I'm having a pop at the undead!

Just watched the current number one film in America. Rather than discuss it here, I'll direct you to what other people have had to say about it.

What was the last studio picture this bad? Maybe 2002's The Adventures of Pluto Nash. I've seen more talent in my cat's last dump. themovieboy.com

Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer must be stopped. For the last 10 years, this filmmaking team has created a series of spoof movies so feeble, shoddy and unfunny that they may be part of a diabolical, Manchurian Candidate-like plot. Globe and Mail

It’s all terrible—puerile, vulgar and unfunny... The whole thing is one instance of wretchedness after another. Oneguysopinion.com

I can say without hyperbole that Epic Movie may truly be the absolute worst movie I’ve ever seen. It’s so horribly, painfully bad that I wouldn’t wish it on Paul Haggis. Pajiba.com

I won't go on. You can read the rest here. All I'll say is: If you've ever wanted to see Crispin Glover dance to Fergalicious, now's your chance. If not, for the love of all that is holy, stay the fuck away.

I'm still incensed, this'll cheer me up.

It's the chance of a lifetime

The Rapture / Under the Influence of Giants
Tallahassee Beta Bar
January 26, 2007

Who are Under the Influence of Giants? Or UTIOG? I still don't really know. They're on a major, so perhaps I should. Jimmy Kimmel tells me they're huge on iTunes and myspace. The consistently entertaining but rarely useful 'moods' function on AMG says they're quirky, amiable, trashy and indulgent, and ideal for a girl's night out. Not sure what any of that means. They played pleasant enough rock n' roll with some funk basslines (bass player looked like a badass, btw) but all the songs sure did sound the same. Their singer, Aaron, wore a big coat, paced around a lot and gave off a Johnny Borrell vibe which kind of bugged me. Their last two songs were easily their best, and the last one especially was really heavy and dynamic and would really have made a great set-opener. So-so band, shit band name.

What you gonna do? What you gonna do? When The Rapture comes for you? Maybe they could put that on a t-shirt. One thing that can be said about the Brooklyn foursome - they don't mess around. All bangers. No slow jams. Lots of energy. Mostly songs off 'Echoes'. Call and response for 'Sister Savior' and 'Get Myself Into It'. Old-school rave vibes through 'Killing' and 'Don Go Do It'. Luke Jenner playing with his back to the crowd on set-highlight 'Pieces of the People We Love', and throwing dance moves on 'W.A.Y.U.H.' And of course, as that delayed guitar hits the start of 'House of Jealous Lovers', everyone goes ape. It was a very fun set, but the guitar was often way too high in the mix, and sounded muddy. Plus, I realized that a lot of their songs sound the same. So if you didn't know any of them coming into the gig, you'd probably have been quite bored after three songs. But as a fan, I enjoyed it a lot, and as they finished with 'Olio' and the house lights came up, and we all realized quite how much sweat we'd lost, it was all worth it.

Today's download was all over the net a few months ago, but because I can't find it active anywhere else at the moment, here you go. It's essential.

[download The Rapture - Whoo! Alright! Yeah! Uh Huh! (Simian Mobile Disco Remix)]

I hope your wretched town will fall

I was away for a few days watching bands and eating Cuban food. I'll write about the bands later, but probably not about the Cuban food. Briefly, here are some things I saw on the internet this weekend that I thought you might like.

  • Good Weather for Airstrikes' comprehensive list of last year's best music videos. This will kill at least one entire day, so budget accordingly.
  • Bloc Party! Live for French radio! But no 'Uniform' or 'Song for Clay', alas.
  • Speaking of live shows, grab one here from Girl Talk. It's ideal if, like, me, you prefer to keep a relaxed, "stay at home" kind of work out regimen. It's in super crisp FLAC format, though, so to play it you'll need both a FLAC plugin, and infinite patience (392Mb)
  • There's a new Rush Hour film. It's set in Paris. Why? WHY THE FUCK NOT? [Teaser]
  • The Rakes have posted a new song on their myspace. It's called 'We Danced Together' and it's great. Listen to it.
  • Playing us out tonight, Seafood's gnarliest song. If David Line's lungs can sort it out, maybe they'll make it back over to the US someday. But I'm not holding my breath (thank you and good night)

You know, we know we're not the smartest

There's this band, right. They're called the Notwist. They're from Germany. They put out a record a few years ago called 'Neon Golden' and it's one of my favourites. They mix laptop-based electronica with real songwriting and guitars, and it's beautiful. They have this one song, 'One With the Freaks', which might be on every mix tape I've made in the last three years. They used to be a heavy metal band, too. They've been very quiet for a long time, which is a shame. And though, sadly, I can't report any new material from them, there are two snippets of info.

