I picked up my first copy of the NME in nearly 3 decades today; FOPP were virtually forcing the now free paper on people. I stopped reading it pretty much when Paul Morley left, and it is unrecognisable from the paper that, along with Peel, used to point me to new musical directions each week.
Last night I saw 3 fantastic bands for less than a tenner at the Portland Arms in Cambridge; PINS and PALBMA (*) are from Manchester and make a mildly psychedelic racket – I love them both. Mammoth Penguins are a local band with more pop sensibility but equally enjoyable.
I see new band most weeks around the country; they cover all musical types and gig-goers seem to cover all ages. None of this dynamism is apparent from a quick look at the NME; Rihanna on the cover, John Lydon and Keith Richards inside, One Direction tour dates ! The monthlies (UNCUT, MOJO etc) are all obsessed with the past as well. Depressing.
The music scene in Cambridge is thriving though. Alongside the classical coverage at the colleges, the oldies at the Corn Exchange, and the trendy at the Junction, there is now a really good network of pub venues, often organised by Green Mind, where I’ve yet to see a dud or cover band. The Portland, Cornerhouse and Sun in Waterbeach are also good pubs in their own right.
(*) Peace and Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali – bad name, wonderful noise