Tuesday, 29 December 2009

More of the Festive 45

I'm pretty sure that counts as alliteration, either way it's festive fun all the way. The weird thing about these lists is that they could change completely on any given day. This section is certainly made up of songs I've played an awful lot though, perhaps that's a good an indicator anything else.

30. Florence and the Machine - Rabbit Heart (Raise it up)

29. Kasabian - Fire

28. The Twilight Sad - I Became a Prostitute

27. Delphic - Counterpoint

26. Echo and the Bunnymen - Think I need it too

25. The Wave Picture - Tiny Craters in the Sand

24. Maximo Park - The Kids are Sick Again

23. Dizzee Rascal - Dirty Cash

22. Noah and the Whale - The First Days of Spring

21. The Joy Formidable - The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade

20. Hockey - Too Fake

19. Akira the Don - 18

18. Mumford and Son's - Little Lion Man

17. Maximo Park - Questing not Coasting

16. My Gold Mask - Bitches (The Hood Internet Remix)

Just in case the suspense is killing you, the final section will get posted tomorrow evening.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

An Eclectic Mix of Nonsense 2009 45-31

This year was the year after I binned football and two years after i binned tabs, the only relevance in any of this is that I've almost binned indie boy guitar bands in 2009. After the last couple of years really enjoying dance bands at festivals it was inevitable that I'd sway in that direction. I think the bigger surprise is the inclusion of quite so much Indie folk and borderline Americana. I blame Andy, the end of the road and the blogosphere and maybe the bands for writing damn good tunes.

And so my list in 3 parts and reverse order.

45. Sparrow and the Workshop - The Last Chance

44. Kasabian - Fast Fuse

43. Apteka - Traitors

42. Akira the Don ft Littles and Lickel P - Walking in My Shoes

41. One Hundred Hurricanes - Snake

40. The King Blues - The Schemers, the Scroungers and the rats

39. My Gold Mask - Bette David Eyes

38. The Big Pink - Velvet

37. Franz Ferdinand - No you Girls

36. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Come Saturday

35. Echo and the Bunnymen - Do you know who I am?

34. British Sea Power - Spearing the Sunfish

33. Mumford and Sons - White Blank Page

32. Rachel Unjust - Blue Bleezin Blind Drunk

31. Bombay Bicycle Club - What If

Ok so there's a lot of white boys with guitar stuff in that 15 but it will diminish. Triple disc sets available in the new year to anyone who promises to listen all the way through. ie Not Craig

Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas from Santa and TYR

And a short sketch from the Young Republic which is absolute genius is you like slapstick


Thursday, 24 December 2009

Andy's Really Good (and bad) Stuff 2009


Category - Generally excellent:

Dennis Wilson –Pacific Ocean Blue…a re-release of a long lost old album and better than anything Brian Wilson ever managed. Really.

Joe Bonamassa – The Ballad of John Henry…blues/rock guitarist with a voice like Paul Rodgers. That’s a good thing

U2 – No Line On The Horizon…it’s almost obligatory to knock them because they are so big and successful, but they never rest on their laurels. In retrospect, though, the “cover” of Pump It Up wasn’t the best introduction to the album

The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love…a prog rock concept album! (I bet that’s sold it to you)

The Low Anthem – Oh My God, Charlie Darwin…either hollering like Tom Waits with the accompanying pots and pans, or whispering the most wonderful ballads in the world

Richmond Fontaine – We Used To Think The Freeway Sounded Like A River…slow-burning Americana about life’s losers

Pearl Jam – Backspacer…their best album in years. A band having fun!

Florence & The Machine – Lungs…a joy from start to end, except for “Kiss With a Fist” which I unfortunately heard first and is just plain rubbish. That set us back six months in our relationship

Shearwater – Rooks…haunting, uplifting. Best Americana album of the year

Really good, but lacking a certain something:

Bat For Lashes – Two Suns…she’s mad, she is

Doves – Kingdom Of Rust…completely eclipsed by Elbow nowadays, aren’t they?

Various Artists - Dark Was The Night…veritable who’s-who of state of the art Americana

Wilco – Wilco (The Album)…people raved about it, but I think their best albums are behind them. Singer Jeff Tweedy is just too contented nowadays

Dan Michaelson & The Coastguard – Saltwater…biggest grower of the year

Bruce Springsteen – Working On A Dream…not his best, but still making worthwhile albums

Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle…kind of like mellow Nick Cave. And a bit Nick Drake

Them Crooked Vultures…thanks to CDWow it’s only arrived recently, so difficult to form a full opinion. It’s great, but there are already a couple of songs worth skipping

Broken Family Band – Please & Thank You…manners are important. Still think the threat to spit roast a Peacock at End Of The Road was the best joke any band made all year (apart from maybe the Muse album)

Soulsavers – Broken…gets a bit samey after a while

Placebo – Battle For The Sun…a welcome inclusion of brass, but last album “Meds” was better

White Denim – Fits…manic energy and invention, but could do with a few more choruses

Joe Gideon & The Shark – Harum Scarum…nowhere near as thunderous as live, but gets better as the album goes on

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit…the man who wrote all the decent songs and choruses in the Drive-by Truckers continuing to do what he does

Blitzen Trapper – Furr…stylistically all over the place, and loses the plot in the final third. Note to Rich: Features the song “Black River Killer”, so that’s all the required Americana boxes ticked!

