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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Albums of the year: 2009

50 Julian Plenti – Julian Plenti Is... Skyscraper
49 Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs
48 Dinosaur Jr. – Farm
47 Jesus H. Foxx – Matter.
46 Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
45 Malcolm Middleton – Waxing Gibbous
44 Manic Street Preachers - Journal For Plague Lovers
43 Gong Fei – Fifty Fifty in 1940
42 Florence and The Machine – Lungs
41 Wheat – White Ink, Black Ink
40 White Lies – To Lose My Life
39 Washed out – Life Of Leisure
38 Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Twice Born Men
37 Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career
36 The Cribs – Ignore The Ignorant
35 Owen – New Leaves
34 Maxïmo Park – Quicken the Heart
33 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It's Blitz!
32 Spyamp – Settlement
31 Fever Ray – Fever Ray
30 The Raveonettes – In And Out Of Control
29 Yahweh – Tug Of Love
28 Little Boots – Hands
27 Why? – Eskimo Snow
26 El Perro Del Mar - Love is Not Pop
25 The Thermals – Now We Can See
24 The Sea and Cake – Car Alarm
23 The Whitest Boy Alive – Rules
22 Jack Peñate – Everything is new
21 Johnny Foreigner – Grace And The Bigger Picture
20 Japandroids – Post-Nothing
19 Zoey Van Goey – The Cage Was Unlocked All Along
18 Slow Club – Yeah So
17 Noah and the Whale – The First Days Of Spring
16 Richard Hawley - Truelove's Gutter
15 My Latest Novel – Deaths & Entrances
14 Passion Pit – Manners
13 Kings of Convenience – Declaration Of Dependence
12 The Twilight Sad – Forget The Night Ahead
11 Frankmusik – Complete Me
10 Dananananaykroyd – Hey Everyone!
9 Wild Beasts – Two Dancers
8 Fight Like Apes – Fight Like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion
7 Annie – Don't Stop
6 De Rosa – Prevention
5 Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
4 Idlewild – Post Electric Blues
3 Marions – Origin of Birds
2 King Creosote – Flick the Vs
1 The xx – xx

Friday, 11 December 2009

Friday, 26 June 2009

electric music aka

Tangentially related to my recent post about the Associates, 'North London Spiritualist Church' was the first album from Electric Music AKA, a band featuring Tam Doyle, the author of the excellent Billy Mackenzie biography "The Glamour Chase", and fellow Dundee ex-pat Anth Brown - from vague memories of an NME piece at the time, both had been members of a failed "baggy" band and found themselves in London. The album was released in 2000 on ZubiZaretta, a short-lived UK offshoot of the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal label, if I remember correctly. Despite positive reviews, the record never broke through, though Sanctuary did release an equally excellent follow up ('The Resurrection Show') in 2003. Now recording as Boo Hooray, the duo have completed a third album which they are hoping to release this year.

Both albums are full of mid-tempo, slightly downbeat, pop songs, taking cues from the likes of the Blue Nile, Spiritualized, The Flaming Lips and Talk Talk. Highlights are "If The Good Times Are Killing Me" from 'NLSC' and "Something Up With the Stars" from 'TRS', so start with those if you need to start somewhere - both are lovely, especially the overlapping vocals on the latter. The first album is available to download from the link below.

I remember listening to 'The Resurrection Show' quite a lot over the summer of 2003, it definitely was one of the many influences I was working from when we started The A Forest.

[MP3] Electric Music AKA - 'North London Spiritualist Church'
[Stream] Electric Music AKA - 'The Resurrection Show'

Thursday, 25 June 2009

RIP steven wells

Was saddened to read today that former NME writer Steven "Swells" Wells passed away after a battle with cancer. He's written about it brilliantly here (first bout) and here (the return) for Philidelphia Weekly. There's no self-pity, no pseudo-spiritualism, just the brutal reality of being a Brit receiving cancer treatment in the American healthcare system.

Everyone thinks that "their era" of the NME was the best. I started reading it a couple of weeks into secondary school, in August 1994, and until my mum sold her house I still had every issue I'd bought in my school years. While the 1994-2000 era was probably not golden by any stretch of the imagination, I feel that writers like Wells and Johnny Cigarettes at least gave the paper some level of personality, unlike the dull "youth lifestyle mag" it seems to want to be now (even if Mark Beaumant is still trying his hardest). I may not have agreed with everything Wells wrote, in fact it was often my favourite bands that he was destroying in print, but there was at least passion and humour in what he was doing...once you got past the CAPS LOCK and swearing. He may have tried too hard at times, but was never dull.

It's a bit weird paying tribute to someone that you never met, but it's a shame he's gone.

Here's one for the road...I like the record, but it still made me laugh!

Monday, 15 June 2009

associates / alan rankine - 'the glamour chase'

The following is my report of the recent showing of the Associates documentary 'The Glamour Chase' at the DCA, and the accompanying Q+A with founding member Alan Rankine. Originally posted on the Associates thread on I Love Music, just felt like re-posting here.

The full 40 minute edit of the documentary "The Glamour Chase" was given only it's second public airing at the DCA in Dundee tonight. It was originally made in 1999 for Grampian and STV. It's good, fairly zips through the life and times, I never saw the original 23 minute version when it was broadcast, but it must have battered through at a fair pace! Most of the detail is familiar from Tom Doyle's book of the same name, unsurprising as he was involved in the making of the documentary and the fact that the book itself was fairly exhaustive. There's talking-head contributions from the likes of Michael Dempsey, Max Hole, Chris Parry (a "Kiwi c-nt", according to Rankine...), Billy's father and sister, Boris Blank, Martin Fry, Glen Gregory, Marc Almond, Siouxie Sioux, Noko from Apollo440 and others. There's a few clips of the Ronnie Scotts performance in 1984 in a kind of jazz trio arrangement, not sure how widely available that has been but it looked great - the sound quality was good and clear, it would be great to have the audio of that.

Afterwards we got "Billy Sloan in Conversation With Alan Rankine", which was quite enjoyable. Sloan was knowledgeable and understated and not at all playing up to his reputation. Sloan basically asked him about his time in the band from beginning to end, his memories of Billy, that sort of thing. A few questions from the audience at one point but I couldn't think of anything to ask. On the subject of "William It Was Really Nothing", Rankine said that he doesn't know if anything ever happened between Billy and Morrissey, but if he knew Billy as well as he thought he did then he probably shagged Morrissey ragged... By the sound of it, they had fun at the time. He also mentioned that they got their rights back for recordings a month ago, I assume he meant "Fourth Drawer Down" and "Sulk" and the "Double Hipness" material which was previously licenced to V2, and that they'll probably be doing something with it. On the subject of watching Billy carry on as Associates after his departure, he did say that other than some of the songs on "Perhaps", he didn't really rate the post-"Sulk" output, and that it was clear by the "Wild and Lonely"-era videos that Billy's heart wasn't in it.

