Friday, August 29, 2008

A segment of my novel..

tm" Mel was fuck-ugly. This could actually be an understatement. She was 5 ft, with badly dyed hair that resembled orange wire. Her skin was awful and pimply, like a 14 year old boy's, and she unwisely choose to try and hide the giant blemish that was her face by wearing a combination of white face powder (as such a clown would wear) and bright red lipstick, which was usually applied 15 times during the day, and each time very poorly.
People of ugly dispositions generally have something in their favour. A sense of humour, or being helpful or smart; Mel had nothing going for her whatsoever. She had a huge attitude problem, which was akin to the angry black rapper types that she felt such an affinity with. (She was one of those South London girls who thought because they’d shagged a few black boys, and listened to rap that they were in fact black.) She had no sense of humour, no sense of her own personality and was extremely thick. She had a tendency to fuck security guards in the stores she worked in, and would form an attachment that was tantamount to stalking to any man who paid her attention."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Internship 09 part 2

Ok, so I'm through to the next stage of the fairfax media internship 09 competition - yay me! Next stage is rigorous testing - do I know stuff and can I spell properly? Hopefully the answer is yes and then I'll be through to the third round - interviews (eek). Still, won't get ahead of myself just yet... now who is the coach of the All Blacks?

I've kind of fallen behind with my cyber harrassing - I'm really good, print me! - but will endeavour to do America this week / next week. Good news on the Worcester News front - they've finally updated the website and will print my reviews on a weekly basis, as the newspaper does. I've sent 2 cds to Russell Baillie of the New Zealand Herald with my reviews attached, but he is seemingly not open to bribery. Oh well. It was worth a try, and the more people who own Liam Finn's album the better I think.

Had some positive feedback re: the reviews I posted, so will stick some more on there for the three people who are reading this blog!

Must get back to temping and looking like I'm busy, but Read Ryan Adams blog on tumblr - it's insane!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A couple of reviews...

Liam Finn – I’ll be lightning

Betachadupa were one of New Zealand’s biggest hopes, but their star shone none too bright elsewhere. On the basis of this album this is a good thing; because Liam Finn as a solo artist has much more to offer than when he was hanging out with a bunch of teenagers writing indie nursery rhymes and trying to hide his youth with a big bushy beard.
“I’ll be Lightning” as an album is a boy becoming a man, an artist coming out from under his dad’s shadow. Stuff the rhetoric, it’s just brilliant. It’s an exciting debut encompassing all ingredients of electro, rock and pop and making a big gooey music pie out them.
Standout track is “Second Chance” which starts as though it’s been played on the wrong speed and continues as a simple guitar riff played again and again. It’s a hypnotic little number, with some haunting lyrics.
“Gather to the Chapel” is a gorgeous acoustic ditty, and “Lead Balloon” is quite frankly demented, but in a good way.
He does sing a bit like his dad, and the music does retains that happy Kiwi vibe, but it’s not just something by the son of Neil Finn and it’s certainly not Crowded House by numbers. It’s chaotic yet snug music, and its honest songwriting marks this album out as something extraordinary.

Elbow - Live set @Virgin Megastores New York City.
April 25th 2008

A beautiful sunny day in NYC and about 50 people have squeezed themselves into Virgin Megastores café on the corner of Union square to watch a live performance by the band Elbow.
Arriving onto the stage a few minutes late, the band get settled, and Guy Garvey humbly thanks us for making the effort to come down and see them play on our lunch breaks…then adds “Although we came from Manchester, England so we made more of an effort.”
They launch into their recent single “Grounds for Divorce”, the band sounding very much on form despite the small stage, and the low quality speakers provided by Virgin. Guy Garvey’s voice is something of a gift from the Gods, and it sounds just as stunning today.
He introduces the next song with some more witty comments, and invites the two violinists on to the stage for “Mirrorball”, a gorgeous track. Next, is a song from their previous album “Leaders of the free World”, a track called “Great Expectations”, which Garvey introduces as a song about getting married on a bus.
The next song is dedicated to the “miseries of Alcoholism”. The song “Some Riot“ is one of the tracks from the album “Seldom seen Kid” which is what they are instore promoting. In true British style they don’t even mention the album once!
The final song is the epic “It’s a Beautiful day”(“This song is all about death and destruction…just kidding!”). Before the band start playing, Garvey invites us to join in with the chorus - “So, throw your curtains wide, one day like this a year will see me right” (He even stops to ask in his broad Manchester accent, “Does that make sense? See me right is a Northern colloquialism, it just means keep me happy”). After this quick lesson, the band launch into the song, and when it gets to the final bit, we all sing along as requested. Well, they made all that effort to come over from England to play to us, so it would have been rude not to.
After another rounds of thank yous, its on to the signing part, and if proof was ever needed that Elbow are one of the most unassuming and humble bands on the planet right now, they request another artist’s album to be played as they sign copies of their own.

