Monday, December 29, 2008

2008: My Year In Stuff

Films of the year:

5. Wanted

In which we see guns, fast cars, Angelina Jolie's backside, Anton from Night Watch and Elton Pope from Doctor Who.

4. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

In which Veronica Mars dumps her ex-boyfriend's adopted step-sister's husband, who promptly shacks up with Jackie from That 70s Show. Russell Brand takes a break from torturing Spanish waiters too.

3. Juno

In which underage teen has premarital illegal unprotected sex, gets pregnant, has child out of wedlock, sells kid to single mum. A cautionary whale for our times. Strangely popular with the Daily Mail.

2. The Mist

In which we find that the monsters lurking outside in the fog aren't necessarily as scary as the humans inside with you. Bonus! Contains the happiest ending ever.

1. The Dark Knight

What, you expected Twilight?

Five new TV shows that took my fancy:

5. Chuck


4. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles


3. Leverage


2. Mad Men


1. How I Met Your Mother


Funny quotes from the year:

Sarah Connor: Nobody dies until I say so.
Cameron: People die all the time, they won’t wait for her.
Sarah telling a strangely literal robot not to kill anyone.

"[Penny's] giving it up hard 'cause she's with Captain Hammer and these [holds up fists] are not the hammer."
Captain Hammer explaining his seduction technique.

"...the hammer is my penis."
A little too literally.

Betty: "Why aren't you disciplining your son?"
Don: "My father beat the hell out of me to discipline me, and all it did was make me fantasize about the day I could murder him."
Family control, Mad Men style.

He may not fit society's definition of a hero, but he is the hero I needed. The hero who helped me recover from the disaster of my failed almost-marriage and get back into the game. He lives in the shadows. Is he a dream? Truth? Fiction? Damnation? Salvation? He is all these things and none of them. He is -- The Naked Man.
Hey, it works two out of three times.

"Who needs love when the sandwiches are wicked and they know you at the Mac store?"
Amanda Palmer finds pleasure in other things.

I like her hair. I wonder if the carpet matches her pubes.
Paul Rudd's attempts at scene stealing, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

I once saw a horse kill a clown. (Flashback to: a man in a horse costume beats up another man in a clown costume) I just really don’t like horses.
One explanation for why Parker is as kooky as she is, Leverage.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008: A Short History Of Nearly Nothing

Things that I've done this year:

Celebrated the new year in a bath.
Seen a cracking Duke Spirit gig.
Dressed up, then had a picnic on the Circle line.
Saw two Blood Red Shoes gigs in two different capital cities in the space of 24 hours.
Been a train before being told not to take the piss by cheekily requesting that Steven get me a cuppa at the Sister Ray instore.
Proved that those pills from the spam emails really *do* work.
Created a blog (look, do you really need a link?)
Finally completed the visit to all 274 Tube stations, shortly before seeing be your own PET again.
Blagged expensive tickets to see The Eagles.
Celebrated mine and Katy's one year anniversary by being ill.
Encouraged a stage invasion before cramming a blog post full of Pink Floyd song titles.
Freaked out the lead singer of one of my new favourite bands by dreaming about her.
Disgusted an entire train carriage of people with one offhand comment (I'm still rather proud of this).
Inadvertently met half of Mystery Jets and Laura Marling.
Built on my experience of tube challenging by getting a worse time for this year's Zone 1 than last year, but making up for it by winning best team name.
Blew up one motorbike...
...then bought a new one.
Heard the new Subways album before anybody else, and gave it what proved to be one of the more positive reviews. (It's still better than WAB, WAD.)
Being introduced to the best new musical of our time.
Tried a new Kentish festival (or should that be Festival of Kent?) and geeked out with Ellen Campesinos!.
Convinced myself that all I had to do to beat this illness was to stop being sick and start being awesome instead. It didn't work. I celebrated the anniversary of my birth by being ill.
Had the most utterly fucking terrifying dream I've ever had when I dreamed I'd imagined the entire last four years.
Gaining £330 due to a bet365 cock-up.
Saw the last ever be your own PET gig.
Nearly died, but ironically survived due to speeding.
Saw Metallica for a fiver!
Took a six week leave of absence (fully paid) from work for being a naughty boy.
Took a trip to Stoke to see new people and old friends.
Had a deep and spiritual (read: drunken) moment on Bognor Regis beach.
Posted my most read blog post ever about Joss Whedon and High School Musical. I may do a JW/Twilight one when I'm better.
Went down to Brighton, didn't sleep all night, came home, slept like a baby.
Seen Los Campesinos again, and bumping into workmates on the coach home.
Receiving a phone call from my boss on the train going up to my 20th Blood Red Shoes gig giving me my job back, and proceeding to celebrate by getting wasted.
Being introduced to the second best new musical of our time.
Hearing a fantastic new song.
Coming down with tonsillitis again to round the year off with.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Top albums of 2008

I'd planned to do this like my top songs, revealing each one day by day in a countdown fashion.

Couldn't be arsed. Have a list instead, with a five word description.

14.
Alphabeat - This Is Alphabeat

Good fun Danish euro pop.

13.
Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

Indifferent collection of album rejects.

12.
Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree

Light floaty pretty ethereal songs.

11.
The Subways - All Or Nothing

Blinding when good, only sometimes.

10.
Operator Please - Yes Yes Vindictive

Australian punk pop cheerful fun.

9.
Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue

Another disappointingly patchy second album.

8.
Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog OST

Best musical of the year.

7.
Metallica - Death Magnetic

Return to thrash metal form.

6.
Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward

Second and final album, sadly.

5.
Duke Spirit - Neptune

Superb second album after delays.

4.
Blood Red Shoes - Box Of Secrets

Grunge-punk enjoyable loud debut.

3.
Amanda Palmer - Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

Strangely diversely brilliant solo effort.

2.
Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now, Youngster...

Chirpy happy twee(xcore) international debut.

1.
Johnny Foreigner - Waited Up 'Til It Was Light

Stunning. (Doot doot doot doot)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 1

1. Goldfrapp - A&E

So, my favourite song of the year. I've loved it ever since I first heard it way back in January, and the Live Lounge version's even better.



Coming up - albums of the year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 2

2. Johnny Foreigner - Salt, Pepper and Spinderella

Doot doot doot doot doot doot doot doot doot doot.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 3

3. Blood Red Shoes - This Is Not For You

Ha, surprised you, didn't I? How many of you regulars (both of you) thought this lot would be number one? An absolutely blinding, powerful song, with a great video in which you're never too sure whether Steve and Laura-Mary are going to kill each other or fuck each other. The second best single from the album, and if the original video for Say Something Say Anything had been released, that would probably have taken top spot. As it happens, click the link below, and enjoy this.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=7Z8nnZuRvrg

(Confident you know what my number one song will be? You're wrong.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 4

4. Los Campesinos! - My Year In Lists

The song which will lend its title to many a blog post over the coming fortnight. Give one minute and fifty seconds of your time to this song, and be cheery.

(As I heard Y!M!D! last year, it's ruled out of the countdown.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 5

So, we're into the top five. The final countdown. (Not, actually, The Final Countdown. Though that'd be cool too.)

5. Duke Spirit - The Step And The Walk

Leading single from Neptune, another "second album" that I'd been eagerly awaiting this year, and absolutely stonking live. a slow burner to start that suddenly explodes and races to a finish, filled with barely restrained fury.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 6

6. Amanda Palmer - Oasis

It's a song that sounds like the Beach Boys, and is about date rape, child molestation, abortion and Britpop groups. Naturally it was dedicated to Tina Fey Sarah Palin. What's not to like?

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 7

7. Alexa Vega & Tony Head - Seventeen

Second song from a musical in the top 20, and a bit of a cheat as this hasn't been released legally over here yet. But sod it. Yes, that is Giles from Buffy. Yes, that is the cute girl from Spy Kids. Yes, that is Joan Jett playing guitar in a cameo.

The musical is Repo: A Genetic Opera and it's like if Rocky Horror was directed by Tim Burton with music by Nine Inch Nails.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 8

8. Metallica - The Day That Never Comes

As fellow BRS boardie and blog follower James Ether commented on his review of Death Magnetic, "It was never going to be hard to make an album better than St Anger. Metallica could've recorded the sounds of the group collectively farting and it'd be better than their last album." (A line which I will steal for my end of year album list too.)

