Could we lose the brother's suicide?

The TV Set’ is a very, very dark comedy that isn’t intended for a broad audience at all and therefore came out on a small independent label and wasn’t really seen by many people. Fittingly, it’s about a television program, a very, very dark comedy that isn’t intended for a broad audience at all BUT gets picked up by a major network and then gets watered down to reach the broadest possible audience. There are big(ish) names in the film – David Duchovny, Sigourney Weaver and Ioan Gruffudd – so it was a surprise that this film flew completely under the radar. It’s pretty good, no big laughs but a steady flow of chuckles. It’s interesting to see how the network television system works in all its ugliness. There are plenty of parts where, like Duchovny, you want to punch the suits in their stupid collective face. The thing is – who really cares? This film, with its many digs at the system, is aimed at such a narrow audience, that the focus group scene that’s played for laughs seems very appropriate. I enjoyed ‘The TV Set’, definitely, but one of the running punchlines is sleazy reality television shows, like ‘Slut Wars’, the network’s flagship show. Gruffudd’s character is kind of redundant, he begins as an exec who’s going to stand up for the writer’s vision, and then he bottles it. There is an imbalance between the serious, quite astute humour and obvious (dare I say… broad?) jokes. There’s an impassioned speech from Duchovny about the need for original and not lowest-common-denominator programming, and then he yells at his agent for not having seen ‘Taxi Driver’. I never saw director Jake Kasdan’s previous film ‘Orange County’, but I enjoyed his debut ‘Zero Effect’, and his profile’s about to get a lot bigger because he’s part of Team Apatow and this winter’s ‘Walk Hard’ is his too. Check out ‘The TV Set’, but don’t expect to get too much out of it.

Incidentally, series two of ‘Extras’ makes many of the same points in funnier ways.

This is it, this is it, this is it

I'm not the first person to write about Glasvegas, but I may well be the most handsome. I've been listening to their song 'It's My Own Cheatin' Heart That Makes Me Cry' a lot of times, and I'm still not sure how to put it into words. So I'll let Alan McGee do it for me. Do you think he likes exaggeration?:

"It's a DIY epic of pop regret, the sound of Scottish Morrissey singing Del Shannon's songs with Phil Spector arrangements and Jesus and Mary Chain fuzz meeting Noel Gallagher's anthem addiction. An utterly unique proposition and totally soulful." [from 'Viva Glasvegas']

Their are more downloads from the jukebox at their site, and they're all great, and I recommend them highly.

[download Glasvegas - It's My Own Cheatin' Heart That Makes Me Cry (Home Tapes)]

The pain of someone you love

Today's winner of the "Fantastic Music Videos that Samir arbitrarily remembered while walking to the bank this morning" is... 'Stop Your Crying' by Spiritualized (2001).

In context... It was the first new material they'd put out after 'Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space' was named NME's album of the year, and so there was more attention on the band than ever before. I remember hearing the song on XFM for the first time and shrugging a little. It's okay, but the lyrics never really struck me. Nice use of an orchestra and a gospel choir, though... And the cover art was pretty ghoulish. Luckily for me, the album 'Let It Come Down' is astonishing and has far better songs.

But then I saw the video.

Wow. It's one of those moments when cinematography and lighting, which really aren't considerations for music videos, play a huge part. Beginning with just a spotlight on Jason, to opening up and showing the whole orchestra and London Community Gospel Choir, through some gorgeous deep red lights casting huge shadows across the floor, to the huge floodlights... all the thought that went into this piece is majestic. Performance videos are usually the most boring, but this one gives me goosebumps every single time. The still images thrown in really capture moods perfectly - there's one of a beer bottle and a pair of shoes, one of a musician sitting down exhausted and slumped over his cello, one of the choir raising their fists in triumph... I'll leave it for you to watch the video without me saying anymore, but this: if you don't get goosebumps at the 2:54 mark in the video, then you, sir, are probably already dead.

[If the embedded video doesn't show up, click here]

Reading isn't just for squares

Two articles in this month's Observer Music Monthly are worth your attention.

Firstly, there's an excerpt from Slash's soon-to-be-released autobiography. I've never been much of a GNR fan, much less a Velvet Revolver fan, but I absolutely loved reading 'The Dirt', the Motley Crue chronicle, and I'm sure I'll get a giddy thrill out of this one too. In this paragraph, he's talking about either weird hallucinations, members of Hanson, or Jim Henson creations:

They always looked like the creature in Predator to me, but a fraction the size and translucent blue-gray; they were wiry and muscular with the same pointed heads and rubbery-looking dreadlocks. They'd always been a welcome, carefree distraction, but this hallucination was sinister. I could see them gathering in the doorway; there was an army of them, holding tiny machine guns and weapons that looked like harpoons.

Read the whole excerpt here.

There's also a great feature on Sigur Ros, where they get drunk and dance to Village People. It's interesting to see a usually quiet band get hammered and talk about politics and Duran Duran, especially after this emerged over the weekend. Read the feature one here.

