People keep telling us that music journalism is dead. Readers can instantly download and listen to music so why would they care what other people think? Here at 4fortyfour we think they do care but that, sometimes, music journalism and criticism isn’t interesting enough. That’s why we’ve launched 2 x 4fortyfour – DID YOU SEE WHAT WE DID THERE? – a new type of music review.
In this series, two of our contributors will listen to a record individually, then listen together while chatting over GChat or some other means of instant communication. The (almost) unedited version of that conversation will form the review. It may wander off on tangents but hopefully you, the reader, will get a better sense of the record by the end of it as there will be more than just one person’s opinion.
In this, the first edition, Darragh McCausland and Sean McTiernan discuss Spooky Ghost Sound #5 by JP13.
8:14 PM Darragh: So did you hear the record yet?
Sean: The vanguard
I think I’m going to be defending it
Darragh: I’m borderline against, which is a shame, so it wont be a proper dialectic thing ’cause there are parts I like.
8:15 PM Sean: You probably like the same bits I do
Just a bit less
Darragh: We’ll see
Sean: Do you want to kick it off then?
8:16 PM Darragh: yeah you say ‘play’ oh and wait
I’ve headphones on so i can play it LOUD, which I haven’t yet, so maybe I am undersold on it
Sean: I don’t think so, there’s not a lot of nuance
8:17 PM Darragh: yeah so it started off and I knew nothing about it apart from the wacky song titles
and this first track, ‘Introduction’ , I like this, you?
Sean: yeah, I think Korn did this as well though or Slayer
Darragh: Oh, you see, I’m lacking context
This sounded like theme music from a PC adventure game
Sean: yes, you don’t listen to Wednesday13 do you?
Darragh: or something off a Grandaddy album
Sean: it did, that’s a good thing though
Sean: ah, well that’ll come later, anyway, yes, I like this bit
8:19 PM Darragh: You see this smacks of stuff Fuck Buttons and stuff do
Sean: and yes, it does feel like I should be playing Another World o something
Darragh: sort of 8bit through an amp
I thought they were gonna be like Fight Like Apes
WELL just imagine my surprise
Sean: ah, I’d say you were a bit shocked then
this intro really is good though
8:20 PM Darragh: yes agreed
Sean: but is clearly, and this will be a running theme, “one of the lads fecking around”
Sean: that’s actually where I think this album is strongest, those bits
Darragh: snap! It works best when its weird idiosyncratic nugget as opposed to Kerrang mag circa 1993 chugger
It shows they are a bunch of close bros
8:22 PM Sean: It is like lads who have played loads of all-ages gigs and have developed a fearlessness about fucking around
Darragh: Yes! They’re not afraid to put pubes in each others pints of cider for yucks
8:23 PM Sean: Indeed.
Giveamanakick are an obvious influence too
Darragh: Yes, never thought of them but I do hear Lots of Therapy?
Like there are riffs (and I’m no riff expert meself) that sound like ‘Screamager’. Same DNA, not by accident.
Sean: ah, I think Therapy? influenced GAMAK and GAMAK influenced these lads
8:24 PM Darragh: and that makes Fight Like Apes not that much of a mad tangent now I think about it, considering how they champion Giveamanakick and are a bit thrashy
8:25 PM Sean: Trashy is not something these lads are that good at, well they are grand, but it’s how it is recorded
Darragh: you mean the sort of chuggy veneer?
Chuggy, that’s the word that keeps springing to mind after Therapy? – there were loadsa bands like that
Sean: Therapy? never grabbed me past ‘Screamager’
Darragh: They never did anything of worth after Troublegum and some fans didn’t even like that, but it set a sorta template and I hear it on this.
8:28 PM Sean: Yeah, you definitely know what they listen to. When I was in a shitty all ages band we played with bands like this every so often, All-agesy sounding bands that had stuck in loads of jokey mental bits out of boredom that they were completely unaware were the best things they were doing
Sean: The weird bits are SO Giveamanakick though
Darragh: you see you are probably more able to assess this in context than me
I feel… I lack some sort of prerequisite skill when it comes to reviewing metal. Like I always think, all metal critics, metal fans, and metal bands (obv) are able to play guitar to some sort of level of competence and therefore can coldly state whether or not a song SHREDS but me, I fumble in the dark
Sean: This is not very metal though,it’s more RAWK. I was never a shred merchant myself
Darragh: Are they not all on the same family tree?
8:31 PM Sean: eh, sort of
Wednesday13 are a band that the dude in Slipknot formed for fun after
Darragh: oh ok
Sean: for no-frills RAWKIN’
Darragh: so thats where the mixing numerical digits with alphabet spelling of numerals comes from?
8:32 PM Sean: wait, not that is the dude. The band is like Deathdolls?
Murderdolls, that’s it
Darragh: Oh so is there no link between song title ‘Fourteen28’ and Wednesday13?
Sean: So does this sound like metal to you? It’s far too light for that for me.
