The dog will piss on your career

When you hear talk of hits at the cinema this summer, it's all Batman this and Iron Man that. Chances are, nobody's going to mention a thriller that's two years old, stars nobody famous and is in a different language. And yet, 'Tell No One' has already played at my local arthouse, and is - get this! - coming back due to popular demand. On a more national scale, even the Hollywood Reporter has called the film a word-of-mouth hit. For a foreign film to push close to $4m in domestic box office with barely any advertising is pretty spectacular.

And so it should be, because 'Tell No One' is fantastic. The plot follows a solid, old-fashioned arc: man hears his wife scream, goes to investigate, gets knocked unconscious and when he comes around, she's dead. Eight years later, he's not really moved on, and finds himself the prime suspect of (possibly serial) murder. It turns into a French 'The Fugitive' as the mild mannered doctor tries to prove his innocence, whilst being chased most of the time, with only one cop who believes in his innocence. Also, his wife might actually be alive, I should probably mention that.

The plot is dense, too dense, and there are plenty of "wait, what?" moments, and there is a clunky big exposition/explanation scene at the end. Yet none of this gets in the way of the film being incredibly tense and watchable. And the scene where the doctor is running down the street with an adorable huge, shaggy dog, while 'With or Without You' plays is disarmingly cute. Contrast this with the incredible footchase scene across one of Paris' busiest streets, or the very intense scene of a woman getting beaten. It's a heavy film but incredibly rewarding.

The characterization is really intricate and well thought out, with even minor roles being well thought out, like the neighbourhood tough guy who helps the doctor when he's on the run, or the terrifying torture specialist who knows pressure points and inflicts max damage. Francois Cluzet is great (and Cesar-winning) as the doctor, pulling off young Dustin Hoffman looks with genuine anger and confusion at being wrongly accused. Marie-Josee Cruze, not content with being in this year's other amazing French film, does well as the enigmatic is-she-isn't-she wife. And Kristin Scott-Thomas has a nice turn as the doc's confidante.

The film is still playing at cinemas in the U.S. though it may be hard to find. It's expected on DVD in November here, but I do believe it's out in Europe already. Check it out, make it an even bigger hit.

The Lord take Peth away

I posted an early version of this song a year and a half ago (!) and now The Peth are here, this time to stay. As you may be aware, the Peth consists of Daf from SFA, Rhys Ifans from Notting Hill, and a gaggle of other Welsh talent. Their album 'The Golden Mile' has been long-awaited (I guess) and is out next week. But they've made the single available, and here it is!

[download The Peth - Let's Go Fucking Mental]

[The Peth myspace / youtube / official]

Mother 13 or Sister Shiela?

OK, so you won't take my advice and listen to the Best Show. But how about if a journalist with some actual credibility tells you to? Nathan Rabin, over at the A.V. Club just wrote a "Portrait of Awesomeness" about Scharpling and Wurster, and he does a better job of introducing it.

Most comedy albums lose their pop after a single listen but there are so many levels to S&W that they hold up after a good dozen listens, though if you commute like I do, you might have to worry about the disapproving glares of strangers you’ll engender while laughing your ass off listening to classic routines like “Rock And Roll Car Dealership” (a revealing interview with the co-owner of Gene Simmons Toyota) or “Old Skull”. In “Old Skull” a cynical careerist reforms semi-infamous kiddie punk outfit as a jazz-fusion seven-piece.
Just remember, new episode tonight. 8-11pm Eastern, listen at

Stay Frosty

Like I said before, I'm very new on the 'The Wire' bus. So far, I've still only seen the first series and with a new year of law school starting up today, I may not have the time to get more into it for a while. One season was enough, though, to make me interested in seeing Generation Kill, the new miniseries from the same creators, David Simon and Ed Burns, as The Wire. It's well established that recent films about the Iraq War have underformed, but seven hours of TV from these guys was bound to be better. And oh man, it was better. Best thing I've seen all television all year, and though I don't watch a lot of television, admittedly, it's still high praise. I was waiting for the show to finish its 7-episode run, which it did last night, before writing about it.

The show, about a Battalion of U.S. Marines arriving in Iraq at the start of the war, and leaving at the end of the war, is based on a book. The guy who wrote the book, a Rolling Stone journalist named Evan Wright, is played in the series by Lee Tergesen, who is interesting to me because he played Terry ("I love you, man!") in Wayne's World. Winner.