So yes, a return to the thrash metal basics. This song, if you know Metallica, starts off like Fade To Black and ends like One. The video fits it well, even if the subjects are different (the song's about domestic abuse, the second such song on this list after Florence and the Machine). If you can, watch the video without any distractions.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 9

9. Be Your Own PET! - Heart Throb

Sadly, this band split this year. It's quite emotional for me, as I've been into them since early 2005 when they were mentioned in a radio show about women in rock. I've followed them since the early days of the Damn Damn Leash EP, so they're the first band I've watched get bigger to split. The second album, released March this year, sounded exactly as expected - byoP with two more years worth of experience and maturity.

This song was included in a mix CD I made for a friend who had just split up with her very long term boyfriend, it's an absolutely cracking song about wanting something you can't have, and the video below is from the final ever gig at Dingwalls, which was just as mental as previous gigs have been :D

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 10

10. Florence and the Machine - Kiss With A Fist

I first heard this way way way back in February when Hannah sent me it. (She also sent me yesterday's song, so she's got a pretty good track record.) It was filed under "good" until the DJ happened to play it in the tent at Lounge on the Farm before Los Campesinos came on (yes, the same DJ who played song 12 in this list) which reminded me of how good it was.

Have Florence performing it live at Camden Crawl.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 11

11. Rosie and the Goldbug - Lover

You know how it is when you hear a song so amazing that it grabs you the first moment you hear it, and you want to do nothing but listen to it over and over and over again?

This is that song, the one I've been listening to on repeat over the last hour. I've had to rejig my top songs countdown to put it in. #12 was originally supposed to be Alphabeat - Fascination, but this has surpassed it. I only found out about it on Sunday!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 12

12. AC/DC - Rock n Roll Train

When I was told that AC/DC were to be releasing new material this year I laughed with disbelief. "Pull the other one" I said, jokingly. "What, is it a joint release with Chinese Democracy?"

Egg, meet face. This is the lead off track from the album Black Ice, and is quite possibly the first ever music video created in Excel. Yes, the spreadsheet program.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 13

13. Kevin Tuffy - Oh Dearest Daughter

Bit of an unknown this. I first heard it while in a tent at Lounge on the Farm, two songs after Kiss with a Fist, and was taken by it straight away. After googling the lyrics I made a note to download it as soon as I could, finding this fella's Myspace and ripping it from that. The song itself features Laura Marling on vocals, and is more of a story than a song. This is the only song on my list that I won't have a video for, as there aren't any decent ones on YouTube. Instead, I implore you to listen to it (it's track 5 on his Myspace player) and read the lyrics below.

It all starts in a fast-food joint of Biblical proportion,
In a small toilet that makes love some kind of astounding contortion,
Although it isn't noisy
Oh the love it speaks volumes,
Kebabs and burgers a million miles away
Just four foot from the bathroom,
She's beautiful and radiant
There's two of her she's blurry,
He's nameless knight-in-shining-armour he said he's working early,
He said he'd walk her to the bus stop
Said she'd catch the N11
He said that the ladder in her tights was a stairway to heaven,
She threw up in the car park, oh her head it is a-pounding,
He held her hair from her face joked "shall I get another round in?"
She won't remember that he said that - won't remember much in the morning,
She'll be pregnant and nine months away from the hospital her daughter will be born in,

And she'll cry her little heart out
She'll curse the vodka lemonade conception,
She'll curse fast-food joints and alcohol
Her life and his erection
And she'll mutter hatred and regret directed at her newborn
She'll hate herself for not deciding to go with an abortion

She comfort-buys a pram a pop star had in the newspaper
She takes a photo of her daughter on her phone as the wallpaper,
And she names her after the supermodel who looked best this season
She plans out her christening, the priest asks why she has no reason,
Because she does not care for the God she heard about in conversation
There's no guardian angel leaving her signs in the time board at the train station
Her purpose for existence isn't etched into the tree outside her house
So her guardian angel doesn't do their job and should have been fired by now
Her daughter is angelic and nauseating at the same time
She personifies her big mistake and breaks her heart with a smile

Reluctant grandma says it's time for a break a night out with the girls
So it's hair straighteners and gloss and make-up squeezing into that short skirt

It's music lights and dancing,
Fake IDs, queues at the bar,
Rums and cokes, laughing fit blokes, and twenties from her bra
When her stare finds a familiar stranger, playing pool, potting a red
She knows that face those eyes but she can't remember from where

He walks over London Pride in hand gives her a grin a wink,
He drops her a cheesy "Don't I know you?" line and she's still trying to think,
She figures it out, she wants to die,
The room blacks out it's 10:07
The remnants of a "Is that a ladder in your tights or a stairway to heaven?"
10:08 and all the time she's lost because of the boy sitting next to her,
She reaches for her purse to take out the photo of her daughter,
He ponders, thinks, says: "Hey she's cute,
What is she, your sister?
You're cute, too" and he's away leaning in to kiss her,
10:09
"No, stop it! Can't you fucking remember
The drunk girl you slurred I love you to in West Kebab last December,
Like it or not you're this girl's dad,
This girl she's your daughter,
Get your hand off my shoulder
I need a glass of water"

And the parents of a young Londoner sit and have nothing to say,
Welcome to the world, would be a start.
We're ready to bring you up the right way...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 14

14. The Subways - I Won't Let You Down

I've liked this song ever since a live version from Reading last year hit the web, and I was pleased that the studio hadn't lost anything in translation. Disagreements with band members aside, it's an absolutely cracking song, reminiscent of anything found on Young For Eternity.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 15

15. MGMT - Time To Pretend

You all know this one. It's been everywhere from Gossip Girl, Skins, various football highlights and Simon Pegg films. It's infectious, cheery, and poppy as hell.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 16

16. Dr Horrible - My Eyes
Before the middle of July, I thought of Neil Patrick Harris only as Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother, and Felicia Day as Vi from the last few episodes of Buffy. Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog (a web based musical experience) changed all that. Simply, NPH plays a supervillian who has simple aims - conquering the world, and winning the heart of Penny (Felicia Day) who happens to go to the same laundrette as him.

The song below kicks off Act II, just after Dr Horrible had inadvertantly introduced the love of his life to his arch-nemisis (played by Nathan Fillion) and the pair present contrasting views on the world at large. It's worth watching the video, to see
NPH in the soup kitchen background, and Fillion's fear of ducks!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 17

17. Operator Please - Leave It Alone
Foolishly I missed the chance to see this band in Canterbury last year, but made the trek to see them at Koko in May. I was glad that I did, as I need a chirpy, impossibly young and cute (Taylor on violins appears in the dictionary under "jailbait") fun band in my life, especially now that be your own PET! have disbanded.

More bands need violins. Every band should have a string section, it really adds something to the music (see: Los Campesinos, Blood Red Shoes). As for this song, 3 minutes and 38 seconds of pure pop fun.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of 2008: 18

18. Jenny Lewis - Jack Killed Mom
Given my squeefulness at finally meeting her last year, you'd expect Jenny Lewis to at least be in the top ten, right? Well, Acid Tongue was part of a smattering of disappointing second albums released this year (see also: The Subways, Los Campesinos) and this was the best of a pretty poor bunch.

I've linked to a live version as it's far better than on record, it has much more life to it and is generally more stirring than the one committed to disc. Trivia: this is the second song on the list inspired by a biblical tale.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of the year: 19

19. Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down
At the start of this year, Mystery Jets to me were just another faceless indie band interchangable with the Wombats, Automatic, Arctic Monkeys and We Are Scientists. Then I accidentally saw them live not once but twice over the summer, and found that they are actually quite enjoyable.

My rules for this list state no more than one appearance by any one artist. Because of this I can't post the duet "Young Love", as Laura Marling appears later on in a higher positioned song, so I've gone for the cheerful, catchier than syphilis, "Two Doors Down".

Monday, December 01, 2008

Blogvent Calendar: Top songs of the year: 20

To count down the year's top songs (in my own opinion) I've decided to release them day by day, in an advent calendar-y fashion.

20. Shirley Manson - Samson and Delilah

Despite Garbage being on indefinite hiatus, Shirley Manson's solo album was still supposed to surface around August of this year. Then, within two weeks in May, we first get the announcement that Shirley would be starring in the new series of Terminator:The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which was almost immediately followed by Warner announcing that the album wouldn't be released as it was "too dark" for their liking. No shit, she's not Katy Perry.

