That was liquid football

I saw 'Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story' the other day, and it's ace. Steve Coogan does awkward as well as any British actor, and here he's reunited with his '24 Hour Party People' director, Michael Winterbottom with great success. As with every British film, the cast features many familiar faces from the comedy world (Ashley Jensen, Dylan Moran, Stephen Fry), and I can't really condense a plot into a few words, so have a look at the trailer. It gives a nice insight into the world of filmmaking, from visits with producers to on-sight interviews to costume ladies crying to needing a big name American cameo (that'll be Gillian Anderson) to terrible props to rivalries between the stars... It does help that the actual film they're making is from atrocious source material, and that at one point Coogan is upside down in a giant womb.

And as a belated Christmas gift, here's a clip of Coogan as Alan Partridge. Ah-ha!

I hung around with my adrenaline

Most fun obscure European band: Figurines

I've been enjoying their album 'Skeleton' for the best part of the year, and I still don't know shit about them. But it's a great album, reminds me of prime-time Wannadies for its energy and harmonies and start/stop choruses. Love it. The first song is deceptively quiet, then it really kicks off. Songs like 'All Night' and 'Fiery Affair' are like spontaneous elevator dance parties, over before you know it but really enjoyable. 'Rivalry' is an epic which is really nice and ends on crashing guitars. But 'The Wonder' is just that, and if you don't at least nod your head along with it, you're annoying.

[download Figurines - The Wonder]

Take it over and make it mine

Best song about a town in the West Midlands of England: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Dudley

I didn't really dig them til I saw them live a couple of years ago (hello, hairy me!) and YYYs' second album 'Show Your Bones' didn't do a lot to change my opinion of them. It began solidly, but then petered out very quickly. The album's second half is saved by the killer double of former single 'Cheated Hearts', and this song which is pretty and reserved and classy. The flipside to 'Maps', it's about the other side of being in love, the much more interesting dark side. For people who find Karen's yelp too frenzied to really enjoy, this song will be a welcome treat.

[download Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Dudley]

Just forget all this present tense

Band who I can’t bring myself to hate – Snow Patrol

I feel an affinity with Snow Patrol. When I used to write about music in London, I got sent their second record and the corresponding singles, and had personal correspondence with their label’s head honcho. They really rose through the ranks as a band – I’ve seen them at the Barfly in London, the day ‘Final Straw’ came out, and, more embarrassingly, supporting the lowly Seafood. Don’t get me wrong, I love Seafood, but it was only 2002 when Snow Patrol were opening for them at the Electric Ballroom.

Because of this, I really can’t hate the band. Their latest album, ‘Eyes Open’, is the biggest seller of the year in the UK, and frankly, it’s a bit rubbish. It’s a poor retread of ‘Final Straw’ with all the same ideas and, apart from the Martha Wainwright cameo, nothing new or exciting to offer. The main single was just a rewrite of the last album’s main single. There’s an awkward shout-out to Sufjan Stevens that really bugs me. And their new bass player looks like Severus Snape.

So it’s the done thing to really dislike them at the moment, but, I don’t think you can fault them for agreeing to have a song used on a popular TV show, and the accompanying ubiquity. Even though I don’t see myself ever buying another record of theirs (although, apparently, Gary Lightbody is now working on a country album with producer Jacknife Lee), I’ll always give them a chance because, well, they were ace. Here’s the newest album’s best song.

(This post did come out of reading this article on the Guardian site)

[download Snow Patrol – It's Beginning to Get to Me]

Driving a Ferrari is fucking Book

Cheekiest ten minutes of recorded sound – the middle of ‘The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living’

Never mind that it’s the third-best Streets album. Never mind that there are mostly fillers. Never mind the godawful ‘Pranging Out’ remix with train-wreck Doherty. Never mind, even, that the actually-quite-moving ‘Never Went to Church’ is really out of place in that last third. Because even when he’s not saying it very well, Mike Skinner still has plenty to say. And the middle trilogy of songs, two about fame being boring and crazy, and one concerning small-time grifting, are brilliant.

First up, ‘Momento Mori’ (it’s Latin and it says we must all die) talks about Mike’s one main weakness, and it’s not drugs or women, it’s capitalism. He’d rather drop his hard-earned on stripy Italian shirts. Over a lazy, funky keyboard beat. And ‘When You Wasn’t Famous’, about his tryst with an unnamed starlet (probably isn’t Judi Dench) was a killer first single complete with fake dog noises. Sandwiched in between, ‘Can’t Con An Honest Jon’ is the most ‘Original Pirate Material’ of all his tracks, in that it’s not actually about Mike, but some great new characters, very much in the Baron von Marlon vein. Farquar has a dog, right, and… oh, just listen to it.

[download The Streets - Can’t Con An Honest Jon]

A million ways to make a million

Best Mixtape of the Year: Amerie – Because I Love It

I know I gave Lil Weezyana some props in here the other day, but to be fair, it’s only Mr. Wayne who makes it so enjoyable. It’s meant to be a showcase for his pals Young Money, who sadly don’t have his charm or lyrical power, so it’s not a great mixtape.

Despite the (sorta) legitimacy, Girl Talk’s ‘Night Ripper’ definitely has the right vibe, being cut-and-paste heaven, but there’s too much going on in there [full tracklisting] to digest in any one sitting. And, his live Nirvana cover is still haunting my dreams.

But in the gold corner is Amerie, who did more for brilliant sexy futuristic RnB in this one download-only gap-filler than Beyonce offered all year. Seriously, a Basic Instinct homage? Really? If you’ve never heard Amerie’s ‘1 Thing’, then what the hell are you doing wasting your time reading this? This mixtape, available online here, shows off some really kickin’ beats and her great voice. Less histrionic than most of her peers, I really like Amerie. ‘Push It’ and ‘Blow’ are just sheer determination and self-belief, whilst her take on ‘Money Maker’ (originally by SAG Award winner (!) Ludacris) is great and more fun than the original. Only the ultra-syrupy ‘Weekend Love’ is skippable. Check it out.

[download Amerie – Blow]

Oh, and as a bonus, here’s a mashup of Amerie with Modest Mouse, from my good friend DJ Payroll. You’ll like it.

[download Payroll – One Thing 2 Float On]

My nightgown sweeps the pavement

Hey! My finals are over! Hooray!

Today's selections are stuff that many other bloggers also seem to love. I obviously don't make any conscious decision to not go with the crowd or anything like that, but looking at many sites' "best of..." lists, I keep thinking "I don't like many of these, what's wrong with me?" and demanding reassurance from my nearest and dearest. But here's a few songs from 'Best of 06' mainstays which I, too, enjoy.

Best new slang word: Clipse - Trill

It's a combination of 'true' and 'real'. As a dorky Indian without an ounce of street cred, I really like this. The beat is sicker than smallpox, and there's much boasting about drugs, fear and... ahh, just mostly drugs. And a Billy Ray Cyrus shout out. It sounds like the future. I like that.

Best "I can't really think of a category but I love it" of the year: Neko Case - Star Witness

Nuff said. If you don't like it, you're probably already dead.

Best song about the hometown: Lily Allen - LDN

Can you believe it? Yeah, it's even better than this song about the big L. Even though her dad is that bloke from Fat Les and the rest of her album isn't very good, this song really stands out. It's chirpy, sunny and really infectious. So much so, in fact, that you don't even pay attention to the fact that an old lady gets mugged in the lyrics.

Best ubiquitous song of the summer: Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks

Written about by everyone and their mother. Nothing to add. Whistle it loud, whistle it proud.