Characters, dialogue, camaraderie, dissent, authority, guilt, liberation. 'Generation Kill' had everything. There were signs of the ineffective command, from the commanders more interested in getting medals and honours for their bravery than the well-being of their men. The main authority figure is called the Godfather, and at the end of the series has a rare moment of self-awareness and depth. There are leaders who are terrifyingly inept, like the trigger-happy Captain America, whose carelessness gets two of his men suspended. Among the lower-ranked men, there's plenty of characters as well, like Ray, who talks and sounds like Randall in Clerks, and leads the group in a big 'Teenage Dirtbag' singalong in one early episode. There are guys who are just there to kill, and there are those with more of a conscience, whose guilt wracks up throughout the series. Fick and Colbert, the two "main" characters in a big cast, have a great dynamic between one another, and are looked up to by all the men. It's really great to see how their relationship progresses as the group gets increasingly dangerous missions and how Fick has to balance doing what's right with repeated reminders to follow orders.

Interaction with Iraqi civilians is often unsettling. The group only has one translator, something which is often mentioned with exasperation. In one episode, a well educated local woman sarcastically thanks the troops for occupying her country. Other times, they just plead for food, water, medical attention, or just to not have their homes blown up. I've not been to this area, so I can't authoritatively say "Yes, it's entirely accurate and realistic", though by all accounts from those who know, it is. There are explosions, the constant dread of ambush, moments of bonding. It was just a great series. Look out for it on DVD whenever it gets a release, you won't regret it.

And here's the song that plays over the final montage.

[download Johnny Cash - When the Man Comes Around]

The situation on Muffler Row

I know I talk about The Best Show on WFMU a whole lot on these pages, but even so, I really need to talk about this past week's show. For the last year or so, they've been introducing various candidates for the Newbridge Mayubinatorial Election, a once-every-decade extravaganza. The candidates all got there the same way, by amassing the requisite 37 signatures, and all made their annoucements with some sort of pancake breakfast. It's a very elaborate - and a very funny - thing.

Anyway, this week Tom Scharpling hosted the Mayubintatorial Debates, from the newly constructed Newbridge Debate Pavilion. Two thirds of the episode were taken up with Tom, Jon and Associate Producer Mike putting on a tour-de-force three-man show.

Some of the candidates:

- Hammerhead: A hardcore enthusiast who now lobbies to get more plastic into breakfast cereal and wants more violent pits at local rock shows.
- Zachary Brimstead, Esq: A 400lb barbershop singer and hates Newbridge. (You can listen to his first ever appearance, from back in 2000, here)
- Timmy von Trimble: Who is two inches tall and a white supremacist. Why?
- Marky Ramone: Drummer for the Ramones, condom salesperson, author of 'Hey Ho! Let's A Drummer's Life'. Big in Brazil.
- "Philly Boy" Roy Ziegler: Screenwriter, sandwich artist, Pencil salesman, Philadelphia Enthusiast
- Tor Halversom: Nefarious chocolatier who seems to strike fear into the heart of all the other candidates. Has a fat son.
- Bishop Pablo Fontana: The Pop Culture Pontiff. Is more likely to talk about David Gordon Green than religion.

What I'm saying is: If you haven't picked up on my many hints, you really need to start listening to the Best Show. Catch the latest archive here. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Just listen to it already, you jerks.

Here's the Newbridge National Anthem, sung by Barry Dworkin, singer in America's Beatles, the Gas Station Dogs. If you've never heard their song, you need to click this at once.

[download Barry Dworkin - Newbridge is Just What You Needed] zshare link

She could've married a Kennedy

There's a new song called 'Anna' from Hello Saferide over at Pitchfork today, and I strongly recommend you check it out. The guitars are beefier than we're used to and there's a neat chorus. Listen here.

Her last album, 'Introducing...' didn't blow up and get the blog love that it deserved, and nor did the 'Would You Let Me Play This EP Times a Day?' EP, which came out a couple of summers ago. I really like HS (aka Annika Norlin), her lyrics are sweet and the tunes simple, but she can raise a smile pretty easily. Her song 'The Quiz', for instance, features a pre-dating checklist for any would-be suitor, including such important considerations as "Will you talk in the middle of Seinfeld?" She has priorities straight.

The new record, 'More Modern Stories From...' will be available in September, and you'll doubtless read more about it on here. Here you can hear two older songs of hers that are great.

[download Hello Saferide - 2006]
[download Hello Saferide - If I Don't Write This Song, Someone I Love Will Die]

[Hello Saferide official / myspace]

Live vault: Clinic, Sound City 1999

No, I didn't know this feature was still around either!