Monsters of Folk…like The Traveling Wilburys

Very, very disappointing:

Muse – The Resistance

The Dead Weather - Horehound

Wild Beasts – Two Dancers

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion…these last two albums are featuring in all of the music magazines best of lists – usually at the top. They’re both shite


Scott Weiland – Missing Cleveland, Beautiful Day

Shearwater – Rooks, Century Eyes, The Snow Leopard

Bat For Lashes – Daniel, Glass

The Broken Family Band – You Did a Bad Thing, Stay Friendly

Bon Jovi – Brokenpromiseland

Dan Michaelson – Now I’m I Coastguard

The Decemberists – The Rake’s Song

Eagles of Death Metal – Anything ‘Cept The Truth, I’m Your Torpedo

Florence & The Machine – Dog Days Are Over, Rabbit Heart, Drumming Song, Cosmic Love, You’ve Got The Love

Them Crooked Vultures – New Fang, Reptiles

Doves – Kingdom Of Rust

Pearl Jam – The Fixer, Unthought Known, Supersonic, Force Of Nature

Joe Bonamassa – Story of a Quarryman, Jockey Full of Bourbon, The Ballad of John Henry

The National – So Far Around The Bend

U2 – Breathe, Stand Up Comedy, Unknown Caller, Moment of Surrender

Sparklehorse - Revenge

Jay-Z – Empire State of Mind

The Low Anthem – Champion Angel, Charlie Darwin, To The Ghost Who Write History Books

Soulsavers – Some Misunderstanding, Unbalanced Pieces, Death Bells

Richmond Fontaine – Lonnie, You Can Move Back Here

Yeasayer – Tightrope

Placebo – Ashtray Heart, For What It’s Worth, Kings Of Medicine

Bruce Springsteen – This Life, What Love Can Do, My Lucky Day

Dennis Wilson – River Song

Wilco – One Wing

Bill Callahan – Eid Ma Clack Shaw

Sean Watkins – A World Away From This One

Thom Yorke – All For The Best


The Dark Knight – I know it came out last year, but I only got around to it on DVD this year…I’ve got stuff to do, you know!

Son Of Rambow

The Changeling

Body Of Lies


Baader-Meinhof Complex

Slumdog Millionaire

The Reader


The Wrestler…like watching a washed out David Lee Roth

Gran Torino


State Of Play

Looking For Eric


The Wave

The Damned United

In The Loop

Star Trek


Let The Right One In

Anvil – The True Story Of Anvil

I await your scorn and ridicule…


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Tracks & Gigs of 2009

Right, here we go, let's rattle off the 60 best tracks of 2009. Fairly tight spectrum, I freely admit, generally containing only darker mainstream Indie guitar shenanigans, a whole new wave of Psychedelica and Shoegaze, Post-Rock and Alternative Rock. In my defence, I could also do you a top 10 Trance/Techno collection from this year, but would risk being shot down in flames by underground dance afficionados better placed than me to comment on this year's releases. Instead, I have focused on my alleged field of expertise, although I am expecting a ferocious and prolonged slanging anyway. Tracks per band are limited to a maximum of 2, so as to spread the love...