The Q+A was finished off with the playback of a recently made recording of the lost Associates song "The Twins of Gemini". Rankine said that they'd worked on it at the time, but never recorded it, finished the lyrics or properly performed it other than maybe accapella at parties. Apparently this version was only finished the night before, and features Steven Lindsay on vocals, Craig Armstrong on piano and Rankine on bass. Someone asked him later if it was getting a release, he said they'd maybe be doing some more work on it but that it was a possibility.

Got the chance to shake Rankine's hand on my way out, didn't really have much to say. He had a few signed, unplayed 12"s of "White Car in Germany" that he was handing out, got one of those.
The picture above is indeed the signed copy of "White Car In Germany".

Although I was aware of the Associates before hand, they first captured my imagination properly in the Autumn of 2002 when I first moved to Dundee and bought Tom Doyle's Billy Mackenzie biography 'The Glamour Chase'. It's a great read, partly because Billy's life itself is so fascinating and partly so because it was the first time I'd read a "rock biography" and been familiar with the not just the places named, but also some of the social backdrop to the story. The book appears to be out of print now.

The beauty of Billy's music for me is in it's unpredictability - both in terms of how other worldly it can be, but also how varying in quality it can be. I won't pretend I like every note that Billy/the Associates ever committed to tape, but when they hit their mark they were fantastic - "The Affectionate Punch", "Tell Me Easter's on Friday", "White Car In Germany" and, of course, "Party Fears Two" amongst many others.

The play 'Balgay Hill', inspired by Billy Mackenzie, runs at Dundee Rep until 27th June. Hopefully I'll get a chance to go and see it after my night shifts.

[Video] Associates - "Party Fears Two" ('Top of the Pops, 1982)
[Video] Associates - "White Car In Germany" (Dutch TV, 1982)

Saturday, 13 June 2009

bad behaviour / idlewild - 'post electric blues'

After (almost) being a saint last month, I've fallen off the wagon in a big way when it comes to the CDs/records this month... I'm not really prepared to write full reviews of everything though!

Idlewild, having found themselves out of contract, have taken a direct route to releasing their latest album 'Post Electric Blues'. The record was funded by a pre-order offer for fans, where for an upfront payment of £15, 3,000+ fans were promised an exclusive advance CD of the new record before its commercial release, as well as bonuses such as their name in the artwork, downloads of live recordings from some of the retrospective album shows at King Tuts, and some competitions.

The finished CD of 'Post Electric Blues' finally arrived on Thursday, after some delays at the pressing plant. The package contains a poster with all the subscribers names listed, and there's an exclusive bonus track on the album. Musically, I'd say it's somewhere between 'Warnings/Promises' and 'The Remote Part' - specifically the songs of the former and the production of the latter - with hints of Roddy Woomble's first solo album, 'My Secret Is My Silence'. Overall it's a pretty solid record, the opening three songs are particularly strong, but it's unlikely to become my favourite. I can see "Readers & Writers" doing well on Radio 2 when the album gets its full commercial release later in the year.

The new Phoenix album, 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix' is fantastic. It's a big, bright, summer pop record that takes all the best bits of the first three records and rolls them into one. I never thought they'd be able to better "Too Young" and "If I Ever Feel Better" from their debut album 'United', but with "1901" and "Lisztomania" they run close. Listen to them on Spotify from the links.

The ongoing clearance sale at Head in Dundee (formerly Zavvi, formerly Virgin Megastore) continues to throw up the odd item of interest, even if I really can't face going through all those boxes of CDs yet again! They've now got a few boxes of vinyl singles, and in amongst the 12"s I found a still-sealed copy of the double-vinyl of Stereolab's 'Margerine Eclipse'. I already have the CD, but at £1 I could hardly pass it by! I'm a big fan of their artwork/packaging, so it will look good on the wall. I got a few other things, but nothing as exciting to me. It's actually pretty sad to see a shop I was so fond of (worked for Virgin Megastores for three years) reduced to little more than a clearance outlet/"pound shop".

The Zoey Van Goey album ('The Cage Was Unlocked All Along') is pretty good based on a couple of listens. Particularly enjoying the opening track "The Best Treasure Stays Buried" and the former single "Foxtrot Vandals".

Finally, I guess I'll give honourable mentions to Grouchos 3-for-£3 specials 'Mission Control' by The Whigs and 'Invitation Songs' by The Cave Singers. The former is no frills Buffalo Tom-style college rock, the latter more of the weird-American-folk of the Fleet Foxes/Devandra Banhart variety. Musically it's lovely, but the singing takes a little getting used to.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

life without buildings - "is is and the i.r.s."

So, after all that effort, this is what broke the camel's back. On the 25th of May, my 25th day of abstinence, I finally cracked and in a moment of madness spent a whole 1p (+ £1.21 p+p) on a "Used - Like New" copy of Life Without Buildings' second single. "Is Is and the I.R.S." was not included on their sole studio album, 'Any Other City' (Tugboat, 2000), and is otherwise only available on the Australian "Love Trinity" single with (the only?) two other non-album tracks.

There's also a live album, 'Live at the Annandale Hotel' (Gargleblast, 2007) that's probably easier/cheaper to pick up than 'Any Other City' and is equally as worthwhile. The sound quality is excellent, and many of the performances are actually better than their studio counterparts. It's probably the only live album that off the top of my head I would actually recommend. The myspace has a few tracks from it on the player. "Love Trinity" is one of my all-time favourite songs, but the singing seems to be offputting to some. Their loss.

While I do feel I've let myself down by not making it to the end of the month, I'm glad to have picked up something I've been looking for for probably six or seven years at such a reasonable price. For comparison, the "Love Trinity" single is currently listed on Amazon by a third party seller at £14.47, and the "Young Offenders" single at £15.99 - it was £66 the other night! Not to say that they are actually worth that, but still.

Barring this blip, I'm still going to wait until the 1st of June before buying anything else (hello awesome new Phoenix album!), purely out of misguided principle.

I'm still in the process of ripping all my old CD singles, probably over half way there. There's been some things that have been nice to hear again, but it's been a bit of a slog going through some sections where there's little that interests me anymore. It's interesting to see how taste/perception changes over time. I was trying to tag all the good stuff on, but that seems to have fallen to the wayside a little.