Best song about furniture: Yo La Tengo - Beanbag Chair

One of those songs that it's impossible to hate. Completely different to the nine minute monster it follows on their record. It's warm and horny, just like... Oh it's too easy.

[download Clipse - Trill]
[download Neko Case - Star Witness]
[download Lily Allen - LDN]
[download Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks]
[download Yo La Tengo - Beanbag Chair]

Bonus: I gave Mogwai some props recently, and today rbally has a full live set of theirs from the summer. Look out for that apocalyptic closing 'My Father My King'.

And instead of a picture, here's an episode of 'Look Around You', a show I've been getting really into lately. It's under ten minutes long, so give it a look.

There's no sentry at the gate

Best live band I didn't see this year: The Twilight Singers

Rockingest album of the year: The Twilight Singers - Powder Burns

As I said before, Florida isn't too hot for live music, and when Greg Dulli's inferno hit the state, it was on a Monday night, two hours away from where I live. Lame. But I'm still yet to read an account of the live experience that isn't entirely astounded. They throw in covers (this year: Gnarls, Primal Scream, Martina Topley-Bird, Massive Attack, TV On The Radio...), special guests, and all the energy and noise in the world. And Mark Lanegan joins them for a bunch of songs - the man with the world's most evil voice. A concert DVD is expected next year, it should be unmissable. Go to this page for a full show download from earlier this year, from whence today's download is taken.

As for the album... admittedly, it's produced to death and beyond, but I love that. It's another great driving record, and the first half, especially, is primo. 'Bonnie Brae' is pure noisy anthemics, 'My Time Has Come' and 'I'm Ready' are straight up rock and roll, there's a Beatles shout-out in 'Forty Dollars', and even a song named after a Gene Hackman film which is a quick and easy way to my heart. The album was recorded in New Orleans before, after, and even during Hurricane Katrina, so that packs it with even more importance, and it's one of my favourites of the year.

[download The Twilight Singers - There's Been An Accident (live in L.A.)]

We can make it better

Best Live Show of the Year: (tie) Wilco and Art Brut

Just to qualify this... I live in Florida. Bands don't really come by here. I saw, maybe, ten gigs this whole year. It's bleak, so there's not really a lot to pick from. I've narrowed it down to two gigs, which couldn't be more different.

Wilco: Tallahassee, March

When I got home from this one, my roommate asked what kind of music Wilco are, and I struggled for awhile. Rock for adults, I suggested sheepishly, even though that makes them sound horrific. They're not Dire Straits! But they're ace, and they were brilliant. Played about a trillion songs, including a few new ones. Jeff was chatty, insulting a guy for shouting too much and telling jokes. The band were solid, rocking, anthemic and everyone was singing and swaying along. They finished with a new song, which is great and you can see it here.

Art Brut: Tallahassee, September

The Brut were opening up for We Are Scientists, and, as I wrote at the time, they were drunk, in pain, sweaty, a mess, and absolutely blinding. Uniting about half of the crowd, ripping through almost all of 'Bang Bang Rock and Roll', they were everything Wilco weren't. 'Nag Nag Nag Nag' suggests that next year will be just as bright as the boys (and indeed girl) from London.

[download Wilco - Shot in the Arm (live)]
[download Art Brut - Stand Down (live)]

Be my photo bitch and I'll make you rich

Best 'Finally, they've made an album I like!' album: Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit

I've never really dug B&S. Some of their songs were ok, some were really good, but every time I stuck on one of their records, it was so monochromatic and apologetic that I'd have to listen to some Spice Girls and eat some beef just to restore balance. 'Dear Catastrophe Waitress' was a step away from that, with more of a pop edge, but it didn't sound right. 'The Life Pursuit' sounds right.

Easily my most played album of the first half of the year, I still love sticking it on. The bass part in the middle of 'Sukie in the Graveyard' is chunky enough to support the weight of small children. The trifecta of breezy pop perfection that comprises tracks 2, 3 and 4, made my morning drives to work way more enjoyable. The last song is sad and pretty and about a weird Tube station in north London which used to be closed all the time. Truth be told, enjoying 'Pursuit' so much made me dig up the older stuff again, but only 'If You're Feeling Sinister' ever gets any replays (and even there, it's the live album). So, kudos to Stuart and the gang for bringing me round to the twee-est gang in town.

But it wasn't quite good enough to win...

Best Scottish album of the year: My Latest Novel - Wolves

What a debut! You know how, when hot air rises, cold air rushes in to replace it? To fill the vacuum, so to speak? Let's assume the delgados were hot air. They broke up, and my life had a "gorgeous Glasgow band to melt into" shaped vacuum. But fear not! Here, taking the form of a cool breeze, are My Latest Novel! What a clunky and not-quite-working analogy.

There's a lot to love on this album. The conversational, upbeat 'The Job Mr Kurtz Done', which steers far away from its eponymous hero's craziness. Majesterial single 'Sister Sneaker, Sister Soul', which is up there for me in terms of impact with 'Black Dollar Bills'. The song 'When We Were Wolves' has about six lyrics but about six-hundred excitements (New unit of measurement). Only the instrumental track isn't too great. Best track? That leads us nicely to...

Best second half of a song: My Latest Novel - Wrongfully, I Rested

Look, nothing against the first half. It's certainly not bad at all. The pace builds steadily and it gets pretty intense. But then everything cuts out, to a few hits of the xylophone, and then the violin starts again... From the 2.23 mark, this is a whole new song, completely gorgeous and once the new vocal melody begins, with "la-la-las", it's just silk.

[download Belle and Sebastian - Sukie in the Graveyard]
[download My Latest Novel - Wrongfully, I Rested]

"It's like Neighbours, but riskier"

Best Low Discussion of High Art of the Year: Adam & Joe discussing Trapped in the Closet

Adam and Joe are two comedians from South London. They used to have their own TV show and it was legend. Amongst other things, they used cuddly toys to recreate popular films. One time I saw Adam with a camcorder filming a Beta Band show at Fridge in Brixton. Anyway, those guys have an XFM radio show, which are variable in funniness, but this is definitely an apex. Joe explains the world's greatest saga to Adam, whose reaction should remind you of the first time you saw these episodes. And if, for some bizarre reason, you haven't heard/seen 'Trapped in the Closet', it'll serve as a nice introduction. It's really funny, not just because they're British.

Adam: "His brother's called Tron?"
Joe: "Well it's better than being called Last Starfighter!"

[download Adam and Joe - R Kelly Closet News]

It's part of the compilation of season one highlights of their show - get the whole thing here.

And here's my favourite moment ever from the Adam and Joe show, which annoyingly enough, is not on their DVD.

Oh, Cairo, where did you go?

Best Song to use the phrase 'hither and dither': Mystery Jets - Purple Prose

The Mystery Jets had a lot of press attention at the beginning of the year, with a slot on the NME Tour, a brilliant single called 'You Can't Fool Me Dennis', and the fact that the singer's dad plays guitar in the band. Then they put out the debut album, and sort of drifted off the radar. That album, 'Making Dens' is well worth a spin - the Jets throw in a lot of ideas and many of them stick. There's a great pop suss throughout, and some really pretty lyrics and just an overarching sense of upbeat-ness throughout. And on 'Purple Prose', a song about sad things that sounds happy, they say "hither and dither", surely not used in a pop song since... well, since ever. And it doesn't sound shit! In fact it's ace.

