Tuesday, December 30

Blue water, white death

Cool footage of a Carcharodon Carcharias menacing kayakers less than a mile off Australia's east coast on Saturday.

Only last week a man was apparently eaten by a Great White on the west coast off Australia while searching for crab (story here)
The man, Brian Guest, was a vocal supporter of the protection of sharks and had written on the Western Angler website forum in 2004:
"I have always had an understanding with my wife that if a shark or ocean accident caused my death then so be it, at least it was doing what I wanted. Every surfer, fisherman and diver has far more chance of being killed by bees, drunk drivers, teenage car thieves and lightning. Every death is a tragedy – regardless of the cause – but we have no greater claim to use of this earth than any of the other creatures [we] share it with."

Deschanel death knell

Yes, I am one of the internet nerdburgers who feels the pangs of unfathomable sadness at the news of Zooey Deschanel's engagement to Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Music..Cutie...or whatever. I'm off to watch Elf and cry all over my Christmas jumper.

Friday, December 26

My 11 like most favourite albums of 2008. Totally.

Efterklang - Parades (seemed like this year but turns out it isn't, so I'll mention it but it must be excluded from the list. Sorry Casper, you beautiful Danish man you)

11. Flying Lotus - Los Angeles (Perfect instrumental hip-hop with considerable depth. Fuck off Soulja Boy.)

10. Portishead - Third (What a comeback. Terrifyingly good.)

9. Christian Fennesz - Black Sea (Noisy,wondrous,feedbacky,synthy,legendary)

8. Vivian Girls - Vivian Girls (Feedback, fuzz and harmonies. All you need)

7. The Bug - London Zoo (Filthy, evil, angry. Dubstep rarely gets this good)

6. Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life (Punk and panpipes. Brought me back to my hardcore punk roots this year and for that I thank them. fucking rocking tunes too.)

5. Bonnie Prince Billy - Lie Down in the Light (He could release anything and I would love it...but I really do love this. Country-tinged beauty, the opposite of the bleakness of I See A Darkness, and an effortlessly impressive album from my favourite solo artist by a long way. He's a God.)

4. Times New Viking - Rip It Off (What? Sorry, I can't hear you over the tinny production and pop melodies. Yes the keyboard player IS hot, you're right. No that has not influenced this number 4 placing, you sexist.)

3. The Walkmen - You & Me (How drunk are they? Very. And they write songs too. Fantastic ones. And what a gig in the Button Factory this year.)

2. Roots Manuva - Slime and Reason (Best MC around and an absolute classic of an album. Put many a sloppy grin on my chops. If it was summertime now, this may have claimed my topspot by a nosehair. I missed his gig coz I had the flu. It bothers me still.)

1. No Age - Nouns (Genius. Brilliant. Full of new ideas, passion and energy. AND I interviewed them too. I love No Age and want to have their babies.)

There you have it. Bon Iver is technically 2007 so I left it out. Alopecia by Why? is just on the outside but to be honest alot of the albums could be shuffled around slightly depending on the hour of the day or whatever.
I whittled it down with great difficulty from a longlist of about 19 and it was difficult but goddam it it was worth it.
Get them all.

Tuesday, December 23

sleigh bells ringing

And so, it's time to head away to the countryside to see The Family and The Friends in Galway. I've a week off (which for a journalist, I think, is pretty good seeing as how last year I had about 3 days off and enjoyed a festive dose of animosity with 'management')
The home time visit will also, hopefully, give me a chance to post up end-of-year blog stuff, just like everyone else.
I've spent most of the year finding my feet with this blogging stuff, taking riotous abuse from my friends for having a blog in the first place, met some great dudes and dudettes (and simply corresponded on t'internet with some too)and discovered what I think are a friendly, knowledgeable, cool bunch of people, all doing different kinds of things with their blogs and all providing me with hours of entertainment, music and laughs.
This is not my last post for a few weeks or anything (unless I am grabbed by 'Xmas cheer' and disappear off the grid for a while) but I'll just wish all of you readers, commenters, browsers, visitors and peeps in general a Happy Xmas and I'll raise a glass of red wine to you all in the next few days.
I've left you with a classic Xmas picture that all the kids will defo enjoy. Ho ho ho Santa, you crazy, disgusting lush.
Have a good 'un.

