The Null Device
My favourite radio programme these days is International Pop Underground. This is a weekly 2-hour show on Melbourne's community radio station 3RRR, presented by music journalist Anthony Carew, and playing a broad selection of interesting music from all over the world, ranging from indiepop to post-rock to antifolk to bedroom electronica; it's quite variable, though typically falls somewhere in the pop-music tradition whilst having that slightly rough-hewn, handcrafted eccentricity absent from the assembly-line ad-jingle/ringtone music most people know as "pop".
I started listening to this back in Melbourne some years ago, tuning into 3RRR using a radio. I stopped doing so when moving to London, mostly because, while you can stream it from the radio station's web page, it falls inconveniently on Wednesday morning local time. A year and a bit ago, I cobbled together a script for capturing and storing the stream for future listening, and started tuning in, sporadically, again. In recent months, I have started regularly listening to this show (usually on the following Saturday morning, whilst still in bed; at(1) is my friend). Whilst doing so, I have discovered numerous gems; for example, last week's show included:
- The Blow, Babay (Eat A Critter, Feel Its Wrath); a cute, clever song about meat-eating as a metaphor for unrequited love, from the point of view of the eaten creature/spurned lover, over a choppy, jaunty, Casiotone-ish backing. One for DJ sets.
- The Decemberists, Sons and Daughters; nothing to do with the old Australian TV soap or the NME band from a few years ago, but rather a song rallying the faithful to flee strife and persecution in boats and dirigibles and leave for a new underwater utopia of freedom and abundant cinnamon. Surreal and yet stirring.
- José González' cover of Kylie Minogue's "Hand On Your Heart", and André Herman Düne's similarly acoustic cover of Bronski Beat's "Small Town Boy", both of which were quite good.
- Okkervil River, The President's Dead, which was almost like a piece of spoken word set to music, about an otherwise ordinary, and quite pleasant, day suddenly shattered by an event in the news.
- And a track by The Whitest Boy Alive, Erlend (Kings Of Convenience) Øye's new electropop project, whose CD I'll have to get. (Damn you, Mr. Carew, for making me spend so much money on CDs.)
This is not the only programme on RRR I listen to; I also sometimes tune into Local And/Or General, the new-Australian-indie show. I don't listen to it as often as IPU because it's not as consistently rewarding. Whilst it does play a few gems, there is rather a lot of standard garage/pub/grunge rock to sort through to get to it.
According to the UK's Public Health minister, pregnant teenagers are deliberately taking up smoking to have smaller babies and thus an easier birth.