The boxes at the top of top of the picture are completely done, one and a half of the ones at the bottom to go...

Thursday, 21 May 2009

laeto - "ecuador"

First new Laeto track in five years! From the eternally forthcoming 3rd LP, picks up pretty much where 'Zwoa' left off. Good stuff. This is a nice stop motion-style video. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

fm belfast - "par avion"

FM Belfast: Par Avion from Torfi Frans Olafsson on Vimeo.

I've mentioned FM Belfast before, briefly in my Best of 2008 round up. I stumbled accross them when I went to Stockholm, playing an outdoor stage in a small garden surrounded by office blocks as part of the culture festival. On that occasion there were three members performing (male and female vocals and synth/laptop guy), but they can number as many as eight. While they're good on record, I think they come across better live - generally good fun, and dropping in little covers/interludes and musical jokes adding to the party atmosphere.

This video for the excellent "Par Avion" has been pieced together from 2,500 still photographs of the full band's performance at the 2007 Iceland Airwaves festival. It did make me feel a little wobbly to begin with, but it's a neat trick.

I never did get around to a write-up of all the great bands I saw largely by chance over that weekend, so in lieu of that here's a list of highlights:

Rigas - Hot Chip style electro-pop.
Ost & Kjex - Norwegian funky house, live set is like Prince fronting Underworld.
Rickard Jäverling - beautiful slow-core.
Marions - lovely! Already covered here.
Yamon Yamon - brilliant melodic post-rock, very Sea & Cake, American Analog Set, Life Without Buildings.
Robert Svensson - 80's style pop.

If that's not enough, The Swedish Model is a label collective with an excellent website with plenty of MP3s to download from most of their artists.

In predictable fashion, I took quite a few photos of most of those bands, which you can find here.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

animals at camperdown park, sat 16th may 2009

More photos! Went to see the animals at Camperdown with my sister, my nephew and Katie - they are the ones on my side of the fences, if you're having trouble. Not the nicest of days, started raining as we were leaving, so a lot of the animals were keeping hidden.

I'm never sure how I feel about zoos and the like, on the one hand they do have an educational value and as long as the animals are well looked after then there's not much more I'd ask, however there is something a little sad about seeing an animal like the Lynx or a Bear cooped up in an enclosure. I've not been to see the animals at Camperdown for about 15 years, so it's good to see that the new Bear enclosure is a better size.

As for the photos, I was swapping lenses quite a lot and shooting through mesh for a few of the animals (Bears and Otters especially). The longer lens is manual focus, so one or two are a little out of focus, but I've left them in anyway. I even used the flash on a couple, doesn't seem to have been to intrusive but I was wary of upsetting the animals.

[Photos] Camperdown Park (II)

the view from the law

Friday, 15 May 2009

the law, tues 10th feb 2009

Not the band (thankfully), the place - or at least various views from it. This is the last of the catch-up sets, and the oldest - there's still snow lying in most of these! Taken using the Canon EOS 3000 body I bought off eBay for about £3 + postage on the basis that it allows a little more flexibility than the EOS 3000, though with no instruction manual I haven't got far.

[Photos] The Law

zorki 4k test shots

Ok, I'll admit that this is probably the least interesting of the lot. I bought a Zorki 4k, a Soviet-era Leica copy 35mm rangefinder camera, on a forum I frequent. As the camera arrived during my night shifts I've not had a chance to try it out in the wider world, instead making do with wandering round the flat to test it out before bed.

There's no flash fitted on the Zorki, so it performs best in strong light. Some of the shots look really nice and sharp to me, but I don't think that comes across in the scans. Quite looking forward to getting some good weather again to try it out properly.

[Photos] Zorki 4k Test Shots

assorted action sampler shots, 2003-2009

I've previously mentioned that I have occasionally dabbled with a Holga. At the same time I bought that, I also bought an Action Sampler (mines is the see-through one). The Action Sampler is pretty much a toy, it's got four lenses that expose at 0.22 second intervals into the same frame on 35mm film, with no practical means of focusing. There's not a great deal more to it than that!

The film I finally developed today is the same one that came with the camera and has been in it since late 2003, with the last few shots taken in sunny Dundee yesterday. There were one or two surprises on there, along with a fair few shots that just hadn't really come out at all. I'm not entirely sure what some of them ever were, but was amused enough by the colours to include them. I'm quite pleased with the bright colours in yesterdays shots, it was a high ISO film (800), so it's picked up the sunny day well.

[Photos] Assorted Action Sampler Shots

clear sky at the westport bar, wed 1st april 2009

I've been slacking a bit on the photo posts, so here's the first of a few catch-ups. This set is everything I could salvage from those I took at Clear Sky's first gig at the Westie last month. Due to the low light in the venue I was struggling with long exposures and various aperture/ISO settings to try and get a balance, rather than use the built in flash. Sometimes I almost had some luck - it's certainly given me plenty to think about, anyway.

Clear Sky are a bit of a Dundee c.2001 supergroup - Gav from Merocaine, George from Ill Funk (and, of course, The A Forest!) and Stuart and Alan from Skintwire. Pretty tight for a first show, shame the new PA wasn't a patch on what Stu Firm used to use in there.

[Photos] Clear Sky at the Westport Bar

in place of real insight

For want of anything proper to write about, I'm pretty much at the halfway mark of my month of abstention, and in that time have not purchased any CDs, downloads, vinyl, cassettes or any other form of sound carrier. I did lend Katie the money for a Lisa Knapp CD at the James Yorkston/Lisa Knapp show at the Rep last night, but it was for her so ther rules aren't broken. Anyway, the massive pile of CD singles surrounding me is giving me plenty of "new" old stuff to listen to. Some gems, some crap.

Year 2 of my Cineworld Unlimited card was finally kicked off today, only 6 weeks in. Went to see 'Fighting', not for any particular reason other than that it seemed the least poor option - hadn't heard of it before looking at the board. Nothing particularly remarkable about it, to be honest. It just trundles along for a couple of hours to a fairly obvious conclusion. Click the link for the IMDB page, if you've any curiosity. I think I'll try and catch up on my moneys worth so far then cancel the card, can't help but thinking that joining the DCA is a better idea - all the films I've actually wanted to see lately have been on there. 'In The Loop' was hilarious, and 'Let The Right One In' is absolutely brilliant. I think if I tried to describe it, I couldn't do any justice. For a vampire film, it's surprisingly sweet, and also really nicely shot. I honestly can't see any need for the Hollywood remake currently in production, it's hardly heavy on the dialogue so the subtitles really shouldn't be a challenge for anyone.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

no (new) music may

I've decided to make May a month of "no new music" - I'm going to try my hardest not to buy any CDs, vinyl or downloads or any other form of sound carrier for the whole month. I'm using up my remaining eMusic credits as we speak so they don't go to waste (new Casiotone For The Painfully Alone album and "The Golden Band" by American Analog Set, for reference). Exceptions can be made for anything already ordered before midnight tonight, i.e. the new Idlewild album.

