Loose talk on a slow walk home

I keep meaning to write a post about the new Hope of the States album, "Left", which came out recently. They elected not to repeat the epic songscapes of their debut "The Lost Riots" (my number three of 2004 after the self-titled releases from these guys and these guys) and for me it makes "Left" a weaker record. I mean, it's good and all, just not as good as it could be. At least it doesn't tail off in the second half like 'Riots' did. But the debut album from My Latest Novel has many of HOTS' tricks and is a preferable listen for me at least.

Anyway, the band just did a ten track live set for Steve Lamacaq last week. They play most of the new record, including highlights "The Good Fight" and "The Church Choir", plus an older one and a still-unreleased one. Encoded by "The Ripmeister" from their official messageboard, you can download the set from this page.


Good news for me and perhaps nobody else - Seafood are back! New album due in August called "Paper Crown King", which will feature the song "Between the Noise", which they put a demo of on their site ages and ages ago. Alas, lovely bass player Kevin Hendrick has left, though.

Is it a bird?

I've never been into soft drinks, or 'sodas' or 'pop' or 'fizzywet', very much, and so I don't really understand the people who have fierce brand loyalty about them. You know who I mean. The people who only drink Pepsi and hate hate HATE Coke, or vice versa. To me, they are both the same drink, just as Sprite, Sierra Mist and 7-Up are all just overrated water. Maybe it's just because I've never been a 64-oz a day kinda guy, but I've never felt the need to get that passionate about carbonated beverages. In England, I was quite partial to Lilt,
because it was totally unique, and totally tropical. But my fandom was not extended to the point where I'd forsake every other product.

My lack of brand loyalty extends to other things, too. I love iTunes and my iPod (when it works) but I can't imagine buying a Mac computer, despite what that guy who plays the same character in every movie might have me believe. My favourite pairs of trousers are from both Old Navy and American Eagle. When I was a lot younger, I favoured McDonalds over Burger King, simply because their toys were better, but now I dislike them both equally. Adidas edges it over Nike because of a) my fantastic $12.99 three-stripes, and the best TV advert I've seen in ages.

In fact, the only are I have any semblance of brand loyalty is the one area where I'm always going to be let down. I loved Nick Hornby's first few novels, so I had high expectations for 'How To Be Good', but it was rubbish. I stay loyal to Manic Street Preachers, even though they've only recorded one good song this century (that'll be 'Intravenous Agnostic') and their singer's solo single sounds a bit plops. And, though, most people won't admit it, the vast majority of Christopher Walken's films are in fact cripplingly, unwatchably bad.

I'm yet to be disappointed by Bryan Singer, though. It may be the world's worst kept secret, but 'The Usual Suspects' is an incredible film. If he were Michael Owen, that film would be his goal against Argentina in 1998. That film he made about Nazis (Singer, not Michael Owen. I don't think Michael Owen has made any films about Nazis) was pretty good, and the two X-Men films were enjoyable enough. I'm no comic books fan — much to the chagrin of the better half — but that first scene in X2 where Nightcrawler goes climbing up the walls in the White House is ace.

Because of my brand loyalty to Bryan Singer, and to a lesser degree, Kevin Spacey, and the way I love going to the cinema alone, and the name of this blog, I went to see 'Superman Returns'. It was nice to hear about a Man of Steel that wasn't Lakshmi Mittal (if you don't get that reference, it's okay, but you should probably read the business pages a little more).

I enjoyed the film a lot. First things first, Brandon Routh was inch-perfect as Clark Kent (perfect mix of young Christopher Reeve and Stephen Malkmus), and very good as the big S. Spacey can do hilarious megalomania in his sleep, and was always fun to watch. Except when he said "Bring it on!" which just doesn't sound like something he'd say. Kate Bosworth and James Marsden were impressive as well. It was a waste of my facesake but not my namesake, though. He could've done with more than two lines.

I liked how Singer's film stayed somewhere in between the pop-culture glossiness of Sam Raimi's Spiderman films (nice new trailer, by the way) and the darkness of Chris Nolan's Batman Begins. Superman is the ultimate superhero, and the film pretty much focused on how ultimate he is. Not quite as relentless as Mission Impossible 3, which as I've said before is the cinematic equivalent of 'The Woods' by Sleater Kinney, it's action-packed to the point of queasiness (in a good way) as the man in the cape saves a whole month's worth of days.

So as to keep AYGH? a spoiler-free zone, I won't go into the movie too much now . But if someone who isn't into comics can severely enjoy it then you probably can too. It's great with popcorn, just don't get a Coke. Or a Sprite. Or...


I forgot to mention this in last night's post, but 'The Final Solution' audiobook was read by Michael York, and maybe that's why I didn't dig it too much. Not that he isn't great, but the whole time I was thinking of that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where he and Ted Danson open a restaurant and everyone suddenly starts swearing. It's brilliant.


