Thursday, 27 November 2008

'Love gone cold in the shades of doubt ' - Pete Doherty and Carl Barat

Since the Libertines split in 2004, rumours have been rife about a reunion in the music press and every year fans yearn for Pete Doherty and Carl Barat to get back together. We’ve been teased by Carl’s appearance at Pete’s solo show in 2007 but the reunion has never been fully or officially consummated. To be honest, I think it’s probably for the best

The genius of the Libertines was the combination of Pete’s poetic shambolic approach to song writing fused with Carl’s more hard driven and well versed musicianship and lyricism. Undoubtedly they wrote two great albums in Up the Bracket and The Libertines. However those albums were written in an atmosphere of great love/tension between Carl and Pete and I think they may find that depressingly hard to recreate without forcing songs. Both Libertines have moved on musically, to varying degrees of success. Pete’s riotous poetry has gone from strength to strength, working with a number of song writing partners during his time with Babyshambles. Sure his work isn’t greatly consistent but works such as Killamanjiro, Fuck Forever, Back from the Dead, Albion, You Talk and The Lost Art of Murder confirm Doherty as one of the standout songwriters of the last decade. I can only hope as he fades from the media spotlight as a figure of public hate, his undoubted ability can shine through more consistently so that he or Babyshambles deliver a great album in the near future.

Post-Libertines life has exposed the mediocrity of Carl Barat. Sure he can write an accessible driving indie song like Bang Bang Your Dead or The Gentry Cove but such songwriters are ten-a-penny at the moment in the British music industry. Other bands have done it better since the formation of Barat’s, Dirty Pretty Things in 2005, such as The Arctic Monkeys, Babyshambles and Bloc Party (circa Silent Alarm era). Dirty Pretty Things have paled and broken up in the face of superior competition. It seems that ‘Waterloo to Anywhere’ was treated kindly in an atmosphere of Libertine nostalgia but that wave had been ridden by the time that ‘Romance at Short Notice’ was released. The album has been greeted with apathy and the group have broken up, it seems that Barat has some self-reinventing to do before he can be considered in the same light as Doherty.

I am aware that my view on this issue may well get a lot of people’s backs up. I’m just trying to point out to all Libertines fans that a reunion between Carl and Pete may well prove underwhelming, charring memories of them at their best and it will almost certainly be a hindrance to Pete’s future song writing potential.

Tim Cox


Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Anchor in the UK?

What an awful pun. I'm so sorry.

Has punk been brought low by a butter advert?...

In an effort to instigate a little bit of debate on the Catfish Blog, I'd like to know how people feel about Jonathan Rotten's decision to advertise for County Life Butter. Is this the end of punk rock as we know it? Or were Crass right all along? Or is selling dairy products the most punk-rock thing he could have done? (No one expected it, did they!?)

Click the little comment button and tell us what you think!


'Beautiful Dignity in Self Abuse': Richey Edwards

I was sad to read on Sunday that Richey Edwards had been officially pronounced dead , 14 years after disappearing. It seemed that, for me, my last grain of hope had gone with that news. I guess Richey isn’t coming back to save the Manic Street Preachers from letting their current mediocrity consume the band and carrying them to a limp end. It seems that the story of the Manics will be a scream to a sigh.

The Manics without Richey have been a different band and it hasn’t served them well in the long term. Yes, in the years immediately following his disappearance, they produced two great, accessible albums, as they reached the apex of their fame, in Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours. But since then accessibility has taken over values previously held dear to the band and they have turned out a number of albums which can be broadly defined as dross. And I think that the Manics are aware of this. Their last album, Send Away The Tigers was a desperate attempt to get back to what they had in The Holy Bible era, but inevitably it lacked something and I, like many others know that something, is Richey Edwards.