Firstly, they have a DVD out! A documentary about the making of Neon Golden called On/Off The Record. Downer: it's only available in Germany. To be fair, it's a documentary about the making of an album, so I think I can live without it.

In more immediately gratifying news, UberDrivel has posted a live show of theirs from 2004. It's all great, of course, including a few songs with rap band Themselves, with whom they'd make the 13+God album. There's some great renditions of songs off 'Neon Golden', plus some earlier stuff. But! The reason I'm so excited is because of the opener, a terrific acoustic song called 'Bring It On Home' which, for two and a half years, I have not been able to find anywhere on this planet. Despite searching with impeccable zeal.

So, kudos aplenty to Uberdrivel. Nab the whole set here.

[download The Notwist - Bring It On Home (live in Vancouver)]

My mother told me to be wary of Fauns

First up, a word about this year’s Oscar nominations. I’m completely outraged – and bear in mind that I’m usually calm and polite and reserved – at the complete lack of Justin Long in the honours. But seriously, aside from a Cuaron shaped gap under the Best Director heading, they’re pretty good. Nice to see the props for Jesus Camp and Water, as well as young Abigail Breslin. What, though, is going on in the Best Song category? Three from the same film, one from a global warming documentary, and Randy bloody Newman? Are they havin’ a laugh?

Anyway, last night I went to see the hexa-nominated Pan’s Labyrinth at the local arthouse place. I enjoyed Guillermo del Toro’s previous film Hellboy, so I was excited for this one, and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. The imagery is all incredible – look out for the giant toad. I love the historical backdrop and the costumes and battle sequences. The characters are strong, especially Ofelia and Mercedes, and the strong theme of unrest and danger really comes across well. There’s a couple of bits where I had to turn away, I don’t handle amputations or stitches too well. And Javier Navaarrete’s score fits so well. The ending is perfect, too. Don’t miss.

Wherever I lay my phone that's my home

Hello. What's new? Just a quick post this evening. Mostly just links to other sites, to be honest. They can't all be "The first time I saw Super Furry Animals" you know.

First up, The Times' Entertainment section may well be following this very website. First up, there's an interview with Louis Theroux, ahead of his brand new Weird Weekend in Las Vegas, airing in the UK in early February. And the same site's music podcast is great. Not only is it great, but the last two editions focus on Gruff Rhys and The Hours. The latter is especially fun - listen out for Antony Genn's story about jumping off a bridge in Sheffield.

Sticking with the 30-minute-plus downloads, go over to Fluxblog and check out the clip from the Best Show on WFMU, which is fantastically funny, in a demented caller kind of way. There's a description of Shakespeare which is best described as inaccurate.

The latest edition of Observer Music Monthly is up - there's a feature about the best gigs that various people have seen. Maybe I'll do a post in here soon about mine. And Akira the Don, who's written a few interesting articles for the Guardian Blogs, has a new one about drugs in music.

And last for tonight, cos I want to go to sleep, Status Ain't Hood does well to articulate all I love about the new Bloc Party record.

Today's embed: Super Furry Animals, from their 1999 peak, with two songs live. Enjoy!

The greatest comeback since Lazarus

I'm really surprised that The Hours haven't had much attention in the music blogs yet. They've got a good pedigree, having played with Joe Strummer's Mescaleros. They've got big name backing, with Jarvis and Damien Hirst being big supporters. They've got a remarkable history, which you should read here. And, almost as a footnote, they're really good.

Listen to 'Love You More' on their myspace page, with its lyric "I love you more than Tony Soprano, for those who do not know me that's a fuck of a lot". Occasionally they sound a little too much like Embrace, as on the new single 'Back When You Were Good' with its string section, but the lyrics are so honest and powerful that it rises above inanity.