The reason for this is that it's only just sunk in quite how much music I already have - lost count of artist CD albums, but probably somewhere in excess of 3,000 as a conservative estimate, with singles, MP3s and a little bit of vinyl on top of that - and the total is ever growing. New purchases don't always get time to sink in and old stuff languishes. A month isn't going to make much of a dent on things, but hopefully I'll make some rediscoveries.

Over the last few months I've started a stupid-boy-project to get all my CDs onto the computer. When I was growing up I always wanted a jukebox, and this is my way to have it. I reckon I'm maybe about a third of my way through the albums, but have taken a break to do the singles to let me pack them away properly. To be honest this is making me question the point of the whole thing - should i, as planned, do everything to make it complete, or cherry-pick and have to go back later. At the moment I'm ripping stuff that I may never get around to listening to again!

The sheer volume of music is pretty staggering. Going back to that earlier estimate of 3,000 CD albums and assuming that there's an average of 12 tracks on each, then that gives 36,000 tracks. Rounding down my current daily plays of 54 to 50, then it would take 720 (nearly 2 years!) of normal listening to get through the whole lot just once. And that's a conservative estimate. I doubt pausing for a month will make much difference.

All the same, I know that my excitement for music is waning slightly at the moment. The excitement of having a new CD is long gone, mainly because I buy too many out of curiosity because they're cheap. Add on to that all the other music floating out there on the internet for free (and I just mean the legal stuff), then it just gets ridiculous, the notion of trying to keep up with everything new. I never thought I'd be someone who'd stop following discovering new music, but I really think I need a break! I just have no enthusiasm for checking things out on myspace or blogs, and to be honest maybe feel it's best that way, if only to retain my sanity.

Anyway, bit of a formless ramble but I'm done now. I'll report back on how I get on with things over the coming month, and we'll see if it helps any. There may yet be need for "Silent September"...

Saturday, 25 April 2009

bad lieutenant / post-new order

Not entirely sure how I feel about this, It's from what appears to be a post-New Order project involving Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Phil Cunningham. I sounds like an acoustic version of what they were doing on the last couple of albums, with more than a hint of James.

It's pleasant enough, but I'll wait to hear some more from them, and hope they change the name too.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

religilous [2008]

Just been to see Bill Maher's new movie "Religilous" at the DCA on a bit of a whim, and it was well worth it. For most of my life I've wavered between Atheism and Agnosticism (or Cosmic Bet-Hedging), a few visits to church in my first year of University only serving to encourage these beliefs. With this in mind, the film was already preaching to the converted. However, there was still plenty that was new to me as I've never been particularly active in my disbelief - I don't scour religious texts for discrepancies, I just can't bring myself to actually believe any of it. On the off chance that I do find myself in front of St Peter, I've always thought I'll just take my chances.

The movie itself takes the major religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Mormon and Scientology for the most part) and pokes at their beliefs with simple questioning and humour. While it's unlikely yo change the mind of anyone who fully believes, it's still interesting to see him challenging the various groups - the bulk of the time is probably dedicated to Christianity. Interestingly, he gets the most sense out of two Catholic interviewees - a Vatican priest and the former chief astronomer of the Vatican. The latter makes the point regarding Creationism that there cannot be any science in the scriptures if they were written between 2,000BC and 200AD, and what we regard as Modern Science has only really been developing over the last 2-300 years - there's a pretty big gap in the timeline right there.

Maher ends with a call to all of the non-believers (13% of the US population, according to a survey) to speak out against all religion. With many Christians believing that we're in end times, and portions of Islam following an equally destructive path, it is indeed a scary thought that we could be wiped out all because of some daft superstitions.

It might be anti-religion-for-beginners for quite a few, but I thought "Religilous" was both entertaining and thought provoking.

Monday, 20 April 2009

first ride of the year

No exciting and new picture, I'm afraid. I did take my camera, but discovered after leaving the flat that the battery was dead. This one is from a previous trip round a part of the route.

Started off by going up by Strathmartine Hospital, as I'd not been up that way before. Followed the road round and ended up in Bridgefoot, so carried on up my normal route until I reached the turn for Auchterhouse. At that point I decided to carry on to Tealing out of curiosity.

Once I reached Tealing I saw a sign for the Tealing Dovecot and Earth House - maintained by Historic Scotland, so I thought it would be rude not to have a look. Wouldn't go out of my way to see it, but reasonably interesting all the same. The Dovecot was built in 1595 - an act encouraged by the authorities of the time, until they realised the pigeon population was out of hand. The Earth House is a gallery cut into the ground, dating from the Iron Age. At the time, it would have been covered with a thatched roof and likely used for storing food.

After this, I carried on to the road up ahead that turned out to be the A90 Dundee - Forfar. Not fancying my chances amongst the early-evening traffic, I turned back and headed back to Dundee by the first available turn off (signposted for Kirkton of Auchterhouse, if I remember rightly) and made my way along a fairly long stretch of nondescript road, passing the Strathmartine electricity substation. I'd already passed over an NTS (National Transmission System) pipeline, is there no escape from work?

My favourite bit was probably Emmoch Road, a nice long downhill section with a decent enough gradient to get some speed up. Quite looking forward to that again. The road came out at the edge of Dundee, not too far from home, so just followed the road round.

11.3 miles in total, not too taxing - wasn't particularly tired when I got home. Will probably go out that way again with the camera on a nice day.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

annie - "anthonio"

Full version of the new Annie single "Anthonio" finally been online. I've been trying to make up my mind based on clips for weeks now, so this is A Good Thing. Produced by Richard X, and hopefully from a forthcoming album.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

the horrors - "sea within a sea"

Rather surprisingly, this is quite good. I never took to anything I heard from the first album at all, but "Sea Within A Sea" is really promising - the band seem to have moved on from scratchy garage rock to krautrock, early electronica and maybe a touch of shoegaze. The synth appregios that kick in around the halfway mark are quite lovely, though they do possibly betray the involvement of Geoff Barrow of Portishead on production duties (see also "The Rip" by Portishead). "SWaS" also reminds me a little of Echoboy's "Kit and Holly" at the start, but I'm sure that too was referencing something much cooler and older than I realise...