60- Deep Cut- Bullshit Detector
59- The Northwestern- What Did I Do?
58- A Place To Bury Strangers- In My Heart
57- Tides From Nebula- Purr
56- Nova Saints- Lights
55- Engineers- Brighter As We Fall
54- Grammatics- The Vague Archive
53- Spc-eco- For All Time
52- Placebo- Battle For The Sun
51- Swimming- Panthalassa
50- Redjetson- These Structures
49- Doves- Kingdom Of Rust
48- 93 Million Miles From The Sun- The Times We Have Are Now
47- Fleeting Joys- Destroyer
46- Howling Bells- Treasure Hunt
45- Prego- The Longest Calm
44- Nine Black Alps- Full Moon Summer
43- Kyte- Eyes Lose Their Fire
42- The Northwestern- All The Ones
41- Doves- Jetstream
40- Placebo- Breathe Underwater
39- Lowline- Gun In My Side
38- I Hear Sirens- This Is The Last Time I Say Goodbye
37- Animal Kingdom- Tin Man
36- The Longcut- Tell You So
35- White Lies- To Lose My Life
34- Nova Saints- High Roller
33- A Place To Bury Strangers- Deadbeat
32- Engineers- Song For Andy
31- Daniel Land & The Modern Painters- Glitterball
30- God Is An Astronaut- Shining Through
29- The Twilight Sad- I Became A Prostitute
28- Deep Cut- Commodity
27- Mono- Pure As Snow (Trails Of The Winter Storm)
26- The Domino State- Firefly
25- Jeniferever- The Hourglass
24- Punk TV- Snowboy
23- The Joy Formidable- Whirring
22- Dinosaur Jr- Plans
21- Bombay Bicycle Club- Cancel On Me
20- Animal Kingdom- Into The Sea
19- The Big Pink- Velvet
18- The Horrors- Who Can Say?
17- I Concur- Build Around Me
16- Silversun Pickups- The Royal We
15- 93 Million Miles From The Sun- Yesterday Morning
14- The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart- Stay Alive
13- Caspian- The Raven
12- I Like Trains- Sea Of Regrets
11- White Lies- The Price Of Love
10- The Twilight Sad- Seven Years Of Letters
9- Redjetson- For Those Who Died Dancing
8- Punk TV- Happy Birthday
7- Nine Black Alps- Buy Nothing
6- The Airborne Toxic Event- Sometime Around Midnight
5- Daniel Land & The Modern Painters- Off Your Face Again
4- The Boxer Rebellion- Flashing Red Light Means Go
3- I Concur- Lucky Jack
2- Bombay Bicycle Club- What If?
1- Silversun Pickups- Panic Switch

4 compilation CD's covering my "Festive Sixty" are available "through all good record stores", sourced through sending me a request, and your name and address...!

As for gigs, I didn't do a huge amount this year, so I will limit myself to a top 5;

5- Kasabian- MEN Arena, Manchester
4- Placebo/The Horrors/Silversun Pickups- Central, Manchester
3- Swervedriver/I Concur- Garage, London
2- Silversun Pickups/Animal Kingdom- Academy 2, Manchester
1- God Is An Astronaut/Caspian/Tides From Nebula- Ucho, Gdynia

Have an excellent Christmas, and New Year.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Andys Good Stuff of 2009

Unfortunately I'm heading to Keswick to play in the snow so won't be able to upload Andys stuff with pictures until Wednesday. In the meantime this is pretty much what it says....

Number 35: Bonkers novelty rap collective. Shows staff have sense of humour.
Number 34: Reserved for Britpop “survivors” who’ve made “their best album in years”.
Number 33: Wacky side-project of big-name band singer, which is a wacky electro-pop concept album about magic animals.
Number 32: Something from Iceland.
Number 31: The name that keeps turning up on every electro/house compilation CD released that year. e.g. Simian Mobile Disco in ‘07.
Number 30: Real authentic alt. country dude who made the album in a cave in the Appalachians/once dated Joanna Newsom.
Number 29: Return of once-derided old-timer who used to symbolise naffness, but has subverted expectations by making an album of honest, brooding ballads with a hip young producer.
Number 28: This space is reserved for Bruce Springsteen if he makes an album in the year of the list.
Number 27: Some dubstep record which actually came out last year but has roundly been heralded as “the sound of the future”.
Number 26: Disappointing third album from previously much-touted act, which is so bad that editorial embarrassment means it’s been crowbarred in here as a Pravda-style exercise in shrinking them slowly rather than dropping them like a hot brick, as would be most appropriate.
Number 25: The band that everyone was tipping as the year’s biggest act in January.
Number 24: You’ve never even heard of this one. You never will. Even as your read the blurb, you find your mind simultaneously erasing the entry.
Number 23: Glitchy and worthy and difficult record you’ve listened to once. Squarepusher, basically.
Number 21: British Sea Power.
Number 20: Token world muso.
Number 19: The band who’ve got a reputation for being “influential”, and have a geographically specific “scene” organised around them that they put on semi-mythical “parties” for at a semi-mythical “venue”. e.g. HEALTH and The Smell.
Number 18: Band who wrote album of songs inspired by the tragic accidental/drug death of their bass player last year. Somewhere the blurb says “courageous”.
Number 17: Fever Ray.
Number 16: Sexy pop act masquerading as “wonky-pop”/”nu-pop”/”underground pop”, which only barely disguises the fact that they’re Lulu with alt. dress sense.
Number 16: Put in a “stunning” performance on Jools Holland.
Number 15: DJ who made “the year’s party-starting mash-up compilation” that you’ve never actually heard at a party that wasn’t put on by media insiders. And never made any of those party-goers do more than pout extra aggressively.
Number 14: Dirty Projectors.
Number 13: Hyper-obscure album everyone was bamboozled into voting for ‘cos Pitchfork gave it a 9.9, despite sounding like every other folk album ever.
Number 12: Rapper facing child sex charges.
Number 11: Dizzee/Chipmunk (pop-grime slot shared on a rotational basis).
Number 10: Album described as a “groundbreaking fusion of dance and rock”.
Number 9: Tape of Bob Dylan coughing up some phlegm in June 1972, found in someone’s attic, dusted off, reissued, and hagiographised in the Sunday papers as a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.
Numbers 8-2: Records that were OK, but no one was mad about them, but no one disliked them much either, so they swum through the middle course, whereas intense records that some people were truly passionate about but others really hated all ultimately failed to make the cut.
Number 1: Coldplay (Q), Arctic Monkeys (NME), Sven Vath (Mixmag), Neil Young (Uncut), Neil Young (Mojo), Neil Young (Classic Rock), Neil Young (Home & Garden), people humming transcendentally over distorted tape loops of concrete being laid (Wire)