But holy fuck, listen to their song 'Ali In The Jungle' right now. It's about overcoming adversity, set against the backdrop of Ali v. Foreman, namechecking others who've defied all odds, including Nelson Mandela and Beethoven ("Ludwig Van, how I loved that man, the way he was deaf but didn't give a fuck"). It's a great microcosm of what the band have overcome to be where they are now, and it's highly recommended. I'll probably post something else from their debut album 'Narcissus Road' nearer its release.

[download The Hours - Ali In The Jungle]

Public Service Announcement

You should probably pause what you're doing and go over to GWFA because they've got Guillemots' cover of Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out, which used to be my ringtone, fact fans. As with The Streets and Pulp previously, so-hot-theyre-molten Guillemots completely make the song their own. Begins like Fyfe's doing his late-night-hotel-bar crooning, but like the original, it completely shifts a minute in. Listen to it, it's got more instruments than you'd care to name.

What's my ringtone now, you ask? Why, it's Get Myself Into It and no, I can't wait to see the (em-effing) Rapture next week

And just because I can't post enough about them, here's a live video of 'Sao Paolo' backed with, I don't know, a million piece orchestra, from last year's Electric Proms.

We're like a really violent rock band

And, since I was talking about things you can watch in their entirety on YouTube earlier, check out Louis Theroux's Weird Weekend episode about Wrestling. Here's the first part. It's brilliant! The first part is filmed right here in Gainesville. I've been watching a lot of Louis lately (Thai Brides, Televangelists, Bodybuilding...) and this is the most intense one yet, because the man gets pushed further than ever before. The characters this time include Sarge, who will FUCKING KILL YOU, and some people in North Carolina who are slightly less mental. Plus Rowdy Roddy Piper talks about his injuries, Alex Wright unveils a new character, and Randy Savage ignores Louis. I don't watch much telly these days, but I wish it was more like Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends.

Bonus: also on YouTube, catch 'Louis and the Nazis' which is more recent than Weird Weekends. I haven't seen it yet, that's the kind of thing I save for my Friday nights.

This post is not yet rated

Although I greatly enjoyed watching Kirby Dick's documentary 'This Film Is Not Yet Rated', I wish it had a clearer idea of what it wanted to be. On one hand, it's a fun adventure to investigate the Motion Picture Association of America, the shadowy committee who decide exactly how much pubic hair is too much pubic hair. He hires a lesbian private investigator, and they shadow people in restaurants and follow cars. Like I said, it's really fun. He almost gets caught in a McDonalds, but their targets figure out that it's normal in Los Angeles to be followed around by a creepy-looking weirdo.

They dig up some great dirt, like the identities of all the "secret" film raters. Why are they secret to begin with? The official line is "to protect them from outside influence", but surely that's just a cop out. I mean, judges are surely subject to outside influence. Or politicians. Their identities don't need to be protected, and they deal in matters of more significance than deciding if 'Team America' has too much deviant sexuality to warrant an R-Rating.

But I felt like their serious and sometimes worrying findings (violence has no parameters, apparently, but show any sex and you're in trouble; very few raters actually have young children as they're supposed to, etc) got a little diluted by the craziness of the chase, and the gonzo-ness of it all. There's a bit near the start about shooting disabled orphan kids, which is funny (come on! it's a cartoon!) and the final third, in which Kirby (whose previous doc was about literary theorist and, let's be honest, dreamy Frenchman, Jacques Derrida) attempts to get his film rated is more of an adventure than an explosive exposé.

Definitely give it a look, because it's fascinating. I just wish it wasn't so frittering. Here's an interview with Kirby Dick on (ugh) CNN Headline News. And, without saying too much, let's just say.. full film.. YouTube.. ten parts.. you didn't hear that from me.

I'll have to move out of this country

Lots of talk about how, for album number five, Idlewild would be moving back to their earlier sound, away from the last album's cozy tunefulness in favour of some more damn distortion. And sure enough, the first three songs of 'Make Another World' show a band with newly refound energy and crunchy guitars and not many vocal harmonies. 'No Emotion' is a bit 80s, and I'm not sure if it's in a good or a crap way just yet, but it's nice to see that Idlewild, too, don't like emo music. That must be what it's about. The single 'If It Takes You Home' is by far the heaviest thing here, but check out the shredding at the end of 'A Ghost in the Arcade'.

