Live Vault: Super Furry Animals in London (2002)

It sort of escaped my attention, but last week marked anniversary number one for AYGH? Hooray! I enjoy writing in here, despite the relatively few hits, and only one other blog linking to me (God be with you, Jim!) so look out for more fun junk in these here pages. As a birthday present for me, 'Hey Venus!' leaked to this Internet. Haven't got through it yet, but I've got to say, the album artwork is spectacularly horrific.

Now, as a gift to you, here's one of the best quality complete SFA bootlegs that I have. The gig was at Ocean in Hackney, support was from Vex Red (exactly) and Team Cooper and was broadcast live on MTV2. The date was April 11, 2002, if you care about that sort of thing. You can hear host Zane Lowe at the beginning, and there's a little skippage at the end of '(Drawing) Rings Around the World' - not my fault. There's a lot to love here, most notably a huge techno blow-out for the finale, and the first ever play of 'Golden Retriever'. Unfortunately, it also showcases the main problem I had with seeing the band during this period - look at the pacing. From tracks five to ten, a good half-hour, the tempo is slow-to-mid at best. And then five short, really fast songs. Still, as was always the case, this was a great gig (I was there, did I mention that? We sat in the balcony, in the row behind the Coopers) and is good to share with y'all.

[01 (A) Touch Sensitive]
[02 Sidewalk Serfer Girl]
[03 (Drawing) Rings Around the World]
[04 Receptacle for the Respectable]
[05 It's Not the End of the World?]
[06 Nythod Cacwn]
[07 Presidential Suite]
[08 Run! Christian! Run!]
[09 Fire in my Heart]
[10 Juxtapozed With U]
[11 The International Language of Screaming]
[12 Golden Retriever]
[13 Do Or Die]
[14 God! Show Me Magic]
[15 Calimero]
[16 The Man Don't Give A Fuck]
[17 Gwreiddiau Dwfn / Mawrth Oer Ar y Blaned Neifion]

What's wrong with Evan Almighty

In the interests of full disclosure, perhaps I should say at the outset, that I didn't see Bruce Almighty, and perhaps that affected my enjoyment. If I had seen that, the character nuances and such might've made more sense. But I doubt it.

Minor Problem #1 - It doesn't look very impressive

What I mean is, it's the most expensive comedy ever, right? Most of that money went on visual effects, so by the final third of the film, I was at least waiting to see how badass the flood would look. And it was not that good at all. The CGI looked fake and ropey and underwhelming.

Minor Problem #2 - They have no respect for Government!

OK, poor title. Evan Almighty uses the tired, tired old subplot of the kids-who-are-alienated-from-their-dad-cos-he-works-too-much-to-spend-time-with-them. There's a bit in the film when he comes home from the first day as a Congressman with lots of reading to do, and the kids are disappointed that he can't go hiking with them. "New town, same old dad" one grumbles. He's a Congressman! He'll have work to do! Why's he making promises to go hiking? Maybe this was just a gripe for me, but it really bugged me.

(Caveat: That said, John Goodman's character, another Congressman, apparently controls the town's police force)

Major Problem #1 - It's preachy.

The last thing a comedy ever needs is to be sanctimonious. Within the first five minutes, the wife says "It would be nice if we could pray together", and the references to the Noah story, Genesis 6:14 start coming nauseatingly thick and fast. Slate Magazine discusses the religious message of the film here, so read that. God tells Evan to carry out "acts of random kindness" and the end the big reveal is that the initials of those words spells ark. Or "aork", but he didn't build one of those, because they don't exist.

Major Problem #2 - It's not funny.

Probably the biggest problem. The best part is where Evan keeps growing a beard, comes into work, and gets a barrage of decent beard jokes from Wanda Sykes. And that's in the trailer, so if you've seen that, even more reason to give the film a skip. Funny people like John Goodman, Wanda Sykes, John Michael Higgins, Jonah Hill and Ed Helms are given absolutely nothing. Molly Shannon makes a brief appearance, and was probably told "do that crazy, annoying shtick you usually do". There are lots of birdshit jokes, and a running gag about Evan dancing. Carrell does low-key well, and making him carry this film doesn't really succeed. Hey! He drove past a cinema advertising "The 40 Year Old Virgin Mary"! God's giving him a book called "Ark Building for Dummies"! More birdshit! Now a dog's going for his crotch! Haha, he's wearing a wig! He's at a Congressional hearing... in a robe! Make it stop!

