You were the rope around my neck

No strangers to writing songs of epic, historical import and bombast (yes, both those things), Leeds geniuses iLiKETRAiNS follow last year's excellent 'Progress/Reform' EP with a new single, out this week in the UK. It's called 'Spencer Perceval', after the only British Prime Minister to ever be assassinated. It's about ten minutes long, huge, and sung from the perspective of the assassin, John Bellingham. On the flipside is the song 'I Am Murdered', Perceval's response to Bellingham. Hypothetically. It's slower and more mournful, which I suppose makes sense. Best lyric: "I've kept the French at bay in Portugal and Spain / As our King went insane"

As dark as a power outage in the middle of the forest, these two songs make their debut album, due later this year on Beggars, even better-looking than before.

The band helpfully fill you in with obituaries for both men. And check out the video for 'Spencer Perceval' below.

[download iLiKETRAiNS - I Am Murdered]

Get out his gun 'cos he's shooting quail

So, I keep AYGH? free of politics, so I wasn't sure whether or not to post this. But, really, it, too is free of politics. From last night's White House Radio/Television Correspondent's Dinner, a rare live performance from "Bush's Brain", MC Karl Rove.

It may weird you out. Download the full video at Crooksandliars.

Tuesday Miscellaneous

A few briefs for today:

  • As both a law student and a fan of Lil Wayne, I thought this was pretty interesting.

    "[He] knew or should have known that throwing money into the crowd would result in a rush of fans towards the stage, which could cause fans to be injured," the suit says. Sounds to me like negligence!
  • Further to my post about early Idlewild the other day, check out JRG for a whole live show from the 'Hope is Important' era. The show is in Japan, and the crowd noise is mental. They shout "Roddy" an awful lot. Check it.
  • In the "Match Made in Heaven" corner: Kool Keith and Karen O. Check out the collab at Idolator.
  • Five reasons why the Spice Girls comeback is a bad idea. Go!
  • At long last, there's a state of the union address for the afro. [Cracked Mag]
  • If you want to hear lots of great new bands from the UK (mostly) for no money, I recommend This is Fake DIY's radio channel. They play the Wombats a lot, nothing wrong with that, though.
  • Someone came to this site the other day after putting the phrase "Crispin Glover Amiable?" into Google. Fantastic.
  • Finally, a serious message from Ricky Gervais in Africa.

You never said too much

I'm yet to find a review about Kubichek! that doesn't mention Maximo Park or The Futureheads. It's understandable, I suppose. All three bands are from the north-east of England, not exactly renowned for being a breeding-ground of great new bands.

Listening to Kubichek!'s debut album 'Not Enough Night', you can hear elements of their more famous mates' sound - 'Outwards' and 'Taxi' are radio-friendly, punchy guitar-driven tunes, songs like 'Hometown Strategies' and 'Method Acting' are all chorus-heavy and anthemic. And in 'Nightjoy' they already have a certified dancefloor slayer.

There are plenty of bands who make uptempo, spiky guitar driven indie songs, and whilst Kubichek!'s are alright, they're not all that distinctive. They're much more interesting when they slow things down - 'Hope is Impossible' is pretty, and Alan McDonald's Geordie accent will remind you of those other two bands. Best of the bunch is 'Start As We Meant To', which takes you on a Hope of the States style journey from very quiet and dour to immense wall of sound and back again. A couple of times.

[download Kubichek! - Taxi]
[download Kubichek! - Start As We Meant To]

Right back where we started from

I know I only just posted about This American Life a couple of days ago, and I don't like to repeat myself, but I'll be brief. The latest episode of the podcast is called 'What I Learned From TV', recorded on the recent TAL live tour, and it's one of the best I've heard.

The contributors are great, especially David Rakoff (about watching TV for the first time in 20 years, and settling on 'My Super Sweet Sixteen') and Dan Savage. Mates of State are the house band and they do a good job, but the standout for me is listening to Ira himself talking about his love of 'The O.C.' and his fanboy delight when Summer referred to his show as "Is that that show by those hipster know-it-alls who talk about how fascinating ordinary people are?"

