Went to Alexandra Palace Farmers Market at the weekend (it’s on every Sunday) and had one of these. It’s called a Bokit and it is apparently known as a creole burger.
Its a pretty good example of a simple food which adds up to more than the sum of it’s parts. It consists of a basic dough rolled out flat and deep fried quickly so it puffs up forming a crunchy crust on the outside and a hollow inside. It is then filled with a bit of chilli sauce (chilli, spring onions, garlic and lime), lettuce, chopped tomato and filling (I had salt fish, but chicken or stewed aubergine was also available).
Sounds like something you might knock together on a Saturday lunchtime when the fridge is near empty. Ok, maybe not the deep fried dough and saltfish, but the point is they are very simple ingredients, and few of them. I have had cripplingly dissappointing sandwiches made of similar, usually the result of post cookery show culinary arousal, frustrated by a near empty cupboard.
But these work. The simple ingredients add up to a pitch perfect summer snack. I personally like to throw everything in when I am cooking, drowning out all subtlety in a barrage of spices added on a whim (I am not a kitchen maverick, just immature in the palate and patience dept.). I have the upmost respect for people who can keep it simple, having the confidence in that magic combination of a few good ingredients, that they know will work together.
There are many ways in which a band or artist may catch your attention. You may get a recommendation from someone you trust; hear one of their songs; read an article introducing them; or increasingly you might hear a general buzz around the internet (the so called blogosphere and Twitter being chief culprits).
I came to Crystal Fighters a bit late as at the time I was stuck in a passive haze caused by unemployment, homelessness (well I was effectively squatting at my cousins place - my bad Greg) and copious amounts of Chinese food and Modern Warfare multiplayer. So by the time I actually listened to them (my hand was forced by a couple of good friends - cheers James and Chris), I had a very vague impression of what sort of band they were.
This impression was as thus: they perform electro/techno/indie all heavily influenced by Basque folk culture to which they were somehow linked via a relative’s half finished folk opera. Now this is basically what all the hype surrounding their emergence was focusing on and its easy to see why. It conjures up (in my stupid brain anyway) an imagine of Basque peasants stumbling from the hills, wine skin and carbine slung over shoulders, wandering into town, grabbing a synth and smashing into some crazy postmodern, genre melting performance.
Unfortunately they are actually from East London.
Of course I am being very unfair. It just seems very contrived, especially after such an exciting first impression. This is made somewhat worse by Sebastian Pringle (the lead singer) affecting a Spanish accent between songs on stage (not to mention dressing up like a hippy Jesus).
This is the trouble with the form of hype that now gets spread around the internet; people concentrate on the image of artists, on what can be said about them and how to classify them, before they ever actually pay attention to the songs. This is a problem as it leads to drivel like the above, I have not mentioned a single thing about their actual music and I blame the internet. Which is clearly stupid, as it is entirely my fault.
The Crystal Fighters create songs which make me happy; they transport me away to a different and exciting place. Their innovative mix of influences serves to create something which is new and often visually stunning; this is best showcased in their video for ‘Follow’ and seeing them live, playing a Txalaparta (a traditional Basque form of xylophone made of long planks of wood), with a strobe light behind the instrument their strikes looked schizophrenic and euphoric. I can guarantee that once summer comes around this will be a perfect album to accompany outdoor meat and beer consumption.
That is all that really needs to be said, certainly as an introduction to the band. If it makes you happy then dissect the motives, image and pretensions of the band. But I for one am going to try to be less influenced by the hype around new bands and attempt to draw my own conclusions. Ha what a lame earnest note to end on…oh well.
The one where Sam pretends he knows something about Hip Hop
Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All are the most excited I have ever been about Hip Hop. They are dark, subversive, innovative and have a wicked sense of humor.
