You don't have to be on drugs to enjoy this rap version of 'Daffodils'.
Actually, you do.
You don't have to be on drugs to enjoy this rap version of 'Daffodils'.
So a few years ago I was at Glastonbury and on the Saturday night, the Beta Band played the Other Stage, and hardly anyone saw them, because they clashed with The White Stripes. Pity, but the Betas didn't play 'Dry the Rain', so fuck 'em. (Just kidding, I'll love them forever). But, by the time Orbital began their headlining set, there were more people in the crowd than I've ever seen in my life. And I've been to the Boxing Day sales in London.
This download may be for fans only, but it'll be great if you're running, or driving, or doing anything inspirational. Orbital were a real Glastonbury favourite, and the opening strains of songs like 'The Box' and 'Belfast' are greeted with huge cheers, as are the chimes that signal, well, 'Chime'. Their song 'Satan' is as evil as ever, and I will always remember the sheer euphoria that flew through everyone for the whole set, and not just because we were all deliberately not seeing Stereophonics on the main stage. There's a very cool mash-up at the end of 'Halcyon' that I'll let you discover. If you've never heard them before, I'd much rather you listened to this set than their best-of compilation 'Work' which has crap versions of every song. Bah. The Brothers Hartnoll are now doing their own thing, and it must be weird to split up a band with your brother, but you can keep up with their doings at their website Loopz. There's a DVD coming out with highlights from their many Glasto shows. Buy that.
[02 The Girl With the Sun in Her Head]
[03 Funny Break]
[05 Technologiski Park]
[06 The Box]
[11 Doctor Who]
[buy some of their fine records]
In the interests of full disclosure, I guess I should mention that Look Mexico are friends of mine. The first time I met their singer Matt, I almost threw him out of my cinema, and sure enough we became pals after that. At the band's first gig, they played only Rod Stewart covers. A few line-up changes and EPs later, they have a debut album out on Lujo Records. Things seem to be taking off for them, and I'm very proud. They're on a massive U.S. tour at the moment - the whole country! - and you can check out the dates on their myspace. It's weird to think that a blog in Holland is writing about dudes who I once competitively grew beards against. Don't ask.
They sound very very American, but it will get you nodding and dancing and rocking. I'm biased, of course, but check 'em for yourself. And go and see them, you jerks. Maybe they'll cover the Beastie Boys.
Also, all their song titles are Vin Diesel movie quotes. Personal favourite? 'Guys, I Need A Helicopter'.
[download Look Mexico - You Come Into My House, While I Sleep]
[download Look Mexico - Done and Done]
[buy 'This is Animal Music' - now more than ever]
Compared to what we'd heard with 'Limbs', Emma Pollock's first release 'Adrenaline' is a surprise. It's jaunty, but not in the conventional way. The chorus is almost a little bit heavy. Built around a simple piano roof, it's pretty and will hopefully get her some attention. Around the 3.10 mark, it sounds like a vintage 'gados moment, with a second layer of guitars kicking in upon the lyric "I'm looking out for an ambush". I'm very impressed.
As a footnote, NME.com's review of this song is a load of baws. Not because it's negative - they're entitled to an opinion of course - but they seem to dismiss it for not being as kooky as Regina Spektor, which seems a very flimsy reason to dislike it. Also, delgados as a bit like LC!? Huh?
[download Emma Pollock - Adrenaline]
[buy 'Adrenaline' 7" (UK)]
OK, I found you a download. From BBC Radio Five, here's film critic Mark Kermode's take on Pirates 3. There's some spoilage, so bewarned. But it's really, really funny how angry he is. There's about nine minutes of other film discussion with Simon Mayo before he gets into it.
Subscribe to their weekly podcast. It's worth it. Also, Kermode went to my school.
[download Mark Kermode's review of Pirates of the Caribbean 3]
Keith Richards, a giant voodoo goddess, spontaneous gallows sing-songs, tattoos that melt in the heat, Bill Nighy's real face, endless convoluted personal relationships, a monkey firing a missile, some nonsense about a green light, the word Maelstrom! and a fuckload of crabs.
Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End is in town, and it has moments positively Lynchian in terms of what-the-hell. It's very entertaining, and unlike the previous chapter, it doesn't leave you angry and confused. The effects are pretty awesome, especially the edge of the world and aforementioned maelstrom. As I said, there is far too much going on to really keep up with, but it's very fun, and I guess that edges it to the side of "worth watching" and not "avoid like schoolteachers at bus stops". Turn off your brain, laugh with Johnny Depp, ponder why Geoffrey Rush is still in it, admire Orlando Bloom and his personality vortex, wonder who's double crossing who, and high-five when Gibbs shouts Maelstrom. Can you tell I love using that word.
No song to post today. I was thinking of 'Sailing Off The Edge of the World' by the mighty Straw, but I couldn't find my copy of it. Sorry!
It's the summer, officially, and the summer is not the time for whiny-ass ballads about broken hearts and dead puppies. Instead, have a song that will warm your cockles. Dragonette are Canadian, but based in London, and have made a record which has loads of pop suss. The Observer wrote nice things about them recently, and it's not hard to see why. Almost every song on their debut 'Galore' has a chorus that shines, and most songs, particularly 'Competition' and 'Jesus Doesn't Love Me' will make you dance so hard. They don't have the in-your-face-iness of Girls Aloud, or the sass of Annie, but there's lots to like here. Lightweight for sure, but more fun than a boxful of puppies. Here's the forthcoming single.
[download Dragonette - Take It Like A Man]
[pre-order 'Galore' (UK)]
I'm at a low ebb. Today's the Champions League final, which is bad for two reasons. Firstly, it reminds me of the horrible day last year when my team lost in the corresponding match. Also, perhaps worse, today's action will be the last football of the summer. There'll be some friendlies and a couple of England matches before the Premiership is back, but who really cares. August seems so far away.
As for the Final - I can't decide who to root for. As an Arsenal fan, I find Liverpool the least reprehensible of the other Big Three clubs. And the final two years ago was the best match I've ever seen ever. But, Alan Hansen is a giant c-word and I'd like to see him be wrong. Look at his last sentence. Fuck that guy.
So, to cheer me up, here's a song by a band from Australia who look about fifteen years old. They're called Operator Please and sound like what the Gossip would sound like if they were any good. Also, this song is mental.
[download Operator Please - Just A Song About Ping Pong]
[buy 'Cement Cement' EP]
I try to avoid as much as I can, posting about bands who're getting attention on other blogs. You don't need me to tell you about, for instance, the new album from The National that's out today. That said, I really wanted to write a bit about the Lucky Soul song 'Add Your Light to Mine, Baby,' which you can hear for yourself at Good Hodgkins right now and watch the video below here.
What a song! Fun like Dusty Springfield, huge strings, bouncing chorus... It's perfect for the summer. It very nearly has the same immediate impact as 'You Can't Hurry Love' and 'You Are The Generation...', the two greatest pop singles of the last few years. Sure enough, Lucky Soul just played a gig in London with Johnny Boy. The song is ace to any given degree, contains the very-English word "rubbish" and cannot NOT make you smile. Go download it now.
[buy 'The Great Unwanted' (UK)]
Last week I read 'The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs' by Irvine Welsh, which just came out here in beautiful paperback. I'm a fan of Welsh's, and so it was nice to see more hoors, fitba, drink n' drugs, shouting and dysfunction. Bedroom is about Danny, a health inspector who doubles up as a massive binge drinker and triples up as a football hooligan. His relations with women are fractious at best, and the writer is really good at getting these across. Danny's trying to find out who his dad is, having been raised just by his mum, and this side of the narrative drags a bit. Add to the mix Brian, a weedy Trekkie who enjoys model trains and playing Harvest Moon, and put him in the same office as Danny, and trouble follows. Their rivalry takes on some interesting forms, but it never really rises beyond "interesting enough". It's a page-turner, for sure, but neither main character is quite powerful enough to have made me really care about what happened to them. There's some Iraq War that doesn't really fit. There's one really ghastly sex scene. The ending is kind of satisfying, not entirely, and it reminded me of the ending of Porno, if you've read that. If you've never read Welsh before, start with something else, but Bedroom is a decent read, that fans may be a little disappointed by. It's not, however, as bad as the NYT thought it was.