[download Mystery Jets - Purple Prose]

They’re drinking in the streets

Best ‘Not greatest hits’ compilation of the year: Arab Strap – Ten Years of Tears

No, I won’t ever say a bad word about them, so quit asking me to do so. They split up, it was sad, but they left us with many memories, many songs and albums with expletives in the titles, and many many great songs. A few of them are on this compilation, comprising their biggest smash hits (um, ‘Packs of Three’, ‘The Shy Retirer’) and some rare versions of other faves, like the original demon of ‘Islands’ and the (not as good as the album version in my opinion) ‘(Afternoon) Soaps’. And there’s a remix by fellow Chemikal Undergrounders Bis, too! If you remember seeing Bis on Top of the Pops then, like me, you’re very old. I hope you enjoy today’s selection, the album finale, a huge roaring climactic take on ‘There Is No Ending’. Sing it loud and sing it proud, and to all a good night.

Also, Jim over at Gimme Back My Head has Aidan Moffat’s new solo record, under the name L. Pierre. It’s very quiet, instrumental, and ideal for studying for law finals to. So check that out.

[download Arab Strap – There Is No Ending]

Best ‘Not greatest hits but has the word greatest in the title anyway’ album: Cat Power – The Greatest

I just love this album. Seek out the Bonnaroo set off this Internet, it’s supreme (oh, ok, go here and here). She’s been really heavily blogged about, so I don’t really have anything new to say about lovely Chan. The title track is one of those which you’re supposed to melt under the influence of. ‘Living Proof’ and ‘Could We’ were much sassier, and you don’t have to be a typical indie boy to swoon to ‘Where Is My Love’. It’s the CD equivalent of a hot chocolate on a cold night.

[download Cat Power – The Greatest]

Cold as a windchill

Best "Really? They put out a Greatest Hits Album?" of the Year: The Essential Mercury Rev

It's always irked me slightly that everyone loves the Flaming Lips and rarely allows props to Mercury Rev. Not that the Flips aren't great and all, but album-for-album, I think the upstate New Yorkers have it easily won. I saw them a few years ago at the Shepherds Bush Empire in West London. My friend Ewan and me somehow had a balcony to ourselves, so we had a great view of the stage and the crowd, and at some points we were spazzing out so hardcore that fans on the floor were looking up at us and pointing. After being around for about a million years, they put out a double-disc anthology this year which nobody really paid attention to. It's a pity. Earlier material like 'Chasing A Bee' is really adventurous and sprawling (read: DRUGS) and then came their highpoint suckerpunch - 1998's 'Deserters Songs' followed by 2001's 'All Is Dream' - which will be two of my favourite records for as long as I can see.

The compilation is nice and comprehensive, with lots of live and bonus stuff on the second disc. And, as luck would have it, you can stream the whole thing, plus their entire back catalogue right here. Do that. This taster isn't actually on 'The Essential', it's from 'All Is Dream.' It's slightly creepy and Presidential and if you don't like it we can never be anything more than acquaintances.

[download Mercury Rev - Lincoln's Eyes]

Bring on the backlash

Best Rhetorical Question: Arctic Monkeys - Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?

In January, they were everywhere. By March, everyone was sick of them. And then in April they put out this EP, with the title track being their most perceptive yet. I still really dig 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not', except when it comes to writing its title, but this song edges it over 'A Certain Romance' as their best yet. It's not easy being the fastest growing band in history, or something like that, and they felt the need to address the fact that suddenly everyone had something to say about Arctic Monkeys.

Have I done something to trigger
The funny looks and the sniggers?
Are they there at all, or is it just paranoia?

I especially enjoy the sudden direction change the song takes about halfway through. And the childish chanting. And the Christopher Columbus shout out. Can't wait to see how the second album sounds, expect it in the late Spring.

[download Arctic Monkeys - Who the Fuck are Arctic Monkeys?]

I know you are but what am I?

Best 'Remember how we used to rock like crazy people?' song of the year: Mogwai - Glasgow Mega Snake

In which the mighty 'Gwai turn everything up to twelve, set pedals to 'for serious' and make the kind of racket they did in their pre- 'Come On Die Young' days. There had been some nice noise on the last album's 'Ratts of the Capital', but this year's Mr. Beast saw them play like they mean it. Two minutes into this song, they slow things down, as if to allow you a brief respite to pick up your spilled drink, and then returns to a final minute or so of noise. Recalling the nosebleeds of their earlier material, but clocking in at under twenty minutes? A serious achievement. Shame the album didn't really take off as much as it deserved.

[download Mogwai - Glasgow Mega Snake]

(and yes, I do have law school exams beginning tomorrow, that's probably why there are so many updates at the moment).

Nothing plus zip equals zero

I may've come across a little hard on the Jiggaman earlier, so here's another couple of dumb awards that I made up.

Best song of the year with Jay-Z on it: Lupe Fiasco - Pressure

Thought about giving this to 'Black Republicans', but this one off 'Food and Liquor' edges the victory. The neat organ break before the chorus is so catchy, and Lupe takes his chance to diss the President, before Mr. Carter kills his guest spot. "My first picture was a line-up, now I'm on the Forbes" is from his top drawer. Holla.

[download Lupe Fiasco - Pressure ft Jay-Z]

Best Chicago hip hop album of the year: (tie) Lupe Fiasco - Food and Liquor, and Rhymefest - Blue Collar

Love 'em both, man. Kanye is a constant between the two. Lupe ropes in the Neptunes and Jay, whilst his compatriot boasts ODB, the Strokes, and production from Mark Ronson. Both had great singles, like 'Kick Push' and 'Brand New', the latter declaring that Rhymefest is indeed 'wactose intolerant'. Rhymefest knows how to have some fun, and if you can listen to 'Build Me Up' without smiling, you're a better man than I. The second verse in today's selection, 'These Days', is terrific - shouts to Puffy, Kanye, Common, Twista and Eminem ("he be funny and dissin, I bought his album it's a one-time listen"). Rock it.

[download Rhymefest - These Days]

This one should go cold

Best song on an otherwise crap album: The Concretes - Fiction

That's a little unfair, because 'Sunbeams' was also pretty good. But honestly, wasn't 'In Colour' a terrible album? The first song is called 'On the Radio' and sets the bar suitably low. We stay in unfocused, mid-tempo purgatory limbo for the best part of the album's forty-five minutes. After their self-titled album, which was so affecting and pretty, I had high hopes for this badboy, but it just grates. Even when the horns and backing harmonies work, like on 'Chosen One', Victoria's detached vocals (which really worked on older songs) just sound bored. Not really a shock that she left the band earlier this year. A duet with Romeo from The Magic Numbers (whose 'Take A Chance' was an outsider choice for this award) sees the band hit an all time nadir. So enjoy 'Fiction', six minutes of - get this! - dynamics and interest.

[download The Concretes - Fiction]

Just relax like a fresh new perm

OK, so I'm not going to do a "Top [x] albums of the Year!" post in AYGH? because, well, I don't really like ranking records, and I can't think of too many brilliant albums this year. But what I'll do is put up some songs that I've loved, and give them arbitrary accolades. So here's the first one.

Best version of 'Show Me What Ya Got' of the Year - Lil Wayne and Young Money

Jay-Z came back this year out of retirement, but his big comeback 'Kingdom Come' seemed more concerned with Myspace and Gwyneth Paltrow than being terrific, and so people seemed to dislike it. The lead single seemed like he wasn't trying any more, and Dale Earnhardt Jr showed up in the video.

New Orleans' Lil Wayne isn't the only person to take that beat and try and make it their own, but this time, it just works the best. Read this piece about the supposed beef between Weezy and Hova and it takes on an extra dimension. "I must be LaBron James if he's Jordan" is probably my favourite line in there. It's joyous, confident and just plain brilliant.

You can download the entire Lil Weezyana Mixtape here.

[download Lil Wayne and Young Money - Show Me What You Got]

Get in the sling, boys

This is brilliant...