Merry Little Fancy Things

Caribou/Born Ruffians
Gainesville Common Grounds
October 13, 2007

There are three of them, they all look about fifteen years old, and from what little we caught of them the other night, Canadian trio Born Ruffians are pretty damn good. Before their last song, someone shouted a request, and the drummer said "We were going to play a different song, but it blows our mind that people know our songs in Florida, so we'd be stupid not to play what you asked for" and I thought that was very sweet. They play songs chock full of energy, with hand-claps and whoo-whoos and were six layers of fun. I even bought the CD! They played a song called 'This Sentence Will Ruin/Save Your Life', which was especially ace. Listen to a whole live set of theirs here and look out for an album early next year.

Dan Snaith, better known as Caribou, has some trippy visuals, and more importantly, two drumkits! Opening with 'Sandy' from his much-loved new record 'Andorra' [buy it], the band suffered from awful sound problems for the whole show. All of them at different times tried to get different levels adjusted, and the result was that vocals were very low and drums (two sets, remember) were really high in the mix. It was still all very enjoyable though - a little harder than on record. Lots of dancing, a couple of Manitoba tracks ('Crayon'!) and a brief encore. I'm not good with his song titles, so I can't give much more of a tracklisting, unfortunately. 'Melody Day' had the most recognition from the audience, of course, and saw more dancing. All in all, a good set but definitely hampered by poor levels.

Playing games in the rain

There's a great article over at the Guardian today about the reformations of several Britpop-era "also-ran" bands, like Dodgy, Kula Shaker and Shed Seven. None of them were ever particularly fashionable, but without them, there may be no Kaiser Chiefs or the View. But they're playing in front of bigger crowds now than ever before. Jim from Gimme Back My Head remains the only Northern Uproar fan in Britain, though.

Best sentence: "One single review said I stank of piss," sighs Witter, still as slender as before (and not noticeably odorous).

Also, look out for the Echobelly diss towards the end.

[download Dodgy - Staying Out for the Summer]

Tailor-made to suit men's needs

I've never seen The Cribs live, but if I ever get the chance, I should probably take a crash helmet along with me. Reports abounded last week of various onstage hijinks, with a passed out singer in the moshpit, and a hospitalised bass player (blood poisoning apparently... yikes). Add to that talk of fights with security guards, and you have a recipe for a mess-sipy. Ahem.

The band have a new single coming out soon, and here's a live version of it. 'Don't You Want to be Relevant' (which isn't on their unwieldily titled new record) will be released with 'Our Bovine Public' sometime in the near future. The song, in its live form at least doesn't really sound all that good, but see what you think. Two more live tracks from the same gig are streaming at 6Music.

[download The Cribs - Don't You Want to be Relevant? (live)]

That's pretty transformative right there

I'm sitting in my Art Law class and we're listening to 2 Live Crew.

Things are good.

Put olive oil on my face

The Forkcast today links to a new song from west London's Estelle, whose long-overdue second record is due out early in '08. The album, 'Shine', will have a lot of big American names helping out, like Wyclef and Kanye and Swizz and John Legend. Not bad at all! She moved to NYC and recorded it there - her blog has some fun stories about life there. Her accounts are touristy and easily impressed, but in a totally endearing kind of way. The new song, 'Wait a Minute', was produced by Will.I.Am and is better than his new song, so that's a plus.

[listen to Estelle - Wait A Minute] (myspace stream)

And lest we forget, here are two of her older songs. Her breakout single, '1980', which has a huge string motif and a Mel and Kim shout-out, and her duet with Blak Twang. I saw them do this live in a park, either 2001 or '02, at an anti-racism event which De La Soul headlined. Good times.

[download Estelle-1980]
[download Blak Twang ft. Estelle - Trixsta]

You don't have a backhand

In the overcrowded realm of the table-tennis themed gross-out comedy, Balls of Fury is probably still the worst. I laughed a few times, thanks to pre-movie drinking, but rest assured I still feel dirty from the laughing. The plot doesn't really need repeating - some mumbo about a fatty, the world's worst FBI agent, gay sex slaves, and Christopher Walken - the dude from 'Envy', lest we forget - in one of his weirdest roles yet. If you like people getting hit in the crotch, a suppository joke, Asian people being hilarious because they're Asian, a blind man falling over, a running stereotype about East German athletes/supporters, Cassandra's dad from Wayne's World 2 (Jeff?), and no sense, then check it out. The main guy is the dollar-store Jack Black, and there's a love story subplot which doesn't fit at all. Also, jackets which explode, and the old plot-arc I talked about before. The biggest laugh, though, was for our drummer-in-Def-Leppard impression when they played 'Rock of Ages' towards the end. 'Balls of Fury' is a harmless film but it's dumb as a brick and probably less ultimately satisfying. Even a brief appearance from 'Rambocky' star Patton Oswalt can't save it.

For a song download, go back here to that Operator Please song that I posted earlier in the summer which is entirely fitting today.

From poisoned cloud to poisoned dwarf

OK, so you've probably heard about the biggest news in the world ever ever, and though I'm excited and it may - hopefully - legitimately shake up the industry in terms of distribution, etc, I just have one gripe.

Still no Big Boots? Come on!

[download Radiohead - Big Boots (live)]

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