Although never a great musician by any standards, Richey’s lyrics on the first four albums (Generation Terrorists, Gold against the Soul, The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go) are second to none in my eyes. It is a great skill to write songs which are so uncomfortable to listen to yet so poignant – to take in personal issues and issues from the bleak world that surrounded him and then to filter them into well-versed, coherent and meaningful lyrics in songs such as 4st 7lb and Archives of Pain is a great achievement. His life in the media spotlight was blighted by his problems with weight, depression, drugs and drink but maintained a defiant charisma and style as the bands frontman, along with Nicky Wire.

For me Richey Edwards has always been about escapism. Forming a band and signing to a major label in order to escape the bleak nothingness and boredom of the South Wales Valleys. Self abuse, bleak lyrics and eyeliner to escape his insecurities, drug and drink abuse to escape the pressures of fame and finally disappearance to escape it all. Whether dead or alive Richey has left a fantastic lyrical legacy especially on The Holy Bible and I think it will be a long time before Richey’s legacy is forgotten.

Tim Cox


Sunday, 23 November 2008

What Difference Does It Make?

The Smiths Go Back to School in 1984

November 10th saw the release of ‘The Sound of the Smiths’ and at face value to most present fans of The Smith’s this may well just seem like another money making exploitation of their die hard loyalty. And in a way it is just that. The record is a collection of songs which have become a standard feature of any Smith’s compilation, since their split in 1987 with a light sprinkling of album tracks, which have been remastered by guitarist, Johnny Marr. However I’d argue that this record is of extreme importance, a powerful body of work which hopefully introduces The Smith’s to a new generation of consumers who I’d hope will benefit from its influence as many have done before.

For better or for worse, The Smiths have provided influence and inspiration for a number of prominent bands whom inhabit today’s music scene, from Radiohead to MCR, from Oasis to The Libertines, from Mark Ronson to The Cribs. The Smiths have been identified as the most influential UK band since The Beatles and I have to say that I completely agree.

So what makes The Smiths great? The consistency and strength of musicianship within The Smiths is unsurpassed by any guitar band since. Starting from the back, Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke form a phenomenal rhythm section. Joyce’s drumming is consistently spot-on, it’s not flashy and it does not detract from the music. Rourke combines with Joyce’s no-nonsense approach by picking inventive and melodic bass lines, it has been commented that Rourke’s bass lines are like ‘a song within a song’- not bad for a man with a severe heroin addiction. The two combine to devastating effect on several tracks and this is demonstrated most potently on the funky Barbarism Begins at Home and the pop classic This Charming Man.

Joyce and Rourke provide the perfect musical foundation to complement the melodic genius of lead guitarist, Johnny Marr. Johnny Marr is considered with awe by those who are aware of his musicianship, hence the excitement in recent years when he has linked up with the likes of Modest Mouse and The Cribs. His influence’s range from Motown’s girl groups to funk to folk and he manages to infuse these together to create The Smiths sound which resonates throughout this album. From the weaving melodies of What Difference Does It Make to the bitter driving rock of How Soon Is Now, to the bleak balladry of That Joke Isn’t Funny Any More and the anthemic There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. Marr’s innovative musicianship leads to an interesting and vibrant range of songs which defines the sound of The Smiths but never becomes samey a la Coldplay, which I believe is the quality which separates the very best bands from the great bands.