Clinic and the Archie Bronson Outfit were due to play a gig next week at St. Martin's College in London (yes, as namechecked in 'Common People'), but they've had to cancel it. Why?

"A small minority of students...saw the show as a perceived disruption to their studies and were threatening to stage a sit-in protest." [from NME]

Isn't that weird? It's a trendy art school, so maybe it's an elaborate art stunt. But I doubt it. Sit-in protests? What year are we in again? They should've done the gig regardless, with fans jumping all over the protesters.

Here's my favourite Clinic song for you to enjoy.

[download Clinic - Monkey On Your Back]

More Lists

Stereogum has posted the end of year top 50s from the NME, which is one of the few worth a look at. Previous winners of their "Album of the Year" include stone-cold classics like 'Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space' and 'Deserters Songs', amongst many others. This year's winners aren't really a surprise, but the NME get an OMGWTF for not including Belle and Sebastian, or my record of the year, which you'll find out about in due course.

...Oh, alright. It's Guillemots.

Full list is here.

Dreams can come true, nightmares can also

I’ve posted some Super Furry Animals here before, on account o’ I love them. I’ve seen them live more times than any other band – fourteen at last count. The shows were always brilliant, but ranged from the sublime (Especially the four in 1999 – at Glastonbury a tank drove through the crowd at the end, but incredibly it wasn’t their tank, and Mogwai were dressed as Chewbacca) to the very odd (like the time someone had to be lifted from the front of the moshpit in a stretcher, or when Gruff came out in a Power Rangers mask, or the celery chewin’, videos n’ surround-sound extravaganza of the ‘Rings Around the World’ years). Their last record, ‘Love Kraft’ began with the sound of a drummer diving into a swimming pool and featured a song about a chicken who worries about getting hit by asteroids. And they put out an album entirely in Welsh. There’s always been more to them, though, than just ‘mentals in helmets with lots of ideas and weird accents,’ because they actually have plenty of tunes-with-a-capital-T to back them up.

Their singer, Gruff Rhys, has a new solo album due out early next year called Candylion, and a couple of songs are available on these Internets. It’s not quite as low-key as his Welsh language record, but it’s definitely gentler than you might expect. NME write about the title track here, but it doesn’t really mean anything. Apparently, he’s playing in Buenos Aires on Saturday, so, uh, if anyone’s down for a road trip, let me know. Enjoy!

[download Gruff Rhys – Candylion]
[download Gruff Rhys – The Court of King Arthur]

Seperated at Birth?

Just out of interest, has anyone ever seen Eddie Argos and Matthew "Neville Longbottom" Lewis in the same room?

And all I can say is 'oh'

Some excellent news for all of us who trail off sentences by repeating the last words slightly quieter... quieter... quieter.

R Kelly Finally Takes Us Back 2 The Closet.

Can't wait to see what 21st century hi-jinx Myrna and Odell get up to.

Chimpanzee That

Oh, and speaking of S'Merch, the Guardian is hosting three new podcasts from Ricky, Steve and Karl. The world's #1 podcast, apparently. The first two are available now, so listen out for Rockbusters, Knobnews, Karl's Diary, and all the other favourites.

About two foot tall, long slender neck...

Told you about the Hot Fuzz teasers a little while back, and now there's a full length trailer for your enjoyment. It's fucking funny, lots of familiar faces, and a nice appearance from Mr Stephen Merchant! Beautiful.

[watch Hot Fuzz international trailer]

Lay me down by the riverside

The new album from Idlewild is due early next year, and the early buzz is that it's more in line with their older material than 2005's lightweight 'Warnings/Promises'. This is more than welcome news as far as I'm concerned, because their '100 Broken Windows' and 'The Remote Part' albums are borderline genius. If this is a return to those days, then I'm happy. To celebrate their return, they're unveiling a new look website next week, and offering the new single, 'If It Takes You Home' for free. All you have to do is go to the site and give them your email address, and they'll send you the song on Monday. The song is ace, with a heavy riff, some gentle pre-chorus bits and then more noise. It's over in under two minutes. I really like this more than anything off 'Warnings'.

You can hear the song on the band's myspace page, although it takes a long time to load.

Show her how to pull kidneys

Pretty much all the publicity for Richard Linklater’s ‘Fast Food Nation’ centers around the same quotation from the New York Times’ Manohla Dargis, who calls it the most important political film by an American director since ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’. Other critics haven’t been so hyperbolic, with the film nestling at just under 50% on RT. It’s based on Eric Schlosser’s best-seller, which took a non-fiction look at the industry and its often sickening practices. The source material is fascinating stuff, but it doesn’t adapt too well to a narrative form.

The film is rich with characters, but the many strands don’t tie together in the story, and that makes it feel disjointed. That was my main disappointment with it – the elements didn’t all fit well together, and it felt clumsy in places. The themes make it much more interesting – all the strands involve frustrated purpose, the idea of individuality and all those good things being kept down by The Rules/The Man. Greg Kinnear’s marketing exec has to miss his son’s science fair because he has to investigate why his company’s burgers have fecal matter in them. Ashley Johnson has high aspirations for life after high school, but is stuck working at the local burger bar. Catalina Moreno and Wilmer (Cash Moneyyy) Valderrama jump the border to make some money, but all they will ever get is under-the-table work at the local meat packing plant. The performances are universally terrific – Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine) is really good as a bored burger flipper, whilst Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Willis each kill in their single scenes. Only Ethan Hawke, a permanent fixture with Linklater, doesn’t bring much to the party, and his character is kind of unnecessary.

The dialogue plays out well, as you’d expect from the ‘Before Sunrise’ guy, and the imagery is really powerful. Some of the book’s most memorable moments –testing chemical swabs which recreate the smells of the top selling burgers, a gnarly slaughterhouse accident, lots of harrowing ‘kill floor’ footage – translate powerfully onto the screen. The film is ambitious, thought-provoking, at points crushingly sad (the last ten minutes or so), but the storytelling that binds it is weak, and this leaves it ultimately flawed. Still, it’s enough to make you switch to an [organic] apple and peanuts diet.

Champion Versions

1. Amy Winehouse's 'Rehab' is ace and has been played a lot by my iTunes lately. I'd write about it, and how it's sassy Motown blues with a 21st century edge - or something - but Fluxblog has already done that, so just read what he said. Anyway, my favourite TV-offshoot-pop-band Girls Aloud just did a cover of 'Rehab' for Jo Whiley's radio show, and you can nab their cover of it right here. It's not as good, but, y'know, an interesting listen. And for a great post about the two songs, and Girls Aloud as fem-pop icons, click this one. With the current storm about girls in the NME, it's worth a read.

2. A cover of 'The Dark of the Matinee' by Franz Ferdinand in Spanish? Yes mate! Makes their sexiest song even sexier. Have at it.

Maybe our connection is unique

As previously discussed on these pages, sensational Scotch grumpies Arab Strap packed it in earlier this year. Well, here's a live show of theirs from February this year, recorded in Malmo, Sweden. The quality is really good, the setlist focuses mostly on 'The Last Romance', and Aiden is in top chatty form. Of special note is the ridiculously heavy take on 'New Birds', the last minute of which is as powerful as the band ever got. Check out their official site, which finally got a facelift, and enjoy the songs. Don't enjoy them too much cos, well, they split up. But just enjoy it enough.

Christ, I miss the Cold War.

You know that part in the first Austin Powers film where Dr Evil famously demands one million dollars from the U.N. and everyone laughs at him? That’s kind of what I was thinking of when watching Casino Royale, the new James Bond film. Amidst the standard plot hoo-hah (terrorists, weapons, blah blah blah), there was a thing where one bad guy was ruthlessly trying to get back $150m which Bond had caused him to lose. One hundred and fifty million? That’s like, stealing Chelsea. Hardened international criminals? You’re having a laugh.