Imagine my surprise then, when the pre-credits teaser for the season opener had no dialogue, but a Shirley Manson cover of an old Gospel classic (made famous by Bruce Springsteen's cover). A fittingly awesome way to start a season which has gone from strength to strength. In fact, Garbage have released two other songs this year - a country-esque ballad which appeared on a "Free Tibet" charity CD, and a newly released song "Witness To Your Love" which cropped up on an urban outfitters compilation.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What if?

The first in an irregular series.

What if Joss Whedon wrote High School Musical?

No, don't laugh. He's got experience - even if you shunned the Buffy musical episode "Once More With Feeling" (shame on you!), this summer's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog should have set you straight on his pedigree. Plus, if you're over the age of 8 and/or male, you'll need a healthy dose of wit to counteract the Disney saccharine overdose. He's written for Mouschwitz before (1995's Toy Story). Who better to pen this generation's answer to Grease?

How would it differ?
  • The basketball team would finally believe this is their year if they "don't keep having so many mysterious deaths".
  • The basketball coach who looks like Nathan Fillion would actually be played by Nathan Fillion. He would also be funnier, wear a long brown coat and make unseemly references to his hammer.
  • Gabriella would turn down a short annoying nerd who asks her out in the first act.
  • Troy would have a younger sister called River, who speaks with a strange evenness, selects her words a shade too precisely and is a ballet dancer.
  • The camp, possibly gay "bad guy" brother of the main villian will be actually gay, witty, and probably played by Tom Lenk.
  • The main villian/cheerleader/whatever will actually have some character depth to her and do well on standardised tests.
  • The captain of the cheerleading squad will, in a break from the norm, be the archtypal bad girl who strangely has cheerleading experience.
  • A main character will suddenly appear halfway through. This will not be commented upon, and in fact the main cast will act like they've always been there.
  • The character who likes baking will be renamed Ben, and instead of baking will have a thing for occasionally dressing as a woman and acting like a goddess.
  • The science nerds will have goggles to add to their lab coats, be seeking wonderflonium and have a disturbing relationship with the equestrian club.
  • The principal will be played by Adam Baldwin, who will not only steal every scene, but enjoy lording his position of power over the basketball coach.
  • Gabriella and Troy will finally get together, shortly before she is shot by the short irritating nerd she rejected early on. Possibly from the clocktower with a high powered rifle, just to fit in.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Solace

I'm standing on a groyne on Bognor Regis beach, watching the waves break around and underneath my feet.

It's calming. All I have in front of me are three wooden pillars and a whole lot of nothingness. Makes you think.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Music was my first love...

Whenever I get worried, or stressed, or mopey, I tend to find comfort in music, and regress back to the songs I grew up listening to. Way back when I was naïve and didn't know about the bad things in the world.

So, classic rock songs. To rebel in my house I had to listen to Bros, but quickly realised that Dad's music was much more enjoyable than what was in the charts.

I realised earlier I grew up listening to songs about cars (Van Halen - Panama), drugs (Mötley Crüe - Dr. Feelgood), breaking the law (Judas Priest - Breaking the Law), deviant women (Alice Cooper - Poison, Mötley Crüe - Girls Girls Girls, Whitesnake - Fool For Your Lovi', Bon Jovi - You Give Love A Bad Name, etc, etc), gambling (Mötörhead - Ace of Spades), breaking prisoners out of jail (AC/DC - Jailbreak, Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak) and various animal life (Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell, Lynyrd Skynyrd - Freebird, etc).

Is it really any wonder I turned out like I did?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Invisibility

Apparently my bike has an invisibility cloak.

Kent, it's lovely. Garden of England, full of sweeping hills, green stuff, sheep and yokels. In the 1960s the government decided to improve traffic flows by building a few motorways; the M20 took a lot of the traffic away from the A20, which meant that my ride to Canterbury from Bearsted this morning along the A20 was fun. There were three cars doing the same journey, all of whom saw (or possibly heard) me coming and gave me ample room to overtake.

As the weather was clear and the roads were dry, I wasn't hanging about much, enjoying riding to the top of my abilities. Yes, I was speeding, driving at around 90mph. As I approached Charing I noticed a purple 52 plate Ford Focus coming the opposite way to me, indicating right to turn across my carriageway and down the Hart Hill road. "No problem" thinks I, "he'll notice me and stop."

He didn't.

Luckily I was paying attention to him the whole time and when he started moving across my lane I swerved over and held down the horn. He still didn't stop. I have a mark on my jeans where I took dirt off his front bumper. My escapes have never been narrower, and my underwear never browner. I was pretty shaken up by this, understandably, and took the rest of the ride back at a slower pace.

It's somewhat ironic that speeding actually saved me. Had I been riding at the speed limit I would've driven straight into the passenger door, gone over the top and done some serious damage to both vehicles and myself. Speeding kills, but in this instance it saved me.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Connections

Got my first Planet Rock connection in ages today, and it only took two and a half songs - my quickest yet!

Bon Jovi - Keep The Faith
Black Sabbath - Fairies Wear Boots
ZZ Top - I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide
Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Next
Oasis - Little By Little
Fleetwood Mac - The Chain
Focus - Hocus Pocus
Sweet - Blockbuster

Eight songs, seven connected, one odd one out. The link is chain stores, the odd one out being the Fleetwood Mac song.

I will admit that when I woke up to the Bon Jovi track, I was hoping that it'd be a Buffy connection, but sadly it wasn't to be. Which reminds me, I must do my Doctor Who themed one. Any suggestions? I know what the odd one out will be, I'm going for Pink Floyd - One Of These Days as it briefly samples the theme tune.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Be Your Own Pet

Way back in February 2005, I went to see The Donnas play at the Astoria. I turned up early, knowing from past experience that there would be a meet and greet for the first 25 fans in the queue. While at the meet and greet I noticed a young lady with a BBC bag and a microphone trying her best to blend in with the wallpaper, so I went over and had a chat with her. It turned out that she was producing a program about women in rock music for the Steve Lamacq show, and would I be able to contribute a few words on the subject?

Boy, would I ever! Anyway, as luck would have it they ignored the five minutes of enthusing about Shirley Manson, Karen O et al and used the one out of context line that made me sound like a pervert, but still. This radio show went out on April 4th, when I was on holiday, so I used the Listen Again feature to rip the stream and keep the show permanently. Listening to it you had the usual stuff from the Donnas, Shirley Manson, Justine Fleischmann, Charlotte Cooper...and at the end, it mentioned the "next wave" of female musicians, including Jemina Pearl of Be Your Own Pet, and they played a snippet of Damn Damn Leash. "Gosh," I thought, "this lot are good. Can I find any mp3s through various illegal file sharing services?".

No, was the answer. I was forced to spend £5 on the two CDs and one 7 inch single available on their online store. When it arrived it included a note from Jonas and Jamin saying that I was their new favourite person for buying the BYOP stuff, and also included sweets. Any band that gives me sweets with their music (barring this one, of course) I'll instantly love! I found out that they were due to play over here at the Purple Turtle and immediately bought tickets, failing to realise that I'd be at Glastonbury that day. By this time they'd also released the Fire Department EP, which I also purchased (and gained some friends on the then-new Subways board by sharing it around). The first chance I'd get to see them live would be at Glastonbury festival itself, where they were playing on the Friday. For those with short memories, Glastonbury 2005 had a run of several days of scorching hot weather, so consequently when it bucketed down on the Thursday night/Friday morning the water didn't soak into the ground, it just ran off it. Having to dodge mud and lakes in a pair of boots that were as watertight as a sponge, and paying £4 for a butterscotch crêpe that was a total ripoff meant I wasn't in the best of moods. The vocals were really hard to hear and at the time, I just wanted a nice warm meal (which incidently I had straight after, one of the nicest curries I've ever eaten) so I didn't come away with a high opinion of them. I was willing to give them another try though.

That chance came a few months later, on Hallowe'en. I was in Oxford to see them supporting the Kills, with Becky (who was not stabbed with knifes after class) which was a much more enjoyable experience. As the Yanks really go big for Hallowe'en the band were dressed up, which meant I was right down the front for Jemina in a nurses outfit. They looked like they were having fun, bounding around the stage like me after too many cups of tea, and I was glad I gave them a second chance. I hung around after to meet them, and managed to kiss Jemina (which I think might've annoyed the young lady I was with - shit happens).

