Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

Clef Notes: The Blimey! Edition

Every Friday, or at least until his spectacular rock star flameout, Giovanny will be dropping a week’s worth of music knowledge on you with Clef Notes, proof positive that he’s a one man music magazine.

News:

Stiff upper lip indeed.

Bob's Your Uncle!: At one point during lunch with my mother this week (it’s a thing that we do), she looked up from her salad with the sort of gleam in her eye that usually precedes the juiciest of gossip, and asked me this question: “Did you hear about Adele?”

“What about her?” I asked, a little confused, but intrigued nevertheless.

My mother then smiled, and leaned in close. “She gave the finger during her acceptance speech at the Brit Awards!”

I made a face at her. I couldn’t believe that my mother was choosing to share this story with me. In all honesty, I couldn’t believe she even knew about an awards ceremony taking place across the Atlantic that she didn’t even watch, but it did make me realize one thing... I obviously have to write about the bloody Brit Awards.

Last Tuesday, London’s O2 Arena was stuffed to the chimneys, gov’nuh (it’s a Mary Poppins joke, though not a very good one), with all sorts of European music industry bigwigs as they gathered to hand out Union Jack painted statuettes (they’re a xenophobic bunch) for various euphonious achievements. This year’s ceremony played out a lot like the Grammys did a few weeks back (in that they were another party for Adele), but there were some noticeable and entertaining exceptions, which  also emphasize some of the differences between us Americans and our forefathers across the pond, beyond the obvious fact we don’t paint our awards in a Stars and Stripes motif (sorry I can’t get over that. Maybe they’re just dealing with an excess amount of national pride, brought on by the upcoming Olympics?).

Predictably, the big winner of the night was Adele, who continued her world domination campaign by winning the night’s two biggest awards, Best British Single, and Mastercard British Album Of The Year. Let’s stop right here for a moment. If you accurately read that last sentence then you were no doubt bewildered by the fact that Mastercard sponsors the biggest award of the evening. Even capitalism-adoring, money-burning America doesn’t stoop that low. Could you imagine watching the Oscars this weekend, staying up all night, and waiting for Steven Spielberg to hand out the Quizno’s Best Picture award? Yeah, me neither... but I digress.

It was during Adele’s acceptance speech for Album Of The Year (the last award of the evening. Oh, and it was obviously for 21) when Brit Awards host James Corden (your guess is as good as mine) cut off the ridiculously-successful singer so he could introduce the legendary British band Blur. The notoriously foul-mouthed superstar then flipped the bird from the stage before walking off with her award. Now, I know what some of you are thinking: “Oh my God! She flipped the bird! How rude. I bet the fallout was severe.” Um... yes it was, but not in the way you'd imagine. You see, here in America, when M.I.A. gives the finger during the Super Bowl half-time show people lose their minds, fines are threatened, and members of the media write stories with headlines like “Deconstructing MIA.” In Britain, however, when Adele flips off “the suits” who put together the Brit Awards (her words, not mine), not only do said suits issue an apology for having the temerity to give her the hook, but members of the British Parliament condemn the show’s producers. Just look at this quote from Leader Of The House Sir George Young: "I join you in congratulating Adele on her many achievements, and I share her disappointment that her speech was cut short by what she called 'the suits.' The music industry is an important export industry and we should do all we can to encourage it."

Wow... I am pretty stunned by all that.

You really like me!

The Brits' treatment of Adele isn’t the only way they differ from us baseball-loving Americans (get with it people, pitchers and catchers have already reported!); apparently those Dr. Who-makers also have a wildly different view on Lana Del Rey. The Video Games-singing, Brian Williams-dissed, internet-hate-queen actually won the award for International Breakthrough Act, beating out the likes of Nicki Minaj, and the beloved Bon EE Bear (or "Bon Iver" for those who didn’t learn the correct pronunciation of his name during the Grammys). Just so we’re clear, the only awards Del Rey can win in this country would be cruel and offensive, but in Britain she is considered the best International Breakthrough Act. I happen to side with the British on most musical matters, and believe that you all are way too hard on Del Rey, so... myah!

Lastly, I am so deliriously happy about this Blur reunion. Every time I think about it, I nearly faint. Seriously, I’m as big a fan of Adele as you can be for someone who completely respects her but doesn’t really listen to any of her music (I do spin Rolling In The Deep), but this Blur reunion is beyond words. Just take a look at some of this footage from their mini-concert at the Brit Awards. Damon Albarn is in top form, Graham Coxon still looks like Harry Potter (though Coxon came first), and continues to be a wizard on the guitar (I’m totally taking it too far), their bassist (Alex James) is still annoyingly trying to cop Jonny Greenwood’s look, and their drummer, Dave Rowntree... got really old. All jokes aside, they sound great and, most importantly, they all seem to be getting along, which is important because these lads need to cut a record and go on a world tour, like, now.