I've put up a very odd song from the mid-90s, with Irvine Welsh collaborating with the mighty Primal Scream. I think Teenage Fanclub were involved too, but I'm not sure. It's a rant and it's pretty fun, and just look what a beast the title is.
[download Primal Scream, Irvine Welsh and the On-U Sound System - The Big Man and the Scream Team Meet the Barmy Army Uptown (Full Strength Fortified Dub)]
[buy 'The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs']
Oh, and speaking of great Scottish writers, have you read Ian Rankin's new short story in the New York Times? Go go go go!
A couple of songs from the new Editors record have gone and leaky-leaked. Firstly, there's the lead single 'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors' [video] which is really underwhelming - got that 'mid-tempo, progressively getting more resonant' vibe that made Snow Patrol huge. Not bad, but not remarkable, and I wish they'd gone for something more instant and affecting as a comeback single. Much better is the album's title track 'An End Has A Start' [(unofficial) video] with its heavier drums, chiming guitars and general 'Back Room' vibe to it. You can hear both songs on this nifty player thing below.
I've got live versions of a couple of other new songs from the band, that they've been playing for a while. 'Bones' is the fast and urgent one, with Tom's cries of "Repeat! Repeat!" and another pulsing chorus, while 'The Weight of the World' may be the band's prettiest song yet. I can't wait to hear what it'll sound like on the record, this live version sets the bar pretty high.
[download Editors - Bones (live)]
[download Editors - The Weight of the World (live)]
[pre-order 'An End Has A Start']
Northern Sweden's The Wannadies come from what I call the 'Boo Radleys School of Indie Bands'. What does that mean? They could write amazing songs for the next hundred years, and the public would always remember them just for one insanely catchy, poppy single from years and years ago. Altogether now: "Yoooooou!!! And meeee!!! Al-waaaaayyys!! AND FOREVER!" etc.
Like the Boos, though, the Wannadies have loads of much better songs than the 'You and Me Song', many of which are captured here. The set features songs from their great album 'Yeah!', a few older ones, plus a couple from their not-very-good 2002 record 'Before and After'. I saw the band at the LA2 in London sometime around the turn of the century, and they were dangerously fun and rocked the shit out of that now-renamed venue. Check out how beefy songs like 'I Love Myself' and 'Hit' and 'Shorty' are. It takes three listens before you sing along about motorbikes on 'Friends'. 'You and Me Song' remains irresistible and album track 'String Song' is their finest moment, as Par wails "What have you done?" over and over again.
[01 I Love Myself]
[03 No Holiday]
[04 Piss On You]
[05 What You Want]
[06 String Song]
[07 Big Fan]
[08 Little by Little]
[09 You and Me Song]
[buy their records, you jerks]
Hey! Another great underappreciated rock band is calling it a day. From the NME:
Scottish rockers Aereogramme have split up, citing "the never-ending financial struggle coupled with an almost superhuman ability to dodge the zeitgeist" as their reasons.
I never got hugely into the band, but they're on Chemikal, and the one time I saw them (in New Orleans supporting the delgados), they were very good. So here's a song, have a drink, and grow a beard in tribute to another band that never quite made it.
[download Aereogramme - Zionist Timing]
[buy Aereogramme records]
I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately. First up was Louis Theroux’s ‘The Call of the Weird’. Newer readers should know I’m a big Louis fan and have written about him on these pages quite a bit in the past. The book is a sort of “Where are they now?” for many of the most vivid characters from his Weird Weekends TV show – including the plucky young porn actor, the call girl from Nevada, the international Godfather Gangsta pimp Mellow T, the survivalist in rural Idaho, the UFO summoner, and Ike Turner, the documentary about whom was never completed.
It’s read by Louis himself, so it sounds more personal and natural, and it really is a joy to hear him attempt various accents with various degrees of accuracy. Having followed the documentaries closely, I was interested to see what became of all the subjects, although I imagine it wouldn’t be especially riveting if you hadn’t seen the TV shows beforehand. There was one subject whose episode I hadn’t seen, and I was a little bored during that segment, although to his credit, he tries well to fill in listeners who aren’t familiar with the episode in question.
Overall, it’s really funny and interesting, but I think you have to be a pretty big fan of his shows to begin with. If you haven’t seen any episodes, what are you waiting for? Here’s a little snippet, when he’s talking about his time with Ike Turner.