Over the Christmas period the first album leaked, and was repeatedly played by all those in my circle of friends (which, quite funnily, have completely changed apart from one person) despite the proper release being put back until March. They announced two London dates at the beginning of February - one at Bush Hall, the other at Camden Barfly - and of course I went to both. At the Bush Hall gig there was nobody selling merchandise, and being drunk, I decided that Cal and I would do it. I still don't know my reasoning behind it even now (being drunk, probably) and it's incredibly cringeworthy to think about it. Bush Hall is quite a nice, posh venue and the solitary bouncer was woefully underprepared for the fun that by now was happening at every BYOP show. I decided to get on the act, got on stage and took my first stage dive, over five rows of moshing people into a large gap. It didn't hurt that much, surprisingly (being drunk, probably). The next night at the Barfly was more restrained, possibly due to a lack of space, so we decided to make our own stage invasion anyway. A photo of Marie dancing on stage with Jemina at this gig found its way into an American fashion magazine - such is life. This pair of gigs was mostly to promote the single Lets Get Sandy, which is notable for the 30 second iTunes sample being more than half the song.

They came back over in April, after the album's launch, and played a gig in a bowling alley. It's still the most surreal place I've seen a gig (including that church in Amsterdam) and as the stage was 6 inches high us poor sods at the front (who clearly hadn't learnt that BYOP gigs get fucking mental) ended up with bruised shins, and then sitting on the stage. A little under two weeks later they were back in London, playing a bigger gig at ULU. This was the first BYOP gig that I came away feeling less than impressed, probably due to a large amount of the crowd being beered up and clearly only there because they thought Jemina was hot. A large amount of them had only got into the band with the release of Adventure a few weeks previously. (Yeah, I sound like a snob.) Still, the new song "Chicken Wings" left a lot of people thinking that the second album would sound good. Even though it didn't appear anywhere on it.

The next time they played anywhere near me was at the Reading Festival, that August. They played on the Saturday, around mid afternoon (between the hours of lunch and football) and it turned out that it was the last of the classic lineup, as the drummer left after the Leeds gig the following day. Jemina shocked everyone by wearing a dress, and Chicken Wings got another airing. By this time the band had released an EP which was basically two album tracks plus the Fire Department EP - the video for Bicycle, Bicycle was worth the rerelease.

And then they disappeared for two years. Well, spent their time in America, touring with the Artic Monkeys (what the hell?) to try and crack the States, and then spending time writing their second album. This promptly leaked onto the internet (minus the opening track, Super Soaked) and so when they came over to play an instore gig the day after release to promote it, a fair few people knew the songs. A nice mix of old and new stuff, including a blistering version of Adventure, and an indication of things to come with a lack of setlist. The crowd were deathly quiet between songs, blatently eavesdropping on the band's conversation, which meant that when someone's phone went off and started playing "Bare Necessities" everybody found it funny. The band were happy to chat and discuss tattooes afterwards at the signing, all was good.

And then came April Fool's Day. A gig at the Scala, again populated by an obnoxious crowd (including the obligatory drunk fat guy) and a long day which left everyone tired and not up for a gig. It didn't help that there was little crowd interaction (mostly Jemina telling arseholes to fuck off) but it left a few people with a sour taste in the mouth, and no real desire to see them again. I was planning on seeing them at Reading anyway, given that they were between Blood Red Shoes and The Duke Spirit on the same stage and I'm lazy, but my illness put paid to that.

Then they announced that they were splitting, and suddenly the gig at Dingwalls became a tad more important. After spending my birthday money in Forbidden Planet and having a lovely burger in the Wetherspoons at Victoria, it was off up to Camden to the gig. As nobody really knew what time the doors opened we ambled our way up to the venue, and camped outside in the courtyard with quite a few other people who had to be scene to be believed. Waiting around inside I stood with my back against a barrier, with Katy and Sian leaning against it on the other side on the level above. The Hot Melts were alright, and I bumped into James again (I swear he's been at more of my gigs this year than not) before scaring Ollie from my board with a bear hug. Unfortunately we were lacking the required number of boardies to play catch with him (we'll wait til Christmas) so I hugged him instead. The set was 60-40 split in favour of the newer stuff, which I personally was disappointed with as I have a lot of fond memories of the older stuff, but shit happens. Ten minutes in (after they'd finished the sixth song) I decided that this would be my last chance to experience how mental a BYOP gig is, so left my stuff with the girls and elbowed my way down the front, eventually ending up sitting on the stage as my shinbones were in real danger of serious damage. The band finished up with Bicycle, Bicycle (which I was pleased about as I got to do the whole "have fun, be safe with it" bit one last time) and Supersoaked, at which point I decided I was tired of having sweaty men rubbing themselves on me and headed back out to the girls. I was knackered, bruised and soaked with sweat, but ever so glad I went one last time.

So, at the stroke of 10 the band finished. They didn't come back out for an encore, that was it. My last abiding memories of them involved Jemina landing on me and me getting a mouthfull of her peroxide hair. I'm glad I went, it was a much better send off than the Scala gig. I'll just have to wait til she comes back touring her solo album!

Be Your Own Pet gigs
24/06/2005 - Glastonbury, Somerset
31/10/2005 - Zodiac, Oxford
01/02/2006 - Bush Hall, London
02/02/2006 - Barfly, London
08/04/2006 - Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes, London
21/04/2006 - ULU, London
26/08/2006 - Reading Festival, Reading
18/03/2008 - Banquet Records, Kingston
01/04/2008 - The Scala, London
26/08/2008 - Dingwalls, London

Thanks, guys, for a fun few years.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Computer games vs real life

I like to think that I'm reasonably well adjusted as a person (stop sniggering at the back there). By this I mean, I know the difference between violence depicted on pixels and real life. Reading about the Georgian teens who apparently learned how to make Molotov cocktails via GTA made me just want to dig Liberty City Stories out again.

And that's the difference. I'm intelligent enough to know what's real (e.g. Buffy) and what's not (e.g. Terminator) and know what's right and wrong. I play on GTA a fair bit, yet don't get the urge to gun down swathes of pedestrians (well, no more than normal people). I play on Settlers way too much, especially while off sick, yet have never sent a battalion of Roman troops in to attack a Chinese guard tower. I play on Quake, yet I'm a crap shot. I should comfortably be able to say, hand on heart, that computer games don't effect me.

Until I hear the opening riff of Sweet Child O' Mine on Planet Rock, and suddenly my mind thinks "Green blue red green orange red blue red green blue red green". Maybe I'm not as well adjusted as I thought.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Karma puh-lease

(And the puntastic titles continue)

Earlier today I got one of those strong, gut feelings that I get. For a change this wasn't urging me to kidnap Maggie Gyllenhaal and so I listened to it. I had a feeling that the Gillingham - Bournemouth game would end in a 1-1 draw and so I went into my online betting account to see if I had any money left over from the Euro 2008 betting, fully expecting to see a balance of £0.01 staring back at me.

When I found I had £330.01 in there, I was rather shocked. Assuming it was a computing error I checked the bet history to find that there was a bet of £180 placed on the cricket, on England to win at odds of 5/6, on Sunday July 20th. I was fairly certain that I didn't place this bet as a) I don't have £180 to waste (I only gamble what I can afford to lose), b) I know very little about cricket, c) what I do know about cricket is to be against England and d) Sundays are usually spent doing very little. Something was rotten in the state of Denmark (and Georgia, too, but I can't sort that). I fired off an email to customer services, changed my passwords and updated all my information.

About 10 minutes ago I got a phone call from a very nice chap at bet365 who had investigated it for me. It turns out that the original bet was placed over the phone and the operator had gone into the wrong account (it happens, I've done it) but as an apology they allowed me to keep the winnings. So I've got the £180 back that I didn't realise I was missing, plus an extra £150 because the bet came off! I'll be buying dinner on Thursday for everybody :D

Postscript: I never did put the money on Gillingham to draw, as I wasn't sure if it was my money to begin with. Every time I start to regret it I think "yeah, but you won £150!" and it goes away.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Feverish Dreams

Last night I came down with something. Normally I'll wake up ill, but this just pounced on me and suddenly I'm sweating, shivering, struggling to sleep, having trouble staying awake and generally not feeling good.