There are still plenty of Radio 4-friendly slower jams, but at least 'You and I Are Both Away' inexplicably starts rocking out a couple of times. A couple of songs ('Once In Your Life', 'Future Works') veer toward the "boring" side of "pleasant", but as closer 'Finished It Remains' trots by, with its lyrics about the journey starting at the journey's end, fans will be happy with 'Make Another World'. Idlewild do what they do best, the melodies and tunes remain in tact, but for us younguns there's still plenty of bite to them.

[download Idlewild - Everything (As It Moves)]

I was very, very drunk

Two things happened this past weekend, independently of each other, but they sort of tie together pretty well. I caught the latest episode of Saturday Night Live, with Jake Gyllenhall and the Shins. Now, SNL has been poor for a long time, but this episode was a new low. Just flat out bad comedy sketches.

Secondly, I binged on series three of The Fast Show, a BBC sketch show from the late 90s. The difference between that show at its peak and SNL at its current nadir was really stark, and often easy to spot. For one thing, like mid-period Mercury Rev songs, SNL sketches don't know when to end. There were a bunch of them which had a decent premise but just ran and ran and ran. This week, there was one where "two burnt-out soccer moms interview a local author" which stopped being funny pretty quickly. In the last episode I saw, there was one in which a local news broadcast was hosted by two people who really hate the town (Good Morning I Hate This Town).

What's really lacking, though, is a range of good characters for a sketch show. They recur with the "Two A-Holes", people who are jerks and don't answer questions from policemen. Not a lot of mileage there. And don't get me started on the "Deep House Dish" music thing that Kenan hosts, which is terrible.

You want characters, jerks?

* Rowley Birkin, QC
* Dave Angel, Eco Warrior
* The 13th Duke of Wimbourne
* Swiss Toni
* Indecisive Dave
* Chip Cobb, Deaf Stuntman
* The Suits You Sir blokes (guest star: Johnny Depp!)
* and the Cockneys.

And so on. There's hope yet for SNL - the Lonely Island guys have delivered the show's best moments lately, so hopefully there'll be more from them. But honestly, where's good American sketch comedy these days? I wish there was more like this...

What makes you think it was murder?

Since AYGH? is your unofficial one-stop source for news regarding Hot Fuzz, the new comedy from Pegg and Wright, here's an update. Firstly, there's a well-formed website up and running, with a contest I don't really understand, and some details about who's in it. Hey! It's Bill Bailey looking not-like-a-mental-hippie!

Also, there's a new U.S. trailer, complete with intro from Simon, Edgar and Nick. And - yes! - it's Paddy Considine!

I can't put into words how excited I am.

[watch new U.S. trailer for Hot Fuzz]

What, no Bloc Party, Arcade Fire or Joanna Newsom?

It's Sunday, tomorrow's a holiday, and Spurs lost today, so all in all, things are good. Oh, and the BBC are commissioning a documentary about "the C-word".

As if to add to this mid-January fun, I just had a look at Virgin Radio's annual "Best 500 Songs of All Time" list, which came out a couple of weeks ago. Now, it's a pretty big undertaking to make such a list, and doing one every Christmas seems to devalue any possible achievement in winning it.

All that said, just check out that top 25. Virgin radio is awesome. Notice the lack of anyone who isn't a white guy. There's a 2006 song at number one (and it isn't 'Crazy' - that's at 255) which you may not agree with. So, there's a song which is a few months old deemed the greatest of all time. Can I get a what, what?

Further, 'America' by Razorlight is top ten. I wrote nice things about them earlier this year, mostly about their song 'Los Angeles Waltz' - incidentally, fact fans, that particular posting is the most searched-for page on AYGH; apparently continental Europeans love them that one lyric - but that song is rubbish, innit? Top ten best songs ever?

So look at their list and look to see where your favourite song charted. Just to save you a few minutes, here's a heads up... Arab Strap didn't quite make the list.

Here's a video of number 35...

Are you petrified of being petrified?

Since we gave the world Mr Blobby and the Spice Girls, I can't really say anything about American novelty acts, but a few nights I went to see one live. Thanks to a pizza place being very slow, I missed the entire set from blog-darlings Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, but apparently they were good.