I recently learned that the band JJ72 are breaking up. Even though I haven’t listened to them in somewhere approaching four years, this news made me sad. Back in early 2000, they were the first band that I ever interviewed. I was really nervous, going to the now-closed Camden Falcon, and asking for Acko, the tour manager, who turned out to be nine feet tall. He led us into the backroom, where the band was soundchecking, and it was my first taste of seeing a band play to a room of just five people. The interview itself went well and they turned out to be kind of lovely. Over the next few months they grew and grew from being “our” band to being “as seen on Top of the Pops” big.

So when it was announced last week that after two albums, one line-up change and ultimately no record label, they’re packing it in, it got me thinking about some of the other bands I’ve interviewed. Mo*Ho*Bish*O*Pi. My Vitriol. Younger Younger 28s. Straw. Alfie. Preston School of Industry… Where are any of them now? I talked to Johnny Marr on the phone once, but despite his being in one of the 80s’ most iconic bands, his band The Healers have also sank without trace. I think I’m a bad talisman for bands. Clinic are the only band I can think of who’re still around – and even they’ve been quiet for a long, long time. Whatever happened to those Coldplay guys? They were nice...

[links to some of their songs]


With individual taste being what it is, I’m surprised to see that many critics agree that the new Gomez album, ‘How We Operate’, is their best in years and years. I’m really interested in the idea of a return to form – as if to say “Well done, lads, you’ve finally put out an album that isn’t shit! First time in four attempts! Nice one!” I really love their debut album ‘Bring It On’, and this new one is the first one I’ve enjoyed since, so I guess I’m going along with the consensus here. Saw them at Glastonbury in ’99 and they were fantastic, but a couple of times after that on the ‘Liquid Skin’ tour they were rubbish, including an interminable set at the Forum in London where every song had twenty minutes’ worth of drum fills.

There’s a new gig of theirs available to download as part of NPR’s excellent All Songs Considered series. The good: they play lots of old songs. The bad: they still like to stretch every song out, and the drums are still all over the place. Nice version of ‘Make No Sound’, though. Check them out.


You may be aware that there’s a World Cup going on at the moment. British comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner used to cover World Cups with a nightly installment of their actually-very-funny TV show Fantasy Football League. This year, though, they’re doing a podcast. I found out about it over the weekend and listened to all the episodes so far. It’s nice to hear the latest gossip, match reports and some coverage that just doesn’t make it to the U.S. Unfortunately, there are lots of things that I don’t like about their podcast. In bullet form:

· Baddiel laughing at his own (terrible) jokes and observations

· Frank Skinner playing banjo

· All their rubbish songs, except the one about David Pleat on a plane which was actually funny

· Skinner’s Morrissey impressions

· The proliferation of jokes about a) Nazism/The Holocaust, and b) Peter Crouch

Say what you want about our constant dissing of Lion’s Gate, but at least we never busted out the banjo.


At work, I like to listen to audiobooks off my iPod. It makes the time go by more enjoyably than if I were just playing music. I’m working a pretty tedious data entry job at the moment, so I need the time to fly, and not just walk. Today I listened to Michael Chabon’s novella ‘The Final Solution’. I didn’t like it much, as I didn’t like his ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay’ much. I can’t really put my finger on why I didn’t enjoy it. It’s a detective story, with the central character supposed to be Sherlock Holmes, but when he solves the mystery, it’s lacking any of the really satisfying explanation that Doyle delivered. The characters were nice and well defined, just the final third let it down, I thought.


That’s enough for today, yeah?

Mellow out or you will pay!

I like August.

It's my friend Tom's birthday on the 9th, the Premier League starts up again, ending a few months sadly lacking any football (of course, World Cup years are a slight exception), and it means that my shorts-wearing days are coming to an end. As anyone who has seen my legs will doubtless verify, this is a good thing.

This August will be especially great. In addition to the reason you already know about, on the 8th of August Chemikal Underground is putting out a 2CD anthology from the much-missed delgados. Spanning seven different sessions and their whole career, 'The Complete BBC Peel Sessions' has 29 tracks and would be a great introduction for newcomers to the band. No songs from 'Hate' (2002), though, since their Peel Session that year featured four covers instead.

Here's one of them, an unlikely but suitably menacing take on the Dead Kennedys.

the delgados - California Uber Alles (yousendit link)

Famous First Words

Hello! Welcome to Are You Gene Hackman?

Why? I used to run a webzine called The Brain Farm - don't look for it, it's not there any more - and I really miss writing about music, so that's really the impetus for this.

If you're looking to download hot new albums sometimes months ahead of their release, then you'll be gutted. There'll be none of those here, because (a) there are plenty of sites that already provide that service, and (b) I don't really want to go to prison.

What you will find, though, are some thoughts on music primarily, but also film, television, books, comedy, associational football, and whatever else I find interesting. There'll doubtless be lots of links to YouTube, because if you're reading this, you're probably dying to see - oh, I don't know - my favourite sports moment of all time.

Aren't you glad that I used the word 'impetus' legitimately today?

Find It