So today's download is a short excerpt of that story, followed by Mates' cover of Phantom Planet. Download the whole episode from the link above, or off iTunes, you'll like it.

[download Mates of State - California (Live on This American Life)]

I killed the teacher's pet

The other day I sort of touched on my favourite band, dEUS, so here's a more fully developed post about them. They're from Belgium, an oft-overlooked hotbed of great bands (damn you, attention hogging Sweden), and they're really big in Europe, especially in the homeland. In the U.S. it's never really happened for them, and with V2 undergoing some sort of crisis, things don't look so good for the future.

So, it's a good thing that they can still play massive outdoor shows in Antwerp, like they did in January. I'm putting up a couple of covers they did that night, with special guests. Firstly, Sonic Youth's 'Youth Against Fascists', aided by Tim Vanhamel from Millionaire (live video of their song 'Body Experience Revue' here); and a cover of 'There Will Be No Next Time' by Belgian legends The Kids, joined by Ludo Mariman from Belgian legends The Kids. You can watch a video of this cover by clicking here, or if you'd like the whole Antwerp show to download, go here. You should get the whole set, of course, but maybe I'm just saying that because they're my favourite band and I want everyone in the world to love them.

[download dEUS - Youth Against Fascists (live)]
[download dEUS - There Will Be No Next Time (live)]

And here's a weird, very literal video for their song '7 Days, 7 Weeks'.

Something of an end

The Decemberists kicked off their "Twilight in the Fearful Forest" tour this week in New Jersey, and the good news - 'The Mariner's Revenge Song' is back in the set! Hooray! Pitchfork has photos and the full set of dates here. Also, the band's DVD is out this week, so there.

The reason I bring this up is because all the dates on this tour are opened by My Brightest Diamond, and if like me you don't know anything about her, then fear not - Kwaya Na Kisser has a full live set of hers available for your enjoyment. So go here and check out MBD, so you can sing along at whatever show you attend. We'll be in Orlando on April 8th.

We were as bald as pharoahs

Last night was the first episode of This American Life - the tv show. If you're unfamiliar with the NPR radio show, you've got catching up aplenty to do, mister. Wikipedia says:

TAL, hosted by Ira Glass, is primarily a journalistic non-fiction program, although it has also featured essays, memoirs, field recordings, short fiction, and found footage.

It's the number one podcast on iTunes, has been for ages. I love the show, listen for archived episodes at their website. My all time favourite story is where Sarah Vowell talks about her night as a goth - because I'm too good to you, I've found it for you, go here immediately. Also, my friend Cassidy bumped into Ira Glass in Chicago recently and confirmed that he is, indeed, "way dreamy".

So anyway, the TV version of TAL debuted last night on Showtime, and fortunately, the network had the good idea of putting the episode up on their website, so check it out.

[watch This American Life - Episode 1]

And because they have a nifty graphic for bloggers:

Blog Icon

I really should do something about it

I don't really know anything about Das Pop other than they're from Belgium, have released two records, and have a website that isn't updated very often. The myspace, though, says they have a new record coming out soon, produced by David and Stephen Dewaele, or Soulwax to you and I.

A thing about Soulwax is, they're usually better with other people's songs than their own. Their remixes and 2ManyDJs stuff > almost anything on their last record 'Any Minute Now'. And the lead track from Das Pop, which they're giving away for free here is pretty good. Effortlessly upbeat, it'll put a swagger into your weekend, and who doesn't need that?

[download Das Pop - Tired]

And, entirely because they're also from Belgium, here's a video from my favourite band in the world.

But are apologies really accepted?

I seem to be in a nostalgic mood at the moment, posting songs based on their 10th or 30th anniversaries. There will probably be more such posts in the future, so look out for those. Tonight, for instance.

Ten years ago this week, Idlewild released their debut single, 'Queen of the Troubled Teens'. In 1997, the band were likened to 'a flight of stairs falling down a flight of stairs' and made a lot of noise. If you're only familiar with their recent output, this song may be a surprise. It's not adult friendly, the lyrics are pretty throwaway and there's about as much of an REM influence as there is a Sly and the Family Stone influence. But it still rocks like a fucking truck.