Please don't be too hard on him, its been a thin year for dadrock!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Top 21 Albums 2009 - Other Half

DAN's the Man

Who cares about all the other ones that could have made it? I'm sure Andy will cater for that market, Brakes, Arctic Monkeys , Dizzee that sort of stuff. For what it's worth here are my favourite slices of happiness from 2009.

10) Deadmau5 - For want of a better name.

Don't give me 'obscure' it's about their 4th album. Happy dancy beats to twirl around and around to.

9) Miike Snow - Miike Snow

More dance beats with tunes and words, even you growing old pals will like this one.

8) Maximo Park - Quicken the Heart

More killer pop tunes and sing along chorus's from Billingham's finest. The kid's are sick again!

7) My Gold Mask - My Gold Mask

Find of the year, Indie dance pop smash hits music phenomenon with screechy bits.

6) Slow Club - Yeah So

More chorus's than the Beatles mustered in the whole of 1963. Would brighten up even a sour puss's Sunday morning.

5) Mumford and Sons- Sigh No More

Popular Indie folk for the masses but with more hooks than a Killers best of. Hum it all the way to the pub.

4) Florence and the Machine - Lungs

'Oh my God dad it's the best album ever written', I took it as a recommendation and its a fabulous album. If I was 15 and female it may have been number one in my head too.

3) Akira the Don - The Omega Sanction

Shut up, it's a work of genius, just because it samples loads of other tunes and mixes them with new tunes and new lyrics and has sick rap on it doesn't mean it's not for you. If you can sample Steam and make it amazing then it's a neat trick to pull.

2) The Young Republic -Balletesque

It's full of great songs, really fantastic songs. Indie blues folk rock music for the masses or if not then for my car.

1) Withered Hand - Good news

The tunes are deceptively simple, but they never quite follow the route you're expecting, an extra verse or a curtailed chorus changes the direction of a song. The singing is fragile and often strained but in the same way Dylan triumphed it fits the songs perfectly. The lyrics are funny, sad, poignient outrageous and so clever in parts they put Morrissey to shame. Half of this album grabs you first time, whilst the other half sneaks up on you and demands listen after listen.

Listen to the stories, hum the tunes, but most of all wish Dan and his band a Merry Christmas. Oh and buy the record

he gets more cash this way and can afford to make another one.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Top 21 Albums 2009 - First Half

Well if he can ignore me then so can I

The good thing about writing on here is I can have a memory like a Craig but now have a reference guide. I think writing about music encourages me to explore more music rather than relying on the 30 billion songs already written most of which aren’t as good as The Beatles. That’s not my theory just a general paraphrasing of any Andy Craig music conversation. And so this year I’ve had a much broader basket to choose from and probably still chosen the same old tosh

21) Broken Records – Until the Earth Begins to Part.

It’s got violins and stuff and it’s a bit ‘Big Music’ traditional tunes to love and learn

20) Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport

It’s like dance music for people who don’t dance, plenty of beats and beeps and clanking and definitely different to anything else this year.

19) Luke Haines – 21st Century Man

Yes he’s the miserable bloke who slags off everyone else and used to be in the fantastic Auteur's. Well he’s written his third masterpiece and given a few more listens this would probably be higher in the charts. Traditional Indie with bitter bitter chorus’s to sing along to.