Another factor which differentiates the best from the good bands is the quality of the lyricist and the charisma of the frontman. The Smiths had arguably one of the very best in the business for both these factors in Morrissey. Morrissey is often conveyed as a miserable git singing songs of alienation to a pop beat but I refute this as Morrissey’s lyrics are far cleverer and more intriguing than a five year self indulged lament. Morrissey uses dry and observational wit in his lyrics to add melodrama to his work, as in Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now where his witty tongue-in-cheek lament combines with Marr’s jovial guitar work to provide a joyously funny song. He uses observational humour is used as an attack on provincial England in Nowhere Fast as he dryly quips that ‘Each household appliance/is like a new science/in my town! Morrissey’s lyrics also enjoy a degree of sexual ambiguity (as in This Charming Man) which has led to much speculation on the singer’s sexuality and interest in the band. This tactic has been shamelessly employed by indie bands since, one of which dominates our current scene (Bloc Party). Furthermore Morrissey uses his lyrics as a stage for vicious and cruel attacks on his enemies. The Headmaster Ritual is an unrelenting attack on his past tormentors (Belligerent ghouls/ run Manchester schools/ spineless bastards all) and Panic is an attack on irrelevant DJ’s of the day (Burn down the Disco/ Hang the Blessed DJ/Because the music that they constantly play/ says nothing to me/ about my life – a sentiment with which anyone who has been dragged to Arena against their will, must agree!)

I think that maybe one of the strengths of his lyrics is that they are easy to relate to, to those with an exaggerated sense of self importance. This arrogance gives Morrissey a platform to comment with authority on both personal and political issues. And thus Morrissey’s lyrics chart his personal journey from a self confessed ‘back bedroom casualty’ to a spokesman for a generation and this album certainly reflects this. Morrissey’s charisma and opinionated lyrics ultimately make him either someone you love or someone that you despise.

Of course I can go on and on about the strengths of The Smiths and maybe I have but I must plead with you to give them a chance, and this album could be that chance. Of course like any compilation it does leave out some songs which some fans would like to hear on it and as I said before it is arguably just a money making exploitation of existing fans. But you could take the view that this release is just another sad indication of a growing trend, along with the reformation of countless ‘legendary bands’ such as The Police and The Sex Pistols in recent years that our current crop of indie bands are limited in comparison and so people are looking back nostalgically to better times. Sadly I have to agree. We need another Smiths from our generation that people can look back upon in twenty years and think ‘it was better when…’ However until then I’d advise people to get into The Smiths if they haven’t already, as they truly are great band. No other band I have encountered before or after The Smiths have produced a body of work consistent in quality from their first album to their last. The Smiths never wrote weak tracks like, Revolution 9 (The Beatles) or a Skag & Bone Man (The Libertines), they were consistently great throughout their 5 year career and I struggle to find a weak song on any of their albums. ‘The Sound of The Smiths’ only scratches the surface of the Smith’s repertoire but is still a great collection of songs which stands up to any album in the chart at the moment and is a great introduction to the band for new fans. If you don’t have a Smiths album this a good place to start.

Tim Cox


Tuesday, 18 November 2008

What should we call It? I have No Idea

Certain record labels, usually by accident, spawn a collective sound that is defined by the label itself. Stax, Ed Banger, Dischord all these labels have, throughout history forged a sound and in many cases forged a scene.

One of these labels and the one closest to my heart is No Idea. Based in the alleged punk rock mecca of Gainesville, FL and symbolised by the iconic stressface pictured above No Idea has defined punk rock for a generation of people.

Starting as a zine in 1985 No Idea started putting out 7"'s of local Gainesville bands and other bigger punk rock acts from across the US. Before long it had one of the most impressive rosters of punk rock and hardcore, rivalled only (extremely arguably i might add. gimme an alternative if you think i'm wrong) by Dischord up in DC. Here is a select few bands who i wholeheartedly recommend you check out:


One of the most noticeable bands to first marks its place on the punk rock map thanks to No Idea is Florida's Against Me! who released a number of records including the seminal 'Reinventing Axl Rose' in 2002. They went on to release two more records on Fat Wreck ('As The Eternal Cowboy' and one of my favourite records of all time 'Searching For A Former Clarity') before moving to the majors for 2007's 'New Wave'


No Idea's big hitter. The band that spawned countless imitators but blew them all away. Released a wealth of records on No Idea and even when the moved to Epitaph continued to release vinyl versions of their later releases through No Idea. Start with 'A Flight And A Crash' and keep listening, even the bands they did after their break-up (Chuck Ragan went solo the other three went and did The Draft) are incredible


Formed from former members of Fiya and Glass & Ashes two incredible No Idea bands and took their name from the Rocket From The Crypt Song song of the same name hours before their first show Young Livers represent completely the new breed of bands the label is putting out.

