The Null Device
Also via Metafilter, a list of the Top 40 conservative pop songs, arguing that rock'n'roll isn't entirely a Communist plot to corrupt our youth. The list includes the obvious sorts of songs with religious, patriotic and "pro-life" themes, as well as songs scorning leftists, feminists, pacifists, activists and other troublemakers and reestablishing the Natural Order Of How Things Should Be, Goddamnit (James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" has pride of place at number 4), as well as songs about the evils of taxation.
The Oldie is a British satirical magazine formed in the wake of Punch going all trendy and yoof-oriented. As you can imagine, it went for exactly the opposite approach. Marketing itself at the old-at-heart, it's cantankerous, self-consciously old-fashioned and scornful of youth culture and superficiality. You can imagine Morrissey reading The Oldie. And it has outlived Punch -- twice, at that. and now it's on the web. And here is what it has to say about the Hello Kitty phenomenon.
The sickly sweet shockwaves of kawaii are being felt everywhere. When Panasonic were launching a new state-of-the-art portable e-mail device with built-in camera, they thought that the most important design consideration would be how many pixels the screen could display. They were wrong. After consulting their focus groups, it turned out that what they should be concentrating their efforts on was making it a cute colour, with a keyboard that did not chip girls fingernails.
Tonight I went to the Corner Hotel to the Ninetynine album launch. First up was Max, a local singer/songwriter/accordionist whom some describe as "Björk meets Tom Waits. I got in as she was playing her soprano-klezmer number; she did a few more songs after that, mostly with her Little Ensemble.
Next up were another local band, Love of Diagrams. This outfit have been around for maybe a year or so; they played with Ninetynine and Sir at the Punters Club on Valentine's Day, and have played around town a few times since then. Anyway, they're a band worth keeping an eye on; guitar, bass, drums, and they can certainly fill a space with sound and get the crowd moving. I'll probably put the video I got of them online in the next few days.
Finally, Ninetynine came on, and put on a terrific show, even by their standards. They played for about an hour, doing pretty much all the songs from The Process, and a few older ones too. Cameron was in particularly high spirits, playing like a demoniac, interacting with the crowd and throwing himself into the show. (At one point he announced that Synthetic was about the Pepsi commercial in which Michael Jackson's hair caught fire and the experiments that continued from that; though that doesn't sound much less plausible than the official line about it being about the Assyrian empire.) Towards the end of the set, a guest (Hi Ben!) joined them, adding some extra guitar riffs to The Specialist (their Northern Soul number). The set ended with The Process; the audience went wild calling for an encore, and the band obliged, coming back on stage and launching into Polar Angle, playing until Cameron collapsed. Now that's showmanship.
(I also liked their new merchandise; in particular, the fluffy llama logo adorning it looks quite doovy.)
(Update: photo links now go to images from the photo gallery page for this gig, which also has other images.)