Boy
Possibly the only time you will find the current number one residing on WoW. A great tune from Estelle, although I’m not sure its as good as 1980, her previous hit single from a couple of years back. It is good though.

Timabland – Way I Are
Despite frankly awful grammar, Timbaland manages to squirm his way through a simply brilliant tune. A slinky bassline and some sulky-sounding flow make this tune difficult to dislodge from the section of my brain labelled ‘catchy’.

Holy Fuck – Royal Gregory
I’ll admit, it’s the profanity laden name that drew me in. I’m a sucker for the f-word. Just ask the football team I play with on Wednesdays, this week saw another full volume tourette-style spewing forth of the beloved four letter exagerrator following a disgraceful defensive lapse leaving me on my arse and the ball rolling slowly goal bound. The tune on the other hand is a Hot Chip-esque stompfest, at turns melodic and listless. The rest of their eponymous debut is worth a listen, too. 

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – Fixed
Do you like UK hip-hop? You shouldn’t it’s fucking rubbish… So readeth the gospel according Stanford-le-Hope’s premier poet Scroobius Pip, backed up by his beat-belching buddy Dan Le Sac. This track formed one of the highlights of their set last week at 21 South Street, Reading. Formed of a diatribe against the paucity of quality in UK hip-hop (more pop hits than art) laid over the spanking beats of Dizzee Rascal’s Fix Up Look Sharp. Their long-awaited debut Angles is out in May and becomes one of my most anticipated releases of 2008, out on Sunday Best.

Clinic – The Witch (Made To Measure)
Beserk single from Clinic’s recent LP, Do It!  Went down a treat at their 229 Club gig this week, where the Scouse band really plunged the knife into my agony over Tuesday’s football result by striding on to You’ll Never Walk Alone. After having forgiven them for that, they then declared that before playing classics such as Walking With Thee, The Magician and The Second Line they were going to play Do It!  in one fell swoop. I’m not a fan of that form of gig. The second bit was ace though.

Wash (Not Wash?)

Wash your bloody hands!

You know the score dirty bastards of the world: wash you hands after going to the loo! It’s gross inpoliteness not to. I can’t think of many more things that annoy me so much, but take so little effort to rectify. Oh, the filth!

Post composed to ‘Dirty Penny‘ by The Ginger Envelope, a band that hail from R.E.M. territory; Athens, GA.
Download here

The ‘Great’ Weekend of English Sport

I think the essence of Englishness must be to lose, uncontrollably. Whilst there was an air of inevitability about the Rugby defeat to a better side, the Formula One with young Mr Hamilton was in the bag. Surely?
Ah well, in that other pecularly English way, McLaren are making the stench of sour grapes by moaning about Rosberg, Kubica and Heidfeld’s fuelling. Get over it. You failed to back one of your drivers, let them take points off each other and finally got beaten by a man that eight races ago was 27 points behind.
Post composed to ‘When Under Ether‘ by PJ Harvey.

Buy: Amazon

Download: Here