[download Louis Theroux talks to Ike Turner]
[buy 'The Call of the Weird' (book)]
I don’t know if you’ve heard about the layer of smoke that’s covering
Also, it made me think of this song from
I don’t get to use this word often enough, so: MAELSTROM. They make a relentless spiral of noise, melody, sadness and good drumming. I haven’t really fallen for their subsequent two albums as much as ‘
‘Winterlight’ is the last song on the album, and a veritable monster.
[download Clearlake - Winterlight]
Marching band drums + runaway strings + slight continental European accent + big fuck-off chorus + joyfulness of first Polyphonic Spree record + uplifting + everything cuts out + bring it back with na-na-naas over said marching band drums = first of the summer jams 2k7.
Scandinavia does it again, thanks a lot to Denmark's The Kissaway Trail.
[download The Kissaway Trail - Smother+Evil=Hurt] from sxsw.com
[buy 'The Kissaway Trail' album]
I'm home at my parents' place for the summer, and there's a lot of random live crap floating around on my old computer, so look out for more concert recordings here in the coming weeks.
To begin with, since they just broke up, here's The Cooper Temple Clause from the summer of '02. Can't remember where I got this from, but the sound quality is really good, and the set is almost entirely off their gargantuan debut album 'See This Through and Leave' (still unavailable in the U.S.). Both faces of that album are on show: the noodling, proggy moments - see 'The Lake', 'Murder Song' - as well as the short, sharp kicks in the balls provided by 'Been Training Dogs' and 'Panzer Attack', a song which, appropriately enough, is about short, sharp kicks in the balls. Without the crisp production of the album, the songs sound a lot more raw and ballsy, most notably on their almost-anthem 'Let's Kill Music'. Check it.
[01 Did You Miss Me?]
[02 The Devil Walks in the Sand]
[03 Who Needs Enemies]
[04 Film Maker]
[05 Murder Song]
[06 Let's Kill Music]
[07 Been Training Dogs]
[08 The Lake]
[09 Panzer Attack]
With my fingers so far from the pulse, I only got round to seeing '300' yesterday. Now, I'm a big film fan, as I hope comes across on this site, so I was pretty keen to see what all the fuss was about (two months ago). The visuals were great, of course. I'm a big fan of slo-mo clumps of blood flying around, giant rhinos and elephants, as well as deformed giants and priests and dudes falling off a cliff in silhouette, so in that respect it was satisfying. The battles are certainly engaging and spectacular.
Unfortunately, that's really all the film has going for it. When there aren't massive, hugely stylistic orgiastic displays of violence onscreen, I was waiting for the massive, hugely stylistic orgiastic displays of violence to return onscreen. Who cares about corrupt priests drooling over a barely-dressed siren? Can this subplot involving the Queen and a corrupt politician end now? There isn't any substance to '300' at all, and whilst that's sort of what I expected, I was still surprised at how empty and joyless it all came across as. I love a good decapitation, but by the fiftieth one, I couldn't wait for the film to end. It's a big, loud, bloody effort which never really connects on any level other than bloodlust, unfortunately.
I know they adapted the comic book frame-by-frame, and that it's a big deal to be so faithful to the source material. I mean, good, but that makes it leaden and the dialogue is horribly clunky. That said, if every film could use the phrase "traitor hunchback" from now on, perhaps this world would be a better place to live in. As for the parallels with current world affairs - I couldn't take the film seriously enough to really compare the Spartans to modern day America. It's just so silly. At one point the Queen says "Freedom isn't free"and I had the Team America song in my head for the rest of the film. I'm not sure what the lesson of '300' is - something about pride, bravery, death, honour, or just bitchin' use of blue-screen technology. I love a good looking film, but there has to be something more, and effects alone weren't enough for me to enjoy '300'.
Goal of the month from
Joaquin Phoenix Christian Vieri. All the more joyful because this is a man who once told a press conference full of journalists:
"I'm more of a man than all of you put together. I can walk down the street with my head held high. I can look at myself in the mirror, but you cannot."
