Remy de la Mauviniere/AP
Mark Beaumont
April 10, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

This week, this writer’s interview with Keith Richards produced the revelation that the Rolling Stone guitarist once snorted his own dad’s ashes (”He was cremated and I couldn’t resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn’t have cared,” he told NME). Among his other confessions: got trepanned, and considers himself the coolest rock star on the planet by a country mile (which is actually the same length as a normal mile, it just feels longer when you’re driving it listening to Billy Ray Cyrus).

Not to mention, London was quaked to its very foundations as the fire-snorting, chainsaw-juggling, bear-wrestling rock’n’roll freakshow that is the Shins hit town for two sold-out nights at the Forum. Well alright, London was mildly rocked by the Shins’ pleasant indie muzak for an hour, then got a bit bored and spent the encore in the cloakroom queue. No such indifference down at the last weekend for legendary venue Hammersmith Palais, due for demolition next week. The Good, The Bad And The Queen sent the place off in fittingly violent style when bassist Paul Simonon — ex-member of the Clash, who immortalised the venue in song — finished the gig by hacking away a piece of the stage with an axe as a momento. He’s since been banned from attending the much-delayed opening of Wembley Stadium.

There’s an age-old theory devised by rock’s most brilliant mathematicians that states: if X number of music journalists go to a pub and drink Y number of pints, then the level of their inebriation will be inversely proportional to the number of music genres they’ll make up. We call it ”Romo Theory” after one monumental night in 1995 on the lash resulted in everybody in Camden dressing up like gay pirates for 10 minutes. This week, an office pub crawl to find a new local boozer for when we move offices next month, produced ”Puzzle Pop”: Pummelling guitars seemingly decoded from some mental alien supercomputer + wobbly goblin voices x WinZipped super-tunes. This, in a nutshell, is Battles, a band that sounds like they’ve been beamed here from some crazed Planet Of The Math-Rock Elves, but is actually one of the blokes from Helmet and his mates messing about rather marvellously with laptops. All week they’ve been exciting us, scaring us, and making us punch the air while involuntarily soiling ourselves in equal measure.

But the question on everyone’s lips this week was, ”Do you get it in your fishnets?” Yes, security surrounding the new Arctic Monkeys album has been making Fort Knox look as impenetrable as Paris Hilton’s underwear, but one of NME’s crack agents infiltrated Domino Records using one of those cool wire-hanging things like Tom Cruise (okay, we ripped it onto a laptop when the PR wasn’t looking) and, amongst the frankly brilliant Queens Of The Stone Age desert rock and spooky surf guitar Americana, the office has become near fatally hooked on the jaunty Britpop conga of future mega-hit ”Fluorescent Adolescent,” wherein Alex Turner cheekily bemoans the dreariness of a sex life turned sour. She used to get it in her fishnets, apparently, whereas now she only gets it in her nightdress. Sheer poetry.

Oh, and since it’s my first time doing this column, I must introduce you to this amazing new band breaking out of England! Remember where you heard it first — they’re called the Twang, they’re from Birmingham and they sound like Happy Mondays meets… what’s that? We’ve banged on about them already? Oh, sorry…

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