No that’s a Nightmare On Elm Street reference
Darragh: no it doesn’t really
Ok I was worried it meant ‘our lyrics sound like we are 14 but we are really 28″
Sean: That’s fair, far too much of a certain kind of self-awareness
Darragh: you mean indie?
or should i say ‘indie’
Yeah it reminds me actually of a lot of stuff like Terravision or Terrorvision, which was sort of tongue in cheek
Sean: This is too, I think
Darragh: you are educating me here Sean
Sean: I’m doing it very poorly.
this just sounds every sunday when I was 15, but like, when one of The Good Bands came down
Darragh: But these guys, they strike me as being a bit more than just that. Like there is too much interesting stuff here to languish in the former TBMC
Sean: oh that’s not an insult.
Definitely. Like they are really good at what they do. I just would say they maybe just haven’t encountered music adventurous enough, but then I’d be an awful arsehole
Darragh: I dunno, would you?
Sean: oh btw, this Nightmare On Elm Street sample is very well chosen, it shows they really like it
Darragh: Like I genuinely feel the most interesting thing on this album is the (possibly dicked around in an afternoon) ‘Introduction’
I saw Nightmare on Elm Street when I was 12, 18 years ago, it was too long to remember the sample but it hit some lode, if only slightly
Sean: It’s from one of the sequels I think
Darragh: he was a paedo right?
Sean: I’m a big horror nerd though like.
Yeah, big paedo
Darragh: This might be a good point to segue into the lyrics. The band were OBVIOUSLY abused as kids right?
Sean: I’m really shit at picking up on lyrics fist or second time around. Nah they’re just boredom, man
Darragh: I should have put the word in indie inverted commas
Sean: you should, I was mortified
Darragh: Karl McDonald inverted commas
Sean: That’s what he tells people anyway
Darragh: He probably played all ages gigs. He has mad skillz on instruments
Sean: He did, but he did not jump off stage and punch people like I did, which is what I imagine these lads doing too. Playing tight punky songs, doing weird bits for the craic and lacin’ lads into the head for the big finish
Darragh: you think? Wow a world of unexperienced teenage years opens out in front of me. I jigged around limply to blur at fifteen. I only got mental in my twenties and it was to techno. Surrogate teenagerhood
Sean: I used to wear a hockey mask and give young lads my bass guitar awhile staggering around. I was straight edge. I’m mad boring now though.
These lads also like Rancid I think
Darragh: okay I get that, the slightly ska punk vibe is there in places
Sean: it really does, nothing That wrong with that (notice me hiding my Kneejerk I AM REAL PUNX reaction)
Darragh: Uh Oh what have I done? I am in a foreign critical country. Be nice
Sean: You’re grand, it’s a good thing
Darragh: OH WAIT. I MEANT. Offspring
Sean: Much of a muchness. Rancid was just that with bass wankery
Darragh: I actually meant Offspring cos I liked them for one blissfull year of my life when I proudly sported a tee shirt, then got jilted at the gaeltacht for a guy who could play guitar. A proto version of one of these I suspect. Then I sublimated all of my feelings for the girl into limp dick indie and passive aggressive methods of romance.
Sean: I think they were into slightly heavier stuff maybe? Ah limp-dick indie. You didn’t get into Big Black and other aggressive shit like I did?
Darragh: Nah, Offspring was the end of the line
Sean: Original Prankster
Darragh: then I came into black metal and doom through the reviled hipster route
Sean: Is Burzum’s new album good? I’ve not got a chance yet. Or is that NOT ALLOWED?
Darragh: It’s a weird one
Sean: Good cover, if nothing else
Darragh: the conundrum not the album. The album is good He makes consistently brilliant similar stuff. I listened (and I can do this) with the context turned right off. I do it with everything. I never cared about lyrics as a young ‘un, came late. Politics and music never gelled, romance and music neither. Not until i was like 25 or something
Sean: Lyrics were always it for me. The big thing like. Smiths at 13, etc. That’s why Nomeansno are my favourite band, best lyrics ever. Well, to me.
Darragh: okay there is the exception that breaks my rule. The Smiths. The only band I loved for lyrics at a young age. I loved The Beatles because they sounded like a drug party in my head. Lyrics came late. Animal Collective were my fave band for years cos lyrics were pagan gibberish. Music was thrilling. ‘You can win a rabbit’.
Sean: AnCo are not for me, I like bitterness and riffs and rythyms
Darragh: Guided by Voices too. ‘Queen of cans and jars’. Ah bitterness and riffs.
Sean: Man, I Love GBV. Everyone does though right?
Darragh: If they don’t they are horrendous liars. Or possibly robots
Sean: Ah here, I feel sorry for the lads a bit. Have we nothing else to say about them?
Darragh: Yes I do. I think they are able to skip across influences in such a versatile way it’s kinda disturbing compared to Dublin Indie which sticks to an influence (i.e. not e.g pavement). I heard serious Dinosaur JR on ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Barbed Wire’. A lot of that proto grunge sound.
Sean: Grunge is just, I dunno. There’s the Melvins, why get a watered down version of them?
