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.

Academic Excellence

Florida State University To Phase Out Academic Operations By 2010

Go Seminoles! After Lost and The Simpsons, someone else makes fun of my alma mater.


Attention! Unbelievers!

Good Weather for Airstrikes has the elusive non-demo recording of The Marshals Are Dead by Bloc Party. The scratchy demo has been around for ages, as have various live recordings, but this is the version touched by ‘Silent Alarm’ producer Paul Epworth, aka Phones, aka Epic Man. Check it.


This weekend I’m going to see We Are Scientists and Art Brut at my favourite live music venue in the United States, and it’s safe to say that I’m sickeningly excited. WAS put on a fun show (download a whole one here if you don't believe me), but I'm f'real hyped about seeing the Brut for the first time. The Spinto Band are on first, and they sound alright too.


You already know that I quite love Guillemots. Well, their singer Fyfe Dangerfield recently covered 'Something Changed' by the much-missed Pulp (first gig I ever went to, fact fans!) and you can listen to it here. As if you needed me to tell you, it's ace.


Saw The Last Kiss this past weekend. It wasn't bad, by any means, just had the really strong sense of unimportance. Zach Braff's character, like most of the men, seemed troubled and self-important but without really having any reason to, and his resulting problems all were entirely his own doing and so it was hard to be sympathetic. The female characters really didn't have much dimension, and throwing in jokes sort of lessened the impact of how serious the film could've been. Why would Rachel Bilson's character be so interested in Braff's? Is "she's just like a man" really the best compliment they can pay to his girlfriend? Does Braff really need to say "fuck" as much as he does? There were more questions floating around afterwards.


Finally, some words about Arab Strap. Only saw them the once, in December 2003, when they came to aforementioned genius concert venue. I knew their cellist, Alan, because he toured with the Delgados as well, and so I was lucky enough to get in early, and catch them soundchecking. I've got a great picture of the whole band onstage with nobody in the audience, performing their song 'Fucking Little Bastards', one of my favourites.

Once the doors opened, the show was ace. There was a fire alarm halfway through, so everyone had to go outside, and then get back inside a few minutes later and straight back into 'New Birds'. It was a great gig, they're a great band, and I'll miss having them around. I'm glad, though, that it's completely amicable and like the Delgados, they'll still be working on their own solo stuff. If you're new to the Strap, I'd suggest checking out the record 'Monday At the Hug And Pint' - most people don't think it's their best, but I do. It's probably their most accessible. Here's me with Alan (middle) and Aidan. For a gruff beardy man, he has one hell of a voice.

Good Sunday

Here are the reasons why today was brilliant.

1. Arsenal beat Manchester United.
2. Arsenal beat Manchester United at Old Trafford.
3. Arsenal beat Manchester United without our two main strikers.
4. Arsenal beat Manchester United after the latter had a 100% record to start the season.
5. Arsenal beat Manchester United after the latter hadn't lost at home for nearly thirty games.
6. Arsenal beat Manchester United after missing a penalty early on.
7. Arsenal beat Manchester United with a goal in the last five minutes.
8. Arsenal beat Manchester United and it was thanks to a mistake by Christiano Ronaldo.
9. Arsenal beat Manchester United and I watched the whole thing live.
10. Arsenal beat Manchester United.

It's best to go out with a bang



I'll write more about them later, but bad news from the Arab Strap camp.

Yes, it’s the end for Arab Strap. After ten years, six studio albums, three live albums and all manner of everything else, we’ve decided the story should come to a close. There’s no animosity, no drama, we simply feel we’ve run our course and The Last Romance seems to us the most obvious and logical final act of the Arab Strap studio adventure. Everybody likes a happy ending!

Here's my favourite Arab Strap song. I'm gutted.

[download Arab Strap - Soaps]

Spaceships over Glasgow

Here's the thing. I fucking love Mogwai. I was a little late to catch on, not converting until 'Come On Die Young' came out in 1999, but since then I've been a fierce advocate of theirs. The latest two albums haven't done too much for me, I have to say, but they're one of the most incredible bands you can ever see live. I'll never forget seeing them in November of 2001 at the Brixton Academy, and they played two of their loudest songs (Xmas Steps and Like Herod) back to back, with the latter being accompanied by a really minimal but effective lighting display that just KILLED. And the second time I saw them, it was in Tallahassee. I wrote about it at the time, read here.