Anyway, that aside, it was a very decent film. I know that being the best James Bond film ever is up there in terms of credibility as being “the best Nickelback album” or “the least unhealthy McDonalds item”, but even so, it was enjoyable enough. Daniel Craig did well as Bond, not too many appalling one-liners, and a nice high badass rating (at one point he performs auto-defibrillation). Double crossing, a nice car, a neat chase, some torture, hi-jinx on the runway at Miami International… and a really hot Bond Girl… so what if the story didn’t really make much sense, the theme song was one of the worst ever and there was hardly any nudity?

Not as great as the RT indicator would suggest, but worth watching at a dollar theater or on a plane, easily. Sorry, these guys, but it was good.

There's a time, and there's a place

Last night the good ship Cursive sailed into Gainesville. The gig was in an auditorium on the third floor of the student union, with the only bar anywhere nearby closing at 8pm. That, and everyone in the audience having beards, did not set it up as a great concert atmosphere. Jeremy Enigk, formerly of Sunny Day Real Estate was in support (The Cops, too, but we missed them), and the extra-bearded older emo dudes lapped up his heartfelt-troubadour solo set.

Cursive’s newest record ‘Happy Hollow’ sees them taking on a newer, deeper sound, and so it was nice to see their set begin very quietly, with Tim Kasher strumming, joined gradually by a clarinet, some brass, a cello, and then the other members of the band. After a couple of minutes of gentle warm-up, they kicked into ‘The Game of Who Needs Who the Worst’ off their ‘Domestica’ record. The crowd remained pretty still throughout, maybe they were taking easy because of some student government meeting downstairs. Cursive played a pretty even mix of songs from their three most recent albums, with guitarist Ted Stevens (yes, I know… not that Ted Stevens, although he’s on my Fantasy Congress team) taking lead vocals on ‘Flag and Family’ and ‘Bad Science’. With strings AND brass, songs like ‘Some Red Handed Sleight of Hand’ and ‘Butcher the Song’ sounded newly beefed up. Kasher went from scream to whisper and back again in under ten seconds, and spoke a little about Thanksgiving.

For the big finale, the band rocked through an extended version of ‘Art is Hard’, with a breakdown in the middle that began with a pretty cello solo but lasted a little too long. There was a lot of energy onstage throughout, but not really matched by the audience. It was still really good, though, despite the lack of ‘Bad Sects’. Good beards, no beer, a song about heathens. Fair thee well, gentlemen. Oh, and their cellist seemed to be named Annyong.

I think the setlist is pretty much correct, maybe one or two errors. Also, the video is of the 'Art is Hard' breakdown from earlier this tour.

The Game of Who Needs Who the Worst / So So Gigolo / Driftwood: A Fairy Tale / The Great Decay / Flag and Family / The Radiator Hums / Butcher The Song / Dorothy At Forty / Some Red Handed Sleight of Hand / Bad Science / The Recluse / Am I Not Yours? / Hymns For the Heathen...
Encore: Big Bang /The Martyr / Art Is Hard

The Batshit Crazy State

What did you do last Friday? Me, I saw the Oracle of Truthiness, Stephen Colbert do a rare live, stand up style performance, for Florida State's Homecoming. It was ace, and despite what he said at the beginning, many clips are surfacing on Youtube. Here's The Word. The filmer appears to be really close to where I was sitting, although I don't remember the person with the ghoulish laugh. Enjoy!

Looks like your nose needs some Corrections

People always diss the Simpsons.

But tonight's episode featured Michael Chabon, Jonathan Franzen, Gore Vidal, Tom Wolfe and J.K. Simmons, and it made this jaded Literature major very happy. Good stuff.

Another Awards Ceremony!

The World Music Awards were last night, in popular national capital London, hosted by someone affectionately known as Firecrotch. The main controversy of the night seems to be centred around Michael Jackson not, as promised, performing 'Thriller'. On the plus side, Kanye won an award, but sadly T.I. didn't storm the stage. The best thing to happen all night, though? Guess who the, ahem, "Best Rock Band in the World" is.

No? This is how I remind you.

Lord, let us go.

A couple of things to waste your time with today. Firstly, here's a clip of Borat on Fox News last week. I know he did promo out the wazoo all month and you're thinking "it's always the same ten jokes!" Well, you're mostly correct, but here there are some new bits which are funny. Not least because poor Alan Combes doesn't really seem to know what to make of his guest. Some nice talk about how Borat would vote if he were American, and disgraced Mark Foley.

Also, Information Leafblower has just put out its fourth annual "Best Bands in America" list. If, like me, you haven't heard of most of the bands, fear not, they have plenty of downloads for you to sample.

Meanwhile, here's a song from an American band who I love, that didn't make the list (of course), but they're coming to Gainesville next week and I'm excited, so there. If you'd like a full live show of theirs, from Ryspace, go here.

[download Cursive - Retreat!]

Even fratboys get the blues!

From BBC News:

US students sue over Borat film

Two US students are suing a film studio claiming they were duped into appearing in spoof movie Borat starring Sacha Baron Cohen as a Kazakh journalist.

Legal papers said the two men "engaged in behaviour that they otherwise would not have engaged in". ...The film "made plaintiffs the object of ridicule, humiliation, mental anguish and emotional and physical distress, loss of reputation, goodwill and standing in the community," the papers stated.

Spokesman for 20th Century Fox Gregg Brilliant said the case "has no merit".

You are what we French call ‘Le Fruitcake’

Here’s why I really enjoyed Aardman Animation and Dreamworks’ new film ‘Flushed Away’.

  • Hugh Jackman seems to be channeling Geoffrey Rush’s voice in ‘Shine’ for his character.
  • The baddie is a giant toad who loves the British Royal Family and is voiced by Ian McKellen.
  • There are little slugs who sing ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ and ‘Proud Mary’ in completely cute fashions.
  • They parody James Bond and Benny Hill, though not concurrently.
  • There’s a crazy old grandma character that’s in love with Tom Jones.
  • There is a joke about England losing on penalties to Germany. It always hurts!
  • One of the characters is an evil French mercenary called Le Frog voiced by - who else - Jean Reno.
  • Two really funny things happen right toward the end, when the (big danger to the good guys) is (averted at the last minute). Whilst everyone is celebrating and cheering, one slug says to another “Hi-Five!” and then they look at each other, both say “Oh, right” and look sad. I dare say it’s even funnier than “My wife is dead, hi-five!”
  • The other thing, which really summed the film up for me, was a really small visual gag. (Slight spoiler alert) – The big danger is a tidal wave which is about to drown everyone, but at the last second it is somehow stopped, hence the aforementioned cheering. So whilst all the rats in the sewer are cheering and hugging and otherwise displaying their rodent joie de vivre, this young rat comes running up with a surfboard with a huge smile, looks up at the now-frozen solid wave, gets annoyed, and throws his surfboard to the ground. That to me is what makes Aardman films stand out from most – it’s a Simpsons style touch, throwing in an extra laugh which doesn’t further the scene, but just makes it funnier. That’s good writing.

It’s very high-paced and action heavy. The voices are spot on (especially Bill Nighy as a tough henchman) and the shift to computer animation really suits them well. Take a child to go and see it if you feel silly going to a kid’s film.