A handful of songs here from Liverpool's other finest, from back in 1999. All six songs probably last about ten minutes, and this is from their "still wearing surgical masks" phase. Their newer records haven't done anything for me in a while, but this early material is killer diller.

[download Clinic - 2/4]
[download Clinic - The Second Line]
[download Clinic - CQ]
[download Clinic - Monkey on Your Back]
[download Clinic - Porno]
[download Clinic - IPC Subeditors Dictate our Youth]

I don't make music, I make change

The title of Animate Objects' album is a little misleading. See, it's called 'Riding in Fast Cars with Your Momma' and to me, that says "We're goofy and this is going to be a very fun album."

It isn't. Let's make it clear - it's still dead good, certainly. It just doesn't sound like what you might expect, given the titular yo' momma joke. Chicago's Animate Objects play stellar full-band hip hop, and it may be lazy but it's entirely appropriate to mention The Roots, whose influence seeps through pretty strongly on AO's debut. Listen to 'Beautiful' - smooth R&B voice carries the chorus and the hook, while the tough-voiced rapper takes the verses and talks about social responsibility and love.

The other major reference point is Michael Franti and Spearhead, particularly on the opening cut 'The Weight', where AO gradually unfold all the cliches you hear in a lot of hip hop and one-by-one dismiss them. 'Riding...' keeps a pretty relaxed, laid-back pace almost all the way though, so 'Get Back!' and 'El Dorado' are welcome, but rare, upbeat standouts. The album as a whole is well worth a listen, but since most of it is kept at a mid-tempo, it's hard to get too worked up about. Stick it on, have a drink and soak it in. Remember the name.

[download Animate Objects - Get Back!] yousendit link

[Animate Objects myspace / official / facebook]
[Buy 'Riding in Fast Cars With Your Momma']

First impressions of Intimacy

I guess that 'Signs', track six, was the first time on 'Intimacy', the rush-released new record from Bloc Party, where I thought "What the fuck is this?". 'Kid A' style bells, lyrics about ravens and bluebells? That said, by the time the huge strings arrive, I'm won over. I still don't like 'Mercury', though, with its shout-outs to hipster neighbourhoods and the word "retrograde". That one aside, it's a pretty solid record. 'Ares' is a jarring opener, one of their fastest songs yet. I like 'One Month Off' and 'Halo' because they sound, as promised, like first album 'Silent Alarm' songs.

'Biko' is slower but with its heart in the right place. There's a lot (a LOT) of programmed beats, which work reasonably well throughout the record. They sit nicely over the huge wall of choral voices on 'Zepherus'. I thought 'Trojan Horse' was okay, reminded me of 'Where is Home?' from the last record. Loops carry 'Better than Heaven' until it bursts into life, which is especially thrilling but does it make up for a dull first three minutes? Nearly. The last track builds nicely, sounds a lot to me like 'Always New Depths' was in mind when they did this one.

I seem to be among the minority when I say that I quite liked 'A Weekend in the City', but 'Intimacy' comes off as a pretty good album on the first listen. And considering nobody expected a new Bloc Party album a few days ago, let's be thankful and dance like bastards.

[Bloc Party myspace / official site]
[buy 'Intimacy']

He'll save the world again... again

It's been a shitty year for comedies. If the best thing so far was 'Pineapple Express' (enjoyable but disposable), that's not too hot. And, this being Are You Gene Hackman, it is always appropriate to remind you what the nadir was. So expectations weren't particularly high for 'Tropic Thunder' but with an all-star cast (including the Coog!), I expected some fun at least. And all the controversy definitely drew more attention. I was worried that that a satire on the biz, poking fun at actors and executives, might not have much widespread appeal. But when you've this many A-listers, I guess the box office wasn't hurting too much.

It was ridiculous. For a major studio film, there was so much going on. It was dumb. It was funny. There were some big laughs. There were some great lines. I enjoyed it. The Downey-as-black-man stuff was very funny but it worked as a satire, there was a good pay-off at the end. (Although the line "I don't break character until I've done the DVD commentary" was kind of great). Jay Baruchel plays sincere well, as always, which is why it's weird to see him as a tough guy in the Nick and Norah trailer. Jack Black is ok, as is Stiller. Neither is really sending up their own image too severely, unlike Downey, who as you may be aware, actually was kind of crazy. Having said that, this is the funniest thing either Black or Stiller has been in for years. (Notable exception: Extras). Danny McBride and Bill Hader are back in their second release in two weeks.