I did, though, make it in time for Harry and the Potters. Two guys, both of them look like physics club secretaries, play songs about J.K. Rowling's juggernaut-books, and release balloons onto the crowd. They're kinda like They Might Be Giants, in that they're obviously big dorks but they play fun songs, many of which are under 90 seconds in length. The only difference is that these guys only sing about fictional wizards. If you're not a fan of those books/films, there's not much for you to see, but since I am...

They played songs like 'Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock', 'Cornelius Fudge is an Ass', 'Save Ginny Weasley', 'This Book Is So Awesome' and 'The Godfather'. They played for an hour, which is surprising given the brevity of some of the songs - like 'S.P.E.W.' which only features people shouting "Spew!" into the microphone. At one point, they tell a really convoluted story about Ghostbusters II and how it makes Voldemort sad. The songs are in a rough chronology with the books, which is weird. Lots of audience participation, jumping into the crowd, dancing... it wasn't a very big crowd, but they made it very fun. Best lyric of the night, in a song about Cho Chang: "I wish I didn't bring up Cedric Diggory / It's weird talking about your dead ex-boyfriend over coffee."

It made me want to start my own band, where all the songs are about the Police Academy series. And that's a high recommendation.

[download some Harry and the Potters songs here]

This isn't a pop quiz, it's an intervention

Sorry, didn't write in here for a couple of days. Two reasons, both of them sporting. Firstly, I was here for this and this, which all happened because of this. As you can imagine, the hugging strangers and um, setting fire to trees, has left me pretty exhausted. And to make matters worse, the following night my boys brung the pain to Liverpool for the second time in a week. The Beast is alive, you'd all best watch your mothers.

Anyway, here's what I wanted to write about. 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks' is a music-themed comedy quiz show on the BBC. It began in the late 90s, when they also launched comedy quizzes based on sports and TV. None of these shows were every especially funny, very scripted and unspontaneous, and 'Buzzcocks' especially had a very laddish vibe - i.e. women guests were always patronised and there are lots of bawdy, usually lame jokes. It used to be hosted by Mark Lamarr, who's not very funny unless he's having clocks thrown at him.

Anyway, now they have a new host who's slightly funnier, and Bill Bailey, who's great (but subdued in this), but they're still not great to female guests - watch how they bully daytime chat-show host Penny Smith. But the real reason to watch this episode is because of Amy Winehouse, whose single 'Rehab' got much online love a few months ago. She's the highlight of this episode because she is D-R-U-N-K Drunk. So many things to look out for: the Westwood story, the Katie Melua diss, and when she says "I'm having a BILLBOARD time!"

Part One embedded, two and three just there. It's great television, it is.

England is mine, I'll take what I want

Quick link today to an interview with Kele Okereke in the Guardian. It's pretty long but it's fascinating - a frank discussion about racial tension in London, religion, sexuality, and the new record, 'A Weekend in the City'.

I'll write more about it nearer the release, but at this stage, the first five songs are genius, and the last song is genius. The remainder need to grow on me. It'll happen. I'm missing them in Chicago in March by just a couple of days, and that really saddens me.

And the video for 'I Still Remember' just made it online, but good luck getting the MTV2 player to load.

Bumper film post

AYGH's Ten Favourite Films of 2006

The Queen

Maybe this is especially powerful to me because we went, my family, to the palace on that Sunday, and it was an unforgettable day. The film is every bit as good as every critic on the planet has already suggested. Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen are perfect. The royal family is rarely seen as human, and they earn a lot of sympathy from this film. Not Philip, but that's hardly a shock. The news and interview footage is woven in really well, and the crash scene at the beginning is really powerful. And, Pat Mustard is in it!

Dave Chappelle's Block Party

A simple idea: take great hip hop acts, put on a free show in Brooklyn, get Michel Gondry to film it. The people are great, from the two kids who won tickets and can't believe their luck, to the marching band, to the crazy hippies whose house the show is at, to Dead Prez. It highlights how music can make a difference to people, how easy it can be to give people so much joy, and how
fucking great a new Black Star record would be. Oh, and that Dave guy that hosts it, he's pretty funny, you know.