18) Bombay Bicycle Club – I had the Blues but I shook them Loose

It’s jerky indie guitar stuff with great songs, what’s not to like

17) The Twilight Sad – Forget the Night Ahead

Lot’s of guitars and then more guitars with hidden tunes revealing themselves, play it loud in the dark

16) British Sea Power – Man of Arran

This is a work of art,the government should buy one for everyone

15) Meursault – Kissing With Tongues

Electronic Folk Indie for the melancholic, and with a heck of a good singer

14) Franz Ferdinand – Tonight

All the songs and all the hooks but beefed up a bit. If any album this year were a grower it would be this one

13) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Jingly jangly guitars with a bit of fuzz on them and a billion chorus’s, it’s gorgeous

12) White Lies – To Lose My Life

You can’t deny they do a great line in Indie pop songs

11) Noah and the Whale- First Days of Spring

Well he clearly doesn’t get on with his ex girlfriend anymore. Of all this years albums this is the one that I keep going back to ‘just to hear that bit again’. If I was doing a most interesting album of the year this would win…..but I’m not so 10 to go.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Top 20 Albums of 2009

Despite Paul's best attempts at moderation, I have decided to almost totally ignore his request for brevity, as it has been an excellent year for music, and I definitely need to post a top 20 of albums released in 2009. In a nod to Paul, however, I shall restrict myself to 4 word reviews of each (not including hyphens!) with an attempt at NME/old style Melody Maker summaries, rather than my own verbose leanings;

20- Placebo- Battle For The Sun- "Return to form singalong".

19- Howling Bells- Radio Wars- "Australian folk-rock meanderings".

18- Animal Kingdom- Signs & Wonders- "Old-fashioned happy pastoral Indie".

17- Florence & The Machine- Lungs- "Queen of the Underground".

16- The Boxer Rebellion- Union- "Anyone Can Play Guitar" (I mean this in a good, early Radiohead way, rather than a bad, "You're actually shite" way). And yes, I know I broke my own 4 word rule.

15- The Horrors- Primary Colours- "Gillespie fronting The Telescopes".

14- I Concur- Able Archer- "Wilco meets Wedding Present".

13- A Place To Bury Strangers- "Mary Chain with Buzzsaws".

12- Dinosaur Jr- Farm- "Grunge grandfathers' excellent slackfest".

11- Caspian- Tertia- "Smouldering US Post-Rock finery".

10- Redjetson- Other Arms- "Interpol/Mogwai hybrid departure".

9- Punk TV- Loverdrive- "Russian electronic shoegazing sensation".

8- White Lies- To Lose My Life- "Manufactured New Romantic reinvention".

7- Mono- Hymn To The Immortal Wind- "Morricone infused Japanese Post-Rock".

6- Engineers- Three Fact Fader- "Beautifully constructed semi-ambient (eh?) soundscapes".

5- 93 Million Miles From The Sun- 93 Million Miles From The Sun- "Loop/Ride Doncaster Space-Rock".

4- Daniel Land & The Modern Painters- Love Songs For The Chemical Generation- "Slowdive inspired Sonic Cathedrals".

3- The Twilight Sad- Forget The Night Ahead- "Cathartic, romantic Glaswegian thunderstorms".

2- Bombay Bicycle Club- I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose- "Vibrant explosions of tuneage".

1- Silversun Pickups- Swoon- "The Invention of Grunge-Gaze".

You may commence taking the mickey...now.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Florence and the Machine - Manchester Apollo

I really have got over people talking at gigs, I'd normally just move away a bit. BUT......when you have an incessant diatribe of utter bollocks being spouted throughout every slower tune in a monotone grating Manc accent by a girl who only stops to suck the face off her neanderthal doppelganger RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!, is it any wonder I lost it?

Just for reference I was sober and all I did was say excuse me while pushing past and standing in front of the gruesome twosome. When she moaned I explained things in words of one syllable, other than that, Great Gig. And really apologies for being a bit surly to the girl and her soon to be deaf chimp.

At the risk of declaring a bit early, The Temper Trap (support band) were way beyond expectations, you watch they'll come back next year all haircutty and Vampire Weekendy.

I was warned that i wouldn't like them much as they get played on radio one and the lead singer has a bit of falsetto going on.........if he did I couldn't see the join. They came on stage put their heads down and ripped into an instrumental that Mogwai would have been proud of (8oDb's higher Obviously). The rest of the set then continued to mix Mogwai vs Fine Young Cannibals which oddly worked, the bassist even had an upper body take on the bendy leg dance that bloke from FYC who was in The Beat had.............too much detail?

I suspect they may return with soaring guitars and Biffy beards next time.

A short break,then Florence and the Machine came on.

Make no bones about it, she is an absolute star and won't be playing venues this size much longer. Not only does she write great tunes, sing fantastically, have great stage presence and engages the audience from the start but she's gorgeous and self effacing too. Even worse she's got bags of energy, dances like St Vitus and makes her band feel like the most important people on earth.

The band crashed into 'My boy builds coffins' and the moment the singing started it was goosebumps all round. I was honestly stunned at the range of her vocals, it wasn't only the technical stuff which I'm pretty sure I don't understand anyway, but the movement from sweet to angry, from bitter to joyous.