All other countries are run by little girls

Those of you who don’t know me personally, and I perhaps naively choose to believe that some of you that read this site DO indeed fit that category, should know some things about me. I am not Jewish, female, homosexual, Uzbek, native American, an evangelical Christian, black, a former star of TV’s Baywatch, southern, or a prostitute. None of them. And, as such, I wasn’t too offended by ‘Borat’, the film currently sweeping the critics, the box office, Best Week Ever, and, uh, John Mayer’s thoughts.

The first half of the film was merely quite funny, mostly because much of it was regurgitated from ‘Da Ali G Show’ – most noticeably the interview with an etiquette specialist – and also because the media frenzy over the last couple of weeks has caused the clips to be played on TV repeatedly. Not that the driving lesson scene isn’t funny, it’s just not as funny as it was the first time, although when he shouts “Suck my shit!” at a fellow motorist, it’s hilarious.

The second half, though, where an actual story sort of develops, is terrific. There are three really great scenes, involving frat boys on an RV, evangelicals at a super-church, and finally, that chick from Barb Wire. The laughs come thick and fast. As you may have already heard, your enjoyment of the film will depend greatly upon how you feel about naked, hairy men wrestling.

There’s been talk after seeing the film about how much of it was scripted, and I’ve heard people use that as criticism. I don’t really agree that it lessens the film if some of the scenes are staged, it’s still funny as aw’hell, and there’s at least three parts where he would have got arrested or stabbed or arrested and stabbed. All the laughs you need, and at the end the line “Everyone knows that iPod Minis are for girls!” and a cheesy romantic ending – I think? – make this a great comedy. Not the funniest film ever made, but certainly very funny. Funniest of the year? What other good comedies were there this year though?

Go and see it, just don’t take your grandparents to see it with you.

We. Are. Your Friends.

Good: Muse won an award at last night's MTV European VMAs.

Gooder: Video of the year went to Justice v Simian's 'Never Be Alone'. [The ever reliable GWFA has their even sexier video for 'Hustler' right here]

Goodest: Kanye West didn't win Video of the Year, and not for the first time, he complained about it: "Best video should have been mine. I should have won." He said that MTV was "sharing the wealth" by awarding it to JvS.

I love bitter Kanye.

Edit: Much more about this at the Superficial.


From the XFM Scotland archives, go here, and scroll down quite a bit, and you can find an old cover of Take That's 'Back for Good' by the Concretes. It's interesting, but I think that sometimes Victoria's ice-coolness doesn't help the song, and this is an example. She's so detached from a really warm lyric that it doesn't work too successfully. Still, it's a nice curio.

Trifecta of Filmic Gooditude

Been catching up on recent and not-so-recent films lately, here’s a quick summaview.

Confetti: British. Funny. Fake documentary. Stars lots of familiar faces from the small screen. Jessica Stevenson (Spaced), Martin Freeman (The Office), Rob Webb (That Mitchell and Webb Look), Olivia Coleman (also Mitchell and Webb), Jimmy Carr (Distraction) and Mark Heap (Spaced) to name more than a few. It’s an iffy premise – three couples compete to be named Confetti Magazine’s Most Original Wedding of the Year. Some of the characters are great – the two gay wedding planners, Mark Heap’s holy man – but most of them are kind of forgettable, such as the Billy-Baldwin-in-Squid-and-the-Whale-lite tennis coach, the estranged dad, and, and… I’ve forgotten. It’s an enjoyable film, that I really wanted to love because of the really strong cast, but it really lagged in parts, most notably when following the couple who are really into tennis. There’s one great line about the Flaming Lips that I can’t remember, and a really sweet emotional scene between the couple who are into Broadway, but overall there was a little too much of Rob Webb’s penis (his numberwang?) and not enough of the heart, or indeed of the laughs.

V for Vendetta: Slightly older, and I finally got around to seeing it. By pure coincidence, I also just rediscovered ‘The Day that Thatcher Dies’ by Hefner. The imagery and cinematography alone are really powerful, and Natalie P’s patchy accent doesn’t overshadow how pretty the film looks. The flashbacks are really well handled, the visuals are just incredible. V’s dialogue is great, too. He’s a very verbose villain. Eh? Eh? So yes, see it if you haven’t already, and there are no longer prizes available for watching the film and thinking “Hey! It’s just like our society!” so don’t try and claim that.

The Departed: Until today, it was the best reviewed major-label film of the year, but a certain ubiquitous fake journalist is overtaking it. That doesn’t matter. The Departed is indeed fantastic. The plot is brilliantly tense, Leo and Matt Damon are on the top of their games, Jack hams it up more than usual but I definitely prefer overacting psycho Jack to wishy-washy romantic comedy Jack. In the bit parts, Alec Baldwin and Marky Mark are funny and tough and just right. The soundtrack is solid, and what can you say about Scorsese? It’s surprising to me that critics keep calling this film a return to form, as if ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘The Aviator’ weren’t any good. Regardless, this film is a must-see, so long as you don’t mind a lot of people getting shot in the head. Go see it!

"I don't wanna be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me."

Best fascist dictator: Adolf Hitler!

You got me, I watched Annie Hall again last night, and the above quote stuck in my mind. It seems appropriate, though, for this posting, because apparently it's that time of year again. Yep, not even out of October, but today was the first of the big end-of-year award ceremonies, as not-really-that-relevant music mag Q invited some fancy-pants big names to a fancy-pants hotel in London.

Why should you care? You shouldn't, really. Awards for Muse (live band), Arctic Monkeys (album), Gnarls Barkley (single, for 'Smiley Faces'... just kidding) and The Killers (video). Oasis won best band in the world, which you may have something to say about.

The main reason, though, that the Q Awards aren't allowed to be taken seriously is that.. well.. here are some of the awards:

Q Inspiration Award, Q Outstanding Contribution to Music Award, Q Groundbreaker Award, Q Icon Award, Q Idol Award, Q Classic Songwriter, Q Outstanding Performance, Q Lifetime Achievement Award, Q Merit Award, Q Innovation Award, Q Legend Award, and, best of all, Q Award of Awards.


Remember when there was just one token award, usually Lifetime Achievement? Here there are like ten of them with different names. Do you think they allocated awards to everyone who bothered to RSVP? It's very very odd. Oh, and Karma Chameleon was named Q Classic Song.

Full results here.

I am melancholy eternally

The Runout Groove has a great feature about one of my favourite records, 'Everything Must Go' by Manic Street Preachers. It's a really pivotal album of my youth, and I'd write more about it, but their feature is far more comprehensive. So read that.

Here, though, is a b-side from one of the 'Everything Must Go' singles - Australia, I think - called 'Sepia'. It's ace and namechecks one of my favourite films. Everyone's a winner.

[download Manic Street Preachers - Sepia]

A mobster with a gay son. That's ironic.

Look, I don't always claim to be topical, alright? With that in mind, last night I saw the film 'Lucky Number Slevin', which came out earlier this year. Seeing as Josh Harnett's other recent film stank out the joint, and how the reviews have been middling, I was a little worried that it would be rubbish, but Paul McGuigan (The Acid House, Gangster #1) is a convincing reason to overcome my prejudices.

Fortunately, 'Lucky Number Slevin' is fanfuckingtastic. Great dialogue, really neat editing and cinematography, lots and lots and lots of deaths, a really tight twist-heavy plot, great cast, barely any women... also, Bruce Willis has a great haircut that screams "serial rapist".

Rent it now, it's great.

Lindsey: What happen to your nose?

Slevin: I used it to break some guy's fist.

"This is a wonderful show"

Portland icons and language enthusiasts The Decemberists just put out their newest record The Crane Wife and it's dead good. They're playing in Atlanta on Friday, and since I live about seven hours from there, I shan't be going. It's a pity, because I saw them there last summer, and they were terrific. Later in the year, they came to Tallahassee (unheard of!) and it was the best gig of 2005. No Florida date on this tour, alas, so I guess I'll have to make do with the live recording of their date at the Wiltern in Los Angeles last week.