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

Steve Coogan is great in two different roles, plus as himself. The whole thing is almost too postmodern to enjoy, but Michael Winterbottom pulls it off easily. Having made films of Thomas Hardy novels already, he's obviously fine with adapting crap books, so why not aim for supposedly one of the worst? Great insights into the filmmaking process, actors' egos and the lure of celebrity. Plus, it's really fucking funny. My excitement for this currently knows no bounds.

Children of Men

Late addition to the list, but more than deserving. Incredibly filmed by Cuaron, barely any music, completely bleak and yet totally engaging throughout. Clive Owen's character begins not knowing much and then getting more and more involved, which matches the audience reaction well. There's a snippet of 'Witness' by Roots Manuva, and later a Pink Floyd visual reference. It's unsettling but not unbelievable and that's even more scary. And the actress that plays Kee went to high school with my sister.

The Departed

Again, one that's on many people's list. But that's only because it's so good. Tense as hell, great performances from actors at the top of the game, good support and lead characters, not a wasted minute, kickin' soundtrack, and the expert hand of Mr. Scorsese. Give him an Oscar already.

Mission Impossible 3

Don't think I can't hear you rolling your eyes, you jerks. I didn't see the second one, I heard it was baws, but JJ Abrams really brought the boo-yah to Ethan Hunt and his hi-octane nonsense-fest. I stand by my oft-repeated analogy about this being the cinematic equivalent of Sleater-Kinney's 'The Woods'. Begins heavily, doesn't let up, is really exhilarating, slows down right towards the end, then reprises the beginning... It doesn't sync up like Wizard of
Oz/Dark Side of the Moon, but you know. Easily the best of the summer's big name blockbusters.

Lucky Number Slevin
Dynamite cast, great cutting and filming, some cool dialogue and action scenes, but it really comes down to the plot. Absolutely solid thriller - lots of really great characters (The Fairy, Slim, The Boss, The Rabbi) and a "oh-shit!" reveal at the end, something essential for films of this ilk. It's dense, it's confusing, it spans different time periods, but that makes it all the more satisfying when it all comes together at the end.

Inside Man

Clive and Chiwetel Ejiofor again, in Spike Lee's big name bank robbery thriller which really makes up in tension where it sometimes lags in great storytelling. Of course racism and cultural differences play a big role, and I was wary about going into banks for months that followed. Later in the year, a TV show called 'The Nine' would try and fail to be as edgy, stylish and not-boring as Inside Man.

V for Vendetta

Like 'Children of Men' this takes the current sociopolitical climate and predicts how it'll be in the not-too-distant future, and again, it's terrifying. But 'Children...' didn't have some badass fireworks, swordplay, an enigmatic arch-villain and some nifty wordplay. Portman is good but Weaving is great and the imagery and message are really powerful.


Another film set in the future. But much funnier. Edges it as the comedy of the year for me, the lack of any publicity definitely helps, but it's the ultra-corporate, ultra-stupid vision of the future that's the most fun part. Out on video this week... make sure you watch it, jerks.

Honorable Mentions: Borat, Night at the Museum, Brick, Thank You for Smoking, Water

Dishonorable Mentions: The Black Dahlia, American Dreamz, Accepted, Clerks II, The Break Up

...How about you guys?

You don't make heroes out of warlocks

I just watched the documentary Jesus Camp. Obviously the subject matter is interesting and provocative enough as it is, but I had even more affinity to it because I happened to catch the filmmakers’ previous film ‘The Boys of Baraka’ at SXSW 2005 and really liked it a lot.

Watching ‘Jesus Camp’ reminded me a lot of Louis Theroux’s old show ‘Weird Weekends’. Like with that show, the personalities being interviewed here are so strong that watching it, you’re inclined to rip your hair out and scream “What the hell are you thinking?” (no pun intended), but the presentation is very objective and unobtrusive, so you feel considerably more sympathetic to the subjects.

There’s a lot to think about whilst watching. It’s not just a hatchet job – “look at these people, what they believe is stupid” etc. – but it’s still alarming for anyone who considers themselves to be politically liberal. Issues: Is it right for adults to indoctrinate young kids, what is this “huge cultural war” that they keep banging on about, what do you mean when you say “I was reborn at five years old… I just wanted more”, how will these kids react to all of this when they go through their teenage rebellion phase, and why does that one kid have a horrible rat-tail?