I know some folk who read this like comparisons, well its Kate Bush, meets Siouxsie Sioux meets Patti Smith vs Karen Carpenter.....a bit good then.

I've seen some first album gigs that have been rendered tedious by filler when all we wanted was the album. No such mistake this evening, every track seemed vital to the set and every audience reaction was met with a smile and graciousness. 'You've got the Love' was euphoric, Drumming song was taking place inside my chest somewhere and Rabbit Heart could have lasted another 3 weeks for all I cared at this point.

Florence even did the U2 Bono thing of climbing on the speaker stack to perform.....although she did have the good grace to bash her head on the hanging speakers and then piss herself laughing.

Start to finish it was excellent and will make my top 10 list, And buy the album, it's great and they probably still need the money.

2009 Listery

I'm all for a bit of listeriness particularly the wheat and chaff sort, you know the bit where Andy says 'I've listened to all the Americana this year and this is the good bit'. (and it's still all tosh). That aside and to prevent us going down the NME list of the minute/hour/decade/semiquaver route perhaps a few guidelines.

Lets keep it to stuff that happened (or should have happened or that you found out about) in 2009. No albums of the decade or haircuts of the century stuff.

Top 50's are dull, there are too many things to read all the way through, perhaps that's my ADD kicking in or maybe CBA. There's an TLA for everything these days. So good stuff to have

Top 10 songs, albums

Top 5 gigs, movies, events, and other stuff

Top 5 stuff you never did but wish you did.

I think that just about covers it, feel free to publish away over the next couple of weeks and as usual complete trashing of any of the above suggestions is good form. All I need to do now is figure out how to out obscure the shoegazing fraternity.

Any lurkers, feel free to be included by posting in the comments or sending a fuller contribution to the email and I'll post it for you.

merry wotsit

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Movie Review - Tell No One

Title: Tell No One

Year: 2007

Origin: France

Director: Guillaume Canet

Format: Blu Ray

Paul has invited me to vent on this blogspot about films, something I have wanted to do for a long time. I studied film for many years and am basically a bit of a geek, who since leaving college many years ago has had little outlet other than my long suffering wife to discuss/express opinions about film. I can go on for hours, so I will try to keep this brief. Here goes......

Since its release in 2006, Tell No One has been undeservingly overlooked by every major film distributor in both the UK and in America, but thanks to Revolver Entertainment, this top notch thriller has found its way onto Blu Ray.

The film’s focus is based on Dr. Alex Beck (Francois Cluzet). After his wife is brutally murdered, he is left with no option but to pick up the pieces and try to continue with life. At this point, the film skips 8 years later, revealing that Alex simply exists, and holds little pleasure in his family and all other aspects of his life.

Whilst engaging in another predictable day working as a paediatrician, Alex receives an anonymous e-mail showing a video of someone resembling his wife. Just a glimpse of what could be seeps life back into Alex, and the audience is then invited to share in our hero’s pursuit of the truth.

The set up of the film may sound straight forward enough, though it’s not long before Alex is side stepping the Police, being stalked by criminals and all whilst bodies are piling up that point to him.

Cluzet is brilliant as Alex, portraying a credible everyman under pressure. The viewer soon becomes completely transfixed with his quest, sharing in the strong emotional storyline and wall to wall tension that is littered throughout the film.

Director Guillaume Canet sets the tone beautifully, the simplicity of the camera work and none flashy approach suiting the mood and themes of the film perfectly. That’s not to say the director has no visual flair, I feel he just understands the subject matter, and knows that this approach simply ramps up the tension, and allows the story to unfold naturally, and most important, believably.

Credit is also due to all supporting actors. The casting is spot on, and the appearance (though all to brief) of Jean Roachefort (one of France’s most respected actors for the last few decades) is a welcome addition to what is essentially one of the best thrillers to come out of France in recent years.

How this film has not crossed over from the “world Cinema” bracket and found its way into the mainstream is beyond me, though I am sure it’s only a matter of time

Until America takes note, buys the rights and bastardizes it into a Michael Bay directed mess, no doubt starring Vin Diesel or some other equally incompetent actor.

If you’re not a lover of subtitles, please just take my word for it and give this a go. You will soon be engrossed and opening yourself up to some of the best film making around.....


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Biggest Advent Calendar in Europe

Yes, the biggest Advent Calendar in Europe is in my current home town “Gengenbach”

As every year this Advent Calendar and its unique x-mas market attracts all people around the world to come over. It is a “multi culti” event for everyone, if you are green, yellow, purple or

pasty, here on this special market it doesn`t matter - we are all one crowd ( maybe because it is always very dark when people are starting to storm the market – opening hours from 18:30 – open end or the influence of too much “Glühwein”( a special hot x-mas punch here in Germany). Anyway everybody is invited, but it will cost you! Therefore a few advises

how to behave on the market and how not as follows:

- When you walk through the market and it is around seven p.m, please see that your

head and face are very good protected as some people trying to stick their sausages in your face or even worse forcing you to smell their breath.