Mind you, you can always count on some quite frankly amazingly weird dreams when you're feverish. Just this afternoon I had a somewhat odd one (not involving any members of Los Campesinos! for a change) which had Paramore's Hayley Williams batting for the Boston Red Sox. Odd in itself, but running across the middle of the Sox' ground 20 feet above second base (and it wasn't Fenway Park either) happened to be the Beckton branch of the Docklands Light Railway.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tube Music

Or: punning songs to use for team names for next year's zone 1.

Frankie Goes To Chorleywood - Relax
Bethnal Green Day - St Jimmy's Park (two for one!)
Blur - Elm Parklife
Marvin Gaye - Sexual Ealing Broadway
The Kinks - Waterloo Sunset
Aerosmith - Janie's Got A Gunnersbury
Led Zeppelin - Archway to Holbourn
Simon and Garfunkel - Uxbridge Over Troubled Water
The Who - Let's See Acton Town
Pet Shop Boys - Hounslow West End Girls
Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street
Blood Redbridge Shoes - It's Getting Barking By The Sea
The Beatles - You've Got To Hyde Park Corner Your Hollaway
Dream Academy - Life In A Northolt Town
AC/DC - Back In Blackfriars
McLusky - Lightsaber Cockfosters Blues
Whitney Euston - I don't actually know any of her songs beside the awful Dolly Parton cover.
The Waitress - Christmas Wapping
Alice Cooper - Harrow*, Hooray
Yazz - The Only Way Is Upminster
Aerosmith - Angel
Boston Manor - Moor Park Than A Feeling
Fine Young Canon's Park - She Drives Me Crazy
Los Camdenparkpesinos - We Throw Poplar, You Throw Knightsbridge
The Clash - London City Airport Calling
Easyworld - This Is Where I Stanmore**
Queensbury of the Stonebridge Park Age - You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollis Hill, But I Feel Like A Mill Hill East
Brixton Spears - Baby One Moorgate Time

And to finish:
Los Campesinos - The International Tweexcore London Underground

*Yes, I know it's Harrow-On-The-Hill. But it loses something if I do that.
** Myself and Jack came up with a good dozen Easyworld puns on the DLR challenge last year.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Reading lineup

As all the cool people (well, Laura, but she's cool enough anyway) are doing this, I'd leap aboard the bandwagon like a majestic pike.

Friday
Blood Red Shoes
Be Your Own Pet
The Duke Spirit (all in a row, on the one stage)
Florence and the Machine (possibly, after The Duke Spirit, although there's some overlap)
MGMT (if I feel like it)
QOTSA
Rage Against The Machine (well, I'll give them a go. There's sod all else on against them - Babyshittles?)

Saturday
The Subways (if I'm bored and want to holler "You Got Me" at Billy)
Mystery Jets (possibly)
Los Campesinos!
Justice (possibly)
Bullet For My Valentine (maybe)
Manic Street Preachers (I want to see them live at least once)

So, Saturday'll be the day I check out the record fair at the leisure centre then.

Sunday
Nothing until half 3. Go into Reading, buy train ticket home.
Johnny Foreigner
Feeder (maybe)
Slipknot (if I feel like it)
Tenacious D (on what narcotics I'm influenced by)
Metallica (definitely. I'd leave for home after JoFo if it wasn't for them.)

I think Sunday will be spent sitting gazing at the main stage finishing off any remaining alcohol.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lounging on the farm

Due to Electric Gardens not being on this year, I was left with a gap in my Kent festival calendar. Rather than go to the new fangled, over the top Zoo8 where there was only one band I wanted to see, I plumped for the more local Lounge on the Farm, which had two. This proved to be wise, as JoFo cancelled due to a lack of money from the now bankrupt organisers.

Sensibly, rather than ride to Merton Farm just outside of Canterbury, I got the train from Maidstone. This was mainly because I was round Katy's the night before. As JoFo weren't on til 6pm we left after lunch, with me clad in just a t-shirt on top despite the grey clouds, which seemed to darken as we drew nearer the city. After a walk through town we caught the bus to the remote farm where I hoped I could purchase a ticket on the gate. This worry, combined with the two girls behind us on the bus "woop woop"ing at any chance didn't put me in the best of moods.

However, once through the gate and while waiting for Katy and Sian to get their rather pretty wristbands, I noticed Junior and Kelly from JoFo getting out of their van, which brightened my mood. Walking round to the festival site we passed Indie Mae of Burning Leaves, another band I wanted to see but couldn't as they clashed with JoFo. By this time the sun had come out and I'd even rolled up my sleeves to get some colour on my shoulders.

Having a nice explore of the site Katy pointed out that we were walking along behind Aleks Campesinos. I didn't approach her as the only time I've really spoken to her was when I was drunk (for medicinal purposes) at ULU. That and the fact that my subconscious thinks she's a grand sorceress meant I was a tad shy. Continuing to wander we passed Neil and Harriet Campesinos round by the food, and while heading to sit down on the grass near the smaller stage I nearly tripped over Ellen who was peacefully reading.

After a while of sitting, chilling and eating Haribo we decided to head to the Sheep Dip stage to see JoFo before we got sunburnt. Passing the backstage area Alexis did an extremely funny double take upon noticing my JoFo t-shirt. The stage emptied as the previous band finished and the three of us got to the barrier, and shortly afterwards we were joined by Matt, then most of Los Camp standing behind us (bloody stalkers).

JoFo opened with a b-side none of us recognised, then launched into a blistering two-punch of Henning's Favourite and next single Salt, Pepa Spinderella which got the surprisingly large sized crowd going. After that Alexis muttered that they'd better play something slower at which I shouted for "DJs Get Doubts" which was apparently too slow. So they played Eyes Wide Terrified instead, which was an ample replacement. It was a real shame that they only played half an hour as it was one of the best sets I've seen this year.

With an hour to kill before Los Camp we went in search of some food, and I had one of the nicest things I've ever put in my mouth in the Free Range burger that cost me £4. Back at the stage it started to rain so we went back inside the tent, catching the end of Onlookers' set who were really good (despite stealing the riff from La Grange by ZZ Top) and consequently we ended up on the barrier again.

It was quite sweet seeing the group warmup behind the stage, as it included Alexei and Kelly from Johnny Foreigner as well, who stood backstage (along with Junior) to watch the band’s set. The crowd were, from my limited vantage point, really enjoying the set and it showed – Gareth’s brief speech about how he got smacked in the face at T in the Park ended with him commenting that Lounge was much more fun (I don’t know whether he does this at every festival, but singing Sweet Dreams Sweet Cheeks from the middle of the crowd would suggest otherwise). His spoken word piece at the end of This Is How You Spell… was changed so that the “final, fatal livejournal entry” was “turn on the real drums, turn up the real charm” – the final words from Salt Pepper Spinderella, which is Johnny Foreigner’s next single (out September 1st – go buy it). After that song he proceeded to big up the band “did anyone see Johnny Foreigner earlier? Well I’m guessing you did” as he pointed at me wearing my Johnny Foreigner t-shirt.

I will admit that International Tweexcore Underground which followed did disappoint me slightly, which was the only sour note of the weekend. Usually Gareth replaces the whatever in “I’ve never cared about whatever…” with the name of the local football manager. Either he didn’t know who Mark Stimson was, or who the nearest club were, but sadly we didn’t get an onstage reference to Gillingham FC. However the rest of the set was great fun, every song from Hold On Now, Youngster barring Drop It Doe Eyes and And We Exhale… got an airing. You! Me! Dancing! got everybody in the tent dancing (which seems rather obvious now in writing) and Sweet Dreams saw Gareth in the crowd before him and Aleks stood on the monitors to finish.

Katy, Matt and Sian disappeared off to the Cow Shed almost immediately afterwards, as they wanted to catch Mystery Jets. I had no such desire so hung around afterwards, and had a nice chat with Gareth, who (when I mentioned Olli) asked how he was and wished to be remembered to him. After that I moved to Aleks, and in the course of events my dream came up, at which I confessed that it was me. Thankfully she wasn’t that scared and we had a nice chat about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Night Watch books. She mentioned that Ellen was a bigger Buffy fan and after getting the obligatory “hot redhead musician” picture I moved on to Ellen, whereupon we had a good 20 minute chat about Buffy, Serenity, Angel, Firefly, Nathan Fillion and Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Done with the squeeing, I wandered off to the Cow Shed via the burger stall and sat at the back, listening to Mystery Jets get their set cut short again (if it happens at Reading then I’m obviously a jinx and should be banned from seeing them again – much like Rob with his fire alarms) and blogging.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

One of those moods...