There’s really not a lot to discuss about it here, you have to see it for yourself. There are a couple of laughs, like the denunciation of Harry Potter (see clip), and of course the appearance of Ted Haggard criticizing gays.

The subject matter is dark and controversial, but I found it really unnerving. More so than that other documentary I saw recently, the focus of which also comes up in ‘Jesus Camp’, as it happens.

All things wrong and a few things right!

Not a lot of info about these guys, I'm afraid. It's a bit like a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, surrounded by secrecy clouds. What's known is this: The Peth are from Wales. Daf, the drummer from Super Furry Animals is involved, and so is Guto. And, apparently film hero Rhys Ifans. That's about it. Their myspage (compound words are in for 2007) has this song and it's got the pop and energy and fun of early SFA. Also, it has swearing in the title, so that's good. Hopefully we'll hear more from them soon.

[download The Peth - Let's Go Fucking Mental]

Welcome to Costco. I love you.

Call me crazy if you like (all: "you're crazy!") but I don't really love Office Space. At my old university, I was in charge of programming for the campus cinema, and there was a constant call to play Office Space on Fridays at midnight, and I'm still surprised at how universally beloved it is, at least amongst the college-aged. I liked it well enough, but it's not really a classic, is it? Plus one time I watched it with my dad on Comedy Central, which is a horrible way to watch any film (on CC, that is, not with my dad. My dad's great) and he kept exposing plot holes and not laughing, so that sucked out my enjoyment.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because last night I couldn't sleep, and I was completely up to speed on CBB5, so I watched [Office Space director] Mike Judge's newest film 'Idiocracy'. If you haven't heard of it, don't worry. A lot has been written about Fox's mishandling of the film. Apparently, they decided that a satire that rips it out of corporations, set in an ugly, gaudy 2055, where the president is a porn star wrestler (porn star AND wrestler, he doesn't just fight porn stars), where people have names like Frito, where anyone who uses long words or logic is automatically a fag, where the most popular TV-show is called "Ow! My Balls!" and where Justin Long plays a doctor... they decided not to screen it for critics, not to advertise it at all, and uh, not to play it anywhere.

The film itself is entertaining throughout, and occasionally very funny. Luke Wilson plays the straight man very well - an ordinary Joe in 2005 who's frozen in a military experiment, and wakes up 500 years in the future to find that he's the most intelligent person in America. Hilarity kinda ensues. Maya Rudolph and Dax Shepherd are okay in the support roles, and there are a few interesting cameos. Plus Justin Long. God, I hate him.

So Judge made a good film - certainly more consistently funny than his previous one - but Fox don't want to market a film about dumbing down, so it's not going to be seen by anyone, til next week, when the DVD is released. 'Office Space' was a far, far bigger hit on DVD than it was in theaters, so there is yet hope for 'Idiocracy'. Watch it, enjoy it. Quote it repeatedly. I know I will. Especially "You see gentlemen, a pimp's love is very different then a square's."

Apparently some of the corporations mentioned in it have filed a civil law suit against Fox, too. Controversy is great.

Duck Benedict sounds like a dish

As an erudite, cultured, handsome but above-all honest young human, it pains me to inform you that, on the eve of starting the second semester of law school, I have a big worry. You see, Celebrity Big Brother 5 just began, and I'm getting pretty into it. Not, like, watching-it-around-the-clock into it, but as much as you can from a different country using only the website.

This is a worry because I've never really cared about this kind of television before. I hate the idea of any of these celebrity reality shows (even Dancing with the Stars!), and it always seems like a desperate attempt to stay in the spotlight for a few more weeks. And even stripped of alleged celebrities, it's really difficult for me to get into Big Brother - it seems like a cool conceptual idea, a nice social experiment, but never pans out that way. I followed the show a few years ago, because I was in England when the series started (summer 2003) and so got to see the beginning, but that's easily the most interesting part. I dropped off after a few days.

So why the hell am I reading the latest news, watching videos and trying to access CBB5 podcasts, when I could be playing sports, spending time with loved ones, or watching 'Exposed' on MTV?