You might have heard about the celebrity cameos. Tom Cruise well-advisedly breaks his usual persona to play a studio exec who swears a whole lot. While I don't endorse unnecessary dance breaks in the middle of comedies - that's a Seltzer/Friedberg move, and you're better than that, Stiller - it was nice to hear 'Low' in a film for the second time in a few weeks. Nice to see Jason Bateman in one frame towards the end, too.

'Tropic Thunder' isn't fantastic or hilarious. But it's consistently fun, as intellectual as two boxes of umbrellas, and has some pretty gnarly explosions. And Nick Nolte's in it! It won't blow you away, but it's funny and that's all it needs to be.

Some Enchanted Hairspray

I'm sitting in Orlando. Was planning on getting on the road tomorrow to see my folks, but Tropical Storm Fay rather inconsiderately has the same projected path as my drive, so I'm house-bound for the time being.

You know that episode of Spaced where Tim and Brian have a cultural exchange? My girlfriend and I had a similar deal this past weekend. Kind of. Less of an exchange. I watched two films that she really likes, 'Enchanted' and 'Hairspray'. It was my intention that, in return, she watch 'Jerkbeast', a "classic" that I recently played for my friend Matt, who liked it enough to write about twice. She is not keen on this, however.

But anyway, I watched those two films for with her, and she live-blogged my reactions. Read these here and here.

Swap an alibi for an alibi

I'm about to leave Tallahassee after five weeks, so this is just a quick update.

There's a new Los Campesinos! track over at Pitchfork. Hooray! 'How I Taught Myself to Scream' is not going to be on their second album, but will hold us over nicely until October.

Hear it now.

More when I'm in some other town.

[Previously: AYGH? on 'Hold On Now, Youngster...]

Why so (not at all) serious?

Like his previous film 'Super Size Me', Morgan Spurlock's latest joint 'Where In the World is Osama Bin Laden?' begins with a little preamble, before Morgan walks down the street, shouts the title of the film, and then the opening credits roll.

Like 'Super Size Me', this film is carried by Spurlock's amiable personality.

Like 'Super Size Me', this film has a pretty obvious message that you don't need to sit through an hour and a half of film to figure out.

Unlike 'Super Size Me', this film is a load of balls.

Look, Morgan. You're a nice guy. One time we shared a cab at SXSW, after that Craigslist documentary. The sociological experiment stuff worked well before, and it's pretty good on your TV show. But this is a issue that's really serious. You can't say "maybe [Osama]'s a 9ft tall bionic ninja with x-ray eyes and the power of flight" immediately after showing him dancing to MC Hammer. You can't talk about how the U.S. has historically supported dictatorships and illustrate it with gaudy cartoons, over a rap music background. You can't use videogame graphics, or an animation of Bin Laden as a fast food worker. You sure can't keep referring to him as "OBL".

You can't tackle an issue as important as this and not tell me anything new.

There is some good here, though, guys: there's a training sequence at the start that's equal parts intense and paranoid. I thought it was kind of cool that the Doctor from 'Super Size Me' is still his doctor, and after freaking out in the last film, he doesn't bat an eyelid when Spurlock says "I'm going to look for Osama Bin Laden" as if it's nothing. That's about it.

Framing the film around the imminent birth of his first child is clumsy, and the shots of his wife, back home in New York don't sit well with all the (sort of) politicking. The tone was all wrong. This film was all wrong.

Keep your spazzy way of saying things

Here are some reasons why I was sure, prior to watching, that I would probably love 'Son of Rambow':

1. Jessica Stevenson Hynes is in it. You know, off Spaced and that.
2. This trailer.
3. It's written and directed by Hammer and Tongs, whose last film was not amazing, but I thought it was had some great visual moments and was panned a little more than it deserved. Besides, their music videos speak for themselves.
4. Garth Jennings, specifically, has always come off as friendly and enthusiastic, most recently when co-hosting the Adam and Joe show on 6Music.
5. Also, Adam Buxton is in this.