Scarlett Johansson – Anywhere I lay my Head
I like Scarlett Johansson as an actress, but can she sing? No, but that’s only half the problem with the album. It’s a clever idea - covers of Tom Waits’ songs and a duet with David Bowie, but it sounds terrible. I can only think Tom Waits did something horrible to Ms Johansson and this is her revenge.
The first track “Fawn” features no singing, just sound effects looped over a spooky accordion. “Town with no Cheer” is doom laden affair, Scarlett sounding like Siouxie Sioux at her most miserable. It is a song with no cheer, if you like.
The next track is no better. “Falling Down” wouldn’t be able to stand up again due to the weight of the misery Scarlett injects it with, and she just sounds bored on “Anywhere I lay my Head”. So it goes on.
I’m not saying I want to hear happy pop music all the time; I love Morrissey and Joy Division and sometimes sad music is necessary, but this is just simply a bad record. It’s depressing in a 80s Goth Rock way, and Scarlett really can’t sing. She’s like the drunken rock chick at karaoke, wailing out the greatest hits of Lou Reed. Not even David Bowie can save the album from its awful pretensions of cerebral rock music. Scarlett clearly loves her music, but that’s doesn’t mean she should have ever been let in a recording studio. File under “Vanity Project” and keep your fingers crossed she doesn’t make another.

Friday, August 1, 2008

What's been done so far...

So far, I've emailed all of the UK & NZ local papers, and also magazines where I feel I could be of some use. I hate having to group email all the editors instead of individually addressing each editor by their name, but too be honest I tried this technique the first time round and only Worcester News got back to me so sorry Editors if it seemed rude! You may not be aware, but this is the equivalent of guerrilla spamming in Editors eyes so I rarely get a response. I did get two brilliant responses the other day though that I have to share:

Firstly, here is my blurb: -

"Dear Editor, I am a freelance music reviewer, and would like to offer you my reviews for publication in your magazine. I currently write a music column for the Worcester News and have attached a couple of these reviews for you to look at. I am looking to branch out and take on more clients.
As well as music reviews, I would relish the opportunity to write topical music related articles based on any suggestions you may have. I am currently working on a piece about the troubles of Amy Winehouse, which I'd like to offer you first refusal on. Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing back from you."

Their response was scarily similar -

Woman's Weekly (UK)

"Music isn’t a topic we cover in the magazine, unless it’s specifically related to a celebrity we’ve interviewed, and Amy Winehouse definitely isn’t someone of interest to our readers.So thanks for your suggestions, but I’m afraid they aren’t of interest to Woman’s Weekly."

Prima (UK)

"I am sorry, but we do not have music reviews in Prima. I do not feel a feature on Amy Winehouse would be quite right for us. Perhaps you could approach some weekly magazine titles as it would be more for their target readership. "

The two questions that filled my mind after reading each email -

1) You don't have music reviews YET; what I'm offering are music reviews. It's generally called moving with the times, people like music. It's a fact. People want to know what music to buy. That's where I could come in. You see? You don't see....

2) How can a story regarding Amy Winehouse NOT be of interest to a topical weekly / monthly mag? She's the hottest thing about even if you ignore the crackhead stuff and concentrate on the music or her illnesses - all of interest to most people who fall into the age groups your magazines are aimed at!

So, anyway, next I'm targeting the USA press, as well as applying for an internship here in Auckland for Fairfax media.

The Beginning

It all began with Ryan Adams. I discovered through HMV I could write a review of all of his albums that would be seen by the website viewers, so I began writing reviews of anyone that I liked. HMV began paying me for this service, and that was pretty cool too. I'm not saying that because of me people went out and bought Cat Power - Greatest or Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker albums, but I bet a few did.

So I targeted local papers (at least a hundred) and one got back to me - Worcester News, bless 'em. Now every Friday 2 reviews written by me are published in their very own column, for the good people of Worcester.

After I got married to Mr Smith in April 08, we came travelling, and I continued the review writing, and continued working on several stories too. We've arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, where we've often thought of settling down. Mr Smith got a job in HR, and I'm now trying to get the editors of New Zealand to accept me and my work.

It's not going too well. This blog will be my diary - Janine Smith, freelance writer aged 29 and 3/4.