[MP3] The Horrors - "A Sea Within A Sea" (requires sign-up)

cineworld unlimited: year one

I can't quite remember exactly when I got my Cineworld Unlimited card, but I'm pretty sure that it's been a year now. So taking today as the last day of year one, here's the final reckoning:

01. Hancock
02. Tropic Thunder
03. Step Brothers
04. Taken
05. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
06. Burn After Reading
07. The Rocker
08. Quantum of Solace
09. Zack and Miri Make a Porno
10. Four Christmasses
11. Body of Lies
12. What Just Happened?
13. Yes Man
14. Slumdog Millionaire
15. The Wrestler
16. Frost/Nixon
17. Milk
18. Watchmen
19. Gran Torino
20. Lesbian Vampire Killers

To make it worthwhile financially I needed to see 25 films over the year, which I didn't quite manage. However, I did lose the card a couple of times and ended up paying to see a couple of films that I'd otherwise have seen using the card.

Although not all of the films were great, it was good to be able to just go and see things knowing that they were already paid for. I'm going to continue for a second year, but with the price going up to £13.50/month I'm going to have to see at least 28 films over the year. Might be a push based on this year, but I fancy a challenge.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

northern alliance - "when the clocks go forward"

A seasonally-appropriate old favourite from Fence-affiliate Edinburgh 3-piece Northern Alliance. "When The Clocks Go Forward" is a lovely piece of Sparklehorse/Low-style melancholy from their first mini-album 'Hope In Little Things' (2003). If you like it, all of their subsequent releases are highly recommended. I was trying to get them to play in Dundee with The A Forest for a while, but it never worked out. The (admittedly terrible) picture is from Homegame V.

Outside of the band, singer/guitarist/gentleman Doug Johnstone is a nuclear physicist-turned writer, with two excellent novels published ('Tombstoning' and 'The Ossians') alongside journalistic work - in the latter capacity he made our split 7" with Mercury Tilt Switch "Single of the Week" in The List, obviously a man of taste. The books are highly recommended too.

[MP3] Northern Alliance - "When The Clocks Go Forward"

Monday, 23 March 2009


From yesterday's trip to Anstruther for the second Fence Homegame Pre-Season Friendly. Full write up of that later. Wish I'd taken my tripod.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

super furry animals - "inaugral trams" / placebo - "battle for the sun"

It's retro night! Two previews of the new albums from bands I was big on in the last couple of years of school, though only one of whom I still hold dear to my heart (and no, it's not Placebo).

I've probably regarded the Super Furries as one of my favourite bands consistently over the last ten years, even if I've not been an avid listener I have still been an avid follower. Despite 2007's 'Hey Venus!' being somewhat of a return to early form, I've probably been more taken with Gruff Rhys' extra-curricular activities in the wake of the forgettable 'Love Kraft' (2005) - the Neon Neon album is a phenomenal piece of work, and 'Candylion' had some lovely moments. "Inaugral Trams" feels a bit slight on first listen, a jaunty glam/krautrock/electro-pop hybrid about the completion of a public transport system, complete with a "rap" in German from Franz Ferdinand's Nick McCarthy. It's since revealed itself to be a little gem, and at least it sounds like the band are still enjoying what they do - not an easy feat nine albums in! I still anticipate new SFA albums because they are still not entirely predictable. The album 'Dark Days / Light Years' is available now to download/pre-order from their website, and once that's been purchased I'll be following up with an orderly run-through the back catalogue. They need to get Pete Fowler back on the artwork though, currently it looks like we're getting another 'Hey Venus!'-style shocker!

The Placebo track, "Battle For The Sun" is dreary, going-through-the-motions "alternative rock". Not particularly offensive or awful, and not that different to some of the first album material, but just lacking much of a spark to it. Placebo have never really shown much musical adventurism beyond trying to sound a bit more like The Cure, and that's fine, but at the same time I've clearly not missed out on much since I stopped paying attention.

[MP3] Super Furry Animals - "Inaugral Trams"
[MP3] Placebo - "Battle For The Sun" (requires sign up)

Sunday, 15 March 2009

sky rat

From yesterday's trip to Broughty Ferry beach. I found a second hand Tamron 55-200mm lens for £37 and wanted to try it out. It's manual focus only on the D40x, but I'm happy to adjust the focus myself. There's a strange mark in the top right-hand corner of each photo (edited out above) that I need to get to the bottom of. I have a suspicion it's on the sensor itself, as it appears on photos taken with both lenses.
Broughty Ferry Beach (II)

avast! + popolo + andrew mitchell at dexters, sat 14 mar 2009

Some photos taken at the Avast! et al gig last night at Dexters. Still getting to grips with the D40x so they're not amazing, but I think I'm maybe getting somewhere with it. Only managed to get one vaguely salvageable shot of Andrew, which is a bit of a shame. All shots taken without a flash - general light levels were pretty low so they are all quite dark. Tips, comments, etc all welcome.

The gig itself was really good. Andrew Mitchell from the Hazey Janes opened up with a solo set on electric guitar, with some nice looped elements and drums from Donald from Avast! later on. Not sure if the songs were new Hazeys ones or something seperate, but they were quite lovely, slow, coutry tinged efforts. There was even a touch of Codeine or Low to them at points.

Popolo continue to be generally awesome. Something I've liked about them right from the start has been their ability to keep things nice and concise - generally, instrumental math-rock tends to be a bit over indulgent for me, but one of Popolo's strengths is to keep things nice and short, and not let an idea overstay it's welcome. Most importantly, they are fun and you can dance to them.

Avast! were mostly playing new songs from their forthcoming (I assume!) second album, and it was the second time I'd seen them with their new guitarist Graham. The extra guitar fills out the sound nicely, and most of the new material sits well against the 'Faultlines' stuff, I just wish there were more vocals on a lot of it. Just a minor gripe, I guess, they were on great form last night. It's a shame I couldn't get any clear shots of Donald, the man put in a good shift behind the kit.

Avast! + Popolo + Andrew Mitchell, Dexters, Dundee

Thursday, 12 March 2009

dananananaykroyd - "black wax"

In order to counter the grumpiness of the last post, here's the video for Dananananaykroyd's great new single, "Black Wax". It's all about the Byker Grove "Woo!"s. I missed them due to work that time they actually made it to Dundee, and it looks like work will again stop me from going to either of the Edinburgh or Glasgow dates on the forthcoming tour. Maybe one day!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

animal collective / la roux / skint & demoralised

Over the last few years, I've become a lot more relaxed about music. I like to think that I've shed the skin of the youthful indie snob, and instead defined myself more by what I like that what I don't. I don't really pay attention Pop Idol, or Britain's Got Talent, and I'm not upset by "manufactured pop" - at the very least it's honest about what it really is in a way that most landfill indie acts could never comprehend. Predictably, I am very fond of Girls Aloud, occasionally admiring of Sugababes, end even warming to the Saturdays - well, thery're better than the Kooks, aren't they?