Today I was in what has been termed my "Thrush" mood - in that, while in said mood I'm an irritating c**t. For example.

Case I:

"Good morning, you're through-"
"Why isn't my broadband working?!?"
"Good morning," I repeated more forcefully, "you're through to James at Sales, can I take your order please?"

The smarter ones of you may realise that I'm in the sales department, and don't generally deal with fixing things. This fella didn't.

"Why isn't my broadband working?!?"
"Solar flares."
"Well, you'd better- what?"
"Solar flares. Violent explosions of electromagnetic radiation from our nearest star, in this case the sun. It's been known to disrupt the flux capacitors at the exchange."
*ding* Dummy mode on.
"Oh...right..."
"It's been proven recently, under Tennant's theorum. It's why there's less bees around lately."
"Ah yes, I've noticed that!"

By this time those waiting for calls (almost everyone in earshot) had started to listen in and conceal giggles.

"Of course, it could just be due to dryness on your mains socket. Have you got something to moisten them with?"
"Er, like what?"
"Well, something protruding, that's generally usually damp?"
"Oh, I could use my tongue!"

It was at this point my colleague with a conscience slapped me round the back of my head and told me to behave.

"Yeah, that might work. I'll tell you what, why don't I get you through to broadband service, they might be able to help?"
"Oh yeah, I was going to go to them first, but I thought sales might be better."

I transferred him. Electrocution's too good for them.

Case II:

I'm riding home, enjoying the sun but hungry. Anxious to get home and have my bangers and mash. I pull up behind someone in a Ford Ka at a roundabout - the car in front of her moves off, there's a clear road ahead but she's not moving. She's staring at her lap. Peeking through her rear window I notice she's texting, so I beep my horn.

She jumps, flings her phone into the passenger seat, moves off and sticks two fingers up at me through her window. Big mistake. I follow, knowing what the Canterbury ring road is like at half five on a weekday evening. The other side of the roundabout she pulls up, the traffic ahead isn't moving, and I decide to have a little chat, so pull up next to her and rap on her window with a coin I happen to keep in my jacket for such an occasion.

Without looking at me she starts to do the window up. I put my gloved hand through to stop her. She goes white. I motioned for her to move the window back down.

"Hello there!"
"H..hi..."
"What was all that about then?"
"What was...what about?"
"You making that offensive gesture out of the window at me. It really hurt my feelings."
"Wha..oh...well, you tooted at me!"
"Have you got a copy of the Highway Code there?"
"Eh?"
"Do you know it that well?"
"N-no..."
"Well, let me tell you what it says. It states that you should only use your horn to alert other road users to your presence."
"O...kay..."
"And I was alerting you to the fact that you were in my FUCKING WAY AND STOPPING ME FROM GETTING MY DINNER! Understand?"
"Yes."
"I suggest you pay more attention to the road in future. Good day."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mixtape mark II

Electronic mixtape, hosted here, originally intended for use on the BRS forum. Have a track-by-track that'll be less bitchy than the one about Half-baked Or Nothing.

  1. Robert Duncan - Chosen A slow building instrumental to start the CD with. Grows and grows to sound BIG and inspiring. Was actually taken from the score of the last ever Buffy episode.
  2. Go Home Productions - Rock In Black Toll bell opening, could only be one of two songs - Back in Black, or For Whom The Bell Tolls. But wait, Freddie Mercury? It's a mashup of (principally) Back In Black and We Will Rock You, but also includes Led Zep, Crowded House, Snoop Dogg...
  3. Ash - Envy A nice upbeat jump aroundy song - not one of their most obvious tracks but still great all the same. It's not a song I've heard in a good while until I came to start this CD, and thought "hmmm, that'll fit in well". This CD took me in interesting directions.
  4. Old 97's - Four Leaf Clover My Dad summed this up as "psychobilly country and western". A fast paced song, alternating with boy/girl vocals in a cheerful pop-punk style - why on earth would this be popular with me? Bonus points to those who manage to guess where I first heard it.
  5. Rilo Kiley - Breakin' Up A lovely bridge between the country song and the forthcoming ballads. Also the start of the melancholic break. Bizarrely this song always makes me smile, remembering the Islington Academy gig where Jenny sang several portions of this song to me (especially "here's to all the pretty girls you're gonna meet" with a nod towards Katy).
  6. Easyworld - Tonight If this song doesn't make you sad then you've got a heart of stone. Piano led ballad about missing somebody. I'll let the music do the talking.
  7. Aerosmith - You See Me Crying And the piano intro to this sounds a lot like a reprise of Tonight - another happy accident in track listing. The final track off Aerosmith's best album before they got clean, it's not a side of the band you'd expect, and a thousand times better than that other fucking ballad that they're known for.
  8. The Donnas - Revolver. Picking things up again now. Still not up to full speed, a nice acousticy ballad whose guitars creep up on you. Allison Robertson is one of the most underrated guitarists in my collection. This track creeps along stealithly like a fox before pouncing and taking off. Ok, my metaphors need work.
  9. William Shatner - Common People The first of two covers on the CD. The Shat turns his spoken word epics to Jarvis Cocker's classic, and it works so well. One of the best covers ever - he really gets the hang of the venom hidden so well in the original.
  10. The Dresden Dolls - Sing A boy/girl duo, but better than the white stripes. This song always makes me choke up and get all teary eyed. A slow burn of a song, building up - it's not surprising that it's the final song on the album it's originally from.
  11. Charlotte Hatherley - Bastardo And now, a contrast. Cheerful bubbly pop that always makes me smile, and was actually referenced in my Business Studies presentation about eBay that got me a first. Shame she ruined a promising career with a poor second album (*coughsubwayscough*)
  12. Garbage - Run Baby Run An obvious band for me to use, but not an obvious song. Another cheerful happy song (making amends for the Easyworld track) from the future CEO of Cyberdyne Systems. Lulls the listener into a false sense of security before...
  13. Rammstein - Du Hast INDUSTRIAL TANZ-METALL OVERLOAD. Really, who wouldn't like homophonic plays on words in a scary language growled by someone who, quite frankly, makes Pennywise the Clown look like Ronald McDonald? The sort of song to give my workmates nightmares.
  14. The Osmonds - Crazy Horses People laughed at me for including an Osmonds song. Hopefully they'll listen to this track and not only eat their words, but realise that it actually fits in well with the surrounding songs.
  15. Pink Floyd - Run Like Hell I always listen to this song on my mp3 player walking through Canterbury when it's crowded. Invariably I sing along, and spitting out the lines tends to give me plenty of space. Roger Waters sounds so evil taunting the crowd at the beginning.
  16. Los Campesinos! - We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives Rammstein to Los Camp via the Osmonds and Pink Floyd. I will admit by this point I was running out of effort and threw this in to see what effect it would have. It works well to perk up the listener after the winding down outro of Pink Floyd.
  17. Metallica - Turn The Page The second cover of the CD, a rocked up version of a Bob Seger hit. James Hetfield is a big country fan and does this track justice. I want to find an instrumental version of it and make up lyrics about Ellen Page instead.
  18. Duke Spirit - Red Weather One of the best closing tracks ever. So sleazy, it builds and builds. Live it's even more immense, especially with Toby playing his guitar like a machine gun (something I've tried to replicate when playing One by Metallica on Guitar Hero).
So, there it is. If you've made it this far, I thank you for listening. If you liked any bands and want to know more, let me know.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Grammar lesson

So, I'm standing outside Morrisons waiting for my family before dinner. As I'm a biker I've parked on the main concourse near the entrance, showing off my newly polished pride and joy.

Enter a low paid trolley boy.

"You can't park that there!"

"Yes I can."

This flummoxed him somewhat. "No you can't!"

"The evidence in front of you would suggest that you're wrong - I can park here, as there's no barrier prohibiting me from doing so. I think what you meant was 'you shouldn't park there'".

"Er...yeah."

"Well then I'd suggest two things. I suggest that in the future you use the correct grammar, and that you feed back to your superiors the lack of a motorcycle parking area. Now go."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Subways - All Or Nothing

Strangely for an album in this day and age, The Subways' second effort has yet to leak despite it being less than two weeks until the release date. The staff at Warner Brothers records were very proud of this fact, as apparently only certain magazines had been sent a promotional copy. This meant that the dozen or so fans at the exclusive fan preview (plus those sitting in the courtyard below due to open windows and it being played extremely loud) were one of the very first people to hear All Or Nothing. Thus, as far as I'm aware, this is the first online track by track review of the album (that wasn't from a band member).