[download Idlewild - Queen of the Troubled Teens]

This one's for Scotland, man, Scotland

Here's an interesting one for you. After releasing three EPs to huge acclaim, in 1999, The Beta Band were all set to drop their debut album. Trouble is, it wasn't very good, and the band were the first to admit this, calling it a turnip in Select magazine. There's not much to love on the record, it's a mess of over ambition and weirdness, and they rarely manage to pull it off.

In fact, the greatest moment is right at the beginning. A comprehensive "story so far" set against a revolving backdrop of barbershop quartet, bubblegum pop, faux-thug rapping and ultimately demented rockabilly, 'The Beta Band Rap' is both ridiculous and ridiculously good. I can't pick a favourite lyric in it, but "We went to Wales and fannyed around / Ended up with the Patty Patty Sound" probably edges it. I'm pretty sure there's a shoutout to KRS-One in there, but I might just be hearing things.

The band redeemed themselves with two great albums (Hot Shots II and Heroes To Zeroes) but disbanded in late 2004. All are working on their own things these days - Steve Mason dropped an album as King Biscuit Time last year, whilst some band members started The Aliens, whose record dropped in the old country today. Maybe I'll write about it soon. In the meantime, enjoy the weirdest song to come out on a major label that I can think of right now.

[download The Beta Band - The Beta Band Rap]


I found out today that AYGH faves Robert Webb and David Mitchell have a film coming out soon. Wow! It's called Magicians, and you can download a trailer right here. It looks pretty funny, but last year's Confetti was high on talent but conspicuously low on laughs, so I'll remain cautious.

In case you don't know who Mitchell and Webb are... they've got a couple of seasons of sketch comedy that's very funny, they're the faces of the UK's Apple vs. PC ads (much funnier than that twat Justin Long), they used to have a radio show, and they star in Peep Show, a sitcom you should seek out at once.

But watch those Mac adverts and the clip below, and there's plenty more of them on Youtube.

Being a Nazi's just not cool anymore, baby

During Spring Break, I got around to watching Half Nelson, which I knew little about, other than Ryan Gosling was Oscar-nominated for it. He's a schoolteacher in Brooklyn, who happens to be on the rocks, literally and metaphorically. Luckily, the film is not another unnecessary inspirational teaching film with an "isn't it great that we're all better people" ending. My girlfriend teaches, and it can be pretty crap and demoralising. Gosling plays the teacher as flawed as anyone else, not a knight in shining armour here to rescue poor kids from their tough environment. I liked that it wasn't another of those films where, by the end, all the kids love the teacher. Even the one girl he connected with (played brilliantly by Shareeka Epps) is skeptical about him, though they form an unusual friendship. The film is bleak throughout - his home and family life are so unstable that teaching is really the only thing he puts any effort into. There are clips of students talking about civil rights struggles which kind of work well, but the lack of any resolution at the end underwhelms a little. Of course I didn't want a happily ever after, but I did shrug at the end. It's definitely worth a rental, though, for the acting, and the kicking soundtrack from Broken Social Scene, including this (sort of) rarity.

[download Broken Social Scene - Lover's Spit (Feist version)]

Go to hell cos that's where you took me

I have to say, I'm looking forward to 'Til Death Do Us Part, the new Court TV show that starts tonight. Mostly because it just sounds interesting - tagline "To Love, Honor and Perish" - although the law student in me also is keen to see how these things play out. Of course, the fact that most television is baws and this has John Waters at the helm makes it all the better. Plus, it's up against The Riches, whose pilot last week didn't really do anything for me.

Writer-director John Waters takes Court TV into cult territory with 'Til Death Do Us Part, a new series about how love and marriage aren't always the most compatible domestic partners. In the style of past TV murder and mystery anthologies, each episode features Waters as the "Groom Reaper," a host who introduces and guides the audience through the doomed union of a husband and wife that, no matter how happily it begins, ultimately ends in spousal murder.

This song has nothing to do with either show, but it'd make a great theme song for 'Til Death Do Us Part. And I've been wanting to post it for a while, and this is a perfect excuse.

[download Lush ft Jarvis Cocker - Ciao!]