- Do not talk too long to an Italian citizen of Gengenbach you could end up buying his car, dog , his bicycle or even his wife. They love making business on the market

- Do not give donations in form of money to the kids who are walking around the x-market – big danger – these kids belong to Antonio Lino Banfi from Campobello

- Always visit the market with a bunch of people, otherwise it could happen that

you will find yourself the next day waking up naked handcuffed to a tree.

One more thing do not stand beside an old woman when you are drinking your Glühwein or eating your sausage etc…as they will do anything to get your sausage or your drink( just for explanation near the town is a nursing home and sometimes they have a few escapees- so pay attention)

I was last week-end on the market as I am just living ten minutes away from it and it was nice and enjoyable, but didn`t convince me to buy a x-mas tree this year. Last time it was too much trouble to get rid off this stupid thing. Neighbours and myself threw this thing then over the fence of the most annoying neighbour in the middle of the night. A good thing, that his dog actually likes us very much! Thanks, Oskar!

In spite of that I like trees where they are in the forest and not in the sitting room for a fewdays and watching them actually dying. Plastic ones are far worse they are mad in China and could explode – happened to my grandma`s real x-mas tree as she bought the wrong light bulbs for her x-mas fairy lights – they were too strong apparently…I thought the x-mas tree looked much more real after explosion .

If you like to learn more about this fantastic town famous for its old buildings, wine and Kneipen , please have a look at this website

Here is a x-mas song. It is not Wham

Merry x-mas

And finally if you really want to see evil children doing the devils work at Christmas look at this video and scare the crap out of yourself. (I may have added this bit, PB)

Really Scary Stuff

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Gig Review- Swervedriver + I Concur @ Relentless Garage, London

2 separate and equally frustrating misunderstandings befell Swervedriver over the years. The first was that they were a shoegazing band, as they emerged from the Thames Valley in the early 90s at the same time as Ride, Slowdive, Chapterhouse et al, and were presumed to purvey a similar sound to the hazy, ethereal washes of guitar noise effected by bands of that ilk. The second and more alarming confusion surrounded their name, where the uninitiated were often immediately thinking of the ne0-nazi punk band of the mid to late 70s; Skrewdriver!

They were, of course, neither of these things, instead trading in a brand of open road, expansive alternative rock music that had its foundation in The Stooges, Husker Du and Pixies, and was then given a noise makeover courtesy of My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth. The result? Some of the most exhilirating, rocket propelled tunes I have ever had the pleasure of discovering. Boy, the first time I saw them live, at the New Cross Venue in 1991, you could actually smell the petrol.

The first three EP's, on Creation Records (another reason music journalists lazily lumped them with the Shoegazing scene), which are littered with references to fast cars, desert highways, windswept coastlines and escapism, made the band taste deliberately of gasoline-fuelled America, with the vocals of Adam Franklin often sounding the same way. And, any lead track from a debut EP that contains the line "Been drunk for days now, been drunk to take the pain away", as "Son of Mustang Ford came hurtling out of my (admittedly) low budget speakers at the time, deserved far greater recognition and commercial success than it did....check out the dreads!
2nd album Mezcal Head is a lost classic, with "Duel", "Girl on a Motorbike" and, in particular, "Last Train to Satansville", all tracks easily making it into my top 100 most rotated of all time. I'm not normally big on lyrics, but "...Satansville" opens as follows;

"You look like you've been losing sleep", said a stranger on a train.
I fixed him with an ice-cold stare, and said "I've been having those dreams again.."
"In one dream there's this girl I love, and we dance every waking breath.
In the other they've thrown me in a cell, and they're trying me for her death".
Absolute bloody genius, and the tune itself clatters along with a rhythm section derived straight from the 0630 goods train from Salt Lake City.

