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.

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