The collective’s leader Tyler the Creator has signed an album deal with XL and the video for the album’s 1st single ‘Yonkers’ indicates that signing to an established independent has not watered his attitude down. The video is an excellent example of what can be achieved when labels allow artists creative freedom and simply act to provide the structure and finance to crystalise their existing aesthetic. As such the video has all the sinister edge and irony of the early low fi OFWGKTA productions, but is a crisp minimal piece of work which lets Tyler’s words speak for themselves.
Lastly Tyler and Hodgy Beats appearance on the Jimmy Fallon is a definite game change. Musical appearances on chat shows are typically, reserved and awkward. This…well just watch it.
Someone like you…just a little more shit and generic.
As this years X Factor rumbles towards its no doubt thrilling conclusion, I ask myself once again what is the point?
From an entertainment point of view there is no argument; it is an incredibly effective piece of mainstream entertainment. A vast wedge of our society derive a great deal of pleasure from it. So on those terms fine, yes, it does what it says on the tin: it makes people happy. Who am I to criticise? What do I do to bring light into the lives of others? Nothing probably, what a dick. Stick with me though, I am going to be radical and ask what on earth the show has to do with music. The show aims to discover and promote an indefinable star quality known as ‘The X Factor’, anyone who has watched the show will have to admit this unknown quantity has more to do with the marketability of the individual’s image, personality and back story than it ever has to do with other such nonsense as their talent. Of course some of the contestants have ‘good voices’, but throw a brick into your average open mic night and you will maim several people with equally acceptable vocal ability (acceptable until the brick incident obviously). The point is that a passable voice is not everything, in fact it is near irrelevant. Some of the best artists of all times could not sing in a conventional sense at all; see Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, Bob Dylan etc. So what does matter? I agree with Cowell’s lot, there is an X factor; a series of hard-to-define qualities which link all good artists. But where Simon’s stands for marketability, Return On Investment and the broadest possible appeal (read least challenging), the real X factor should include: innovation, personality, a range of talents, independence and most importantly integrity. These thoughts all came into my brain when I watched a video of Adele performing ‘Someone Like You’ live (also check out 'Rolling in the Deep' Live). It occurred to me that an artist like Adele effectively renders the X Factor meaningless. As far as performance goes she blows any X Factor contestant or special guest out of the water. Not only is she able to sing with an immense power, but she has genuine character, strength, songwriting talent and attitude. In other words all the things the X Factor should be looking for.
But then, would someone like Adele ever appear on X Factor? On a show where ‘alternative’ or ‘innovative’ translate as Katie Weissell or Wagner there is clearly a lack of the sort of artists I have identified. This is no doubt due to some of the alternative X factors I laid out, in particular that of integrity; the very qualities which make a great artist are incompatible with appearance on the show. So then musically the X Factor is flawed, we can not expect genuinely important artists from it. So what should we expect from it musically? As I see it, what really matters in mainstream popular music is sheer entertainment value, which is why those artists who prove different and fun do so well. So rather than pitching the same old sludge of adequate singers or groups, take more risks. Not to say the sort of risk that Wagner or John and Edward would represent, but champion some artist who are somewhat more about fun and less about a shiny image and technically competent vocals. Champion artists who are entertaining to listen to. So The X Factor as cheap entertainment, fine. But can we please start demanding more of the mainstream music industry? It is a fallacy that the mainstream audience is resistant to change, look at Lady Ga Ga’s success (Lady Ga Ga is here invoked as an e.g. of mainstream innovation, not innovation in a more genuine sense). Major labels just need to be braver in the artists they champion, put more trust in their A & R and not live and die by what some focus group of morons says they would like to hear more of. And Simon, stop pitching artists who are made pre-emptively irrelevant by the Adeles of this world; instead, hit us up with something which is not just an entertaining spectacle, but also an entertaining listen. So enjoy the show by all means, but please do not humour it by buying the records they produce. That is unless you have had Joe McElderry’s ‘Wide Awake’ album on repeat for the last month, in which case you are beyond help my friend.