After 9 years, only 4 albums and enough record label hassle to sink any band, Swervedriver called it a day in 1998, never achieving the mainstream success their music, in my humble opinion, deserved.
Fast forward 10 years to 2008, and suddenly "The Swervies", as their fans called them, were back, with the same line-up as the one they split with, and undertaking a major tour of the US, with a one-off UK date at the Scala in London, which I didn't become aware of until it had happened, and so spent the next couple of months brooding over missing it.
Not to be denied, however, they returned to London last weekend, to play the splendidly refurbished Highbury Garage, a scene of some of my greatest drunken evenings in the early 90s.
Suitably tanked up, we arrived early at the venue to catch the excellent I Concur, from Leeds, who have just released their debut album "Able Archer" on Club AC30 records, our hosts for the evening. They play a kind of "Green" era R.E.M. meets The Wedding Present, which sounds, and is, just like my neighbour and right up my street. However, it's 8.00p.m. when we arrive, and one and a half songs later, they are gone. Early curfew tonight, apparently (10pm!!), so sorry we missed you chaps, and by way of scant consolation, here's their superb ode to Stott Hill Farm on the M62..
And then, they were before us, a reformed Swervedriver (!!!), with a now semi-shaven headed, bearded Adam Franklin launching the band into the many highlights of their back catalogue. The opening chords of "Duel" and "Girl On a Motorbike" are greeted like long-lost friends, and it's clear pretty early doors that a 10 year or so hiatus has dimmed none of their raw power, nor talent. Never particularly talkative, Franklin and co burn through 15 tunes like their lives depended on it, with "Rave Down" and, from the back of the venue and on a beer run, "Sandblasted", sounding huge. 90 minutes later, and after a 2 song encore of "Satansville" (of course) and "Kill the Superheroes" from the first EP, they were gone, having made several hundred thirtysomethings extremely nostalgic. Drummer Jez Hindmarsh summed it all up rather neatly- "You've made some old men very happy"...

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Album - Miike Snow

This album really shouldn't be my sort of thing. Three blokes playing keyboards, no incessant dance beat to keep me interested and not a raking guitar in sight. Couple that with the fact that I accidentally came across the band at V Festival of all places and it just shouldn't work.

To make things even worse, 2 of the chaps are better know for their production exploits in the pop arena and amongst other things co-wrote 'Toxic'.

What makes the album work, is that its packed with memorable tunes, chorus's and easy access is granted through the addictively catchy single Animal. I'd heard this song prior to the V Fest gig and with the added live and loud drum sounds it was even better. There must be 300 remixes on the web but the album version is definitive for me.

From here on in it's tune after tune in a Beautiful South meets Darude fashion, sure you can hear the remnants of their chart music in the background but there is virtually no filler on this album.
12 tunes 12 songs 12 things to go back to and no skip button required. Perhaps this is the answer to the current downloading 'the hits' issue ie no one buys an album anymore. If every song were as good as the first single then the album would sell.

Of course its not all as good as 'Animal' but it'll last in the car stereo or on the MP3 player for a least a couple of months. What's more your girlfriend or boyfriend or mum will steal it after that and at least you can turn up to see one dance band at next years festivals.

Good value all round, anyway give this 20 seconds

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Guest Review - Morrissey 2006


The last time I critcised Morrissey in public was after The Smiths ill-fated gig at Preston, when a blood stained Moz stormed off stage during the first song. As a disgruntled fan I

aired my views on a local radio phone-in which the great man heard and quoted verbatim on the Janice Long Show. Quite a claim to fame that has not deterred a review of this, the final leg of his three nights in Manchester.

The Bridgewater Hall is acoustically wonderful, aesthetically beautiful, but as a venue for rock n roll it is about as lively as the Southern Cemetery. Previous Morrissey homecomings have been evangelical affairs but in the sterile home of the Halle Orchestra only the grasping front row could claim to have been touched by the hand of God tonight.

Misjudgement has lingered around Morrissey since the 90s and the choice of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as his entry music is greeted with boos and jeers. A deeply unpopular song round these parts, the pallid arena is suddenly turned into a football stadium as the association with arch rivals Liverpool proves a red rag to the Red Rags in the audience. Sadly this moment represents the energy peak of the evening and it’s all downhill from here. Non-plussed Morrissey has a dig at the audience for failure to appreciate the history of the song and later rebuffs the drinking classes who couldn’t be bothered to watch his chosen support acts. Perhaps he doesn’t understand his audience if he thought a scouse anthem would be greeted with anything other than derision. A fairly basic mistake for a Mancunian legend.

The next eighty minutes sees him deliver a mixed bag. Certainly there are moments of brilliance when, gliding like Vegas crooner in his flowing shirts and polished shoes, he reminds us of just how good his work can be. First of The Gang to Die, his best song in nearly twenty years, leads in to Still Ill, but when he sings “it just wasn’t like the old days anymore” he is so right. It wasn’t like the old days at all and the rest of the set meanders on taking us through the generally tedious Ringleader of The Tormentors. A blast of The New York Dolls’ I’m a human Being and the glorious How Soon is Now briefly spark life into the show, but the evening is enveloped in a flatness that never gets shaken off. Suedehead and other favourites are left ruefully in the dressing room and the night fizzles out long before ninety minutes are up. “He’ll be off to his hotel for a coco now” observes one fan. Perhaps they know him better than he knows them.