  1. Girls and Boys. No doubt you will have already downloaded it from the website. A good intro to the song, nice contrasting vocals on the chorus but not what you want as an opening song on an album. Gets a tad repetitive after a while.
  2. Reading Festival Kalifornia. A very summery chorus but nothing new in the two years since it debuted. An absolutely cracking instrumental break undone by a pointless pause before Billy's yell (is such a thing wise given his vocal problems?).
  3. Alright. Like No Goodbyes from the first album, but its heavier scarier older brother. A lovely summer song that'll play well on the radio and draw the casual fans in, and also continuing an opening that's much heavier than you'd expect.
  4. Shake! Shake!. Another old new song (in that it's been around for two years). The bass intro that works so well live seems out of place on the album, but as soon as the song kicks in it's exactly like the live version - and for this band it's a compliment that the live energy's not been polished away.
  5. Move To Newlyn. This song has apparently been floating around since August 2005 (story here) and the opening will sound familiar to anybody who's got Young For Eternity (several of us jokingly started singing "Mary is my best friend..." along to the intro). That said it's a definite grower and a bit of an abrupt change in pace, moving to a very acoustic jaunty song from four heavier tracks. I can see it being released as a single after I Won't Let You Down and Shake Shake.
  6. All Or Nothing. This song is like fabric, in that I found it very difficult to have an opinion about it. I tried to force one through but by the end of the song I wasn't swayed either way. It's a very cheery song and Billy wears his 1990s Britpop influences on his sleeve with this track, and it has the potential to be a grower.
  7. I Won't Let You Down. Back on form. My notes for this simply read "if WB don't release this as a single they're fools and in the wrong business". The two contrasting vocal styles combine superbly in the chorus, it's an absolute monster of a song.
  8. Turnaround. Since hearing this live last May I've been curious as to how it'll sound on record. It's a treat for old-old-school Subways fans, those who have heard the early grungy demos as it's very similar - and being produced by Butch Vig it's very apt! A different style to everything else on the album but no worse for it. Contains the third bass solo on the record - a tradeoff, perhaps, for Charlotte not taking any lead vocals despite her voice improving?
  9. Obsession. The riff for this sounds scarily similar to Shake Shake and the song overall fits in with Alright and Kalifornia - it seems very light and summery, until you listen to the lyrics which are as dark as hell. Potentional to be a grower but left a fair number indifferent to it on first listen.
  10. Strawberry Blonde. From the moment the piano starts the intro you know it's not a normal Subways song. It's this album's Mary - Billy's ode to his current squeeze. Aurally similar to Wonderwall, bonus points are gained for mentioning Firefly (although probably not the TV show). Could possibly make a good single.
  11. Always Tomorrow. A very pacy, summery song that shows how much the band has grown in the intervening years. The fact that I can't remember much else about it doesn't bode well - like Obsession, another take-it-or-leave-it song.
  12. Lostboy. The opening sounds like Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) by Green Day, another 90s influenced track. It's a great song, very catchy and several people were humming it on the way to the pub afterwards. It's a bit of an abrupt end to the album, and I think this will polarise opinion as many people love the big buildup and climax of Somewhere on Young For Eternity. If you can realise that it's not supposed to be a Somewhere mk II you'll realise how good a song it is.
So, that's it. A complete track by track. I approached the album with an open mind and empty bladder, and from the first listen I'll give it 7.8 out of 10. I think that with repeated listens some tracks may grow on me. Due to a wealth of superb albums released this year already I don't think it'll make my top five - contrastingly, had it been released last year it would've made my top three for sure (leaving aside any personal disagreements with band members for both comments).

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Karma

Yesterday was not a good day. I left the house without mp3 player or PDA, and so consequently I spent a very boring two hours by the side of the A2 when my bike blew a hole in the engine. This means I need a new bike, and pretty much buggers up any fun for the next few months. When I finally got to work I found that the person who had agreed to buy my Isle of Wight festival tickets had backed out of the deal, and then I was informed that I was now under investigation for inappropriate call transfers.

Now, I'm a firm believer in karma. I believe that when good things happen, bad things will even them out (and vice versa). Given that all this had happened to me, I was owed a big favour by the universe.

So I gave it a helping hand and kicked a small child in the face.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Zone 1 challenge, May 30th

End of May is traditionally the time for the annual Zone 1 competition - where tube challengers and potentials gather to race around the 64 underground stations in the Travelcard zone 1 in as quick a time as possible.

A mini challenge was organised for the Thursday evening before so myself, Jack and Olli decided to team up for it as a warmup. It was a designated Random 15 challenge - 15 stations from zones 1 & 2 would be drawn, and each of these would have to be visited at least once. Embankment was the only station revealed in advance as that was the meeting point and we gathered there to receive the other 14 stations. They were spread out over the two zones and bloody difficult - we plotted a route before leaving Embankment, but were beset by so much bad luck we abandoned after two and a half hours having only made it to 7 of the stations. After chasing three trains out of four stations (i.e. we made it to the platform as the train was leaving) we decided luck was not on our side and went to the pub instead.

Friday, after a good night's sleep, we met up with around 40 others at Oxford Circus, where the starting station would be drawn. The rules were run through while Jack and I were using the toilet, but as experienced challengers we didn't need to hear them. Thankfully Olli was still there and up to speed on what was going on. I'd warned him in advance that it was a lot faster paced than the Random 15 - "more running than your average Doctor Who episode" was how I phrased it. "Love the running" was his response and it became a catchphrase for the event between us three. Last year it was myself, Jack and Matt as "Team Subways" - due to circumstances changing (and billy lunn being an arrogant twat) Matt was in another team, so me and Jack ran with Olli under the team name "Frankie Goes To Chorleywood". The station was drawn, and despite my hopes that it would either be Archway (in zone 2/3) or Aldwych (closed since 1992) it turned out to be the bustling metropolis that is King's Cross St Pancras. Off we sodded there.

On the train up a route was rapidly drawn up, and then redrawn when we realised we'd missed off Goodge Street. I sought clarification as to one of the rules, which stated that you didn't need to leave on the first train leaving the station at 1pm - you could wait for the first one on your desired line. I used this to get a Hammersmith and City line train to Paddington - they're rarer than hen's teeth and by doing this at the start it meant we wouldn't be relying on getting one later in the route (ha!). I wasn't alone in doing this, as we had a fair few others getting on the train with us - including last year's winner John Stark. We made the mistake of chasing him through Paddington last year without realising he runs for fun, whereas we don't even run for food. He was handicapped this year by running with someone else, thus slowing him down. On arrival at Paddington I surprised everyone, not least myself, by leading the pack through the barriers and onto the mainline station platforms. Haring down platform 8 I realised once again that getting into shape would have been a wise idea, and was overtaken by Andi and Olli. At the barriers to the Bakerloo line platforms all our paper travelcards failed and we had to be let through the gate by the assistant - would we need this every time we breached the gateline?

Cunningly, when we got on the Bakerloo line train (which arrived at the platform at the same time that we did) we were going to the end of the line, so could sit and rest for a bit. By Oxford Circus we'd recovered and were raring to go again - at Elephant & Castle we shot off the train, and up to the Northern line platforms (far far shorter than I expected) to find a minute wait and an amused chap who asked if we were running round the entire Underground or something. "Something like that" we replied to his chuckle and a good luck. Jumping on the train we didn't bother sitting down, as we were only going two stops, and sprinted off at London Bridge to the Jubilee line - a long journey involving escalators I thought, but clever observation of the signs stopped Olli sprinting up a pair as I bellowed "LEFT!" to turn down to the Jubilee line corridor and make it to another 30 second wait for a train. Another two stops and to Waterloo, and the first escalator run (and second shortly after) which really, really kills the legs. Stumbling to find a Vauxhall train we jumped on one, and took advantage of the on train toilet as we didn't know when would be the next opportunity. A helpful South West Trains conductor told us the best place to get out for the exit and we jumped out, grateful that the platform was nearest the Underground barriers which handily were also open. Jumping down the steps to the underpass I stumbled but didn't fall and ran around slow walking commuters, high-fiving a fellow competitor on the way up to the trains.