Wednesday, December 17

Eat a dick

For starters, comedy moment of 2008 has got to be Ice muthafuckin' T addressing Soulja Boy as part of a 'beef' some time back.
It's absolutely brilliant, mostly in an unintentional way. The highlights are when he talks about Soulja Boy being 'garbage' and talks about being 'caked out'. Hilarious stuff indeed. And Soulja Boy? Eat a dick yo'


I'm still slaving hard on my end-of-year lists and, album-wise, it's a real eye-opener.
It's only now you start to realise how much your taste is dictated by the usual suspects on the internet.
But, that said, the sheer quality of stuff I have heard this year is top notch.
I disagree that it was a bad year for music or albums or whatever people are saying out there. It really wasn't. There has been a huge amount of brilliant albums, songs and (also) films. I have had album after album on repeat in my headphones and this was the year that the glorious Fucked Up got me back into listening to punk, the music genre it all began with for me, listening to Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Lard, Crass, NOFX, Rancid, Sex Pistols, No Use For A Name et al.
The 14-year old me would have hated me now though, with my dubious penchant for Bon Iver, Final Fantasy, Fennesz, Horse Feathers and the like.
There was a time in my teens I wouldn't even listen to the words Led Zeppelin being spoken aloud. But such elitism is behind me now and my spikey, bleach-blond haircut is but a wonderful memory.
I'll press on anyway. I'm a sensitive soul deep down under the hairy, drunken exterior (as my mother, my best friend and my girlfriend all like to remind me when the mood takes them) so here is the celestial, gorgeous, wondrous strains of Peter Broderick of Efterklang and Horse Feathers fame with the song Games Again from this year's Home album.

Monday, December 15

Huge Ackman

I've rewatched both The Dark Knight and There Will Be Blood (again) and while both stand up very well indeed, it's the latter that grows and grows in the wow factor stakes, such is the sheer power of the whole shebang.
And that moustache.
Wow again.
Twas early in the year, around February I think, when this blog kicked off (yes I am still relatively new to it, thanks) and I was mildly obsessed with this film.
From the dialogue-free opening gambit to the ominous horror of Jonny Greenwood's score. From the fact that practically every frame of the movie could be the poster to the often hilarious, melodramatic, eminently quotable script.
From the powerhouse performance-of-a-lifetime effort of Day-Lewis to the snivelling genius turn of Paul Dano.
It's a work of art.
But more of that in a week or so.
This post is about Hugh Jackman. Kind of. The sexy bastard.
Here is the newest trailer for the upcoming Wolverine film.

Jackman has been chosen to host the next Oscars and his stage appearances in musicals, often camp demeanour and sheer likeability should make him the perfect host. Unfortunately he is so nice, he forgets how to say no to shit scripts (Swordfish, Kate&Leopold, Van Helsing...christ should I go on?) and so, an actor clearly capable of huge diversity, ends up starring in this kind of bilge. But then he has also done the overrated but fun X-Men films, the excellent The Prestige, the ambitious The Fountain and the I-have-not-seen-yet-but-it-looks-dire Australia with small-nosed drink of water Kidman.
All that aside, the trailer here looks like it'll be a good romp and Jackman wins 'Hunk Of The Week' on this blog. Well done, Hugh. And good luck with your future endeavours.

Friday, December 12

Words 'n' stuff

With reviews of The Day The Earth Stood Still flooding in, I'm really enjoying the word Klaatu.
It's just a brilliant word.
I can't stop saying it.
Isn't this why blogs were invented? For this kind of rubbish?
Now, my children, tell me what words you like?

Wednesday, December 10

Getting closer...

Photo from..

A great list
that's over at mp3 hugger is his top 42 songs of the year.
Such a great blog that has a far more dedicated blogger at work than you have before you here.
The list is done in a really easy-to-use way, which is handy for an idiot like me who has a habit of using the back button too many times when scouring the internet and then losing every page I've just come from.
Enjoy the tunes and it's great to see Elbow high up on the list too.

Tuesday, December 9

Halogen EP

Got a heads up from Tenaka about this EP from Halogen. I stuck the info up on drop-d for it anyway and the EP is free to download. If you're an IDM and glitch fan with a nice dollop of ambient thrown in, then this is for you. Quality stuff and free to boot.
Download it from here

Saturday, December 6

Epic noisemongery

This track is from Flannel Graduate, a Japanese tour-only CD-R that sold out during No Age's tour with Zach Hill from Hella.
There are three tracks, two of which are only seconds long.
The third track, California Bird Dudes, comes in at over twenty minutes long, featuring Zach and Dean Spunt's drumming chaos, Randy's feedback and guitar squall, incomprehensible vocal bits, drum loops and washed out noise.
This track sounds like it would fit in better with any of the bands that Zach Hill drums for, rather than on a No Age record.

For those who like noise; get yer lugs around this badboy.

