You don't look like no goddamn singer-songwriter to me

Let me tell you a story about Mouse on Mars. I don't really know much about them. In late 2004, I think, I heard Mark E. Smith's remix of their song 'Wipe That Sound' at Fluxblog, and it blew my mind into a brand new hairstyle. It remains one of my favourites. Listen to The Fall frontman babble on about pitchforks and mountain bikes and other nonsense, over the squelchy beats and rising strings. It's terrific.

I liked it enough to go and see the band when they played Tallahassee (October '04) and since I didn't have much by way of expectations, I was once again blown away. Probably the most I've ever danced in these United States. Got there late, just in time to see Ratatat's last three songs, which fortunately enough included '17 Years' and 'Cherry', and then it was MoM time, and they had everyone impressed. Honestly, it was the best gig I saw in four years of living in Tallahassee - ahead of Arab Strap, YYYs and Mogwai, all of whom I'm a much bigger fan of.

The reason I bring this up is because of the news on Pitchfork today. Apparently that Mouse/Smith collab wasn't just a one-off thing - they've just finished making an album together under the name Von Südenfed. There are couple of songs at their myspace, including a reworking of 'Wipe That Sound', which isn't too great, but a banger called 'Can't Get Enough' which is terrific. Lots of dancing for you to take with you today.

[download Mouse on Mars - Wipe that Sound (Mark E. Smith Vocal Remix)]
[download Von Südenfed - Fledermaus Can't Get Enough]
[download Ratatat - Seventeen Years]

They can break like branches

The first download I put up on this site was from the delgados, and so it's with a strange sense of accomplishment that today I can write about a song from delgado Emma Pollock. She's been working on a solo record for most of the past year, and since she's playing at Austin's big shinding next month, has a song of hers. It's very skeletal, pretty, and a little underwhelming if I'm honest. I'm sure it'll fit better in the context of her album whenever it drops. What do you think?

She's playing a couple of shows in NYC before SXSW, check her out if you can. And because I'm a show-off, here's a picture of her sniffing my neck.

[download Emma Pollock - Limbs] from

Tonight you'll sleep softly in your bed

Quite a lot of people are really into Kaiser Chiefs. Me, I think they're a good band with some great songs, but not really the second coming or anything like that. Not triple-Brit Award winners, but then, what's a Brit Award really worth. And I once wrote about their initial incarnation, Parva, quite flatteringly. Anyway, they have a new record out next week, which to their credit, didn't leak til today. And of course it's already making its way onto the blogs. I haven't got through it yet, so I'm withholding judgment for the moment.

More interestingly, though, head over to Mars Needs Guitars, who've put up the band's comeback gig from earlier this month in sunny Doncaster. (Apparently, this town in northern England is flagged by Firefox Spellcheck. As does the word spellcheck). It's got all the best songs from their debut album, plus a fistful from 'Yours Truly, Angry Mob'. And the crowd are very loud. Before great new song 'The Angry Mob', Ricky says "Can they hear you in London?", and they scream loud as hell.

And because it's great, here's the video for the single 'Ruby', which will probably be number one this weekend.

Film review: Hot Fuzz

This review was written by my friend Thomas Neumark. Visit his blog Breaking Kayfabe, and/or watch his stand up here.

My favourite thing about going to the cinema is trailers. Now the trailer for Hot Fuzz was nothing that special but this didn’t necessarily dampen my spirits. You see the reason I like trailers is not the same reason that I like movies. Before Hot Fuzz there was a trailer for the movie 300. That’s the kind of trailer I really like. The plot is 300 Spartan warriors against one million invading soldiers. One million! And it looks like they put up a good fight. The breathy voiceover may well have said something along the lines of “destiny has got a new six-pack”.

My second favourite thing about going to the cinema is the ludicrously overblown advert style thing for Dolby Surround sound. It is done on CGI as though it’s going to astonish us in anyway. What kind of country-fried rube is impressed by this kind of stuff these days? I mean we’re living in a world that has produced xtube (a pornographic version of youtube), Technicolor doesn’t cut it anymore.