It was thirty years ago today...

Actually, it was thirty years ago yesterday, but I was just getting back from Chicago and was tired. Oh well.

But, March 18th, 1977, saw the release of the first single from one of the most iconic bands ever.

Read a nice article about it here.

[download The Clash - White Riot]

And we will rise again

Sorry, it's been a while since I last wrote in here. But, you know, it's Spring Break! I'm home at my folks' place for a couple of days before going off to Chicago. What should I see when I'm there? Leave recommendations if you have 'em.

Anyway, being back at home means I get to look at the stack of CDs in my room, almost entirely from the years 2000 - 2002, when I got them for free thanks to writing The Brain Farm. A lot of the stuff is insignificant - an album from Gerling that doesn't have 'Death to the Apple Gerls' for instance - but there are some gems in there. Maybe I'll post something from The Regular Fries later (they have zero web presence, which is sad).

But yes, I found a couple of CD singles (a distant memory, those) from Asian Dub Foundation. Listen to a couple of stormin' live tracks from their album 'Rafi's Revenge', which wasn't as amazing as its follow up 'Community Music' (which earned a rare 10/10 review from the NME) but still is well worth a listen. The songs are both about struggle, a consistent theme with ADF. 'Naxalite' is about Bengali peasant uprising, and 'Free Satpal Ram', their signature song, is a long and powerful story, read about it here. Most importantly, though, both songs rock really hard.

Deeder, the rapper on these two albums, left the band in 2000, and for me they've been a less interesting band since then, but they've been playing to big crowds and getting plenty of acclaim, so good luck to 'em. There's a Greatest Hits due this summer which sees a mew track with Deeder, which should be ace. And there's a track with Chuck D! Look out for that.

[download Asian Dub Foundation - Free Satpal Ram (live)]
[download Asian Dub Foundation - Naxalite (live)]

Where Do I Start? Where Do I Begin?

It was March 1997.

I was fourteen, and my musical taste had been strongly shaped by the previous year's so-called Britpop revolution. 'Everything Must Go' and 'Different Class' were my most-played records, but pretty much everything I liked at the time was played by white dudes with guitars. Then, one day in March '97, ten years ago, I heard 'Block Rockin' Beats', and it's not exaggeration to say it changed my life.

The Chemical Brothers' new single combined in in-your-face aesthetic of rock music, but you could dance to it. It had so much energy. I honestly had not heard anything like it before. I know they weren't really pioneers or anything, but this song was given a lot of attention at the time (it made it to number one), and once I bought the parent album 'Dig Your Own Hole' (on day of release, suckers!), it did what no other album ever has - made me want to discover lots of new music. All the samples and breaks they lift from old-skool hip hop led me to getting into stuff like Ultramagnetic MCs and Public Enemy, leading to A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Black Star etc etc. 'Dig Your Own Hole' was like a key to a new world for me. And indie hero Noel Gallagher sang on it! Come on!

Ten years on, the album still sounds fresh and can rock a party, I presume. I presume since I never have parties, but that's because I'm a law student. Enjoy the simple but effective two-note riffing on 'Piku'. And seek 'The Private Psychedelic Reel', the incredible album closer, featuring a man who a couple of years later would become another of my heroes, Jonathon Donahue of Mercury Rev. And do they really say "fucking" on 'Elektrobank"? Can they do that?

Even though the ChemBros have sort of fallen off the wagon more recently (although 'Believe' off their last record, with Bloc Party's Kele on vocals, had a badass video), I can point the blame for my interest in hip-hop, and to a lesser extent, the late 90s big beat phenomena (see: Lo-Fidelity Allstars) at their feet.

Nostalgia, sure, but it brings back good memories, so shut up.

[download The Chemical Brothers - Block Rockin' Beats]
[download The Chemical Brothers - Piku]

Eating in the ghetto on a hundred dollar plate

Oh, I almost forgot, there's another album that's out this week. Ever heard of The Arcade Fire? I think the internet is just about saturated with Neon Bible tracks at the moment, so I won't post any here, but I will tell you what I think of the album. It's uncool to say, but I like it because it's more accessible than 'Funeral'. That album never really spoke to me the way it did everyone else, maybe because the hype came before the music, or maybe just because it's just too.. something. I mean, I like it and all, but I can't get too worked up about it.