In fact, the only two records that have really irked me this year have come from "credible" quarters. First was Animal Collective's Emperor's-New-Clothes magnum opus 'Merriweather Post Pavillion' - sheer, abject boredom given a sound. I like repetition, I like Steve Reich and I like the idea of what Animal Collective might sound like based on much of what's been written about them. I just can't get any enjoyment out of the reality.

All of which brings me on to the start of the post, La Roux. Widely hailed as part of the Female Electro Pop Class of 2009 in all the start of year round ups, La Roux (Elly Jackson) is about to unleash her first full single release, "In For The Kill", on Polydor after an introductory release last year on trendy French electro label Kitsune. I've not yet explored Microsoft's Songsmith software, but can only assume that Jackson has and quickly found the "techno" setting and bashed forward. Vocally, it sounds like she's well above her natural range, and the phrasing is awkward - though I don't think the lyrics help with that. The whole thing is just completely unappealing, and no matter how good any of the rest of her material is (reportedly consisting of another 5 completed songs!), it just doesn't seem good enough to justify any of the hype. The Skream remix is a slight improvement though, even if it doesn't really go anywhere until right at the end.

I'm still undecided on Skint & Demoralised. For starters, it's a pretty awful name for a band, and the spoken word vocals don't always work. I heard their debut single "The Thrill of Thirty Seconds" a few times on BBC 6music and was fairly unimpressed, sounding as it did like a polished demo by a bunch of Arctic Monkeys loving kids who had missed their mark and ended up somewhere around One Night Only. Second single "This Song Is Definitely Not About You" is a vast improvement, coming on like a laddish take on Spearmint, with touches of The Boy Least Likely To. The fact that the album was recorded with The Dap Kings at least bodes well. Reserving judgement until I've heard that, at least.

I think that's enough negativity for one night.

[Stream] Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion (via Spotify)
[Video] La Roux - "In For The Kill" (while it lasts!)
[MP3] La Roux - "In For The Kill (Skream's Let's Get Ravey Remix)"
[Video] Skint & Demoralised - "This Song Is Definitely Not About You" (while it lasts!)

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

holga photos on flickr

In my final year at school I saw a segment on BBC Breakfast News about Lomography, and was instantly fascinated. A couple of years later, after getting internet access, I stumbled accross it again and got the DCA Shop to order in a Holga for me, one of the cheaper cameras on offer - certainly cheaper than a proper Lomo. I've only ever shot a few of rolls of film on it, as 120 format film isn't easy to get processed - Jessops can still do it, but it has to be sent away and takes around a fortnight. Part of the appeal is not knowing what you're going to get until the photos come back - for a start the casing is prone to light leakage, though this can creat interesting effects. Overall, I've found the results to be best when used on a clear, sunny, day.

I've had a Flickr account for a while, but never used it as I find Picasa easy to use, especially with the uploader. For a change, I've put these photos on Flickr as a set which you can view here. View other Holga photos here.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

findo gask - "one eight zero"

This has been out a while, but I've only just spotted the lovely animated for it - Findo Gask's recent single "One Eight Zero". I have fond memories of playing shows with the early incarnation of Findo back in 2004, when they were barely out of school and before they had migrated to Glasgow. They were great then too, but pretty different to what they are now - pretty shoegazey. "Bright Ideas" was a great tune, would love to hear an updated version of it.

Anyway, things seem to be going really well for them, 2 well received singles in the last year or so and remixes for Bloc Party, Psapp and the Long Blondes. Can't be long now before there's an album and superstardom - frankly, if La Roux is the best that the "industry" has to offer, it'll be a massive crime for Findo Gask to become anything less than gods.

As for the single itself, all three tracks are fantastic - it actually sounds more like the opening three songs of an album. "One Eight Zero" you can hear for yourself above, "Jigsaw" is similar but more downbeat, with big trancey synth stabs and "Nubo" is gorgeous, all languid trumpet lines, vocal harmonies and chiming guitar. Overall, the sound is somewhere between Hot Chip, Cocteau Twins, Cornelius and Barbara Morgenstern.

Buy/download here.

Monday, 23 February 2009

the elecrolites + descartes at destroy disco, sat 21 feb 2009

After my recent experiments with 35mm film SLRs, my urge to get a digital SLR grew stronger. I finally gave in last week and got a Nikon D40x with 18-55mm lens. I've had a play about with it, and acting as the Electrolites driver on Saturday night gave me an opportunity to try it out properly.

Destroy Disco was an event at Kinkell Byre, just outside St Andrews, in a converted barn that's available for basically whatever you want to use it for. The line up was mostly DJs (headlined by Mylo and Erol Alkan) with the exception of Descartes and the Electrolites, both from Dundee, opening with live sets in the main room.

The shots were all taken in low light with no flash. Not all the results were perfect, but I think the success rate was definitely higher than with my Fujifilm S5700 - the benefit of a better lens was felt.

I've still got a set of photos taken on film to scan and upload, will hopefully get through them soon.

kaput: fat sams, fri 06 feb 2009

Here, in handy playlist form, is the video of our set supporting The Hazey Janes at Fat Sams a couple of weeks ago. Filmed by Mr Christopher Lee-Marr, of the wonderful Esperi. The audio is quite quiet, so you'll need to turn it up loud.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

marions - "another hour"

After I got back from Stockholm in August, I had every intention of writing a bit about the bands I saw and records I bought while over there, but like most of my plans that fell by the wayside.

Of all the bands I saw, I think FM Belfast, Yamon Yamon and Marions made the greatest impression. At the time I was disappointed to discover that Marions didn't have any recordings available, but when I got back I found out that Flora & Fauna had signed them for an album, the first taste of which ("Another Hour") was made available the other day, with the album to follow in April.

On the night I saw them the line up was vocals, keyboard, bass, percussion and violin - no drums and no guitar. I've often wanted to do something similar myself, and I thought it worked brilliantly, especially in the small seated theatre/concert hall they were playing in - probably no more than 200 capacity.

Anyway, "Another Hour" is lovely. I can remember it from hearing it once, six months ago. The arrangement is changed slightly on the recording, but the vocals remain just as striking.