Hot Fuzz itself was excellent. There are a series of excellent turns from the great and the good notably Bill Bailey and Timothy Dalton who needs to give back all those scenes he stole. Pegg and Frost’s dynamic is once again subtly (ever so subtly) different to their previous pairings. This time is much more homoerotic: my favourite kind of erotic.

The tone of the whole thing is, like Jesus Christ, slightly hard to nail down. At some points it is almost Airplane like in its pastiches and references, at other times, especially in the last half hour, the action is a lot more convincing, nearly as good as the fabled Bad Boys II which is a constant reference point for some reason.

Ultimately if you’re the kind of geek who is reading this you will be most interested in whether Hot Fuzz is better than Shaun of the Dead. Yes it is. I didn’t find the romantic story line particularly compelling in Shaun whereas giving Pegg and Frost a hint of the gay along with their wonderfully silly banter makes Hot Fuzz “better than Shaun of the Dead”, there I’ve said it.

[download David Arnold - Theme from Hot Fuzz]

Sad songs are easier to play I'm afraid

Boo Radleys.

Liverpool/Cheshire. the Nineties. Best known for 'Wake Up Boo!' which was inescapable for about three years. Almost every song they wrote was better than that one.

Definitive classic: 1992's 'Giant Steps'.
Personal preference: Final album 'Kingsize'.

Since breaking up, songwriter Martin Carr kept working under the name Brave Captain, on Wichita Records (Bloc Party, Cribs, Los YYYs). Look for 'Advertisements for Myself' cos it's great. Vocalist Sice, meanwhile, has a new band, Paperlung, and here's a recent live video of theirs.

Apparently Martin played a very rare US tour last November, and rather wonderfully, Bradley's Almanac has posted the Boston show for your enjoyment. It's mostly Brave Captain stuff, but also two Boos songs - stone cold classic 'Lazarus' (watch this!) and a version of one of my faves, 'The Old Newsstand At Hamilton Square' off 'Kingsize'. Hope you enjoy the original - I love the big band vibe of it, the sad nostalgic lyrics, and the sweet drum-fill intro. Grab that live set while you can.

[download The Boo Radleys - The Old Newsstand At Hamilton Square]

No! Not the bees!

Did you see last year's Wicker Man remake? Me neither. Mostly because I quite enjoyed the 1974 original, nobody had anything nice to say about the remake, and besides, The Coral had already nailed it with their video for 'Goodbye', further rendering Neil La Bute's version completely redundant. Seriously, watch that Coral video now.

Anyway, whilst listening to this week's IFC Podcast, which is helpfully entitled 'The Life and Times of Nicolas Cage' I heard about this video compilation of highlights from last year's film. Whether or not you enjoy depends strongly on how you feel about people in bear masks, bees, and lady punching.

And, because it's long and brooding and brilliant, today's download is off the last Pulp record. Didn't really hit the spot when I saw them do it live, because it only soars in the final minute, but listen to it and follow along the lyrics, and there's more emotion and dark humour than in Nic Cage's career. Apart from 'Raising Arizona', of course.

[download Pulp - Wickerman]

I can smell the vodka on your breath

Various things from this Internet:

  • I'm a big fan of the Guardian's Film Weekly podcast. Jason Solomons has a nice air of tell-it-like-it-is-ness to him, plus he's an Arsenal fan. Last week he called the final scene in 'Music and Lyrics' "the stupidest thing Hugh Grant has ever done", and in the newest episode, likens watching the new Diane Keaton film to "watching your grandparents having sex." Other massive reasons to download the current episode: interviews with Michel Gondry, and, oh yes, Simon and Edgar. "Timothy Dalton could play Guess Who with all his moustaches" and other great one-liners await you. And a comparison of Z-Cars and Dirty Harry. [direct link to current episode, mp3]
  • I'm not really enjoying the same site's Music Weekly podcast, which relies on forced jokes, forced jingles and poor rapping, without too much substance. (A little like Football Weekly, to be honest, but at least that is more funny than not). Music Weekly have decent guests (Badly Drawn Boy, S-O-V, The Hours) but they're not really talked to. It's got a big inside-jokey vibe to it, and I'm just having trouble enjoying it.
  • has Bloc Party live in Bristol from last week, in very odd widescreen vision. Good stuff - shame they went with 'Kreuzberg' instead of 'I Still Remember', though.
  • The Brits and the Grammys took place this week. Neither were any good - but at least the former had t'Arctics dressed as characters from the Wizard of Oz. And Simon Pegg and Nick Frost presented an award, that was quite funny. Both events can be seen here, until it's removed. Only highlight from the Grammys is the embed below.
  • Even though one of the first things I wrote in here was about how crap their World Cup podcast was, I still have a soft spot for Baddiel and Skinner's old TV show, Fantasy Football League, and rather wonderfully, here's a nice compilation of the best moments of their TV show. I suppose you might not all find it funny to watch Jimmy Greaves tackle a dog, but you know.
  • Speaking of the beautiful game, yesterday's Arsenal v. Bolton match was ridiculous. The good kind of ridiculous, though.
  • 'Hot Fuzz' is out now in the UK, see it if you haven't already! Should have a review on here sometime this weekend from someone much funnier than I.
  • I'm obliged to mention that you can catch the Arcade Fire on NPR this Saturday and on SNL the following Saturday. Call me a sheep - or indeed Captain Obvious - if you like, but their new record is terrific.
  • I've also been listening to the second album from London's rakish The Rakes. It's called 'Ten New Messages', and songs are starting to make it onto blog sites, but today's AYGH download is off their previous album. It's called 'Strasbourg', it's about spies, features a "1-2-3-4" breakdown in German, and frankly if it doesn't get you dancing you're probably already dead. Also, because it's close to my heart and indeed my birthplace, for your consideration the "reworking", 'Watford'.
[download The Rakes - Strasbourg]
[download The Rakes - Watford]

"Jazz is the last refuge of the untalented"

Just heard some sad news - Factory Records founder and 24 Hour Party People subject Tony Wilson has been diagnosed with cancer of the kidney. Read more about it here.

We wish Tony and his family the best, and here's my favourite Factory song. Now, I know the song's a little grim, but, you know, it is Joy Division.

Turn it on, and turn it up.

[download Joy Division - 24 Hours]

Fumbling for some kind of love

I don't really understand how copyright works on band names. In 2001, Tom and Alex White, two brothers from Brighton, found out that there was a Doors tribute band in the States who had their name first, so the Whites had to add a word, thereby becoming the Electric Soft Parade. Meanwhile, there two different Hefners operating in the same city at the same time. Both were great, in jazzy / nerdy indie kinda ways.


I got to interview the Electric Soft Parade before a gig in late 2001, when they were on the way up. Their debut record came out in early '02, and was a solid combination of simple melodies, strong hooks, soaring choruses, and hopefully other adjectives that begin with 's'. Plus in 'Silent to the Dark', they had a nine minute epic to call their own. The album got a 9/10 review in the NME, which they handed out copies of at a gig, something I always thought was kind of naff. The album got them quite a bit of acclaim, but they fell out of view with their second album, the less instant and therefore more interesting 'American Adventure'. Then they vanished, getting more attention with their other project Brakes, who've received plenty of blog attention.

Anyway x2.

The ESP are back with a new label, new tour dates, and most importantly, a new record, called 'No Need to be Downhearted'. On first listen, it's pretty good - lots of reverb, healthy amount of melancholy, and a first single - 'Life in the Backseat' - that rocks pretty hard. And they've beefed up an old song, 'Cold World'. Compare and contrast the two versions, the older one being from their 'The Human Heart' EP.