Another band formed from the ashes of another incredible band Bridge & Tunnel are two guys and two girls who have just released their incredible debut record. CHECK IT OUT


P.S. This is just a tiny tiny selection of the incredible bands/releases on No Idea. Part of the appeal of this label for me is that many of the bands on it have released small collectible vinyls, side-projects and collaborations with other band members which makes an exploration of the labels catalogue fascinating


Sunday, 16 November 2008

Lord Auch

Georges Bataille was an essayist, librarian, philosophical novelist, and "metaphysician of evil"... amongst other things . His interests were sex, death, degradation, and obscenity. In 1928 he wrote and published a book under the pseudonym of Lord Auch called Story of the Eye which was all about sexual taboos and committing suicide in cupboards.

This is where Lord Auch got the name for their band from (I'd assume.) Formed from ex-members of Leeds' Black Wire (who, I have on good authority, were brilliant), Lord Auch manage to coolly merge a rock'n'roll classicism, with the creepier side of Nick Cave, and a certain post-punk intelligence. Overall they sound like a gloomy Arcade Fire, dressed up like Teddy Boys, playing a show in a batcave.



Wednesday, 12 November 2008

None Of This Is New, But None Of It Is Getting Old

New music is cool. But sometimes scouring Myspace for the next unheardofsupercooltotallygroundbreaking band that you can impress your friends with becomes a bit of an obsession and it's time to return to those people who outlast the latest fad, the people that told you what music was before you started wearing ironic t-shirts (I like animals. And what?). With that in mind, I've decided to do a series of posts that do just that. None of the music you read about here will be brand new, it just never got old.

Part One: Jeffrey Lewis

I know it's totally unhip to have heroes, but Jeffrey Lewis is one of my heroes. Yes, I have several heroes, not all of whom are real. I can't really explain what exactly I find heroic about him, I guess it might have something to do with feeling a bit of an affinity with him, but there no doubting - Jeff Lewis Rules. I realise that every slightly disaffected, Moldy Peaches loving, comic book geek feels exactly the same way, but hey, those guys know what they're talking about.

Lewis' music cuts the crap; it does away with fancy production and strips away all the layers of polish that so much music clings to until all that we're left with is all that really counts - wonderfully fragile songs, both endearing and totally witty at the same time. Self-conscious musical dickweeds with very little in between their ears other than a vast library of other people opinions often say of music that it 'really speaks' to them. Usually this makes me vomit a little, but with Jeffrey Lewis there's no getting away from it; he speaks to you, literally. Listening to Jeff sing is something more akin to having a quiet conversation than listening to someone sing. The man has stories to tell you and I'll be damned if I don't want to listen to and whole-heartedly believe every word. To write these songs off purely as "Anti-Folk" is, I think, to entirely underestimate them (Mainly because the term "Anti-Folk" is an entirely useless one, seeing as how most music that is given that tag is anything but against folk music. If anything, it embraces it).

Did I mention that he also draws and writes his own comic book? Well, he does. It's called "Fuff" and it's full of stories and travelogues ( a diary of his travels in Europe spans six of the seven issues that currently exist) that manage to translate the spirit of his music into print. I have this great little story about this time I went a Jeffrey Lewis show and dropped comic books in my crotch and apologised and gave me a free one because I said 'Hey! Don't worry! It's one of the better things I've had thrown at my crotch recently' and he found it funny, but that's for another time. Ask me if you want to hear it.