[MP3] Marions - Another Hour

Monday, 9 February 2009

general round up

Not much activity for a week, but there have been a few things I've intended to write about. Unfortunately, they can be crammed into a few sentences...

Have now seen both Frost/Nixon and Milk. Won't bore anyone with attempts at reviews, but will say that both films are good and worth seeing. If you only have time for one, make it Milk. It's wonderful.

I've finished reading Join Me by Danny Wallace - since seeing Yes Man a month or so ago, I've read all three of his books. None of them are particularly hard going, but they are all good - enthusiastic, funny and touching in places. Or, in places, touching. Nothing dodgy. I'm not sure reading the book was enough to make me want to become a Joinee though, I think I'd find doing a random act of kindness every Friday a bit tricky - anyway, I try to be kind all the time!

My step-dad gave me his old 35mm SLR, went to Camperdown to play about with it. I took a couple of rolls, which you can see pretty much all of here. I'm a little disappointed that some of them didn't come out as I'd expected (many of them a lot darker than I'd anticipated), but looking at them now I think there's some good first efforts there. Anyway, the point of getting a film-based SLR was to force myself to think more when setting up the shot, so it's all a learning experience. Excuse some of the dodgy scans...

Kaput played at Fat Sams on Friday night with the Hazey Janes. The Hazeys were fantastic, probably the best I've ever seen them, and we all enjoyed playing our set. It was the first time in nearly 11 years of playing gigs that my sister had got to see one of my bands. She said she enjoyed it. The whole set was filmed, will get that uploaded once I've actually seen it!

I'm beginning to think that writing a little about every record/CD I buy this year may be harder than anticipated, after an unexpected trip to Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago found me in Fopp, and then on Saturday morning I got the chance to rake through all the new promos in wallet has taken a beating. It makes me sad that there's a generation of "music lovers" who will never really experience the joy of spending a chunk of your Saturday raking through random CDs, hoping to strike gold, and getting a bit of banter and recommendations while you do it. Sure, there's a social element to or some torrent clients, but it's impersonal, nowhere near the same as actually speaking to other people in person about music. I just hope that it's not something that's completely lost too soon, especially in smaller cities/towns. I'll try and write a January round-up when I get off night shifts.

That's pretty much all for now, I'm off to watch A Room For Romeo Brass.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

kaput: drouthies, thu 16 0ct 2008

A few videos of three of the five songs we played at our gig in Drouthies back in October. Only just got the files to put online this week. We're playing at Fat Sams on this coming Friday (6th Feb), should hopefully get that filmed too.

1. "Happy Birthday"

2. "Captain Capo"

3. "Eyes Like Palaces"

Monday, 26 January 2009


I have to admit I'm sometimes not sure why I'm writing this blog, or what to write about. I'm torn between trying to alter it to have some kind of specific theme, or just continuing to write about random things that take my fancy. If the blog has any purpose, it's to get me to write about things on a regular basis in an attempt to keep my brain working and expand my vocabulary a little. As for reviews, I'm just wanting to try and be able to actually explain why I like things, rather than just saying "it's good". I'm pretty bad for that. I'm constantly thinking about music/films/whatever in my head, but I can never articulate those thoughts very well. I would like to get good at it. I'm not expecting there to be an audience, this is a fairly solitary pursuit. All the same, I have no intention of writing about my life. It's just not interesting.

I'm feeling pretty inspired though by Tom Suttcliffe's piece on The Wrestler, from Friday's Independent. I agree with the points he made, some similar interpretations had been swimming about the murky depths waters of my mind, unable to break for surface. It's all practice though, I'm not expecting to get to pro-standard, but would like to be able to write well.

I'm toying with trying to write at least a few lines about every record I buy this year, but don't know how workable that will be, we'll see. Digging through my CD collection while I rip it all on to my PC has thrown up a few interesting things as well, something may come of that.

Off to see Frost/Nixon now.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

the second hand marching band - a dance to half death

The Second Hand Marching Band are a 22-piece collective strewn accross the Central Belt of Scotland from Fife to Glasgow, featuring moonlighting members of various Glasgow/Edinburgh bands. 'A Dance To Half Death' is their first release, a six song EP appearing via Wishaw's Chaffinch Records, who have previously released material by King Creosote and Lucky Luke.

Opener "Mad Sense" is a short, mournful, burst of what sounds like a harmonium and vocals. It's quite slight, but the layering of female vocal over the male lead is quite pretty. Second track "Lies" brings in marching drums, brass and choir vocals, and acts largely as a bridge into the EP's two undeniable highlights - "A Dance To Half Death" and "Don't!".

"A Dance to Half Death" sounds like Beirut, there's no getting away from it, but (a) sounding like someone else is never a crime, if (b) the song itself is as beautiful as this. The brass section on its is brilliant as the second half of the song sways woozily and wistfully, barely buoyed by accordian and percussion. "Don't!" is more excitable, coming on like Architecture in Helsinki if they'd been from the Highlands & Islands rather than Australia.

"Not Yet" is more downbeat, starting as a finger-picked lament before building up again towards the end, while "We Walk in the Room" seems broadly to be a theme song for the band. Musically it's a more subdued sibling to the EP's title track, but is lovely in it's own right.

I've not had a chance to see the Second Hand Marching Band live yet, but on the basis of this EP they're shaping up to be something quite special indeed.

'A Dance To Half Death' is available direct from Chaffinch, or alternatively from the fine gentlemen of Norman Records.

[Stream] The Second Hand Marching Band - A Dance To Half Death

white lies - to lose my life...

So, White Lies, one of the first big hype bands of 2009, voted #1 in the BBC's Sound of 2009 poll and tipped everywhere else that requires an opinion. Like Duffy last year, there must be too much money riding on them for failure to be an option - at the time of writing the album is on course to debut at #1 in the album chart this coming Sunday. Of course, there's nothing to say that most of those CDs won't be in the second-hand racks in a few months if it's no good.

It seems so far that White Lies are more so defined by who they sound like than what they sound like. That sound being the gloomy, atmosperic mid 80s indie rock. Think Julian Cope fronting Echo & the Bunnymen. Grey raincoats and messy dyed black hair. The Cure. And, likely through accident more than design, The Sound (former label-mates of the Bunnymen and one of the most unjustly neglected bands of that time - I'm sure Bono and the Edge were taking notes though). "E.S.T." nods heavily in the direction of stadium-era Depeche Mode, while "From The Stars" cribs from Joy Division's "Atmosphere".

Listening to 'To Lose My Life', it's clear that it's made by a young band in thrall to a particular sound. That's not to say it's bad, far from it. The opening tracks, and former singles, "Death" and "To Lose My Life" both actually sound much better on the album than they did on the radio. The whole album hangs together well as an entity, so individual songs benefit from being placed in some sort of context.