Bang Bang Anglo-Saxon at the Disco

Here's a couple more live tracks from Glastonbury weekend. This time, it's the sound of Wimbledon's premier troubadour, Jamie T. His album is probably the one I've enjoyed most so far in '07, and it's fun to hear him blaze through 'Salvador' and lead an almost-singalong for 'Calm Down Dearest'.

[download Jamie T - Calm Down Dearest (Glastonbury 2007)]
[download Jamie T - Salvador (Glastonbury 2007)]

[buy 'Panic Prevention' (US)]

The Tuesday Six

  • Did you know Wes Anderson has adapted 'Fantastic Mr Fox', for a stop-motion feature sometime soon? Cool! I think. [Guardian]
  • Long Blondes: Ace record, but a bit crap live? You decide. [Waves and Wires]
  • You should hate Brian Robbins and Dennis Dugan. [AV Club]
  • New album news, and new single download from the mighty Figurines. [Pitchfork]
  • Latest on the reuniting bandwagon: The Verve! Solo career not working out, then, Ashcroft? [nme]
  • The other day, in front of A Mighty Heart, I saw the trailer for Margot at the Wedding, which looks promising, though I wasn't a big fan of The Squid and the Whale. [I Watch Stuff]

Born in a manger...

Sure enough, the glut of live recordings and videos from this past weekend's Glastonbury festival has begun to hit the internet. This site, in particular, has done a nice job of collecting them all in one place. Kudos for that.

From all that footage, there was only one band who I was interested in, and here are three songs from their set. They happen to be Super Furry Animals, one of my all-time faves. One's a new, guitar-heavy reworking of their 1999 single 'Northern Lites', and then there's two songs from the upcoming 'Hey Venus!' I can never say a bad word about SFA, so you might as well just listen to the songs for yourself.

[download Super Furry Animals - Northern Lites (Glastonbury 2007)]
[download Super Furry Animals - The Gateway Song (Glastonbury 2007)]
[download Super Furry Animals - Show Your Hand (Glastonbury 2007)]

[pre-order 'Hey Venus!' (UK)]

Somewhere in a field in Hampshire

Today's the last day of Glastonbury, and reading all the coverage of the thick mud and Killers currently entertaining 175,000 people in south-west England, I'm reminded of my two visits to the world's biggest festival.

The first time I went was 1999. We'd just taken our GCSEs, my trivia team Bob the Zealot made it to the final on Steve Lamacq's Thin Quizzy segment, and everything was exciting. On the first day, the sun shone until Travis - not yet the huge band they'd soon become - played 'Why Does It Always Rain On Me?' and it began to piss down, and I got to see Pavement and dEUS, and, early in the day, Muse on the small stage. I thought they were rubbish that day. Look at them now. Saturday was Gomez, Super Furries - the incredible set where a tank drove through the crowd - and the Manics, and on Sunday I can't even remember who I saw, but it was amazing. Ozomatli were in there somewhere.

Sunday night, after all the bands were finished, my friend Nico and I were walking around the campsite because someone said the TV show Trap Door was playing somewhere. We never found the show (good thing Youtube is around) but we bumped into some joggers, a field full of teepees, the world's smallest disco, and a girl from Coventry whose name I can't remember, but she hung out with us til the sun came up and then ran off.

I guess what I'm saying is... I can't wait to go back. It's probably my favourite place in the world.

Here's a live download and a live video, only the latter of which is from Glastonbury '99. But dEUS did play that song, and it was ace. Also, I know it's not really in Hampshire, but I'm sure most of you get the picture.

[download dEUS - Sister Dew (live)]

Underworld, King of Snake:

The business of journlists

Some people don't care for Michael Winterbottom's films. Not me, though. Even when they're not that good (9 Songs, Code 46), they're still eminently watchable. For his latest, A Mighty Heart, he's back to the handheld, gritty feel of 'In This World', but this time it's Pakistan that's the setting, specifically the crowded streets of Karachi. The story of Daniel Pearl is a difficult one to film, since the grim ending is already well known, but the film manages well to get across the search for him. Irfan Khan, last seen in The Namesake, is great as Captain, leading the hunt from the Pakistani side. The scenes where they're interrogating witnesses and such are really tense, just like they were in 'The Road to Guantanamo'. The FBI's involvement is a nice contrast - all "get out of the way!" and "this is our investigation now!" authority. Where the film lacked for me was as a character study - we didn't learn very much about Danny or particularly Mariane Pearl, and though she displayed determination and grief appropriately, I didn't feel for her. Maybe this was because Angelina Jolie is such an ubiquitous figure now, it was hard to see through her into the character. The film is compelling, though, and there's a terribly moving scene at the end when the Feds get the final video. The beheading is not shown onscreen, but the reactions from everyone are still harrowing to watch. The film is dead good, don't get me wrong, it just felt a little hollow.