And now, here are some reasons why, upon watching, I did indeed love 'Son of Rambow':

1. Great '80s soundtrack. Depeche Mode and the Cure! Siouxsie!
2. They say "skill" meaning "awesome". We used to do that back in the day. For instance: around World Cup '90, we used to say "Skill-achi" in honour of the legendary forgotten Italian striker.
3. There's a lot in there that I recognized from my own school days. Particularly the forbidden mystique of the Sixth Form Common Room, although at my school it was just a square drab room and not a bitchin' disco with a doorman.
4. We too used to have French exchange students come over, although they were never as cool as Didier is here. We also had German exchanges, and as a neat contrast, they were resolutely uncool.
5. The scenes where they recreate First Blood, and make their own movie, are fantastic. Jennings' flair for visuals and ideas is still very evident, and it's super creative. Unlike 'Be Kind Rewind', though, the rest of the film is still interesting.
6. The story is pretty low-key and simple (maybe predictable?) but that's okay. It works. The religious themes are not too prominent, and even though it would be easy to do so, the film doesn't really criticize the Plymouth Brethren sect very overtly for its conservativeness. Hynes' character tells a story toward the film that frames their beliefs nicely.
7. How many great child actors do we have right now in Britain? Freddie Highmore... the kid from Millions... Tom Turgoose from 'This is England'... and now, two more.
8. The last scene made me teary-eyed. I don't mind admitting it. Leave me alone.

Highly recommended.

[Order DVD UK]

Some things for a Wednesday


  • Isn't this sort of tacky? Not just the "WIN A THREESOME!" gaudiness, but the typeface, the layout, the use of "dude(ette)" and the use of a pair of lips as an O. It'd still be kind of boss to win, mind. []
  • As you know, R. Kelly fascinates me. So, I sincerely enjoyed and heartily recommend Josh Levin's full, ninety-minute commentary, of K's recent trial. [Slate]
  • If you haven't already, have a look at some of the crap in Roland Emmerich's house. (And no, I don't mean the 10,000BC screenplay. Zing!) [NYT]
  • See how good you are with film posters. Me? I got 28. [Empire]
  • If there's a better news headline that this, I haven't heard it. [Guardian]
  • Are you Tom's friend yet? Why not? Do it now! Get him to 5000. [Myspace]
  • It's almost here! [Premier League]

Watch these enzymes react

Truth be told, I’m not too bothered about Roots Manuva’s upcoming fourth album ‘Slime and Reason’. Despite having some great, great songs in his back catalogue – not to mention some great guest appearances – I’m still yet to be really impressed by a full-length of his. The last one, ‘Awfully Deep’, was particularly forgettable, and had a song called ‘Toothbrush’ on it, which cost him many cool points.

What’s more, I saw him live at Reading one year, and his show was a shining example of why rap shows are often terrible. Too many hype-men, good songs cut off after a verse, bad sound quality, etc. It was a profound disappointment.

All that being said, the guardian’s just gone and given ‘Slime and Reason’ a five-star review. So my interest has been rekindled. I really hope he’s got it all together. Here’s a classic from an earlier record.

[download Roots Manuva - Juggle Tings Proper]

Don't judge a taco by its price

You know how everyone has a book that they read at a young age which finally made them think “Hey, reading doesn’t actually suck after all!”? Well, for me, that book was ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’. I may have only been thirteen years old, and I may not have known what half the words meant (I’m looking at you, “mescaline”), but I still was swept away in the adrenaline, the intoxication and the sheer madness of it all. From there, I graduated to ‘Hell’s Angels’ and other various essays. I still love reading Hunter S. Thompson, and like John Peel or Tony Wilson, I was genuinely sad when I heard of his death.

Anyway, last night I went to see ‘Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson,’ a new documentary from Alex Gibney, whose previous work ‘Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room’ and Oscar winner ‘Taxi to the Dark Side’, I had enjoyed considerably. And when I say “enjoyed considerably”, I mean “enjoyed as much as you can when the subject matters are white collar crime and wartime torture, respectively.” The roll-call of contributors to ‘Gonzo’ was pretty heavyweight: a former president, a former presidential candidate, a former president’s speech writer, both Thompson’s wives, his son, his editor at Rolling Stone, his illustrator, a fellow acclaimed author, and the guy that played him in the movie. You know, that guy from ‘Secret Window’.

I thought the presentation of the film was a little muddled, which though confusing, was in line with the Doctor’s writing, so it was appropriate. What I mean is, the story was told using archival footage, the aforementioned interviews, clips from Wayne Ewing’s films, and Johnny Depp’s readings of the great man’s works. It comes off as a little incoherent, which was probably the intention. Also, at two hours it felt rather long.