[download The Electric Soft Parade - Cold World (EP version)] from
[download The Electric Soft Parade - Cold World (new version)]

There are lots of Chinese in Madrid

Whilst all the evening's shows of Norbit were sold out last night, only about eight people decided to go and see Pedro Almodovar's latest, Volver. I was thinking about writing a post about said new Eddie Murphy vehicle, projected to open around $30m, but this review from the AV Club seems to say it better than I could.

So, anyway, Volver ("coming back"). As you'd expect from Almodovar - it's really colourful, there are plenty of great camera angles and overhead shots, the story is simultaneously sad, moving, tense and laugh-out-loud funny. There are hardly any men in it at all, and the relationships between the women is the focus. Penelope Cruz is the Oscar nominated central character, and it's definitely the best thing she's done in years, and she has real magnetism as a mother, sister and daughter. The characters show grace and resilience, and there's a really nice, stark contrast between the gossipy, tight-knit village life, and the bustling anonymity of Madrid. The story keeps you interested til the end, although the last half hour lagged a bit. At just over two hours, it felt a little too long. But it's still recommended - once again, he's made a film to absorb and enjoy. He calls it a "domestic Indiana Jones", and that's more succinct than anything I could say.

Do the splitz and say neat

The problem with living in a small-ish town is simple. Bands don't stop here when they tour. And when they do, nobody comes to see them. That was certainly the case last night when Brooklyn three-piece Oxford Collapse took to the stage in front of about twenty people. Poor turnout. To be fair, nobody had heard of the band, but they turned in a decent, energetic set with some solid tunes from their record 'Remember the Night Parties' and they dedicated a song to the recently deceased Anna Nicole Smith. As was the case later with the headliners, the vocals were too high in the mix to really hear any of the lyrics, which let the band down a little. But still, a good set.

By the time Thunderbirds are Now! took the stage, the crowd had swollen to an incredible thirty people. It's a real pity, because the Detroit band are really good. They played half and half from their last two records, gave it a lot of welly, and though the only people getting into it were me and Oxford Collapse, they were ace. 'The Veil Comes Down' is Foo Fighters for people that don't like Foo Fighters. 'We Win' and '198090' rock with the power of a hundred horses, and when the band are joined by Oxford Collapse, a sombrero and a cowbell on 'From: Skulls', it's really fun. They do a quick encore with one old song and one new ('The Making of Make History') and then they're off. TAN! are on tour for ever, including a few dates in Europe next week (London Luminaire on the 25th, go see them) so keep an eye out for them, ya heard. Listen to more songs on their myspace, as always.

Panthers in Crime / Harpoons of Love / The Veil Comes Down / 198090 / The World is Made of Paper / Open Us Up / Eat This City / We Win / From Skulls... Better Safe Than Safari / The Making of Make History

[download Oxford Collapse - Please Visit Your National Parks]
[download Thunderbirds Are Now! - (The Making of) Make History]

They say it's not becoming for a boy to cry

Bloc Party's really-rather-good new record 'A Weekend In The City' is in shops now (unless you live in, like, Togo, in which case I don't think it is) and you should buy it. 'Sunday' is the latest song to grow on me, but I still find the second half of the record comparatively weak. The band's current UK tour sounds like it's going well, apart from the phone thief in Reading, and I'm still mad at missing them by a few days in Chicago in March.

Anyway, there are loads of extra songs floating around that didn't make the album. Some of them rock pretty hard. Someone rather kindly collected them together. Go here.

Oh, and here's Hunting for Witches live in Norwich.

Your enemies won't matter in the end

You may recall the tears that were shed here last year when Hope of the States announced their split. Well, like darkness from light or like daiquiris from a strawberry, they're reborn. Repeatedly!

First up, most of them are now in Troubles. There's a live show floating around (cough) and it's very laid back, instrumental and gentle. Odd to hear them without Sam singing about the fight. They'll be touring soon with AYGH? faves iLiKETRAiNs, who do the similarly funereal thing very well. Mike from the band is also playing in Sons of Noel and Adrian (download some songs from their myspace) whilst Sam Herlihy is also doing some solo stuff, under the name Blocks. Also, he has a crazy new beard. There are some others, too, and you can keep up with all of them at Forwardirektion.