But Neon Bible really grabs me. I like the NME's review of it, especially the phrase "a record in the grand tradition of melodic transatlantic clamour rock." I love the relentless stomp of 'Keep the Car Running'. The passage from understated to colossal on 'Ocean Of Noise'. The organs-and-drum combo on 'My Body Is A Cage', reminding me of 'Megalomania' by Muse. The soaring chorus of 'The Well and the Lighthouse'. The lyric on 'Antichrist Television Blues' - in your faces, Joe Simpson and Matthew Knowles. And 'Intervention' is, bar none, the song of the year so far.

Here, enjoy an a capella take on a song from their last album...

Indie Blockedappella - Rebellion (Lies) from inkistro they have other songs too, check it

Feel like a Chinese burn on top of you

There's a new record from Charlotte Hatherley out this week, called The Deep Blue. It's her first since officially leaving Ash, and it's pretty solid. It's noticeably more relaxed than her debut 'Grey Will Fade', there are fewer spiky songs to jump around to (though 'Very Young' scratches that itch nicely), more emphasis on songwriting and arrangements. Check out the massive strings on 'Again'. The singles 'Behave' and 'I Want You To Know' bop along nicely, and opener 'Cocteau' is awash in effects and pleasantness. Pitchfork were surprisingly kind about the album too.

In addition to 'Again', I've upped my favourite Ash song, which I think was the first one they did with Charlotte in the band. And! Because it's great and directed by Edgar Wright, the video for 'Bastardo', from the first album.

[download Charlotte Hatherley - Again]
[download Ash - A Life Less Ordinary]

Just look into her false coloured eyes

A little while ago, I saw the interview with Sienna Miller on the Daily Show. Now, those interviews are rarely especially insightful, but they did speak about Edie Sedgwick, subject of new film 'Factory Girl' a little bit. Miller was adamant that, in terms of "famous for being famous" celebrities, Sedgwick was miles away from our modern day Parises, in that there was at least merit to what she did. Watching 'Factory Girl' tonight, I struggled to see this merit.

I don't really know a lot about the woman's life, and the film didn't help at all. It's a dull film telling the story of a rich, bored girl who falls in with the right-but-wrong crowd, to the disgust of her uncool parents. Unlike Domino Harvey, she stars in Andy Warhol's experimental (read: kind of crap) short films. I couldn't really see too much of a difference between her and today's gossip sites fodder - pretty girl, heiress, was famous for being seen at parties and being in poorly-filmed movies that hardly anyone saw. Sound familiar? The camera work is especially irritating - it switches between black and white and really heavily saturated colouring, and handheld closeups, and deliberately grainy shots to look like old stock footage.

There's a fascinating story in there somewhere, I'm sure, but there was no reason to care about her at all. Miller and Guy Pearce work well with what little they've been given, and Hayden Christensen is alright as an unnamed singer whose looks and actions have prompted legal action from one Robert Zimmerman.

At one point, a reporter suggests that Warhol's films are nothing more than superficial, and that's nicer than you can say about 'Factory Girl'. The only upside I can think of, is that I get to upload these two songs for you.

[download The Velvet Underground - Femme Fatale]
[download The Long Blondes - Lust in the Movies (demo)]

Hair Like Monkey, Teeth Like Dog

And now, a true story about Gorky's Zygotic Mynci.

In 1999, they did an instore performance at Virgin Megastore on Tottenham Court Road, to promote their single 'Poodle Rockin'' and being young and carefree, I went along. Later, there was a signing and when I got to meet the band, I said to their singer Euros Childs, "I really like the new video", to which he replied "...".

You see, that ellipsis indicates that whatever he said to me was masked underneath his thick Welsh accent and I had no idea what it was, so I just nodded like an idiot and thanked him for signing my copy of their excellent album 'Spanish Dance Troupe'. Later that afternoon, we bumped into (then-new) Oasis guitarist Andy Bell on Oxford Street. True story.

