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.

Alphabeat - This Is Alphabeat

Good fun Danish euro pop.

Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

Indifferent collection of album rejects.

Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree

Light floaty pretty ethereal songs.

The Subways - All Or Nothing

Blinding when good, only sometimes.

Operator Please - Yes Yes Vindictive

Australian punk pop cheerful fun.

Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue

Another disappointingly patchy second album.

Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog OST

Best musical of the year.

Metallica - Death Magnetic

Return to thrash metal form.

Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward

Second and final album, sadly.

Duke Spirit - Neptune

Superb second album after delays.

Blood Red Shoes - Box Of Secrets

Grunge-punk enjoyable loud debut.

Amanda Palmer - Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

Strangely diversely brilliant solo effort.

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

Chirpy happy twee(xcore) international debut.

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.

(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,
"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.