Thanks for the memories, TH14

Well, he is leaving. Can't say I'm surprised, or even that saddened. He's 30 (!) and has a chronic back problem. Still, Thierry's the best player we've ever had. I really, really hope we don't fuck it up now and replace him with four or five 12 year olds from Slovenia.

One day tears, one day laughter

Following on from my post about the Lo-Fis the other day, news from their home, Skint Records. The label is giving away ten songs for free. For free! So if you need some big, big beats from the past decade, go to their minisite now. This song isn't one of the ten, but is always worth another airing. It's from the "baddest motherfucker on two turntables", Midfield General, and will put a smile on any face.

[download Midfield General - Reach Out]

The kids don't like it

Brother Eddie and his band of misfits (Jasper is from Enfield, North London! Like me!) better known as Art Brut have a new album out this week. Hooray! 'It's a Bit Complicated' is a lot less ramshackle than 'Bang Bang Rock And Roll', can you believe it?, but doesn't lose any of that record's charm. Eddie is still awkward, the narratives are still entertaining, the musicianship is pretty solid, and my only gripe is that, for a second time, they close the album with the duffest track.

No songs here, but instead, why not watch a live show from last month? Contains seven new songs, including album highlights 'Late Sunday Evening', without brass, alas, and 'Post Soothing Out'. Also plenty of old favourites (no 'Formed a Band' or 'Good Weekend', mind), and Eddie skipping. What're you waiting for?

[buy It's A Bit Complicated from insound]

I wish I could take it easy

Plasticines est une bande de jeunes Parisiennes, and their debut album 'LP1' is sung in both French and English, hence this sentence. They're in their teens, make really fun tunes and sound really, really French. But they're still ace. 'Zazie' is about nightbiking and has plenty of na-na-nas and is jauntier than a box full of jaunty hammers. Also, I think there's something about the English having a picnic in 1956, but my French is pretty rusty, so perhaps I'm wrong. 'Rake' is more straightforward, heads-down rock and roll. Mostly rock, though. Check 'em on myspace.

[download Plasticines - Zazie (Fait de la Bicyclette)]
[download Plasticines - Rake]

[Achetez 'LP1' from Amazon France]

Turnin' on your heels

In the summer of 1998, my friend Tom and I went to see the Lo-Fidelity Allstars at the Astoria in London, and it was all kinds of fantastic. Their singer came out holding a firecracker, Tom got clotheslined out of his shoes by a crowdsurfer, and things were blissful. A few months later, we went to see them at the Shepherds Bush Empire on the day that their singer had quit the band, a fact that we didn't know til after the gig. It remains one of the most disappointing gig nights I've had.

The follow up album wasn't bad, wasn't great, and then there's been a whole lot of nothing for more than five years. According to their myspace, they no longer have their hallowed Brain Farm studio, which is a pity, but on the same page you can hear this new track with Twilight's very own Greg Dulli which is a fuckin' JAM. Having done sweet, sweet soul on 'Somebody Needs You' back in '02, this time they're turning up the funk and 'Southside Lowdown' should come with a capital P for Party-slayer.

Seriously, this song is glorious.

[download Lo-Fidelity Allstars - Southside Lowdown (ft. Greg Dulli)]

[buy 'Don't Be Afraid of Love']

Analogue players in a digital world

Saw Ocean's Thirteen, mostly because, well, it's there. Expectations were low because I thought that Twelve was horrendous, smug and complacent. The good news is that Thirteen isn't horrendous. They've remembered what made 2001's Ocean's Eleven such an enjoyable film - there's an elaborate scheme, a ruthless bad guy (ham it up, Big Al!) and there's gleeful entertainment in watching all the cogs turning towards the big night. It's so elaborate and meticulous, it's silly and fun to watch.

Maybe I liked it more than it deserves purely because I disliked Twelve so much. Don Cheadle's almost-English accent still bugs the shit out of me, and the whole thing is still very, very smug. Matt Damon has a silly nose for a bit. There's a whole bit about Mexican factory conditions that I don't really understand. I imagine that Vince Cassell said "I want to be in it again too!" so they wrote him a tiny, completely unnecessary part, but he was in La Haine, so he has a lifetime of goodwill from me.

David Holmes' score was, again, the best and most consistent part of the film. That's probably a bad thing. So here's a classic of his, and let's never speak of O13 again.