But enough gripes! It was still fun. As in, a trunk-full of drugs fun. Seeing his failed run for Sheriff of Aspen (if he’d have won, he’d have been Sheriff of Fat City) is hilarious. Watching the glee-filled vitriol with which he attacks Nixon and Muskie is great. The reverence he has for Carter is sweet. All the Hell’s Angels stuff. The Kentucky Derby. He used to type ‘The Great Gatsby’ in its entirety, over and over again, just to get more accustomed to the rhythm and mechanism of typing.

He may not have been a great guy, what with the drinking, the drugs, the infidelity, the guns, the temper, the inability to ever make a deadline – all of which are documented here. And yet, he was probably the first writer to be a celebrity as we understand it now. He was on Letterman. He was more popular than some of the politicians he was covering. He created a new style of writing. More than anything else: His best stories are far more interesting than any of my best stories. And for putting many of those good stories together, ‘Gonzo’ is well worth checking out.

On Partying.

This is something I wrote a couple of years ago, that I just found again. It's about college parties. Hope you like it.

I think there should be a new benchmark used for describing parties. Instead of saying "It was great, we had three hundred people!" or "We had seven kegs!" or "The Smiths reformed just for the night!" there ought to be some other indicator. Because parties never have fixed start and end times, it can't be something clock-related, like "How long did it take before the toilet seat fell off?" or “The final bottle of Natural Light was finished at (x) a.m.” or “Jamie and Humberto missed work the next morning because they were passed out in a broom cupboard”. Further, because party demographics vary greatly, it can't be something specific, like "Beard Ratio" (one party we stopped by on Friday had an FHC - Facial-Hair Coefficient - of 0.8. This is clearly bad), or "Number of Whoooooos! per person". And though it pains me to say this, there can be no bonus points for broken chair parts deposited in freezers.

No, what I seek is some sort of universal barometer that all parties can be measured upon.

Last night, we were at a birthday party which got broken up by the cops, as most big parties in a college town such as Tallahassee are wont to do. Nothing too outrageous about that, although I always love seeing under-21s panic at the sight of the police, running around freaking out, whilst those of us old enough to not be scared stand around, almost arrogantly, looking at Johnny Law, as if to say "Yeah, what if?".

Clearly, the arrival of the 5-0 isn't particularly noteworthy in itself. But a couple of hours prior, there was another official and unsolicited visit to the house. You see, in the back garden, there was a little firepit set up. Pretty well controlled, bricked in, not harmful to anybody. Just after midnight, we noticed some flashing lights coming down the road, and a few moments later, there were seven members of the Tallahassee Fire Department walking up to the party. Probably not because they want to drink cheap beer and talk about that time they drank cheap beer. They came up, very professional looking, and stared at the fire, which as I've said already, could only be dangerous if you were wearing nylon and had fireworks in your pockets, and were sitting on top of the fire and were also soaked in petrol. The firemen looked at each other, gave a collective shrug and walked off, no words needed to be spoken. Evidently, there had been a tip off about some wild and out-of-control fire, and it was all a big waste of their time.

The more I thought about this today, I realised that having not one but TWO emergency services coming to your party is really fuckin' cool. Now, clearly this measurement only has limited potential in terms of rating shindigs. Obviously, I'm not saying that parties should start having a room where, instead of smoking marijuana, people are recreating the popular film (and less popular novel) Fight Club, so as to necessitate the visit of an ambulance. I mean, it's for the best that ambulances DON'T show up at parties, but do you see what I mean? (Caveat: A possible exception would be the Whiskey Ambulance, but I don’t think that such a thing actually exists). I guess that Cave Rescue arriving would be pretty boss, or maybe the Wildlife Police?

The only other Emergency Service I can think of is the Coastguard, and being as we're a couple of hours from the sea, can you imagine how fucking amazing it would be to have your party broken up by those guys? That'd be the Harlem Globetrotters of all parties. If that happened at somebody's birthday, it'd be incredible but also destructive, since there'd be no way to follow that. What could you do? Even if you had a combination of elephants, strippers, fireworks, Thai food, helium, members of the original Broadway cast of 'Rent', and breakdancers, it wouldn't match "the one where the fuckin' COASTGUARD showed up!"

So, last night's party scored a 2 on my new scale of "Emergency Services in Attendance".

Beat that, party throwers of the world.

[download Los Campesinos! - We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives]

Everybody get random

As a purist (read: loser), I generally like listening to albums as they were designed to be heard: in sequence, filler-and-all. I don't really know why. Recently, though I've finally come to terms with the fact that almost every album has a weak spot. A couple of weeks ago, I got a new iPod called Horseface (thanks, Stoopid) and for the first time, I made a massive playlist. Just of songs I wanted to hear. At the moment, 'untitled playlist' (it's terribly unimaginative, I know) is at about 350 songs. Cool.