It's pretty 'Crane Wife'-heavy, of course, although there's a sad lack of 'Yankee Bayonet', but 'Odalisque' is back in there, so rejoice rejoice. And Colin leads the audience in a vocal warm up exercise. Plus there's talk about nubian princesses, and we all need more of that.

The best way to listen to this: dress up your friends, and if possible your pets, as 19th century merchants, put fairy-lights up all around your living room and try to acquire enough sand to cover the floor.

[download The Decemberists - Live at the Wiltern, 2006-10-21]

You're only nineteen for God's sake

One time for the Long Blondes. There's no shortage of talk about them on the blog-front at the moment, since their debut album 'Someone to Drive You Home' just found its way onto the internet.

They're from Sheffield, like the Arctics, Human League, Pulp [see most recent post], and perpetual relegation. As it happens, the record is produced by Pulp's bass player, the fine-haired Mr. Steve Mackey. A lot of the tracks have been online for a while in earlier forms, and the album recordings are tighter, most notably opener 'Lust in the Movies', which I've bigged up in here before. It's in turns jaunty ('Once and Never Again', 'Seperated by Motorways'), dark and spoken-wordy ('You Could Have Both', 'A Knife for the Girls') and, for the most part, balls-out fun, best exemplified by previous single 'Giddy Stratospheres' (live video below!).

Like the other ace Sheffield album from earlier this year, these songs are simple, catchy and will stick in your head for ages. Unlike that record, though, this band has sexy ladies. Everyone's a winner.

I'm not gonna upload any songs from the record, but it's not too hard to find them on other great sites.

I wanna dance, that's all

Three updates in a day? I must really be slacking off elsewhere.

I wanted to do a post about the new Pulp reissues, and was dallying, so The Onion AV Club's feature today about their album This Is Hardcore was all the inspiration I needed. Pulp was the first band I ever saw in concert. It was March 1996, a few weeks after Jarvis became a household name thanks to invading Michael Jackson's stage at the Brit Awards. It began my now decade long love affair with both live music, and tie-wearing. Good stuff.

The band followed the sudden success of 'Different Class' with Jarvis getting into drugs and porn, and writing This Is Hardcore, released in 1998. The title track remains their best ever (I will fight anyone that disagrees, and what a video too), and with the glamtastic 'Party Hard', epic 'Seductive Barry', brooding 'The Fear', tender 'A Little Soul' and 'Dishes', it's a phenomenally dark and impressive album. Don't even get me started on the guitars in 'I'm A Man'...

The bonus CD that's part of the new reissue is equally fascinating. It begins with the scathing 'Cocaine Socialism', which is about a certain member of the Blair family and isn't too complimentary. Elsewhere, there's their attempt at a Bond theme ('Tomorrow Never Dies'), a string-heavy remix of 'This is Hardcore', and today's download, a song called 'It's A Dirty World', which would've made for a great subtitle for the record overall.

Just as an aside, Jarvis Cocker has a solo record coming out soon. There's a song you can download over at Fluxblog. Do that, won't you?

I am not Jesus, though I have the same initials.

[download Pulp - It's A Dirty World (Session Outtake)]

She looks like that dead girl! How sick are you?

There are many things which, popular wisdom dictates, you should never do. Drive whilst intoxicated, for instance. Punch a bear in the face. Call Mike Tyson a big, lisping twat. Add to this esteemed list, “watch Brian de Palma’s The Black Dahlia” because, friends, it’s balls. Not THE balls, which would be good, but just plain balls.

The 1940s noir look is slick, the costumes are dead on, everyone smokes, and the cinematography is pretty. Beyond that, there was nothing to enjoy about the most lumpen, painful and generally boring two hours since England drew 0-0 with Macedonia. I’m sure James Ellroy’s novel is great, but the adaptation did not film well at all. It was confusing, dragged repeatedly, and the final act is just overtly melodramatic in a way that’s unintentionally hilarious.

None of the performances were great, and this from great actors! Aaron Eckhart undoes his cred-forming turn in Thank You For Smoking, Scarlett Johansson phones it in over a dodgy phone line. Hilary Swank (Oscar winner!) is okay as a lesbian femme fatale with a family that’s spectacularly crazy. And Josh Hartnett sort of drifts by.

The film is ostensibly about a Hollywood actress that got killed, but that seems to be a background detail. The problem is, the foreground’s details are all over the place.

Never taken a short cut before?


Two teasers are now online for the best film of 2007, Hot Fuzz.

Watch them now.

Nick Frost is great.

"Is it true that there's a place in a man's head that if you shoot it, it will blow up?"

(edit: SOULJACKER PART ONE... by eels. That's the song in there. It bugged me all day.)

Is it wrong to be strong?

Alright, I admit it. I don't really have a justification for loving Jackass: Number Two. There's obviously no plot, the first half features a lot of bare male ass, there's a decent wait until the vomit shows up, you get to see Wee Man's, erm, wee man, there's some horse shit, and someone drinks horse semen. There isn't even any Party Boy this time around!

Despite all this, it's still the most fun I've had at a movie for a while. There was more Knoxville and less Bam this time around, which I'm happy with. That said, there's one scene called 'The Switcheroo' which is Bam-instigated and fantastic. Further, there are a lot of animals in this one. The horse sex we've discussed, also some bulls, leeches, bees, sharks, and snakes (a lot of snakes). Plus John Waters, Academy Award winners (!) Three Six Mafia, and Jay Chandrashekar, a facefull of pubes, a rocket to the moon, and a Sideshow Bob style rake-to-the-face gag. Plus a lot of rocket-powered pranks.

I'd definitely recommend it, just take a shower afterwards.

There's blood on my laptop y'all

Last night was something of a rite de passage for me. I went to my first gig in my new hometown (Gainesville, FL), at the Common Grounds venue. It was nice to finally catch a show in what is, honestly, a poor town for live music. Opening up were The Ettes from L.A. and they were steadfastly okay. Seriously, a solid three-piece who had good dynamics, catchy hooks but nothing that you'd remember after they finished. They reminded me a LOT of the Sheffield band The Long Blondes, whose 'Lust in the Movies' is available here, and has been one of my most played of the last few weeks. Although the Ettes didn't really have anything as catchy, they were a decent support band.

The headliner was Girl Talk, who is just one dude, Gregg Gillis from Pittsburgh, and his laptop. Mashups were everywhere in 2002 in the UK, and then disappeared for awhile, and his album 'Night Ripper' combines having a shit-ton of illegal samples with being fantastic. The live show was a lot more surreal. Gregg took the stage in a full suit, said a few words, and hit play on the computer and then proceeded to invite the audience onto the stage, and then rock the fuck out. Beyonce's 'Ring the Alarm' was in there early, but it'd be pointless to go through all the songs played. Some were famous - 'Ain't No Other Man', 'Where Is My Mind?' - some were not. Gillis' on-stage energy was huge and everyone that made it up there before security stopped allowing more people up were having a great time. On the floor, it was less convincing, although by God, we tried.

Disaster struck when someone hit the wrong key on the laptop, so Rick Ross' 'Hustlin' got stuck on a loop. It takes a while for someone that isn't soaked in sweat to make it to the stage to fix the problem, and after that there's only time for one more song. It's Girl Talk's ill-advised, and honestly quite rubbish, cover of Nirvana's 'Scentless Apprentice' (see video below). Gregg is shirtless by this point and jumping off the stage, rolling on the floor, and generally being a bit weird. Great fun, great entertainment, great night's worth of dancing...