There's not much in the way of obvious, mainstream, anthemic crowd-pleasers - though there's hardly anything all that challenging either. Most of the songs are mid-paced, slow burners, which is really my one major criticism of the album - there isn't much variation in tempo throughout. Eventually, it all starts to blend into one somewhere after the midway mark. The adolescent angst and forced gloom of the lyrics gets a bit grating after a while too.

There's definitely a lot of potential here, and hopefully 'To Lose My Life' will do well enough to allow White Lies a second album, and more importantly an opportunity to forge a path of their own out from under the looming shadow of their influences. Still, it worked well as a starting point for U2...

[Stream] White Lies - To Lose My Life... (full album)
[Video] White Lies - "Death"

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

recent films round-up

Watched a few things lately that I thought I would write about before I forget. Looks like my Cineworld card may earn it's keep yet...

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Danny Boyle's new film, set in Mumbai, telling the story of Jamal Malik and how he found himself one question away from winning the Indian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". Jamal finds himself under police interrogation when he is suspected of cheating, so proceeds to explain how he came to know each answer. Through the flashbacks we basically get his life story, growing up on the streets as orphans with his brother and his search for the girl he loved and lost.

The poster quote ("The feel-good film of the decade!") is probably a little misleading - the ending may be (mostly) happy, but quite a large part of the film is more downbeat, even grim in places. Still, there is also plenty of humour to be found along the way. The 3 main characters have been well cast at the 3 different age points, and the actors are well transitioned. Dev Patel (Anwar in "Skins") was especially good as the 18yr old Jamal, bewildered and unsure of everything but his feelings for Latika.

The Wrestler (2008)

"The Wrestler" has been widely hailed as Mickey Rourke's big comeback and "the Rocky of wrestling". The film is centered around Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a former top professional wrestler whom we see 20 years later back at the bottom of the ladder, still fighting on the independent circuit and still a favourite with the fans, but barely getting by and in poor health. The story follows his attempts to adjust to life after wrestling when forced to give up, as well as his attempts to rebuild his relationship with his estranged daughter and his attempts to forge a relationship with a stripper. Ultimately, the lure of one final fight proves too much.

I'm generally not the biggest fan of wrestling, but I think the fight scenes do look good. The film seems quite respectful toward the sport, and all the fellow wrestlers in the film are wrestlers in real life. I'm also not normally particularly squeemish, but the scenes centered on the extreme wrestling match against the Necro Butcher had me turning away. Rourke is nothing short of excellent as The Ram, much has been made of his own "wilderness years" so it could be argued that maybe the role isn't all that much of a stretch, but his portrayal is sympathetic and fairly understated, while physically looking exactly the part too. I don't think first choice Nic Cage would have been right for the role, but then I don't think there are any other actors I have such an irrational dislike of.

Probably my only complaint is that the storylines regarding the love interest and the daughter are both maybe a little under-explored, especially the daughter. However, maybe I'm asking for too much, I've been spoiled lately by watching TV series on DVD, with the extra time that offers to explore much more background. All the same, it's an excellent film.

For those that have been counting, those were the 14th and 15th films respectively that I have seen on my Cineworld card. The coming week should see me fitting in numbers 16 and 17, with both Frost/Nixon and Milk opening on Friday - I'm especially surprised/pleased that the Dundee Cineworld is showing the latter.

On top of my cinema-going, I've been trying to tend to the ever-growing DVD pile. Finally watched Red Road (2006) last night. It's quite tense viewing, and possibly not ideal for bedtime! Apparently the first Scottish film shot under the Dogme principles, and the first of a trilogy involving differing configurations of the four main characters. It's probably a bit tricky to describe the plot quickly without basically giving everything away, so will just refer back to the IMDB link. Did actually enjoy it and would recommend it, but be warned it's a little on the bleak side.

Also finished watching season one of Mad Men, a drama set in the world of advertising in New York in the early 1960s. It's quite slow burning and did take me a couple of episodes to get into it, but I felt my patience was rewarded - patience is required as the show is light on action and heavy on detail and subtlety. Now I'm just waiting (im)patiently on season two making it to the UK, much like with the excellent Californication. Nevermind, in the meantime I have the complete Sopranos box set to get started on...all 86 episodes. I may be some time...

Monday, 12 January 2009

king creosote - "twin tub twin" (live)

In honour of the amount of laundry I've been doing over the last few days, here's a YouTube video of King Creosote performing "Twin Tub Twin" at the 2008 Green Man festival. I've long wished that he'd record a studio version with the band in the style of the live version, but I know that's pretty unlikely. There's an edited version with slightly better sound here. The original version of "Twin Tub Twin" can be found on the album 'Rocket D.I.Y.' (Fence/Domino, 2005).

In the summer I had the idea of a laundry or housework themed CD, but got pretty stuck after this song so had to give up in the end.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


This is what happens when you forget that your phone is in your jacket pocket, then proceed to leave said jacket behind the goals while you play 5-a-side. Disaster. I am going to buy a replacement screen online and have a stab at fixing it (photo guide!) - I have an MSc in electronics, so it shouldn't be impossible...

Update: Replacement screen + tools purchased from eBay for £20.98 inc. shipping. Hopefully that'll do the trick!

Monday, 5 January 2009

top 23 (minus 2) albums of 2005

I recently re-discovered a list of my 23 favourite albums of 2005 and thought I'd post it here. Technically it's only a top 21 as the Owen and Styrofoam albums actually came out in November 2004, but I've left them in - I even suspected I was wrong at the time.

In alphapetical order:

Alfie - Crying At Teatime
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Broadcast - Tender Buttons
Cut Copy - Bright Like Neon Love
The Frames - Burn The Maps
Richard Hawley - Coles Corner
Hood - Outside Closer
Hookers Green #1 - On How The Illustrious Captain...
Jamie Lidell - Multiply
Low - The Great Destroyer
Mice Parade - Bem Vinda Vontade
Owen - I Do Perceive
The National - Alligator
Kate Rusby - The Girl Who Couldn't Fly
Shout Out Louds - Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
Sigur Ros - Takk
Spyamp - GTi
Stapleton - Hug The Coast
Stars - Set Yourself On Fire
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
Styrofoam - Nothing's Lost
Vashti Bunyan - Lookaftering
Why? - Elephant Eyelash

I think the list holds up pretty well, I don't think my tastes have changed all that much since it was compiled. The only thing I'd quibble with now would probably be the Vashti Bunyan album.