Friday, 15 October 2010

Something's not right - "A'm affet"

The Scots have a saying “Am aff et” – pertaining to their current drinking habits (we’re talking booze, naturally). As in, imagine yourself in a bar in Glasgow hearing a guy ask his pal “right whatya havin”) only for the pal to reply “nah thanks pal, A'm affet”. Being set in Glasgow, our teetotaller will then of course be subjected to a torrent of abuse such we have never heard the like - in a language we don't in any case fully understand. 

I love the Glasgow patter – and have studied it off & on, over the years (there’s always something new to discover). What I love about this saying is it makes the assumption that the default setting for all humans north of the border is normally, to be very much “on it” – which is fair enough when you take into account the weather they put up with. Certainly, being “affet” is accepted only as a very rare state of being.

So it is though with me and music – currently. Something’s wrong – A'm affet. I’ve struggled to connect with anything on my iPod for the past two weeks. Yesterday in the gym I couldn’t find anything sufficiently motivational – not even from the usual suspects Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Feeder, Judas Priest, Van Halen et al. (It has to be metal in the gym don’t it? Please don’t tell me you listen to dance or 80s mixes?). I had to make do with some old Third Eye Blind which barely got me through it. During the warm-down I sought inspiration with a blast of the new Afrocubism album but despite the obvious genius on offer, again I just couldn’t connect with it.

Now this has occurred from time to time before. I can at rare times find that I am bored with my entire music collection – seven thousand odd tracks on the iPod, the ever present CD shelves (classics, current and those thrown in to the cupboard below which then hang on desperately forever in CD purgatory) – nothing can seem to offer a breakthrough (we can skip radio safely I think).

I don’t know what the root cause is. I know I had a recent episode of ‘the lurch’ over a Superchunk album I downloaded from Amazon. The lurch is another music-fan phenomenon these days very rarely encountered – namely when you buy (before you try!) a much anticipated or recommended record before actually playing back and feeling slightly sick at the fact that you know you don’t like it – and never will. The lurch is a hangover from the days when we paid £13.99 for a CD only to get it home and realise it really was a duffer.

These days Spotify, We7 and blogs have meant to have solved the lurch. Except they haven’t in some cases for me, because there’s stuff I don’t want to stream first, or I know won’t turn up on these services (the catalogue of American indie and alt country on UK streaming services is paltry). Besides, Amazon allowed me to download the Superchunk album on the Saturday before its Monday release date (can Amazon really do that?). So it all made sense until I played it back – too many unsubtle guitars and every track beginning or ending in guitar feedback and the guy can’t sing – urgghh.

That left me disappointed. Perhaps missing the I Am Kloot gig at Union Chapel was untimely, since that was the last record I really played to the point of pure enjoyment. No gig is on the cards now until Spoon on November 16th!

Given the age we are living in, this shouldn’t happen of course. So, I’ve made it my mission for this week to go out and discover something new. I’ll be trying out the Chompin mobile app for blog streams and sticking with too. I’ll get back on to Mflow for a bit and check out We7 and Spotify’s recently upgraded playlisting features. I might even re-subscribe to emusic or something similar. I’ll stick with my usual scan of the music papers and magazines of course and have a blast on Metacritic (though I’m not greatly impressed by the 83/100 score for Superchunk!).

I’ll report back on the efficacy of these various prescriptions when I’m cured. Or maybe I’ll just get back off the wagon with some classic Beatles or something...advice welcome.