[download David Holmes - 69 Police]

I am the pick in the ice

Happy tenth birthday, OK Computer!

I bought you at Tesco, and this song still stares the shit out of me.

[download Radiohead - Climbing Up The Walls (live)]

[if you don't have it, buy it]

A strange time for Jews

Last summer, I began but couldn't finish Michael Chabon's Pulitzer-tastic 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay'. Nothing against it, I only managed a few pages every day, and that wasn't enough to get immersed into it. So I went back to it last month, and it's dead good. More importantly, it meant that I was able to get to his new book, The Yiddish Policemen's Union without wondering how Kavalier and Clay ended.

I listened to it audio-style, which I don't think I enjoy as much as actually reading, plus it really battered my oink ratio. But it's still a quick way to get through a book. Anyway, I finished it earlier today, so here's some thoughts. The premise is interesting - what if a group of Jewish refugees were transported to Alaska during the war, and now, sixty years later, they were soon to be kicked out? Into that throw in a very noirish murder and detective story, and you've got something to really sink your teeth into.

Unlike K&C, I found this really easy to follow for a long time. It centres around the main character, the homicide detective Landsman, and moves forward in time very linearly. It was riveting enough, and easy enough to keep up with. Then, about halfway in, it becomes really dense really quickly. There are lots of new characters coming in and out, lots of back-story to paint a fuller picture, and it got a little confusing. From there on out, I struggled to get really hooked back into it, as I was for the first half. The events play out to a sort-of satisfactory conclusion, but I'm still a little amiss about exactly why everything unravels the way it does, and the book spoiler is no help.

There is still a lot to enjoy, though. The dialogue is great, there are some terrific characters, the Yiddish slang is interesting and there's some nice Chandler-style moments of great detective work. And lots and lots of drinking, smoking and swearing. Read it! But read 'Kavalier and Clay' first.

Just don't hold your breath waiting for the movie.

We were shitting gold!

It's impossible to talk about Magicians without mentioning Peep Show. It has the same writers, and more importantly, the same stars - David Mitchell and Robert Webb. In the film, the pair play very similar versions of their characters on the show. Mitchell is wordy and awkward, and Webb is brash and stupid, and even has a Super Hans style agent. It doesn't really feel like a film to be honest; the plot is too thin, and there is very little to admire as a production. There's hardly any cinematic flair to speak of.

But as you'd expect, it's still pretty funny. Only pretty funny, but that's still better than not funny. M&W aren't on screen much together which is a shame, but when they are, they work well together, as we already know. Mitchell has some especially inspired lines, like "She's dead, like millions of Chinese peasants and Bob Hope!"Jessica Stevenson and Peter Capaldi have great supporting roles, and the former's dance routine for Electric 6 will at least make you feel better about your own dancing abilities. As was the case in Confetti, you get to see Rob Webb's arse.

As a film on its own, Magicians is alright. Nothing great, kinda predictable, but funny enough. But as a film from the Peep Show guys, it's very disappointing. If you haven't yet, check that out, and give that a watch instead.

I feel it in my nuggets

In lieu of anything better to do, I checked out the new Sony Animation joint Surf’s Up. This summer being what it is, the film instantly gets three points for not being a sequel or a prequel. It immediately loses five points, though, for being a film about penguins, and five more points for being an animation with animals that talk. Not a good omen.

Voices: Loses points for having Jon Heder voicing a weirdo chicken, but gains points for having Jeff Bridges and James Woods bringing their respective crazies and being very funny. Shia LaBeouf voices the main character, Cody, whose life story is being told, and in that sense, it reminded me of A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, but it’s a very limited comparison.

As for the film itself, it has quite a high concept - MTV style documentary – for what is undeniably a very kiddy story. All the usual be-true-to-yourself and winning-isn’t-everything and don’t-be-a-bully stuff applies, and there are way more poop jokes than you’d expect. At 80 minutes, it feels a little incomplete, though. The big climactic surfing scene is pretty short, and if you’ve seen any kid’s movie ever (let’s say Pixar’s Cars), you can guess what happens. Often times with films for kids, there’s at least stuff for the over-10s to laugh at too, but here that was kinda lacking.

So Surf’s Up, then: Funny for kids, actually quite boring for not-kids, and all soundtracked by Green Day and the New Radicals.


In other news, I don’t know if you’ve seen Mr. Brooks, the crime thriller with Kevin Costner and Demi Moore, that’s in cinemas now. Either way, you should definitely check out the latest episode of The Best Show for a fantastic spoiler-heavy assessment.