If you didn't come to party, then why did you come here?

No more songs about sex and drugs and rock n' roll

I know it seems like I write about these two bands a little disproportionately, but that's only because they played together recently, that's all. I promise this'll be the last post about We Are Scientists and Art Brut for a while.

The Rich Girls are Weeping has a download of WAS covering the Brut's 'Bang Bang Rock And Roll' from their split tour-only single. It's done in the style of the Velvet Underground. It's not, as promised, seventeen minutes long. Still no sign of Art Brut's cover of WAS' 'The Great Escape' which apparently is a 'Freebird' ripoff (Eddie's words).

[download We Are Scientists - Bang Bang Rock N' Roll]

Levitation ain't your only friend

Well, the Killers' new record is out today. Not shockingly, Sam's Town is not the greatest album of the last twenty years. But unlike most, apparently, I actually quite like it. Putting the intro after the first track is still daft, despite Flowers' explanation, but the segue from 'Enterlude' into single 'When You Were Young' works well. Since Hot Fuss was essentially a handful of great songs, a couple of good ones, and then a few crap ones, the only real disappointment for me is that Sam's Town has fewer great songs.

All the criticism that this record is too overblown, too MOR, too 80s... I don't really feel it. The last record, after all, had a gospel choir (they're back here, by the way), and to be fair to them, they'll never write another song as bad as the shimmering shit-pile that was 'Glamourous Indie Rock n' Roll.' The best bits here are still cheap-disco, big-chorus, dance-like-a-twat capital-F Fun.

'When You Were Young', with all its "burning down the highway skyline on the back of a hurricane" nonsense, is still a great summer single. (Although Rolling Stone's comments about the lyrics are worth a read). 'For Reasons Unknown' is huge. 'Bones' is ace and brassy. 'Uncle Johnny' is a cousin, or, well, an uncle, to 'Andy You're A Star'. Things tail off towards the end, as they did on the first album.

It's a little too easy to hate on The Killers these days, but Sam's Town shows that they still have a few tunes up their flowery sleeves. Based on what they look like these days, I think that they'd make for a great Halloween costume. If only I had three friends.

[The Killers on the Hype Machine]

Are you trying to mock me on live television?

Given that his 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' was so universally beloved, there's a lot of hype upon Michel Gondrey's new film 'The Science of Sleep'. Someone warned me that not only is it NOT the best film of the year, it's not even the best Michel Gondry film of the year (That'll be 'Dave Chappelle's Block Party').

Well, as you may expect, it's visually stunning. There's a lot of the homemade special effects that we've seen in many of his music videos. In fact, you don't have to watch Science too closely to find nods to his videos for 'Everlong', 'Bachelorette' or 'Deadweight'. The dream sequences are really arresting and there's a strong sense of fun throughout the film.

Where I thought it was lacking was the narrative. For a film rooted in dreams vs. reality, it is sometimes tough to keep up with. It's hard to love the (waking) characters, Gael Garcia Bernal's character is close to the line between sweet and creepy. His co-worker Guy is ace, though. Gondry wrote this one himself, and it doesn't carry the tenderness of Charlie Kaufman's scripts that he's worked with before.

Definitely see it if you can, but don't expect anything too amazing.

She's electric, got a family full of eccentrics

I saw 'Who Killed The Electric Car?' last night. Now, I'm pretty liberal politically, but from this one, even I was yearning for a little more balance. It's a really interesting documentary and all, with some nice interview footage of Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson (get this: Mel brings the crazy!) and it of course presents a great case for the electric car. All I'm saying is, it didn't really offer any perspective other than saying "Big oil companies / the Government / consumers were to blame". There's a good amount of resources on the film website, so if you're interested, give it a read. Good film, well presented, just could've given the bad guys more of a voice.

Nothing's right if you ain't here

There's a strong chance that everything Mark Lanegan touches turns to evil. In addition to his solo and Screaming Trees stuff, his collabs with Queens of the Stone Age and more recently, Isobel Campbell, are dark as aw'hell. Lately he's been working with The Twilight Singers who just announced a new tour. Their newest record, Powder Burns, is one of my faves of the year (and Denis Leary's), so I'm hoping to make that Orlando show. They're supported by Stars of Track and Field who sound like the kind of band I'd have liked maybe three years ago. There are a few songs you can get of theirs from Good Weather for Airstrikes. Check 'em.

But damn, on the Singers' Myspace they've just put up their cover of Live With Me by Massive Attack, and I can honestly say, it's pretty immense. The original, from the recent 'Collected' best-of, wasn't nearly this brooding or dark. Lanegan and Dulli singing together give it such an evil, sinister edge. Check it out now.

And here's a live video of them doing it. Heh, I said doing it.

Good Weekend

The Spinto Band / Art Brut / We Are Scientists
Club Downunder, Tallahassee, FL
September 22nd, 2006

British bands don't come to Florida, and when they do, they certainly don't come to Tallahassee. In the last three years, I can remember Arab Strap, Four Tet, Mogwai, and Andy Rourke from the Smiths. Even Elton John cancelled a show at the Civic Center. So you can imagine my excitement about Art Brut making the trek over. Apparently, lots of other people had the same excitement, because when The Spinto Band took their twelve-legged rock and roll machine to the stage, the house was nicely packed. Their set was good fun, solid indie and well enjoyed. To be honest, I was kind of preoccupied catching up with friends whom I hadn't seen since the spring, so I didn't give them the attention that they deserved. So I missed their between-songs anecdote about some bad stuff that happened to them in North London, the memory of which was triggered by my NORF LONDON t-shirt that they'd seen earlier in the night. Heard the story later from their guitarist Jon, who forgave my t-shirt shaped indiscretion.

Next up were the band for whom I'd made the trip. Straight into 'Back in Black', a fine choice of intro, before morphing into 'Formed A Band'. Jasper and Ian were a mess of hair, Converse and Shakira. Eddie Argos, meanwhile, had just chipped a tooth the previous day, and the significant pain was offset by a lot of alcohol. They played almost all of 'Bang Bang Rock N Roll', plus a couple of new ones, and 'These Animal Menswe@r'. There were a lot of blank faces in the crowd, although a lot of people were digging it. 'Bad Weekend' was introduced as a blues song. 'Emily Kane' featured a whole status report vis a vis Emily's getting back in touch with Eddie. During 'Moving To L.A.', everyone pointed at L.A. Great energy and great songs. The live Brut is beefier than the recorded Brut and twice as fun. Go and see them, already.

The headliners, We Are Scientists, had been to Club Downunder before, but in the ensuing eleven months, they've become really quite popular. Especially in the UK. But their return to Tallahassee was a sellout, and the expectations were high for their show. It's a shame, then, that they weren't very good at all. Don't get me wrong, I like them a lot. But on Friday, WAS were dirgy, flat, lethargic and just plain unimpressive. The songs were played really slowly, it felt, and whilst you can't criticise them for playing new songs, there seemed like way too many of those. The crowd seemed to respond - by the time set-closer and highlight 'The Great Escape' was played, augmented by Art Brut, the floor was maybe 70% full, in what had been a packed house. And I think a lot of people were turned off by Keith and Chris' initially-funny-but-eventually-quite-grating stage patter. Here's a picture of when Chris went upstairs to check out the view. In the middle of a song.

Incidentally, about an hour after the end of the gig, I found myself in the back seat of a car, between Eddie Argos and Michael Tapper (drummer for WAS), going to a house party, talking about kegstands. Eddie said that he doesn't do them anymore, ever since his mum found this video on YouTube.

All in all - go for the science, stay for the art.

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