Tuesday, 18 December 2007

it's NME's party, and i'll cry if i want to...

So, after their recent skirmish with Morrissey, the New Musical Express is facing legal action. What is perhaps the more pressing question is does anybody actually care anymore? Personally, I couldn't care less whether it sinks or floats. I don't count myself as a regular reader anymore. I used to, a few years ago, when I didn't have an internet connection at home, so consequently it felt like the only way to find out about things.

Once in possession of internet access though, it's possible to find such a variety of perspectives on different types of music at such an astonishing speed that it renders a weekly magazine somewhat impotent. I like reading magazines, purely from the nice feeling you actually get from holding something in your hands and reading it on the bus or on the sofa or whatever, but the level of interaction you can gain from internet forums, last.fm, myspace, virb etc etc is just on a different plane.

The NME now resembles a kind of indie Heat magazine, and whilst it occasionally offers reasonable insight, the way it seems completely devoted to making and then breaking (brutally sometimes) bands leaves a somewhat bitter taste in the mouth. I think it serves a purpose as an entry point for younger people, maybe those who don't really know where to start perhaps, and struggle to get into gigs. It's clinging to that though really, as organisations like All Age Concerts are making inroads into eradicating these boundaries, and creating communities in the process.

Publications like Dazed and Confused, FACT, The Stool Pigeon offer a point of view that is far less sensationalised, which I prefer really. I mean the whole idea of a Cool List is just fucking dumb.

And without further ado, I introduce the latest addition to the team, Kat, who recalls a recent night out....



Thursday 6th December saw the launch party announcing the nominees of February’s NME awards and to get people into the voting spirit… actually, why is it that voting, whether it’s for ‘best album’, ‘coolest male’ or even, God forbid, to do with politics, is something that no-one can be bothered to do?

Sorry… Back to what I was saying, so there was a launch party for the voting, with recent issues of NME plugging the chance to win one of 175 pairs of tickets to the do at Indigo, a smaller venue inside the O2 arena. Here, winners could see a few bands and have a few drinks. For many readers I’m sure they saw this as a chance to go, stand about nonchalantly, generally think they’re cool because everyone else there is kinda’ cool, because they too were arsed to try and win tickets so they could tell everyone who cared that they were going to an NME party (making them, yep, kinda’ cool).

Apologies for my negative attitude, I was in fact grateful for the ticket that I was offered by a friend from back home, because I got to see a few bands who I wouldn’t normally go out of my way to see. So off to Greenwich we went and one free pint of Carling later (so generous!) we found ourselves stood in a brand-new-swish-toilets-and-wooden-floors venue with not an ounce of character, which funnily enough set the tone for the majority of the evening. Playing the party (yes, there were NME balloons) were Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong and The Wombats and ‘secret guests’, who I’ll tell you more about later. Anyhow, first on were Joe and his whatsits and well, I stood wondering who or what Joe thought he was, standing centre-stage arms flailing like he some kind of sea creature. The band only actually played about 4 songs, most of which merged together whilst I gazed into my pint. So they were on and off stage within the space of ten minutes leaving me with very little to write about.

Queens of Noize played between the bands, mixing up their usual Smash and Grab playlist with a bit of Jack’n’Kate and what’s this? Justice, Vampire Weekend and Beirut too, which sad enough, was the first highlight of the evening. Next up were The Wombats, three Liverpudlian lads who play, according to their MySpace, ‘indie/pop punk’. These boys, who have an almost sold-out UK tour coming up, were better than Joe and his wibbly arms, with some catchy tunes (Moving to New York) and a song everyone else but me seemed to know (Let’s Dance to Joy Division), plus a waltzy number. They even had to play an encore because of trouble with the ‘secret guest’ which, if you’ve read the NME website of late, turned out to be Babyshambles. Pete’s (oh, who would have guessed it) absence, gave way to the second highlight of the evening, with Drew and the drummer Adam playing alone and, to everyone’s delight, pulling a member of the audience on stage to join them. This young man of probably 18 years, who, I remember was called Jamie, thoroughly impressed the crowd by sounding just like Pete. There was a brief appearance of Mick (oh, who am I kidding, I’m not a Babyshambles fan) and a cover of The Vaseline’s, later, Nirvana’s ‘Molly’s Lips’ and well, not a single whiff of Pete, who was probably elsewhere still helping Amy Winehouse move to Bow.

So, all the bands dealt with and a couple of £4 pints later the final highlight of the evening occurred in the shape of two black hoodie-wearing gents from Brighton who are better known as South Central, creators of a sell-out Klaxons bootleg last summer. Their recent release, a remix of Late of The Pier’s ‘Space in The Woods’ is super-duper and something I’m partial to playing first thing in the morning (the way it speeds up towards the end is absolute genius! - J). Anyhow, they got about their business, showing up the Queens of Noize a little as they hunched over glowing Apple laptops, launching straight into the Chemical Brother’s ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ and setting the tone for a jolly good bit of remixing from there on. I didn’t stay long enough to hear their entire set, but their mix from the party is free to download from their MySpace

All in all, the night had a somewhat hurried feel to it, over and done with very quickly, a party for publicity’s sake and not a lot else… But at least everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves and yes, I admit, it was worthwhile to catch South Central and get out the house for an evening! But I can’t help feeling like it’s contributed to my ever-growing view that NME is steadily losing its footing as a half-decent music publication, is it just me, or are they trying to please too many record execs in suits and losing quality as they go?

The Wombats - Moving to New York

Late of the Pier - Space and the Woods (South Central Bootleg)

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