Tom on Dane Cook: “I’m not gonna be mean, but this guy’s a whole lotta bad… You could feel kids not liking him anymore”.

I saw your sister last night

The Thrills are a deeply unfashionable band from Dublin who make songs that are pleasant, breezy and completely un-edgy. I ruddy love them and I can't explain why. They've taken a long time over album number three, 'Teenager', and you can test drive a couple of new songs at their myspace, as well as ace previous singles 'Big Sur' and 'Whatever Happened to Corey Haim'. The first single is called 'Nothing Changes Round Here' and it just made it to radio back in the Old Country. It's inescapably pleasant, could've been on either previous record, got the same ol' melancholy lyrics with perky tune vibe going on, but I dig it. It'll be nice to play it out of the car window this Hurricane Season. (So far, only one pesky tropical storm in two weeks). Also, on their website, bandmember Kevin says he's been reading 'Shantaram', which is also on my stack o'books. So nice one.

[download The Thrills - Nothing Changes Round Here (radio rip)]

[pre-order UK]

Take the lovers home tonight

With all its recent departures, it almost comes as a jolt to remember that Chemikal Underground Records still has bands on its roster. But that they do, and one such band, Glasgow's very own Mother and the Addicts, have a new record out soon. It's called 'Science Fiction Illustrated' and if it's anything like their spastic first album, we're in for some good shit. I remember that when they were first signed to the label, delgado and Chemikal suit Stewart Henderson told me that they'd make my face hurt, they were that good. Here's a song from their first record that really highlights their urgency and noisemaking. And, more pertinently, if you go to this minisite, you can download a song called 'So Tough' from their new album, which is a little more tuneful but just as much fun. Also, the press release likens that song to the band Electric Sound of Joy, for which they get a billion bonus points from me.

Don't forget to check their myspace for yet more musical goodness. If I were some sort of terrible tabloid rag, I'd end this by saying "Get Addicted!" but I'm not, so I won't.

[download Mother and the Addicts - Fuck Me Mummy, I Feel Ugly]

[buy their records at the Chemikal shop]

What's a synonym for old?

I don't follow tennis much these days. I mean, I'm keeping an eye on the French Open, but for the most part, I'm not into it the way I used to be. I remember Mark Philippoussis was a pretty good player. Never one of the greats, but had a huge serve, and could always be relied on to beat English opposition. So, imagine my surprise at finding out that Mark is the subject of a new show on NBC called 'Age of Love'. I'm not going to talk about how ridiculous and dumb the premise for the show is - The Hater takes care of that. But, for shame Philippoussis. For shame.

You're just a doorman, doorman!

'07 has been called the Summer of Sequels, and that's a shame, but judging the trailers that preceded Knocked Up, there isn't much hope for original films either. Tell me why I should care about this, this or this. Awful. Some silver lining here though.

Anyway, Judd Apatow's latest begins with 'Shimmy Shimmy Ya' so it's an auspicious beginning. The plot is deceptively simple, the characters are suitably bizarre, and the laughs come thick and fast. I rarely laugh out loud, but lines like "If any of us get laid tonight, it'll be because of Eric Bana's performance in Munich" really got me. There are loads, and I mean loads, of good beard jokes, including "You look like Robin Williams' knuckles". Plenty of suitably eccentric characters. Some funny cameos. Seth Rogen is very good as a lead, but plays funny a lot better than sincere. Katherine Heigl is not bad as the other lead, she isn't given too much to go with, though. Judd Apatow's kids are in it, and they're really funny - "I Googled murder!" - as is Kirsten Wiig from SNL in a small part. And it's easy to relate to the "what would you do?" premise, so it's easier to get absorbed in than most comedies.

Some gripes, though. It feels about twenty minutes too long, and there are definitely some lulls in there. The inevitable shift in Ben from carefree stoner to responsible parent-to-be is glossed over, and there are only so many slackers-ripping-on-each-other scenes you can take in one film. The interpersonal relationships rarely feel too developed, like between Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd. Dana Stevens at Slate mentions that Apatow doesn't write women characters very well, and I can see that. Despite all these flaws, it's funnier than anything else that'll be at the cinemas this summer, it's an original idea, and it's still very charming, so it's definitely worth a watch.

And because, baby I like it raaaaaaaw:

[download Ol' Dirty Bastard - Shimmy Shimmy Ya]

[In other news: Box Office Mojo has an interview with the writers of Pirates 3 that's almost as bafflingly incomprehensible as the movie itself. Apparently, it was inspired by Sartre. Hell is indeed other people].

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