The celebrities they have this year are, for once, people I've heard of, and there's a genuinely interesting blend of personalities which could - could - be worth following. Including but not limited to:

  • Bollywood actress.
  • Former members of (pop bands) Steps and S Club 7 (latter of whom is now really into dog breeding).
  • Brother of Michael Jackson.
  • Former star of the A-Team (!)
  • 60s heartthrob
  • Former Miss Great Britain (disgraced!) and better half of 40-yr old Premiership footballer. [video below!]

Alas, I'll keep you posted.

What if I'm not famous posthumously?

If you've ever heard any of Malcolm Middleton's solo material, the title of his latest single, 'We're All Going To Die' probably won't come as a surprise. After all, this is the man who once sang "I'll never be good at anything and my songs are all pish". Whilst dressed as a clown. A clown called Crappo. Or my personal favourite, "My face is a disease". So you'd expect his third solo record to be equally dour and self-deprecating.

And, well, lyrically, you'd be right. But listen to this song! It's probably the most uptempo song he's ever done, and this includes the many albums with his other band. Misery is definitely more fun when it's this rockin'. When he plays it live, I imagine XFM listeners singing along gleefully to the chorus.

The rest of the album 'A Brighter Beat' isn't quite as poppy, but still noticeably more buoyant than the previous two. Give him a look.

[download Malcolm Middleton - We're All Going To Die]

We dare you to mean a single word you say

I feel like The Cooper Temple Clause are one of my pet bands. Not that I keep them in a hutch and take them for walks and feed them weird stuff, but in the sense that I've been with them since day one. I still have their debut release 'Hardware EP' somewhere, and in the period leading up to their debut album (say, late 2001 to early 2002) I got to see them live about eight times in various small venues, like the Garage, the Scala, Camden Palace and one of the smaller stages at Reading. At the time, I was most proud of how I wrote about their song 'The Devil Walks in the Sand', saying it began with "Zepellin-aping enormochords".

Their two albums are really fantastic, and I'm quietly happy that they haven't reached the popularity heights of the pretty reprehensible Kasabian, who tread on similar ground. TCTC have always had two kinds of songs, the short, sharp, punch you in the gut songs (Been Training Dogs, Panzer Attack, Promises Promises), and the more spread out mini-epics ('The Lake', 'Talking to a Brick Wall') and on their best songs, they somehow combine the two. Check out 'The Same Mistakes', their finest achievement yet.

In the several years since that last record, they've lost a bassist to Carl Barat. The new record Make This Your Own is out in January, and I'm a little (just a little) disappointed on the first listen. It's a lot more to the point, with less of the second category of song. They switch around lead vocal duties quite a bit, which can get a little disorienting, but there's plenty to enjoy, like the punch-you-in-the-gut single 'Homo Sapiens' and the misleadingly named 'Take Comfort'. The band play up their electronic influences, and some songs are particular danceable, like 'Connect'.

I guess my main gripe is that for the first time, on this album TCTC don't sound like they're playing for their lives, throwing a million things at a wall and seeing what sticks, going all out. Having seen their incredible blood-sweat-n-tears live show so many times, I know that they can be as intense as aw'hell, but that fire didn't really come across, at least on first listen. 'Head' really bugs me. 'Once More With Feeling' begins really slowly, but then comes and goes in a flash, where they previously would've given it more space to shine.

The second half of the album picks it up a little. I'm sure it'll grow on me like a fresh new perm.

[download The Cooper Temple Clause - The Same Mistakes]
[download The Cooper Temple Clause - What Have You Gone and Done?]

The ape blows or I clam.

I think I'm done with random awards for 2006 jams. I didn't get to writing about how much I loved the Long Blondes or Guillemots records, but suffice to say... I did. Lots.

I've got about six more films to watch before I do a "Favourites of the Year" post for that medium. In the last few days, I saw Brick (terrific, noirish, great dialogue, tough to keep up with, there sure is a lot of punching-to-the-face, woah! it's Shaft!, everything comes together in the last few minutes, hey is that 'Sister Ray' over the credits?),

...and The Pursuit of Happyness, which wasn't bad but not really very engaging, though it's hard to fault someone's pretty accurate life story, I suppose. And the guy that plays Russell in Wayne's World is in it. There's one really funny chase scene involving a cab driver and the subway, and Will Smith's character actually spends most of the film running. It's like 'Enemy of the State' in that respect. Only that respect, though.

Happy new year!

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