The link that never was

C'mon...it was never gonna be that easy.
I'm just curious how many people will actually be directed here.
EDIT: I feel a bit bad about this now because everyone is clearly scouring the internet (myself included) to get the Animal Collective album. Just make sure you don't download that Jethro Tull double discer by mistake. The No Age track above is my apology to those that came here in good faith to try and illegally download Animal Collective's hard work.
EDIT2: I've changed the title because the hitcount was ridiculous and most likely annoyed the shit out of hundreds of people. At least it shows that ALOT of people are looking for the new album

Late night telly

I've just gotten home from the work Xmas drinks thingy and In America is on TV.
Sweet jesus promise me you'll never watch this dire shite.
I love Paddy Considine and Samantha Morton but even they cannot save this self indulgent twaddle, with a pair of D4 brats playing supposed 'working class' kids, in America. They play a couple trying to escape the trauma of their young boy dying (I think) by starting a new life across the water, and it features some of the most overwrought, melodramatic balls ever committed to celluloid.
Words cannot really explain how much I dislike In America and the cinematic world is a far worse place with it existing.
I would rather watch Transformers for a second time....and I hated Transformers.

Thursday, December 4


No joy with these end of year lists yet but I'm thinking the key is to wait until about December 30th to post top 10 albums and top 10 movies and only include stuff I've heard/seen between now and then, thus reducing the odds of my list and every other list looking quite similar.
Ah no, I wouldn't do that to you.
But, I can download loads of small films that never made it over here for the next week or so and try to make some recommendations for DVD purchases in 2009.
For Xmas, you should really be looking for the Zodiac special edition DVD, brimming with brilliant extras, and There Will Be Blood special edition too. It seems that Blu Ray is the future and those Blu Ray discs need to be coupled with HD televisions so...time to start that life of crime.
Quint over at Aintitcool has compiled a mind-boggling selection of Christmas present movie stuff which you probably won't buy at this stage but I bookmarked so much shit off it, my laptop melted with sheer excitement. Some of the toys are absolutely (geekily) amazing.
Browsing this list in work will lead to at least 3 hours of non-productivity. You have been warned.

Tuesday, December 2

There will be blaaaaarrrrrrggghhh

This is a picture Graham Sutherland painted of me looking smugly at nothing in particular...well...it might be W. Somerset Maugham...

A quick blast through some stuff I've been listening to the last while - some stuff that made me nostalgic and some stuff that's just great (particularly Grouper and Q-Tip). You decide what's what.
It was meant to be a zip file but something went wrong, i.e. me, so now it's just individual tracks, unfortunately.
I hereby tip Ivan Colon (that should have a Hispanic-sort-of inflection over the second 'O' so he isn't named after a vital body part) to be the Sufjan/Bon Iver grower of 2009 (despite his religious leanings) and reckon he'll probably play a Foggy Notions or Crawdaddy gig that everyone raves about for months at some stage. If this doesn't happen, you ain't seen me , roigh'?

Download here

Here's the tracks, artists and my one word sum-up after the artists name.

What Is Gained - Ivan Colon (luvverly)
Five Minute Dream - Like Honey (shoegazey)
Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie - Joanna Newsom and the Ys Street Band (harpy)
Fortunate Son - Cat Power (sultry)
Heavy Water, I'd Rather Be Sleeping - Grouper (underwaterbeauty)
Ciccone - Microfilm (groovy)
By Horoscope Light I&II - Doseone (nasaltastic-y)
Resurgam -Alias (jackyerbody)
Corrupt - Dalek (tasty)
Believe - Q-Tip (featuring D'Angelo) (oldschool-y)
Sugar - If I Can't Change Your Mind (solo mix) (nostalgic-y)

Beach House: Review for Drop-D (but here for the moment)

Drop-D's editorship has been passed onto another, so while it is in this state of flux I'll stick up my review of last Thursday's Beach House gig here.