Darragh: Yeah I was 12 at the time, but it leaves a flavour in my mouth that still tastes as strong as a Fisherman’s Friend, so I am biased. Being twelve has that effect
Sean: Bleach is the Nirvana album that affected me
Darragh: for me it was Nevermind ’cause i was exactly 12 when it came out and i felt like king of the world. And again the lyrics, obscure lyrics ftw. Wordplay and faffery. He was obv a j.lennon fan.
Sean: My father liking blues kind of made misery an important factor for lyrics in my head, not self-pity
Darragh: Ah yah. it got real heavy bongos eventually
Sean: George Harrison was the beatle to beat in our house
Darragh: a challenge to any man
Darragh: I still bat for McCartney very seriously when people try and have a go. I secretly probably prefer John in my heart ’cause of the surrealism that initially enchanted me but later delivered secrets
Sean: The Clash were bigger than the Beatles for me. And The Talking Heads bigger than them again. That’s surrealism I can get behind
Darragh: & Talking Heads
Sean: hippie shit annoyed me from a young age
Darragh: Yeah but The Beatles weren’t hippie right? just appropriated by the movement, and when John joined the movement, he tried to appropriate his younger self. Rewrite his own history again and again.
Sean: When you’re 12 and your psychological landscape is being formed, such subtleties are lost on you. I never got Lennon fascination. He was just for everyone and seemed harmless in comparison to Steve Albini or The Dead Milkmen or something. And bigger. He seemed like the establishment to me, probably cause my Da liked them a little bit.
Darragh: You see I loved him first because the music made my tummy nearly ill it was so melodic and the lyrics were about Lewis Carroll shit and whatnot, sort of punnery and nonsense. But later, because I guess I’ve immersed myself so deeply in the Beatles over the years, it sounds like actual dreams and nightmares I’ve had, like archetypes.
Sean: I don’t experience music like that at all. Like until recently it was mostly for obliteration of self. That’s why I gravitate to that brutal austere punk from the 80s, it’s really foreign and weird. Like I like my music to sound like what people are listening to on the radio in post-apocalyptic movies. Whimsy irks me usually for some reason.
Darragh: I wouldn’t call what I like ‘whimsy’ but I definitely see the delineation between our responses to music. We’re a dialectic after all, shame the album is over.
Sean: indeed, good talk though, even if the lads didn’t get much of look
Darragh: Ah yeah. Steven is fucked, whoever wins he loses
Darragh: to borrow a tagline from Alien vs Predator
Sean: As people must
Darragh: movie taglines – 1 per page could be the self help bestseller of our time.
So Seán as the album sort of fades away…
Oh here comes the secret track, it’s woodies round-up time
Sean: oh ho
Darragh: barking dogs, crickets. Surely a field recording from Athlone, sun setting over the hot midwest, the lads on the stoop
Sean: See I like this song (‘Outroduction’)
Darragh: Im not being smart BTW. I like it too.
Sean: because it sort of like the Dead Milkmen, weirdly sincere violent inanity, clumsily but endearingly delivered
Darragh: like the roleplay
Sean: oh totally dude
Darragh: I think this is great, and again it frightens me as another example of how versatile the fucking around actually is. Reminds me of Camper van Beethoven too.
Sean: Ah, interesting. I think it’s a particular type of versatility though that a lot of bands do. JP13 do it well though.
Darragh: its like an indie vein pumping into them. Yeah, its spoofery, but guard’s down and individual talents are consequentially up. Vaselines. That is definitely who I was thinking of. Shit
Sean: These lads are good though, at what they do, to sum up like. Not as adventurous as I’d like, but they picked a thing and did it pretty well
Darragh: I would say if they picked a specific thing out of the thing, they might possibly hoodwink ‘indie’, as in all of indie, cos I would definitely put the first track or the Dinosaur JR soundy track – ‘End of Rime’ – on any kind of new Irish music mixtape. If I was in a position to do such a thing. Like Karl is
Sean: I dunno, I don’t think they’ve an agenda. They clearly don’t give a fuck about any “scene”.
Darragh: no I just imposed it on them
Sean: in the Dublin sense, but that might make them suffer
I dunno, I’ve a vague idea of bands like this exist in Dublin, hardcore RAWK bands but am now too meek to go to those gigs or most gigs really.
Darragh: Well I am going to weigh in now with a final decision of “it’s interesting in places and the most of it which sounds like Therapy? isn’t great to my ears but they have loads of idiosyncratic talent that shouldn’t be wasted on the unusual tracks. Channel it lads!” Bro bonding doesn’t come cheap. Just ask Paul and John
Sean: and I will add “You do sounds like GAMAK lads, but also yourselves a bit. I do like the weird bits but some of it sounds like you’re being a bit too cool for things. Deadly riffs are deadly but there is more to being PROPER HARDCORE ”
And so ends the very first 2 x 4fortyfour. Spooky Ghost Sound #5 is available to buy for €9 from here right now. You can preview most of the tracks below: