More of your questions answered...

Last updated 09:17 02/08/2012

We pick up right where we left off on Tuesday - I started answering some of the questions you lot asked me. So I'll dive in and we'll carry on. Let's.

Critical ThinkingFirst up anmar asks simply "Farrokh Bulsara or Brian Wilson?"

If you click on that link you'll see that Bulsara was better known to the world as Freddie Mercury - at least I'm going to assume that's who anmar means. Now I don't dislike Queen all that much when it comes down to it - in general it's fair to say that I hate Queen fans a lot more than I hate Queen. But it's Brian Wilson for me all the way. His music has meant more to me in my life. So that's how I answer that question. I get that Freddie/Farrokh was talented - sure. That's clear. But I don't really like his songwriting. Actually my favourite Queen songs tend to be the ones the other members of the group wrote. That said - as I said here already - I do love the News of the World album. Including the Freddie songs. And I've managed to avoid hearing the new Beach Boys album so far. So maybe after I hear that the answer might change.

And yet more Freddie - as mat asks who, in my opinion, had the better moustache, with the options being Freddie Mercury, Bobby Kimball of Toto, Prince or Frank Zappa.

It was a while ago but I did actually write about moustaches in rock music because you ("the people") asked for it. And boy did you ask for it. Have a read back at that nonsense. Anyway, to answer your question - it has to be Frank Zappa. Now mat suggested that I worry only about the soup-strainer and not the music, but as a Zappa fan that's something of a bonus. And it can't be Bobby Kimball because Toto really were the worst band of all time. (I say that because it's always mentioned that they were so very good musically, instrumentally, and then just look at what they left us with in terms of that hideous bunch of songs.)

Next, k arthur would like to know what it is that makes Bodega "Wellington's least practical concert environment". There are extra questions to follow too: Which places are better and why? Also what am I looking for in a "concert environment"?

So I think k arthur is referring to my recent review of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble's gig at Bodega. And it's easy to answer this question - the thing that makes Bodega Wellington's least practical concert environment is that it is a giant long tunnel with the stage partly cut off from view due to pillars. So you need to be there before anyone else is and stand right at the front - or you can stand at the back, on tippy-toes, and see the heads-only of half of the band-members.

Now it occurs to me that k arthur is quite possibly affiliated with Bodega in some way - and I've certainly had okay experiences at the bar. It would just be nice to see more of the band that is playing. In that sense it's impractical - and so to answer your supplementary questions: anywhere is better than a bar that has been incorrectly designed for live performance. And what I'm looking for in a "concert environment" is the band. And hopefully I can see them. That's not often the case with Bodega. Sadly.

Sara asks "is the book you said you had recently written about music?"

No, here's the thing - it's actually a first-person account about "a friend" of mine who has a fairly privileged life but is changed by his extensive travelling; he sees so much and learns so much. And he's able to impart this knowledge to one and all...

Um, I'm kidding. Yes, the book I've recently written is about music. I worked on it last year and this year. It was really ridiculous, timing-wise. I was writing early chapters of it with the bassinette next to me, my laptop on my knees, stopping to cuddle a five-week-old baby; that sort of thing. Then I carried on with it earlier this year - thanks to the world's most understanding wife (but then, Blog on the Tracks readers possibly guessed that was the case with Katy anyway) and I also had a patient and helpful editor.

The book will be out soon - I guess. Well, more information on that when it comes to hand. But I'm pleased to have finished it. And I hope you like it. But, more important, I hope you buy it.

Michael Baxter wonders what I would listen to if I knew there was only one hour left on this earth. Well this sounds like a starter for a blog-topic - so watch this space, I'd say. Though I'm tempted to actually just go with either Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, or Keith Jarrett's Koln Concert. Maybe even Cliff Martinez's soundtrack to Solaris. But let's save this for a topic for another day. I might even try to make the perfect "one hour left on this earth" playlist and I'll share it with you all if you promise to do the same (share your lists that is).

Lionel Richie is next in the queue. He says "Hello. Is it me you're looking for?"

It's hard to answer that. But I really enjoyed our chat Lionel.

An interesting question from andrew_love, he asks what album I would put away for Oscar's 21st that reflects the year he was born and would be relevant in 20 years' time.

So, I guess I have to pick an album from 2011 - I would be tempted to say, straight away, You Are All I See by Active Child. I remember listening to that a lot last year and particularly around the time of Oscar's birth. I love the opening song, Hanging On.

But I'd also say The Roots' Undun - an album that just might sound close to amazing in 20 years 'time. (Here's what I wrote about it last year.) That would be my pick anyway. And again it's one that I was listening to a lot in the early stages of Oscar's life. Just don't let his mum answer this question or it'll be The Lighthouse Family's Greatest Hits or anything by Morrissey.

Chasm says "to my knowledge you've never done a review on Sonic Altar's No Sacrifice, their debut album. As this is one of NZ's best up and coming bands will you be doing a review for it or their next album?"

Well Chasm, your knowledge is correct. In this case, anyway. I have not "done a review on" this album. And when you ask if I will be doing a review "for it or their next album" it sounds like one of those scenarios where I pick the option that seems the least harmful - in this case the as yet unreleased next album - and then the trick is that the option I've chosen ends up backfiring. So in this case I find out that the next album is a double live record and the first disc gets stuck in my car stereo, meaning I can't listen to anything else.

Surely you are safe with the knowledge that this is one of NZ's best up and coming bands. So clearly you do not need my opinion.

There's a question from m0rph3us about the new Smashing Pumpkins album - specifically whether I "think it is decent" or whether "Billy is just kicking a dead horse".Smashing Pumpkins Review

Dead horse, of course. Dead horse. (You'll see my review from last week's Dominion Post right here. In hindsight the one-star rating was awfully kind.)

Melon wants to know what I think of the new Home Brew album, the new Smashing Pumpkins album (ibid) and the new Die! Die! Die! album. There are more questions from Melon too: "How often do you listen to music via headphones?" And "What do you think are the best 'headphone albums'?"

So I've covered the Pumpkins - rubbish. I rather like the new Home Brew album. I should probably write something about that one day soon. It's quite easily the best hip-hop album to have come from New Zealand I think. I realise that doesn't instantly recommend it - and I think I ultimately like @peace more but it's an important album to have come from this country at this time. Much like how Once Were Warriors was not the best book written by a New Zealander - but it probably is the most important book to be written in New Zealand, by a New Zealander, and the timing was perfect. Crucial.

I have no opinion on the new Die! Die! Die! album because I have not heard it. I think the band is okay - but I'm not really sold on them the way so many people are. There's nothing special happening here. I dislike the name too. That is probably irrational but so be it.

I listen to albums on headphones all the time. I have a very understanding wife - but often the music I listen to is not meant to be heard by any other humans - that is why it is sent to me. Awful albums from talentless fools. And so I take it in, I make of it what I can and do my best to write something engaging. Often I fail. I know this. But you can only work with the source material. A lot of times now - since we both work from home some of the time and we both work all sorts of hours - I listen to music I don't like on headphones. And when I'm lucky I find some time for albums I do like. Also on headphones.

There are plenty of great "headphone albums" and this is something I've been thinking about a lot lately - because I also walk to and from work (okay, sometimes I catch the bus too). So my iPod is always used. And I never fly without headphones. Currently the new Dirty Projectors album sounds even better on headphones. And just yesterday I was marvelling (to myself) about Jeff Beck's Blow by Blow - so maybe another topic for another time, because old and new albums sound great on headphones. My headphones of choice? Sennheiser HD 202 - I can't afford better than that right now (and probably never will be able to) but at least they're not totally tin-pot rubbish. Actually, they're pretty good.

Fraser The Amazer wants to know if I have watched Treme and also whether I have listened to the soundtrack.

It's a no to the soundtrack - but I am curious to check the soundtrack/s out. I'm familiar with a lot of the music already - and have been planning a post specifically about New Orleans music. So, again, watch this space. I'm sure it'll arrive just after the Devo post. I am halfway through season one of Treme - and not because of your question, Fraser The Amazer. But it was an interesting coincidence. I rented part one of season one before I saw these questions last week. So a fluke of timing. It had been on my list to watch for some time - but I've been busy. I'm always busy. I've enjoyed what I've seen - I'll probably write more about it when I've watched more.

Darryl wants to know if I match music to meals. He suggests that Jeremy Taylor would have an opinion on this also. He tells me that there is a musician locally matching music to wine to try to improve the experience of both. He wonders if this is something I indulge in myself. And do I have any recommendations.

In a word, no.

I believe it's G.K. Chesterton who is often quoted as saying "music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist". And though I enjoy making themed playlists, or more often just playing music in the background, I do like the sentiment of this quote. I don't think everything should be amplified all the time - and the sole focus. But I am not sure I agree entirely with matching music with food and wine. Certainly not with wine. Wine is for drinking. So, by all means, have music on while doing it. But anyone that tells you the experience is being enhanced by the music is the sort of bore you wouldn't want to sit and get drunk with. And let's not kid ourselves, that's the reason we drink wine. Wine tasting is one of the biggest scams known to man. It's just a chance for people to pretend they're not drinking to (eventually) get drunk. And if you're getting your culture by having wine then you can get your culture, music-wise, some other time. I wonder if this guy matching wines with music is recommending things like Winelight by Grover Washington Jr. Pass.