Reviews:

Grimes - Visions

Visions does a remarkable job of combining the modern spirit of digital-based exploration and wizardry (some of you may call that “technology”), with the timeless appeal of pop-effervescence, great hooks, and the boundless imagination of someone who lives and breathes art. There is something very exciting about this record, about Grimes as an artist, and the doors that she is opening with her sound, though it may take a while for others to start walking through them... [Full Review]

Kindred - Burial

Kindred possesses a dense yet somehow astonishingly vast atmosphere (this record is a headphone must) which is unmistakably “Burial”. By this point in his career, certain aspects of the man’s sonic palette have become as familiar as, say, reverb is to EVERY other band these days. Those intrinsic qualities are still present on this EP, though they’ve been updated, augmented, and refined to great effect... [Full Review]

16th Notes:

Even if his singing was bad, no one would ever tell him.

Odd Future has recently unveiled the track list and three alternate covers for their upcoming mixtape. In an amazing development, one of said cover atrocities (the one with the cat) has already been awarded the Cleffy for Worst Album Art Of The Year... In a recent interview with NME, the extremely frank, often big-haired guitarist Omar Rodriquez-Lopez told the world that the real reasons for the recent At The Drive-In reunion are money and nostalgia- but mostly money. Apparently you can buy honesty. Who knew?.. Because his money is getting a little restless, Sean Combs has decided to start his own music television network. This may not sound like the most profitable idea for a new business, but how much can profits really matter to someone like Puffy?.. During a performance in the White House’s East Room Tuesday night, President Barack Obama joined Mick Jagger, B.B. King, and Buddy Guy onstage and sang a few bars of Sweet Home Chicago. Oh, and the Dow is at about 13000... New York City’s Governers Ball festival has announced its 2012 lineup and some of the highlights include Beck, Modest Mouse, James Murphy, and Cults. This city definitely needs a big-time summer festival, and let’s hope that Governers Ball is here to stay... Coldplay has recently announced that Swedish mega-star Robyn will be opening for the band during the American leg of their summer tour. It’s okay Robyn, I still totally love you... The group of aging alt-rockers known as Red Hot Chili Peppers has announced some massive tour plans, and a slew of different opening acts for its various legs, including Sleigh Bells. When I was a kid I saw the Chili Peppers open for Aerosmith, now Sleigh Bells is opening for them. I have been trying to figure out what that means for like three days now...Fiona Apple has announced a small string of shows which will follow her upcoming SXSW showcase. I know it has been a while since you have seen Fiona, but don’t worry, I am sure she is still awesome... In other tour news, Jay-Z and Kanye West are bringing their Watch The Throne tour to Europe this May and June. There is a Niggas In Paris joke out there, but I simply can’t make it...

Top Twenty List:

In case I didn’t make it clear during my recap of this year’s Brit Awards, I really, really like Blur. I am such a big fan that it truly bothers me that Gorillaz has sold more records than Blur has, and I actually like Gorillaz. It also bothers me that, somehow, in the end, they lost the Brit-Pop Wars to the likes of Oasis. As a matter of fact, I believe that Blur should crack the top five of any list of Alternative bands from the halcyon days of the 90s, but this is not such a list. This is a list of the best Blur songs of all-time. I want you all to know that ranking these songs was very difficult for me, but I did it for you anyway.

20) Popscene
19) Stereotypes
18) To The End
17) M.O.R
16) On Your Own
15) End Of A Century
14) For Tomorrow
13) Charmless Man
12) There’s No Other Way
11) Country House
10) She’s So High
9) Song 2
8) This Is A Low
7) Park Life
6) Girls & Boys
5) No Distance Left To Run
4)Tender
3) Beetlebum
2) The Universal
1) Coffee & TV

Clip Of The Week:

Because I always strive to bring you more bang for your time (as of yet, you don’t pay for Clef Notes), I thought I would add a new segment to my weekly collection of news, reviews, tracks and opinions. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Clip Of The Week (I lovingly refer to it as COW) a space where I will bring you interesting video clips from all corners of the music world. There is only one rule for COWs: No music videos. Instead I will provide you with live clips, interviews, outtakes, and tons of Danzig getting punched in the face.

This week’s clip comes courtesy of Mr. Clef Notes himself Kanye West, who at a recent concert in Melbourne, Australia treated fans to an UNBELIEVABLE seven minute auto-tuned freestyle about an unsuccessful seduction he attempted via text message. This thing has it all - it’s funny as hell, mostly musical, and quotes Tim Burton’s Batman - but don’t just take my word for it, watch for yourself.

Track Of The Week:

This kind of makes me want to buy some Converse.

Do Ya Thing - Gorillaz, James Murphy, Andre 3000: I have been immensely geeked up for this track since I first heard about its existence a couple of weeks back. Written as part of Converse’s "Three Artists One Song" series, Do Ya Thing features a trio of modern music’s most influential and singular musicians going bananas, and having what sounds like a great deal of fun in the studio. It should come as no surprise that Damon Albarn, James Murphy, and Andre 3000 put together a bouncy, high-energy track that will surely sell a lot of sneakers. The full-length 12 minute version of the track will be available on February 29th, but you can listen to the radio-edit whenever you like.

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