Theirs is music to absorb. Music to listen to in the dark. Their album 'Rock Action' is probably the only music I can comfortably read with. Criticising them for not having lyrics is pretty dumb - they pack more emotion into a song like 'You Don't Know Jesus' or 'Mogwai Fear Satan', than many bands can capture in words.

I bring Mogwai up today, because of this page, where you can download a whole CD's worth of session recordings they did for the BBC. Not to be confused with their official release 'Government Commissions', here there are a whole set MORE of songs. Highlights: an early version of 'Waltz for Aidan', before the lovely Mr. Moffatt was even involved with it; an early take of my beloved 'Xmas Steps', here called 'Procedure 4'; their legendary Guns N' Roses cover; and what better way to go out than a twenty minute version of an old Jewish hymn, their epic 'My Father My King'.

[download Mogwai - Government Commissions, Vol 2]

Now I can finally get hepatitis!

Steve Pink co-wrote the screenplays for High Fidelity and Grosse Point Blank, so he's earned some points in his career already. He's also the director of Accepted, a film that's so banal and uninspired that even a soundtrack with the Pixies, Le Tigre and the Hives cannot breathe life into it.

Above all else, this film really lacks any sense of originality. The plot follows the age old 'make a lie out of desperation, watch it escalate uncontrollably, then have the "is it really that bad to lie?" speech at the end' routine. Like The School of Rock. Also, there's a stuffy academic who's trying to put the renegade heroes out of business. Like Old School. And they have to contend with preppy frat boys with a superiority complex. Ever seen Animal House? There's a scene towards the end of Accepted which is almost identical to the "Tell those assholes to shut up" scene.

Let's overlook this for some reason. The characters themselves are almost entirely unlikeable. Justin Long, an actor who I do not like, is the lead and has very little to offer other than a face that reminds me of a young David Schwimmer. Yes, handsome in an ugly sort of way. His is a dull character who initially is fast-talking and quick thinking, but quickly becomes actually quite boring. I'm no big punk purist, but if you are, you may want to avoid the film just for his assassination of Blitzkrieg Bop. His love interest makes a mid-movie switch from dating the jock nemesis, to dating our hero, who is painstakingly DIFFERENT to the jock. It's that easy. Other players kinda lack dimensions, too. There are the parents, who can only love their kid if he gets into college, the annoying younger sister, a kid with ADD whose name is also ADD, the weird hippie girl... Even Lewis Black phones in his performance. Jonah Hill gets a couple of laughs ("I hope you have hobo-stab insurance"), but they're lost in the averageness.

And another thing... according to this film, going to college (that's a real college, not, like, one that you and your buddies invented in an abandoned mental hospital using a website) is (a) sure to turn you into a zombie concerned only with grades, (b) sure to turn you into a haze-happy frat boy, (c) going to stifle your attempts at creativity, and (d) not nearly as good as going to a place where there's a class about Rocking Faces Off.

Rather than putting up a still from the movie, as I usually do, here's a picture of Feedback, the winner of Who Wants to be a Superhero?

From the illest part of the Western Hemisphere

Out this week, Game Theory by The Roots is getting shit-hot reviews. This may have something to do with how much of an improvement it is over the previous one, The Tipping Point, which, truth be told, wasn't too terrible. But now on a new home (Def Jam) and with the Jiggaman as a boss, they've made an album that doesn't get too self-indulgent and manages to stay focused. Only the closing tribute to J-Dilla clocks in at over five minutes, and sure enough, it's the weakest track on here. The return of former rapper Malik B on a few tracks provides a nice contrast to Black Thought's much-maligned monotone, and as ever the band cover a lots of bases. There's lady-friendly smooth jamz like Clock With No Hands and first single Don't Feel Right, the up-in-yo-face title track and In The Music, the Sly Stone aping Baby, and the short-but-ace flute workout Livin' In A New World.

Have a listen to Atonement, as chill as a good freezer, and boasting a sample from 'You and Whose Army?' by Radiohead. Really.

[download The Roots - Atonement]

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