That said there are plenty of great "drinking" albums. The right one depends on the company of course.

Sweet ManVanilla Ice says "alright stop, collaborate and listen, Ice is back with my brand new invention. Something grabs a hold of me tightly, flows like a harpoon daily and nightly". Then Vanilla Ice asks, "Simon, can you please advise if these are the greatest rap rhymes you have ever heard". He adds, "Peace out".

No, Vanilla Ice, these are not the greatest rap rhymes I have ever heard. But I have a question for you. Did you get a chance to read the review of your gig that was posted here last year from your Australian tour? If not check this link out. Thanks for the question.

And that's probably a good place to end it today. Thanks again to everyone for the questions. I'll answer more next week. Meanwhile, leave your suggestions for Friday's blog-topic below or your responses to my responses to your questions. Or you can leave your favourite rap rhymes below. My favourite rap rhymes - for today anyway - come from the opening track off Liquid Swords. I was reading this Pitchfork review of the new reissue of the album earlier in the week. I don't need to buy the new version of the album. But it sent me back to one of my favourite rap records of all time.

As always, thanks for reading.

Postscript: Click here to see the first set of questions answered (earlier this week)

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23 comments
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steve w   #1   10:26 am Aug 02 2012

You are not alone on your opine of Billy Corgan, I read a scathing reveiw in Uncut (not known for scathing reveiws) basically lamenting the passing of a great talent, now churning out needy rubbish. Personally I never got the hoopla, I thought punk was supposed to end all that high concept vanity project music?

Murray Mainstream   #2   10:50 am Aug 02 2012

Interesting that you bag the Smashing Pumpkins album, with a "kind" one star rating, yet the album received almost unversally positive reception. Once again it appears you are in a minority of one when it comes to your music reviews. But hey, nothing new there. After all, that's the appeal right. To be perceived as a cool hipster, armed with your collection of obscure records and knowledge of long dead jazz musicians that no one has ever heard of. Wouldn't want to be tagged as a Murry Mainstream like me. You are too cool for that, all those kids at highschool, they were the real losers, not you. And you write books now, that's how awesome you are. Books that only your mum and dad will buy, but hey, you're a published author now. One more string to your bow. And never forget that you are a world class drummer, fronting famous Irish pub bands, more famous and better than U2. Bono is a pretender to your glorious abilities. If anyone has seen you play they'll know you're up there with the very best, like your musical hero - Phil Collins. Nope, you are right, the world must be wrong. I'm gonna delete that Pumpkins album from my ipod. Silly me, it never had the SS stamp of approval. What was I thinking. Gotta get some of that Invisible Touch cranking, that's the stuff. Ooooooooh yea, SS approved.

The Cane   #3   11:54 am Aug 02 2012

@ Murray Mainstream #2

Man you are a douche.

Myk   #4   12:29 pm Aug 02 2012

Murray Mainstream #2:

Someone's gotta butthurt! receive a negative (or maybe sacrasm-laden) review, did we?

UK Music Fan   #5   12:33 pm Aug 02 2012

@ Murray Mainstream #2

Man you are a douche.

+1

si   #6   12:49 pm Aug 02 2012

@ Murray Mainstream,

I like Oceania too but I do think you need to relax.

Stu as "Stu"   #7   12:51 pm Aug 02 2012

That old Phil Collins chestnut... Love it.

Hey Simon, it is totally ok to be irrational about music preferences. Always good to see the occasional piece highlighting what it is that makes you tick...

and, lastly, when is the book launch!?

Murray Mainstream   #8   12:51 pm Aug 02 2012

The Cane #3: Such sweet irony....

Mark H   #9   12:53 pm Aug 02 2012

Is it too late to ask one more question? I missed the last opportunity, but if not...

As a reader of the Dom/Post, I've noticed that when I glance the album reviews, and I see a one-star review, I am normally right in guessing you've written it. What constitutes being deserving of the lowest potential score. Is it because you hit a point where you decide you hate the album? Is it because there is literally nothing redeemable? Is it, when compared to an existing body of work, it just does not stack up?

Not a shot at all, just legitimately interested. (I agree in most cases eg Cranberries, Smashing Pumpkins etc).

elwarko   #10   01:00 pm Aug 02 2012

@ The Cane #3.

I second that motion.


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