With Baltimore now probably more famous for the drug-addled urban cesspool where Marlo and his crew sling their product and McNulty boozes his way to early retirement in best-show-ever © The Wire, the duo of Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand, AKA dreampoppers Beach House, are busy forging their own way in a hazy world of narcotic rock and ethereal hymnals .
Standing awash in the unusually harsh lights of Whelans, they seem surprised at the reverence of the shuffling crowd and proceed to grab the room with an enchanting performance that combines Legrand’s surprisingly strong - and deeply sexy - live vocals with Scally’s fuzzy slide and a little percussion to top it off.
Legrand proves to be a more than capable frontwoman, joking that this is ‘the best night of our worst tour and Dublin was the best night of our first tour’ while the harmonies on songs like Heart of Chambers are bracingly gorgeous, with opening number Gila and the wonderful Wedding Bells mixing with debut album tracks such as Apple Orchard and Tokyo Witch.
On record, their monicker becomes a bit of a misnomer and tonight’s stage performance is no different as the lethargic pacing of the songs evoke a feeling of a kind of forlorn isolation about as far from the mental picture of a beach house as one could probably get.
Yet, compared to their recorded output, the stage gives Beach House a little more; it gives them a kind of melodrama and edge that makes it seem as if David Lynch could easily have invented them to lull him to sleep as he conceives notions of twisted Americana and how to drive a big shitting train through your ideas of linear cinematic narrative.
Seeing them on stage seems like the final piece in the puzzle, it shows the concentration Legrand puts into the vocals, the careful timing of the various instruments and effects they employ and gives you a chance to see firsthand the haze, hues and silken hair you probably just about imagine when listening to Devotion on your headphones in bed.
When she invites the crowd back to the band’s hotel after the gig, I imagine there is not one person who wouldn’t have wanted to do just that and get to kick back with a glass of red wine, basking in a few impromptu acoustic interpretations of the group’s carefully crafted, moving, musical vignettes while gathered around their feet in some budget hotel on Camden Street. Bliss.

Monday, December 1

Why watching Gandhi fucking Penelope Cruz is wrong...and other ruminations on the film Elegy

I've just watched the Ben Kingsley film Elegy, an austere adaptation of one of Philip Roth's recent novels, A Dying Animal.

But first things first, the new trains between Galway and Dublin are becoming more common than the old trains and so it is now actually possible to plug in the trusty old laptop - since the battery lasts roughly 4 minutes on its own - and watch a legally-obtained movie on it...I'm sure mininova's Axxo wouldn't be involved in the nefarious underworld of illegal torrent uploading would he/she?

I haven't really watched a film on the train before, due to the shitness of said battery, and so it is an unusually conflicting circumstance in which I find myself.
It's all very well cracking open the computay but, despite my firm atheism, Irish Catholicism still has a pleasureless grip on my conscience at times and the film has got boobs in it.
On a public train?
I can feel that tea-supping, Twix-gobbling biddy behind me, drowning her friend with the spittle-soaked news that some devilman is titillating himself a few seats away with them 'Cruz missiles' while there are children within a 100-mile radius.

Surely I'll burn in hell.

Anyway, I watched the film so balls to her. On with the opinions.

Roth has long been an observer and diarist, in his novels, of the mind-workings of the modern male and in this Nicholas Meyer adaptation (Meyer incidentally also adapted Roth's The Human Stain, which proved to be a pretty underwhelming film overall) we meet David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley) an erudite, shaven-headed, sexual predator of an old-but-sexy Coloumbia University professor who beds his fave fawning female students every year...but only after their final grades have been given.
When he claps eyes on the phenomenally hot Consuela Castillo (Penelope Cruz) their ensuing relationship takes him to places of jealousy and idiocy his little shiny head has never been and to a melodramatic climax that cannot ruin what is essentially a piece of upper middle-class romantic drama tosh aimed at those who know their Goya from their Manet and like their cerebral, funereal film-making served up with an Argentinian Malbec and a hand shandy to Mozart (Which in the book, Kepesh actually does indulge in).


Everything in this film is working so hard to impress.
The pretensions are bubbling there all the time and as Kepesh becomes the saboteur of his relationship with Consuela, you wonder what it is she really sees in him beyond his intellectual prowess and finely-trimmed goatee.
Director Isabel Coixet (director of the excellent My Life Without Me) employs some camera tricks familiar to Stephen Soderbergh fans out there as the lens lingers on faces, bobbing slightly with different parts focusing and unfocusing and we are left with silences and 'heavy themes' to deal with along with finely-polished production values and a predictably weighty classical score.
We are also left with a film that promises - and indeed Kepesh's narration suggests as much - violent desire, yearning, palpable sexual hunger and emotional trauma but, through this medium, Roth's visceral detail is torn away like meat from a bone and you are left with...well, a bone.
Dennis Hopper is fine as Kepesh's poet friend and both Patricia Clarkson (as a lover)and Peter Sarsgaard (as Kepesh's son) are more than welcome in any film really, but the whole thing just teeters from set-piece to set-piece, not coming off the screen hard enough to make you really care what the fuck happens.
Kepesh is not a likeable man. He's a 60-something horny teen with juvenile emotional reactions and a smug demeanour that makes you quietly desire the worst happens to him.
Cruz is gorgeous and not bad. Her part requires that she portray the object of desire (but with a brain) and she is never less than convincing.
But again, it's hard to really care too much.
When the final act arrives and the 'twist' is revealed you will, I hope, groan like I did and bemoan the heavy-handedness of this piece of up-its-own-arsery and go watch a really wonderful pretentious film like Solaris.