Gorky's, then: Fantastic late 90s Welsh indie band. Never made it into the same popularity leagues as the Manics, Super Furries, Catatonia or Stereophonics, but they were consistently great. Check out the melancholy of 'Spanish Dance Troupe' [video] or 'Hush The Warmth' [mp3 below]. And that only scratches the surface. The band split up last year.

But Mr. Childs continues to make music, and his second solo record is out tomorrow in the UK. It's filled with great melodies, catchy hooks and Euros' fantastic singing voice. It's also sung entirely in Welsh. It's called 'Bore Da', which means 'good morning' and the title track is so infectious that you won't even care that you've no idea what he's saying. Beginning jauntily but making a sharp twist later, it's really great. Listen to the equally ace 'Warrior' at Euros' myspace page.

Also, hello to people coming here from GWFA. Add our RSS feed, why don'tcha?

[download Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - Hush The Warmth]
[download Euros Childs - Bore Da]

Even the Puerto Ricans listen to Journey

At last year's Sundance Festival, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints won the awards for Best Director and Best Ensemble cast. Cool, right? It wasn't released theatrically until November, and only on a handful of screens, making about half a million dollars. Just for the sake of perspective, Norbit scored $34 in its opening weekend. The cast list isn't A-list admittedly, but it certainly isn't shabby - Robert Downey Jr, Rosario Dawson, Chazz Palminteri, Shia LaBeouf and Channing Tatum from 'Step Up'. And, weirdly, Sting and Sting's wife get producer credits. Wha?

It's based on the book of the same name by Dito Montiel, who also got behind the camera. His direction is confident - the story shifts semi-successfully between young Dito (LaBeouf) and twenty years later Dito (Iron Man Downey), and there are some nice cutaways, a few lines spoken directly to camera, and some nice first person insights. The look and feel of Astoria, Queens, in the mid-80s is well captured, the performances are solid, and you really get sucked into caring about what happens to Dito, especially around his stifling dad and overbearing best friend.

The main beef critics seem to have with the film is the lack of originality - and it's true. For me, the film comes across somewhere between Scorcese's Mean Streets and Singleton's Boyz N the Hood. But, to be fair, people like Scorcese and Spike Lee have immortalized New York in their time, they've made it their own. It seems unfair to criticize Montiel for telling his own story. The themes of family and friendship framed within racial unrest and general inner city boredom and decline will always be worth telling, and it's a fine effort from a first time filmmaker. Check it out on DVD.

Also, Dito Montiel is interviewed in the latest episode of the Guardian's Film Weekly, which as I've said before, is excellent.

I cause upset without trying

Hopefully, you've heard Maxïmo Park's new single 'Our Velocity' by now. (If not: hype machine! And check out the terrific video too!) It's been playing here for a few weeks, and I can't see myself getting tired of it any time soon. Like the best songs from their excellent debut 'A Certain Trigger', it's perfect to jump off beds to, has about six discernible choruses, and is three minutes of pure fun. Best of all, it has me really excited to hear their second record 'Our Earthly Pleasures', released in April in the UK and May in the US.

Anyway, to further whet appetites, spin magazine is offering another Pleasures song, called 'Your Urge', which is the flipside to 'Our Velocity'. Piano driven, sedate and featuring the lyric "codify your utterance", it's pretty, sees Paul Smith singing tenderly, and probably not star-jumping. Get excited for the album.

[download Maxïmo Park -Your Urge] from

You are the unforecasted storm

What do you guys think of Brianstorm? I'm glad to hear the Arctic Monkeys returning with their heaviest song yet. The guitars are crunchy as fuck, it seems like it stops three times before picking up again at 80mph. Like those bass breakdowns. The lyrics are as perceptive as you'd expect - something about a wily young girl, calm collected and commanding Brian, in his t-shirt and ties combination. As you'd hope for the taster for a second album, it's unmistakably the same band (closest musically to 'When the Sun Goes Down' sped right up) but not just doing the same thing as on the debut, it's definitely showing progression.

This bodes well for 'Favourite Worst Nightmare'.

[download Arctic Monkeys - Brianstorm ( link)]

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