I got in the car this morning, plugged it in (the iPod, obviously, not the car) and hit the previously-overlooked shuffle button. It starts up and it's M.I.A.'s 'Paper Planes'. Not bad! I wish that the song had snuck into 'Pineapple Express' as it did in the trailer, but never mind. Hearing those gunshots will really pump you up on the way to work. Then it fades out, and there's a moment of suspense before the next one. 'Emily Kane' by Art Brut! Are you serious! 8.35am dance party! I tried really hard to avoid eye-contact with other drivers while belting "All my friends think I'm insane" at the top of my early-morning lungs. Next… 'Amazon' by M.I.A.

Wait, what?

I have about seven songs by M.I.A. in this playlist of 350. And somehow, out of the 30 or so songs I've heard or skipped through today, six of them have come up. How does that work? Also, about three songs from Robyn have been selected. Of course, I like all these songs, else they wouldn't be on the list to begin with. But there has to be more to shuffling than this, right? Isn't it supposed to be random? I was hoping for some Cursive or Hot Chip or Malky or any of the other 100+ artists on there.

My only possible explanation is this: My iPod, Horseface, is a woman. But not jsut any woman, else there'd be some Sleater-Kinney, Lucky Soul or Laura Marling getting played. But an ultra-hip, blog-savvy woman. That explains the preponderance of M.I.A. and Robyn, doesn't it? There is no other reasoning.

I'm sawdust in a sandpaper suit

As regular readers may be aware, I'm often bemoaning the lack of bands that come to my hometown of Gainesville, Florida. Plenty of bands do come, of course, but rarely are these bands from the top drawer. For once, though, there's a gig coming up that I am legitimately jazzed about. Headlining are Against Me! about whom I'll admit, I don't know anything except that they're Gainesville-based, recently signed to a major label, and are pretty popular. First on will be Future of the Left about whom I again know very little. Except that the band came out of the ashes of Mclusky, sorely missed Welsh punk badasses. I'll be looking into them, too.

Most excitingly for me, though, is the filling in the sandwich. Jersey's finest and friend of AYGH - Mr Ted Leo and (his) Pharmacists will be coming along! I've not seen the band in a few years, certainly not since 'Living with the Living' came out, so it'll be great to see them again. Also, there's a certain 'World is in the Turlet' to be played now.

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and predict this: It'll probably be a sweaty evening.

Full tour dates are on Pitchfork.

[download Mclusky - There Ain't No Ferguson]
[download Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Who Do You Love?]

Get Caught in Showtime

I got sent a few songs by The Pristines. They've got that very 80s, very indie, very jangly thing going on, which honestly, I don't care too much for. But the thing that intrigued me the most about them was that they're on a label based in sexy and glamourous Miami, but the band themselves are from... Coventry. I can't think of a more opposite city to Miami than Coventry. But good luck to them. Or, rather, him, since it's primarly one guy - Jon Hardy. Here's the most upbeat of their songs that I have, see what you think. The shoegazy/reverb-heavy/psychedelia thing has never been up my alley, but I'm sure some of you will enjoy this a lot.

[The Pristines - Who to Trust]

[The Pristines official / myspace /]
[Buy new album 'States of Mine' from Series Two Records]

He does a great Jeff Goldblum impression

For better or worse, you know what you're getting when you go and see a Judd Apatow-produced flick by now, and fortunately/unfortunately 'Pineapple Express' is no exception. There are plenty of laughs - mostly from terrific one-liners and some funny characters - a plot that really doesn't matter one bit, and some sort of resolution at the end. Like 'Knocked Up', I saw it opening night, laughed a whole lot, and then probably won't think too much about it again.

Some reviews have suggested that you have to be on drugs to find it funny, but that wasn't my experience. I actively cheered at the shout-out to my beloved Godspeed You! Black Emperor, which in reference terms is up there with "You're like David Caruso in 'Jade'" from 'The 40 Year Old Virgin'. There's a great fight scene between Rogen, Franco and the unfailingly polite Red, played by Danny McBride whose 'Foot Fist Way' left cinemas here after, like, two days, so I'm yet to see. Franco is especially great, playing the understated but supremely funny drug dealer. Seth Rogen plays the shlubby deadbeat who doesn't understand why people get frustrated with him. Sound familiar? There's a subplot about Rogen and his girlfriend, Angie, which is sorta funny but does deliver a knockout scene with Ed Begley, Jr. I was pretty happy to hear Eddie Grant's 'Electric Avenue', a song about a street in South London, over the opening credits. And apparently, Spiritualized are on the soundtrack. Oh, and there's a classy pre-credits sequence with Bill Hader, who has now been mentioned on this site twice in a few days. He must be very proud.