Today's download has absolutely nothing to do with those bands, but the song title fits.

[download The Beta Band - Troubles]

Elsewhere on these Internets

I really do link to GWFA in every one of my damn posts. They've just put up their 50 best tracks of 2006, with loads of downloads. A-sides, B-sides, remixes, rarities... Nearly fifteen thousand words' worth of explanation. Just bookmark them already.

In other news, Stereogum discovered My Latest Novel. Hooray!

Keep 'em crossed that my boys don't fuck up against Spain tomorrow.

You went from Beyonce to Bigfoot in six hours

As an everyday, red-blooded, God-fearing young man, there's nothing I like more than watching people get killed in a variety of eccentric ways - be it the simple drive-by, a playing card to the face, Wolverine-style stabbings, flamethrowers, chainsaws, surface-to-air rocket launchers and so on. To that extent, Joe Carnahan's new film Smokin' Aces really delivers. The action is explosive, intense and pretty relentless. The premise is pretty solid: put one stoned magician in a hotel suite, put a million dollar price tag on him, and let all manner of psychos battle it out with the Feds for his head. Or more particularly, his heart. Kind of like SWAT, but with good actors.

Unfortunately, there's far too much going on in Smokin' Aces to really love it. There are hundreds of characters, the intricacies of the plot are too fine to keep up with and the big reveal at the end will leave you confused and frustrated. Unlike other reviewers, it doesn't really bother me that the film is pretty much entirely derivative of Tarantino/Ritchie, because it still looks great. There is just zero substance - no characters that stand out, no emotional connections, no reason to really care, no satisfying payoff. Some great stylized action set-pieces, but that's it. It's a real disappointment after Narc, which was ace.

Oh, and Good Weather for Airstrikes can answer your question "What does the new Maximo Park single 'Our Velocity' sound like?" so go there straight away.

Four of us dressed as schoolgirls

A few other places on the internet have already posted about Los Campesinos! but, you know, they're dead good so they're worth the mention. The song 'You! Me! Dancing!' is phenomenal. Begins sounding like it'll be slow and moody and possibly about heartbreak, then some drums arrive it and give it urgency, before at 1.37 everything else, including a xylophone, come to the party. The lyrics nicely capture the fun and awkwardness of going to clubs when you're, like 17, hoping your fake ID will get you in, and once you make it, realizing that you're crap at dancing. And accordingly, the song is absolutely PERFECT for dancing indie-kids. Boy girl vocals, a spoken word outro, laughter, shouty chorus. The most joyful six minutes of the year so far. Grab a few songs, including 'Dancing!' here, courtesy of BBC Wales. They're full of promise, full of hooks, full of great lyrics, and most noticeably, full of exclamations.

[download Los Campesinos! - You! Me! Dancing!]

And here's the sweet-ass video for their new single, 'You Throw Parties, We Throw Knives'.

Slide, slide, slide down the waterslide

I'm still angry about Epic Movie. To calm me down, I watched 'Kicking and Screaming' (the good one, not the rubbish one) and the quotations from it will be circulating for a while. I also watched this Chris Rock video repeatedly. It helped take away the pain.

Oh yeah, last Sunday I saw Yo La Tengo at the Moon in Tallahassee. Their name means "I have it" and they sure do. I'm not sure what it is, though. They've been around since the Korean War, and I only really know their newest record - which is 99cents cheaper from the merch desk than "air quotes Best Buy" according to Ira - and so there were vast swathes of the gig where I was a little underwhelmed. Also, there are songs like today's download, which are very very very long and grated after a while. In their defense, they played for two hours, a couple of encores, some covers, and the part in the middle where they played 'The Weakest Part', 'Beanbag Chair' and 'Mr Tough' was smooth-ass perfection. Good show, I just wish I knew more songs, then I'd have got into it more.

[download Yo La Tengo - Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind]

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