We had a minor wait for a Victoria line train up to Euston - it turned out to be roastingly hot which didn't help our already damp clothes - and ran up more bloody escalators (love the running) to the City branch of the Northern line. A three minute wait here was annoying, but we had another intruiged passenger on the train who wanted to know what we were up to and also wished us luck. Leaving Moorgate we had nobody to run past until practically the Circle line platforms - a two minute wait here, then we got on a Hammersmith and City line train ("ha," we joked, "we won't need another today!") back up to King's Cross. This section of the tube is rare in zone 1 as it's almost open air - I took the opportunity to reply to Amie's text before we switched to the Piccadilly line. Running down six steps to the ticket hall I would've leapt onto and slid down the central bannister if there wasn't a whacking great information board at the bottom of it - probably a good thing as I could see myself coming a cropper and making a tit out of myself again. There was a train in so we leapt on it, and moved up to the right carriage at Russell Square.

Way back in November we went southbound on the Piccadilly line to Gloucester Road. Owing to an administrative cockup we got the end of the train wrong and had to run like the clappers down the platform to get the lifts - one of the many setbacks that day. Remembering that, I said we should sit at the front of the train, and recounted the above story with an air of smugness about me. Arriving in to Gloucester Road we looked out of the windows to see the Way Out signs all pointing towards the back of the train. Cillit Bang! Leaping out the train we raced down the platforms, and as I was running along the yellow line it meant that anyone else getting off would be in my way - like the Asian girl in carriage four who stepped out in front of me, causing me to suddenly change direction by 90 degrees (and I'm glad I was wearing newer trainers than the 7 year old pair I had on last year, else it would've been painful) to avoid her. We got to the lifts to find a queue, and somewhat rudely snuck our way to the front to get in the lift first. This backfired on us when we reached the surface to find the exit was the same pair of doors we came into the lift in (tube station lifts have doors both sides) and had to struggle through everyone to reach the sub-surface platforms. By the time we were there a District train to Upminster (our ideal connection) had closed its doors and was departing. Bad karma.

Luckily there was a Circle line train along one minute later, so I had time to take a picture of the panda, but it meant that we'd be doing the Aldgate run the wrong way round - from Aldgate to Aldgate East - and we'd be relying on a Hammersmith and City train there. By this time we'd passed the two hour mark and were looking shaky for a sub 3-hour time. At Aldgate we ran up the many steps to street level (love the running) and out, along the street. We hit a bit of a snag with the A1211 being in the way, but luckily found a subway and ran along it, showing it the proper courtesy and respect. Crossing two minor roads and dodging roadworks we got to Aldgate East, passing Matt who was going the other way, to find nothing on the boards. Cillit bang! A quick rewrite was in order, and we got a District train back to Tower Hill, where we crossed to get on the Circle line (only 94 seconds spent there) and visit Aldgate that way.

(An aside - rules state that a station is only visited if you enter or leave it via a London Underground train. Running back to Aldgate was not therefore an option - not least because it would've killed us.)

Through Aldgate we leapt out at Liverpool Street to reach the Central line platforms at about the same time as a Central line train, and jumped on ready to get to my favourite station (not), Tottenham Court Road. The thing about TCR is that the Central line platforms are so bloody far away from anything, and we ran dodging people to the Northern line platforms where a northbound train was waiting. A bit of luck for the Goodge Street doubleback, which ran out when we pulled in to see a southbound train leaving. 3 minutes til the next one, and the clichèd picture at Goodge Street taken. Back at Tottenham Court Road we had a two minute wait for a Central line train, which took us to Queensway and the final run of the day. Up the road, simple enough, except for one prat who jumped out on us and shouted "no running in the halls!" Had he jumped out a little bit further, I would've caught him a glancing blow on the jaw with my left shoulder, but I had to settle for smacking my wrist on a parking meter instead. At Bayswater the next train was a Circle line so we jumped on, checking the board for a District train following us. We had only three stations left, but a sub 3-hour time was out of the question - we wanted to settle for beating 3 hours 15 minutes.

The minutes ticked away, and we jumped off at High Street Kensington to a four minute wait and time ticking away. Tempted by the Oreo McFlurry adverts we pondered the nearest McDonalds, before remembering we went in one by Earl's Court station the previous night. The train finally arrived, and we reached Earl's Court to a final time of 3:16:23. After getting our McFlurries and posing with the tardis outside, we made our way to the pub (being one of the last to arrive) handed in our time and had a much deserved bottle of cider. The presentation began, and we won best team name (I was proud, especially as I've been sitting on that for months) and came an honourable 12th place out of 21. We were 10 minutes behind second, and I reckon that if we hadn't been rude in the lifts at Gloucester Road we would've had a much higher finish. Still, thoroughly enjoyed the day, as did Olli who can't wait for next year!

Blood Red Shoes - May 28th, London Forum

Way back when this gig was announced, Dana from my forum announced she'd be there too. Given that I don't want my board split into two factions (ex-Subways boardies and non-ex-Subways boardies) I thought I'd go and meet her; that she's not unattractive and is easy to talk to is merely a bonus. Katy came with me, and as Jack is a huge Maximo Park fan he bought a ticket and came too. It was shortly after 3 on a damp day that we arrived to see Jack was already quite friendly with the assorted hardcore fans already queuing, including a very ill Dana.

It was then that we realised a small flaw in my social plan - we were there only to see Dana, but she was there to see everyone, including the Maximo geeks. As such we were left kicking our heels for a bit (or would have been if we weren't sitting down) so switched to the old standby in such situations - drink! As me and Jack were getting drunker we got louder and bounced comments off each other, making others laugh and including them in the conversation. This included Charleh, who apparently we met at the LC! gig in Portsmouth, and her friend whose name I won't even attempt to type because it'll be wrong.

She was fitting in well, not least because she appeared to be Jack's female clone, despite being interested in the soft and squishy gender. Much like Jack is, thinking about it. I managed to marry Jack to both Dana and Charleh (internet ordaining is a wonderful thing) and I don't remember an awful lot else. I should really have done this writeup on Thursday lunchtime. I do recall drunkenly asking a tall guy in a grey suit where to go for a quick slash - this turned out to be the lead singer from Mystery Jets, who were also supporting - and two doors down I bumped into a cute girl with short blonde hair who I recognised (thankfully not the psychotic tory) but wasn't sure where from.

Inside the gig we got down the front, owing to being first in the queue, and witnessed an utterly bland set from Pete and the Pirates. There were too many Petes and not enough Pirates, so I amused myself by shouting out "yarrrrr!" and "shiver me timbers!" much too often. BRS were up next, and ran through a similar set to the previous tour (different banter though). Due to time running short they missed the penultimate song which I'm grateful for - the gig was a charity gig and the song they dropped was Say Something Say Anything. I don't think that I could've kept my composure.

After their set was finished I was ready to go home but Katy wanted to see Mystery Jets, so we stayed. Jack and Charleh bonded even further, becoming one, and as the band came on I realised that the lead singer had directed me for my urination earlier. Their set was enjoyable, and when they brought out a guest for what turned out to be the last song of their set I realised that the short blonde was Laura Marling, which was a turnup for the books.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Peace in our train

I've inadvertantly managed to get myself peace and quiet on a train journey, and disgust an entire carriage of people.

Sat here quietly listening to Pink Floyd (my route into London takes me round the base of Battersea Power Station) I was rudely interrupted at Gillingham when a fairly well to do mother with her two little "princesses" got on and sat on the table behind me. Now, the one thing that little girls do that I can't stand (apart from playing the recorder-if they'd started doing that this blog would involve piano wire) is squeal. And boy, did this pair squeal. Getting pissed off with this I muttered to myself "for the love of Joss, if they don't shut up I'll unleash the paedophiles".

Now, I don't know about your good self, but when I'm listening to my music, I tend to speak (and sing) louder than normal. Unfortunately they chose that moment to pause to draw breath.

"What?!? How dare you say that? Come on Eileen and Dexy, we're not sitting anywhere near this...filth!"

Temporarily bemused as to why the braying sheep had suddenly turned into a Kentish harridan, I didn't realise that I was talking out loud until I turned off my music to silence from everyone else. Never one to miss a trick I said "well, at least we'll get some peace, eh?" before burying my face in my paper.

Writeup of BRS, lesbians, tube challenges and emo marches to come on Saturday night after Doctor Who, I'm writing this on my pda and my thumbs hurt.