I guess I was never really going to write even-handedly about a guy I started out by calling a hero of mine and if anyone wants to come back at me with something that says 'Hey, Ollie! You're wrong, this is what I think about Jeffrey Lewis...' then I'd be totally happy, but for anyone who's yet form an opinion then, of course, the best place to start is by listening to his music. Jeffrey Lewis records are not a rare comodity -he's released no less than 19 albums since 1997, including his most recent, 12 Crass Songs, an album made up entirely of covers of songs by the 80s anarchist punk band Crass - but my personal favourite is one called It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through. Here's a song from it:

Jeff Lewis - Back When I was 4



P.S. Sorry, this is really long.


Monday, 10 November 2008


I'm totally getting into this posting thing.

Ortolan are girls, sisters even, they're from New Jersey and they're just really nice. Not really nice people, I have nothing to back that up, I don't know them, but they make really nice music. You know when there are times when you want to listen to music that throws a big heavy stone at pretense? Ortolan are perfect for those times.

I guess if I was to describe what the band sound like I'd say it's kind of indie pop, kind of "Anti-Folk" (if you choose to believe that such a thing exists) in the vein of people like Jeffrey Lewis and The Moldy Peaches, and kind of maybe a little bit twee. 9 out of 10 for the description, Ollie.

Anyway, they're really cool and this song is one of my favourites by them:




There are moments in music when things become clear - moments when out of the noise comes something that makes sense, something that totally fits. Ponytail are all about those moments.

Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Ponytail peddle their own unique take on the whole 'art noise' (see people like No Age and Times New Viking) thing that's 'so hot right now'. But to write Ponytail off as just self-indulgent noise is, I feel, to severely underestimate these kids - what's important here is the moments when, out of the confusion of noise, come something which makes everything click and merge into something that just works, completely and utterly works.

When I first saw Ponytail play live, I couldn't but be excited. There's just something really cool about four kids making a lot of noise and jumping around. The crowd didn't know what to do with themselves and in the end they just had to have fun and forget about how it looked. Awesome.

Ponytail have just released their new album Ice Cream Spiritual and it comes highly recommended. This is a song off it:

Ponytail - Beg Waves


Friday, 7 November 2008

Vivian Girls

Vivian Girls - Tell The World

We're all about new music at Catfish and Vivian Girls are a new band that cannot and should not be ignored!

Hailing from Brooklyn, Vivian Girls have successfully managed to take the glorious harmonies of The Ronettes (or any other Spector-produced 1960's girl group), drenched them in some 1980s noise-pop, and dragged them along the grimey floor of punk-rock, to produce something that is both very new and very special.

The debut album by Vivian Girls is called Vivian Girls, is very very good, and is available here.



How good were I Was A Cubscout? Yes very. But they decided to split up. Boo

However if you are still wondering where that band could have gone after 'I Want You To Know That There Is Always Hope' then you should be keeping you're eye on Omes.

IWACS's singer/guitarist/synth player/programmer Todd's new band is clearly the logical progression on from his previous outfit and showcases a sound that removes all the drawn-out rubbish that hampered IWACS and hones their honest emo-pop into concentrate and emotive bursts

only a scant few demos are up but check em out at

Until next time



The Rt. Hon. Dizzee Rascal, Prime Minister of Great Britain

What is the power of pop-music?

After the historic election of America's first black President, it is clear that pop-music can often play a huge role in promoting change - and in this election, hip-hop played its part. By voicing and encouraging the desires of young Americans (black, white, et al.,) hip-hop served to galvanize the voters of young America into securing a victory for progress.

From Will.I.Am's 'Yes We Can' , to the ringing endorsements of all the major players in hip-hop - including Jay Z ("Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama's running so we all can fly",)Kanye West, Common, T Pain, Talib Kweili, and Ludacris (not that he helped all that much,) hip-hop consistently supported Obama's victory.

But the point I'm trying to make is that music is a frivolity. But it is also incredibly persuasive, influential and important. So much so, that even the serious people sometimes need to pay attention.


(P.S. I really wish Dizzee had begun the interview with "Whasupdarlin!?")