Wakefield's very own Band of Brothers The Cribs have a new record out soon, with the unwieldy title 'Mens Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever'. I've never really got into the band too heavily, although the original version of their 'You're Gonna Lose Us' is a pre-gaming staple. (The re-record was a little too polished for my taste). The new record is not going to convert me to a die-hard, but it's still chock-full of great new songs that I'd love to see live (Main Stage at Lollapalooza!) because they're so damn energetic.
New single 'Men's Needs' and 'Our Bovine Public' rock especially hard, as do 'Ancient History' and 'My Life Flashed Before My Eyes'. The dual vocals between the two Jarmans that sing are punchy as usual, but the sound here is buoyed by Alex Kapranos' production. When they slow things down, like on 'I've Tried Everything' and especially sweet closer 'Shoot the Poets', they manage to pull it off well, too.
"I'm an indecisive piece of shit" they sing on 'I'm A Realist', and sure enough, there are a couple of weaklings, most notably 'Be Safe', where a solid chorus is undermined by a spoken-word lead from Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo. It's a bit naff. But for the most part, this is their solid-est record yet, spin the opener and enjoy the air drumming that will doubtless result.
[download The Cribs - Our Bovine Public]
[pre-order 'Mens Needs...']
For the most expensive film ever made, Spider-Man 3 isn't half a load of old bollocks. Guardian film critic and erstwhile fellow Gooner Jason Solomons was completely dead-on when he said the first hour is fantastic and the remaining hour-and-a-half is rubbish as aw'hell.
There are three dance sequences, Kirsten Dunst sings a bunch of songs, Peter Parker becomes evil because of some slime from a meteor and starts Austin Powers-ing ladies, and don't you dare get me started on his Jared Leto-esque laughable emo fringe to signify the darkside. Incidentally, that black slime really hates bells, just an FYI for you guys. Also, I'm very liberal when it comes to the ol' willing suspension of disbelief, so I'll give you "bad guy falls into sand-oriented physics experiment and becomes Sandman", but why can he fly? And how does he become a giant? J.K. Simmons is funny as always, though not as funny as he was on the Simpsons, and the Bruce Campbell cameo is the best part of the film. The obligatory Stan Lee cameo annoyed me, though. For a long film the pacing was poor, the Aunt May "I believe there's a hero in all of us" speech was grating, and the battle sequence at the end was only quite cool. Problem is, Spidey is only trying to rescue Dunst's character, and not the whole city, and by that point I couldn't care less about MJ anyway. Also, look out for Willem Dafoe in a jazz club scene, inexplicably. By the middle, people were laughing when they probably weren't supposed to be. And that's a bad thing. Also, a soundtrack album is completely superfluous, since by the time that Snow Patrol songs plays over the credits, everyone's too bemused to pay attention.
The ending, at least, offers sufficient closure, but Hollywood being what it is, expect another six at least. One girl in our screening said it was "the best film [she's] ever seen in theaters" so don't listen to me.
Imagine a mucky hybrid of Aliens, Finding Nemo, Little Miss Sunshine and The Manchurian Candidate (either version). It sounds mental and weird doesn't it? Not sure if it's cute or terrifying. Well, last night I finally watched the biggest ever box-office hit in South Korea, The Host, and it reminded me of all of the above.
I really enjoyed it - it's a monster movie that defies all the conventions of monster movies. Firstly, it's focused on a fragmented family, trying to band together to save a little girl trapped by the massive part-guppy-part-walrus thing that came out of the river. And they break the golden rule by showing the beast, full-on, in the first ten minutes. Dare I say it, the film also goes against the spirit of most monster movies by, erm, not being shit.
There are plenty of twists and turns that I wouldn't dream of revealing, and much has been made of the film's not-too-thinly-veiled anti-American sentiment. The cinematography and especially the score are fantastic - combining Hitchcockian violin riffs with fuller, warmer flourishes during the scarier parts. Some shots, like one of Nam-Joo climbing out of a bridge, are breathtaking. There's plenty of great comedy moments between the family members, plus a homeless guy, an orphan, some roast squid... Basically, give it a look. It rocks.
As ever, here's a completely unrelated song that I'm putting up because a) it's great, and b) its title is appropriate.