There's been much talk about director David Gordon Green, whose previous output is a million miles away from the Hot-Fuzz-with-marijuana that's on display here. As a huge fan of his (I LOVE 'George Washington' and 'Undertow'), I was pleased to see him having fun here. There are some pretty elaborate, spectacular action sequences, some involving cars, others involving fire. It's nice to see him getting some acclaim, and if it means more people will watch 'George Washington', then I'm delighted.

For me, it is enough that 'Pineapple Express' made me laugh a few times, even if I felt it was among the weaker films from that stable. Not as bad as 'Walk Hard', though. The penultimate, big action scene really lagged in places. The inclusion of Asian ninjas was a touch too silly for my liking. And the ending scene, in a diner, is dumb as planks. But again, I still laughed a whole bunch, which given some of the competition this summer, is a good thing.

Incidentally, speaking of the "reliability" factor of these films, let me just tell you about two of the trailers that came first. One had Michael Cera playing an adorable, soft-spoken awkward teenager, and another had Christopher Mintz-Plasse as an even more awkward, weird teen. Both films look funny, but again, it's EXACTLY what we expect of these actors.

We'll ransack the town

Guaranteed* ways for new bands to get a free pass from me:

1. Be from London.
(1a. Be from London via Wales)
2. Have a girl in the group.
(2a. Have a pretty girl in the group)
3. Rock like bastards.

Come to the front of the queue, The Joy Formidable. Their influences include Cable (!), eels and Grandaddy, and may be the only band I've written about that list Aubrey Beardsley as an influence. You can download four of their songs for free from here. My favourite is their single 'Austere', which is a big tease. It threatens to take off, bubbling under some fuzzy bass and kick drum, for a whole minute, before melting faces with a lovely wall of noise. It's under three minutes long and still has time for a big ol' noisy ending. And it's called austere, a grossly underused adjective, so there's that.

[download The Joy Formidable - Austere]

[The Joy Formidable myspace / youtube]
[Pre-order 'Austere' on 7" here and get it signed]

* Guarantee may not exist.

Chuck your boyfriend, have a sandwich

I was late to the party, I'll admit it.

I didn't watch Spaced until the second series, in 2001. But I didn't really fall in love with it until I had moved to the States. Every place I have lived since coming to America, has seen me play both series to my friends here. I've lost count of how many people I've turned on to the show. Once 'Shaun of the Dead' came out, my already-knackered Region 2 DVDs went into overdrive because of the renewed interest. So, I'm delighted that the show is finally available to buy in America.

It's probably my favourite television program of all time. I still get chills at the "getting to know you" montage at the start of the first episode. I still dance along with Tyres during his brief appearances. I'm still filled with pride when I see my streets, the streets of North London, when I see them drinking at the Monarch. I saw Coldplay there! I still coo at the sight of a pre-Office Ricky Gervais in a one-minute cameo. The scene at the end, soundtracked by 'The Staunton Lick', still makes my heart soar. And I still get annoyed when I see reviews that refer to the "fake couple" thing as if that's the central premise. (Entertainment Weekly, you did this most recently)

Not to mention all the quoting. There's a pretty strong probability that I could perform a one-man show of all fourteen episodes. Is that something to be proud of? I don't know. The nerdcore appeal strikes home – like all Spaced fans, I've had exactly those kinds of geeked-out conversations with friends about movies, books, the Manic Street Preachers, etc. Unlike other sitcoms, it never felt like an unrealistic world.

The new edition DVD set comes with some new commentaries, including American fans of the show like Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino. The ones I enjoyed the most though are from Patton Oswalt, who repeatedly says "This part of London looks so shitty!" and Bill Hader, whose Michael Bay anecdote you can hear below. And another thing: I didn't know that the part of Brian was initially written to be played by Julian Barratt. Isn't that interesting!

It's not finished.

If you've never seen Spaced and you're reading this, you'd probably enjoy it.

It's finished.

[download Lemon Jelly - The Staunton Lick]
[download Bill Hader's Michael Bay story]

[Buy the DVD already (US)]

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