[download The Crocketts - Host]
[pre-order 'The Host' on DVD]
The Guardian's Music Weekly Podcast has a new episode out - with special guest Malcolm Middleton. The interview is alright - initially it seems to dwell on Arab Strap a little heavily, and I'm sure the man doesn't want to be explaining the origin of that band name any more. He makes a joke about the Brit Awards that sinks like a stone. Later, it gets more interesting (and indeed more self-deprecating) - covering reactions in Japan, Aidan's verdict on the solo gigs, and future plans. Plus he plays '(Beep Beep) I Love You' and 'A Brighter Beat'.
Check it out pronto. And here's one of my songs of the year.
[download Malcolm Middleton - Death Love Depression Love Death]
[buy 'A Brighter Beat']
"We are Maximo Park, there's very little doubt in our minds about that..."
Here are six songs from a live session the Park did recently for XFM Scotland. I couldn't be bothered to rip the whole gig, sorry. I've never seen them live, but the songs sound really similar to their studio counterparts, which makes them seem less interesting. Although, I imagine the live Maximo experience is more about the energy and the jumping. I'd have loved to have caught their recent shows with Art Brut (speaking of, Eddie's tour diary is back).
Anyway, here are some songs from Maximo Park - give 'em a spin. Maybe, just maybe, this is the last time I'll post 'Apply Some Pressure' for a while.
[download Maximo Park - Graffiti (live in Edinburgh)]
[download Maximo Park - Girls Who Play Guitars (live in Edinburgh)]
[download Maximo Park - The Unshockable (live in Edinburgh)]
[download Maximo Park - Our Velocity (live in Edinburgh)]
[download Maximo Park - Russian Literature (live in Edinburgh)]
[download Maximo Park - Apply Some Pressure (live in Edinburgh)]
[buy 'Our Earthly Pleasures']
I feel like it's unfair to Immaculate Machine that I can't write about them without talking about the New Pornographers. First there's the inescapable - singer/keyboardist Kathryn Calder is related to A.C. Newman, and has toured with the New Pornos for the last couple of years. More obliquely, their new song has the word Confessor in its title, as did Neko's terrific last record.
But listen to their fantastic new jam 'Dear Confessor' and you'll see that absolutely killer hooks run in the family. Like the finest moments on 'Twin Cinema', it's bouncy, fun, the alternating boy/girl vocals really draw you in. I've honestly been playing the shit out of this song all day [it's true, check out my last.fm page]. They've got a record called 'Immaculate Machine's Fables' (these are the fables? too obvious) out in the summer, they're playing a bunch of dates in Canada, and three in London (June 19th with New Pornographers at the Borderline - sold out!), and they're great. Peep their myspace at once.
As for the song itself, I would put it up, but You Ain't No Picasso already did, so get it from there.
[buy immaculate machine records]
Hello! My exams are over - joy of joys. I'll be writing a lot more in here these days, I'm sure.
Since today is May 1st, I could go out and protest globalisation or immigration. But I haven't slept since March, so I probably won't do that. (Don't those two causes seem contradictory? Pick a side!) Instead I'm going to lie around, reading books for fun (haven't done that since last summer), watching films, and watching the Champions League semi finals.
Anyway, here's a song that's calendar-specific. Some love them, some don't (looking at you, Rosie Swash). I'm not quite at the level of people that worship the Libertines, but I definitely love those fuckers. Enjoy.
[download The Libertines - Mayday]
- ► 2010 (12)
- ► 2009 (62)
- ► 2008 (139)
- Wordsworth! Respect.
- Live Vault: Orbital at Glastonbury 2002
- You can't be funny
- Don't give the game away
- "The Rolling Stones? Don't care!"
- That's monumentally unhelpful
- Kissed the boys and made them cry
- Beef Jerky has an aftertaste
- Make a stone wall cry
- It's why we hate the English
- Every little piece of your life
- Live Vault: The Wannadies at Popstadt 2002
- A story in white
- Have you ever orgied, Louis?
- The quality of light around this time of year
- We needed you most
- Live Vault: Cooper Temple Clause at Lowlands 2002
- You must be Xerxes
- In your FACE, Siena!
- Never exist without being generic
- I didn't kill your father!
- She's deceased but she's not dead
- Death is a number but I cannae count that high
- Live vault: Maximo Park in Edinburgh (2007)
- Winding lines and abstract drawings
- She's singing "this is what you get"
- ▼ May (26)
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